Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Asking for Dances & OBLIGATION

Mark over at Confessions of a Tango Dancer posted about women asking men to dance. He asked Is it Harder for Women to Ask Men to Dance? and then, in another post, offered suggestions on how to ask. These were wonderful and thought-provoking posts.

Here's why I don't ask men to dance, unless I know them relatively well.


Now, I know this stems from things completely unrelated to tango. It comes from being a nurturer, a mother, a woman in a society that sets expectations that I will do the right thing, that I will always have a meal ready if someone drops by, that there are always clean towels and sheets, that Of Course, I can volunteer for that (when really I want to stay home and watch a tv show).

And I made the leap to not do things from obligation anymore. To do it only if the inspiration strikes, to move with intention, to give my complete, and to say NO if I don't want to do the thing.

And I am conscious of how difficult that is sometimes. Which brings me back to tango. I have accepted dances I didn't really want to dance because I felt obligated, because I didn't want to hurt someone's feelings, because I was expected to. I would NEVER want someone to dance with me under those circumstances. NEVER.

So I don't ask. Which is ridiculous and silly for a lot of reasons.

However, I think I might work on this and ask. At least by cabaceo.


David said...

And the skill is to learn to ask without generating a feeling of obligation.

As a leader that doesn't ask for dances very often, other than through making eye contact and some form of cabeceo, I get quite a lot of women asking me for dances.

Those requests that I feel are implying that I have an obligation to dance with them will usually get a refusal.

Those that don't imply an obligation will usually be accepted unless I have a genuine reason for not dancing. And then when the reason for not dancing has gone away, I will actively seek out those askers for a dance, assuming they still want to dance.

I'm not sure exactly what it is that generates that feeling of obligation but essentially it seems to boil down to the difference between saying "I want to dance with you" and "Would you like to dance with me?".

Mtnhighmama said...

mmmm, nice perspective and thanks for sharing.

I guess that feeling of obligation does typically start with the person asking and that's a nice thought and soothing.

It certainly makes me feel more confident about asking.

Do you personally prefer direct requests or indirect requests?

David said...

I prefer that if some one wants a dance, they should ask for it fairly directly, rather than just hover around the subject never making their desire clear.

It's nice if they briefly chat or ask questions first to determine whether I'm in the dancing mood at that moment before asking for a dance. It shows a certain sensitivity which I think is essential for a good dance.

Alex said...

This is such an interesting subject, and it makes me think about my perceptions when a woman asks me to dance.

First, I very rarely say no, even though the concept of women inviting rubs me the wrong way a bit. I have to really, really not want to dance, or not want to dance with a particular woman to say no. I would like to think that I am sensitive enough to spontaneously come up with something that allows her to save face.

For me, I think I prefer the indirect methods - cabeceo, conversation, even a smile or a "hi" will get my attention and break the ice for me. I'm shy, so any little thing helps

Indirect methods I don't prefer are "babysitting" (where the person plops down next to you), or the "search and destroy" (direct walk up and bluntly ask). I also don't like the veiled verbal - "am I ever going to get to dance with you?" - that comes across as needy, but at the same time delivered with daggers.

I would say relax, be yourself, be a little bold, and do what feels right. You could try doing it just once at each milonga to see how it goes. Back when I was really shy about inviting, I had a "rule" to ask someone I didn't know to dance at each milonga.

One last thought, it's difficult for me to dance with everyone I want to at a milonga because I sit alot - on purpose - I'm not there to dance every tanda. If there is a woman there who really really wants to dance with me, I would hope that she would come ask me.

Sorry for the long comment, but you got me going there...

Mtnhighmama said...

Thank you for your response, Alex. It's interesting to hear the different viewpoints.

I am also extremely shy, and have made it a point to approach at least one new person a week, at a practica or a milonga, just so I get to know my community better. I'm finding that is the quickest way for me to get dances, to just get known on a social level as well as a dance level.

There are actually two people that I always hope will ask me to dance, that I also don't know socially. So perhaps I will make it a point to strike up a conversation with at least one of them this weekend and see if that leads to a dance. If not, maybe next week I'll actually feel brave enough to suggest a dance.