A rare stellar alignment resulted in far more men at the last milonga than women. While I enjoyed dancing nearly every tanda (though my feet are now less than impressed by that fact), it brought other things to light that I would have preferred not have had to deal with. When there are far more men than women, it can feel particularly obvious (I'm not sure that's the word I mean, but I can't think of a better one) when certain men don't want to dance with you. When there are 5 or 6 men that appear to rather sit out than ask the one woman left sitting (me, in this case) to dance, it stings. I know appearances can be deceiving - and I have been known to be airheaded and miss cabeceos from leaders. But when it's the entire evening - and the same leaders, it's hard not to take it personally.
Still, I've learned to try to make peace with that and not make too many assumptions about it. However, the situation was made far worse that night when another dancer suggested that I wasn't trying hard enough to circulate. At the time, and maybe still, it felt like insult added to injury.
At one point there were three men at my own table I would have loved to dance with and none of them cabeceo'd me. But again, I've been known to be oblivious. I tried to make eye contact with each one of them, but after a few short remarks - no invitations, no cabeceo. So I had a second tanda with a few of the previous leaders I had danced with. When I sat down again, I tried again to cabeceo the three previous gentlemen, and a fourth who had just arrived. Again, nothing.
Now, there were a few leaders there that almost never ask me to dance - and so I don't get especially offended when they don't ask. They're often the more advanced leaders that dance more open and lean almost more toward a nuevo style. They're beautiful leaders and I would certainly accept their invitation, but I might have trouble following some of what they lead, and they probably know that. Or they might think that because I dance primarily "estilo milonguero", that's all I want to dance. Whether that's what puts them off or whether it's my ranting in my blog about boloe/gancho craziness, or something else entirely - who knows. I just don't hold my breath for their invitations. So just to be clear, the men that I was trying to make eye contact with were leaders who I've danced with before, and dance more close embrace generally.
I wanted to circulate and to dance with gentlemen I hadn't danced with - but failing that, I still wanted to dance. So a leader I had danced with twice already cabeceo'd me for a third tanda. Another leader made a stern comment to him about noticing that this was our 3rd tanda and then told me I need to circulate. I was even surprised at how irritated I was by his comment.
First of all, I had just finished dancing with the leader who was criticizing me. Second, I had tried to be available and cabeceo other men, but I can't make them ask me!
Here were my options as I understood them.
1.) Turn down leaders I'd already danced with - in which case, I'd have to sit out that tanda anyway, or
2.) just get up and dance.
Will people talk? How the heck should I know? Ultimately, this is a man's game. I had, I thought, done what I could to try to let them know I was interested, but I'm not going to turn down invitations and sit out tandas, to try to work out if someone else is going to ask me. Usually I have no problem abiding by milonga etiquette and occasionally doing something (or not doing something) because of how things might appear but that night, I'd really reached my limit.
When there are far more followers at a milonga, than leaders, I admire the gentlemen who make such an effort to get around to as many of the followers as possible. The gentleman who was criticizing me, was actually one of those men who makes such an effort. But the rules of the game are not the same for me as they are for him. I can only decline invitations, not make them - or I risk getting negative comments about being too pushy by asking.
In the end, I danced with the leaders who asked me and, focusing on them, tried to push all the other nonsense thoughts out of my head. I had to take my own advice. The milongas, and life, are too short for me to concentrate on the men who aren't asking me to dance.