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Three lessons that the dreaded tango snob can teach us

Regardless of where we are in our learning to tango, we are bound to dance with someone who is more experienced. And unfortunately, it won’t always be fun.

We were having a good time at a milonga, when suddenly we found ourselves receiving scornful looks, rude body language, or a snooty comment. Say hello to the tango snob! They won’t waste time making you feel inferior.

Tango snobs are interesting creatures. They insist or feel entitled to dance mainly with the best tangueros/as. Perhaps they believe that doing so also automatically qualifies them as good dancers. Who knows?

Although they are usually competent on the dance floor (but not always), tango snobs constantly overestimate their skills. Their humble boast is hilariously transparent to anyone but themselves.

They are also creatures of contradiction. These dancers frequently complain about the lack of good leaders and/or followers, but scoff at the sincere efforts many beginners make to improve.

While I will admit some ironic satisfaction in judging all those other critical people, I’ll try to steer this article towards something more useful. Let’s point out how tango snobs can unintentionally make things better for the rest of us “ordinary people”.

THEY CAN MAKE US MENTALLY STRONGER: We have been taking tango classes for a short time and we have steeled ourselves to go to a milonga after repeated requests from our instructors. It’s scary enough to be there even when we’re dealing with nice people. At this stage, an unfortunate encounter with a tango snob is downright brutal.

It’s no fun suffering embarrassment and a major ego blow at the hands of this stranger. In the mind of the tango snob, we have been typecast forever. Oh. So we give up and go home with our tails between our legs? Or do we continue on our tango journey?

For a beginner, the decision to go ahead despite cutting comments from a tango snob will help build mental toughness. That mental strength will serve us well. Not just on the floor dance, but in all aspects of life.

THEY CAN MAKE US BETTER PEOPLE (but not in the way they think): When we improve our tango, and when we share a tanda with a less experienced dancer, let’s remember how the tango snob treated us… and let’s do it better.

Where the snob is negative, we can be positive. Where the tango snob is exclusive and arrogant, we can be tolerant, open and humble. Sometimes the tango snob’s example of what No hacer clarifies the importance of being supportive and constructive with our fellow dancers.

THEY CAN HELP US UNDERSTAND (OR CONFRONT) OUR OWN MOTIVATIONS TO IMPROVE: Many well-intentioned articles tell us to “don’t care what other people think.” The message is fine, but the truth is that we do careful.

It’s in our nature, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Aim how much we care about, and why, are the most important issues.

So the tango snob offended us and hurt our feelings… but he didn’t scare us. Let’s continue with this dance. Because? Are we motivated solely by our damaged egos? Is it because we want to change the opinion that snobs have of us? For them to admit they were wrong about us? (Hint: it probably won’t happen no matter how much we improve)

Are we trying to get into the perceived “crowd” ourselves? (Warning: we could also become snobbish)

Or do we just love the dance for what it is and move on while making a mental note to avoid the tango snob next time?

In general, tango snobs are obnoxious, annoying and toxic. While I’d like to think that an ideal dance environment would be free of them, that’s probably not likely. They exist almost everywhere.

But punching them in the face is out of the question, and letting them get under our skin is just as counterproductive. So the only thing left to do is make the most of it.

We don’t do this by simply tolerating them, but by seeing every undesirable encounter with them as opportunities for improvement. Improve not only our dance, but also our attitudes. This helps create a more positive community and a happy community… all of which ultimately disempowers the snob.

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