Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rejection: Solutions 7 & 8

This is the last of a series on dealing with rejection.  The assumption from the start was that tango gives its own special challenges for rejection for both men and women.   Tango is not to blame.  Rather, feelings of rejection in tango are probably latent and unresolved  rejections from early in life.  It's like going back to "middle school" all over again.  So now with new maturity and eight different solutions to rejection, I hope now that anyone reading this will get a sense of how wonderful it is when a person finds mature solutions rather than just giving up on tango and the challenge to grow psychologically and spiritually.

Since this is the last of the series, let's review in just a few words all the solutions so far.  Then we'll expand the new territory,  Solutions 7  (dance-to-the-music) & 8 (dance in the kitchen).

All Eight Solutions for Rejection

1. The "I-will-get-better" Solution.  Maybe I am rejected now by better dancers, but eventually not.  Here is the link.

2. The "Just-Ask" Solution.  A risky solution, but one can ask the person who has systematically rejected us.  (NOT to be used on the same evening or after a few rejections.)  Here is the link.

3. The Military Solution.  One stuffs feelings and is actively seeking to dance with others as a way to avoid a downward spiral into self-pity.  Here is the link.

4. The tango walk by oneself Solution.  Bi-lateral stimulation of a graceful walk has the brain finding solutions and resolution to problem.  Here is the link.

5. The embrace Solution + Solution 4.  Now bi-lateral stimulation to the brain through the walk is added with an empathetic embrace. Here is the link.

6. The tango community Solution.  The community, same-sex friends, couple friendships helps us through seasons or moments of rejection.  (This one is problematic if the community is unfriendly. Come to Austin.)  Here is the link.

And finally, 7 & 8.

SOLUTION SEVEN is the dance-to-the-music solution. 

As with other solutions, each solution (except 4 & 8) may be the central problem.  If one allows the music to drive you to move, then it is more likely to be a solution.  Until you get to that place, music may be the very thing that causes fear of rejection or is tied with love that was lost.  But f
or now let's focus on the power of music to overcome rejection. 

I used to feel nervous with certain women because they were tango teachers, or critical out loud in some way, or just by the way they approached the dance with a "show-me-what-you-got Mister" look.  For the performance-oriented women (or my fear of them), I use this dance-to-the-music solution.  It is sadly a common experience to run into a woman who is unkind, or clearly indicates that she expects me to prove myself.


The first time I used the dance-to-the-music solution was in Denver.  La sangrona  was wearing a beautiful dress.  We did not know each other, and both were taking a risk.  Unlike the men in  her tribe, I must have held her two tightly.  She over-reacted to me from the first moment I touched her, as if I had pulled down her dress or something horrible. She could have politely said that she prefers to be held lightly. Each person likes the hold differently, and in Buenos Aires, there are certainly good leads who hold more firmly. But instead of stating her preference, she was aggressive with me.

Querido Tanguero/Querida Tanguera, you cannot expect even the best dancers to understand the culture of tango, or even to have good social skills!  Two excellent tangueras latinas have told me once that my light hold on them was not a true embrace.  Each woman is different, but the latinas were nice about telling me their preference.  One was my tango coach, and she told me that right after I came back from Denver! 
Last but certainly not least...

SOLUTION EIGHT:  Dance by yourself in your kitchen.

As a therapist, I suggest to the men who return from combat only to find that their wife/girlfriend has abandoned them, that they learn to take care of themselves before getting into a new relationship.  "Dancing in the kitchen" is what I suggest, along with fixing themselves a good meal with candlelight.  After I suggested this for the first time a while back, I started doing it myself, and it is wonderful.  I also write in a journal at dinner.  Tango music in the background with wine.  ¡Maravilloso!

I find myself so refreshed and learn so many concepts while practicing by myself.  "The kitchen" means simply at home on a non-carpeted floor.  With solution eight, all of the other solutions come into being, except Solution 2, which, you'll remember, is risky and perhaps totally unnecessary if you are working the other solutions into your life.  Some will ask about Solution 5, the embrace.  Well, querida tanguera, you are are embracing yourself -- something worth doing because you are so incredible as I imagine you dancing with yourself in your kitchen with a glass of red wine from the vineyards of Argentina your hand.

Rejection?  By now it is being rejected from your life.  Welcome to what tango is all about. 


  1. Mark, thank you for your gigantic effort to share your findings with the rest of us. Honestly, I would rather leave my Comme il Fauts at home, but I would never forget to bring the solutions 367 with me.

  2. I've read all your rejection solutions. Just a bit of feedback. For me, it is equally painful for the woman to "reject" the man. I've only recently gotten to a point where I feel comfortable doing so. I believe that it almost never has anything to do with the way the man dances, but a variety of other factors. Some of my top reasons are: correcting my steps (repeatedly) during a tanda at a milonga, making conversation (repeatedly) during a dance, and, unfortunately, poor hygiene. For many months, I just could not say no to these repeat offenders for fear of causing them one second of doubt or pain. And really- who did I think I was? Saying no to a leader after only dancing a short while? But I got to a point where I decided that I needed to take care of myself. I work really really hard at this dance, and I deserve to enjoy each tanda. But I, just like us all, suffer from those "middle school" insecurities, and do not enjoy telling people no, because Lord knows it's been said to me a million times and it does hurt! I would never, however, say no to someone who's level might be below mine, but who is earnestly and passionately working to improve his dance. I think as a community, we should all work together to- like you say- "build up" those dancers who are passionate and working hard at improvement. I've been blessed to have you,and several other angels do this for me, and I completely intend on paying it forward!

  3. Querida Tanguera anónima, thanks for this wonderful feedback. It occurs to me that I really should take a few guys aside whom I really like just to tell them to stop talking and instructing on the dance floor (if they want to dance with anyone who has dancing more than 3 months). I can tell you in part why they do it: Son nerviosos. I did it at one point because I didn't know better and I realized I did it when I was thinking out loud, hoping that she'd get my sloppy leading. I cannot explain why great male dancers do this...just a bad habit they never got over? All I know is that tango has so changed me. I now often do not say a word between songs, like silence between the scherzo and adagio movements. Tango is good for my soul, and I know that you have felt its transformative powers too. That is why you are changing.

  4. As far as Sangrona goes, I've been in embraces where I've struggled for a bit more room or made a quiet request, it has rarely worked for me. Either the man gets pissed over my suggestion or completely ignores it. Basically I feel that the culture is against saying anything that might be construed as uncomplimentary. I've been too polite to simply walk off the floor before the end of the tanda so I'm stuck. My "thank you very much" line along with "no" for self preservation are high on my tango todo list.

    Having said that, I very much enjoy your embrace. ;-)

    I'm still working on saying "no" and grasping the idea that it's not only a good thing to do but actually a kindness. If I'm just not in the mood to dance with someone for any reason then I'm not going to be giving them my best and really should decline.

  5. Señorita Whipple, I maybe can appreciate la Sagrona better now. Perhaps she had tried be nice but that hadn't worked. I still vote for "being nice" and then if that doesn't work to say "thank you" and leave the floor. Have fun in BsAs!


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