We might shout that question inside our heads when a dance partner confounds us. Not because they’re doing anything wrong or crazy, but because their tango style is different than what we’re used to.

Like accents in a language, individual dance styles vary. And as a result, we might have trouble understanding a new partner at first. But instead of forcing our way of dancing on them, we might try accommodating their differences.

By adjusting to a different style, we may have to change our own dance habits or rethink the way we do certain steps. In addition to being good mental exercise, this can motivate us to become more creative. Or, we might accidentally discover a better way to lead/follow a particular figure.

But despite our best efforts, we could still find the other person’s dancing style way too incompatible with our own. In that case, we at least come away with a clearer idea of what we like and dislike.

Accommodating a partner isn’t merely a courtesy, a temporary surrender of our dance “identity,” or a sign of weakness. Instead, when two dancers work with each other, it’s another opportunity for both to improve.


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