Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Of Complaint

A long rant.  Still in the editing phase, of course, but I felt it was right to release a rough draft as soon as possible.


To One Ms. She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named,

[Because, after all, I actually don't know your name.  But if I did, I cannot say that this letter would be any more pleasant than I'm predicting it to be.

Which won't be very much.]

Let me say this first and foremost: I love me a woman who can lead  knows what she's doing.

Not only does this momentarily remove the pressure of having to stressfully decide what to do for a whole four minutes [an uncomfortably long time for a beginner tango student], it shows me how to properly signal to a partner what to do, and how it feels to be lead.  Suprisingly, not many male students who learn to lead learn to follow in the same class, which - as most teachers believe - makes one a more well-rounded, smarter, and understanding dancer.  A woman who can lead a [reasonably] naive and shy beginner around a milonga will always have a place in my heart and continuously growing list of people who have made this year bearable.

It is at this point in my letter I hope to distinguish the difference between two statements, one of which I have just claimed true, and the other of which I will elucidate:
  1. I love me a woman who can lead knows what she's doing.
  2. I DO NOT love me a woman who has her head so far up some dark crevice of her being to convince herself that she THINKS she can lead knows what she's doing.
I like to reminisce all the way back to one week ago when you first appeared at the milonga.  When I first laid eyes upon you, I chose to ignore the warnings from fellow students about you.  "Oh, watch out for her," one would say, and, "Yikes.  Hide while you can."  Upon asking for further details, all I received in response was, "She is a terrible dancer.  If you're smart, you'll find other partners."

Apparently, I wasn't.

Although I didn't dance with you in class - Mariana [teacher at Tango Queer] chose not to change partners - you found me worthy to dance with later that evening.  Perhaps it was my staring at the empty dance floor that inspired you to dance with me [did I appear as if I was longed to be on the floor?].  Or perhaps it was my sitting alone for two tandas that made you take pity on me.  Most likely, it was my outburst of "SOY SOLO PRINCIPIANTE || "I AM JUST A BEGINNER" followed by my palms keeping you a safe radius away from my body that you found endearing.  My immediate confession to being unworthy of your experience must have been a good enough excuse to still want to dance with me.

Nevertheless, our two or three songs together wasn't even remotely painful.  Heck, you even taught me some rumba during the cortina.  And when I was teased/asked about what it was like to dance with you?

"She wasn't terrible at all," I claimed, DEFENDING YOU, "I don't know what you all were thinking about.  Have you even danced with her?  Give her a chance!"

To this, they just shivered and waved away the thought.

You probably don't read my blog, but as I've expressed before, I like to think that there are two kinds of experienced dancers I've met so far:

  1. The kind who give you hope that you will eventually crack this Da Vinci Code of a social dance.
  2. The kind who make you want to curl up into the fetal position in the middle of the dance floor while everyone seeks mental and physical assistance.  For you, of course.
As much as I love talking crap about someone I hardly know dislike observing and analyzing what I perceive to be someone's eventual downfall room for improvement, I must conclude that you are


Considering I enjoy making lists, I present to you several observations in bold and academic commentary in italics that support my conclusion.
  • Repeatedly shaking your head and saying "NO NO NO NO."
    • Lady, do you know how traumatizing this is?  Especially for beginners?  Are you trying to scare people from ever stepping into a milonga again, or are you just unable to control both vocal and neck muscles, resulting in a discouraging response to a horrifying situation?
  • Repeatedly telling your partner that he/she is not moving the correct foot, and that he/she is not moving the foot back far enough.
    • If I'm NOT moving the right foot, it's because my lead IS NOT making me do that.
    • Similarly, If I'm NOT moving it back far enough, it might be because my lead is DRIVING MY SHOULDERS INTO THE GROUND.
  • Repeatedly pressing your fingers to your temple in frustration.
    • Again.  Traumatic.  I understand that as a beginner, it is my duty to learn how to respond correctly, HOWEVER, as an 'experienced' dancer, it's your duty to teach me patiently and not get frustrated in two minutes.
  • Repeatedly telling your partner that he/she is not doing what he/she is supposed to be doing.
    • Like above, if I'm not doing what I'm supposed to be doing, maybe it's because YOU'RE NOT MAKING ME DO IT.
    • Additionally, as the lead, you should be able to SIGNAL to your partner what to do.  As a fellow dancer at Tango Queer once told me, "Think of it as an invitation to let your partner do something.  They might accept it and do what you want, or they might not.  Nevertheless, you continue."
  • Repeatedly telling your partner that he/she is missing and/or forgetting a specific step.
    • I'm not an expert in tango.  [Not yet.]  But what I've come to learn in the past five/six weeks is that regardless of whether or not your partner does a specific step you learned in class, KEEP GOING.  DO NOT drop your arms and tell me to start over with a heavy sigh.  No one is perfect [not me, and ESPECIALLY not you].
    • When doing combinations of different tango moves you learn, you're always going to have to omit a step here and there.  Just because it didn't happen like it did in class DOES NOT MEAN you should stop the dance and start over, or even worse, stop.  Only one species of person does this in the real world: the Diva.
  • Telling your partner that "That's the problem with beginners; they don't know how to walk correctly."
    • Not only is this an insult to your partner, it's an insult to almost everyone in the room.  You're taking a class, and so is everyone else.  Know what that means?  To some degree, WE'RE ALL BEGINNERS.  Yes, that includes you.  Last time I checked, YOU WERE NOT teaching the class.
    • And if it's a problem, help me correct it.  Don't roll your eyes in pain and make your partner do it over and over again without HELPING.
  • Waving the teacher to come over and personally correct your partner.
    • I like to consider this one the lowest of the low moves you can pull in the middle of the class.  Yes, it might be my fault.  But DO NOT call the teacher over and demand her to "Tell him what he's doing wrong."  Not only does this imply that your partner is absolutely wrong, it implies that you are absolutely right.  This, of course, will always lead to both mistakes and humiliation.
    • The teacher might even actually correct YOU and what you are NOT doing.  Like, properly leading your partner for example.  Oh, wait, wasn't that what I was telling you THE ENTIRE TIME?!?!?!
    • I think I'm reasonably modest.  Therefore, when my partner doesn't do something I expected him/her to do in a dance, I take the blame for it.  Please, do us all a favor: Grow up, and STOP BLAMING EVERYONE ELSE.  

If I've learned anything from this experience [not the correct steps for today's class, I can tell you that], it's that I've become much, much, much, more patient with dealing with difficult people situations.  This a life skill [perhaps there'll be a How-To I'll write from this] that few people develop before their eventual death [Exhibit A: YOU].  In some situations, I've learned to take the time to slow everything down and talk through a situation, bit by little bit.  In others, I've learned to gracefully admit defeat, accept losses, and move in a different direction.  Both show an immense amount of maturity and require an equal ammount of patience.

None of which, as I soon learned, I had for you.

Thanks to you, I've revived an old and effective defense mechanism [one that I haven't used since high school...  Cheers, Mom and Dad!]:  The smile and nod.  Often accompanied by music that I hum in the back of my head to drown out your voice, I'll smile as I choose to ignore everything you say, and nod when your lips have stopped moving.

The song I've chosen for you?  This little pick-me-up, specifically chosen when it was played as the cortina when you and I let go of each other and sought new partners.  Eyes glazing over is a bonus, if you can get that to happen next time.

Not that I'm ever hoping for a next time.

Not expecting to hear from you soon,


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