Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tango Sin #3 For Men: Leading Your Partner Like She's A Bumper Car

Tonight we continue through the list of tango mistakes men make when leading and I don't know of any leader who has committed these sins more than me.

I was at a milonga recently enjoying a great tango with my partner when suddenly I felt a four inch heel land into my right heel. I bit my teeth in pain, turned around to see who had just fired their nail gun, but instead saw a petit milonguera. She immediately apologized and clearly felt terrible about the whole thing, but it wasn't her fault--she had no idea she was so close to me. Unfortunately, it happened because of her partner, since it's the leaders responsibility to keep her and everyone around them safe.

So, how did this happen?

Unfortunately, it was another example of a guy leading his partner like she's a bumper car.

From my experience, there are three types of leaders I see at milongas who lead their partner like this:

1. The "Tailgater": I'm sorry to say this is what I used to do because I would tail the couple ahead of me by too close of a margin. When I first started out I was so focused on trying to lead that I wouldn't notice how close I was getting to the couple in front of us. By combining my lack of awareness with some leaders who take steps backwards without knowing if someone is behind them, the only outcome was bumping into each other. Some of our brothers bounce around a milonga using his partner like she's a pinball in a machine. There are no points scored for leading one's partner into another couple, so please be aware of your space to avoid my mistakes.

2. The "Speed Racer": There's a guy I'm acquainted with whom I see at milongas. Good luck finding a nicer guy to talk to, but when he gets on to the dance floor he slices through crowds for no apparent reason. He flies through the crowds trying to squeeze through openings so small it reminds me of the motorcyclists here that drive on the white line through stopped traffic. Both seem to be racing, but to where?

3. The "Heel Spiker": This is the dangerous one of the three because at least the Tailgater is usually a guy leading a woman's back slowly into the back of another man or woman. But, unlike the Tailgater, the Heel Spiker is normally led quickly into another couple without warning. It's the surprise element that normally leads to the spiking.

None of these examples are the followers fault although, ironically, it's normally the woman who apologizes. No, these bumps & spikes are the responsibility of the leader.

I know how hard it can be to pay attention to spacing on what are often crowded floors--especially as a beginner. Please, brothers, avoid my earlier mistakes. Protect your follower and the other dancers around you by using the widest safety zone possible.

My heels thank you.

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