Ask Arlene…About Lectures on The Dancefloor, Again!

Ageism?

Dear Arlene,

I haven’t found a better place on the website to ask the question, so here goes: I have been dancing tango for a couple years, and have found myself at a disadvantage because I look young! While I’ve had some wonderful partners in the milongas, I also have had a fair share of rather unpleasant experiences with men who, having decided that I must be *very young*, proceeded to lecture me on my mistakes etc (this happened in a couple places). I have no problem with constructive criticism, nor am I a terrible dancer (at least I hope not), but it is the tone that has bothered me. It can put a dampener on an otherwise nice evening. Has anyone encountered a similar issue, and is there an etiquette about a partner commenting on the lady’s performance?

Many thanks,
Delia

Dear Delia,

I have addressed this topic here and here.  It seems as if it might need repeating.  There is no real etiquette about this sort of thing that people follow, otherwise they would only use the cabeceo, etc., just some common sense about how to deal with people.

There are some people on the planet that feel the need to tell others what to do in order to big themselves up.  It comes from a lack of self-esteem.  It has nothing to do with how young you may look.  It can happen to anyone at any age.  Sorry if that doesn’t make you feel special, but that is how it goes.  I don’t look my age, but that hasn’t stopped some men from trying to tell me how I should be following.  If that happens, I just end the dance and leave them on the dance floor these days.  I am tired of playing nice and wasting whatever time I have left on the planet.

So, I will repeat: A Milonga is a place to relax and dance.  A class or a practica is a place to learn, where constructive criticism is acceptable.  End of.

No one likes being patronised when they are out trying to have a good time.  So, Diana, it is up to you to work out how you want to spend your evening.  It is NOT acceptable to be criticised on a fun night out.  Especially as most of the men out there don’t know what the heck they are talking about.  This type of behaviour can really put people off. It doesn’t only happen in Tango either.

The nice thing to say is what the gent said in the post about being lectured by a teacher: “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.”

Or as a woman to a man: “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 lead me (or let me follow) and enjoy the rest of the tanda or I will say thank you and go sit down.”

As I don’t dance much Tango these days, I tend to dance mainly with people I know that won’t do that sort of thing.  Try and be more selective with who you dance with and it will all work out ok.

Happy Dancing!

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chris
    Oct 21, 2011 @ 18:24:33

    There are some people on the planet that feel the need to tell others what to do in order to big themselves up. It comes from a lack of self-esteem.

    Very true Arlene. The proper place for such behaviour is class, where those on the receiving end have at least consented to be treated like that. It’s not appropriate in the milonga, where people go to get away from it..

  2. Danny
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 12:19:50

    Don’t dance with people you don’t like. Use cabeceo. If you dance with anyone routinely, you will meet the dancers the others avoid. But do men chat about women in public? I don’t think so. Well, I don’t. The embrace is a confidential connection. Also bear in mind that tango is predicated, historically, on an assumption that the woman knows nothing. However if he starts lecturing you, he’s probably imitating his teacher. So avoid his teacher as well.

  3. Chris
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 17:36:59

    “tango is predicated, historically, on an assumption that the woman knows nothing.”

    Only in a very short history – starting in the mid 1980s with class-based teaching.

  4. Patricia
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 03:48:01

    I might be accused of blaming the victim here, but I’ll be brutal.

    Anybody who repeatedly puts up with that sort of anti-social behaviour is part of the problem. By doing nothing, or worse still, by accepting such unsolicited criticism at a social function this unacceptable behaviour is reinforced.

    OK, the first couple of incidents might take one by surprise and perhaps leave one dumb-struck. But after that we should be armed with an appropriately firm response. Arlene, your examples are excellent.

  5. Danny
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 07:50:12

    Whether its true that the woman knows.nothing is another matter, but there was a time when only men danced tango, we are told. But my understanding is that ‘bareda’ is an early move where the man physically placed the woman’s foot on the floor where he wanted it, because she hadn’t found the information in the embrace, probably because it was’t there. On the rare occasions I feel inclned to make a suggestion, I ask permission first. Otherwise I make a note to avoid that person in future. But my advice in the circumstances would be to walk off, if you are being lectured. After all, he chose you. It’s his privilege to lead you. If he can’t see that then you don’t need him surely. But cabeceo solves all these problems at a stroke. It’s the only etiquette you need.

  6. Caro
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 10:55:46

    Amen, Patricia, Amen.
    It’s what I call the “do not reward bad behaviour” rule. If you are not applying it: do not come cry on my shoulder.

  7. experimentsinexperience
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 10:58:51

    I actually agree with Patricia: people criticizing is really nothing to be accepted at a milonga. I just leave the leader standing there without a warning shot: “Sorry, this is not a class and people are here to dance, not to be criticized”. Without such a forceful stand the leader might assume that it’s only you who won’t put up with behaviour like that. Luckily things like that haven’t happened to me often.

  8. Danny
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 12:44:05

    Chris, why only since class based learning in the 80s? We’ve been taking classes here in the UK for a hundred years, from before WW1.

  9. Arlene
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 17:36:13

    @ Danny,

    You have obviously changed.

  10. Chris
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 20:15:38

    Chris, why only since class based learning in the 80s? We’ve been taking classes here in the UK for a hundred years, from before WW1″

    I had assumed the tango dancing history you were referring to was that of Argentina. And there, social tango dance classes became common only in the the 1980s.

    If your point “Also bear in mind that tango is predicated, historically, on an assumption that the woman knows nothing.” was in fact referring to UK history, I apologise for my misunderstanding. But then I do then wonder what value there is in that point.

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