Appropriate leader behavior and tango manners

Dear You Know Who You Are,

I learned to lead in Torquato Tasso in Buenos Aires, when the guys decided they didn’t like a woman leading in the milonga, and tried to nudge me off the dance floor. I am used to that on a crowded dance floor. You are the only one who seems to feel he has a right to ALL the space on the dance floor at Norse Hall, where you could fit in five times the number of couples to recreate Buenos Aires.

You have crowded me on the dance floor weekly, making me spend the bulk of my dancing time protecting my partner, rather than being able to enjoy dancing. I feel like the playground bully has decided to pick on me.

However, you went too far last week when you ran into me while my husband spent all his time trying to protect me when I was following, and I feel it incumbent upon me to point out several points of tango etiquette that you have apparently not learned yet.

  1. Do not use your partner as a ramming instrument or a shield! Tango and the world have evolved, but the leader of the couple on the dance floor is supposed to protect the follower, no matter what.

  2. When you run into someone, you apologize. If the hit is hard, BOTH leaders should check in and make sure everyone is OK. On a crowded dance floor, small bumps are expected. On a largely empty dance floor, running into people either means you are oblivious or don’t care about other humans—and if you consider yourself a teacher, you should model correct behavior.

  3. If you DO run into someone, you don’t tell them you didn’t run into them: that’s insane! Just say you are sorry and move further away where you have more room. If you can’t lead in the amount of space available, come earlier when it’s empty and dance then! We have all been beginners, but when it’s the teachers being dangerous on the floor, there is something wrong.

  4. If you have not been introduced to someone, don’t curse them out on the dance floor. I didn’t appreciate being told I had a “shit-assed look, Elizabeth” when you have never been introduced, just hit me and my partner, and pretended you didn’t, and didn’t apologize; I think my glare was appropriate in this case. What you did is NOT APPROPRIATE on any dance floor, even at a bar; and certainly not when directed at a woman you just hit when her partner was trying to protect her from your dancing.

  5. There are lanes on the dance floor. There is an outside and inside lane, and sometimes a third or fourth lane if the floor is really crowded. There is no lane 1.5 (your favorite), and it is not appropriate to weave in and out of the outer lane like a race car driver.

It is doubly important to follow these guidelines if you consider yourself a teacher in the community. You triggered my fight or flight mechanism by crowding us and then hitting me and then getting in my face. I did not punch you out despite having the adrenaline reaction to you because that is not correct behavior. Believe me, it took self control.

It is not OK to bully me because you are a man and bigger than I am, but I am NOT going to back down and be docile to your inappropriate behavior just because I am a woman or smaller. You picked the wrong person to intimidate, mister.

So, step up and act like a gentleman and a tango dancer,