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The Expert Jerk

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Date:    Sun, 18 Jan 1998 23:13:32 -0800
From:    Larry E Carroll
Subject: The Expert Jerk

Friday night I went to a milonga & met a woman new to tango & to me.  We
danced a few times & I enjoyed it.  She was a good height for me, had a
good frame, & moved well.

As the evening went by I looked a few times to see how she was doing &
noticed she was dancing a lot & seemed to be having a good time.  A good
while later I sat beside her & asked how she was doing.  I don't remember
the exact words, but she said something like the following -- a message
I've heard before from other women.

"I'm having a pretty good time, but I danced with a really good dancer &
was a disaster.  It showed how bad I am." I told her something like the
following.  I don't know if it really got through to her.

Partner dancing is about cooperation, two people doing something
Good team members share the load, each according to their abilities &
role.  If they're lifting a load & one partner is a body builder & the
other isn't, the stronger should bear more of the load, should pay even
better attention to coordinating with their partner than they otherwise

The expert dancer who makes his partner feel incompetent is NOT a good
dancer.  He's a selfish asshole, plain & simple, or horribly incompetent.

It doesn't matter if he's a world-famous performer, travels & teaches
everywhere, is spoken of in awe & is in halls of fame. He broke the
implicit contract that every partner makes when they dance with someone,
"We're going to work to TOGETHER to have a good time."

                        Larry de Los Angeles

Date:    Mon, 19 Jan 1998 12:21:36 -0800
From:    Larry E Carroll
Subject: Re: The Expert Jerk

Someone in a personal email mentioned a discussion going on in another
forum about testing your partner. I don't know how "testing" is being
used there, but (unless I'm really tired) I do something that might be
called that. I push my partner a little more and more as we dance to find
her comfortable limits. I've also noticed some women doing that to me!

Once I find those limits, I can back off & we can have a relaxing dance.
Or, if I'm feeling impish & she seems inclined to be challenged, I push
her beyond her limits a little bit to stretch those limits. Sometimes
this starts a spiral of challenge & counter-challenge until the music
stops or one of us signals they've reached their limit.

Of course all this depends on the situation as well as the people:
whether we're tired, or not sure we trust our partner's skill or intent,
have enough free floorspace to indulge in hijinks, etc.

                Larry de Los Angeles

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Date:    Tue, 20 Jan 1998 11:22:24 -0800
From:    Melanie Archer
Subject: Re: The Expert Jerk

Praise to Larry for pointing out this sort of behavior.  I could have been
that woman at the milonga:  an  enthusiastic beginner,  being discouraged
by  "better" dancers.

What leaders/followers should keep in mind when encountering those less
skillful is that the more people one encourages to dance tango, the more
people one has to dance with!  I'm lucky to have a steady partner who is at
my level.  We can both complain of ungenerous attitudes from some of the
dancers we've met in class, such as "Mr. Perfection," who shouts "NO!!!!"
at his partners to reinforce his nonverbal leads.  Fortunately, we started
tango with a teacher whose philosophy is "less show, more enjoyment."
Thanks to him, we know it is legitimate to dance our humble basic steps and
work on more complex figures when  we're more skilled in partner dancing.

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Garrit Fleischmann Jan.97
Email: kontakt(at)