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Which question should you never ask another tango dancer?

posted Feb 23, 2015, 7:10 PM by Sophia de Lautour   [ updated Feb 23, 2015, 7:11 PM ]
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Sharing this post from blogger Terpsichoral Tangoaddict . What she writes about here is I believe of relevance to many tango dancers. 


'I believe it is a question that you should never ask: "why won't you dance with me?"

First of all, I think it's extremely difficult to frame this question in a way that doesn't sound accusatory. It seems to imply "you ought to dance with me." In general, there are two kinds of questions that it's not a good idea to ask: ones that are likely to elicit the response (spoken or silent) "none of your business!" and those that you may not really want to hear the honest answer to.

I believe that, in most cases, it would make the other person feel very uncomfortable and awkward and would make them a lot less likely to dance with you in future (in fact, they might avoid your company altogether). If they did answer, I doubt they would answer honestly or provide information that was really useful -- that you could act upon to improve the situation. I believe very strongly in getting technical feedback on your dancing from teachers and practice partners but not from those who dance with you at the milonga -- and even less so from those who don't dance with you. Part of the reason for this is that you cannot please everyone. Yes, there are some basic technical problems which will make you a less desirable partner for almost everyone, but you don't really need a reluctant acquaintance to tell you what those are: keep working with your teachers on the fundamentals of embrace, balance, dissociation, musicality, posture, etc. That will pretty much cover it. Then, the reason may be more personal -- they simply don't like your vibe, for whatever reason. While many of us work on trying to be better people (or is it just me?) paranoia about who does or doesn't like you is not a great motivator in my opinion and will just make you extremely self-conscious and paranoid, especially if you are already a socially anxious type (which I am). And, finally, the reason may be something you cannot change (age, body type, attractiveness) or something completely unrelated to you.
You might think you have nothing to lose, but, actually, there have been people who have danced with me often, stopped for a long time and then begun dancing with me regularly again. I'm very happy indeed that I didn't try to call them out on their reasons for not dancing with me at the time.

I can think of one example in which an honest answer would be useful: if the reason is that the person needs to use a stronger deodorant (and don't just spray but actually wash your pits first and put on a clean shirt -- just putting that out there). But I for one have never had the courage to say that to someone. In the rare cases when I've been asked why I don't dance with someone, I haven't answered.

Have you? What have been your experiences with this question: either asking or answering it? I'm curious. I'm not asking why you don't dance with certain people. I'm asking what you would do/have done if asked why by a specific individual. And whether you yourself have ever asked.'