(un)Friendly venues don’t exist

Earlier, I discussed the personal issue of accepting / rejecting dances, dealing with interaction at an individual level. Here, I’d like to expand this theme to look at interactions in groups, and how our emotions affect such interactions.

An exchange

Firstly, I’d like to share with you an exchange from a “dance psychology” workshop I attended a couple of years ago:

Lady: “So how long have you been doing dancing then?”

Me: “Oh… a while”

Lady: “How long’s “a while”?”

Me: “Ummm, about 18 years”

Lady: “And you’re doing this class? You must really have issues…”

Me: “No, really, I thought it’d be interesting, the stuff she was saying about-“

Lady: “Seriously, maybe go see her after class? You may need some private counselling…” (said in a pitying sympathetic tone with a pat on the shoulder)

Me (meekly): “Umm. OK.”

So, that was me put in my place then. 🙂

“Cliques” or “friends”?

I doubt many people deliberately create a clique, and I’m also sure most people would vehemently deny being in a clique, if such a thing were suggested. They would, typically, respond that they are simply a group of friends who hang out together. Whereas an outsider might very well define this group as a “clique”.

In and out

And that position is the key – being “in” or “out” defines your viewpoint. From the outside, a group can look like a clique; exclusive, unfriendly, and unapproachable. From the inside, a group looks like a bunch of mates who spend time together. The “truth” depends on your point of view. Putting it another way, we all judge ourselves by our intention, but judge others by their actions.

And in dance?

So how does this relate to dance, or Mindful Tango for that matter?

“That venue is unfriendly”

It’s common for dancers to think of a particular venue as “clique-y”, or “unfriendly”. We may – reluctantly – go to such venues, but our preconceptions about the place will influence and inform our experiences. Most of the time, we simply won’t enjoy ourselves very much at that venue, because of our own feelings and perceptions about it.

Bad memories

We can also view a venue through the lens of memory; if a venue has bad associations, we’re unlikely to enjoy ourselves so much there. A friend recently said that she didn’t like a certain venue, because it had bad associations for her – she had memories of being instructed on the dance floor by a well-meaning but thoughtless leader, and so the experience of visiting that venue, for her, was tarnished by those memories.  And this woman is not a novice, she’s an experienced and highly-skilled dancer.

Look miserable, be miserable

One of the more interesting points I picked up from the above “Dance Psychology” workshop was that other people read you more deeply than you think; you may believe you’re “masking”, but your feelings and attitude tend to be broadcast clearly to others. Of course, when actually dancing Tango, this should be clear, any level of connection will communicating your feelings. But this also applies if you’re standing around the edge of the dance floor looking for a dance. People will pick up on the signals you send out – and if you’re not happy and positive, they’ll know it.

If we go to a venue with expectations of poor results, we will project those “miserable” expectations. Not surprisingly, then, we don’t get asked for dances, and we’ll end up re-enforcing our own prejudices about the place. It’s a vicious cycle.

A Mindful Tango approach

My strong belief is that there are few “unfriendly” venues, it’s mainly our own attitudes which direct our perceptions. If I look at the people who always enjoy themselves in dance, these are precisely the people with good, positive attitudes; both to dance and to life. It can’t be a coincidence.

Our next workshop

So within our next Mindful Tango workshop, “Diving Deep, Flying High“, we’ll examine the way we feel about dance, and we’ll look at ways in which we can change our own feelings for the better.

And if we can change our own attitudes, we can enjoy all our dancing – no matter how “unfriendly” the venue is.


As for the above exchange? I shared it over dinner that night, with a couple who were teaching Argentine Tango at the weekender in question. A couple who I had initially started on the road to Tango themselves.

We projected merriment. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.