Saturday, November 26, 2016

Last Chance Tango

Preface: Below is a curriculum for small cities.  Gender balance is a good place to start.  So do it!  I hope this curriculum helps to grow your community.  It will probably not work when tango stars have already come to your city to show people how to dance. Too often such teachers forget the personal and social value of dance.  So you must find a teacher or a group of people who will guide this curriculum, who are dedicated to quality social dancing, not just dancing.  The first class should happen over a beer with no dancing.  You will see why . . .

Last Chance Tango may be your offer to your partner, but he doesn't even know it! So make it known with a true curriculum and a real chance at success. Last Chance Tango is a way of teaching tango that has nothing to do with the torturous dance classes that your partner either avoids or tried and refuses ever to try again. I am asking for a bold step:  Ask the person you love for one last attempt at a dance class--Last Chance Tango. Tell your partner, "I'll never ask again, baby!"  That will take courage, but the next part is harder, and you have little power in how the next step will go--actually going to take the class. So let's think this through before you dare trying what might be your "last tango."

What is at stake here. Not being willing to dance may be a signal that one's relationship will sooner or later fail. Many people start dancing at the end of a relationship to start going out and to re-enter the world after a relationship break-up. But why wait for the end?

Before he comes to Last Chance Tango
It's his* last chance. She has heard him say, "I have two left feet.  Going to a dance class is nothing less than torture."  He will need to hear a discussion over a beer or at a non-dance party with the following talking points.  If nothing else, he could prepare for the class by reading this pre-class introduction with you, but it is better to do it with an experienced guide:
  • Challenging the two left feet myth:  Having truly two left feet is extremely rare. :-)  Not being able to dance is most likely a psychological/cultural block from knowing one's own humanity.  Animals do not dance without training.  Human's do dance as children without training, and even if they have never seen someone dance.  Unfortunately, too often the psychological blocks creates the illusion that one has two left feet. 
  • Dancing is at the very root of one's humanity. Dancing is the root that perhaps you have lost but can be reclaimed.  It's inside of you.   Not dancing is like not talking.  Not dancing is like being deaf to the language of music which is telling you something, but you refuse to respond or you simple are taught that you should not respond!  If a child is told not to speak, what a tragedy if he never does.  Your culture, your friends, your giggling family did not mean to say, "Don't dance!" but perhaps long ago your partner heard that message.   What if they had said:  "Don't talk."  Hopefully, your partner would have revolted or he would have friends and teachers who would have kept engaging him until he returned to being a speaking animal. Dancing is the language of the body.  Let the body peak!  Let's all return to our center!

  • You will not be made to look stupid.  Some women, and especially men, take one class of dance and never return because it was humiliating, too difficult to mimic someone else's two-dimensional perception of what dance is.  Partners are often the difficult people in a dance class.  So we have to re-think how to help our partners re-find the dancing child they you used to be.
  • Graceful men (and women) are survivors--in the jungle, on the basketball court or on the dance floor. Just be aware that the majority of countries in the world have alpha males and females who are great dancers.  If you speak English, know that your experience is much different than many other cultures.
Returning to Ground Zero, back to a time when you loved to dance.  Last Chance Tango is about returning to how you as a child reacted to dance spontaneously.  How to get this back may take realizing how you lost your dancing abilities.  Each person who has avoiding dance has their own story.  Perhaps they don't even remember people laughing at them as a kid or other kids and not liking the feeling of being laughed at.  Perhaps your partner cannot remember the experiences of being a teenager and the cool people laughing at others dancing, or not feeling good in their own body (as many teens do not). These a psychological blocks may need to be addressed one-on-one with a private teacher who is understanding and kind.

The Burden is on the teachers.  Last Chance Tango is a class in which the instructor knows that he/she has only one chance at it. The stakes are high. Perhaps the couple will even break up because one loves to dance and the other does not. Dance is not important enough to ruin a relationship, but is a symbol of not being willing to join in the "dance of life." Sitting in front of a TV (or whatever) instead of dancing is a strong symbol of two people with one last chance of staying together in their future. If it's not dance, then what will re-connect a couple?  (See the list of qualities to look for when calling to find a teacher below if you do not take lessons from Sybille, my wife, and me.**)

Preparation for the class.  First, make your partner aware of the curriculum of Last Chance Tango, and secondly, review a few films with your partner at the very bottom.
      1. Dance is natural. One can learn to enjoy and dance almost immediately with the basics of tango: The Three M's, which are (1) The Music and your body's response to it (including just taping one's foot); (2) the Movements that you incorporate into the dance; (3) the eMbrace--a primal need you learned from those in your family and later friends and community.

      2. No-Fault Dance. Men will love the dance and will not be seen as "responsible" for the dance going right or wrong on the dance floor. Their only responsibility is probably already ingrained as a part of manhood: Protect your partner from harm (on the dance floor).

      3. The end of Discrimination. Men will not be seen as naturally less able than women (a common anti-male myth promoted by both women and men in some cultures--probably yours).  The drop-out rate and over-population of women dancers in the community will therefore be addressed from the start.

      4. The challenge is fun. There are only two step to learn.  Right and left.  Sure, later turns on the dance floor will be seen as methods of "floorcraft" that happen to be fun.  Most moves for dances come out of avoiding collisions with others on the dance floor or being forced to dance in a very small space.

      5. Being kind is central.  The social element with be front-and-center, which means exchanging partners, dancing primarily paying attention to one's partner but also "with" the community (awareness of dancing with others on the same floor as an expression of a community).
More motivation for returning to you inborn ability to dance:

See more about my thoughts on dance at this link or

*For simplicity, I use "he/him" for "the person you love."  There is a likelihood that the person with a dance aversion (chorophobia) is a man because of cultural norms that are anti-dance.  The easy test of your particular culture is this:  Do alpha males in the general population in your country dance well?

**How to find a "Last Chance Tango" instructor:
1. Teaches social tango with a close embrace.  Teaches a kind dance, not a kind of dance.
2. Emphasizes being able to listen to the music and let it be the true guide in this improvisational dance.
3. Can dance and show others how to dance in a small space when the floor is crowded (as it often is).
4. Does not emphasize patterns (although that is what you might think dance is). A person can dance wonderfully by knowing very little about dance vocabulary.  (Think of dancing romantically and musical with little more than a warm embrace.  Left and right is all you need!)
5. Does not teach male responsibility or insinuate "blame" when things do not go well.  That sort of teacher will ruin your hopes of your "last chance tango."

My wife and I will travel to teach without profit.  Presently we are in the USA (November 2016) but we may soon be in Europe.  You can contact us through email:  Presently I am at (703) 606-9140 or outside of the US at 001-703-606-9140.

Photo credit:  From the movie The Last Tango which is not a good reflection of social dance but stage dancers and their drama (love, hate, drama, jealousy and the war of the sexes).