July 3, 2013

Sorry for sounding gross, but that’s the best I could do for the title of today’s topic. For leaders, learning new steps is definitely a blast, and it’s totally understandable to want to run to the nearest práctica or milonga to try them out on someone. We’ve noticed people, sometimes even our own friends, getting carried away. They become totally wrapped up in what they’re doing, throwing in every advanced figure they can think of (or learned on Youtube) while the follower rolls her eyes and/or struggles to avoid getting kicked in the face.

It’s a little embarrassing to watch, and perhaps we’ve been guilty of doing this ourselves on a few occasions. Rhythmic diarrhea. We’ve all seen it, but maybe didn’t use those exact words to describe it.

“But I don’t want my partner to get bored,” is the usual justification (or excuse) for having it.

Okay, fine.

So let’s equate dancing with someone to having a conversation, which is a common but useful analogy. Now imagine that someone cornering you in an elevator, and then proceeding to talk not with you, but at you, about some subject. For the sake of argument, let’s assume this person is going on about a topic that probably doesn’t interest you, like his extensive collection of rare garden slugs and mold spores that live under his mother’s front porch. Oh, and this person happens to be a close-talker.

After a little while, you try to make it clear via body language that you’re not interested in hearing more. But that doesn’t help. You try to get a word in edgewise so you can politely end the conversation, but you can’t. You keep getting cut off because he keeps blabbing, and then you wonder if he’s ever going to stop.

The elevator arrives at your floor and you try to move past him. But amazingly, he blocks your path because he still wants to talk. When you finally get a chance to ask why he’s still flapping his lip, his answer is that he’s afraid that you’ll be “bored” unless he fills every millisecond of silence.

Whether it’s in conversation or dance, those who try way too hard to be exciting or interesting never end up being those things (at least not in the way that they think). Effective leaders in tango don’t have to be the most experienced, dynamic, or talented dancers in the room. For the entire tanda, they can be doing something as simple as walking.

But if they’re leading clearly, moving to the song’s rhythm, and paying attention to the follower’s comfort level, they’ll be anything but boring.


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