Saturday 6 March 2010

Things that make me feel Sleazed

This came up in an email correspondence. In which someone (do you want to be credited? I'll edit) David Bailey said:

“Huh, I didn't even think it was _possible_ to be sleazy in AT.”
Oh, yes it is.
  1. The leader's right hand wanders up and down in a stroky way.

    Ewwwwwwww! And also tickly. Just Ew. I was chatting with a friend yesterday - I was trying to remember why I don't dance with a particular man who dances quite well. I remembered it as just not liking the vibe - nothing personal - and it was that, but my friend pointed out that his hand wanders up and down all the time, as though he were stroking a hairless cat. Eurgh.

  2. He makes eye contact while dancing (necessarily opening out the embrace to do this).

    There are lots of dances where eye contact is fine, and even necessary. But in tango, it feels like you're trying to make our interaction into something it's not. I know people do it in shows. There's a reason why they do it in shows, it's because it makes it look like something it's not. You do not have to be looking at me to be thinking of me. And also, tango is a progressive dance, please keep your eyes on the road!

  3. He opens out the embrace, leads something in a sort-of-patient sort-of-patronising way, tries to make eye contact, and simpers at me for applause.

    Oh, for goodness' sake. Controlling, impertinent, vain, silly. My thoughts are my own, luckily for you. Bugger off.

  4. He leads certain movements by jabbing the ends of the fingers of his right hand into my body. Sometimes just one finger. Ewwwww!! And also, Ow!

    Controlling, patronising, sleazy and PAINFUL.

  5. He leads leg wraps without moderation.

    What exactly makes you think I want to wrap my legs around you? Don't be so damned impertinent. Do it if it's in the music, maybe once a tanda, and we're good friends.

  6. Constantly intrusive knees.

    Get out of my legs!

  7. He's controlling generally. He gives the impression that he's so pleased he can make me do this or that. Sometimes with just one finger!

    Hard to articulate this one, but it's probably a personality thing and a combination of doing little bits of all the above, especially the simpering. People who do this are usually technically and musically well above average, but not people I'd ever dance with for fun. Domineering, bullying, oblivious, self-absorbed, boastful and boring and sleazy.

  8. Show-tango generally.

    You don't whistle or shout after a lady in the street, either, or talk about her tits in the pub at the top of your voice. If I wanted to be on stage, I would be. Don't attract the eyes of other people unnecessarily towards us. Especially with visually obvious things like turning the embrace inside out or spinning me around. Go and do a dance where those things are a normal element that doesn't attract the eye.

  9. Verbal wittering - "ooh, lovely, oooh very nice, ooooh I do like that!"

    Ewwww! Inappropriate. Shut up and dance. You can say very nice at the end if you want to, but don't say "ooh".

  10. He comes over and talks at me in a way totally unjustified by our real acquaintance, and hangs around at my shoulder, and won't go away unless I dance with him.

    Go away. I never gave you any encouragement, I was never more than polite, and I get this creepy stalking act. I already told you I don't want to go for a drink. This makes me want to dance with you less, not more.

I speak for myself as a hedgehog.


ghost said...


Speaking for myself as a ghost

While I accept that some people go to tango to pull, I go to dance.

The energy is different. Yes, people have pointed out there’s a lot of similarities between sex and tango, but there’s differences too. And they’re important.

I also as a guy particularly object to being stalked. I mean it’s tango not Ceroc. I get to offer the invitation to whomever I chose for whatever reasons I wish and by the same token they can accept or refuse as they see fit. Unless you’re a beginner or a friend (or a complete stranger who really wants to dance) you really shouldn’t be asking me to dance at Tango. Being stalked out of one room and into another is not pleasant.

I’m letting the woman into very close proximity, especially by English social mores. That’s a Big Thing and I expect it to be respected

Maybe they need badges so they can all hook up with each other and leave the rest of us in peace?

“Go away. I never gave you any encouragement, I was never more than polite, and I get this creepy stalking act. I already told you I don't want to go for a drink. This makes me want to dance with you less, not more”

3 strikes rule applies while I simply try to be where they’re not – then I just start saying “No”. God bless John Bradshaw and Bill Kipp :o)

PS I think I can top your list of complaints with the woman who started softly moaning in my ear in close embrace.

msHedgehog said...

@ghost: EW!!. You won, there. The trouble with trying to be where they're not is, it's not always feasible in a small place.

I agree that it's a different situation from something like ceroc where the whole point is that it's supposed to be easy (and much less intimate with much less sacrifice of personal space, physical and psychological, although I think there are other demands). I've always felt that the person who has to lead should ask, but that's for another post. I hadn't really thought about it as a sleaze thing.

Anonymous said...

With you on all these, Ms. H. And fortunately, I have not had the shoulder hoverer problem in a long time. If someone comes to hang out with me with I'll-stand-here-until-you-dance-with-me energy, I simply turn away and engage in conversation with the person immediately next to me on the opposite side. It doesn't matter whether or not I know them, there is always something to talk about.

This has the double advantage of being an obvious rebuff of the stalker, and making it clear to anyone who wishes to dance with me that I am available, and "not with that guy" :-)

Tangocommuter said...

That's bad. Curious that even Argentines say tango is 'machisto' while the social conventions around the milonga there are protective of women. From what I've seen, at the most traditional milongas, no man would get near enough to lean over you, and if anyone danced like that, it would be his last dance that evening. Even at the more relaxed milongas, a shake of the head is accepted as 'No' if you mistakenly return someone's gaze. With a dance so up close and personal, it's really essential that leaders accept 'No' as an answer. It might be personal, it might not, but it is 'No'. We argue about how far the Argentine social customs surrounding tango should be accepted here, but I think the courtesy of accepting 'No' as an answer is essential. Poor dancing, is another matter, but using it in that way is utterly discourteous. I hope he reads your post.

tangoenelcielo said...

In BsAs many years ago I danced with a man whose right arm extended all the way around me so that his hand was touching my right breast. It was extraordinary and at first seemingly accidental, but I realised after a couple of dances that he was taking advantage. So I've never danced with him since, but see him every year at the milongas. (He's a good dancer unfortunately). For sleaze I think that tops anything I've experienced in London.

Golondrina said...

Great post Ms H.

No. 1, 5 and 8 are the worst for me.

1 – when I first started dancing one guy kept doing this. It was the lightest of touches but put me a bit on edge as I was torn between being sure it was an accident (he seemed a gentleman the rest of the time) or a secret sleaze.

5 and 8– yuk, yuk! If I feel an inappropriate leg wrap is being instigated I deliberately try to downplay it as much as possible and turn it into a (slightly awkward) foot down move and say I don’t really like leg wraps. Once when I did this my lead (ignoring what I had just said) began to explain how he had wanted a leg wrap and so I told him it was vulgar to do it then as it was inappropriate to the music. It was frosty for the rest of the dance!

Anonymous said...

I think you covered most everything. There are women who work on the sleaze factor also. Some men seem to like it.
That happened to me by a visiting teacher and as I was still new to Tango, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it at first. But when he asked me to go off with him somewhere I quickly figured it out. That was creepy.
Dance and learn I guess

msHedgehog said...

I don't think we need to say anything at all about Argentinian social customs on this topic. Some of them are useful and practical, some of them are pleasant, some of them are for a particular society.

Little bits of sleaze like this are pretty easy to deal with. If being 'protected' from them means not being allowed to dance with women, make male friends, or have a reasonable adult conversation with a man at my table, then the protection looks to me like nothing more than a racket. Especially as such protection is likely to be less effective than my own prickles.

msHedgehog said...

@Golondrina - hehehe - I basically do the same thing as you in that situation.

@LT and Ghost - it's really interesting to me to hear about women who sleaze! You have to write something about it - I could never carry off the vamp act under any conditions, so my imagination completely fails. The obvious one that women surely do is the last one, and I can imagine us doing that by mistake just out of normal self-absorption (in fact it's probably like that when men do it).

ghost said...


Nuevo tango hold where you both face the same direction. I figure I'm fairly safe. Then she's moves my right hand up to her breast!

I've done the right hand round the back to touch the breast thing :blush: I'd actually spent some time previously checking it was physically impossible to do, so was quite shocked when it happened (it does need a certain combination of factors, but if you figure them out I guess a guy can go deliberately looking for / create them). You can actually see it quite a lot if you look at tango pics on google!

Tangogal1 said...

What about forward ocho into the witing hand of the leader? Or has that only happened to me?

Andreas said...

Reading this post has made me feel slightly ill.

msHedgehog said...

@Tangogal1 - I suppose it could have been accidental. In which case it's surely happened more than once ;)

@Andreas - reading your comment has just made me fall about laughing.

Social Dancer said...

Just be kind to yourself and state how that person is making you feel. If he or she does not respect your clear spoken message then simply WALK OFF!

There is no reason why anyone should suffer in silence. Just say: "Thank You!!! NO, I am not enjoying this, STOP!"

David Bailey said...

Oooh, credit me! Me! It was me! :)

I guess my point was that in Tango, the whole feel of the dance seems to mitigate against sleaziness.

Whereas in Ceroc or salsa it's quite possible - hell, in salsa it's mandatory - to adopt a sleazy style of dancing, doing so in Tango seems to go against the flow of the dance. There's no "natural" way to do it, you've got to fight against the dance style to be sleazy.

So if you're being sleazy, you're not really dancing Tango.

Hopefully that's clearer :)

ghost said...


Because tango ultimately is a dance between alpha males and females (or at least people pretending to be) and that implies a very high level of mutual respect?

David Bailey said...

@Ghost: Mmmm.... dunno. I was thinking it's more like the mechanics of the embrace don't (easily) lend themselves to sleaziness.

For example, as we discussed re: hand hold on back, lowering the hand makes dancing more difficult and inhibits the follower's movements.

Compare to MJ blues / salsa dancing, where there's very much body-to-body contact, in the - ahem - sleazy areas.

In those styles, if you're not being sleazy, you're not doing it right. Whereas in AT, if you're being sleazy you're doing it wrong.

Possibly I have a different view of "sleazy" to others however :)

(Hmmm, I just realised, I do occasionally get women breathing heavily in my ear. I kind of assumed they were just breathing heavily...)

ghost said...

@DB - you've lost me slightly.

Close embrace - women's breasts
Gancho, sacadas, leg-wraps - inner legs
Sentadas - bum

What other sleazy areas are there that you can get to in Ceroc?!

I was thinking the parallel with ballet - again very much an alpha dance. Very much mutual respect. Sleazy ballet is just plain wrong.

(Heavy breathing is easy - slow down, do weight transfers see if it stops. Then do some deep lunges and giros and see if it returns :devil: At which point it's probably kinder to start slowing down the pace of the dance ;o) )

David Bailey said...

"Close embrace - women's breasts."
- yes, but she's pressing them against you.

"Gancho, sacadas, leg-wraps - inner legs"
- don't ask me, I'm just a beginner, but I can't really see how most of these can be done sleazily...

"Sentadas - bum"
- I'll take your word for it, I can honestly say I've never done a sentada.

ghost said...

Yeah, I meant more that you have access to those areas in tango if you wish. I think it's probably more an intention than anything else. So while it's tempting to say leading umpteen consequetive leg wraps could be an example of sleaziness, clearly some nuevo dancers will do it in giros and it's nothing of the sort. TBH the thing that most creeped me out was having the back of my neck stroked in close embrace - it makes no sense whatsoever in a tango context.

Anonymous said...

Is stroking your cheek with their eyelashes sleazy? Was funny more than anything.

ghost said...


No, but it tickles!

David Bailey said...

"TBH the thing that most creeped me out was having the back of my neck stroked in close embrace."
Yeah, sorry about that, I was in the moment :)

ghost said...


msHedgehog said...

@DB - credit done.
@DB/Ghost - behave!

Aisling Tango said...

@David: Then could it be that what makes it difficult for you to associate tango and sleaziness is how we are supposed to hold our hips in tango?

David Bailey said...

"@David: Then could it be that what makes it difficult for you to associate tango and sleaziness is how we are supposed to hold our hips in tango?"
Well, amongst other things yes.

I guess I'm just an innocent :)

Anonymous said...

Hedgehog!!! A wonderful description. I wonder if you are as much fun in real life as you are describing all this. Brilliant.
I am a man, ex-tango dancer, thinking of starting again in La Cumbre - Cordoba - Argentina.
I once danced in London at Tango the Argentino way in 1991. The beginning.

msHedgehog said...

@Anonymous - You've made my day. Danny and Diana still have a milonga, it's Carablanca now, at a new location. They're not scared to change if it's an improvement, which I like.

Anonymous said...

Hedgehog, I´m glad I made your day. Please send my love to Danny and Diana if you see them.

Tango en el Cielo said...

WOW!! I know who the last two Anonymous posts are from! It just has to be!! But you are too modest in your description of your dance beginnings in London. Well Anonymous I'll be back in Argentina in May and maybe this time I'll make it to La Cumbre! Can't believe that after all these years of waiting for you to reply to my last emails here you pop up on Ms Hedgehog's blog. So what do I have to do to get you to write to me - do I have to start a blog site as well? Would a Fbook page do?

Anonymous said...

Dear Tango en el cielo, I send you a biiiig hug and kiss (not sleazy, just a nice one). I always remember crouching in the warm water of the River Plate, chatting, on Isla Martin Garcia, looking at the stars and the storm over Buenos Aires. A life experience if ever there was one.
I see Dennis now and then.
Hedgehog seems like fun!

Tango en el Cielo said...

Ho yes, Anonymous, what marvellous memories of a totally spontaneous and totally unsleazy experience in the warm waters and soft mud of the River plate. Chatting, star gazing, watching the electric storm over Buenos Aires, wondering if it extended south as far as the beach Maria P would be sitting on (after declining to come with us to Isla Martin Garcia, silly lady, wrong decision). Until I decided it was time to go back ashore and realised a row of teenage boys had appeared all along the bank so you (or was it Dennis - you I think) gallantly ran all the way back to our guesthouse to fetch my togs and hand them to me under the water.
Still have the green hat. and the photos somewhere in a box.
yes will be seeing Dennis & Carina on 28 April when i land in BsAs.
and yes Ms H is great fun, am sure you'd hit it off, that's the great thing, whenever I like two people and introduce them they nearly always like each other.
@ Ms H, thanks so much for reuniting me with Anonymous my long lost friend of 17 years who I've haven't seen since he moved from BsAs to La Cumbre about 7/8 years ago.

Anonymous said...

I have just read most of the posts on this subject.
I find it is definitely based on cultural differences and personal similarities.

I was brought up in Argentina on Victorian prudish handshake-at-a-distance-mores, so I understand all your discomfort about sleazy body contact.

When I did contemporary dance and had to do a lift, and my hand slipped over a tit, I felt GUILTY of sleazy misconduct. Which it wasn´t, it slipped! My partners just reasured me it was all part of a day´s work and I managed it eventually, and got over the guilt and enjoyed it.

When I started Tangoing it was so difficult to master, that there was no time to even think about those things.
One needs to feel that one is getting it right, SPECIALLY as a man (that, by the way, does lead! At least in Tango).
The close hold is nice. The warmth of the other person is nice. The sway and turns is nice. It´s all nice, if you feel safe. As in any love making.
That, as far as the dance goes. Beyond, it can become sleaze.

Salsa is all about seduction and sleaze. And what fun it can be!
On the other hand, I have seldom been in a safer night/dance environment than a Milonga.
Women ONLY accept to dance with whom they want to. With the “cabeceo” (head nod) there is no need at all, to even move your head, to say no. You just keep scanning the scene, as if you had never seen his invitation to dance.
If you did accept and it gets out of (or into his) hand, you just politely say thank you, at the end of the tune, or tanda preferably, and sit down. End of story.
One must not get offended with these suggestive acts. After all, they are an expression of appreciation of something of you, though maybe not what, or as, you would like it to be shown.
The whole etiquette of the Milonga is that nobody is put in a position of ridicule (a very Argentine concern) before the crowd. That is why the men do not walk up to you to ask you to dance, lest they be refused!!! "Oh!! What do I do now?!!! Everybody has seen me refused!!! Nobody will ever love me again".

Another local belief is that foreign women are easy. Sometimes it is true. But what is best, is that they will soon leave.

Argentine and Latin “machos” feel they must always prove their worth as Latin lovers, specially to sensuality starved foreign women, and be appreciated as the best.
This is much less frequent than fantasy will claim.

Most of the things that make you feel sleazed happen in any culture and are simply an expression of clumsiness and insecurity.
In Britain, this thing about a close embrace seems like an opportunity, which it is, and immediately encroaches on most people´s safety circle, which must be approached gently.
Even for some Argentine women and men, believe it or not, it can be uncomfortable.

So, just stay cool and move on when you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. In any environment.

Lizzy said...

A truely remarkanble post.. Just flipped through some comments but not all. I daren't post my absolute hate up here incase we start a training ground for tango pervs.
But yes It can and does happen. But very rarely and only ever once with me
Thanks Ms Hedgehog. Someone had to say it

msHedgehog said...

@Lizzy - go on. Let's give them the opportunity to think - hmm - do I do that? Anyway I thought I'd covered the ground pretty generously so I'd love to know what I missed.

Lizzy said...

Hmmmm my first post may have got lost so apologies for duplication!
Hi, Ms Hedgehog, I particularly hate guys who when they find a ticklish spot and I flinch, work it. It is really not pleasant and very invasive. I can't help being ticklish, I don't laugh, giggle or play-up, so when it is "worked" rather than avoided, I feel it crosses the line.

The second thing I find really pervy is heavy breathing. OK, he may be asthmatic, but it sets my nerves on edge so regardless of intention I feel sleazed.

At the end of the day though they do it once. A second dance is generally not given, or a second tanda.

The choice is mine, and I'm not shy of exercising it (see command line cabecoa)

msHedgehog said...

EWWWW!!! As you say, the sort of thing that would only happen once. That's pretty extreme though. The nuclear option might be worth it, as long as you didn't think he would follow you off and require you to explain in front of other people what exactly he'd done.

Lizzy said...

Hmm... that is food for thought, Perhaps an explanation IS required.

Something along the lines of:-
"excuse me, I can't hope noticing that you seem to be breathing very heavily, are you alright perhaps we should take a break?"

It's non-judgemental and actually gives the opportunity for a little more awareness

Paddington's "cold frosty stare" may also deter someone who thinks it's funny to touch me where its ticklish to do it again.

That or a rather quietly enenciated "I would prefer it if you didn't touch me there again"

Unfortunately, both options seem in themsleves a little extreme so I wonder if I'll ever use them, to excuse myself a the end of the dance and put them on my no go list for me seems a more dignified and less confrontational response

At the end of the day its our choice so in essence the ball is in our court.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ghost said...

Bill Kipp came up with the solution to this. Simply put different people have different social mores and awareness. I was truly horrified to discover that I'd managed to have my hand on a woman's breast while dancing and been completely unaware of it. I honestly didn't think this was possible. (I was literally exhausted though).

Bill's take is this - it's not the action, it's the reaction. Tell a "nice guy" that he's got his hand on your breast and he'll be mortified, apologise and stop doing it. In slightly milder cases involving body space it may take a person a while to break the habbit of being too close.

However a perv will immediately go into "weasel mode" tying to rationalise the behaviour, make it your fault etc. "Why are you being so stroppy? That's the way I was taught by Maestro blah blah blah". Sneaky ones will apologise but then keep doing it.

Thing is, once you recognise the patterns you know who you're dealing with.

And like trolls there's no point reasoning with pervs. If they want you to justify your actions, don't. They've no interest in understanding what they're doing wrong. It's just a means to weasel around your defenses.

NB this applies to guys as well as women

PS Is this the longest thread on the MsH blog - just curious?

msHedgehog said...

@Lizzy - the Paddington stare is a pretty good default. On your other point, yes, it's up to us, or should be - subject to other people endlessly questioning our choice, of course, and never saying a word to the perv under any conditions. I have another post about that but I left it in draft, to review it in a better temper.

msHedgehog said...

@ghost: that's a fairly good description of the rule-of-thumb women actually follow, but if there is any doubt (which there always is if you don't know the person) we will generally assume that he's a weasel with a sense of entitlement, because even if the probability of that is low, the consequences of protest if he is are very severe. So the best way to protect our dignity and defend the rest of our evening is to stick it out and not dance with him again - unless the instance of perving is very extreme.

We tend trust our radar as far as intention goes. If it's accidental or can be accidental we generally won't feel particularly sleazed until we're sure it's not. It's not a mechanical thing, our perception of intent is important.

It might be the longest - we've had well over 30 before but I don't think 40.

Sigrid said...

I once danced with an older guy in Buenos Aires. During the dance he started to get a hard-on! I tried to increase the distance, but he just held me tighter.

I afterwards talked to a argentinean friend, and she recognized him from my description and said that he always does that.

Totally sleazy!

Anonymous said...

one of my most unsettling experiences was the guy (at carablance actually) who thought it appropriate to lean over and *kiss me on the forehead* after i'd danced with him. does that count as patronising/ sleazy/ just plain wrong?

yuk yuk yuk

Anonymous said...

On the topic of sleaze, this is one of the sleaziest nights I've experienced (and it was in good old BA):