As a follower, I hate it when a leader "practices" on me in a social dance (that means "milonga") setting.
Recently, I danced with a relatively new local leader. He was a eager lesson taker and had improved quite quickly. He could dance all evening non-stop and he had quite a lot of the "good followers" on his dance card.
He was also quite aggressive (and clever) in befriending Man Yung and I in order to ask me to dance.* Can't really say "no" to a "friend", can you?
* Has someone used this tactic on you? Do you use this tactic yourself sometimes to get dances with people who aren't cabeceoing you? This can be a subject of a whole post by itself.
The first couple of times I danced with him it was "ok". Sometimes it is easier to just go ahead and dance with someone who is a "friend" even though it isn't "great", rather than rejecting them and risk being seen as "unfriendly", not "nice" or maybe even "an asshole".
Unfortunately (or maybe Fortunately) he had just taken a slew of private and group classes with some visiting teachers and he couldn't restrain himself from unleashing his newly acquired steps and adornments on me, even if it meant tripping over his own feet and almost falling on his face. Obviously he didn't know how to do any of those new steps well yet but what a fantastic opportunity to PRACTICE on an experienced follower!
That was wonderful because it turned me completely, utterly, WTF off and I didn't care about being rude or unfriendly the next time he asked me to dance. I could turn him down guilt-free!
In my opinion, when social dancing, it is inappropriate to practice stuff you don't know well on your partner UNLESS they have consented to it beforehand. It is also inappropriate to practice in a milonga if it will be disruptive to others on the dance floor.
Ideally, practice on people who are not your regular dance partner (or any practice at all) should only be done in a class, or in a practica where it is understood that people are there to practice.
When I lead I like to err on the side of caution. When introducing a step (that I actually know I can lead) to a follower, I stop immediately at the slightest sign that either of us are stumbling. I am not going to try, try, try again until we both get it.*
* Yeah Man Yung, stop heckling me on the sidelines when I am dancing with some of the best milonguera followers in Toronto - I am NOT going to practice NOTHING on them so there!
I don't think being able to lead or making (or forcing) followers do a gazillion trillion steps enhances the dance experience. Rather, I think there is more merit and enjoyment in being able to connect with a follower on a level that is comfortable for the follower, and being able to express and communicate the music and feeling in Tango simply, WITH LIMITS ON WHAT YOU CAN DO.
To quote W. Somerset Maugham "To write simply is as difficult as to be good." Applies to writing, applies to dancing too.
I was joking to a woman leader in ballroom/latin dance a few weeks ago about how NONE of the followers I was dancing with wanted me to throw some back sacadas and enganches at them to spice things up.
She laughed and said, "Yeah, me too - I ask my followers whether they wanted me to do a triple axle double salchow and they all said no too!"
So, if you want to practice, find your OWN partner and go torture them with the complete step repertoire of Forever Tango at your leisure. If you are lucky your partner will be a super adornista and she will have a great time toe tapping and foot flicking all over you too!
Martha's Apartment in Buenos Aires
A Non-exhaustive set of Tango links in Toronto
- La Cachila - weekly milonga
- Paradiso -- weekly milonga
- Practica El Beso
- WE Tango
- Tango Sur - classes, shows
- Rhythm and Motion - classes, milonga, practica, annual Toronto Tango Festival
- Tango Obsession - classes, weekly Practica La Coqueta
- Tango Lirico - classes, practica, weekly milonga
- Tango de Oro - classes, shows
- Tango Soul Productions - classes, weekly milonga, shows, El Congreso annual Tango Festival
- Vivatango - classes
- Tango Argentino - classes
- Club Milonga - classes, special events
- Alternatango - classes, weekly milonga
- University of Toronto Tango Club - classes, practica
- El Abrazo - classes
- Tangoloft - twice monthly milonga