Friday, May 01, 2009

Are you there Leader? It's me. Follower.

There is a phenomenon that I have witnessed in milongas where ever I go, and that is those people who dance for the watchers, not their partner. I have seen this on both sides of the embrace. I often wonder what it is that they find enjoyable about dancing for those who are not in the embrace with them. When you can visibly see the lack of connection, it makes me sad.

And recently I accepted a dance with one of these dancers. I had observed beforehand several telling signs that this leader was dancing for everyone but the follower. There were several flourished arm drops and embrace adjustments, there was a constant look about after completing several "advanced" patterns, and when close to those of us sitting, those complex patterns came out in full force, regardless of the music or follower's abilities.

Why did I accept a dance with this person?
Curiosity really.
I mean, curiosity did kill the cat, but satisfaction brought him back.
Only this was satisfaction in knowledge, not experience.

It was so bizarre, I could feel my leader's attention on everything but me. There was a void there between us, regardless of being in open or close embrace. There was a certain amount of "Look Ma! No Hands!" to the feel of the lead. And I have to admit, when I felt those complex patterns coming, I became rather active and tried to alter/slow down/offer something different. However nothing I did was heard. I felt bulldozed. So all I could do was a tip I read years ago in someone's tango blog (I feel bad not remembering who it was, if anyone knows, please give credit for me!), where instead of slowing down and becoming heavy, which makes a leader push you more at times, I decided to try to be highly responsive. I stepped a little further, a little faster, a little over pivoted, a little more than every lead.
That got my leader's attention, however not really in a good way. This I think was seen as a challenge, and suddenly I felt like Tango Dummy. I might have thrown down the gauntlet, but my leader was throwing down everything including the kitchen sink!

It was an incredibly unsatisfying dance. But it proved my thought that if it looks unpleasant from the outside, it most likely is unpleasant from the inside.


me said...


Anonymous said...

One of the best things about having been around a while is that these bozos know better than to ask me to dance :-)

Alex said...


Elizabeth said...

Sadly, this seems to be a typical attitude among certain people. And Johanna is right, after awhile they know better than to ask. I am cultivating a partner list that incluces only people who really tango...and tango is so much more than fancy dancing.

Anonymous said...

This reinforces my practice partner's views about "look good" tango vs. "feel good" tango and that I, as a leader, should be focused on feel good tango, since it also looks good :)

daviddemello said...

I wonder if anyone knows the origin of the title of A la Gran Muñeca, written by Miguel Osés and Jesús Ventura and played by both Di Sarli and Biagi?

It traslates as The Large Doll, and for some reason I've gotten the idea into my head that the piece was originally conceived as an homage to those unfortunate but often very gracious women who dance with partners who see them as little more than a highly articulated mannequin.

Thinking about all that, I really enjoyed your coinage of the term "tango dummy" and will immediately start promoting tango dummy issues awareness at our local milongas and practicas.