The “We Aren’t Rotating” Solution

It was a dance instructor’s nightmare. At the top of the class, 50% of the class raised their hands to indicate that they were not rotating – they wanted to stay with their intended partner for the entire class.

Unfortunately, that left 7 extra ladies with one hesitant man to rotate to.

The next day, I got smart and asked someone to partner with me for the class. Upon arriving, I saw that EVERYONE had a partner this time. Except for one girl…. I saw her shyly fade off to the fringe of the room to reluctantly “just watch” the class – which isn’t what she paid for when she signed up.

I didn’t know the girl very well, but I sensed that she really wanted to take the class. When I saw that she didn’t have a partner, I ran over and invited her to join meI suggested that we share my partner, switching on and off.

Imagine how different the previous day would have been if couples had “adopted” a single person and rotated between the three of them. The instructor wouldn’t be managing a nightmare and the entire class would have gone home happy.

I understand why couples don’t want to rotate and I fully respect that choice. Sharing a partner honors the wish to stay together and enables pairs to be good community members.

If we want to build and sustain communities where people feel embraced and included, we need to notice the person who is reluctantly sitting out, or on the fringes, and find a way to integrate them. Especially when they are aching to be included.

This is one simple and easy way to be a “community hero” – and still stay with your partner.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 12.34.57 AM.png

It’s awkward when everyone is paired up.

(Related: The Unchosen Man – The powerful impact of “choosing” someone)

About Epiphany

epiphanies on life and spiritual living as I chase wisdom - one insight at a time.

Posted on August 16, 2016, in Dance and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. This seems like an excellent compromise. If you and your partner are the kind of stuck ups that don’t rotate (sorry. pretend I didn’t say that.), and you see the right person, offer to share your partner. The problem of unbalanced roles becomes the responsibility of the whole group, not just the instructors. On the other hand, I have seen many instructors just say, “Welcome to the class. We will be rotating frequently today.” Then they make sure it happens. I also just saw a class that used a waterfall like system, and that seemed to work really well. hmmmm brain now buzzing. How about charging non-rotators extra?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a tango instructor, at the beginning, I tried allowing those couple who wished to stay together to not rotate and found it created a sense of otherness and imbalance in the class. Why should we rotate if they are not?, etc. Since I learned all my tango as a single woman, and changing partners is part of tango protocol socially, I feel that rotation is not only essential to making singles feel included in classes, but an important part of the learning process of this improvised dance. If we want rotation at the milonga then we had better get people used to it as beginners! I now explain to my new students that rotation is part of my teaching method, and not rotating is simply not an option. I suggest that couples tell me if they are not getting enough class time dancing together, and then I will announce “return to your original partner” more often. We live in a busy world – some couples tell me” tango class is our date night” – for these people I suggest using a practica or milonga for their date, not the class.

    Most of the tango couples who refuse to rotate these days are not beginners though but advanced dancers who don’t want to risk dancing with a less advanced dancer who might impede their learning curve. At a festival this is a likely occurrence because the organizers cannot control the level of registrants in any given class, unless they truly know each participant. Furthermore, being brutally honest about a student’s tango level never endears a teacher to that student. Rotation and skill levels present a tricky situation to monitor as a teacher and an organizer. Patience and a cheerful attitude seem to help. If the teacher shows a clear preference and respect for those who rotate, that helps set the tone for the group.

    At festivals and even locally, when teachers do not dance socially and include dancing in the rotation with some of their students, they are sending the message that the better you dance and the more important you are, the less you need to pay attention to the tango custom of friendly rotation and respect for all ages and levels. This sends a message to newer students and impacts the whole community. I appreciate that teachers spend classroom time working with less experienced dancers, and hence need time to enjoy dancing with their peers, yet they are also role-models, and as such their behaviour is imitated.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the Menage a Trois is a great concept. The teachers should encourage it. Otherwise I can suggest… (1) Discounts for Leaders (2) Pay the professional Dance Hosts (3) Promote special intro classes for men (4) Teach people (especially Followers) how to Dance date.


    • What is “dance dating”? I’m not familiar with the term and would love to hear more about what this is. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • The reason you are not familiar with the term is because very few people do it. A woman would be happier to sit all night without being invited to dance instead of inviting a Leader friend to come and dance with her. There’s more about that in my forthcoming book.

        I have been dance dating for many decades. It assures me that I will have a great evening of dancing if I date a great dancer.


      • I actually do that quite often. I’ll often times invite several men when I go out.


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