Unfortunately, I‘ve never seen so few gorgeous men as in Tango. Men are in a minority, often dress very carelessly and the average level of attractivity isn‘t breathtaking. Also the dance level is much lower amongst men, than amongst women. And this is why every semi-decent male dancer can feel like a kid in a candy-shop and choose freely amongst the female population according to the check-list:
- Level of attractivity
- Make-over and shoes
- Dance qualities
And yes, dance qualities come last, because A, they don‘t matter so much and B, many men just assume, that good looking women, who wear high heels will be good dancers as well. (That‘s totally in accordance to scientific findings, as I recall from early psychology classes: attractive people are given higher ratings in skills and positive personality traits, than unattractive people.) And let‘s not forget, that a high dance level in a female, quite often is perceived as being threatening for male dancers. So dance quality will be the least important factor for the majority of men, when choosing a partner.
The funny outcomes of that kind of selection procedure: Even good male dancers (some of them quite near to me) repeatedly end up dancing with way below average dancers, who can hardly walk, because of a comically bad decision based on looks, heel-size and age. I won‘t mention names now... OK, once, it even happened to me. There was this good looking guy in Niño Bien Milonga in Buenos Aires... but that‘s another story. ;-)
The not-so-funny results: The majority of women over 40 or those not being of ideal proportions are sitting most of the time, no matter how they dress or dance. In Buenos Aires, this is even more crass: Lots of the eldest Milongueros dance as a principle only with the youngest Tangueras, often even choosing them as lovers. And don‘t tell me about age being honoured in argentine Milongas! The elder Tangueras may be put on a pedestal, but it‘s the young girls, who are invited to dance. It‘s kinda sad, all of it, and it creates a lot of frustration amongst women and a high pressure on men.
I started out as a beginner, being fairly attractive and still young enough, so that I was chosen as one of the favourite partners by the better local dancers. And being a little talented as well, they could do all kinds of fancy stuff with me and show me the world, as men like to do.
As I grew older and gained some kilos and became - at last - a professional Tango teacher, I was much more rarely invited. So I sat, watched my partner dance and - as I valued quantity higher than quality - was frustrated most of the time.
But over the years, my priorities shifted. Having developed musical preferences and a high quality approach to Tango, nowadays, I don‘t care to dance, when the music does not inspire me, when I‘m tired or when there are no interesting partners for me. Very often, I even refuse invitations. I choose not to dance. (I will write about „making choices“ in one of my next posts.)
So most of the time, I'm still sitting, but contentedly listening to the music and having the leisure to observe people and notice an interesting development over the last two years.
The young men are coming! And they are different.
I watch these guys in their 30‘s emerging from the crowd as real nice dancers with a pleasant embrace. They are dancing a social Tango without fancy stuff and focus on quality and musicality. All the young attractive Tangueras love to dance with them. But I notice, that these young men are dancing with all kinds of women: those being double their age, double their size and those wearing homely dresses. And I see both partners smiling and enjoying the dance, because it‘s not about what you see from the outside, it‘s about what you feel on the inside.
Some of these young men are amongst my favourite partners and we had lots of fun at some recent events, that attract close-embrace social dancers: the Festivalito Rural in Celje (Slovenia), the Festivalito con Amigos in Saarbruecken (Germany), Autumn Tango in Eton (UK) and the Raduno Milonguero in Impruneta (Italy). And I‘m gonna meet some of them in Bramshaw (UK) soon!
I don‘t know much about the Nuevo community, but I presume, that with the focus on athletic movement and flexibility, age and weight will remain constant selective criteria for this style of dance.
But it seems, that with an increasing higher emphasis on quality of movement and embrace, the selective criteria in social Tango could change over the years. Women might be perceived as attractive dance partners because of their experience in the dance and because of their ability to really commit to the embrace and not because of their looks or age.
And, as society is getting older and all the young women in Tango as well, this is actually a very positive outlook. Isn‘t it?
I want to thank all these nice young men, for being who they are and helping to create a much more agreeable Tango community.
Note in reaction to a comment on November 9:
What I am talking about, is a general situation, not individual personalities.
If you are a nice guy with a nice embrace (no matter what age), who respects women and will choose your partner because of her dancing skillls, then I‘m not talking about you in the first half of my post. And of course, there are more guys like you. I know, because I dance with them. But unfortunately, you are not in the majority, because if you were, there would not not be so many nice, talented women at the Milongas, who have to leave frustrated.