August 26, 2021
The Long Read
A long long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, some people in some neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires started dancing what will eventually be known as tango. In the streets mainly, just as simple as that – trying combinations and see what was interesting.
It is not entirely clear exactly how it first developed but many agree with one fact: that there were more men than women (due to the recent immigration waves to Argentina). So, more men and less women meant that, in all likelihood, men naturally started to lead and see what would work with the ladies – but also with other men. Because a lot of them wished to train and practice before trying their latest ‘invention’ with the ladies.
It is also likely that, being a very different societal context, it might not have been kindly looked at if ladies approached men and asked them to dance. Different times and different culture.
There is also another factor – physical this time. For those who ever tried to lead in tango, have you tried to lead someone twice your weight? Or much taller? It is no secret that physiologically men are often heavier or taller than women. And in tango, it really helps that the taller / heavier person leads the way and decides on direction, speed etc.
It is of course not always the case that men are bigger – we have ever met, you will know that I’m neither big nor tall. Not short, but not tall either. Not that I mind – after a few decades, you get used to your body and go beyond what used to frustrate you as a child, thank goodness. But the fact remains – I struggle to lead a lady who without heels would be over 1.85m, and to that adding heels of 8 or 9cm… I give you a secret: above that height, if I can’t see past the right shoulder of the follower, and have to lean to the left to see where we are going, I feel like I’ve lost a little of that tango magic 😆. I do know however that tall(er) leaders will love inviting tall(er) ladies as the connection can be superb. I just humbly apologise to them if, at a Milonga, I will hesitate to invite them as height will make aligning the centre of gravity a little tricky. But I will do everything I can to make them the most welcome in my Milongas and perhaps presenting tall(er) leaders.