09 February 2009

Beginner's anxiety... "People will notice me!"

I went through this several years ago. My friends who are new to tango ask me about this. I hear beginners use it as an excuse all the time.

What am I talking about? Beginners who just sit and not dance. I agree that getting on the dance floor as a beginner is an intimidating experience. However, one needs to dance to get better. This is experience best learned progressively on the milonga floor, and not taking lessons forever.

The most common reason I hear why beginners don't venture forth?

"I'm a beginner... People will notice me!"

I've used it myself when I first started. My reason at the time was that, I did not want to be humiliated and embarrassed when people found out that I could only do walks. My advice is to get over it.

Yes, people will notice you—for the first 10 seconds! You, as a beginner, will become invisible quickly as it will be plainly obvious that you just started. People won't care unless you run into somebody, block traffic, kick or step on someone. So, keep it simple, be humble, and stay in the middle.

People watch good dancers intently. Not beginners.


Elizabeth Brinton said...

I think you are right about his Amster. Although if someone is really leading in a rough and horrible way...people notice that because they want to avoid getting to near, or even worse, ending up dancing with him. But most of the time..yeah, just get over it. People aren't thinking about you.

Anonymous said...

How true. We used to take ballroom dancing (before we found Argentine Tango and were enlightened). We told our teacher we didn't like going out to dances because we were embarrassed, to which he responded, "Oh don't worry about that... people only watch the good dancers." Hahaha. It took our breath away at the time but we got over our fear.

Anonymous said...

The only way people will notice him is if he doesn't follow the line of dance.

I say to beginners, when in doubt, just walk (and only walk) and follow the line of dance. And stay in an inner lane, or the center.

It's so scary to get out there, because when you're dancing in a milonga, you're dancing with the other people on the dance floor, not just your partner. But once done the first time, you realize that it doesn't kill you and that you really can dance in milongas.

I'll be blogging about the line of dance soon. :-)

Mari said...

Thank you for this post -I'm one of the people who just finished her first milonga sitting on the sidelines, watching. I've only had 3 sessions of a very beginner class and was completely intimidated. But thinking about it - the statement is completely right - everyone watches the good dancers! I'm always so afraid of annoying my lead by "missing" 3 out of 4 cross leads or somesuch thing - and feeling as heavy as an anvil in his arms. But practice is the only way to learn.

AmpsterTango said...


You are most welcome. I was once where you are.

Don't worry. Learn what you can, the best way you can. Then, when you're ready, trust and let go. Somewhere along the way, magic will happen and you will know.