Thursday 5 April 2012

Screw up early and often

When you dance with a new person, I think it's a good thing if your first mistake happens early. A missed lead, a moment of leader indecision, some interruption to the flow, whatever. Some followers are lighter than others and react more or less strongly to movements which may or may not be fully intentional. Some people's leads are softer or firmer or bigger or smaller or faster or slower or more or less complicated, and no matter how good they are, they are all different. The follower has to tune in. Once you've done something that felt like a mistake, and got out of it gracefully without making anyone feel bad, you can dance together with a lot more confidence, because you know now that mistakes don't matter with this person. You've proved that there's a working two-way connection there.

It's particularly good to get the mistakes in early if you're dancing with someone who other people want to watch, because the sensation of being watched, especially when you're not used to it, is horribly distracting and you don't need the extra stress of worrying about what will happen if you make a mistake. Better to get it over with.

I cannot, however, recommend announcing to your partner between tracks that "Part of tango is covering mistakes!" - especially not if you've just severely failed at that. If they lack confidence they will feel crushed, if they don't, they will just think you're a twit. Even if you did not fail, you throw your success away by drawing attention to it.

And if you're so vain you think that part of this post is about you, don't worry, I'm sure you're good enough to fix it.