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The Tango Crush (Part 1)

posted Mar 7, 2014, 4:58 PM by Sophia de Lautour   [ updated Mar 16, 2015, 4:37 PM ]
tango crush romance so argentine
"Tango Romance'" by Nik Helbig

Found this on 'Beginners Crush'.  Maleva (a.k.a Jennifer Bratt) is a well known tango dancer from the US who writes a popular tango advice column.

"Dear Maleva,
I'm desperate and unsure what to do! I am madly in love with an incredible dancer in our community, but all he ever wants to do with me is dance! I have tried dropping some hints about maybe giving me a call, but I have to say there isn't much conversation happening. I fear we may not have a lot in common, but I do want to explore it further, it could be the start of something beautiful. But I am very confused by the mixed signals, on the dance floor it's pure bliss and very much a mutual rush, and his hand lingers on my lower back after the last chords die away, and he is very attentive and everything, but then he walks me back to my place and after that it's like nothing ever happened. It's pure torture and it's interfering with my sleep, eating and concentration at work. Is this what tango dancers are like? Please advise me on what to do, other than quickly becoming such a great dancer that he can't think of anybody else, either. I'm not sure I could, he is a very accomplished tanguero. Help! 
Desperate Tanguera"

"Dear Desperate Tanguera,
I'm sorry to say that it sounds like you have fallen victim to a very, very common phenomenon in the dance world: the Beginner's Crush. That is - beginner/student (almost always female) gets overwhelming crush on teacher/skillful dancer (almost always male). This doesn't just happen in tango - it is pervasive in all the partner dances from mambo to waltz.

Why does this happen? Tango can be a very powerful experience, especially for women. A follower surrenders total control of her body to her leader. A masterful leader can make even a beginner do things she didn't know she was able to and make her feel like a goddess. A good dancer's confidence and sureness is extremely appealing to women. The professional dancers can also make the beginners feel like part of the 'in' crowd in the social hierarchy of the milonga scene.

tango heart romance love sydney

"Two Heart Tango” painting  by Debbie Marie Arambula represents two lovers dancing passionately together.

Susana Miller once said in a workshop that the woman cares only for the Dancer not the man, and the man cares only for the Woman not the dancer. It doesn't matter to the woman if the guy is a jerk or if even he's good looking, all she cares about is how he can make her feel when dancing. The man doesn't care about how the woman dances, only that she is beautiful.

I think it's nice that your "tanguero-in-illusionary-shining-armor" knows enough to leave it on the dance floor where it belongs. Many, many tango teachers and experienced dancers take advantage of female students. And really, who can blame them for falling for these wide-eyed and worshipping ladies. What guy wouldn't love it if a beginning girl looked at him with big eyes and said "Am I doing it right??" (batting eyelashes...)

The Beginner's Crush is no secret in the dance world and I even remember seeing a segment on 60 minutes or some other such news program a few years ago about how dance studios encourage the male teachers to flirt with the female students because they know it will keep them coming back for classes.

So you are certainly not alone in your feelings. I, myself, fell under the spell of a better dancer during my early days - MORE than once - and most of my friends did too. I can't say that the phenomenon is all bad -- it certainly provides incentive for love-struck ladies to try and get better faster. They want to be able to dance well with their crush like you said, and perhaps they even fantasize about becoming their crush's partner and performing with him.

On the other side, I think it is pretty rare for a beginner male student to get this type of crush on a better female dancer. Men are intimidated by the experienced female dancers and when they do dance together usually the tanguera is only able to make the poor guy feel more inept and clumsy, not good about himself.

I don't mean to devalue your feeling for this guy; it's not that they're not very real, but my bet is they won't last long-term. As you become a more experienced dancer, your crush will fade. You'll dance with lots of great dancers and feel magic in their embrace and that is something to be cherished. But the longer you tango, the more you learn to separate heart from body and realize that what you feel is not love of the man but love of the dancer, and you will be able to leave it at that. Ask yourself this about your crush: Would I still like him if he were a lousy dancer? Hmmm, maybe not.

There must be equality for a relationship to truly work and the teacher/student or advanced dancer/beginner relationships, while very common, almost always end in heartbreak. So, should you look for love in the milongas? - Hell yes! But look for love that is born out of a connection off the dance floor, that you feel because of who the man is, not just how he makes you feel when leading you through steps."

Read here for Part 2...