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In light of some recent blog posts on this subject by Stephanie and another by Mari I thought it a good time to add to my original post and show my sisterhood and solidarity too.  It is a new year so let’s resolve to have Sisterhood and Solidarity all the time!

I have been noticing an interesting phenomenon at tango recently, one which warms my tango heart.  The ladies are looking out for each other. There is a growing sisterhood amongst the follows rather than competition.

In our small community there is not a huge disparity between leads and follows, but some nights there are more follows than leads.  I observe the more experienced follows voluntarily sitting out and paying attention to who else is not dancing and switching off with one another.  I notice them helping each other in class with exercises and sometimes even figures.  They are continuing to learn despite the lack of generous leads some nights.  By doing this the follows are improving the whole community.  They are becoming better follows by practicing at the wall or with each other.  But most importantly there is a different feeling at Practica and Class.  Instead of the follows ‘elbowing’ each other out of the way to dance with a lead, the leads are interrupting the ladies practicing at the wall.

Here is an excerpt from an article that Miguel Pla wrote.  It serves as a reminder for me and my community to foster solidarity here and elsewhere.  (Sub ‘Milonga’ for ‘Practica’ or ‘Class’, whichever applies to your own community.)

“The way we should conduct ourselves at Milongas is no different than the way we should conduct ourselves outside of Milongas….

People who attend Milongas go mainly to dance. But not only to dance … we also want to feel comfortable and to enjoy the dance. This is possible if we don’t have to struggle with our various partners….

From the social point of view: we must have solidarity.

In this, we are facing an important dilemma. The smaller the tango population the more ‘effort’ required from each one of the members of that community. Generally, in Practicas and Milongas, there are more ladies than men. Suppose there are 20 ladies and 10 men. Each man ‘should’ dance with at least 2 ladies during the evening. If there were 5 men then each of them should dance with at least 4 ladies. It doesn’t have to be so mathematical … the numbers are just to be more clear. Most of the time men actually go beyond this proportion….

There are several reasons why ladies should not ask men to dance. First, there are usually more ladies than men. If there are twice the number of ladies and they all asked men to dance, then the men would never get a chance to sit down nor would they have time to go to the restroom, stop for a drink etc. Secondly, socially speaking, a lady could say ‘no’ and it is accepted but if a man says no they are considered rude. And thirdly, there are no social dances, traditionally, in which ladies invite men to dance.

From the couple point of view: we must have solidarity.

Couples are the essence and essential to tango. Tango was born to be danced by a couple, who have a strong pull to be in an embrace while enjoying and dancing to the music. This is very clear but frequently brings some difficulties. Couples attending a Practica or Milonga must also have a focus of solidarity. It is necessary to repeat the same concept … men should try to dance with a reasonable number of ladies (this is their obligation) and ladies (whether they dance or not) should feel grateful for this behaviour in men. Nothing is absolute, but men should invite more of those ladies who are not with a regular partner, instead of ladies who came with a man. These men are then also giving the men who came in a couple the opportunity to dance with their own partners.

As you see, each of these situations is about solidarity, having concern for the group, being aware of supporting the whole. Another external example would be: If a man arrives with a bottle of wine this should be shared since it is a social situation. Similarly, a single lady occasionally should also arrive with a bottle of wine. In that way, also, she should arrive at a Milonga with a man. In other words, all those women who regularly enjoy the partner of other ladies should make more effort (at least once in awhile) to bring a new man, whether he is a good dancer or not, but at least a man. So, when that lady is dancing, the man she brought can be entertaining and socializing with another lady. Ladies who never invite men to go along with them to a Milonga are only thinking about themselves and not the whole situation. Women need to bring men, at least occasionally.


In each one of the descriptions above there is a common denominator … tolerance and solidarity. Unfortunately, these two social virtues are not the first seeds to appear, not the most popular ways of being in these post modern times.

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