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Hometown Teacher Syndrome

A common complaint of tango teachers is that their local scenes don't recognise the teachers' ongoing improvement, and still think of them as Bob and Jenny from down the road, whereas they themselves feel that they are actually accumulating more knowledge and experience and becoming more valuable as teachers. This becomes a problem if one is trying to earn a living in one's hometown as a tango teacher, but if one still has a day job then it's just a burden to one's pride.

Living in a relatively small tango scene as I am, I'm reminded of this quite often. I'll be dancing with a newbie (or experienced dancer) who hasn't been taught much more than nudge-and-guess, and who cheerfully pulls me off axis with every un-led weight shift and overstep, while gaily telling me that I have "such an unusual style". Oh dear. At times like these I console my bruised ego with my being a popular leader in whatever country I visit, and and having enjoyed the ego boost of women forming sometimes disorderly queues to dance with me. "Ladies, ladies! I implore you! No fighting! No pushing!"

There's no real way to combat this apart from keeping a stiff upper lip (the kind that built the British Empire) and continuing to teach posture/connection/movement to anyone that will listen. At one time I would hear this kind of balderdash on a weekly basis, whereas it's a measure of how far our tango scene has come that I was quite surprised to hear it recently. The increasing number of good leaders and followers is helping to squash this kind of tosh. Well...that and perhaps because I greet every mention of it with the reply, "Different style? Really? You mean actual lead and follow? As opposed to nudge and guess?"


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