My reaction? No thanks. And Meh.
"We argue enough
"Because it is fun!" said Man Yung.
"Driving a truck with square wheels with my hands tied behind my back on an ice rink filed with whirling dervishes with TNT strapped to their bodies is not my idea of fun," I replied.
Leading Man Yung in a crowded Toronto milonga feels exactly like that.
Man Yung frowned. "I don't agree. But in any case, you should learn to lead because you will become a better follower." said Man Yung.
"But I'm so good at following already, there's no more room for improvement!" I said.
Ha, ha, just joking. But honestly, learning to lead has made no difference in my following. Or, I would have improved anyway and leading has nothing to do with it. Or, I am just so sick and frustrated learning how to lead and leading that following feels like a breeze and I think I've improved but in fact I'm just relieved to be not leading!
Why should a follower bother about learning to lead? I asked some of my favourite Toronto leaders what they thought about me leading.
"Oooooh, your partner looks HEAVY," said the first one. He rubbed his chin pensively. "I think you should practice more. Weight lifting, that is."
"I don't like it," said the second. "What if you get better than me?"
The third was sipping his shaken, not stirred martini on the deck of his yacht off the coast of Capri. Surrounded by supermodels in bikinis, of course.
"Well, Irene," he said, "Tango is not something to be toyed with. It is all about El Abrazo. Pasión. Sentimiento. Amor. And the mysterious je ne sais quoi between un homme et une femme. Zen. And the Tao. You've heard of the Tao, right?"
I nodded vigorously in agreement even though I had no idea what he was talking about. I may be a hick hillbilly but it's no good to look like one in front of a tango leader I aspire (one day!) to dance with.
"Tango is El Arte. It is La Vida. What Tango should not be, my dear..." and he put his arms around three or four, or perhaps even five of the skimpily attired chicas beside him, "Tango should NOT be a way to get to get a hot girlfriend."
A lightbulb went on in my head. But of course, learning how to lead in Tango is absolutely yes and positively a way to impress the ladies and get more dances. You see, no matter how much I strive to be a better follower, certain unalterable circumstances (such as age, appearance, unflattering haircut, snarky wit, sitting next to Man Yung who is giving all the men the Evil Eye, being writer of unpopular tango blog, etc.) make me highly unappealing as a cabeceo candidate. Even if I start wearing nothing but daisy dukes and a bra to a milonga, my dance popularity quotient will still be somewhere between zero and minus 50,000. But the men! Even the worst of the lot have their pick of ladies to dance with. Why not join them?
I immediately entered into daydream fantasy land and pictured myself a sport jacket wearing Milonguero, like Ricardo Vidort (!) entering into the fabled halls of the legendary milongas of Buenos Aires. Cool as a cucumber, spiffy as...spiff. Heads of all the famed Milongueras turning in my direction for a chance to dance with me. Yippee! No more snacking on Tango wallflower with a side of cabeceo fail!
"OK Man Yung, teach me your best steps!" I said - and waited anxiously for the moment I would turn Milonguero.
....Of course, things didn't turn out quite the way I planned.
One lady friend danced with me, and the next time I asked, she graciously declined. "Naaaaaahhhhh...no way," she said.
Another had to let me down gently. "It's not you...it's me," she said. And then she ran for the hills.
"What's wrong with me?" I asked Man Yung during a particularly painful tango practice session involving me trying to push heavy boulders with my puny bird arms from point A to point B. "Now it's not just the men, it's the ladies too who are avoiding me like the plague!"
Try doing this in heels!
"Mwahahaha!" said Man Yung. "With the High Level Youtube steps I'm teaching you, OF COURSE the ladies will be scared to dance with you. They are afraid you will drop them!" He patted me on the head reassuringly. "But don't worry, you will always impress me. Now get to work!"