Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why we blame our men

There is a notable difference between the messages I get from men and those I get from women when I speak with them about how things are going in their tango. 

The men usually confide in me about their frustrations with feeling weak in specific skills, or about other shortcomings they perceive in themselves, such as monotony in their repertoire of movements or in their musicality. Many tell me about their fears and insecurities in the tango environment. 

Women who speak to me about issues in their tango lives, with few exceptions, also tell me about their frustrations . . . not with themselves, but with the MEN at milongas and with the whole tango environment!  

Some women feel it’s not worth getting dressed up and driving miles to a milonga because they’re not going to be invited very much.  They say that the men either dance with their friends or with the youngest, slimmest, prettiest girls in the room. Some women say the men are all looking for more than a dance, whether it’s long-term romance or a fling, and once they understand that you’ve only come to dance, they lose interest and invite the women who seem more available. Tangueras often complain to me about the culture of the milonga being cruel to women and allowing men to be rude.  I hear, “I don’t see why I should be having these problems; I’m a pretty good dancer.”

A red flag always goes up for me when someone points a finger outward for the cause of a problem they are experiencing.

I used to blame the men, too.  I especially blamed the men with whom I wanted to dance, and who didn’t invite me, when I thought I was quite an advanced dancer.

The situations that make a woman complain about the men and about the environment may seem painfully real to the woman experiencing the disappointment.  But I believe that these are just excuses that her mind invents to prevent her from seeing where the true problem lies!

Blaming the men reveals a dependence on them; the tanguera's experience in a milonga depends on the men who invite her.  

That’s because women often depend upon the man for the quality of their tango. 

Here’s why:

If a woman doesn’t have true mastery of her own axis, she depends on the man for her balance.  Even if this dependency is subtle, it is nonetheless a dependency she brings into every tango, with every man.  Unconsciously depending on the man even a little bit for our balance can lead us to feel that he is responsible for the quality of our dance. A man who is a master of guiding the woman’s axis can make a woman feel like she is Geraldin Rojas, but it is HIS skill, and not hers, that is determining her perceived quality of the dance.  After a number of tandas in which a skillful tanguero takes care of his partners’ balance, he is going to want to seek out tangueras who can take care of themselves and be free to really dialog with him in the music.

When a woman has true mastery of her axis, it gives her confidence and a sense of wellbeing that she radiates as soon as she walks into the milonga.  That’s one reason that some women get invited often, and usually by the better dancers.  Though she may be selective, such a woman can still experience joy from within herself when she dances with partners of all levels.

I could write at length on a variety of women’s tango skill deficiencies, such as how most women chronically truncate their steps or pivot to an arbitrary degree, unaware that both the precise length of step and the precise degree of pivot are led by the man. With the right training, the awareness and skills can be developed in minutes, and transform a woman into a more desirable dancer!

But most tangueras don’t have a clue that they lack mastery in such areas of following, and they think their balance is fine (because they steady themselves just a bit on their partners).  Not having any idea that gaps in their own tango skills could be the cause of their unsatisfying experiences at milongas, they look around for probable causes.

I have learned that whenever I catch myself blaming someone else or outside circumstances for my discomfort, inconvenience or unhappiness, I can rectify the situation by looking for the cause of the problem within myself. The truth may hurt at first, but it really does set you free!

If you are a tanguera who has pretty much given up on going to milongas, because you’re sick and tired of the attitude and behavior of the men, I suggest you take a few steps back and do some self-analysis.  What might it be about your own skills or your own behavior that limits your enjoyment of your tango?  (Even if you are a confirmed and happy "tangoholic", asking this question could be a boon to your tango.) *

Happy Thanksgiving! Let's be thankful for our two legs and two feet to move us across a dance floor, and for our two arms to embrace and enchant our partners!  In fact, let's be thankful for both our bodies and our souls that can fully come alive when we dance tango.

* * * * * *

My Diagnostic Evaluation that starts every Private Coaching Intensive for women begins with a “check-up” of 12 women’s skills for all levels, and for intermediate and advanced dancers adds a series of commonly used figures. The check-up reveals the areas that are limiting you in your tango!  At the end of your Diagnostic Evaluation, we decide together on which priority areas we will focus for your Private Coaching Intensive.  Next, we polish up your “Advanced Tango Fundamentals” - the 6 very essential skills that tango teachers usually ignore or gloss over, and follow with deep "laser-coaching" on the areas we determined would make the quickest and biggest positive impact your tango!  See Sheila’s testimonial about her full-day Private Coaching Intensive last week.

* * * * * *

Let me hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

1 comment:

  1. As always, a thought provoking piece which has applications for a man as much as a woman.

    As the weeks go by I am becoming more aware of the gender social dynamics at a Milonga. I too have heard the comments about men (and women !) being picky about their partners.

    There is one particular life experienced tanguera who is always dancing on the floor. She has a compelling exuberance, humour, and sense of perspective as well as being a wonderful dancer to watch and partner. As you observe, she does not need a man, she knows that they will come to her and indeed they do.

    I have also observed Milongas where experienced and talented men seem to prefer to sit and leave many potential partners in the room also sitting. It is great for me as a beginner to have so many openings made available by sedentary tangueros even if I have to accept that I get a dance in the absence of a better offer !!

    In a world where it seems common for women to outnumber men at a dance, do any Milonga communities have a core value where men accept a responsibility to look out for the well being, sense of fun, pleasure and dancing satisfaction of their female counterparts ? If so, how do they achieve this ? From my little experience it does not seem to work if my fellow tangueros sit out the evening.