At the milonga . . .
Our out-of-town visitor sat almost the entire milonga, dancing only three tandas all night. I was disappointed not to get to dance with him, but I knew he had taught workshops all day and likely just wanted to unwind. In this Texas heat, I don't think anyone has the stamina they have at during the Fall and Winter.
When the milonga was over we gave each other a big hug and he suddenly, and emphatically, apologized for not dancing with me, which was really unexpected - and very kind. He went on to say that the music he prefers to dance to simply didn't get played very much, so he sat and listened. He only wanted to dance to the music that really moved him. I thanked him for choosing to sit rather than dance to music he didn't care for - and I meant it.
Reflections . . .
This is one of those things we hear about in North America, the milongueros who sit and wait for the music that they love - even if it means sitting all night, but it's not all that common here where milongas are a very social event. It's simply a different experience here, and mostly I can accept that. Especially since I know that it can be very difficult for leaders to sit out tandas, when there are more women than men, with all of those (perceived) accusing eyes asking, "why won't he ask someone to dance?"
Yet for me as a follower, there are few things more disheartening than dancing with a leader who clearly doesn't like the music that's playing. I've had more than one leader tell me, as he was walking me to the dance floor, often for a milonga or vals tanda, that he really disliked that particular song playing. Another gentleman told me that he felt completely bored by the music that had just started, yet still stood there with his hand out.
Then why ask me to dance to it???
When I've suggested that we wait for the next tanda instead, I get a wave, and a "no, no, let's give it a try."
I'm sorry to be blunt, but "give it a try" during practica or class. Milongas are for dancing to music that moves you. If it doesn't move you - if you really dislike it, sit down. Milongas are social events and many times we dance with people simply because we're good friends regardless of the music that's playing. But when you don't feel any connection to the music, is it really fair to your partner to subject him or her to dancing with no connection to the music - especially if you feel like you have to suffer through it?
I would like to draw a distinction here between not knowing what to do with the music, or how to interpret it - and not liking it. There's a big difference. I know that appreciation for the complexities and possibilities of tango music can take a long time and a lot of listening and walking to the music. Often it does take dancing with people who *do* love it, to really feel it. I'm specifically talking about dancing to music one doesn't like out of a feeling of obligation or duty.
For example, I love milongas. I almost can't contain how much I love them. I spent a year being completely afraid of them and sitting them out, so now maybe I am making up for lost time. I seek out leaders who love them too so that I can share that experience - that love for that type of music.
Here's the tricky thing - I learned to love milonga by dancing with people who loved milonga. Makes perfect sense right? But I danced with them at practicas and in classes - not at milongas. I encourage people who have a difficult time with a particular orquestra like Biagi or Pugliese, or other types of music like milonga or vals, to seek out the dancers who love it and ask for their help. Most of the time dancers are more than happy to share their love of a particular type of music. Practicas are fantastic for this. At the milonga however, I really believe a dancer should not be expected to dance with a partner who, at that point in time, simply doesn't like the music.
Have you ever danced with someone who felt like they'd rather be doing something else than dancing to what was playing? Do you ever dance to music you really don't like just because you feel you should?