lthough dancing with somebody of the same gender as you may seem very strange and potentially awkward at first thought; it actually has many benefits. I remember my very first trip to Buenos Aires, where many people learn both roles, and how I was carefully trying to avoid female leaders as I was dreading the awkward embrace. Well, it more than grew on me as I know enjoy leading too.
For those who don’t believe me and need convincing, here are the first 3 of the most advantageous results of dancing with someone of the same sex:
1. You’ll be suprised, but switching roles is good for your understanding of the other role! 😉 It truly is priceless as it gives you a chance to experience ‘tango life’ from the other side. For followers having a stab at leading, to have the ability to listen to the music and interpret it yourself without any intermediary is a beautiful gift. And for leaders trying to follow, beware as the peace of mind that comes with it can be addictive.
2. Less expected, it also provides insights into your own role. So even if you don’t want to fully master the other role, switching will give you priceless insights into whatever habit you might have developed in your original role.
If you’re a lady and try to lead a follower who insists on stepping whenever she fancies or who changes her weight on her own, you’ll no doubt feel the pain and stop doing it if you do it too.
If you’re a gentleman, and find yourself being man-handled by another chap who has issues keeping his arms in line and leading from the torso, no doubt you’ll pay more attention to your own lead once you go back to leading. When switching roles, ask yourself: what do you like/dislike about your partner’s technique and style? Use your findings to improve your own dance style! Generally speaking, switching roles makes us more understanding into what our partner needs from us and therefore makes us better dancers.
3. By dancing with a member of the same sex, you’re closer to experiencing the true Buenos Aires atmosphere from the old days.
There were more men dancing tango when it first took off in Argentina, due to immigration, so men would dance with more experienced men to get used to what leading felt like as a follower. When they were advanced enough at this, they would then switch roles and lead other men to get a feel for it, and only after that would they finally begin inviting women to dance.
Women too were often dancing together -first, they could not always go to milongas as they were not considered to be proper for ladies in the very early days of tango. Second, because tango was not taught in schools, it was quite common for mothers and daughters or sisters to dance together and to teach one another. So not only would you have more understanding of tango, you’d also be dancing the Buenos Aires way.
If you can’t wait until the next post, you can read a previous post about the tough job of a tango leader.
Written by Emma and Nathalie
Picture: en.daringtodo.com (Macana brothers)