Friday, June 24, 2011

June 9-22

Saturday, June 11, 2011
The Late Shift milonga.
This milonga was reasonably attended, but with a lot of couples who didn't switch partners much. So I ended up sitting out a good bit, but at least getting a few dances in with some favorite Leaders and a few that I haven't danced with in a long time. I felt my dancing was a bit off and wonky, for some strange reason. Since it was my first time dancing since returning from BsAs, maybe it was the famous BsAs hangover. I wore one of the new pairs of shoes I got in BsAs -- the PERFECT fitting show in the PERFECT non-blowout material from Lolo Gerard. And they performed like a dream. I could not stop smiling (wonky dancing and all), as it felt that I had finally gotten the Holy Grail shoe -- perfect in every way.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011
CellSpace Alt Milonga.
I got there too late to attend any lessons. The milonga was OK. I sat out a lot as I was manning the door and they were a little short-staffed on this night. That was OK though. I wore the same Holy Grail shoe again to see if it was a fluke, or to see if it actually felt as good as the first time, on a different surface. They performed great. I could not stop smiling. Cecilia Gonzalez and Somer Surgit did a fine performance of two songs, which was an unexpected treat.

Thursday, June 16, 2011
Verdi Club milonga.
There was a weird mix-up in the tangomango posting, with one posting saying that Diego Lanau was teaching the lesson, and another one saying Cecilia Gonzalez was teaching. The lesson was packed, and it turned out to be taught by Diego Lanau. Personally, I did not take the lesson myself. Afterwards, I heard more than one gripe that they were expecting Cecilia Gonzalez. The milonga was pretty good. DJ Emilio and the band Tangonero did a fine job keeping the energy reasonable so floor craft wasn't too obnoxious despite the crowded conditions. Surprisingly, there were more leaders than followers on this night, so of course I had a good time. :o) Cecilia Gonzalez and Somer Surgit did a fine performance of two songs.

Sunday, June 19, 2011
Bollyhood Free Practica.
On a whim, I decided to go to this, even though I had spent the morning hiking and flea marketing and hadn't made my way home in between to change. Needless to say, I wasn't dressed for the occasion, and thought twice about arriving in my hiking shirt and shorts. But I decided to give it a go anyway. Walking past the Goodwill store on Mission, a serviceable enough dress in the front window caught my eye, so I made my way in, stripped the mannequin, and made my way to the dressing room. Luckily for me, the dress fit. So I just wore it out of the dressing room, had the cashier cut off the tag, and I bought a plastic bag for $0.05 to put my hiking clothes in. Arriving at Bollyhood a couple of minutes later, some Leaders remarked at my dress (more of a night time dress than a daytime Bollyhood dress), and so I told them of the Goodwill escapade and showed them my hiking clothes. They all agreed that the dress was better. I had a good time at this Practica. It had been quite a while since I had been to it. I danced with many of my favorite leaders and quite a few new-to-me leaders. It was a sweltering afternoon, but I spent most of the time dancing anyway.

Afterwards, I had drinks and snacks with three local leaders at Frjtz . We had various drinks and split the sweet potato fries since none of us were particularly starving. And so I was privy to a plethora of ... uh ... gripes from the leaders. One of these leaders has a habit of suggesting what I should write in my blog, and I always encourage him to start one of his own. And so our banter goes back and forth every time the topic comes up of what I should write versus him starting his own blog...

Back to Frjtz, it was a rather eye-opening afternoon as they spoke about who is a good dancer and who isn't, and why...which was strange to me because the gals that I think are good followers (or who look like they are good followers to me), often weren't the same ones they think are good followers. Just goes to show...appearances can be deceiving. One gal who I think is one of the best dancers in the Bay Area, was roundly criticized across the board for hurting Leader's backs, and doing the "Enter The Dragon" embellishments (hilarious terminology!) whenever any leader paused, even if for just a split second. Others were nice enough, but had balance problems which caused them to hang on or nearly topple over the leaders (depending on their physique).

They also spoke about how unpopular they become once they make the decision to not dance with a follower (being "defaced" -- the vernacular for unfriending on facebook, or getting hostile looks at the milonga from said follower, enough for other leaders to notice and comment about).

I suggested to the leader that he draft something up to include in my blog, since he obviously felt very passionately about the subject, and in the interest of adding some guest editorial content, here you go:


This is what so many leaders would say to followers in Tango, if they only could:

Dear Tangueras,

Very often at milongas, we see many ladies sitting a very long time. Clearly, they did not bring that fabulous Betsy Johnson dress with the sexy Comme il Faut shoes to just look pretty. So, why then, are they sitting so much? The answers might disturb you, but we shall try and explain from the leader's side. But before we do this, let's for the moment put aside any physical beauty and youth of age as a factor in getting men to ask them to dance. For, if we do not, this will cloud our ability to see the challenge clearly.

With that said, here goes:

Take classes! Repeat: take classes! If you once took classes, go back to class. Yes, you heard us correctly. If you really want to accelerate the process, start taking ladies' technique workshops. This is the stuff you often don't get in regular class. Here, they teach proper technique, posture and exercises you can do at home, alone, to perfect your following. You will probably be amazed at what you will find there. More than likely, you will probably realize just how much you are doing incorrectly at milongas.

You may realize you are leaning on us guys. Or pushing or pulling on us. You may see, in a painful way, how you are not on your axis so much of the time, thus making it very difficult to lead you. It may sound cruel, but many leaders refer to various followers as 'she is like a refrigerator. Impossible to move'. This is clearly not a compliment. And I am sure you not happy to hear it. Guess what, we aren't happy, either, to move you around like we are in a weight lifting class! But you can stay in denial about what we are telling you, or you can take steps to become a better follower and get many more dances. Your choice.

But back to the business at hand. Us leaders truly want to dance with you, but not if you are a bad dancer. You have to do the work! If you see someone sitting all the time, you can almost guarantee she is not a good dancer. Contrary to what you may believe, a good leader really doesn’t care much how she looks. He only really cares if she can dance. That may be a hard pill to swallow, but if you could be a leader for a night, you would hear our comments about who can dance and who cannot. And decisions are often made by speaking to other leaders we trust, too. Really, they are. If they give you the good word, we will go on faith that you are good and ask you to dance. Chances are, you are good indeed. So, believe us when we tell you we talk about your dancing all the time. And we do.

We talk about who is promising. Who is getting good. Who is bitchy. Who is not good. Who is arrogant. And everything else you could possibly imagine. Here's one you won't believe. We virtually never talk about 'how fine' you are or 'how gorgeous' you are. That basically doesn’t come into play. Dancing with a beautiful woman who can't dance is not a day at the beach for us. It gets real old, real fast. We may do it as a favor to the guys we respect, if they introduce us, but we won't do it on our own. At least not for long

We are very disappointed that teachers won't tell you what we are saying here. But they cannot. Not if they want to keep you as students and continue to pay their rent.

So, what is the message in all this? Easy. Practice. Get better. And we will hunt you down faster than you give us the cold shoulder when WE are bad dancers asking you for a tanda. Try it and see what happens. Chances are, you won't get much rest sitting in a chair. Trust me.


Anonymous Tango Leaders

Monday, June 20, 2011
Orange Practica with lesson beforehand by Shorey Myers and Mark Harris.
The lesson was good, very thought provoking, with the Leaders and Followers doing a rock step to a Follower front cross step, and the Leader playing with a change in direction. The thought-provoking part was for the Leader to use either foot on the rock step, and to lead the Follower on either of her feet on the rock step, which would of course which way the forward front cross step went, and the subsequent change in direction. The practica was fun too. I rarely go to the Orange Practica on a non-Homer night, so in a way it was nearly a first for me. I got to dance with a lot of people I hadn't danced with in a while, so it was a fun night.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011
CellSpace milonga.
I did not go to either the beginner or intermediate lesson since I was on door duty, which actually went very swiftly. The gals from Tang-O-Rama (the opening show for the Queer Tango Festival next week) did a dress rehearsal performance dance to Poema, which was nice. Later on, Jaimes Friedgen & Christa Rodriguez did a two-song performance highlighting their sacada and boleo skills. The milonga was quite crowded, and it was a warm night. There was a strong crew from Sacramento in attendance, and it was super fun to dance with them.


not gonna do it for real said...

And, as a follower who has not stayed on top of her lessons, that is exactly why I stopped attending milongas. Milongas are not comfortable places to be when you've missed your practices and lessons, they're places to go once you've become a good partner, and that occurs only after months and months of classes, workshops and practice. Don't worry leaders, a sucky follower knows when she sucks. It's not fun for her, either, and likely why she's stopped attending.

Frances R said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eminbsas said...

hi anne,
i'm a follower in sf who just found your blog and likes it- therefore, i am sooo curious, do we know each other? who are you? i am piecing together little clues- but am still unsure- it seems people in the community know you blog, so why don't i?

another curiosity: when you write it's mostly factual- which is very respectful. on the other hand, you gave the men ample space to voice strong complaints and advice- what do YOU think of all this and of leaders- I must admit I know I'm a slacker, I also know I have lots of feedback for the men in our community.
-anonymous for now.

Frances R said...

@eminbsas -- LOL, perhaps your being a "slacker" is the reason you don't know who Anne is? For those who have been to a tango class in the SF Bay Area in the last few years, Anne would be hard to miss, because she is that lady with the notebook, taking notes. ;)

Ana de San Francisco said...

@em, I don't know who you are, and it will be a while until I am back in SF (maybe November?). As to why you don't know me, uh, well... I don't know. I don't dance with other followers, but I do dance with leaders of either sex.

I think the people who know I blog have been in classes with me, or have heard my blog mentioned through word of mouth.

And yes, I do give voices to the leaders because they are the ones griping in my ears.

In the past I have also mentioned my disdain (yes!) for some "lazy" followers who just try to dance with the "good" leaders in order to get better (especially the aggressive "whack a moles"), rather than do a bazilliion ochos behind their sofa or in front of their kitchen counters and a quadrillion molinetes around chairs, support beams in their garage, or nothing, and walk thousands of miles forwards and backwards up and down their hallways.

But by all means, if you have something to share about the leaders, please do.

My main thing about leaders is that they too should be in the Followers' technique classes because it's also important for the men to learn how to be upright and have good posture, and to have enough foot and ankle strength to be able to pivot on one foot and remain balanced at the same time, and also to have a lot of disassociation (especially if they want to do back sacadas without knocking the follower over or taking out her ankles in the process).