Ask Arlene…There’s a hack teaching in my town!!

Dear Arlene,

I have to travel a long distance to dance Argentine Tango.  Although it is inconvenient, the travelling was worth it as I had made some nice friends and I got some lovely dances over the years.

So when I heard that there was someone teaching and setting up a Milonga in my area, I was very excited and couldn’t wait to go and try it out.  I arrived at the back end of the Beginner’s class, quietly put on my shoes and observed.

Arlene!!! You wouldn’t believe what this guy was doing!  At first I didn’t understand what the exercise was as most people looked confused.  I worked out that they were trying to do some version of the basic 8 that gets taught!  My God!  These people weren’t even being taught how to do a basic walking step!  The leaders were taking backwards steps and doing some sort of rocking motion!  When the teacher was demonstrating what he wanted them to do, he had more bounce in his step than Tigger!  Then, this is the worst bit; he touched a couple of women on their coccyx (tailbone) to demonstrate how the woman should move into him (his pelvis) while he was leaning backwards!  What????!!!!!  Ew!!!!!  That creeped me out so badly and made me feel sick.

I recognised a couple of people from Modern Jive and they were all looking really hopeful and enthusiastic.  They haven’t got a clue!  I felt so bad that I had to leave.  Sticking around for the Intermediate or Advanced class would have been a complete waste of time as there isn’t any Tango where I live.  If this is what was being taught in the Beginner’s class, I shudder to think what he would be teaching in the other classes!

So, what do I do now?


Disappointed Beyond Belief

Dear Disappointed,

I must say that I felt a bit queasy about what you described.  It does irk me when I hear of people teaching Argentine Tango that have no business doing so or think that after spending a bit of time in Buenos Aires makes them qualified.  People get so desperate to learn this wonderful dance that they will go to the first person in their area teaching.  I would know because my first teacher was someone who taught conveniently close to me when I lived in London.  Although he may be infamous, my first teacher actually does know how to dance Argentine Tango very well.  He just prefers to go a bit willy-nilly and teach show steps.  His warm –up exercises teach style and balance in the walk and his enthusiasm for what he does inspired me to broaden my horizons and take lessons from others.  That is when I found out I couldn’t really dance after all and had to start all over again.  🙂  Live and learn!

I am afraid that you may have to continue travelling for your dances like I do until someone who actually knows how to teach the basics eventually gets to your area, and leave this guy to his own devices.  I don’t expect he will last in your area too long.  Have you ever considered starting your own Milonga with someone who can teach the basics?

Any comments from my readers are welcome.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sophie Tango
    Mar 23, 2011 @ 11:54:35

    Please name and shame, so people who google teachers find something other than glorifying marketing lies…

  2. Chris, UK
    Mar 23, 2011 @ 11:55:07

    Dear Disappointed,

    What should you do now? Provide an alternative for the newcomers who’ll be attracted by what this new teacher is offering but then as repulsed as you by what he’s delivering. And hope he lasts longer that Arlene suggests – every growing tango scene benefits from a sink school.

    Yours, Chris (in growing Cambridge)

  3. Irene and Man Yung
    Mar 23, 2011 @ 16:42:21

    Dear Arlene,

    We nearly started Tango by taking classes with a hack ourselves…this gentleman has now retired from tango because he has realized that people were quite a bit more knowledgeable going into Tango than they were ten, fifteen years ago and would spot his deficiencies right away. It’s all thanks to Youtube – for every bad example of tango there is a good one, and hopefully (cross your fingers) even a newbie could tell the difference between the good and the really bad.

    Unfortunately, many of the people who did take classes with the hack eventually dropped out of the tango scene. It is possible to learn so many wrong things that one loses hope and gives up.

    Irene and Man Yung

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