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Why You Don’t Need A Partner (And Are Better Off Without One) Tuesday, 07 March 2017 print

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Sadly, we hear it all the time:

”I’ve wanted to dance tango all my life but I never had a partner.”

It’s hard to imagine how many people have secretly dreamed of taking up tango only to fall at the first hurdle: a partner.

And had we told them: “Actually you don’t need a partner!”, would they have believed us?

We put the words “No Partner Needed” all over our website, and in every publicity we post, but somehow we still get asked the same question. So entrenched it is as an idea that for some people it is difficult to take in … even if it is there in black and white.

And if that idea is hard to take on board, how about this one:

It might be better NOT to have a partner at all.

How many people just fell off their chair?

”Hang on a second!” I can almost hear you shouting at the screen. “It’s even a cliche that it takes two to tango!”

Well, let me tell you how tango works.

Tango is a dance of improvisation. Tango - at it’s very best - is when two complete strangers step out onto the dance floor and are able to communicate through the medium of dance without any pre-planned steps at all.

Dancing with a stranger or with someone you don’t know very well is one of the best things about tango. It is an indescribably exhilarating feeling that cannot be compared to anything else in life.

In our classes, we teach our students the art of improvisation - of leading and of following - so if they want to, they can take their skills to a “milonga” (tango club) on the other side of the world and dance with someone they have never met before.

Students who only dance with one partner quickly grow accustomed to their partner’s way of doing things: their signals, their favourite steps and their idiosyncrasies. Even their height and build. When suddenly the opportunity arises to dance with somebody new, they feel completely at sea.

Although at our Beginners level, couples can and often do stay together during the lesson, this rarely happens in our other classes. By the time our students have been dancing for a while, they understand the importance of regular partner changes to becoming more rounded and versatile dancers. Plus, they are keen to experience the feeling of other partners. It is one of the delights of tango that every dancer feels unique to dance with.

When we go to the milonga, we dance with total strangers. We dance with fellow tango dancers who we’ve met and danced with before. We dance with friends. And some of us also dance with a special someone who we love dancing with most of all. But most people will have several dance partners in any one evening. And this is precisely what we came to the milonga to do!

Often students are keen to find a practice partner so that they can work on the detail of their dance outside the structure of the class and the milonga. There is no doubt that this is useful but we always advise them to ensure that they keep dancing with other people too. Especially in the early years, students can grow very used to that partner within just a few weeks. And when they come to dance with another partner, it can feel strange and alien.

So there you have it! No partner needed! Yes, really!

I may not be able to change the world but I will be happy if one person out there reads this article and realises that there is absolutely no obstacle to them dancing tango.

So now there is nothing stopping you, what are you waiting for?!

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