We overheard two women over the span of five minutes ask a young tanguero to dance with them later in the night. We know this tanguero and his inability to say no; the same inability that still creeps up on Jorge sometimes. Heck, K has even been caught off guard lately. Women abuse this knowledge and are often asking said tanguero for dances. Although we’ve written about the lack of a consistently used “cabeceo” in our community and how we believe that women and men have equal rights to ask for dances, there’s something that people should understand about Tango: Tango and Tango dancers are to be respected.
This is what we overheard: “I was his partner in the class so he should be nice and dance with me in the milonga.” This is not so different from the common rumblings of how tango teachers should dance with their students in a milonga. Or how friends should dance with friends. Or how better dancers should be “generous” with their dances and dance with beginners. These types of statements are very frustrating. To begin with, most people go to a milonga to have a good time, enjoy dancing, and get away from the “real world”. Then why are people being expected to do something that may include not having a good time or enjoying their dance? Practicas can be used for this. That said, Toronto has, in the past, been virtually void of any real practicas. Either everyone has already “perfected” their Tango or they think practicing means dancing a whole song or tanda without stopping, without giving feedback, and in general, without improving one’s dance.
What gets to us more than this is the complete disregard for what Tango is and what it means to dance Tango with someone you don’t want to. Tango is an extremely intimate dance. You are putting your chests together, wrapping your arms around one another, touching heads/faces and sharing approximately 12 minutes of your life this way. Forget Tango for a second and ask yourself how you would like it if a stranger came up to you and asked/demanded a 12 minute hug from you (simply because you had a chat with them at the corner store)?
If you want to dance with a visiting/local teacher, take privates with them. When your dancing is enjoyable for the both of you, the teacher will ask you to dance or let you know they would like to dance with you in a milonga. Teachers are people too and they dance Tango because they love it (or at least we do). No one should have to sacrifice their love of the dance to dance with students, potential students, friends, or just to be “nice”?
As in all facets of life, there are exceptions, but these should not be expectations. In order to avoid making any assumptions, please use the cabeceo. Use it from your seat. Don’t come and stand around the person you want to dance with in a stalker-like fashion. This, by definition, turns the potential dance partner into a Tango victim.