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Sometimes It Takes a Woman to Do a Man's Job

Bored with sitting around turning down cabeceos, I have a new little game I like to play.  I like to use the verb llevar, not the verb lead.  I prefer to wear my women, or perhaps bring them, instead of *leading* them....  Here's a few words from the end of June.

El viernes estaba mi primera milonga como líder.  Quise ir a la práctica @ Valencia para practicar mi marca pero de hecho de Gay Pride Week no hay práctica, sólo Milonga Azul.  Perfecto porque habían mil mujeres, no buenas, y sólo unos hombres, de que 0 podían bailar.  Este estará fácil, pensé.  Pero no!  La cosa la más difícil de la noche estaba el cabeceo!  Tan difícil, cabeceo las mujeres!  Ellas no me entienden, o no entienden los cabeceos en general, o rechazaron mi cabeceo (tan claros, también, mis cabeceos: *tan* claros).  Pensaba, "¿Qué?  ¿Es porque soy una mujer?  ¿Es porque soy principiante?  ¿Es porque no conocés las reglas del juego?"  —Quizás la próxima vez en que soy líder, llevaré un t-shirt que dice, "SOY HETEROSEXUAL" en enormes carácteres.

Pero unas mujeres me aceptaron y bailé unas tandas.  Fue divertido!  Quiero hacerlo más!  Quiero ser un líder con quien las mujeres quieren bailar.  Estaba muy stricte con los codigos.  Cuidé de la señora, del primer momento al fin.  Quise que ella sentir confortable en cado momento.  Observé la línea de baile (a diferencia de unos reales hombres), observé las otras parejas, hice un poco chamuyo ligero entre las canciones, y pongo la señora adonde la encontré después.  Estaba un caballer...a.

Unas veces, que emocionante!  Hacer un cruce y ella lo hace, fantástico!  Pero unas veces, *oye*.  Un muestreo de mis pensamientos durante mis tandas:

Don't throw yourself at me before I'm ready for you.

All I want you to do is put your weight on the foot I'm telling you to put it on and then wait!  Why are you taking fifty steps?
Go, for God's sake, I'm shoving you as hard as I can.
Put your back on my hand and feel it.  Stop collapsing.
Don't lean on me.
I sure wish I had a periscope so I could see around you better.
You're complaining that I'm doing too much walking?  Isn't this nicer than being stuck with that idiot over there attempting things that are much too hard for him or for her and they both end up being unhappy and looking bad?
Project.  More.
No spaghetti arms.
Stop clutching me in a death-grip.
Stop back-leading.  Stop anticipating.  And stop *rushing me*!  *I* will tell you where I want you to go, damn it.
I told you to move two inches.  Why are you suddenly a thousand miles away at a weird angle not facing me?

Me parece tan familiar!  :)

Hoy entiendo más los lideres.  Y me di cuenta, hay una trampa en crear la marca: puedes olvidar la mujer completamente!  Oh, que bueno juego, puedo hacer esto y puedo ir acá y allá...y...hay una *mujer* en mi espacio!  --Ahora digo un grande gracias a los hombres que me escuchan, en el baile, y que entienden que el baile es una conversación.

Y tal vez entiendo un poco más, un pedazito más, como es, ser un hombre en general.  Es divirtiendo, es poderoso, hay mucho responsabilidad, pero mi última decisión es:  Es Diferente.

A few more thoughts on three of my favourite topics—men, tango, and sex....

Friday, when I was struggling to lead a cross, I was struck by the active mental engagement required in leading.  I thought, "no wonder men like this so much; I can see how if you did it well it would be like having sex and playing chess at the same time."  (Never let it be said that men cannot multitask!)  And some time between then and now I got to thinking, "what if tango is just an elaborate invention men made up to delay orgasms?"  I can see men thinking, "ah, I like having sex.  I wish I could spend more time doing it."  So they invent tango, which is perfect, because now they have redefined and expanded the umbrella term of "sex" to include something you can do for hours, *and* it's something that forces them to constantly be in mental control, so while they're doing it they can't ever let go enough to come.  Ideal, because even though the end of the process is generally considered a positive experience, it does put a stop to everything leading up to it....  Long before Sting was infamously having tantric sex with Trudie Styler, a bunch of lonely immigrants were doing it in Buenos Aires....

I was also noticing that leading goes well with my current notion about gender disparity in how we process experiences.  I suggest that women think in order to do and men do in order to think.  How do we learn about life?  Perhaps men are more kinesthetically oriented than women...actually, I spend a lot of time watching small children on playgrounds.  I *know* men are more kinesthetically oriented than women.  The little girls are the ones sitting by the sidelines discussing their feelings and constructing elaborate social rituals.  After which they *might* "do something."  Or not.  The little boys are the ones running around, jamming their fingers into places they don't belong, and building dump trucks out of plastic straws.  After which they *might* "talk about it."  But probably not.  These same children grow up to become women who spend huge amounts of time introspecting, analyzing their feelings, and debating things with friends, after which point they *might* go out on that date, take that job, or paint that chair red.  Or they become men who approach the laboratory of life with a lot less preliminary calculation than women, men who might think things through as far as, "what happens if I do *this*?"—men who learn by doing.  "Aha, *that* blew up in my face, I won't do it that way again."  Or, "well *that* worked out brilliantly, I'll do that again as much as I can!  Let's see if I can make it even better!"  ....I'm afraid the men's approach makes a lot more sense.  If we make an analogy and say life is tango, you're not going to learn much about it by sitting around thinking about it, and you'll learn far more by actually practicing.  Doing it over and over and letting the doing teach you...whatever it's going to teach you.

And how all this relates to leading is: leading is very do-in-order-to-learn.  What happens if I do this?  Will this work?  What can I do with this moment?  But even more than that, it seems to me to be about learning the person you're dancing with!  Because this leading stuff is like an endless series of questions and invitations.  Would you like to do this?  Would you like to go here?  How do you feel about this?  If I do this, how will you respond?  That felt awfully good, will you please do it again?  Don't you love this bit of the music right here?  Will you come with me?  How can I make you happy?  How can I convince you to relax?  How can I make you long for my embrace?

You are just as curious about women as women are about men!  They want to find out all they can, and every step is a chance to learn more....

I also think a man must be very brave to lead.  For since it's an endless series of questions and invitations, it's an endless string of opportunities for rejection, from the minute you cabeceo to the last moment of putting her back where you found her.  And this is tango, not algebra: the thing you're putting on the line for constant rejection is *you*, your heart, your soul, your pride, everything.

Maybe this is where the classic arrogance comes from.  A man *has* to be brave, if not from the inside out then from the outside in.  You once said in a class, "men, you have to believe that *you* are the best.  Even if you know that it is not true!  You have to convince everyone else that it *is* true!"

I've heard women whining that the dance is lopsided, that the women have to get all emotionally naked but, because they're leading, the men do not.  But I think they are wrong.  Seems like leading is about the most emotionally naked thing you could possibly do, because at every turn, there's the risk that someone is about to trap your nuts in a vise.  (And then when the woman affirms your question and goes with you, how wonderful it must feel.)  As a follower, I get to listen, agree, disagree, and interject comments.  I respond, and ideally my responses act as prompts that you in turn respond to, so that everyone is just responding all over the place and it's all even.  But at least on one level, it is *not* even and never will be.  Somebody's got to make sure the couple doesn't crash into anyone else--and the men want it to be the men, and the women want it to be the men, so, voilá: the men lead.  But whether the lead is the tiniest whisper, "psst...wouldn't it be fun if we did this now?" or a sharp, "*hey*!  Stop right there before you drive a stiletto through Jorge Torres's foot!", the leader is the one who has to put himself out there first, expose himself first, every time.  That takes balls.

Salma Hayek leading something loosely called tango in the movie Frida