As my dancing has improved, I’ve wanted to go to out to more milongas and as a consequence I’ve seen a lot more good dancing as well as bad. Now as a beginner (and one who looks quite young), I find myself inevitably in a tricky situation – that of being asked to dance by what I would call a ‘semi-experienced’ dancer (ie: someone with more experience in terms of months than me at tango) who decides to ‘teach’ me on the dance floor a complicated move that he learnt a few weeks prior. Or perhaps I should say, someone who uses me as a guinea pig for them to try out moves on. Whenever I hear the words, ‘I’m just going to lead you into something we tried a few weeks ago, it might surprise you’ my heart sinks. What these leaders forget is that if they were leading me well, I’d not need this little warning and presumably I’d be able to follow their signals. Instead, they start teaching me a step which they didn’t master very well the first time and ignore my comments that ‘perhaps it can’t go that way round as I seem to be off balance’ as they crash me into the couple behind us.
Now I may be coming across as a bit harsh but in my mind, a milonga is a social dance place. It is where you go to dance as best as you can. Of course, I want to learn new steps but for me that is what a practicá is for. I was pleased that the last milonga I went to had its own separate room where people were able to practise and this was great. I managed to practise for about an hour and then dance in the milonga for another hour – happy in the knowledge that I could now focus on connecting with my partner and the music. And you know what? – sometimes it is only after one of these magical dances, that I realise how complicated my footing was and how effortlessly I had been led into them! That seems to me a sign of a good leader.