Monday, August 25, 2008

Tango "Gods" and manners

I make occasional references to tango "Gods", and there is a good reason I use the double quotes for the word God. While in most cases I appreciate their skill and dedication, I don't put them on a pedestal, mostly because they are just people who happen to be good at what they do.

When however one of these people starts considering themselves "Gods", I'm less then impressed. At a recent event, I asked a visiting aspiring "Goddess" for a dance. In my two year tango "career" I asked for dances many elite dancers and some said yes, some said no. But the answer I got this time was unique in it's rudeness, and I quote :

"No, I can't do it. I ran out of patience for tonight." When my face showed the obvious "Huh?" that was going through my mind, she continued "If you did anything that would test my patience, I'd flip out".

It should be noted that when I ask people to dance who are "above my grade", I always formulate the question with a built in "escape clause", to make it easy for them to say no if they would rather not dance with me, as I don't want to make it awkward for them. In other words, that remark was totally uncalled for.

What's my point? If you are a tango "God", especially if you are making a living by being one, keep in mind that the people who you are talking to are potentially your clients, not your "minions" (even if some behave like they are). While you may be a God to some people, that is only true in the tango world, in "grand scheme of things", aka "real life", the people you talk to are possibly much smarter, more powerful and not likely to be intimidated by your diva fits. In fact, the only possible result of you being an ass, is getting less business. How much less? Well, it depends how many friends the person you've been an ass with has, doesn't it?

And to be crystal clear, it's not being turned down that outraged me, it was the way it was handled. There is one tango "Goddess" I can think off who declined all my invitations since I've known her (maybe 5 invites made over a year and a half). I will always support her as a tango teacher as I think she is good at what she does and she is a decent person.

13 comments:

whereisdiana1 said...

I'm sorry that happened Sorin. This girl has no idea what she missed out on! Her loss.

Anonymous said...

T'was the cry of the heart, well she's a human being after all, not always 100% in control of what she says. And it shows that tango is not only a business for her, that somewhere inside there remains an ounce of sincere love for the dance.

Now I'm surprised you did not insist. Don't you have precisely the style that allows you to guarantee her that her patience will definitely not be challenged? Leaders who try fancy stuff know that 20%-50% of the time it won't work but chest-to-chest walk-walk authentic leaders can't really fail.

Sorin said...

Dear Anonymous,

I would highly advice never to insist after being rejected, especially if you want to dance with this person in the future. There are very few things that people are avoiding more then people who don't know how to take no for an answer.

As far as myself, I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in dancing with someone who doesn't want to dance with me. In fact, I prefer to be refused when people don't feel like dancing with me. My personal policy is that I will stop asking for quite a while after 3 (polite & thoughtful) declines.

Sure, sometimes people say things they don't really mean. She can always apologize.

Gustavo said...

Man- I'm dying to know who that was!!! I don't believe in gods of any kind, but especially when it comes to these so called "tango gods", it's especially absurd. I have been dancing for several years, and although I'm just a humble milonguero I can see defects and things that a lot of these little "gods" could improve on technically.
The worst part is that attitude though, it's so stupid -when you see these little groups of kids who think they're awesome 'cause they can shoot 3 ganchos in a row, and they consider themselves "elite" and treat other people in the way you described...
From my point of view this dance is more about the feeling than the skills, and I much rather dance with a girl that I like as a person and who values me than with any of these false deities.

La Tanguera said...

Wow, that was so rude and condescending of her. Perhaps she did not realize how bad it sounded, but yikes... there are ways to say "no", for sure.

I couldn't agree more with you, generally, about the fact that the Deities are very relative, and that in the real world the "hierarchies" (if you want to think of those terms) may actually switch considerably. That's a thought that is often lost in the Tango world--something that always has amused me and surprised me at the same time. It is easy to lose the sense of proportion when one gets too immersed in the Tango world. And so it's definitely good to keep our feet on the ground...

David said...

It sounds to me that she had already "flipped out".

Syarzhuk said...

What do you mean 'my two year tango "career"'? I thought you have been dancing for 5 years at the least.

Sorin said...

Sometimes it does feel like 5 years, but it's been 2 1/2 since my first tango lesson.

Syarzhuk said...

Wow... it's been two years for me, and I still have to do so much to catch up with you...

La Nuit Blanche said...

EW!! she was being so mean! that was completely out of line...

sometimes, i think people get too comfortable in the milongas. they spend so much time there, that they act as if they're in their livingrooms. in this case, she was probably lip-syncing to re-runs of "melrose place" or something.

humph.

koolricky said...

It just shows how gods can become little worms in a space of a few seconds. She may have the technical bits developed but she defo doesn't have much development between her two ears....

Anonymous said...

Bueno, como dijo el blogger de padawan, te dijo las cosas como son.
En argentina las cosas se dicen de frente, "being nice" aca significa algo parecido a ser hipocrita.
Ademas, hubieras preferido que en la tanda le colmaras su paciencia y te insultara o algo asi por que ya venia mal por algo?
Fue bastante amable che, no te quejes.

Alex said...

I guess I'm getting ornery in my old age.

I think I would have grabbed the nearest chair, pulled it up right next to her, and said, "Well, let me just sit right here for the rest of the night and protect you. We wouldn't want any assholes to come up and put your patience at any further risk..."

This is a joke, and I'm not suggesting that you (or anyone) should have done this, but it's nice to fantasize about brilliant comebacks.

My problem is those brilliant comebacks always come to me days after the fact.

What a bitch.