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Every Sunday they have Salsa on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica:

Occassionally on Sundays, they also have Argentine Tango there:

Typically, I go for the Argentine Tango. I went this past Sunday for Tango, but it was late getting started, so I mosey-ed on down to the Salsa. I must admit, it looked good. There were a couple of ladies in particular whose blend of Jazz, Blues and Salsa dancing I found quite entertaining. I felt like jumping in.

I spot a Black woman across the street. So, in my attempt to Respect and Promote the Black Woman (I think I saw that on a bumber sticker someplace), I trot over to ask her to dance. She looks at me wierdly (I assure you, if I could see her eyes looking me up and down through her sunglasses, it had to be a weird look). Then, nervously, she says "Well, okay...". So, we step out onto the dance floor (the street), but just before we dance she asks me "You got this?".

I smiled and replied "You tell me."

Then we started dancing. Naturally, I demonstrated that I did have some prior knowledge of the dance, despite the fact that in her long dance career on 3rd Street she had never seen me there before. And I demonstrated it on the dance floor, where it matters most.

I could tell that while she was a good dancer, she had very little technical training, or at least little that she displayed. Poor arm tone and practically no frame.

It was a pleasant dance, at least as far as I was concerned. After the dance, we both said "Thank you" and went our separate ways.

I have to admit that I was a bit annoyed by her initial reaction. I mean, I'm not the youngest or handsomest guy around, but why would you assume, just because you have never seen me before, that I would walk up to you at a Salsa dance, ask you to Salsa dance, and not know a thing about the dance? Or, was it even more ominous than that: Was it that she considered herself so good that I needed an application and references before I could ask her to dance?

But, I think it was really most simply the fact that she had never seen me before and was uncomfortable with accepting my dance for that reason alone.

And, that is the point of this blog entry. I am constantly approached by women whose dance skills range from very good to very poor. I always react with a smile and pleasant air. I typically will accept, unless I am tired or have promised the dance to someone else. And, no matter how poor the dancer, I never, never do or say anything that would be offensive or impolite. I figure that it's only 3 minutes out of my life, so why not make the best of it?

The lesson is this: Just because someone is not in your clique is no reason to be rude. No matter how young and pretty or handsome or good a dancer you happen to be, what's important is how you treat others. There's always someone who's a much better dancer than you, no matter how big a fish you are in your small pond. People will soon forget how fabulous you were on the dance floor. But your attitude, the way you treated people, how nice a person you were, or what an asshole you were, will live on beyond you.

You don't want to dance with someone? Just politely say "No, thank you". Just don't immediately accept a dance with someone else. That's even ruder!

And, I'm not just getting on the young girls cases. This goes for everyone. I was at the 3rd Street Milonga one evening, and danced with a woman. When I walked her back to where I had asked her to dance (a polite thing for us guys to do), her friend was standing there beside her. Older, very refined looking woman. So, out of politeness, I asked her to dance. She looked me up and down, hesitated, but said yes. I started to say out right "Look, I know how to dance Tango. I ballroom dance 5 nights a week, focusing on Argentine Tango two of those nights, so I know just a little about the freakin dance, OK?" But, again, I decided to instead demonstrate what I knew on the dance floor.

It was a pleasant dance. When I dance Tango with a woman I've never danced with before, I ususally keep it to a basic "Strength of the Interval" (those of you who have studied with Felix Chavez know what I'm talking about). Funny thing about this women. She was obviously a very good dancer, but kept wanting to back lead. She even asked me if I knew a step, and proceded to show it to me. To myself, I'm saying "I don't know who you are lady, but whoever you are, in this dance, I'm in charge. Got it?" But, I just smiled and went along.

A little later in the evening, I discovered the woman was Yolanda Rossi, well known Argentine Tango instructor.

Again, you never know who someone is. So, it's good not to make assumptions just because you've never seen them before. It's even better to take the position that you're always going to be considerate and polite to everyone. Can't go wrong that way.

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