Saturday, October 21, 2006

Leading. And following. And my pants.

No, seriously, my pants. I'll get to them later.

Had my second leading class this week. I'm just going to come out and say it: these men suck. From what I've heard/read/inferred through the laws of the universe, all beginner leaders are terrible, but I think that maybe the guys in my leading class went through a special Suck Training Program to make sure that they would really, truly, put the terror back in terrorible.

As it happens, I put the 'tear' back in terrible, but that's the pants portion of the evening and that comes later.

Anyway, I went to class and we learned the basic. I didn't think I was doing it right at first - I felt my embrace was too stiff, and she was having trouble finding the cross - so I asked her, "How does this feel? Should I loosen the embrace? What's easier for you to feel?"

She looked at me like I was speaking Turkish, but after a moment she thought about it, and said, "Turn your upper body a little more, and give me a little more room for my feet."

Apparently, the guys don't usually ask for advice, since it was such a surprise. However, she gave me that very helpful advice, and after that we totally had it. When partner switch came, the girl who was my new follower looked happy to see me, and as soon as we started I could see why - the guy ahead of us (her previous partner) was HURLING his follower into the cross. It looked physically painful.

"Geez," I said, watching him, "that guy sucks."

My follower laughed, and I laughed, and I totally forgot to walk her out of the cross and that was totally not awesome. WAY TO GO, DORA.

I have found that the best way to soothe a follower (and a lot of them need soothing, they don't like the idea of a woman leader) is to approach them like you've just been assigned her freshman roomie - nonthreatening, we're-in-this-together attitude, smile and dip your head a little, as if coaxing a timid wilderness creature into your embrace!

It works. Usually. I had one partner in class who looked horrified the whole time we were dancing, and I literally couldn't get her to move; I gave the same intent, the same embrace, the same shift of weight, all the warning I possibly could, and she just stood there and let me walk right into her feet. I really really am still upset about this, because as a leader it's my job to correctly telegraph what I intend to do, and I am clearly not stepping up to the plate here. Next week we'll see.)

We went around and around the room, switching really often, which was nice. When I came back to the first lady (who had given me all the good advice) she saw it was me and said under her breath, "About time. You're much nicer than most of these guys. You don't choke me!"

You heard that right - I don't choke my follower! OH HAAAAAAY!

(You see why I worry about the guys in my class. How horrible must they be? Why don't they ask for help? Why don't the women demand they improve? Don't let them get away with it, ladies! Seriously.)

At one point a follower had to leave class for another appointment, so there were too many leaders and someone had to sit out every rotation. Interestingly, none of the guys were willing to sit, so I figured, okay, I'll sit out. No hardship.

The teacher sees me walking over to sit, puts on a truly gorgeous Di Sarli, and motions for me to my fat ass up out of the chair and dance with her. HAHAAH, no pressure!

Needless to say that was awesome, except the part where I didn't know at first she was doing embellishements and I stepped without her being ready and I was immediately worried about what I did wrong until she explained that she was embellishing and should have been ready. I don't think this is true, but you can be damn sure I was careful to pay attention to her weight after that.

All the guys in class totally hated me afterwards, too. Oops.

IMPORTANT PANTS UPDATE: I stepped on them funny and they ripped at the ankle. Very stylin'. Also, nothing like leading with a cuff flapping behind you.


Tangospeak said...

I'm jealous! I want to learn leadng too.

It's really hard to get a beginner leader to listen to you without stepping on his ego. They really don't like being corrected by a woman much. I've now learned that if they won't listen the first time I say anything, to keep my mouth shut and let the teacher correct him instead.

My biggest problem with beginner male leaders are their lazy arms a.k.a. weak embrace.

miss tango in her eyes said...

One time in tango camp, I was stretching and claspped my hands behind my back, and because I am so flexible my back became real small and my bra just kind of came undone! Ooops!

tanguetto said...


La Planchadora said...

tangospeak - I try very hard to keep a firm embrace, but I also never want to fall prey to that thing where you drag your follower around like a spoil of war. No good! No good!

miss tango - did that go? ;)

tanguetto - Holas! :D

Tangospeak said...

Dragging is bad! It throws you off your axis - me no like. had a chance to do some leading this sunday - very very illuminating. More motivated than ever to learn it.

miss tango in her eyes said...

I just scampered off to the bathroom. Thankfully no one noticed but my teacher Susana, and we just giggled like school girls!