Tango is an inner experience of two dancers. It is what happens on the inside that matters the most. We can all agree on that.
Yet, for dancers to reach a certain emotional state on the dance floor, there are certain external conditions that have to be met. All experienced milonga hosts and DJs know that very well.
First, a disclaimer: these are not my words, because, honestly, I’ve not been dancing abroad nearly enough in the past few years. These are the words of a friend who’s been dancing for at least 20 years. She was one of those El Corte regulars back in the old days who never missed a single Chained Salon. She lived in various parts of Europe and has been to countless festivals, encuentros, marathons and what-nots in these two decades.
But today, she says, she no longer experiences the long-lasting tango highs.
"And what do you mean by a long-lasting tango high?", I ask her while we relax with a cup of tea in the post-milonga late hours of the night, keeping our tired feet up.
When I tell my students or tango friends that I consider El Corte my tango home, those who have never been there, often ask what makes it so special.
Well, El Corte is my tango home, but it is more than just that. It is a place where I feel I arrived at and it is a place that I am in no hurry to leave. It is a place where I am embraced and kissed by people who are genuinely happy to see me. It is a place where I can be myself, my FULL self.
It is a place where I used to go to as often as possible. It made me feel perfectly well in my skin.
It is only about an hour into the Saturday night milonga, when I get there, but the marathon location is already steamy hot. The atmosphere feels heavy and muddy thick.
“Oh, wow, that was so powerful! Your turns are amazing!”
“The way you hold your hand? That’s the most comfortable position ever!”
“Mmmhm, I love the way you follow! You are so fast and light.”-
Verbal compliments as such can go a long way.
It was 25 years ago that an American author Gary Chapman first published a book, promoting a concept of five love languages that are represented to a different degree in each one of us.
The other night I made a mistake. At the start of the milonga, with the dancefloor still mostly empty, I went up to a stranger and asked her for a dance. Woman to woman.
She gave me a puzzled look, together with hesitation that lasted a tad bit too long.
I’ve often talked to both leaders and followers about the art of rejection. You see, some people have categorically rejected to dance with me. Being the inquisitive mind that I am, I always wanted to understand. I was looking for anything that would help me understand the rejection as “it is not about me”. Because, secretly, I assume it is a little bit about me.
People always say that women possess an unimaginable tolerance towards pain. I shouldn’t generalize, because there are many shades of women and many kinds of pain, but it is true that women often do not even realize that we have any choice.
I honestly believe so. Here's why.
Let's get honest here.
Sometimes tango can make me feel trapped in a very unpleasant position.
After a decade of dancing as a female leader and teaching countless classes, I can easily say that learning to lead is good for your following. Here is a list of five good reasons for it.
Men often complain about not understanding women. No wonder. It is indeed complicated to be one.
Having a strong sense of nurturing others, taking into account their needs and worrying about hurting their feelings can sometimes turn into hurting one’s own sense of wellbeing.
Let me give you an example.
Usually the best indication of an excellent leader is the musicality and the dynamics of his dancing.
The amazing leaders are not necessarily the most popular or attractive ones, but they definitely have body movement that is innerly aesthetic, coordinated and looks very comfortable. Excellent leaders are simply beautiful to look at.
Learning to lead in tango is a complex endeavor.
We all remember those painful times of going to class (or practicas) with a beginner leader. He was slow to pick it up, he’d step on our toes or bump into our knees, he’d repeat one move over and over and over again, and still not get it.
About 10 years ago, there was an unwritten rule that excellent followers were the ones wearing special "tangowear" and gorgeous comme-il-fauts. This is no longer the case, as tango-tailored clothes have become widely available.
Please, point your heel down while stepping back, follower.
It might feel strange at first, but give it a try. There are at least three advantages to it.
I’ve taught quite a few women who wanted to learn to lead, so I dare speculate that certain parts in leading do come easy for women. So what are women, who are just starting to learn to lead, usually great at?
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I'm Hannah A. Tomšič from Ljubljana, Slovenia. I'm in love with both leading and following in tango. It is wonderful to explore tango indefinitely and to help others learn. Please, join my quest. Ask a question, tell me your story, make me see another perspective. We are all here to learn from each other.