Friday, August 19, 2016

How to be more of a man on the dance floor!

Here's a question I've heard over the years from tangueros. My response may be helpful to you. 

“Helaine, I get intimidated about inviting more advanced dancers.  Do you have any advice for me?”

Lately at milongas in Florida, I’ve been dancing with tangueros of different levels, and I’ve observed something I often miss when dancing with North Americans.  It’s something that I usually do get, with pleasure, from dancers with 20 years or more of experience.  But not always. Sometimes even very experienced tangueros from North America or Europe lack a certain quality.  I’ve heard the same observation from other expert tangueras.

So today I’m going to give you some brief advice, on which I will elaborate in future articles if you want more on the topics below.

My advice is not going to be politically correct, and I don’t care. It comes from something that many of us women feel deeply and have expressed to each other.

What a tanguero needs to make advanced tangueras love to dance with him is: 
 to be more of a man on the dance floor.  

What does it mean “to be more of a man on the dance floor?”

Here are three categories where you can check yourself and focus on specific areas in which you can improve:  embrace, decisivenes, and protection.

1) Your embrace
- That includes both presence with your upper body and intention from there when you move.

- Also, for many of us tangueras, your right arm and hand must be very present on our backs. That doesn’t mean squashing or crushing, of course. But we don’t want it so light that it doesn’t feel like you’re really embracing - or leading - us!  I hear from men that some women do demand a very light embrace; for many of us such an embrace lacks emotion, connection, "flavor", and clarity of lead!

2) Decisiveness in everything
This has value even if you’re making a mistake, because errors in tango usually don’t matter and will be forgotten in a second . . . and they often do work out anyway!  I’d rather that you err boldly than be indecisive.  An indecisive lead is very confusing for women, and ends up being stressful for us to follow!

So be decisive in:
- where you’re going
- what you want to do
- where you want your partner to go
- what you want her to do.

This is a huge part of the clarity of your lead!

3) Protection of the woman

That means:
- protecting her in her space on the dance floor, so she never gets bumped or otherwise hurt, and being very aware of the space she needs to follow what you’re leading. You must be vigilant not to lead her into a potential collision, or lead her to move where she lacks the necessary space to execute what you lead. If you don't master these things, she'll find it stressful to dance with you.

- protecting her axis. This includes getting fully and decisively to your own axis with every step.  It also includes being aware of her axis and respecting it as you lead. And taking it one step further, it includes making sure your partner gets to her axis with every step. Yes, she should be responsible for this on her own. But if she’s not very advanced, or even if she is, making this an integral part of your lead will feel amazing to her, whatever her level! Most professional and very advanced tango men do this automatically, which is why so many women would line up to dance with them. How would you like that to happen for you?

If this topic interests you, we can go into more depth on each of these points in future articles.  Let me know!

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