Luring The Leaders

Story | Opinion | Martin van Kesteren | 28 Oct 2019 | 0 comments

If you have practiced your ass off, like me, to become an acceptable tango leader, you must feel quite confused now. You risked trauma, got your ego seriously hurt a number of times and put your family through a rough patch, staying out all night to go dancing. You endured the nudge-nudge, wink-wink of your colleagues, brought up to believe that dancing is for girls. You experienced injuries and tango depressions, but, after long years of training and humiliation, you finally received some respect from followers. Then one day, on Facebook, you discover people think tango leaders are arrogant, unreliable, lazy, or just old.      

Organizers of big events are complaining on social media about tango leaders. They are not available in the right numbers, don’t register for their events, or not until very late, and leave poor followers hanging on to suffer on waiting lists. Organizers make emotional public pleas on milonga floors or on Facebook, imploring the insensitive leaders, in the spirit of chivalry, to register and save the damsels in distress from their chairs. As much as I am sympathetic to the organizer’s plight, I don’t expect their criticisms to change tango leaders’ behavior, which seems to be caused by a market reality of unbalanced supply and demand. There are too few leaders or too many events.

Let’s look at this from the leader’s perspective: maybe to their surprise, they are in demand and their long investment in becoming a tango leader is finally paying off! Why not enjoy it a bit longer? They hear people complain that something should be done to get more leaders in Argentine tango, preferably young, attractive ones, of course. They agree loudly, while secretly thinking of ways to pull the ladder up. Surely they remember how, in puberty, girls would not give them the time of day and enjoy the whole karma of the situation, while it lasts. So, if we are looking for short or long-term solutions for a leader-follower mismatch, we should not be looking at leaders to solve it for us.

Well, should it be tango followers then? Dressing up to be even more attractive? Male leaders would appreciate that, but it would most likely only increase competition on the milonga floor, deepening the frustration on the side of followers. How about patiently luring male friends into tango classes, carefully grooming them into leader maturity? I’ve seen it done, but it is a long and risky path. To me, this implies that growing the number of male dancers is the responsibility of the organizers, working in unison. I never saw Elon Musk making an emotional appeal on TopGear begging the petrol heads and oil companies to please go electric. Instead, he built a network of Superchargers to charge them himself. If all milonga organizers in town would take responsibility and commit to bringing ten good leaders to the market every year, arrogance would soon be a problem of the past. Well, not the good ones, of course. I’ve seen women who picked up leading becoming rather snotty.



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Published: 28 Oct 2019 @ 18:16

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