What Women Want: Part I



Part I: What Women Don't Want (a rant)

Vignette:

At Weekly Milonga . . .

My partner was wobbly. I struggled to keep my balance, and his, and worked out a sort of equilibrium as long he stuck with walking. My option was to back-lead shamelessly, or give him an early thank you. I chickened out and back-led rather than risk hurting his feelings. (Lesson learned.) Basically, whenever he led something off-axis, I stepped out of it and smiled innocently. When he tried a calecita that was pushing me backwards, I walked a molinete. When he led a gancho that I had no physical way of completing (without twisting my knee painfully), he got an amague.

Then he led a soltada (an under-arm turn) by shoving me out, starting the spin and then letting go. I turned back around, faced him and said, "that's really not something I'm good at," and tried to smile sweetly. "No problem," he answered. Oh good, I thought, problem solved. (I've written my thoughts about soltadas, even well led soltadas, here.)

A phrase goes by and I got another awkward shove into my ribcage, and half a turn with my partner's hand hovering over my head. I turned back around, faced him and said, a little more sternly, "really, I don't care for soltadas."

And then he said the phrase that annoys more than almost any other, "But ALL the girls love them!"

One of the biggest pet peeves I have, when I try to let a partner know (usually during practica, but if the move is causing me pain, during a milonga) that I don't like, or can't perform, a particular move, is the response "but ALL the girls love those!"

So what am I, an apricot?

I'm a girl (well, a woman more accurately.)

If I say I would prefer not to do [move X].  Is that okay?  If it means that much to you to do that move, by all means find one of "all the girls" to do it with you. I won't be offended if you don't ask me to dance. Everyone has preferences. But don't stand there and say all the followers simply adore it, and expect me to go, "gosh, well in that case I'd better get on the ball and start loving it too."

How would you like it if I decide to take up a phrase doing adornos, preventing you from leading something you'd like to do, or maybe some completely un-led boleos - and then answer, "but all the guys love this!" ??

If I do an adornment, or if there's something about my embrace, etc., that I get the sense my partner doesn't like - I try to adapt to him. If I can't adapt comfortably, or I feel too restricted, I just make a mental note not to seek out his cabeceo next time. "No harm, no foul." I don't try to convince him he should be happy about what I'm doing, I just stop doing it.

5 comments:

Robert Withers said...

Hi Mari,
I always aim for comfort, communication, and musicality as my primary goals with a partner.

Some partners seem to like this. Then there are followers who will only dance with guys who are full of fast and complicated steps, whether or not they look comfortable or musical.

I guess it takes all kinds.

I always like your posts,
Cheers,
Robert

Ghost said...

A girlfriend once gave me a copy of The Rules

http://home.online.no/~warnckew/jokes/women-rules.html

Another friend once said that the best way for women to make something clear to him was to hit him with a brick....

In this case I have some sympathy with the guy. Looked at from his point of view soltadas are "advanced" and some women do go all silly (in a good way) when you lead them even badly.

But the important thing he hasn't conciously asked himself is this
"Why would I be taught these in a class _without warnings / caveats_ if they weren't perfectly fine for everyone?"

I mean surely the deal with tango is you learn stuff in the class and then you dance it, right?

And to make matters worse, if he's getting good feedback from other women, then it's a logical conclusion that you're the one who's "wrong". His choices are pretty much
a) Keep his current worldview
b) Come up with some plausible reason as to why you're a specific exception eg injury, so he can keep his worldview
c) Change his worldview

I'm not saying c is imposible, but I don't like your odds :(


(I assume it goes without saying I think c is what he should do)

Ghost said...

PS
"that's really not something I'm good at" can be interpretted in a practica as

"Please lead that on me a lot so I can get better"

(and in fairness some women will actually add that last statement)

Mari Johnson said...

Robert - thank you for your comment, and for being so supportive. :-)


Ghost - great points and you're absolutely right. Leaders are taught and encouraged by teachers (and by a significant portion of followers) that flashy = good. They play the odds and I get that. I just wish that other opinions could be taken into consideration too. I know my odds are pretty slim. One tanguero straight out told me that "if the cute, 20 year old likes ganchos (led or unled), and the more err.. seasoned, 40 year old likes simple, musical walking - well, expect a lot of ganchos."

And regarding the statement "I'm not very good at that. . . " - in practica, you're right, that pretty much means I'm open to working on that (unless stated otherwise). But in a milonga, I would think (mistakenly, probably) that really should indicate "let it go."

hans peter meyer said...

I read WWW 2 before I read this. I like 'em both. Here's a twist (or not): I used to dance a lot w a woman who loved "moves," the more the merrier. As I danced more, and started to learn some of the things you've talked about in WWW1 & 2, my dance got simpler and simpler and simpler. I don't have much interest in dancing w women who want moves; I'd rather walk. And, in my community, there are few experienced tangueras, so the pleasurable dances are almost always very simple w a focus on connection, on being present w the woman and her skill/pleasure thresholds. It's making me a much better dancer. And, like Ghost's friend, sometimes it takes a brick to get me to learn something. Thanks for writing this Mari.
hpm