03 March 2010

R E J E C T I O N ! ! !

Rejection: re-jec-tion [ri-jek-sh uh n]
-noun
  1. the act or process of rejecting
  2. the state of being rejected
  3. something that is rejected
Synonyms: brush-off, cold shoulder, dismissal, nix, no dice, no go, nothing doing, no way, pass, rebuff, renunciation, repudiation, slap in the face, thumbs down, turn-down, veto

Context-Milonga: He was rejected by the lady when he asked her to dance a tanda. 

= = = = = = = = 

This was such a devastatingly brutal word when directed my way (Tango-wise): REJECTION! 

That word pounds in my brain. It gnaws at my consciousness. It hits my ego like a hammer blow. It is a foot stomping to my soul. It makes me hang my head in shame. It makes me feel like a loser. It makes me want to hide... Well, at least, this was what I though in milonga times past. I've (think) grown up since then. It hurts.

Many have talked about how to say "No" to someone asking for a dance either directly or via cabeceo. A myriad of ways exist to turn down a request to dance a tanda. This is my take on how it felt like to be on the receiving end—Before, and Now



  • When I was still a newbie...
The fear of rejection was self defeating to my tango development. As a beginner, I was so scared to get turned down that (for the longest time), I was scared to ask other women to dance. If I couldn't dance with several partners, I wasn't able to learn how to lead. Let alone learn to lead different partners who dance differently.

Every time I did get turned down, I would take it personally. I would stew, and dwell over the rejection. I would wonder what I did to merit a rejection. Sometimes, it made me embittered. Sometimes, it made me want to quit tango altogether.

In hindsight, none of what I thought (at the time) ever helped improve my tango. These emotional childish knee-jerk reactions caused mental blocks to learning. Of course it hurt, but then again, it made me think. I needed to find out more and get to the roots (causes) of rejections.


    • Interviews with lady friends (the followers' side)
During a lively discussion, I asked a few favorite partners WHY they turn down requests for a tanda. They had common reasons of why they would say "No, thank you..."
      • Legitimate things that lead to rejection
        • How attractive was the leader's dancing? Bad dancing/leading shows. Women don't want to be a victim
        • How smooth was the leader's dancing? A rough dancer/leader is obvious. Women do not want to be a rag doll being thrown around 
        • Does the leader stink (Breath, BO, Un-fresh clothes)? News like that spreads fast! Women do not want to suffer through any form of B.O.
        • How's the leader's demeanor? Leaders who act and look bizarre, strange, scary, rude, arrogant, creepy will scare women away—Anywhere!
        • They're tired, in pain, and/or taking a break. Much as they would like to keep dancing, women do get tired. Dancing in heels hurts after a while too.
        • No chemistry. It's a fact some personalities just don't mix. There's no attraction. It would not be an enjoyable dance. Nothing personal
        • Chatters, Talkers, Singers. Women are there to dance tango—Nothing else.
        • Wanna-be Teachers. Very obvious as you can see them teach on the milonga floor. Women want to dance, not to be lectured.
        • Aggressive, stroking, sneaky stalkers. Some people are very aggressive and/or uncouth in their approaches that it sometimes  startles and scares the intended recipient. 
        • Dangerous dancers. Some people lead complex and dangerous moves on the floor. Women notice this and some have told me that they would rather be safe and simple than be put in awkward, sometimes dangerous situations.
My friends shared their experiences. They ranged from the funny, absurd, strange, painful, weird, creepy. What was consistent were the aforementioned reasons. They are, legitimate.



  • Now that I'm a little bit smarter...
Now that I'm a little bit smarter (so I hope), I remember (vividly) the conversation I had with my friends. I take those lessons from their experiences and temper my reactions to their rejections. Yes, I DO get rejected several times.

The difference now is that, I don't take it personally. Their rejections I take as legitimate, and move on. Nothing personal, and no big deal. It happens all the time. I make it a point not to make the mistakes that were outlined. I valued them as priceless "Lessons learned."


9 comments:

Anonymous said...

This raises a related point - what if you never actually ask someone for a dance but only use the cabeceo - because using "a beggar's hand" to invite someone to dance standing in front of them inf ull view of everyone is putting the pressure on a bit.

This is minefield because you can go to a new milonga, try cabeceo, and no-one else is reading it. So you sit there without dancing.

It's not rejection, just that no-one is receiving your requests.

How do you solve that?

http://insearchoftango.blogspot.com/2010/02/whats-cabeceo-er-to-do.html

Elizabeth said...

Another reason, (maybe it's just me.?) Is an agressive "invitation" involving grabbing my hand and or touching my back, sneaking up on me from behind and surprising me...all bad news to the ask-er, and in most cases causing me to forever erase them from my list.

But Ampster? Anyone who rejects him is fine with me...leaves his dance card open for the rest of us!!

Elizabeth said...

To Anon, we had this problem in Italy, of very few people usuing cabeceo, which we are used to and find easier and less stressful..So people just probably thought we were staring at them like some psychopathic tango wierdos...

Elizabeth Hensley said...

Hi Chris:

One thing your friends didn't mention in their recitation to you about why they refuse dances is the fact that sometimes a follower comes across a fellow who is dangerous/bad. This is someone who leads crazy, wild boleos, insists on doing dips, ignores the line of dance, consistently bumps you into others and so forth. These guys aren't common, but I definitely refuse them, with no explanation offered. If I must refuse an offer because of fatigue or injury or a dislike of the music, I always offer an explanation and say something like "I hope we'll get a chance to dance a little later. Thanks so much for inviting me." So, gentlemen, if the lady says "No thank you" and doesn't offer an explanation, you need to ask a senior member of the community about why you are being refused. And then STOP the craziness!!

Anonymous said...

I happen to have a skin condition which makes people not want to dance with me. What do I do?

AmpsterTango said...

@ Anon 1:
Re: Directly inviting a lady to dance— I refer to that as a "Gentleman's request." You're requesting for a tanda. Not begging for one. Yes, this causes pressure. What I do is approach it very happily and casually. If the lady accepts, then we go. If she doesn't, no big deal. I smile, say "Thank you" and move on.

Re: Cabeceo in a milonga where they don't use cabeceo: In the example pointed out by Elizabeth, it is a cultural thing. What I do when I go to a new milonga, is to watch first and absorb the culture. If no one uses the cabeceo, maybe I'll try it. If no one responds, then I would adapt and ask directly. Otherwise I will end up sitting out the evening.

@ Elizabeth & Elizabeth H
Thank you for telling me that. I totally forgot! I will incorporate your additions into the list.

@ Anon 2
I find it hard to give an opinion as I do not know the particulars of your condition.

Game Cat said...

I remeber one of the first times I had cabaceo-ed a lady. It was in London, where it is hit and miss. It wasn't crowded, we were strangers, she was the best follower in the house, and regulars were very watchful of all goings-on.

Caught her eye and signalled. Then she turned AWAY. The Angel of Rejection hovered wordlessly over my right shoulder.

Then Lady turned back, pointed to herself and mouthed "who me?". YES, you! Then we got up to dance.

Probably took 5 seconds all told, but the whole thing had felt like 5 hours.

Jaimito el Zorro Gris said...

I disagree with some points. Regarding the whole rejection thing, as you said, I don't take it personally, and I don't relate it to ego. Porteños are infamous for their egos, so one could argue the element of ego is inherent in tango. I have found that a more ego-harming thing is when somebody I'm dancing with tells me I've improved. Even if it's meant as a compliment, to me this is implicitly condescending, and whenever this has happened the rest of the tanda was ruined. Maybe it's just me, though.

About the chatters/singers, for me it's the other way around. As a leader, I like to focus on the music and the dance, so I rarely ever say a word, which at times women I don't know have interpreted as being cold. Whatever. About the singing, when I focus on the music and a song that I really like comes up, I occasionally sing the lyrics, making sure it's not loud enough for it to be uncomfortable for my partner. Nobody has complained to me about it; to the contrary, quite often a woman will come up to ask me to save her a tanda in which I'll sing to her. Maybe I'm that great a singer......... talk about ego!

El Ingeniero said...

I agree about the cabaceo ... And since it's not very common here in the US, I've noticed that ladies get pretty excited over a successful cabaceo.

At milongas where cabaceo is generally not used, and I get rejected by a follower, I've stopped taking personally. I actually find that the ladies that reject me are generally ones that I wouldn't have enjoyed dancing with anyway (maybe I'm rationalizing here?) And Jaimito, yes you are vain and egotistic, but that's not always a bad thing!!

Hmm, maybe I'll blog about this. Check out our blog soon (milongaparatres.blogspot.com)