Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Serious Post. You've been warned.

Okay, so this post not nearly as fun and underwear-flashing as the previous post. It's a reaction to something that I find frustrating and baffling, by turns. (Hence my disclaimer in the title, which I origially typed "You've been warmed." You are the Hot Pockets of my life!)

Gentlemen, let's get this straight:

1. I am not claiming I am a better leader than you are. If you think I'm a better leader than you are, that's your problem. I'm just enjoying the music.

2. Of course I still love following. In fact, my following has improved by leaps and bounds since I began leading, because now I can follow a subtler intent and I know what feel best to the leader. Saying that because I lead I don't like to follow is like saying that because I like boats, I must hate trains. They both take you places. What's the issue? (Unless you're saying all this because I've declined to follow YOU, in which case, see #1.)

Now, this bizarre passive-aggressiveness comes from a small percentage of the guys. Growly, hypermasculine, stompy, but small. I take comfort in the knowledge that they are generally unpleasant people anyway, and clearly just want something to grump about.

The nice guys, the guys I like to dance with,
point out embellishments I could do to dress up a simple step and bring out a flourish in the music. They remind me to hold my elbow back and not to bend my knees too much, and then ask me if I'd like to dance.

Women are generally much cooler about a woman leader, and I have had a much better reaction from them. There are, however, some women who also need clarification:

1. I am not out to cop a feel or dominate anyone. This is more than you can say for a lot of the not-so-good male leaders who ask you to dance, who are just out for a warm body against them, which I know from experience and am surprised you still tolerate. I am leading because it's a tanda I love, and either my leader of choice is not available, or I would prefer to interpret it myself (and dancing alone in a corner looks pretty dumb).

2. I only dance with women who ask ME first. If you see me leading for a while, it's because she's asked for another tanda. I am not kidnapping anyone. I promise.

Clearly most of the readers of the blog are not the sort of knee-jerk haters who go home and stick pins in voodoo dolls of tango dancer, and this rant is totally uneccessary. It's just a shame that somehow it's a big political statement whenever I want to walk around to di Sarli with someone who likes to dance with me.


Caroline said...

It is a serious subject. Men are so easily freaked out by women moving into "their domain". Leading is a very masculine role and they probably felt you were trespassing or trying to sneak into the men's club. I think it will be rough at first but keep doing your thing and people at the milongas you frequent will adapt. Even men.

Debbi said...

That is so strange.... There are a fair amount of women leaders here in Boston, and from what I have seen, there is no offense taken by anyone about it. Just as the men who are learning to follow are also accepted here. It is not unusual to see a man following and a woman leading at the milongas I have been to, sometimes it is same sex couples, sometimes it is role reversed couples. But it is not unusual or treated with hostility. I actually danced the last few tangos at Sunday's practica with a women who was learning to lead, and although it was different, it was not bad, it actually brought a whole new level to the dance. It is sad to hear that some dancers are so intimidated by a woman leading.
But to be eloquent for a moment, those who act in this fashion suck, their loss!

La Planchadora said...

Caroline - Yeah, it's mostly just sour grapes, mixed with that sort of humpty that came out when women started wearing pants and wanting the vote and things. Just annoying that I'm getting the stinkeye.

Debbi - I agree. For the most part it's acceptance, and the better the dancer the more obvious the acceptance; the attitude is more, Well, of course you'd want to know how to do both. But there's that batch of old grumps who mutter things and try to stare you down and make a big show of their moves when they dance past you and you're sitting out. Just...a waste of energy. Though I'll admit that nothing compares to the look in class when you nail the move and they don't. It's just like seventh grade! Woo! *pumps fist*

miss tango in her eyes said...

This is how tango was originally learned. In private, men taught men, and the women were taught in private by either of course male relatives, but often by women. So leading or following with the same sex is not a new concept, in fact, traditional.

La Planchadora said...

Miss Tango - that's what I thought! I'm going to bring a tango history book with me everywhere, I think. "Oh, really? OBSERVE!"