Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ups and Downs and All Arounds....

There is nothing like having it brought to your attention in a crystal clear way that you are still just not good enough. Despite working hard in practice to become a better dancer, despite losing yourself in the music and the movement and enjoying your leader's lead thoroughly.... despite all of that, it can still not be enough. It seems to be a common theme with me, and perhaps with others, I reach a point where I become happy with myself. I am proud of the journey I have taken, I am proud of reaching a point where 90% of the time I am moving well and feeling the music, I am proud of my feet, of my musicality, of my connections. And then, whammo! Apparently not so much. It is exhausting really, and although I know I should not take it personally. I can not help it at times because dancing to me is personal. It is me.

I do know that I am at a point that leaders dance with me not just because I show promise, but because I am now showing a style. Which honestly rocks my world. The other night at my happy milonga, one of my favorite leaders interrupted a conversation I was having because a milonga set was on, he wanted to dance it , and he wanted to dance it with me. You could have given me a puppy and I would not have been happier. It absolutely made my year, that moment. And then shortly after that, on another night, when there were the elite surrounding me, and in 4 and a half hours I danced 5 tandas and two songs. And three of those tandas and one song were with Sorin, they were good tandas and I had a great time dancing with him, but I know that he will dance with me even when the room is heavy with advanced dancers. Sometime near the end of the night, I simply took my shoes off. It seemed farcical to me to keep them on after sitting for almost 90 minutes. Darling that he is, before we left, Sorin danced one more song with me when he was completely out of steam and I was in my stockinged feet. And full of energy, while everyone else was depleted from dancing. Memories of childhood were surfacing, being chosen last for whatever game we were playing as I was the smallest, youngest and slowest in my class. Those feelings , although buried deep, still resonate no matter how old, confident and secure we become in life. Ironic.

The ride home I tried to discuss this unemotionally, but it was hard to do so. I found myself fighting tears a couple of times, desperate to not let the wound show. But wound there was. And it pissed me off that I felt that way. Even now after a little time has passed, it still pisses me off that I am still upset about it. But what to do? Practice harder? Ask for feedback from those who chose to not dance with me? Work on becoming more like the followers that they do ask to dance? Change my perfume? Wear a different color?

I am thinking that I will simply continue on the path I have started on, work towards becoming the dancer I want to be, and do my best to not be upset when I am snubbed, feel slighted, or sit for hours on end.
And maybe, if I am disciplined enough, it will stop smarting when these nights happen....

In the words of a tango blogger whose writings I sorely miss...
me - 5
TangoCoaster - 1.5 million

But a least I have 5.


La Tanguera said...

Oh Debbi, I know what you mean. It's one of those things that is hard to understand, but it happens to most of us, I think. Tango can be so weird sometimes. And bad nights can be such self-esteem killers. But we all have them, and I think part of the process is to fight those self-esteem attacks and remain confident in ourselves... (I know, I know, easier said than done..).


Caroline said...

Debbi, I still have those nights. Some nights, I float home and other nights, I would think I should have stayed home.
Friday night, i was so tired but went out anyway. One of my favourite leaders asked me after 2 songs if I still wanted to keep dancing. Ouch.
But I knew it wasn't personal, I just wasn't on my game - I was too tired to be on the ball and he knew.
After 2 years, I've learned some things. Much of the time, it really isn't personal. I mean, think about it...there are some leaders we prefer not to dance with and that might be the case vice versa. I don't like nuevo and I don't like open embrace. I stay away from those who have that bent. Maybe they stay away from me for the exact same reason.
And some leaders learned some things about me. They know I like slow and romantic so they would ask me IF I am not on the floor for those particular tandas. I've realized some leaders prefer certain women for certain music, or on their mood.
But Debbi, honestly, I've seen you dance and you've no reason to have esteem issues for you can certainly dance well. In fact, there are some Montrealers who said glowing things about you.
Just chalk it off as "one of them days" sort of thing...easier said than done, 'tis true but really, off nights are bound to happen. There are some nights I would sit for 2 hours before finally getting on the floor, having one tanda after another. That's what I liked about milongas in Argentina - it's not just a place to dance but to socialize - so if I'm sitting, at least I'm sitting and talking and laughing. I wish it's like that here too.

Debbi said...

Thank you ladies! It really is strange how nights like these can just plummet your self esteem into the depths. But I do realize that I am in a good place in this crazy topsy-turvy tango world.... I just have to try not to focus on the why's when these things happen and just shrug it off. Hope to get there one day.....
And Caroline - there are quite a few Montreal leaders whom I raved about! Hope to get back up to visit soon, once the thaw comes! :-)

Amber said...

Oh I can SO relate, and I've been dancing for over 10 years now! It really does happen to all of us, and it's hard not to let it hurt you when it does.

Hang in there! Just remember why you dance in the first place... and stay true to what you love.

NYC Tango Pilgrim said...


Don't take that seriously. It is not you, it is the guys. Certain guys (or dare i say most of them) would rather dance with single women for variously obvious reasons. If the milonga is full of single women, what is the point to ask someone else's gf or wife? Tango is so much enjoyable if danced freely.

Try to go out one night without your bf and see if you get more dances. Then again, you've probably had the best tanda of the night, you had danced with your loved one.

Debbi said...

Thanks NYC - I have heard this before... single women do get asked more often, even by men who are taken. Such a strange thing....
And going out without Sorin would be neigh impossible, as we have one option per night here in Boston, and since he is always wanting to dance..... it would be difficult to go without him, not that I particularly want to, I love dancing La Cumparsita with him at the end of the milonga.

Debbi said...

Thanks Amber! I guess it is good to know that we never stop caring about our dance and our connections, even after 10 years.... :-)

Alex said...

Hi Debbi,

From a leader's perspective...yes, it could be your perfume. If I dance with a woman who is wearing funky smelling perfume, I won't dance with her again. I keep encountering some scent that smells like "OFF" mosquito repellent. No bueno.

Good clean soap and nice shampoo smells are nice enough. When a woman smells good, when I can smell her freshly shampoo'd hair...mmm.

And, most women know this, I'm sure you do too - perfume is meant to be smelled by others within 1.5 to 2 feet. If I can smell a woman's perfume from 6 feet away - or 60 - no bueno.

The other biggie for me is eye contact/smiling. I am shy, so when a woman makes eye contact and smiles at me, that is a huge open door. To me, this is the precursor to cabeceo. If a follower smiles or says hi at the water table - and then cabaceos me later - she's guaranteed to get a dance.

Another one is proximity/ availability. The women sitting on the front row (backs to the walking aisle), or in a group - make it difficult to cabeceo or directly walk up and ask. Women standing against the back wall (talking festival venue) or standing/walking anywhere - open themselves up to contact/ cabeceo/ asking. Plus, that way I can tell how tall they are. I'm 6'-4" in my tango shoes - so I prefer to dance with taller women.

And yes, men are pigs. We are subject to the primal/visual laws of nature. Use your feminine wiles and ways. But in a classy/sexy way, not to the point of "floozy". Classy is good, floozy I stay away from.

One of my potranca rusa friends (russian filly) was she was complaining of not getting dances once - I suggested (because we are close friends) that she should buy a Victoria's Secret Miracle Bra. I'm happy/sorry to say that it made a huge and immediate difference.

Even when we seem like Tango Angels, we are still pigs at our primal core. Capitalize on that.

The single/married thing doesn't discourage me - unless she is sitting right next to her husband (boyfriend) and dancing only with him all night.

And lastly, her dancing ability/experience doesn't necessarily mean much (for me) - if she has her axis (not leaning/hanging on me) - and is fun to dance with - that's what it's all about.

In the end, as hard as it is, try not to take it personally. I know it must be hard to sit and sit without being asked. But there are usually guys like me looking for girls like you.

tangobaby said...

Hi Debbi,

Thank you for being brave and sharing your experience. I think it helpful for all of us to be reminded that we all go through phases like this and to know that other people understand helps us not feel too badly.

I hope this time passes quickly for you. I'm sure it will.

Anonymous said...

Debbi, I can't tell you how relieved I am to read your post. My husband and I go to milongas and I find it's always the single women that get asked much more than I do (and I'm not a bad follower -- not great but I've only been dancing for 1.5 yrs). I dance with maybe 2-3 other men and the single women are up dancing all the time.

My teacher looked at me like I had two heads when I told her that single women had better chances of dancing than married women, so I thought it was just me (she's single & a topnotch dancer), but you and your readers have confirmed my theory! Thank you.

And thanks to Alex for some tips too... that is one thing I'm not good at... circulating, etc.


Debbi said...

Thanks everyone for your comments and thoughts. This seems to be a topic hat is prevalent in all tango communities. I do not think that it is my relationship status that caused me to sit that night, I am usually up dancing at milongas and I have never thought that my relationship has ever cost me dances with leaders whom I want to dance with. My observation is that those who dance only with single, attractive women are usually not the sort of dancers I enjoy dancing with. They are not interested in the dance, they are interested in other things.... which affects their dance in a negative manner. But that is an interesting topic for discussion.

Longamil said...

I suggest organizing a "Ladies Choice" milonga to teach all the guys a lesson! No guys are allowed to ask any of the Ladies to dance...

It would also get more of us ladies in the habit of asking a leader to dance. There's nothing wrong with that - its not like you're asking or implying anything more than that!

Gustavo said...

One of the reasons for doing cabeceo is that it's a way for the woman to choose who she dances with, so pay attention to those suggestions posted by Alex because he's right on. He must have been dancing in Buenos Aires at some point, and Debbi, you're gonna have to go there sometime and then you'll see that all those "big fish" that you see there in Boston would be complete beginners and maybe even branded as barbarians in Argentina. Just dancing more than one tanda with someone is a little silly, we end up doing it here because there isn't a good tango culture yet, but it makes for people to dance with less people and that's not good if we want tango to grow in the States. Having a milonga where only girls ask to dance is sexist and dumb. Girls ask me to dance often because I'm awesome (it's my Argentinidad kicking in, sorry) and Awesome as I am I can tell you all that Debbi is one of the best dancers in the Boston Area and I try to dance with her every time I see her (not always successfully unfortunately). I've been dancing for about 8 years, I'm Argentinian, and trust me, I know what I'm saying. She has a great embrace, she never anticipates, she's super-musical and puts all the feeling into it. That's enough for a good milonguero to make the magic happen, and if it doesn't, I know it will be my fault. And I am a married dude myself so I don't give a flying "f" about who's single or not.

So, Debbi, everyone has a bad night , I've been there (from a guy's point of view) and I know it sucks. Just keep in mind that we do this for fun and don't torment yourself too much thinking about what you should do different, 'cause you're doing great.


tangodog said...

Unless you are certain it is not personal, never take it personally! It takes two to tango and the other person is full of his own issues. We have a thin veneer over our outsized egos, and if we are any good as a leader at all, there are many followers trying to get our attention. Not a fair situation, but nobody promised fair...
Some reasons for the perceived slight:
-Visitors from out of town or an old favorite that just showed up
-Previously promised dances
-Leaders trying to get around to everybody
-Leader's having short term 'tango affairs' with a follower (it happens)
-Sore back (my personal issue)
-Bored with our own dancing, so we try to find new followers (chasing the ghost - actually a big motivation for us)
-Bad dance timing (a bigger issue than one might think)
You are a wonderful dancer. Don't let us guys make you think any different...