Category Archives: Milonga etiquette

Tango as a tool towards a richer life

If this isn’t a path towards a richer life then what is…?
We stop “aloneness” becoming loneliness through our ability to form relationships. (…) You may ask what has this to do with Yoga, but I think it has everything to do with yoga. Our yoga practice, if preformed intelligently, is a self-exploration. We learn about the way in which we inhabit our bodies. (…) Slowly we can find more about ourselves(…) [we gain] a sense of being a more complete person (…) Friendships can broaden and deepen, and our capacity to love- the pinnacle of human achievement- becomes greater.(…) ” Pete Blackaby, “Intelligent Yoga
If you take out yoga and replace it with Tango or anything other activity you are passionate about, you will realize that you have more than enough tools to treat loneliness.
Maybe the time is not right just yet… or maybe you hadn’t thought about it this way…
Three weeks ago we were talking about loneliness and how it is not fair to you or to your community to treat loneliness with Tango.
Let’s dive right in today…
First, a vital distinction though between treatment and support
Our expectations are too high when we try to treat loneliness with Tango/ yoga/ any hobby.
But our expectations are levelled when we have pinned down the source of the problem, we have identified possible steps to take and we seek support from Tango/ yoga/ any other hobby.
I am going to use myself as an example. When I first came to Canada, I knew nobody of course.
I started teaching right away and I went to every milonga possible, making Tango my main and only pool of people.
What I didn’t factor in was:
  1. Your students can’t be your best friends it is unprofessional
  2. Entering a Tango or any other long established community is not really easy.  People are settled in groups and you only see them once or twice a week. Depending on your shy-levels it can take you from months to years.
I would go out, feeling uncomfortable because I always had to be careful with my students being around. Plus I couldn’t just ditch them to hang around with anybody else. And honestly, I was starting to feel comfortable despite the discomfort, of at least having a group.
The thing is if you don’t/ can’t make an effort torch out to people, they won’t dance with you, simply because they don’t know you. People like to dance with their friends; they are on a night out with their friends.
Very soon, I came to realize that:
  1. Being confident in your own country doesn’t guarantee you will be confident in another
  2. I wasn’t get asked to dance enough which made me feel left out and like i-wasn’t-good-enough.
And here an endless cycle begins where you go to the milonga, stick with your group; since you are not creating opportunities to meet more people, people are not asking you to dance which makes you feel undervalued and unworthy and so you are even more afraid of reaching out. Feeling lonely, even in the presence of other people, and frustrated you stop going to the milongas altogether, blaming the community for being unwelcoming and with a weird energy…
What does that even mean I don’t know..!haha
Now what was the one thing that could have saved me all this frustration…. but has nothing to do with Tango?
Can you find it?
“Create opportunities to meet more people, is the beginning to a richer life”
Being alone brings you in a very vulnerable state. The moment you find someone to hang out with, you settle, even if you know you shouldn’t.
THAT is where Tango or Yoga as we saw above, can play a supportive role but you have to make that change of mindset off the dance floor and outside of the dance school.
Practicing Tango/ other hobby in a way that allows you to explore yourself and grow your skills and your self-awareness is key to becoming more confident and projecting that confidence outward.
So aim on practicing not just for skill but for mindset.
Get to know and love yourself more and that will radiate outward and attract people who actually love to hang out with you.
On a more practical level, Tango is a rather safe environment compared to a work environment and so there you can try different social strategies, see which works best and then use them it to enter other social groups.
Of course the two pointers are interrelated. The better dancer and the more aware of your value you become, the easier it will be to approach strangers as you will know you have something to share.
You will feel more confident creating opportunities to meet new people but also a lot more powerful to nourish them.
Remember Tango is only a dance. But if you practice it intelligently it can become a powerful tool towards self-awareness, to self-love and to richer relationships.
Chrisa
P.S: Intelligent Tango is here: Intelligent Tango

“Nobody dances with me… I am too old!”– Tango and the age- issue

“Nobody dances with me… I am too old! All the leaders prefer to dance with the younger, sexier dancers even though they are not good dancers” Many followers, who feel their age is their biggest burden

I have heard this phrase so many times and it always made me feel sad and even guilty.
During every attempt though I made to help  would get a you-are-too-young type of response

And so for years I avoided writing about the matter until today…

The follower’s view on the age- issue

Most followers have a sad story to share, where they have felt left out, ignored and unwanted.
And there are not stories only from the milongas but also from practicas and even classes…

Follower’s will tell you things like:

“Leaders avoid me. They won’t even look at me” OR
“Dancers that I have known for years, even friends of mine… dance only with the young, sexy dancers who can’t even dance properly, and completely ignore me” OR
“I have been taking classes for years only to go to milongas and get to dance 2 tandas maximum during which I would be dancing with the worst dancers, who don’t even smell good..!”

They go on to blame their age, their not so-revealing outfits and… of course… Mother Nature…
Yes leaders…
Followers believe it is in your nature to go after the first young, sexy thing you see in the room

But is this the truth..?

A leader’s view on the age- issue

I am not a man and therefore I can’t say if this is true or not…

Most men though will tell you that this is not the case at all… at least not in Tango.

** DISCLAIMER: Here we are talking about decent men who are not using Tango as the last resort to get close to a woman..! **

Hahaha
(Not a joke… though)

What they do say though is things like:
“The attractivity of a dancer is made up of several ingredients. First and foremost the dance skills. But what makes here a pleasure to dance with is more than that. Sympathy is important, that young sparkle in her eyes, an empathic connection aside from tango. A tasteful dress and a personal attitude that matches her age doesn’t do harm, either. These are the same things that make a women attractive in general. I am not talking about romantic thoughts, I mean character and identity. It’s the very same for men, by the way, although they admittedly have the minority advantage in tango.” ( a thoughtful comment found under this article: In search of Tango: The age prejudice in Tango)

Or from the same article:
“Men get avoided and turned down for dances because of their age, grey hair, appearance, height, skill, clique membership, position in the hierarchy, etc. We don’t know why we’re refused; it’s uncomfortable for everybody if we ask why, so we don’t ask. Sometimes our invitations to dance are turned down, and then we see our invitee on the dance floor with somebody else thirty seconds later. This is very unpleasant. We too endure tandas with followers that are not very enjoyable.”  Or

“Its not so much age as the lack of beauty and isn’t this just the story of life? We all seek beauty in various forms and tango is no exception.”

I am not too old… I don’t get asked by the best dancers… And I DON’T care!

As I said I am not attracted to women and therefore I can’t tell you if the guys are using the above and more as excuses for not dancing with you… But I truly don’t think that this is the case….

Personally, and I hope you will believe me, I am not one of those followers who won’t stop dancing all night, and not because I am picky…

I will dance with everyone except from people who rude and/ or hurtful.
This is my standard and I won’t take one step back from it simply because dancing with someone hurtful or rude makes me feel worse than sitting, enjoying the music and chatting with a friend.

Having standards is important as it will save you from physical and psychological pain PLUS it shows good dancers and most importantly good people that they are in your niche instead of some rude bum looking do all the crazy moves he has picked from the web…

How do you ensure you choose correctly..?
This is what I do…
When I am not dancing, I am looking at the people… how they approach their partners, how they reach in the embrace, what they do between the dances, how the finish the tanda and get off the dance floor…. Overall, how they treat their partners…

MEN..! Be nice!
It goes a long way…

And because I know you are probably thinking…” I AM nice!”
Here are a few extra tips…

  1. Practice on things that matter on the dance floor
    For example, posture, proper clear leading, good listening, embrace and musicality over fancy moves
  2. Be respectful but not too serious
    For example, allowing people to chat and excusing yourself when you interrupt them is not old school, it is good manners.
    Properly asking someone for a dance and not creeping up on a follower, again good manners
  3. Be presentable.
    It always wins over being young… That is why women still like George Clooney. He has style and he doesn’t pretend he is still 20
    So if you are 50 dress like a 50 year old living in 2018..!
  4. A fresh scent
    Now I am not saying you smell bad, but that doesn’t mean you smell good..! Sooo, try to smell good without overdoing it
Now back to you followers…

Practicing will give your better technique and therefore confidence… but you don’t only need confidence you also need to stick to your standards even if it means that for a little while you will be dancing less…

But you know what because I know you are probably already thinking things like:
“You are still young and good looking” or
“Everyone wants to dance with you, you are a teacher…” or
some combo of the two comments above…

So since I can’t win, and I don’t want to make you feel sadder and myself guiltier I will let a man do the work for me… haha

Now, don’t start with, “I am looking to get more dances not more dates”
Of course Tango is Tango and life is life… but hear Matthew Hussey out first..!

Can you… or better said… can WE become:

  1. Practice on things that matter on the dance floor
    Meaning technique, listening, posture, embrace, musicality
  2. Be more social
    A smile, between dances goes a long way. And a friendly chat or even a joke goes even longer.
    But even when you are sitting out, chat with the people next to you, relax back in your chair and enjoy the music, look at the dance floor being genuinely interested
  3. Be presentable
    Your outfit must say that you care about that night.
    That you put some effort to find something nice to wear. And not for others but also for you, choose things that make YOU feel good and then you can project that outward
  4. A fresh scent
    Something light, soft and elegant such work. It doesn’t even have to be perfume, it can be body lotion..! 😉

So can we become, as Matthew saying that video, playful, sexy, nurturing and independent..?

I think so and if you think so too just hit subscribe.
We can do together..!

Chrisa

I am not just sitting… I am Being!

Wednesday 12:00pm… (a regular day turned to an experience of being)

It was an amazing day outside. And so I set out to go for a quick walk… 5mins… A quick breath out of the studio..!

The sun was bright and warming and the little sitting “garden” where I spent my summers last year, had expanded and looked beautiful and so I walked straight to it  for a few moments of peace..!

But alas… The moment I sat down my fingers were reaching for the phone… I resisted and instead I looked at the other people,  some in groups chatting, some alone reading the paper, having lunch or tapping on their phone.

I am not going to lie, it did feel uncomfortable, being there alone, doing nothing…

My fingers reached for the phone… I resisted…!
This time I focused on everything else around me…
The trees
The flowers
The people passing by
The squirrels chasing each other…

I listened to the sounds of the city coming, to the song of the birds, to the people chatting next to me…
(…turns out my Spanish have gotten better after all! haha…)

I just sat there…

I did nothing else aside from taking all of this in… And somehow through listening to the environment, to everything around me somehow that made me aware of where I was in that environment, made me feel a part of it.

My phone buzzed… I ignored it…
Instead I closed my eyes and turned to face the sun!
Feeling the warmth, listening intently, and doing nothing more than being present!

My phone buzzed again… Again, I ignored it…
I knew I only had one minute before I had to head back inside! So I allowed myself to just BE for that one minute.

I am not just sitting. I am Being..!

You are probably wondering what does all this have to do with Tango…
But for years, when I heard people saying things like: “I can just sit there and listen to the music…!”
I thought they were being pretentious, because I couldn’t figure out how someone can just sit there alone and not feel like a loser or at least feel embarrassed or frustrated…

But this experience was a little light bulb moment for me.
It was tough in the beginning to push away the discomfort of sitting there alone doing nothing and so I started doing something…

I listened actively, looked intently, and allowed myself to be present in that moment.

And so I am hoping to inspire you to do the same.  To  allow yourselves to BE in the environment of your garden, your home, your dance studio, your weekly milonga.

To listen actively to the music, to look intently at the dancers on the floor. And to hear the whispers, the laughter of the people beside you, the glasses ticking and the wine pouring.

Listen to the environment to find yourself present in that environment. You are not just sitting. You are BEING!

😉
Chrisa
P.S: If you want a drop of inspiration such as this one, you can get them now through Alexa: Drops of inspiration

Don’t buy into your own Tango-BS…!

Pardon my french but it is a throwback Wednesday, and the more I think about how I behaved in the past and what it cost me there is no other way to describe all that negative talk I gave to myself but Tango-BS.

Saturday night in a big milonga a few years ago…

Myself and a group of friends head over for our weekly dance.
We get there in a Greek person manner–aka around 11pm..!haha
And of course the place is packed, there are only a few free chairs by the wall arranged in doctor’s-office manner
You know, patients sitting side by side, half- turning and whispering to each other:: “What a great scientist”… haha..

We weren’t patients but we certainly looked like ones.
Pasted smiles on our faces, looking blankly ahead, with an aura of I-don’t-want-to-be-here and OF COURSE… whispering to each other….haha…its the chairs I tell you..!
But we were saying something like: “Argh! The energy in this place…” “There is no one to dance with…” “It just feels so unwelcoming…”

A few unsatisfying dances later, and we were on our way to home feeling more grim than when we entered.

After that night I didn’t go back there for months.

I chose places a lot smaller, occupied by groups of people with a specific view over Tango. And I had created the strongest excuse for myself: “I just can’t bear to go back to that place. The energy is just soooooo…”  (so..? I don’t know)

via GIPHY

And the icing on the cake..? I had surrounded myself with people who would jump to the opportunity to make that view even stronger. That created a comforting feeling, the illusion of being right, the illusion of being happy.

When we were not dancing we would either be talking about Tango as an idea, a concept, a healing modality, a true Art or complaining about everything and everyone.

BREAKING NEWS

We were the TANGO MESSIAHS  and you have missed the opportunity to get your spot in the Tango heavens! Hahaha…NOT!

In reality we were a bunch of Tangueros/as wanna-be-s, living in a bubble, who had bought into their own BS!

What Tango-BS are you buying in?
  1. My community is too unwelcoming?
  2. People they don’t want to get any better,  just don’t want to practice?
  3. Argh! The energy is too tough?
  4. There is literally nobody to dance with?
  5. Men prefer the young and good-looking ones…. Etc etc

I am sorry but THIS is pure, true TANGO-BS!
Personally it was tough to admit that I was in a bad place psychologically, and being a bit shy I couldn’t reach out to anyone.
So I preferred to throw the blame on other people… I bet at some level you are doing the same. SO get down to what really is the problem!

As Jerzy Gregorek says in Tribe of Mentors  “take 100 responsibility for {your} part” (Ferriss, Timothy. Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World –pg. 115)

Start to look at how YOU can change first before you demand from others to change then you will start to that there is a lot room for YOU to grow, to enjoy your milongas more and to make new friends.

Better your dance level, better your outfit, better your attitude, better your psychology, better your mindset. YOU can do all that.

It all starts with YOU!
But if you are still not sure how, subscribe to Bautanz, and we can do it together..! 😉

Chrisa

Don’t follow the milonga etiquette, just be nice!

“You said what?” Me
Only this last week I have found myself thinking: “You said whaaat..?” like 3897 times… haha… in milongas/classes…

via GIPHY

And so I thought it is a good time for a funny compilation of what not to say in a milonga/ class environment. Not though with the intention to repeat the well-known rules of milonga etiquette but mostly to show that it is simply a matter of good manners.

Most of these, I now think they are funny and I hope you will find them funny as well….

Things to say and NOT to say in milongas

Are you a good dancer who doesn’t get as many dances as you can?
Do you leave the milongas feeling a bit frustrated or discouraged?
Has that hurt your feelings or confidence?
Or has it made you think that most dancers in your community are just snobs or that you just can’t understand the opposite sex..?

Have you ever thought that it might have nothing to do with your dance skills, the community, the opposite sex’s mentality or your age and looks BUT with what comes out of your mouth?!? haha

Let’s see a few of last weeks examples:

YOU CAN SAY: Oh! dear it is a very warm night. It feels like a just had a work-out…haha
BUT YOU CAN’T SAY: You are very sweaty, do you want me to lend you a shirt?

YOU CAN SAY: I went to X festival, it was really amazing…
BUT YOU CAN’T SAY: I went to X festival and danced with such amazing dancers. Coming back though really sucks

YOU CAN SAY: Thank you!
BUT YOU CAN’T SAY: You did great! You are following very well! or Oh! You know you have to talk to X he did this same sequence, only so much better… Why don’t you talk to him?!?!

YOU CAN SAY: How is your night going? Having fun?
BUT YOU CAN’T SAY: How come you haven’t danced with me?

YOU CAN SAY: No, thank you maybe another time
BUT YOU CAN’T SAY: “I am not dancing with beginners”

It is not about the milonga etiquette..!

Yes all of the above were in fact said some in milongas and some in classes, last week..! haha

Crazy week? Maybe!

What do you notice though?
What you can and can not say, has nothing to do with the milonga etiquette here, but more with basic social skills and politeness

In general, you don’t want to make someone feel uncomfortable and awkward by telling them how sweaty they are..!
And you certainly don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings by sending them away, in a blunt way just because they are beginners. You don’t have to dance with them but you can decline in a nice way.
And yes maybe other communities are better than yours but you don’t have to be a snob now, do you..?

People choose their partners based on dance skill but also based on character.
Personally, I wouldn’t like to be stuck for 12mins with someone who is rude and/ or makes me feel uncomfortable… Would you?

Think about it… Do you have any examples of rudeness or social discomfort..?
Leave a comment below with your story!

Chrisa

My Tango community is so unwelcoming… or it might be just me

“It might be just me, but I really feel that the Tango community here is not very forgiving. And it is actually a bit unwelcoming..!” Many many people

Classic NPS case!
New to the Playground Syndrome

What is NPS or New to the Playground Syndrome?

New in the Playground Syndrome, is a Tango disorder. The patient relives the scariest childhood experience—aka walking into the playground without mommy, daddy or a friend.

It is typically associated with awkwardly walking in the milongas, not talking/ dancing with anyone other than his/her group/ partner and wishing that somebody else will make the first move to come and greet them.

It is something almost ALL beginners will experience and plenty of other-level dancers when entering a new community.

I should send this in to Wikipedia and make it a thing! Hahaha

But first… lets explore the most common cures for NPS, why they usually don’t work and what you should do instead!

The most common cures to NPS and why they usually fail
  1. Don’t rush to hit the milongas. Wait until the time is right..!
  2. Stick to the practica/ milonga of your school
  3. Make a new practice/ milonga that is going to be better than all the others
  4. Try to persuade oneself that he/ she is NOT really interested in dancing but mostly learning— it can be true, but you probably know that before you even start taking classes…

Why these common cures do NOT usually work?
Well, simply because they try to avoid the problem than fix it.

Let’s start with #4: I don’t really like social dancing, I mostly enjoy the classes, learning the Tango

Most people, want to learn a/ another dance and that is how the end up in Tango. Maybe they saw it in a movie or in Dancing with the Stars and it looked interesting…

How did you start Tango?

If it was something similar to the reason above, and it wasn’t because you were on mission to discover the fundamental relationship underlying the development of perception—aka the dialogue between movement and touch… mmmm

I am pretty sure you are in it for the dance.

So stop wasting your time trying to persuade yourselves that you don’t care about social dancing, because that in itself will bring more bitterness and frustration.
As your knowledge and Tango vocabulary grows, the feeling of all of it being pointless will grow along with it. At some point, you will have no real incentive to keep learning.

Same goes with #2: Stay in your own playground…

We all know deep down why that is problematic. You are only dancing with same people, who know the same sequences as you, following a specific style of dancing and music.

After a while you are on autopilot. There is NO challenge which inevitably leads to 0 progress.

And I know what you are now saying to yourselves…
“Buuuut all these other places the music is not that good and the dancers are a bit snobbish, the space is not well- arranged, the host is obnoxious” …  And all that jazz!

How do I know? Hahah

Because I have said those EXACT same things myself!

No place was good enough for me… Until I realized that all these other places where perfectly fine but I was just too comfortable were I was and afraid to exit my comfort zone…
I mean they do call it comfort zone for a reason! Hahaha

But if you want to keep getting better, you need to step out of it!

So we are left with 2 more cures…

#1: Wait for the opportune time to go the milonga..!

And I ask you this; How can you tell?
And say, ok… your teacher will tell when it is the right time to go—if they are not involved in the crazy Tango politics that is…

But do we really want to make this grade 5 or a work environment were if you do your home work or if you work hard enough you get A+ or a promotion?

That is why I think this doesn’t really work… because it brings in the very ONE thing we are ALL looking to escape from when picking an artistic hobby— running after performance goals!

And
#3: Doing YOUR very own event that is going to be better than any other event in town…

EVERY beginner in the world has thought and/ or attempted to set up an event that would shake the WHOLE Tango scene to its foundation..!

Even the person writing this article, thought that her ideas were so unique. That she was of the very few artistic and courageous dancers to lead the change in her Tango community..! UNSUCCESSFULLY! Hahaha

Not because people sabotaged me but because I was an idiot!

So this one doesn’t usually work, for a number of reasons:

  1. What WE think is better, might not be better for everybody else.
  2. We have no idea on how to actually host an event and we don’t even ask anyone who has done it before.
  3. If we ask for people’s opinion, we usually ask people we know will agree with us OR fail to really listen to their feedback.
How to cure New to the Playground Syndrome

After extensive research, endless talks with leaders and followers and some s****y experiences of my own this is what I would do if I was a beginner again:

  1. I would ask my teacher what is the biggest mistake a beginner makes when starting to dance the Tango socially.
  2. Ask my teacher what are the fundamental elements of Tango
  3. Find out who are the best Tango professionals to look out for
  4. At the end of each class I would ask him/ her how what we did can be used on the dance floor.
  5. I would make notes of what we did, how they fit the fundamentals and how avoided or not the common mistake in class
  6. Watch A LOT of videos of high end Tangueros- as, OBSERVING. Not copying, or trying to learn sequences but observing their dance and noting anything that I find interesting
  7. Go to the milongas after maximum a month. BUT I wouldn’t participate, I would only OBSERVE. The etiquette, the rules, the mood, the atmosphere… Everything!
  8. I would try to spot or ask the person at the door or the organizer who are the best dancers in the room and focus on them
  9. If I had the opportunity I would chat with them in a very relaxed way about their experience so far—not for technique, or drills or anything like that… keep things general and cool
  10. Go to different milongas and repeat those same steps for a good period of time.
  11. Chat with my teacher and fellow dancers about all the things I have found interesting, from week to week.
  12. Ask good questions and give sincere and good quality feedback.
  13. After a while Video tap myself… REALITY CHECK! haha

If I came for a different dance community or another city/ country where we had some different layout for the milongas which I thought it would work. THIS is what I would do:

  1. I would first examine the constraints and obstacles closely. Being brutally honest with myself, see if by changing my attitude towards the obstacles can actually make your experience better.
  2. Talk to the organizers about hosting events. How do they do it, what troubles have they been facing, what they have tried in the past, what worked and what didn’t, how did they even end up doing what it is that they are doing… LISTEN very closely BUT take everything you hear with a grain of salt
  3. Chat with dancers—other than your friends—and tell them in full detail your idea. Look for their REACTION to it.
    If they say: “Yeah great idea…” Don’t do it… They won’t even show up.
    But if they say something: “OMG! Are you in my head, I have been thinking about something like this for days. So how to WE start, how can I help”
    THAT is true hope that your idea might actually be able to stand..!
  4. And maybe instead of doing something NEW, try to help something older get better..!

So, I don’t mean to discourage you, on the contrary I want  you to see your community with different eyes.

Aside from the constraints there is always room for more creativity, for more freedom and a lot more fun.

It is up to YOU though to see past the constraints, to create opportunities, to chat with people, to give and learn from your community before you earn from it—not necessarily in a monetary way of course.

Many of the obstacles, are things you have some control over as well.

Like the Cabeceo

Or building up your social skills in general: Networking your way through Festivals

Maybe building up your improvisational skills, to grow your vocabulary without learning new steps: Lets Improvise

Or becoming better in musicality, so you can enjoy your dances more AND give more to your partner even if you have only been dancing for 6 months: Musicality MORE than just steps on the beat

There are many things YOU can do TODAY that can transform your experience in the milongas

And as a subscriber of Bautanz you get even more tools for physical and mental transformation, the only thing you need to do is join us..!