I am frustrated. Frustrated with all of the people who are ruining my tango. These are the people who put a bad taste in my mouth when I am at a milonga. The people who make me cringe when I read their emails. Who make me sad, because tango can’t just be a beautiful thing with them.
Who are these people?
1. The (Jaded, Know-It-All) Wannabes
These are all the people who want to be something and just aren’t there. They want to be the greatest dancers, the revered teachers, the beloved hosts … But they aren’t. Some of them think they are, so they insist on sharing the great wisdom they would impart to their students if someone would just recognize the amazing teachers they are. Or they realize that they aren’t accepted as the teacher or host they want to be, so they are jaded and bitter. They make snide remarks about other members of the tango community and assume that everyone is plotting against them. They lash out instead of changing themselves.
2. The Lechers
These are the men who drool over the beautiful women – and in tango, that is pretty much every woman. They have inappropriate embraces, or get too close in the wrong ways. But the obvious lechers are quickly pushed out as women refuse to get near them. No, the lechers who ruin my tango are the ones with a smile on their face. The ones who are charming and polite until one evening when their behavior changes slightly and *bam!* now they are hitting on you. They make you suddenly wary of all the seeming gentlemen in the room.
3. The Mudslingers
Some of the mudslingers are also wannabes, but some just do it because they feel like it. They are jealous of a popular host or DJ or teacher, so they start rumors. They gossip about the other dancers in a way that clearly communicates their distaste for him or her. They encourage divisions among dancers: “Did you hear that so and so is involved with that idiot guy? I can’t believe it! I’ll never be able to dance with her and feel the same way …” They try to organize boycotts by making the boycotted host/teacher/whomever look bad. The hurt feelings reverberate and spoil the warm atmospheres of the milongas and any welcoming, open, harmonious potential within the community.
4. The [fill in the blank here]
I am sure that there are other types I could mention, but the first three are the ones that come to mind most readily. But anyone who repeatedly acts in a way that encourages division, bitterness, wariness and closed hearts is hurting my tango. I am sure there are others.
What makes me the most sad, though, is that I want to like these people. When they aren’t bringing down the quality of my evening, or creating drama and divisiveness, they can be nice people. They can be wonderful dancers. If they could see the harm they were doing for what it is, they might even change on their own. But for whatever reason, they choose to continue acting in ways that hurt other dancers, hurt the quality of the dancing or even the atmosphere in the milongas, hurt the possibility for events to thrive in a truly cohesive, supportive community. And, from a very selfish point of view, they leave my experience of dancing tango with a tinge of bitterness that I would rather not carry into my interactions with other people or my own self.