Tango is not only a fascinating dance but also a fascinating philosophy, culture and lifestyle. The search of tango is the search of connection, love, unity, harmony and beauty, i.e., an idealism that is not consistent with the dehumanizing reality of the modern world. The world divides us into individuals, but tango unites us into a team, community, people and species. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through fraternity, cooperation, accommodation, reconciliation and compromise. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.
August 5, 2009
Why People Quit Tango
People rarely quit tango due to the dance itself. Instead, it's often a result of issues with other dancers. Dancing tango involves interacting with people, but people are a lot more complicated than tango steps. People come in diverse personalities, preferences, skill levels, values and prejudices that can sometimes be hard to reconcile. People can be kind, friendly, considerate and encouraging, yet they can also be selfish, rude, mean and demotivating. People can be as open-minded, tolerant and acceptant as they can be discriminative, arrogant and snobbish. And people have egos, they are easily hurt and difficult to forgive. It won’t take many negative experiences to ruin someone's interest and cause them to quit. Being social dancers means that we must learn about people as much as we do about tango. Improving our dance skills is important, but improving ourselves as persons and developing our interpersonal skills is even more crucial, because an intimate dance like tango can bring as much comfort and joy as it can bring hurt. The enjoyment of tango depends very much on the relationships of the dancers and the dance environment impacted by each and every participant's conduct. Therefore, a friendly, welcoming, cooperative and accommodating culture within the tango community is particularly important. Unfortunately, in a society that embraces individualism, that is often what's missing in our tango.
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Me gusta creer que bailar el tango nos hace mejores personas, pero no estoy seguro que eso sea verdad. Excelente post.ReplyDelete
Improving our dance skills and improving us as persons is one and the same. If someone quits tango is not because of people: it is because that person is not really interested in tango. If what you want is tango, that is what you get. If you do not really look for tango, you are going to get less than it.ReplyDelete
I have the feeling that we don't go to the same places ! I think that it would be very easy if dancing with somebody would just depend on you.
As much as I know there are 2 people involved.
As a woman, try to be big and ugly, or old, even with a good level, I'm afraid you will not get all you dances and "plachar" a lot. "Planchar" : special expression invented to say that you sit so much that you iron your dress !
I have examples of that women that I like to lead as they are so reactive and interpret so well the music, even if I lead with hills and if I' 50 pounds less than them. But they don't get dances.
I know lots of people who were less attracted by swing & Co or salsa, but who preferred to switch as tango was already to hard for them or they were bored to see a big part of the people unhappy because of the competition.
You really believe that, don't you.Delete
You are missing the point of the article. Just because a person has wonderful dance technique, he/she may lack dance etiquette and social graces.Delete
I agree 100% with you..our Tangueros think they are Gods on Earth..I am leaving Tango after almost 8 years ,all because of attitude of our Dear Tangueros!!!!Delete
I like this: a reassuring and useful reminder of the social aspects of social tangoReplyDelete
Would should remember also that in the U.S. most tango communities are quite small. A small community requires much more of each of it's members to remain active and to grow, making a pleasant past time often seem like another job. Many people take "time off" from tango for varying lengths of time simply because of burn out.ReplyDelete
That's an interview I made some months ago in La Gazzetta Tango.ReplyDelete
I speak especially about the different kind of people how have it hard in tango and the lack of kindness.
I respectfully disagree with Marcelo. Improving dance skills is *not* one and the same as improving us as a person. For decades now I have been observing some very skillful tangueros be snobbish and discouraging of newcomers. I've seen antisocial behavior in a supposedly social dance form, especially directed toward less experienced dancers. One technically skilled man recently said to a woman, "Don't ever dance with a man who isn't an excellent dancer, because he will corrupt your style, and then none of the good men will ever dance with you again." What an ugly, elitist statement, certainly not coming from an "improved" man. Social means being kind. And respectful. Of everyone. These attitudes are what Paul Yang is addressing, imo, and he has done it beautifully.ReplyDelete
Richard, you put my thoughts into writing better than I could. The tango snobs are ruining the Argentine Tango community. I admit it, I'm a beginner. I was a beginner in salsa too, but salseros are welcoming of newcomers, and few use their advanced dance skills to lecture the less skilled or teach while on the dance floor. I got better at salsa partially because of that welcoming attitude. I don't get that from the milongas I've visited. Dancing with an advanced dancer should encourage you to get better, not discourage you into thinking it's hopeless.Delete
Marcelo, I recognize your name, we're both in the same metro area. I haven't taken any of your classes yet, but I hope you're addressing this issue. Argentine Tango is difficult enough, partially because it's a very different partner dance, so we don't need the snobbery that appears inherent in the community. Simply, an advanced tanguero can either look down his/her nose at the beginner and get snippy about the mistakes, or instead model good dancing, laugh off the mistakes, and encourage the beginner to keep going. The latter is what will keep people dancing Argentine Tango.
I imagine folks in various communities would agree that more experienced tango dancers should be more welcoming to beginners. As an experience dancers, I'm often surprised that some organizers will hardly greet newcomers beyond taking their cover charge at the door.Delete
People new to tango should know that there is a considerable difference between the práctica (practice time) and milonga. Práctica is where tango dancers bring all their ingredients (new moves, balance, posture, embrace, etc) to inspect, and then improve and polish their dancing. These are ideal for newbies and even advanced dancers, but so few communities host practice sessions. In essence, práctica represents dedicated time and space to address and correct areas of difficulty, get feedback on one's embrace and other aspects of dancing - all in preparation for the milonga.
For devotees of tango, the milonga represents the culmination of classes, workshops and practice - IT'S THE CAKE - where all the ingredients have combined and set. Too many beginners are lured into tango without understanding that more advanced dancers seek out competent dancers at milongas - not people who can't maintain their balance, execute a molinete to the beat of the music, or walk without stepping on their partners feet. Add to it, milongas are not designed for instruction and tango etiquette advises against teaching during these events, so dancers who need practice will only know their dancing is less than desirable because few people will invite them to dance (if any).
In my community, I host a very encouraging, welcoming, mistake friendly, and affordable practice ($5) that is poorly attended - however people regularly flock to milongas, festivals and very expensive weekend workshops with traveling maestros, but never practice what they've recently been taught (and what they THINK they know). As a result, their dancing at milongas is woeful and very uncomfortable. Unfortunately, few dancers are really growing and very few are fun to dance with because they don't practice.
Both new and long-time tango dancers who don't practice cannot and should not expect dancers who train and study to scoop them up at milongas, particularly if they consistently fail to take advantage of affordable practices where they can improve as dancers.
Well put. Tango is an intimate dance and it is easy to offend and be offended. We have to be on our best behavior when we enter the tango embrace but sometimes it can take years to learn that like it did for me. I was very crude when I started but tango refined me and made me into sugar:-)ReplyDelete
Shut your eyes! Imagine a soul to soul connection! Feel what you feel! Free your creativity and be joyful! Celebrate life and your connection to your fellow humans! Dance as if your life depends more on it! Tango is a spiritual experience!ReplyDelete
I am not that long into Tango. It is about one year now. I never really thought about stopping, but I also had experiences, that have made me question myself. Maybe it is because everyone is looking for something else in Tango. Some for the "perfect wave", others for a mate, others to be a virtuoso in stepps and figures. Tango can be really good, if we go beyond our ideas, how something or someone has to be. Then it can be surprisingly pleasurable. Maybe social dancing and dealing with people means, that we are open and commit ourselves to a dance or dancer for a tanda, I don't know. If quitting Tango is about people, but if it is that, than maybe it is like in real life and we should be sure, that we will attract dancers, that fit with us and we can spend some joyful moments. And the others.. never mindReplyDelete
The reasons people quit tango are multitudinous. I would venture a guess that 33% quit because of tango the dance/the music, 33% quit because of people/clique-ish-ness/elitism, and the other 33% for other reasons - time, money, children, health/injury. Also don't forget sexual harassment/inappropriate behavior - throw that into either the "people" or "other" categories.ReplyDelete
Clay Nelson (Valentango & Burning Tango Festivals) published a "Why I Quit Tango" survey back in 2009, but people are still completing the survey to this day. Here's the link to the results page - although you have to drill down into the "Comments" links to really get into the nitty gritty of why people are saying they quit:
I took the liberty to distill the results including the comments into a pdf to make for easier reading - it's 58 pages. Here's the link to the file in my public DropBox folder: