I just got back from doing my solo tango workout and practice. This is what we have to resort to in a resort town with an extremely small tango community. A friend of mine jokes with me about my "air tango", but, it's better than nothing. He and I are the only ones that I know of who practice solo on occasion.
So, I'm back here reading Tango-L about retaining men in Tango, and women getting dances. I thought I would write about why I invite women to dance, and why I don't.
1] First and foremost, I am a tall guy - easily 6'4" with my tango shoes on. So, I have some issues with shorter women and with taller women. Dancing with shorter women tends to tweak my lower back - an issue with my lead. I have started dancing more open embrace with shorter women to compensate. Taller women, when the top of their head reaches my eye level, then I have a blind spot to my right. I find this to be limiting to my lead. Final point - it is very difficult if not impossible to determine how tall a woman is when she is sitting down. So, I invite more women in the 5'4" to 5'-9" range.
2] I am a big guy - sometimes I feel like a giant. When I see photos of myself on the dance floor, I dwarf all of the other people. Perhaps this is a self image thing, but the reality is that I am built like a linebacker or a fullback. 6'3" 225lbs. Given this, I tend to avoid women who are very slightly built. There is a particular follower - beautiful woman and beautiful dancer - but she is so slight, I feel like I am going to break her sometimes. So, I tend to not invite very tiny women.
3] I find women who have thier own gravitational pull difficult to lead. I'm getting better at leading these types of celestial bodies - but sometimes it feels like I am trying to navigate the fully loaded Exxon Valdez through the straits while intoxicated. I tend to not invite women who have their own gravitational pull.
4] I never refuse an invitation from any woman. (Okay, there are one or two who constantly bug me to dance, and I always decline politely, because it is downright unpleasant to dance with them.)
5] When a woman smiles or better yet, smiles AND says "hi" or something, she is guaranteed to get an invitation, no matter what her dancing ability.
6] I lost my tango. At one milonga, I literally "lost my tango". I don't know if it was because I was tired, or what. I did turn down a few invitations - not wishing to subject any woman to a poor/non-existent lead. I didn't make any lame excuses with these women - I literally told them that I was no longer dancing because I lost my tango.
7] If a woman back-leads or gives me "tips", I won't invite her.
8] I realize this is starting to sound negative, but I don't know how to say it otherwise. If a woman is overly embellish-ey, especially if she does embellishments which are meant to be lead, without the lead, all by herself, I don't invite.
9] If a woman is a frequent leader (in a social/milonga setting), I generally don't invite. I don't get that, sorry...
10] Women who dance (close embrace) with their eyes open, scanning the room for potential leads, cannot, in any way shape or form, be "present" in the moment of dancing with me. I will not invite.
11] Women who can't keep their axis and lean on me too much don't get invited.
12] Women who are too "hippy" (motion) and "sway-ey". This can be described as trying to push a wheelbarrow with a top heavy load that is shifting back and forth.
13] Women who are obviously dancers/athletes/athletic/yoginis/fit tend to be more responsive - lighter on their feet - ball bearings under their forefeet - more reaction and energy - (Read my post titled "Fuck me back") tend to get more invites. I find women who are the opposite of this tend to be "mushy" feeling - like I am dancing with "The Blob". Just being brutally honest here...
14] Some really advanced women who I don't feel my lead is up to snuff. It's an insecurity intimidation thing.
15] The followers/wives/partners of tango teaching couples...in spite of #14 above, I always ask them to dance, because often it seems no one else does.
16] If a woman is overweight, not-so-attractive, just an okay dancer, but "nice", she will win out any night over a beautiful tango diva who is the best dancer in the room, but a "catty bitch" who knows she is the bestdancerbeautifultangodiva in the room. Nice-ness, smiles, eye contact, humility - these are the qualities that get me every time.
17] Timing, hesitation, poorly executed cabeceo, missed opportunities, interlopers, usurpers, bathroom breaks, refreshment breaks, sore feet, etc. all combine to create many missed invites... Tango interupptus...
To sum up.... smile, make eye contact, say "hi", make yourself available, be polite/nice/notabitchysnob, smell good, shampoo your hair.... and... wearing Comme il Faut's helps too... goofy ballroomy shoes are a turnoff... get rid of them...
Okay... I gotta go dancing now... I gotta... tomorrow night...Denver... The Mercury Cafe...it's been too long... my last "big city" milonga was... last May in Denver?... no, one in July in Atlanta... too long...