Category Archives: social dancing

Dance and the Fear of becoming an advanced dancer

“One of the things I dislike about Tango is that many people settle in routines… I have settled too” J
“I am afraid that if I become a really advanced dancer, I will have nobody to dance with”, M

No no these people are not snobs, quite the contrary…

Translate to: “What if I spend all this time and money and end up dancing the same way?” OR “What is the point of learning new things if I am not going to use them?”
And you will see that you have probably fallen into the same trap!

The fear of becoming a truly advanced dancer

Think of yourself going to your local milonga. You walk in expecting to see familiar faces and looking forward to dancing with dear dance partners.
There are a few people who you love to dance with, because your dances are just amazing. There are others that your dances are fun but not amazing.
And then there is that extra category of people… The really advanced dancers. The dancers you wish danced with you, because they look really spectacular on the dance floor…

Now lets think a few months from now… Say you have taken some more classes and put some hours of practice in.
You are starting to feel more confident. There are all these new things that you have learned and you want to use them during your dance.
Maybe you have learned some new sequences, or you have refined your musicality or technique.

You are now walking in the milonga feeling inspired, in high spirits and with high expectations.
First dance is with a good friend and a good partner… Usually an awesome way to start the night…

But things are not going as you expected…

You are feeling restrained.  Something is off.
Things are working but you are just feeling disconnected. You are trying to use the things you have learned but nothing is working…

This is terrible! And the worst part is that your partner is feeling the same way.

Next tanda no change. Things are just getting worse and worse.
The milonga ends and you feel frustrated: “I took all these classes, I practiced for all this time and for what? What on earth is going on?”

A few milongas go by and bling here is a thought: “Of course I have to adjust my dancing to the level of my partner. Of course nobody is as advanced as I am now”

And down the rabbit hole you go!


Why this marks the end?

Here are a couple of reasons that you need to pull yourself out of that mindset:

  1. It is not very nice to start with.
    It sounds a bit like you are doing people a favor. Your intention is of a kind and gentle nature but still people might feel you pity them. If they pick up on a vibe like that say bye-bye to those partners.
  2. The above statement might be true when it comes to intricate sequences, musicality games, or demanding routines…But YOUR technique, and how much you are enjoying YOUR movement has nothing to do with your partner–nasty, rude weirdos excluded
  3. It leaves you with no incentive to get any better. If you aren’t going to be using any of the new things you learn then why learn them in the first place, right?
  4. It enhances on the fear of: “What if I spend all this time and this money and end up dancing with same people the exact same way”
  5. It instills the idea that Tango is action-reaction when in fact it is a 2 people coming together to create something beautiful
Stop sabotaging yourself..!
Become the dancer you know you can be

Action Step #1: Change of mindset

Stop counting your level in how many classes, dances, festivals, hours, years you are in…

Action Step #2: Accept the responsibility for being advanced

It is not the years nor the sequences, the embellishments or the number of festivals.
But being able to take responsibility for the overall experience of the dance.

An advanced dancer knows if their dance is bad, why it is bad and what to do to fix it.

In Tango an advanced dancer knows very well that:

  • When things work out it is on THEM
  • But when things DON’T work out it is AGAIN on them

Action Step #3: Go from action-reaction to connect and create

How you connect with someone is a marker to how advanced you actually are.

Beginner way of connecting: My partner pushes and I push back
way of connecting: Energy offered, absorbed–>movement created and energy is offered back and absorbed

Leading and following are interrelated at a much higher level than just action-reaction

Action Step #4: You CAN inspire

People are not only inspired by great teachers. They are also inspired by someone who puts in the effort, the time and the courage to push his/her limits and grow to a really advanced dancer.

By “ordinary” people who commit to something they are passionate about. People who want to be great at a hobby because it is valuable time spent on themselves.

You can inspire someone by living a richer–in experiences–life on and off the dance floor!

If you want to be an advanced dancer, we can do it together..!





Dancing and the Fear of Rejection

Does any of this by any chance sound familiar?

Leader: “I go to the milonga to dance. I hate small talk… why we can’t just dance.” or
“I just can’t deal with rejection.There are all these scenarios of what might go wrong going on in my head and I end up stuck. The cabeceo doesn’t work for me, btw…it just doesn’t!”

Follower: “I can’t say NO to someone, even if I know dancing with them will be unsatisfying. What if I end up sitting there all night?” or
“I have been dancing for a while and I have  been told to be a good dancer… I really put an effort to look good, happy and confident… but except for some  leaders that I know nobody else asks me to dance…”

The Fear of Rejection

The fear of rejection, is in fact part of our genes. It is something we have inherited from our ancestors who formed and valued tribes.
Being part of the tribe was extremely important since being a cast off could easily lead to death.

In those good old days, you had to actively pursue being part of the tribe if you didn’t want to end up in exile…and possibly…hm…dead!
Thankfully, that is not the case anymore! haha

Our bodies and our minds though being  super clever have kept this very fear, still in us to keep us active AND safe.
Being afraid of getting rejected from a group we care about, is THE very thing that will make us take action to become better and stronger within our group.

You, right now…: “So this is a good thing?
YES! But only if you don’t let the fear blind you.

The biggest problem for most of us though is that we started dancing for that very reason:
“it is a great way to overcome shyness, anxiety, insecurity, etc… The structured environment allows us to be someone else or a different part of ourselves, helping us work through these issues”

Only to find out that for us to successfully “work through these issues” we need to fight the battle with rejection face on. 

Lets put a scenario together…

We have our leader, Tom, who walks in a milonga alone, rushes through to the bar, sharing some shy hellos.
He is orders a drink and looks around on the packed floor, thinking: “Ok, here we go… You can do this!
An hour and a few mediocre dances later… He is looking around on the dance floor, thinking I have no idea how to this… Why am I putting myself through this s@$t..?

Tom is now starting to feel bewildered… The place is getting crowded, his partners seemed unsatisfied and the last time he tried the cabeceo nobody matched his gaze.

Tom (thinking): “I don’t get it… There are followers here who look completely unavailable. If you don’t want to dance, why are you here? Or they would rather dance with some horrible dancers… I mean I am not great but I am not THAT bad! Maybe Tango is not for me…”

At the same time at the other end of the pista….

Mary, has been sitting for 3 tandas straight. She is feeling devastated.
It is another Saturday night, that she has put in all this effort to find the perfect outfit, put make-up on, come in with a good vibe, smiling to everyone… And FOR WHAT?
To get asked only by her friends and some horrible dancers who copy ridiculous patterns off Youtube and then push-and-pull you on the dance floor to show off..?

She is now looking around, half smile on her face, thinking: “There is no point to this… Nobody wants to dance with me”.
Her eyes are glazing over as she is trying to figure out, what she is doing wrong…!

So what do we have here?

We have 2 dancers struggling with rejection.

Tom is afraid to step away from the bar, start talking and meeting new people or even just holding his gaze long enough until the followers get it.
And Mary is afraid to step away from her group, and start meeting new people. PLUS she is afraid to say no, in case she doesn’t get a chance to dance at all.  Without realizing that she is missing the chance to say yes to other dancers.

In the end they are both so frustrated and bitter, that no matter how much they try to be part of the party, it looks as if they are not even there.

Tom and Mary have a choice to make:

  • Either they start poking their heads out of their comfort zone, taking action against being rejected
  • Or they sit there watching all those other people doing that very thing and enjoying their time in the milonga.

If you are a Tom or a Mary ask yourselves:

“Cabeceo is hard. Getting more dances is hard. Becoming part of a community is hard. BUT what is the alternative?

If you love Tango and therefore you still think it is worth becoming part of a Tango community,  there is NO alternative. You need to deal with rejection and that means bringing in a strong combo of social and dance skills!

Action Steps for happier Milongas?
  • Change your mindset about what a milonga is.
    You shouldn’t think of the milonga as solely the place to dance. The milonga is where you see Tango in action. It is where you get inspired by other dancers and inspire other dancers. The milonga is the place to meet new people and reconnect with friends through a chat or a dance.
    Getting there with a altered mindset will help you reevaluate how you spend your time in the milongas
  • Find a good way to socialize, whether you are going with a group or without
    Here is a video that could spark a few ideas: Tango Festivals Networking Vol.1
  • Focus on your strengths! What are your strong points, is it musicality, is it smooth embrace, is it a good walk…? What is it?
    Find it and bet on THAT! The milonga is NOT the place to practice or correct the things you are not good at, it is the place to have fun with the things you do well!
  • Find a way to bounce back from rejection. Nobody likes hearing NO, or sitting there for hours before someone asks them for a dance.
    Rejection SUCKS! It happens though to everyone and you have to find a way to bounce back from it.
    One way to do so, is to focus on how are YOU are feeling when you are dancing Tango. What YOU are doing to get better and why YOU are doing it. Instead of looking for other people’s approval.
    Here an article on how to deal with shame: Dancing and the fear of shame
    And a video to make you feel a bit better: Focus on what you have
  • Practice smart! After you have pin-pointed what you are having trouble with, start building diverse practices around it. What I mean by diverse?
    Practices that are not strictly based on Tango BUT include elements from other activities that you do. This way you will get better, faster.
    A quick example: I have a student you has trouble with finding the beat. But he is a very good windsurfer. So I asked him: How to manage to follow the rhythm of the water and wind when you windsurf?
    And he said: “I listen to it with my body and then I let it guide me”
    Then here is your answer, forget about downbeat, upbeat, 1,2,3… Listen with your body and let the music guide you.
Is this worth it?

I think it is… Obviously! haha
Jokes aside though, if you do want to learn how to handle rejection better, if you want to be able to connect with more people, battle shyness and get more confident not only in the milonga but in life, learning and doing a social dance is a great way to do that.

I think it is worth it therefore, not only because I love Tango and dance but because I think that it can open up doors for you to great opportunities.
Opportunities that don’t stop on the dance floor or the door of your dance studio. But expand to asking someone out on a date or asking for a raise by building up the courage to create change!

If you want to learn how to practice smart, in order to enjoy your Tangos more but also to get more confident, courageous and creative, join our community of Bautanz by subscribing below and share your thoughts, experiences and troubles. I will be delighted to help!