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Making newcomers feel welcome

Dear All,

As a relative newcomer to the Tango community in Sydney (I have been dancing for around two years now), I wanted to express my sadness at reading your most recent poll question. Should beginners dance at milongas or should they dance at practicas until they get better etc. For any nervous beginner or even an intermediate dancer still growing in skill and confidence, this question comes across as rather mean spirited. A Milonga is a social dance, and whilst the dancing is very important indeed, I think it's important not to forget the interperpersonal and social aspects. This also means making newcomers and visitors feel welcome. Without new blood in any artform, it is likely to become stale and uninteresting. Also, I wonder how all these very advanced and elite dancers practiced their skills when they where starting out? At Milongas no doubt. I understand that we have favourites and friends that we prefer, but in the course of a whole night would it really hurt so much to have one Tanda with someone not quite at your level?

For any beginner out there who has incurred the wrath of an impatient partner, or who comes across this question, I just wanted to say that there are some very warm, friendly and supportive people out there in the Tango community, and that Tango is not just about technique. In my very short time, I have learnt that the best dancers (and teachers), are those with a generous, warm and supportive spirit, who actually dance with you (as a person). To those gentlemen who have patiently supported my dancing as a beginner, I want to say a very hearty...thankyou.


Leche X

Re: Making newcomers feel welcome

Yes this seems to be the way of Tango in Australia, unfortunatly there seems to be a bit of a snob factor in the Tango scene here ie: don't go to a Milonga until you've been dancing for 3 years!

When I was in London students would be dancing at Milonga's in 3-6 months of begining to learn Tango.  The general level of Tango danced in the Milongas in London is in my opinion higher than that which is danced here (either Melbourne or Sydney).

One London School who I did some workshops with even organised 3-4 "student" nights out per year where the teachers would organise a group of thier students to head off to one of the Milongas.  This got their students of differening levels together to intermigle and help the beginers break the ice with their more experienced students.  They expected that their students would be dancing at Milongas within 3-6 months of begining to dance Tango.

Re: Making newcomers feel welcome

Thanks for your comments, Leche and Phillrow.

The poll question received 268 responses which were divided almost 50%-50%. (It has now been replaced.) I guess part of the answer might depend on who you consider to be "beginners" - that in itself could be a poll question!

I am sorry, Leche, that the question upset you or made you feel unwelcome. Perhaps I should give you some context. It arose in response to conversations both here on the Forum, and face-to-face at milongas, regarding the poor floorcraft observed at many milongas, as well as the observation that practicas seem to be scorned by the Sydney dance community. Just look how few practicas are listed on the calendar, compared to milongas - and the milongas are almost invariably better attended.

So, to everyone out there, I ask: Why is that? Do dancers not want to improve? Or do they think that the milonga floor is the place to work on their tango? What's your understanding of the purpose of and the difference between the two types of event?

On a personal note, I hugely appreciated the generosity of more experienced leaders who offered to dance with me when I was starting out, and I do try to repay it in kind. I am more than happy to dance with a leader who only knows how to walk forward and do a side step, so long as it's done with the music and with the line of dance. Only practice will create improvement. However when leaders are still coming to grips with basic steps,  floorcraft and musicality can be neglected, which can make it unpleasant and even dangerous not only for them and their partner, but also for other dancers on the floor. My level of leading falls into this category - I am definitely an abject beginner at leading - so I don't try it at milongas, for everyone's sake! What I need is to practise more, whether privately or at practicas.

Phillrow mentioned aiming to dance at milongas within 3-6 months of starting tango, and to me that sounds like a sensible goal for most regular class attendees. Till you're ready, by all means come to milongas; you will be welcomed! I'd encourage everyone to come along, to get to know people, and learn by watching, absorbing the feel, and talking to people about tango.


Re: Making newcomers feel welcome

I have a question? and a comment to follow.

What happens when you have experienced dancers and they do not know how to navigate?

I have seen a lot of beginners who just dance the essance of tango. They embrace each other and walk to the music. And I have also seen a lot of experienced dancers (including teachers) that actually do not how to nevigate properly, do not give space to the couple that dance infront of them and try new moves that requiere a lot of space. And some guys do not even look at where they go when they dance or walk.

So the question is not whether should the beginners be alowed to dance in the milongas (which I think is not should but a must) but what do we do about people who do not navigate properly and just dance all over the dance floor instead of following the line of dancing? The answer was give before by visiting maestros many many times...wish we practiced it more though.


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