It should come as no surprise to people who read this blog that we do not like it when women lead in Tango. To preface, let us say we are feminists. We believe in equal rights. We are very open-minded and very liberal. Anyone who has been to our classes can attest to the fact that we don’t appear to have a traditional/stereotypical relationship. K does the majority of the talking in front of a group. She is outgoing and loud (and a little crazy). Jorge, on the other hand, is quiet, calm, and very easy going. Leaving our personal relationship aside, let us put it this way: If ever there was a woman you would guess would start up leading in the milongas, your first bet would be K.
However, K doesn’t lead in the milongas and here are the main reasons why we don’t like women leading (in general and especially in the milongas):
1) lack of culture and tradition
Tango is a traditional dance that calls upon a man to lead a woman. It is part of the dance and it is part of the culture. In the same way that neglecting to use the cabeceo or proper floorcraft are a disrespect to the culture, so is a woman leading.
2) lack of “manliness” or male energy
Men are on average bigger and taller than women (Jorge is taller, but not always bigger – and there are plenty of men that are bigger, but not taller :) Men are more likely to emit a male energy when they dance – women are not as likely to do so. A woman is more likely to look wimpy and dance in a “feminine” way (not to mention often in heels!?). She is also likely to feel wimpy. As such, “wimpy” men are not very enjoyable to dance with either.
3) lack of reason
Yes, it may be important for female teachers to learn how to lead (although if you teach as a couple, this may be less important). That said, the majority of dancers on the floor are not teachers. Yes, there are often more women in a milonga (but K has no interest in getting up on the floor to lead those extra women and has no problem dancing less). Yes, K practices leading (and has yet to lead a better follower than Jorge ;). Although it definitely benefits a man’s dance to learn how to follow, it does not help a woman to follow better. It may indeed give her insight into the minds of and problems faced by leaders, but it will not do much to improve anything in her dance.
Traditionally, Tango is a “man’s” dance, but this does not negate the fact that the woman has an equal role. The culture and tradition of Argentine Tango can be respected and followed even while it continues to evolve. For example, we teach our male students how to embrace a woman so that both parties are comfortable. Perhaps it is safe to say that in days gone by, the man chose his embrace without any input from the woman… and no woman would dare tell him to change his embrace. Our students are taught that they will eventually find an embrace that is theirs, but they are also taught, for example, that having a left arm that bends at a far steeper angle than 90 degrees in going to put strain on a woman’s right shoulder and her back… and so not to do it.
In conclusion, let us make it clear that we are NOT referring to, nor are we against, couples in a homosexual relationship wanting to learn and dance Tango. We would only suggest that each person in the dance partnership embrace the expectations of whichever role they choose, be it leader or follower.