Saturday, 4 July 2009

More reasons to dance (not necessarily tango)

Some time ago I wrote a little bit about why I dance tango.

Now Ampster has a nice piece about why he does. Some of it's the same and some of it's different.

I noticed that, like at least two others of my readers, he is or was also a student of martial arts, not at all uncommon among male tango dancers. At a certain point I wonder if they sometimes think "I could be grappling with this big hairy twerp trying to kill me, or I could have a beautiful woman in my arms, and the technical difficulty level and time commitment is about the same. Where did I put my brain?" But I merely speculate.

Ampster: Hobby for the old and broken: Its a vernacular that I feel special knowing. Its something that I can make people happy with, one partner at a time. Its a hobby that doesn't involve danger, combat, serious physical injury, pain, trauma, nor booming things. ... Most of all, its a hobby I can share with my beloved Mrs. Ampster.

One of the reasons we have in common is that many hobbies can be rather isolating. In his case, he wants to share with Mrs. Ampster. In my case, I have always had a tendency to be shy, and I have to actively take measures to reduce the harm that causes me. Social dancing is a very good approach. I definitely feel the same satisfaction in making other people happy, one at a time. It's pleasant and gives me confidence. But perhaps more importantly, it makes me happy. Because the dancing has real interest and challenge and and joy in itself I feel motivated to stick with it even when I am anxious, and that builds confidence too and gives me a chance to manage the anxiety and get comfortable with people, at least to a point I can work from. I'd certainly suggest some kind of social dancing, not necessarily this one - I think you should pick the one that appeals to you personally - to people who are habitually shy. You can make a decision that you're going to do it and then just stick at it, going to a class every week, and it has a certain structure and boundary to it as well as a sense of achievement and as well as being fun in itself. It has its own little world that you can find a place in. The fact that it's not easy means your mind is occupied with the task and not feeling bored or selfconscious. You can still hide at other times if you want to, or not, if having the practice inspires you to seek people out a bit more.

[Update: and twenty minutes later, he says more. I particularly like the bit about making friends you just happen to like.]

15 comments:

Ghost said...

At a certain point I wonder if they sometimes think "I could be grappling with this big hairy twerp trying to kill me, or I could have a beautiful woman in my arms, and the technical difficulty level and time commitment is about the same. Where did I put my brain?" But I merely speculate.

Pretty much. Also a surprising number of movements / concepts are the same so you can "practice" martial arts while you dance. I also naievely though tango would be safer - I mean walking slowly aroudn a hall - how dangerous can it be? The irony of the reality in London is not lost on me.

It's worth noting though that there are some very sexy female martial artists out there and some of them teach :whistle:

Its something that I can make people happy with, one partner at a time. Its a hobby that doesn't involve danger, combat, serious physical injury, pain, trauma, nor booming things

You can tell he's not a regular at Negracha ;o) Martial arts schools vary. I know a guy who broke his leg. But on the whole I honestly reckon the average London milonga is far more dangerous than a "sane" London martial arts training hall.

msHedgehog said...

For the benefit of people who don't actually dance here, I should say that the worst physical injury I've ever suffered dancing tango is a deepish scratch across my instep from someone else's heel. A bruise in the same place from the same cause happens about as often, and the exact same injury inflicted by my own other shoe is far more common. I don't do that as much as I used to. Other than that, it's all gentle (if annoying) bumps.

ghost said...

Edit: having read Ampsters post, I think the part I've quoted is more a reference to his military life, in which case, I agree that's going to be far more dangerous than dancing and not really something you share to easily with your significant other.

@MsH
Let's hope you keep it that way.

Dancing in London, including Ceroc, I've had:
My shoulder wrenched almost to the point of dislocation twice
Thumb dislocated
Back pulled
I frequently find bruises on the inside of my right bicep from women who don't quite grasp the concept of the embrace
A pony-tail covered in perfume and hairspray whipped into my eyes
Elbow to the back that knocked the wind out of me
A heel that gouged 3 inches down my achelles tendon
Heels to the shin
Heels to the inside of my knee
Heel to the base of my spine
and so on...

I've lost count of the number of blows I've ducked, dodged and parried

Total injuries sustained in London Training Halls to date
Zero

AmpsterTango said...

First of all, thank you for reading and visiting my blog. Its a treatise I'm proud of because I can be honest on a topic I feel pleasantly candid about.

It is something that has had a profound effect on me.

*chuckles* Based on your tango injury description... Should I ever end up visiting your milonga in London, I'll be wearing body armor. *wink*

ghost said...

I'm a firm believer that people who've led lives involving violence, be they Vets, EMTs, heck even teachers these days, should dance; it's a wonderful way to keep light and beauty in our lives.

Lol – what is interesting is that both MsH and my descriptions are valid for the same places. I take great pleasure in knowing that I can dance a tanda with MsH in the midst of chaos without anyone harming us and also being safe in the knowledge that she won’t start randomly trying to impale me or the people around us with her heels, throw herself into random colgadas etc.

Thinking about it the most common reason for my being hurt is when a follower I didn’t know, tries something in freestyle they don’t actually know how to do and that I wasn’t leading anyway, in a completely committed way regardless of laws of physics, anatomy etc.

msHedgehog said...

@ghost,
Heel to the base of my spine
WTF? In tango or ceroc? How is that even possible?

It would be good if you could write a nice factual piece on Dont's for Women and why they are Don'ts. I can't write it because I have no idea what people do. Other women who write about tango are probably in the same place as me on that. And obviously if they are doing those things at all, they're not getting this information from their teachers, for one reason or another.

I remember looking at various times for information about bad habits I should avoid getting into, and not being able to find it. I fell back on my common sense, but common sense is notoriously unreliable - it depends too much on where you start from.

londontango said...

I always said that Tango was not for the feint hearted for many number of reasons, not excluding bodily harm. When I started with Salsa, the most harm I experienced was a nice elbow to the head from a leader that didn't know how to lead a spin. Same in Ceroc. And people wonder why I don't like tricky moves! There are times I might injure someone if my leader isn't careful or some idiot takes a step backwards when he shouldn't. I have also done self injury from my own heel, but that is rare now.
Is there any hobby where there isn't a risk of some personal injury?
As for shyness, I agree that taking up dancing is a good way to bring yourself out so to speak. The better one gets at anything, the more confident one will be.
Scuba diving kicked it off for me as it was a skill I learned in order to enable me to have holidays on my own. After that, going out to learn how to dance made the experience easier.

ghost said...

@MsH
Tango. You have at least two options as a follower if you want to inflict this injury.

On your own leader - Self-lead a gancho with as much force as possible, ideally with a small jump. Make sure you're not too close to the guy or your heel will sadly only pass through air. You may need to self-lead re-positioning yourself slightly to get the optimum angle. Helps if you're a fair bit shorter than the lead.

On someone else - Linear boleo

:(

Good idea about the write-up, thanks :o)

@LondonTango
What I personally object to in Tango (and well, life) is unnecessary harm that could easily have been avoided. I think all beginners classes should start with a defrosted chicken on a table. "This is your leader"
Take a high heeled shoe and impale the chicken multiple times
"This is your leader after you've finished doing unled moves"

My version of the smashed egg demo "This is your brain - This is your brain on acid"

Anonymous said...

I'd been avoiding Negracha because of its killer reputation. I tried it recently and got a boot up my bum from another couple.

I actually had to engage the spatial coordination centres of my brain to work out how it was even possible to get the flat of someone else's foot on my bum.

yabotil said...

I've had a heel up my bum on a crowded floor. Its more entertaining to me how someone could be so silly to send their legs flying out in a social environment.

I have a friend that I regular dance with who does random high boleos and sometimes knocks us both off balance. I feel like asking her to not do them or do low ones if she insists on doing a boleo. But would that be considered instructing on the dance floor?

londontango said...

@ Ghost, you crack me up. BTW, it was nice to meet you the other night.

@ Yabotil not if you explain it nicely. It is for your personal safety. You could say that you would prefer she keeps her random boleos small and on the floor when the floor is crowded as you are concerned she might injure someone if you haven't led it and that the high boleos put you off balance. If she doesn't like it, you may have to find a new dance partner or only dance with her when the floor is not busy. ;-)

msHedgehog said...

@Yabotil, as Arlene says - and anyway if she is your friend you don't have to do it on the dancefloor, you can do it off. But it would be really interesting if you could find out where she learned to do them and why she does them and likes them. In fact that might even be a nice way to start, from curiosity, then you could go on to explain that from your point of view there's a downside.

David Bailey said...

@Ghost: "A pony-tail covered in perfume and hairspray whipped into my eyes"
You say that like it's a bad thing.

And:
"Its something that I can make people happy with, one partner at a time. Its a hobby that doesn't involve danger, combat, serious physical injury, pain, trauma, nor booming things

You can tell he's not a regular at Negracha ;o)"

Stop making me laugh out loud at work.

Captain Jep said...

You work? :)

Im going to add a reason which will probably make all you English folk laugh into your sleeves. And that is, "to give a little back".

I'm one of these people who wonders whether everything I do is self centred. Even when I give someone a compliment am I doing it for purely altruistic reasons? Or am I doing it say just to butter someone up so they'll agree later to do what I want? You know , those kind of discussions... So tango for me is probably one of the most altruistic things I do. I put a lot of work into dancing, navigation, connection etc etc and I genuinely dont "expect" anything in return. Of course I "hope" for something back - but I will give a 100% even when that's not the case (assuming no other factors like tiredness etc come into play).

To me that makes tango a pretty special dance..

LimerickTango said...

Those that have encountered it call it 'The Art'.

Master of the Royal Hibernian Academy of Classical Fencing