Thursday 1 September 2022

Do not obsess about repertoire!

 This is just a short reminder for all leaders (male or female) in Tango: 

Do not obsess about boring your followers with your limited repertoire. 

During a milonga, followers will dance with all kinds of leaders and each of them has a different musicality, repertoire and embrace. So unless this follower will dance with you only, he or she will have enough variety in the dance. 

In addition to that most followers complain about leaders trying to dance too many "steps" and therefore forget about musicality and embrace. Hence: less (steps) is more (wellbeing)!

Female leaders should actually know that because most of them have been making exactly this statement for years when they were "only" following. But as soon as they start leading, they forget about it. Very stupid.

The only person being bored by a limited repertoire is the leader him- or herself and this is quite understandable as she or he has to dance the same steps over and over again. So if you want to enlarge your repertoire, please do it for your own sake, not with the excuse of having to entertain "the ladies". 

But remember: Unless you are very skilled in leading and adapting the repertoire to music and partner, the steps will only stress the followers. 

Last tip: Female tango teachers are particularly annoyed by all the leaders wanting to impress them and show how they can dance better than their dance partner. THIS is really boring. A nice embrace and connection to the music however can never be boring. 

So: cut it out! 

Sunday 28 August 2022

My most exciting non-tango project!

Today, I am would like to share some information about a wonderful project I’ve been working on since corona started in 2020. It has got nothing to do with tango, but please bear with me for one moment. This work has helped me to get through the past two years, not only financially, but also motivationally. 

So, what is this about?

I have written a roleplaying adventure and am now supervising the illustration and production of the book. The Straight Way Lost will be published by Vortex-Verlag via a Kickstarter campaign in mid-2023 and I’d be happy about contributions and recommendations to your friends.
In case you do not know what a roleplaying game is, please click here.

This work might be of interest not only to those who love roleplaying games, but everyone who is intrigued by renaissance history, the work of Dante Alighieri, beautiful art or mythology. 

The story is based on the ancient tale of a voyage into the underworld and back again, one that lies at the base of all classical and medieval sagas:
It is the year 1492 in the mighty city-state of Florence. Girolamo Savonarola, the charismatic prior of San Marco is fighting to rid society of the decay that has beset it under the reign of the Medici family. The adventurers are drawn into this political game of intrigue and set out to find a cure for the evil that has befallen their home. Their journey will lead them into the realm of the mysterious fey queen of the Apennine, but only after following in the footsteps of Dante Alighieri through the netherworlds can the heroes return to face the tyrant and help create their City On A Hill.

Illustrations in very distinctive styles for the different stages of the voyage are by Jana Heidersdorf, Mark Smylie (see below) and Gwenevere Singley. The layout will be done by my partner Thorsten Janes, who has already worked with Detlef an me on Caminar Abrazados. The Straight Way Lost will be a wonderful addition to any art-loving friend’s library.

If you are interested in staying informed:
- subscribe to our newsletter
- like us on Facebook
- follow us on Instagram
- visit our website

Tuesday 3 May 2022

Annoying post about my signature issue

I have not written for quite a while, mostly because I nowadays also post longer texts on facebook and because I wanted to keep this blog (relatively) free of my everyday corona-rants. 

So this is another annoying post about my signature issue, leading women.


As you many of you will know, we (Detlef and I) are using the concept of role-change in all of our local classes and most of our international work. This is why many of our female students have taken up leading. Some have worked real hard, e. g. in our teacher training and are now registering as double-role dancers at many events - if the organisers allow for it. 

We of course encourage role-change at our milongas and encuentros and so the "leading ladies" and the few "following men" usually get enough dances in both roles at our events. We are very happy about the development because no-one has to wait as a wallflower anymore. It changes everything for the better!

But it is common knowledge that double rolers don't have good chances in most environments and that leading women in particular are often criticised for not being "experienced" or "good" enough. And sure, many of them have only taken up the "other role" recently, so they are still learning and very well aware of that.

But I ask myself: With whom are leading women implicitly compared when people are making such a statement? Not good enough in comparison to whom?

Is it with male "beginners" who have been leading a similar amount of time? Surely not, because as a tango teacher I can confirm that experienced followers who take up leading will be much, much, much more competent than the average man who starts tango. And I think that most people are aware of that. But are women praised for their achievement of learning much faster? Certainly not.

So, are these women then maybe compared to the average dancer at milongas or encuentros? That would actually be appropriate, because I am honestly convinced that many, many female leaders have long achieved that level of competency. Honestly: it is no rocket science. 

And if you observe more closely, you will discover that the reason for them being of equal competency  comes from the fact that they are taking classes and practicing and therefore still improving, whilst most men stop learning from a certain point on. Why should they? They will always get enough dances. I have danced with hundreds, maybe even thousands of so-called "advanced" leaders at events and will clearly state that the majority have a quite limited repertoire and musicality. That’s fine, because when I dance with someone, I do not expect "perfection" and I do not judge. I connect with another person and if that person is willing to "give" something of him or herself in the dance, I am perfectly happy. Most followers are, because this is after all a social dance.  

So why are female leaders not likewise accepted with all their imperfections and restrictions? Why will another woman not accept the invitation of an average female leader, whilst she is happily dancing with the guy who has been dancing the same ocho-cortado variation for the last 15 years without even adapting the move to the melodic rhythm?

Because women have to be better to be perceived equal!

I think that they are implicitly compared with the very small amount of top dancers who are musical, have an extensive-enough repertoire and a fine embrace. Most likely, they are also good looking and are, well, men! These are the few guys with whom every follower will want to dance at an Encuentro or Marathon.

What most forget: These guys have often been dancing for more than 20 years and are either very talented or have worked hard to get there. Yes, they might merit the praise but how unfair is it to compare a female leader, who has started to lead 2-3 years ago to these "tango gods"? Also, no matter how good she gets, she will not lead "like a man". Because she is no man. But do you have to lead "like a man" to lead well? I very much doubt that.

I am impressed by everyone who tackles "the other role" despite the social inhibitions, the time consuming effort and the huge amount of money that they have spend to learn, to become better, to develop. I see how many of them improve by the day!

I do not want anyone to give leading women any more leeway than male leaders. But please give them the same chance that you would give to a male leader of a comparable level of competency. Try to judge them by their dancing and not by their sex. 

Ok, unless tango IS about sex for you. Then of course, this is ok. Women will stay women and men men. If you only get your tango highs with the big hairy bloke (quoting a male friend), then so be it. ;-)

Personal note: 

I have for 21 years lead in class, but only recently (2019) made the serious attempt of leading at milongas. I have practised despite the fact, that I understand all moves and musicality and can perfectly demonstrate them in class - mostly in an open hold. But it is different in close embrace at milongas. So it is obvious, that it will take me some time, until I’ve incorporated our repertoire in my everyday milonga life. I am improving. 

But I have got the advantage to be a teacher and well known at many events I go to. So I will mostly reach my goal of leading 50%. It is only at events where I am not known (marathons) that I will be perceived in the same manner as the other leading ladies. This (and the fact that I actually talk to our female leaders) is why I know what I am writing about. And guess what: There are female followers who have learned with us but will not accept my invitation at a milonga. They will of course accept Detlef’s invitation - if he happens to be there on time and is not chatting at the bar. ;-)

Let’s see how that works next weekend at the Heidelberg Tango Marathon. By writing this post, I have certainly not improved my chances with the guys. ;-)

Update: At the HTM it went well after a little while. I did not reach the 50%, but close enough. ;-)