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My postings to Tango-L

Date:    Wed, 28 Oct 1998 15:33:08 +0100
From:    Garrit Fleischmann
Subject: Re: Same-sex Tango

Hello Dave,

Jim writes:
>> There are usually more women than men at
>> milongas; even more so if you don't count beginners.

David Gunter answers:
> Interesting observation ....
> Is there an increased rate of attrition in male dancers in the
> intermediate/advanced ranks?

I made the same observation here in Germany. And I would guess
it must be similar elsewhere.
When I started with my first Tango class, there were even more
men then women so I had to wait for a while till I found my
first dancing partner.
But it takes much longer for a man to get your first
real good tango experience when dancing. In my opinion,
a woman can get a first glance of how Tango dancing might be
very early, when she dances with a good dancer who shows her
the joy of dancing not only to the rhythm in the music, but
also to the melody - this way, she can enjoy dancing even
with a very limited repertoire in steps. (Who needs all these
steps anyway ;-) )
And of cause this way she can also learn from her more advanced
dancing partner.

On the other hand, the men are very busy with concentraiting on
trying to master 6 things at the same time in a milonga:
1) memorizing the steps
2) choosing the step they want to do next on the floor
3) leading the movement (communication with your partner)
4) navigate on the dancefloor
5) dancing to the rhythm (well, this everyone should do, but I
   saw a lot of beginners who had lots of trouble with it)
6) dancing to the melody (for the more advanced)

I remember that it took me more than a year, till I could do
a Tango without having to think about the steps, so I could
concentrate more on dancing with my partner and started to
listen also to the melody of the Tango.

So in my first year, I was very busy stuggleing with a lot of
basic problems in Tango. And I remember quite well the bored
look in the face of an advanced female dancer I was bold enough
to ask for a dance.
And I find it very difficult for a beginning man to learn from
his advanced female partner.

So in summary: Men have to struggle a lot more till they can
dance more relaxed and till they get a good feeling for the dance.
This is why more men stop dancing Tango then women.
At least here in Frankfurt and in the cities I visited,
I have observerd that there are mostly more advanced women than men.

This brings us back to the "same-sex dancing" topic:
I guess a lot of advanced women started learning how to lead, because
there were not enough advanced dancers in their dance scenes.
In germany it's quite comon to see women leading, but there are only
few men who follow (at a milonga).
(In my opinion, a good tango dancer should at least know the steps
his partner is doing, so I guess a lot of men could follow, but
only few have experiences in it.)

So why don't men follow so much? Machismo? Fear to be thought of being
gay? I think there are a lot of reasons coming together, which you can't
really seperate from each other.
Here my speculations on this topic:

1) Social 'standards' for men don't support physical contact
2) The 'tipical' male role is leading, not following
3) More good female dancers, so less need for men dancing together

One has to do with the socialy accepted "same-sex" relationships in a
It is very uncommon in europe (or only in northern Europe?)
for men to have much physical contact apart from shaking hands.
If two women are walking though the city arm in arm, most ppl will
have no second thoughts, it looks quite common for two girlfriend to
have physical contact like this.
If two men were doing this, most people would think that they may be

The same you can observe when saying hello and good bye:
Men are (cheek)-kissing women, women are kissing women, but you will never
see an average northern european male kissing a man good bye.
(Which is by the way very different from what I experienced in Argentina.
The first time I got cheek-kissed by a male was a strange experience for me.
I am not homosexual but never had any problem with physical contact with my
male friends, like huging each other. But still this kissing made me feel
uncomfortable and on the same time I was wondering why it did so.
It showed me how deep 'social standards' are imbedded into your subconsious,
even I you think of yourself as open minded.)

So men have to overcome a much higher subconsious and social threshold when
dancing with each other than women do. Most people will more easyly accept
when two men are practicing with each other (they are only imporving their
technique for better dancing with their female partner...) than they would
accept seeing them dancing at a milonga (hmm... they are enjoying dancing
with each other, strange...).

I myself started learning to follow a while ago, and it took me some effort
to dance with a man at a milonga.

The now changing but still mostly accepted role for men in western countries
is (or was for centuries):
Active and leading, in the job and also in relationships and in dancing.
The men are the ones approaching the women, asking for a dance. They take
the initiative and they lead in the dance.
Following just doesn't fit into this image of a strong and strongwilled
(macho) man.

Another, very pragmatic reason why there are less men follwing is connected
with the first part of my posting: on most milongas, there are more good
female than male dancers. On the one hand, I don't really need to learn to
follow in order to get some good dances at a milonga, and when I dance with
a good male dancer, then I will surely get some angry looks from the female
dancers, because this deminishes their chances for a good dance.

So when I am following, I mostly do it with a woman as a leader - this makes
things much easier, since I can avoid point 1 and 3 :-)

You see that I have thought about this for quite a while, so now let me see
what other opinions there are to this topic.

Enjoy leading and following!


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Date:    Thu, 13 Nov 1997 04:21:35 +0100
From:    Garrit Fleischmann
Subject: Re: estimating dance-scenes

Enrico wrote:
Just to stick to BA (these are the hard numbers I have), there are
6.5 million
in BA who receive cable television, and can watch "Solo Tango", the 24 hors
tango only channel.  The average ratings are 1-2% for this channel during
day, which means that several tens of thousands of portenos/portenas
choose to
watch tango over the other 79 available cable channels at any time
of the day.

Our tango community in Tampa, Florida, is about 50-80, Victor, our teacher,
dreams of when it will reach the number of 200....

Michael wrote:
I will not bother you to long with my opinion about the level of dancing on
'solo tango'. To shortcut: I think they are substituting quality with
The Netherlands have about 15 milion inhabitants, in roughly the same area
as the larger urban Rio de la Plata region. There are 22 weekly practicas,
and this november there are 30 milongas, two of them with live music. Other
figures a bit more problematic, but I estimate the amount of halve-year
courses currently taught somewhere around the country about 70, with a mean
praticipation of =B115 persons. On top of that there are this november 8
special-occasion workshops. It is very hard to estimate the amount of
active dancers, let's say defined as people who dance at least once a
month, but it will be somewhere in the order 3 (meaning between 1,000 and
10,000). I don't think that the *active* dance community in Buenos Aires is
much bigger. Two danceshows about tango (although both are *not* the
traditional kind of tango-'for export'-show) made by dutch tango dancers
are currently touring the country.

And then there is of course the rest of Western Europe: Germany, Belgium,
France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Great Brittain: All these countries have
an active tango community, all within easy reach in an area not even as big
as Argentina, but much much denser inhabited.

Germany has 80 million inhabitants.
I know that Stuttgart, Bremen and Berlin there are Milongas
at every day of the week, and in a lot of other cities there are weekly
Here in Frankfurt and the Rhein-Main area, there are 2 weekly Milongas
and a couple which are every 2 weeks. I would estimate that
there are about 500 active dancers (who go out dancing more or less
But there is a hard core of dancers of about 100 who go dancing
at least once a week.
A lot of these 'Tango addicts' (like me) travel to other cities
like Karlsruhe, Kaiserslautern, Marburg (which are roughly in a
120km radius) to go to a Milonga quite often, and to
special occasions much further (I am calling them 'Tango tourists').
And I know that in other german towns, it's similar, since they
also come to our Milongas.
And by the way, lots of germans go dancing in the Netherlands too,
especialy in 'El Corte' in Nijmegen (where Michael is coming from :-) )

Well, back to estimating:
I know from friends that in Berlin there are about 15 teachers
who give regular classes, and about another 15 who do workshops.
They estimated that only in Berlin, ther must be about 2000
people taking classes, and perhaps 3000-4000 people who
dance on a more or less regular basis.
I would guess that the average tango community (apart from Berlin)
has about 200 regular dancers and that there are a minimum of
50 AT communities, we get 10000 plus Berlin,
so in total a minimum of about 13.000-15.000 regular dancers in Germany,
probably much more, and I would guess about a 10th are really
addicted 'Tango tourists'.
I know that these are rough estimations, perhaps someone else has
a better idea of the real numbers...

The nice thing here is, that because of the dense population,
you easyly get in contact with dancers of other AT communities...

Enjoy dancing

Garrit Fleischmann

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Garrit Gleischmann Nov.98
Email: kontakt(at)