Pushing, Pulling and Dragging Me Around

You’re supposed to gancho there, he whispers as I once again walk straight through a lead I could almost-but-not-really feel. It’s a back step into a gancho.

No, it isn’t. Not like that, it isn’t. This is what I think to myself, what I wish I could stop and say in the middle of the song. If you are dragging me from step to step, not giving me time to fully complete a step let alone enjoy it, I won’t do every step you ask of me. Sometimes it is because you don’t give me the time to do the step you asked. Or you don’t give me my axis to do it while remaining upright. Or it’s because I am stubborn, and your lead is making me ornery, and I just refuse to go along with it.

In any case, my advice to leaders is to breathe. Take your time. Don’t rush. If you feel rushed, your follower probably feels it even moreso.

I often find this rushed feeling coupled with lots of arm action. Pulling me to the next step. Pushing me into place. Off balance. Rushed. Frustrated. Trust me, your follower can get there without your help. I don’t mean to abandon the lead altogether, just to lead without pushing and pulling her where you want her.

If she isn’t doing it, chances are you aren’t really leading it.*

*Disclaimer: This isn’t always true. Maybe both of you are great dancers and she just missed the lead, for whatever reason. In this case, it’s probably a blip on both of your radar. But it could also be that you are leading above her head, which means that you are leading the step well but not paying attention to the follower and her level. Equally frustrating.

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6 thoughts on “Pushing, Pulling and Dragging Me Around

  1. What would have happened if you told this guy that his lead really sucked and that he needed to take lessons, and that after six months or so, you would love to evaluate his lead for him again?Truly, although it must be super awkward and uncomfortable, follower need to start either telling these guys bluntly and honestly, or telling them by saying “no” to the invite, or telling them “no” with a “thank you” at the end of the first song of the tanda.Otherwise, they will never get it.

  2. Hi MT, how are you?I wholeheartedly want to reinforce Alex’s suggestion. If a bad leader constantly gets dances, who can tell him he’s doing something wrong? And whether he knows it or not, what does it matter to him if followers always accept his invitations anyway?Ladies, the good leaders carry the weight of enough responsibilities as it is. I implore you to step up on this one and fill the seats with some planchadores. It’s better for you, it’s better for everyone else, and ultimately it’s better for them. Thanks.

  3. You guys certainly have a good point, and with local leaders I try to do my best. (If I don’t feel comfortable making a critique, I at least stop dancing with offensive leaders.)But the majority of uncomfortable leaders I end up dancing with are unknowns, visitors who are only here a short time. With them, I never know them well enough to make a direct critique – and I usually end up dancing a full tanda to feel out whether it is the leader I have a problem with or just our need to adjust to each other.I also find that in my community, which is leader-heavy, there is more pressure for leaders to improve. I very rarely have to even turn down an invitation from an uncomfortable leader, let alone be approached by one. And the guys I know who weren’t great at first have been well-encouraged to improve. Just a nice local phenomenon, I think. But I do agree with your point, thanks the reminder.

  4. When I was newer than I am now at tango, there were several times in which I encountered leaders who would do this to me. At first, I didn’t know what to think, and later I realized that it was just plain wrong. One day, a leader starting suggesting “now you are supposed to do a gancho here” and I answered “if you give me one more instruction like that while in the dance floor, I’m walking off the floor”. He actually was silly enough to do it again. So, in the middle of the song, I broke the embrace and woke away. I’m still very happy I did it, and glad I’ve never been close to need doing it again.

  5. Just found your blog — I love some of your insights. I’ve also been frustrated by the push-pull issue — seems like a huge misunderstanding on the part of the leader about what consistutes “leading.”

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