There is no easy way to write a blog post like this one. I was expecting to have a hard time finding people to dance with in the Bay Area, but I was also expecting to find a community of people that loved tango.
Why do all the women lean backwards when they dance? I have talked to four tango teachers at this point and they all agree that this happens too much, and no one seems to understand where it came from or why. It is really funny, but every place I have danced in the bay area my follow either thinks I don’t know how to dance, or that I am very good, both of which are wrong in my humble opinion. Every time I dance with a partner that leans back it ends in the tragedy anyone would expect. I step on her feet, I give one direction, she goes another, I am constantly being pulled off my axis trying to keep her on hers, ect.
I am so tired of this that when I go to the milongas and practicas, I watch for the first few tandas so I can pick out the woman I want to dance with. If you want to learn to dance tango but you don’t want to dance chest to chest, please, pick something other than Argentine Tango. Since the beginning of tango, when it was a man dancing with man dance, even during the golden age of tango when it was danced on big floors and was salon style, Argentine tango has been a closed embrace dance, if you have a problem with it, dance American style tango. If you want to feel this dance in your soul, if you want to understand what it means to share a moment, then you have to stop leaning backwards.
This one idea will control all of the other things that you have to learn to dance tango. How can you have musicality if you can’t step with the music? How can you dance together and share the lead and follow if you can’t follow each other’s intention? How can you share a connection so subtle and so passionate if you can’t touch your partner? I don’t believe you can.
I am going to offer a few suggestions, feel free to take them with a grain of salt.
1. Want to dance tango, learn forward, snuggle into the chest of your partner, you might find this uncomfortable the first couple of times you try it, but you will grow to love it fast, I promise.
2. This is a big one as well. DO NOT HANG ON YOUR PARTNER, HE IS NOT A COAT RACK. I was once asked “what is the acceptable amount of weight to put on your partner”, I answered, ‘none’.
3. This one comes from a friend of mine that danced in BA for the first time not long ago. She was told by her partner to stop dancing alone, he said”close your eyes and dance with me”. I will reiterate one more time. When you dance, close your eyes and dance with your partner, talk to his body with yours, and listen to each other’s bodies as you dance, this is tango, even more so, this is the passion of the tango.
Now, I might sound like I am being a little snooty, but believe me, I want more than anything else in the world to have partners to dance with. Believe it or not, outside of instructors I have only found three ladies I like to dance with, and this includes more or less everywhere but the easy bay, where I haven’t been to dance yet.
Ok, this rant is over, I hope not to have upset anyone very much.