Arlene's London Tango Pages

Ask Arlene…About why some teachers want to give a lesson on the dancefloor

Dear Arlene,

Here is the question I have been pondering for quite some time. Why do so many instructors try to teach at a milonga. When I go to a Milonga I always seem to come in contact with instructors who want to teach at dances. I have had them come up to me and say you need to fix this or that, and I think the best one was one who came up to me and asked me to dance. I said yes and as I was dancing I noticed she was trying to back lead. Then she said that all men should come to her for musically lessons. After the first tango and while waiting for the next song in the tanda I said the following, “I come to Milonga’s to dance, visit with friends, and have a good time. If I wanted a lesson I would go to a studio and take one. Now you can either let me lead and enjoy the rest of the tanda or I will say thank you and go sit down.” She was so shocked she left the floor. I rarely dance with instructors, I have some great friends that are instructors, and have asked this same questions to them. The only thing they told me was they believe the instructors are using the milonga’s for new students. Please let me know how people in the UK feel about this.

Best Keno

Dear Keno,

I am afraid that I have to agree with your friend.  I am not happy about lectures on the dancefloorwith even the best intentions.  You are right, if you want a lesson, then you should go to a class and pay for one.  Milongas are for relaxing and having a good time, after all, that is what you are paying for, and it is up to you to decide how you will spend your evening.

I do think that if a teacher wants to drum up business, it is a good idea for them to be seen dancing at the Milongas and to dance occasionally with new people.  If people like the way they are dancing, then it figures that they might get students for their classes.  When I first started going to the Milongas I would watch the teachers.  If I liked what they were doing, then I would try a class.  Some are better dancers than instructors.  Most of the teachers in London do not usually dance with people outside their circle or only with some of their students.  Like anyone else, they also want to enjoy themselves.  I have heard from a couple of teachers, especially the women, that there are people that think they are so wonderful if they get to dance with a teacher, so most of the teachers are very selective with who they dance with.  I don’t blame them for that.

As for a teacher criticising their dance partner’s skills on the dance floor in order to drum up business, I personally have never experienced it or heard of it happening, and certainly not about any of the longstanding instructors here in London.  That would just be too rude.

I think you did the right thing in saying what you did.  I like your style!