Teaching at the Milonga


It seems like this has been covered before on nearly every tango blog, yet it always surprises me to see it happen at milongas. There were three instances this weekend. *sigh*

A few words of advice for dancers that feel the need to teach at the milonga . . .

Leaders: Don't assume that if a follower doesn't follow something you led, that she doesn't know how to follow it. To be clear, that doesn't mean you need to assume you led it wrong - there could be other reasons she chose not to follow it (there wasn't room, it was uncomfortable, skirt was too tight/short etc.) To take those instances of a lead being missed, or ignored, as a "teaching moment" at a milonga, may find you getting a lot of averted eyes the next time you look for a dance.

And really, if a leader has to explain a step to get a follower to follow it, there are already problems. The follower wasn't ready to be led the step, or wasn't in a position to follow it for whatever reason and explaining it verbally, in front of others at a milonga, worsens the problem and puts your reputation as a desirable leader on thin ice.

Followers: The same goes for us. Unless a leader is painful or uncomfortable (emotionally or physically), to follow, it is not okay for us to teach at the milonga either.

Teaching, or worse, reprimanding a dancer over mis-followed or mis-led steps, doesn't make you look smart, it makes you look like a jerk.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm in violent and heated agreement.

People teaching at milongas are jerks - total jerks. They are missing the key point that people go to milongas to enjoy the milonga - whether dancing or socialising or whatever, NOT to be told off.

If any men are reading this - DON'T DO IT! Even if you are clever - you can't be THAT clever because you don't get the basic idea - people aren't there to listen to your teaching.

Debbi said...

Isn't it funny how this is never an issue that goes away? It is always prevalent in every tango community.

I once was awestruck by someone who promotes himself as a teacher, and strongly promotes the codigos of tango, including the never teach on the milonga floor. And when he came to my community, I watched him do this very thing. He choose the beginners of the community and then "taught" them how to follow him during a milonga. I also observed him doing this in Buenos Aires.

And it simply amazes me that people still do this, and I have a feeling that we will still be talking about this in 20, 30 or even 50 years....

DQ said...

If teaching happens without solicitation or permission, and such 'teachers' continue to survive or even thrive in their respective communities, then it seems like there is no real consequence to teaching on the floor. And if there is no consequence, then it will continue to happen.

It seems to me like those who will suffer practical consequences of teaching on the floor - the consequence being reduced popularity - are improvers who think rather highly of themselves. There are probably no real consequence for more advanced dancers, and if they are in the habit of teaching on the floor, they will likely continue doing so and get away with it.

Anonymous said...

@DQ - are you suggesting the negative consequence should be naming and shaming on the internet?

Jennifer said...

I vehemently agree with you, Mari! I actually had someone shove against my right arm, shake his head, and say "NO" when I didn't follow a lead at a milonga. Not surprisingly, this made me feel like instant crap during an event that is supposed to be fun. In retrospect I wish I had just walked off the floor when it happened. I would at least have felt some satisfaction at communicating my displeasure instead of finishing out the tanda angry.

DQ said...

@Anon - I'm suggesting that the de-facto values of a community are it's values, and the values that we aspire to but have no plans of ever imbibing are just dreams.

I'd amend the advice as - "Teach at your own peril on the floor. Very few have the social status to get away with it. Aspire to earn the skills and the social status that cones with those skills so that you would be awesome one day, then decide for yourself whether you want to risk teaching on the floor or not".

Frances R said...

Unfortunately, there are always new people who may think teaching at the milonga is OK, some even being grateful for the "advice". And then, there are people who would accept a dance with anyone, no matter how rude and inappropriate. Sad, inexplicable, but true. The negative feedback from the community exists, but so does tolerance, and even reinforcement.

LeadingLady said...

When I started to lead some members had difficulties to accept it. I had a brainstorming evening to create sentences to use if needed – I never needed them but I felt more secure and prepared, calm during that troubled time. Put together some sentences, be prepared! ... but cooperate!

I have even found myself teaching in a milonga! Those times the follower was a new fantastic dancer and I let my dance just to flow. Then we stuck somewhere and I just wanted to get that litle detail right / .... or she eagerly wanted to know how to fix that detail. Today I refuse to tell.

... but I have also seen followers teaching at pistas!