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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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!

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