At the Tango Tea today I had several conversations, both with men and women, about the art of leading.
Every woman I spoke to has a deep respect for guys who undertake to learn the tango: we know you have to not only learn how to dance, including steps, figures etc, but you also have to learn to navigate the dancefloor, and to lead. Also not many men dance, so anyone who does, and who treats their dancing partners with respect and courtesy gets a lot of time from us.
One of the things I enjoy about the Tango Tea is that everyone understands that we were all beginners at one time, and the emphasis is on dancing and socialising, instead of on categorising everyone according to the ‘beginner’, ‘improver’, ‘intermediate’, ‘advanced’ template that can be so divisive.
Of course it is always lovely to dance with someone who whisks you around the dancefloor making you feel like you can’t put a foot wrong, but at the end of the day, attitude is everything. What I mean is that when I am treated with respect and warmth by the person leading, and I don’t feel immediately judged for my ability (or lack of it), I become more confident in my dancing, relax into it, into feeling the lead, and into feeling that connection that tangueros enthuse about (and I dance so much better than if I’m on my guard!). So, girls and boys, leave any corrections of people’s dancing to the teachers! There is always something good about how someone dances – I challenge you to find it!
Back to topic: Leading. Men often feel they have to display virtuoso footwork or be able to lead the ladies into complicated figuras to be a success on the parquet. Not so!!! A well-executed tango walk, with maybe a few ochos, is plenty. If you are struggling with adding everything you have recently learnt to your tango, you are not focusing on the moment, on the music, on your partner. Simple steps, combined with focusing on your partner, guiding them through the busy dance floor with no bumps, giving them respect and attention and clarity of movement and lead is all you’ll ever need to make every woman in the room want to dance with you again and again.
Men really are onto a winner here – keep it simple, be courteous, and come out and dance with us!
PS Since I wrote this post, I have also danced with many wonderful women leaders and seen some men (but not many) follow – same stuff applies! On the day in question though, men were leading, and women following.