I've seen something very strange happen a number of times over the last few weeks, although on reflection, maybe it isn't that strange after all. Part of the job of running dance events and classes is that I spend a good part of the evening wandering around the room and talking to people. I might talk to them whilst we are dancing (yes... I know... heresy, but we are neotango after all...), over a cup of tea, or whilst they are sitting down at the side of the room between dances, but I do try to get around to as many people as possible. And one of the things I hear a lot is "You see him / her / that couple over there? I / we will never be as good as them!"
Fair enough, you might think. We can't all be experts. But then I cross the room and talk to the person or the couple that have just been pointed out, and they look back at the ones I have just been talking to and say "You see him / her / that couple over there? I / we will never be as good as them!"
So person A thinks that they will never be as good as person B, but person B thinks that person A is already unachievably better than they will ever be. Which is nuts, right?
Well maybe not. We spend so much of our lives judging ourselves against the performance of others that we lose objectivity and can no longer see how far we have progressed in something. We look at someone doing something that we cannot do, and forget that we ourselves can do many things that they have never even attempted. In the tango world we hear so often how people have particular dancers that they look up to and how those dancers look up to others that we almost start to think of the dance world as being a version of the famous Class Sketch (Frost Report, April 7th 1966) with a hierarchy of expertise and everyone on a particular level.
But reality isn't like that. Everyone learns at a different rate, but more than that, everyone learns different things at a different rate. Someone might be truly excellent at sacadas, but never quite get to grips with ganchos. Someone else might be world-class at enrosques but fail every time they attempt a volcada. It happens. We are influenced heavily by the route we have taken into tango and who has taught us over the weeks / months / years we have been doing it. Different teachers emphasise different things, and although we all end up dancing tango, the particular shape of our tango will vary widely. We learn things at different rates because we are not all identical. Some of us are tall and some of us are short; some of us have poor natural balance, whilst others can manage three complete spins on the spot without even thinking about it. These differences certainly affect our dancing, but they are more likely to affect single aspects of our dancing than everything at once, and this results in us learning some things faster than others.
So stop judging yourself against other dancers. By all means watch and learn from them (where do you think we teachers get our next classes from?), but don't fall into the trap of "I'll never be as good as them."
Because the chances are that someone else is looking at you and thinking the same.
We hold classes every week in Sevenoaks and South Norwood, aimed at tango beginners... and when we say 'beginners', we really do mean people who have never danced tango (even those who have never danced anything at all) before.
Some of you have told us how much you love the look of tango and really want to give it a go, but your previous experiences with classes where everyone else is months ahead of you, or where you have to commit to extended courses to get you going have put you off trying. This is completely understandable; it's hard enough starting something completely new without having the added pressure of trying to keep up with everyone else, or having to attend a block of six, eight, or ten classes without missing a beat.
Our classes are different. Every beginners' class we teach starts with the absolute fundamentals and guides you through some specific aspect of tango technique that will get you dancing. There are no courses to book, and no minimum number of sessions you must attend in order to be allowed to continue. Our classes are drop-in with no need to book or commit, and we are more than happy for you to progress at your own pace.
So if you have always wanted to try Argentine Tango but have found the traditional class structure to be a bit too high pressure for your taste, give us a go. We may be just what you have been looking for.
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