Role Models

For a beginner, having a (or multiple) right role model is important. A beginner is often impressionable and the imprinting at this stage can have a long-reaching effect in the future.

Decades ago in Buenos Aires, the role models for social dancers were fellow social dancers – a senior in the same neighborhood, someone in a different neighborhood, someone who was known for a specific step, someone who was known for elegance, a real-life couple who were known for a unique style, and etc. Traveling tango teachers were not common in that time, and thus dancers of such high calibers as those of globally acclaimed tango teachers of today could still be found at local milongas in Buenos Aires.

Since these role models were social dancers, to see their dancing, you had to go to the milongas that they also went. While watching them, since they danced socially in a ronda, people naturally learned how to dance in a ronda also – an analogy would be that you watch the videos of your favorite tango couple on YouTube and in all of the videos they dance in a ronda.

However, these days, the combined development of tango teaching industry and YouTube resulted in the global stardom of traveling teachers, and they have become the role models of many social dancers. People watch their performance for inspiration, in which they dance without anyone else on the floor. Naturally, watching their performance does not teach how to dance in a ronda as much as watching them dancing in a ronda. Admiring someone’s dance invites an impressionable state in the viewer, and in this respect, watching the performances that do not have the context of a ronda can act against establishing a good ronda culture in the viewers, at least if they are beginners.
Under this circumstance, how can a beginner go about having a role model who can act as an inner guidepost for dancing in a ronda? I can think of a few suggestions.

1. Search your local milongas for anyone (or people) whose dancing you like to watch.

2. When you attend a festival or a workshop weekend, observe the teachers dancing socially. Watching them dancing in a ronda can help you grow more than watching their performance.

3. When you watch performances, remind yourself that they are shows that were meant to be different from social dancing.

4. YouTube has videos of good dancers dancing in a ronda, including those of old-time maestros. For example, check out

as well as