Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Grist for the mill.

So, a little more about horrible tango night, because I'm still grumpy about it.

I dropped in on a beginner class taught by a teacher I really like, hoping to get in some leading practice. My intent is getting better, but I have the bad habit of bending my knees, which makes me look like Donald Duck in "Disney Tangos on Ice" or something. Trying to nip it in the bud toute suite. I mentioned this before class, and the teacher pointed out that even in heels a lot of the women are shorter than I am, and that I might be trying to compensate or get more "push", etc etc. It was exactly the kind of feedback I had gone to get, and I was feeling excited at the start of class that I could make progress.

With two minutes to go, there were two guys without partners, and me.

I'd like to say I demanded to be allowed to lead, and showed some guy how it was really done, but the teacher clearly needed another follower, and I figured I could always use more practice in following, so I ponied up.

Mistake. Stupid, stupid pony!

The first guy I got never introduced himself or made eye contact; when we went to the cross he pinched me in his right arm, his right shoulder blade aiming for my chin in some weird attack pose, and turned away from me with his left side, so I had absolutely no space, not even space I could fudge or create myself - all I could do was walk and try to avoid the Shoulder Attack. After each attempt, he would look down and walk diagonally for a while before trying again. He never asked for feedback, and I was not in the mood to offer any after being treated like a stand-in, so I just walked and concentrated on pointing my foot properly.

At long last, he stopped. "Why can't I get you to cross?" he asked, puzzled.

I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt if he was asking for feedback, so I suggested mildly, "Maybe if you kept your right arm a little softer (something the teacher had suggested to the group), I could use the extra space to move in front of you into the cross."

He had no reaction to this, as if I hadn't spoken at all, and after a moment said to a space past my knees, "Why can't I get you cross?", just in case I hadn't been sure before that I was being ignored as the follower apparently deserves.

The teacher called for the classe's attention at that point and reiterated exactly the suggestion I had made, using me as the demo follower to show how a cross is made, pausing to point out that the follower needs to be able to move in the embrace. We demonstrated ways to get out of the cross using ochos, walking patterns, the sidestep.

The teacher concluded with, "Okay, so, keeping that in mind, try again with your same partner."

When I turned around, he was motioning to a guy a few spaces away in the line of dance. "Come on," he called out across the room, the bitterness in his voice so sharp everyone in the class turned to look, "you dance with her. I'm not gonna."

The guy he'd spoken to looked mortified; no one was dancing, still watching, frozen.

"Thank God," I said mildly, and went to the next leader in line, seething quietly.

I regret not sticking to my guns and leading, regardless of the teacher's ratios. I regret not being more forceful with this guy to start with and getting away sooner.

I regret not having my stilettos on so I could perforado this guy.

There's nothing worse for me than following a leader when I know I could lead it better. The frustration ruined the night for me, and I neither led nor followed well.

The frightening thing is that soon this guy will be at the milongas, and he'll get dances.

No words.


Caroline said...

Wow, that guy didn't have much class. No wonder you were grumpy.
Out of curiosity, how tall are you, shoeless?

La Planchadora said...

Shoeless I'm 5'8" and a smidge, but my leading shoes have a bit of a heel, so I end up 5'10", probably.

SO GRUMPY CAROLINE OMG. I have no problems with beginners (the leader after this guy was actually very nice and asked for feedback and found the beat of the music first and was generally a 200% improvement), but why act as if you're above it all and continue to do it incorrectly? What does that get you? (Besides perforado.)

Danzarin said...

wow, what a nightmare. This proves that idiots exist everywhere, in life and in tango!

Debbi said...

Well, he may get a dance, but I doubt he will get many repeat dances... I have danced at milongas with similar men, and I do not accept their invitations any more, the bewildered look on their faces is priceless. I think your reaction was actually perfect though, you were the better person, with the better response, and I would bet my new green shoes that everyone in the class knew it.

velovole said...

why can't these fudge-faces THINK?? don't they know that the people they are jerks to in class are the same people they'll run into at the milongas??

do all codes of conduct they learned in the milongas, and the respect for other human beings they learned from their mothers, just magically vanish when they enter class??