Typically tango communities report a higher percentage of women than men. Below a poll in which you can report approximately what you think the balance is in your community. But even more important, we'd like to get your viewpoint and ideas about:
- How gender imbalance affects your community
- Whether you think it's a significant problem
- Have you found ways or do you have suggestions on solving or alleviating the problem. (i.e., most likely, have you found ways to bring more leaders/men into your tango community?)
Just type in your ideas in the Comment and Reply sections below. (To include your profile picture in the "Leave a Reply" section, click on gravitar.)
If the main reason you come to milonga and tango is to socialize, then be happy! There are myriad ways of socializing that are different from being on the floor all night long. Bring some food. Volunteer. Notice who is sitting at the back, far from the floor, go say hello, and pay attention to whether they actually want to talk or want to be alone in the company of milonga. If your main reason includes the dance of tango, then respect that dance. Above all, respect the people you are wanting to dance with; respect all the effort they’ve taken to study tango and respect their choices. Meanwhile, expand your way of learning. Push yourself to open up to another aspect of it. Contribute to building your community and be creative about it. Don’t compare it to salsa or square dancing and expect the atmosphere of a folk dance. (Folk and country dance is fantastic for the high energy inclusive atmosphere; give yourself a treat!) If you find yourself criticizing something or other for half the night, recognize that something in you is unhappy and needs kindness. Then expand your vision because what you criticize is surely not the whole story. I think men and women hurt the same, regardless of gender balance. It seems to me that women have an easier time because in general they are more flexible and listen more easily to what feels good to us, and therefore learn quickly. These qualities are not exclusive to women. In a culture that is afraid of strangers and does not hug (i.e. North America), we should expect a lot of discomfort and a long learning curve. I guess I think gender balance is a small part. More men or more women is not what makes a difference to me.
But since you asked, in Calgary, roles are fairly balanced. In the larger and more established tango communities where I’ve mostly been, women far outnumber men, especially at large events. The exception was the Seattle Tango Marathon, and I can’t help notice that it was organized by two women.
Hi Mary Anne, well said. thanks.
It takes a lot of work, practice, studying, patience and time to become a good leader. In my observations and experience I think there are 2 big problems at least in the USA to bring and hold leaders.
1- When we first see tango (I did), we see fancy steps and sexy women in performances, shows and movies, but that is like a Hollywood movie, very far from reality. To compound the problem, many of these fancy dancers are hired at festivals and teach only steps, that is not totally bad, but the majority of those steps are worthless when it comes to a social milonga. Not that I’m blaming the teachers, many of them have told me that students at festivals “ask for those fancy steps” they saw at the performance, and they want immediate gratification.
I know I did, but it took me years to realized that I was learning the wrong things, and eventually I concentrated on technique to get quality of dance. (I have not included musicality, floor craft, etiquette, etc, etc)
How to solve this problem? I’m not sure, but my suggestion: I think all teachers in each community need to come together and hold a common practica for men.
I mean a practica in the same way the old milongueros learned in the 30’s – 50’s, men following for 6 months, then leading other men for 6 months. At the time, men were not allowed to go to a milonga for 1 year, I think that is not possible here, but we need to setup realistic expectations for men, and give them the tools that will retain and increase the quality and quantity, of leaders in our communities.
Exactly, Carlos Rojas.
This problem has been overcome in the early days by the same passionate souls that gave us the dance. Incidentally, this is also the immediate solution to two other problems in tango: the long term beginner, and the predator.
Since this path requires commitment prior to payoff, the guys need to be bitten, early and hard. The secret, I believe, is some combination of public displays of our dance, and early involvement of skilled dancers outside the Milonga. Each time I participate in a publicly visible event, a small but significant percentage of onlookers are fascinated. I remember my first group lessons included assistants that made a very deep impression. I never looked back.
I have two suggestions: for the problem Kathy and Frances have posted above.
1. learn how to lead, it’s fun, challenging and you get to interpret the music, your way. Many follows would just as soon be danced around by a beginning leads as just to sit and watch. At least they can be practicing their walk.
2. Speak to the local instructors and milonga hosts and ask them to reinforce the tango etiquiette of switching partners at the cortina and the capazio tradition and to make sure that they include the single women, especially if they want the tango community to go.. new leaders will not come if there are no follows to dance with. And to the women with husbands or dedicated dance partners please encourage your partner to dance with the single follows, for the same reason.
On the matter of how to get the leads out. As an organizer of tango workshops and milongas in a small community, I offer them discounts, send personal cajoling emails and phone calls and even, if they are from out of the area, find free places for them to stay. I don’t depend on our list I always do posters and ads and that seems to usually get one or two more interested guys. (often more women though)