Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Why People Quit Tango?

Who cares!

The mentioned survey was circulating on FB a while ago. I took a glimpse and decided to skip it. What's the point? I have heard enough whining and bitching for the past three years, nothing new, and it is not going to change.

People quit everything: jobs, relationships/love, hobbies and sometimes their own lives. Things don't work out? Quit. Easiest solution. In this culture, few people seem to understand "no pain, no gain.".

Tango bliss doesn't come like a snap of fingers. Just because once out of blue moon, some dreamy dancer comes from other planet dances a blissful tanda with you by accident, then you are entitled to that blissful moment every time you dance? Wake up, people.

People demand a lot before they pay their own dues. Have you learned to stand on your own foot without losing balance? Have you learned how to embrace a person? Have you learned how to walk grounded without your partner feeling like hitting a pothole every step of the way?

The thing is that in order to truly enjoy tango, one has to invest a lot of time, mind, energy and money. You want to dance the top level in three years, you better have a athletic body, decent musicality, learn astutely from a few excellent teachers and dance four times a week, 52 weeks a year.

Otherwise, just accept the fact that you would be dancing with the rest of the people in the milongas, at your level. If you think that dancing with the others at your own level is a torture, an unpleasant experience, then strive to be a better dancer and work harder and smarter to get to the next level where dance experience is better. Too much work and not worth it? Then quit.

You are not going to be missed by anyone.

Cruelty? Yes, but also reality. Or maybe it is a blessing in disguise. You stop wasting your life on some hobby that you are not cut out for. There are more important and meaningful things in life than a stupid dance, right?


  1. TP, You sound just a little cranky!
    But I know what you mean. The only reason it matters to me, is that if too many people are discouraged and dropping out, and talking about it all with complaints galore, then we are in danger in smaller communities of simply dying out. That would be very bad for me, as I am at home here! But some of these people are hopeless. They don't really want to do the work as you express so well.

  2. I am always cranky while I am not dancing. LOL.

    But seriously, to ever change that, it requires huge collective effort. And I just don't see how it could be done in the near future.

    Now I am not only cranky but also pessimistic. :-)

  3. I think you just said s**t or get off the pot. Or stop whining and DO something. If I get bored or am not happy with something I either change it or do something else for awhile. Tango will always be there and no one will miss you when you are gone anyway.

  4. Arlene,

    exactly...do whatever the heart tells you to do and do it. Everything else falls into place naturally.

    Thanks for the comment.

  5. I totally disagree with NYCTango Pilgrim. He sounds like he's one of the tango snobs in New York, where the tango community is very closed and brutal. In my opinion, how well a person dance tango has nothing to do with how much time, money and efforts he/she put in. Those who dances for a long time, taking a lot of classes with best teachers are not necessary a good tango dancers. Tango is like any other art forms, talent does count a lot. Discriminating a new comer (maybe a great dancer from a foreign land) is very narrow minded, arrogant and full of bias. It creates an unwelcoming atmosphere that drives people especially women out of the "circle" due to frustration and humiliation and imbalance of gender. What I don't like is that men, no matter of his age, looks, dancing skills, are in upper hands only because there are always more men than women, not because they are better dancers. Of course, women quit after a while. why should women take the shit from those guys who think the are the "better" dancers.

  6. Nothing is black and white... stay tuned. :-)

  7. No, Anon,
    A man can do nothing in tango without the women. They do not have the "upper hand" at all.

  8. E,

    You are absolutely right. Without the woman, man is nothing, absolutely nothing in tango. I 've traveled around the world, just to dance with good women. In my opinion, women have more power than men in Tango, just that most of the women haven't realized that yet. Thank GOD!!!!! :-)

    Tango, after all,and if one gets it, is all about the woman. But please keep it as a secret. Some women might get the wrong idea and start getting snobbish. :P

  9. >He sounds like he's one of the tango snobs in New York, where the tango community is very closed and brutal

    Funny how I never felt the NYC tango community was closed or brutal. Not even when I was a beginner visiting from Boston. They will not go out of their way to befriend you, true, but why the hell they would do it? It's YOU who wants to be "in", so you try. I am so sick of people complaining about communities not jumping at the "chance" of befriending them.

  10. Some very adolescent comments from both males and females. Maybe that is the problem. Too many adolescents, and too many Tango Nazis.

    After a while, if you stick to your guns, you figure out nobody knows how you should dance a Tango, and that is the one and only secret of the dance. You have to own it YOUR way. This takes courage.

  11. This whole screed is so wrong I just don't know where to begin.

    People quit tango because after investing lots of time and energy, they are still ignored by the "good" dancers (i.e. self-selected tango snobs like this TP character).

    > You are not going to be missed by anyone.

    Please get over yourself. Sheesh.

    I've come to the conclusion that, in general, not just in tango but in throughout our lives, it's not a lack of knowledge but a lack of compassion that is really holding us back.

  12. >People quit tango because after investing lots of time and energy, they are still ignored by the "good" dancers

    What is "lots of time and energy"? Don't complain about spending lots of time and energy unless you have done it over five years on the daily basis. Stop whining about being ignored by the "good" dancers. Start improving your own dance.

  13. Despite a dedication to practice (several times/wk), and vast improvement, there are, in most communities, not enough leaders and practice opportunities for older women especially, even though they are advanced dancers. Quitting in this case is not a character flaw, it is an acceptance of this reality. It takes a strong person to be discerning enough to know when to quit.

    1. I would agree with this.
      There are valid reasons why one should walk away.
      It depends entirely on what the main goal is, and that goal is often different for many people.
      For instance, lets say you are a young gal and your main aim is to meet the opposite sex your age.
      In her community, if all there is is old men or many more women than men, she might feel as though this is not really helping her accomplish the goal...hence something different may be required.
      Nothing wrong with changing if something is not satisfying your aims.

  14. Thank you , tango P. , for the opportunity, to read such healthy feedback to your narcissistic, misogynistic rant. I love this dance when a good leader can bring me with him. However, I have danced with so many "great" leaders who couldn't feel the beat of the music, gave me no cues to their erratic, drunken bee-like pattern, and still went 90 MPH, ( fast and sh***y?) EVEN after they could see that I wasn't with them. I've also continually seen men line up to dance with beginner women simply because they are, well, 'nubile', and 30 years younger than them, - and happily bear with their absolute beginner status through a tanda or a set. One 'great' dancer, and fixture on my local tango scene, who asked me as I was getting up to leave at a recent dance, smelled like he had not washed in a week. What's skill got to do with it? When 50% of quitters are women over 45, ya gotta wonder.....

  15. Snobbery is imagining rules where there are none, and then congratulating yourself on conforming to those rules. The author of this post sounds like he gets no joy out of dancing, and his only reason for being in the scene is to feel superior who don't conform to his "rules." Whatever, man.

    It's just dancing. As long as you don't kick anybody or step on their feet, there's no rules, just conventions.

  16. I am ready to "quit tango" and this had been very enlightening

  17. I was one who women in Florida rejected constantly. One day I moved to Buenos Aires for 7 straight years. Then I learned. It was not easy but women were a lot more cooperative. Unfortunately I decided I no longer dance with beginners who do not have in them a strong drive and will to succeed in the right direction and style. Or the style of the majority. Real close embrace style. Downtown style. Sorry.

  18. Ah, the tango snob. They can be either male or female. And who would want to dance with them?

    Well . . . other snobs.

    AT takes a lot of effort to master. All intermediate-advanced AT dancers started out as beginners, and there are few transferable skills from one dance to AT. Methinks they've forgotten the frustrations of trying to finally GET IT, and now that they got it, they think that demanding that the beginners get up to their level is going to help the beginners.

    I'll admit it, I'm a beginner. But I actually have had a few good tandas. My analytical MBA mind has not figured out why, it could be a number of reasons: the connection from the close embrace, we're dancing with each other instead of just dancing, we're both beginners :-) But one transferable skill I have from salsa is to make sure she's having a good time dancing with me. Doesn't happen much with advanced followers, so let them have the advanced leaders. But I want beginner salsa dancers to keep going, and by dancing with me, I want them to be encouraged to keep going and have fun. Being on the dance floor is NOT the time to instruct or correct. But I can at least model the right way to do something, and if it screws up, then "hey, that didn't feel right, want to try it again?" We are a team for 6 minutes, y'know.

    I discipline myself to take this mindset into tango. Again, I'm still learning, and I don't have a lot of time or money available for really learning AT the way I want to. And I don't want bad habits to get hardwired into my brain. If my partner and I are both seeking to make sure each other is enjoying the dance, we're learning from each other, and we're both seeking to become as good during this tanda and in general as we can within our personal limits, then we'll both eventually succeed. The more advanced dancer taking a superior attitude (being a snob about it), even if it's not verbalized, ruins that whole tanda, and the lesser dancer could walk and say "that's it, no more tango for me, they're too snobbish." If we want more dancers in the community, encouraging them provides more glue for the community than lecturing them.

  19. I agree lack of compassion says it all. Men are rude and greedy and woman never give new people a chance. I had a few bad milongas I asked the ladies that were sitting for a dance they lied and said their feet were hurting after I seen men come off the dance floor to get other dances all the ladies jumped up and danced. I was not going to be rude and ask the ladies that got done dancing because they needed to rest their feet. I'm always being beat and stepped on and that's why people quit because the drama.

  20. Tango Pilgrim is simply speaking the truth. People quit tango because they think they are entitled to dance with "better" dancers, that the better dancers are not people, but objects they can use for pleasure. Sorry, but the people being referred to as "snobs" by the above posters are not snobs, only human beings who have made the cardinal error of wishing to dance for pleasure, not obligation, and don't want to be used and abused as objects by entitled, lazy and egotistical long term beginners.

  21. It really is ok to be an average Tango dancer. People dance Tango for a variety of reasons, and not all require that you spend a fortune in time and money trying to be the absolute best you can be. Tango is all about sharing intimacy. If you are constantly worried about how good you are, you miss that. As a longtime dancer amd teacher, I frequently have to deal with partners who feel they have to impress me. As result they can never just relax and enjoy the dance. And therefore neither can I.

    When I dance at a venue where no one knows me I will often tell my partners that I have not danced Tango for very long. The result is that they relax, stick to things they are comfortable leading, and enjoy the dance. And therefore so do I.

    And there are very good reasons for dancing with someone besides the fact that they are an excellent dancer. Maybe you just enjoy their company.

  22. The reasons people quit tango are multitudinous. I would venture a guess that 33% quit because of tango the dance/the music, 33% quit because of people/clique-ish-ness/elitism, and the other 33% for other reasons - time, money, children, health/injury. Also don't forget sexual harassment/inappropriate behavior - throw that into either the "people" or "other" categories.

    Clay Nelson (Valentango & Burning Tango Festivals) published a "Why I Quit Tango" survey back in 2009, but people are still completing the survey to this day. Here's the link to the results page - although you have to drill down into the "Comments" links to really get into the nitty gritty of why people are saying they quit:


    I took the liberty to distill the results including the comments into a pdf to make for easier reading - it's 58 pages. Here's the link to the file in my public DropBox folder: