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Dance With Nice People

One of my most important pieces of advice for our students is to dance with nice people, and be less concerned about whether they are amazing dancers or not. The principle is that if you dance with people with whom you are simpatico then you gain a larger and larger pool of simpatico people in your dance scene. No-one gains from elitist snobs having undue influence in a dance scene. I think that we've all been there and in many places that is still the reality.

Beth and I have experienced a wide range of attitudes in milongas in a large number of countries and cities. Our preference when arriving in a new dance scene is to "fly under the radar" rather than be introduced as teachers, in case we are seated at the Top Table, if one exists, and to allow us the freedom to identify friendly people. This is because we usually become popular after we have danced a tanda or two, and usually popular with the wrong people.

We've danced in several cities in the past year where we've found particularly unfriendly dancers, men and women, who appear absorbed with their local 'pecking orders'. Smiling and saying hello wouldn't result in more than a blank stare or a snub from many of these people. This is not without its own humour because I'm there with Beth who it usually transpires is one of the best dancers in the room.

Some say that this is the reality of dancing in big cities, because we come from a small city. However, we travel a lot and some of the biggest cities have had the friendliest scenes, with some of the smaller cities being more like a saloon in a Western when the Stranger walks in: the piano player stops, conversation stops, everybody looks at the newcomer..... and then they turn away.

An example of this is from a trip to Europe where we attended an afternoon milonga followed by an evening milonga. Most of the dancers were extremely unfriendly and snobbish, but I managed to locate one friendly lady in the afternoon milonga. Beth couldn't locate any friendly men but luckily we had brought one of her favourite partners anyway, so we were now set up for a great evening. Beth and I quickly gained quite a following that evening as the more open evening layout meant that more people could see us dance, which meant that more people wanted to dance with us. We quickly had a small pool of men and women relocating to sit near our table trying to catch Beth's and my eyes for a dance. Naturally, this wasn't going to happen and we continued to dance with our friendly people through the evening. We had a great time by sticking to the simple rule.


 

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