|Move along, nothing to see here . . . .|
I had a 'talking to' no less than 3 times weekend before last - all by dancers I deeply respect and admire. They were each very helpful, well-reasoned arguments against what I had "taken to doing lately with a particular leader."
When it happened, I knew I'd hear about it. Mouths turned down at the corners, eyebrows knitted and furrowed, a couple of quiet comments were made. On the milonga floor, my leader was breaking the rules, and I was not only letting him, but worse, I was also grinning madly in response.
It was a threefold milonga scandal:
1. My leader and I changed the embrace from a traditional abrazo, to what would look like an odd practice embrace - his arms over my shoulders and my arms around his ribcage (he's quite a bit taller than I am). It looked like I'd given him a big hug and we just started moving. I'll get to the reason for this in a moment - for now, just know that in my communities, as in most tango communities, it's considered inappropriate to be using a practice embrace at a milonga. Practice is for classes and practicas, not social dancing venues. Which leads me to the second point.
2. We were technically practicing. We were problem-solving - not just dancing socially. For that I do take complete responsibility. The reason was, quite simply, I was leaning on my partner and likely making him uncomfortable. Rather than stop the dance and sit me down, he changed the embrace so that we could both be comfortable and I could regain a sense of my axis. (One of the odd side effects of my training has been a sort of uneven redistribution of muscle mass. This has compromised my balance while proprioceptors figure out where all of my bits are again and retrain the weaker muscles. This particular leader has been helping me regain my coordination.)
3. We also changed roles (very briefly - I doubt it was longer than a single phrase of the music.) The strange and beautiful thing about the embrace we were using was that 'lead' and 'follow' became very blurry, fluid things. Within that embrace I had almost as much input as my leader did on the musical expression in our dance. I commented on it between songs and because I didn't mind what we were doing, we continued in that embrace through next song.
The crowd that night was very, very light and there was loads of room. To my knowledge, I can't imagine how we could have interfered with anyone else - except by the way that we looked. While I danced with this particular leader, I had a whole new understanding of communication in the embrace that I hadn't experienced before. We have danced since then, and periodically take that embrace again.
I will confess, I am a fairly crappy leader. I can manage walking, but only just - and it's not pretty. But for the first time I was able to actually try leading for a few steps in a relaxed, fairly contained, way. As I said - I loved it.
My question is, where do you draw the line? When a couple must make modifications to the embrace for mutual comfort - at what point does it become the business of other couples?