Lately in a tango forum a lady expressed the idea that, given the choice between a young beginner and an old advanced dancer, the leaders will always leave the older follower on her chair and dance with the beginner.
To me it can’t be true, if only because
– There is no such thing as a young beginner. Providing the instructor is good enough, twenty minutes are suficient to turn any woman into a decent follower (source: Miles )
– There is no such thing as an old advanced follower either. Either they were advanced in their younger days and lost their advanced-ness when they reached 40, or they were never advanced in the first place, they plateau-ed at intermediate level and then the years added to the years but not to the technique.
On the other hand, the lady’s opinion can be met very often in forums. So many people cannot be wrong, logic is a beautiful thing but real life is… well, real. So I decided to attend an actual milonga, equipped with a pen and a notepad (the paper one). Here are the figures at the beginning of the milonga, later more people came but I cannot count higher than ten.
There were five followers and five leaders, including me.
About technique and age:
The oldest one had the poorest technique (terrible pivots during the ochos).
Among the four who were dancing the youngest had the best technique.
About the follower’s choice by the men:
Four women were dancing. One wasn’t, she was the youngest, thinnest and prettiest.
The two oldest women were dancing.
The youngest follower had a better technique than her leader.
The remaining leaders had a better technique than their followers.
Now who am I to give marks for technique? In this case no sharp eye was required. Hanging or not on the partner to avoid falling, stepping on the beat or not, that was enough to calculate the rankings.
All in all, from what I saw this night, inviting the best followers meant inviting the younger ones, and inviting a woman despite her lack of tango skills meant inviting an older one.
Much later when I was still there with my pen and paper, this time using them to write down the names of the pieces I liked (e.g Biagi’s El Recodo) I couldn’t help noticing a fantastic dancer. I’d say Eugenia Parilla is her role-model. Same haircut, young, blonde, a weight-less free leg, and the same smile that says “Oh, you want to lead me that? You know, there were so many
other possibilities, much nicer, but ok, I’ll do what you want, don’t be sad, your choice is not that bad.”
Of course I was allowed to watch but not to touch, she came with her own stable of leaders.