A Good Lead Turned Bad

I knew it was coming, but it was so much worse than I expected.  I went back to Ideal tonight.  It wasn’t as crowded as Friday, but there were probably about 40 people there.  I changed my shoes and started looking around.  A man asked me to dance, and we did.  He was a good lead, I really enjoyed the dance.  It was the last song in the tanda (set of songs).  He apparantly hadn’t realized this, and looked sad as he led me back to my seat.  When the next tanda started, he asked me again.  I had enjoyed the dance, so I accepted.  The first song went even better than the last, because I had gotten used to him.  During the cortina, he asked where I was from, and I told him.  (This went as it usually does with people that don’t speak English, they start listing cities, and I tell them I’m from Seattle.)

Suddenly, he turned into a bad lead.  He was no longer clear, he was hitting my legs with his knees, and he was (unclearly) leading me into multiple overturned back ochos, one of the more difficult steps, and one that you normally do not do more than 2-3 of in a row.  As he did so, he backed away from me – breaking the connection – and started saying loudly, “Ocho! Ocho! Ocho!”  His lead was not clear at all, he was throwing the dance to make me look bad.  He even had me ocho so close to another dancer that my heel caught hers.  Before this, he had been dancing beautifully and did not break the connection at all.  I realized exactly what had happened, and suffered through the last two songs of the tanda like this.  When I sat down, he said he was a maestro, a teacher, and handed me his card.  He walked over later to talk to the lady sitting next to me.  She nodded and smiled but said nothing.

A side note, teaching at a milonga is considered to be very bad etiquette.  There are classes and practicas (practice sessions) that can be used for this, as it tends to be disruptive.  This man was downright rude, trying to make me out to be worse than I am so that I would take classes with him.

The next tanda was milonga (very fast dancing), so I sat it out and enjoyed watching the other dancers.  I danced the next tanda with a good lead that spoke about as much English as I do Spanish, but I had a good time with his oddly upright, but easy to follow lead.

I sat down feeling better about myself.  The woman right next to me offered me a candy, which I realized belatedly was one of the menthol candies which are so popular here, they taste like Hall’s cough drops to me.  She spoke English with a French accent, asking how long I was staying in Buenos Aires.  She asked if I was taking any classes, and from whom.  I told her my teachers’ first names.  “From women?” she exclaimed.  I nodded.  “But, how can you learn to dance tango from a woman?  You must take classes with a man.  That man over there is a teacher.”  I explained that he had told me that.

A few minutes later, she asked if I had taken a lot of lessons in the United States.  I said that I had.  There was a long pause, then she said that she had taken lessons all over Europe, but had only really learned to dance from this man.  I had been watching her dance, and I feel that I am a better dancer than she is, so this was not really very good advertising.  I have some excellent teachers that are teaching me to dance from a woman’s point of view; I have improved a lot in the week I have been here.

By this point, there were only 20-30 people left in the milonga.  Most of the men were sitting behind me, creating an awkward sitiuation for cabeceo.  I felt very uncomfortable, and decided to leave right then, while the Subte (subway) was still open, and I wouldn’t have to pay 13 pesos for a taxi ride.

As I said, I knew this was coming.  I was really more bemused than anything until the French lady started in on me.  I discussed what had happened afterward to tangogod, and he said that I should have just walked away when the man started teaching on the floor.  I did not know this was an option, and will be sure to use it next time.

I plan on trying Salon Canning later when it opens.  I have heard that it is a very difficult place to dance, and that I may not get any dances, so this seems like a good time to do it.  I also know that this milonga is very well known by tourists, and will be full of other maestros looking for students.  Since it’s already happened to me and I now know how to react, I should be ok.

Add this evening’s experience to the individual that blogged inacurate information about me this morning and put words in my mouth, and I’m fairly irritated.

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~ by Liz on December 22, 2008.

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