Taxi Dancers

According to Wikipedia‘A taxi dancer, or “taxi” for short (the word has been used since circa 1927), is a professional dance partner in a partner dance. Taxi dancers are typically young women who are hired by male patrons to dance with them on a dance-by-dance basis. The term “taxi dancer” comes from the fact that, as with a taxi-cab driver, the dancer’s pay is proportional to the time she spends with the patron. A “taxi” is not a prostitute, and no sexual favors may be expected off the dance floor.’

I have had some experience of dancing with a taxi dancer when I started learning Ceroc.  For about half an hour after the beginner’s class, during the freestyle, there are about 2-4 taxi dancers available (men and women) for the beginners to dance with.  It felt great dancing with someone who knew what he was doing and that also brought it down to my level.  It was only one dance, but it gave me a bit of confidence since I didn’t know anyone there and I was able to get a good lead which didn’t always happen in the class.  These taxi dancers are part of the Ceroc team.  I didn’t have to pay for them directly (unless the cost is part of the entry fee).  This service is usually available during the Monday to Friday dance sessions.

I have been trawling the internet to get more information on taxi dancers, particularly for Tango, but there isn’t much information out there apart from references to or about taxi dancers – nothing that is really specific.

I did come across a very professional website for taxi dancers in Buenos Aires called Tango TaxiDancers.  I read through the whole website.  What they had to say makes a lot of sense for hiring a taxi dancer during your stay in Buenos Aires and I found that there was a general consensus among the other blogs and websites that mention taxi dancing for Tango.

Simply put, because most tourists do not understand the codigos and cabeceo, they may end up not dancing during an evening at a Milonga.  Since the whole idea for a visiting Tango dancer is to have an authentic Tango experience, it would make some sense to guarantee getting some dances in.  If one was smart, one could hire a taxi dancer, sit at different tables, agree to dance and then the onlookers could see how one is doing on the dance floor and perhaps some other dances could be generated.  If a couple were going out for the first time, they could hire a man and a woman taxi dancer for the evening. The men would sit with each other – women likewise, and in-between dances, the taxi dancers could explain how things work in a Milonga and what to look out for.   I think this sort of thing could work very well if it is your first trip to Buenos Aires and you don’t know anyone there.

My only concern would be the quality of the taxi dancer’s dancing skills.  After all, just because they are Argentinean, that doesn’t automatically make them good dancers.  Perhaps if one was a complete beginner it might not matter too much if the taxi dancer wasn’t expert, but one should get value for money.  I have read some interesting stories online about random taxi dancers approaching tourists for work.  I think one would have to be very careful about getting involved with this sort of thing and which is why I think it is very important to get as much information as you can about the people you would be dancing with.

The amount of Milongas in Buenos Aires is huge compared to what we have here in London and since there is the issue of cabeceo that isn’t really used over here, I am not sure how taxi dancing would really be of benefit to the London scene.

There have been references to taxi dancers being provided for various events and Milongas in London over the years and more recently.  I bring this topic up for discussion because whenever I have heard this term used in reference to Tango there has always been an amount of derision coming from the sidelines, and perhaps justifiably so.

I am always skeptical about why people advertise taxi dancers for Milongas or a special event.  I have been to events where taxi dancers have been advertised and have never seen them.  Is it a lure to get as many people into the Milonga with the guarantee of getting a dance?  What is the real intention of the organiser advertising the fact that they have taxi dancers available?  Who are these taxi dancers and what makes them qualified?  Remember, this is London.  The really good dancers are already dancing, with each other.

Granted there are people that don’t end up dancing in an evening for many reasons. Sometimes, there just aren’t enough good dancers to go around in an evening.  Sometimes there are couples that only dance with each other.   I have heard women say that because they are of a certain age, they don’t get asked much.  I am of a certain age and know others of a certain age – we dance – maybe not as often as we would like.  I would rather have quality over quantity.  Well, actually, I would really like to have both, but since I am realistic I will settle for quality.

Let’s face some facts.  There aren’t many guarantees in life.  With all of the talk about refusing to dance with bad dancers (it is supposed to make them improve), it makes sense to me that if you are not dancing it would be a good idea to take a really good look at yourself to work out what you need to improve in order to get the dances in.  Are you networking?  Do you pay attention to your appearance and personal hygiene?  Are you personable and pleasant?  What are your social skills like?  Have you been taking classes – or enough of them?  Learning to dance Tango well involves a lot of hard work, and not just with the technical aspects of the dance.  You really have to put yourself out there.

If you want to dance nearly every dance or more than one in an evening, then take up Ceroc.  There is a general rule that no one should be refused a dance regardless of your level.  After all, it is only one dance.

Tango has its own complicated rules and I am always learning new ones.  Being involved in Tango is not for the faint hearted.  Is offering taxi dancing really going to help matters?

So, does taxi dancing really have a place here in London?  If so, how should it be used?  If not, why?

Over to you.

Ask Arlene…Lectures on the dancefloor?

Dear Arlene,

I was dancing with a good friend of mine and he suddenly decided to give me a lecture on the dance floor about an apparent fault of mine.  (I say apparent because I go to lots of lessons and am aware of what my faults are).   I wouldn’t have minded if he’d been diplomatic about it, or even if he was a more experienced dancer.   But he was quite rude, and he’s certainly not experienced or skilful enough a dancer to be giving so called advice.  If he wasn’t a friend I would have told him he was rude or walked away.  I’m very sensitive and feel very hurt.  Why do men do this?

Lesson Junkie

Dear Lesson Junkie,

Why men do anything is beyond me these days.  Some men behave like idiots and it hurts my brain too much to even contemplate why.  There are times when they speak that my head wants to explode.  For example:

I think I had been dancing about 3-6 months when I danced with someone more experienced than me at El Porteño, and after a couple of dances he told me I had no style!  I had already told him I was a beginner – and during the dance he insisted on repeating a move that I didn’t get and giving me a mini lesson on the dance floor!  Needless to say, I haven’t danced with him since, even though he had asked me a few times.  Now he is teaching Tango!  Go figure!  If I was a lesser woman, I probably would have put away my dance shoes and not gone back.   All I could think was that this guy was being an ass.  The weird thing is, I never said anything back to him.  I think I was in too much shock, which is unlike me as I usually have an answer for everything.  It was early days.

Some men can be really insensitive, arrogant, selfish, or they have such low self-esteem that they need to make someone else feel worse than they do.  Or maybe, goodness knows, they probably think they are actually being helpful.  I can only speculate as I am not a therapist.

There are also men out there who think they know how to lead a move and when the woman doesn’t respond in the way he expects might say something insensitive.  A wonderful lady I know told me in that instance she says, ‘That isn’t how I read it.’  How great is that?!

An experienced dancer should always dance to the level of the beginner and then bring them up by adding new things when the follower is comfortable.  If a woman doesn’t do a move the man asks her, there is usually a good reason for it.  Or maybe that isn’t how they read it.  If a man can’t be civil enough to enquire nicely about it, then they should just be quiet.

There have been occasions when my forward ochos have not been ideal.  One of my regular dance partners and I now have a running joke about whether or not I am in a forward ocho mood.  The first time it happened, my dance partner very sweetly said, “I guess you aren’t in a forward ocho mood.”  I smiled and told him ‘I guess not’.   Now, if it turns out that my forward ochos are leaving a lot to be desired, he just doesn’t ask me to do them – simple as that.  He is one smart guy.

Lesson Junkie, you don’t actually state what was said.  However, as far as any kind of rudeness is concerned, friend or not, I think it is important to honour ourselves and not put up with this type of behaviour.

I am a bit flummoxed for an appropriate response as there are a variety of things that could be said.  I would normally try to put the onus on the other person and ask them why they think it is appropriate for them to speak in the manner they did.  Or you could say to them: “When you say such and such, this is how I feel.  I would appreciate it if you didn’t say anything and just dance with me.”   Complaint with a solution.  If they don’t get it, then maybe you need to distance yourself from them for awhile until they do.  If they are really a true friend, they would surely try to make amends.

There are a lot of women out there that put up with undesirable dancing and behaviour in order to have a dance.   Surely there are more important things to consider, such as being given the respect and consideration that you deserve.  After all, is dancing really more important than honouring oneself?

I do not think it is good thing to criticise the dancing skills of the person you are dancing with unless asked, and that must be done with absolute tact.  If you don’t like the way someone dances, don’t dance with them.  But be careful about being rude, some people actually improve and when they do, you won’t get a second chance.

As my momma used to say, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

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