I ended the agony after four months of a life devoid of tango. I went back to my old tango community a couple of weeks ago. To see if it was a good place to re-start. I attended the class and briefly stayed for a bit of practica. I survived. I even started to feel like I hadn’t been out all that long. I was welcomed with warm tango hugs from many nice friends. Felt good to be back…
Err, not so fast. Today, I had an experience that reminded me why I left in the first place. More importantly, why I became the tango bitch.
First a bit of background..
Let’s call our hero SR. Many moons ago, SR had the fortune of being a regular tango partner for tango bitch while she was still finding her feet. It was fun and games until somebody started ignoring gentle feedback and repeating the very same things that made tango bitch unhappy. The unhappier she got, the bitchier she got. And, soon after, she had to gently put an end to the tango partnership.
One of the things that SR prided himself in was his self-proclaimed subtle lead. He somehow felt he was so advanced in his tango that he could just think about some move and the follower should pick up on it.. that is, if she was good enough.
Ok, yes, there are degrees of listening… yes, some leaders are much more subtle in their leading while others are quite explicit. But tango bitch has the degree of skill to detect no-lead versus subtle lead. And most importantly, she’s at a place in her tango life where she is pretty good at knowing when she’s missed a beat. And in her not-so-humble opinion, there’s a limit to how subtle *most* leaders can be while properly conveying their intention after only a couple of years under their tango belt.
So here comes the rant-worthy moment of this evening:
Tango bitch ends up having the misfortune of briefly practicing with SR when it’s time to switch partners. While practicing a particular move, he stops after a few steps and asks why tango bitch didn’t go into a cross. Caught off guard, she says: “There was a cross?” He unexpectedly snaps back: “Oh, you didn’t like the lead?” Poor puzzled tango bitch fears he misunderstood her tone as sarcastic. She says: “No, it’s not that I didn’t like the lead; just that.. I didn’t sense an invitation.” (She did have to bite her tongue in order not to say “No, it’s not that I didn’t like the lead; just that there *wasn’t* a lead”)
SR is annoyed. Next he tries to be more explicit (“Must get her into that #*$! cross!”). After the third attempt, tango bitch realises this is some half-arsed hurried attempt led in double-time without much warning (and not quite in tune with the music, either). She says “oh, it’s a double-time cross… ok….” hoping to close this unpleasant discussion. He is not satisfied. He needs some kind of revenge. He mutters under his breath “Have to be heavy-handed then..”
Oh no, not THAT. Not the old ugly argument of “it’s not my lead that’s not clear; it’s just that some followers (read: tango bitch) want to be man-handled”……. Last time that topic came up was when she tried to explain to him that sometimes the leader needs to give the follower energy to be able to reverse her direction and achieve the desired effect. He didn’t get it then. He still doesn’t get it.
So much to say about this topic, but I lack the eloquence right now. I had, by that moment, reached the limits of my patience anyway. Quite an achievement for SR to create this tension after less than a minute of dancing. So I said nothing. It was either that or I’d have to bite his head off. Of course, he would have been able to clearly read the displeasure in my face if he wasn’t basking in his moment of glory (!).
The situation just reminds me so much of that movie that I’ve been meaning to watch: How to Lose Friends & Alienate People. I am sure SR and his kind could make a great tango version!