Trust me… I am a professional


Listen to this article
Share it like your embrace

Dancing next to the stars

Two years ago I wrote a text that was triggered by my experience of dancing next to a couple who was drawing too much attention to them. I was arguing that my problem was mainly the distraction from a show happening next to me. I mean… How can I concentrate when the couple next to me dances like performing on stage? There was a big discussion back then and some of my friends suggested that I should not get bothered because I am safe. You see… The couple next to me were professionals! So they know what they do and they can violate the rules of a milonga for safe dancing because… well… they are professionals… they know what they do.

For a long time, I was convinced. I thought, maybe they were right. Maybe I was too scared or too inexperienced. Recently, I visited an event again with some professionals behaving like that. Breaking rules, taking up too much space, changing lanes unpredictably etc. I can’t say that 2 more years of experience changed a lot in my reaction. I was still distracted and concerned (even when I was just sitting outside) and the argument that they were professionals didn’t seem to work. But why? Why do I still have the same reaction?

Doctors, policemen and Lewis Hamilton

I started thinking of paradigm shifts to see if the same rule applies in other areas and somehow I am irrational. Let’s say you visit your doctor and the room is full of smoke while he sits with a cigarette in his mouth. When you ask him why he is smoking and even more so in his office in front of his patients he comes up with the answer. “Don’t worry. Trust me… I am a doctor… You are not in danger… I know what I am doing!”, and then he offers you a cigarette too. How would you feel about that? Would you visit the doctor again or leave the next second? Would you trust him?

Let’s get to a different scenario. Police officers are trained to shoot and allowed to carry guns when on duty. But there are strict rules on when they are allowed to use them. So imagine that you walk on the street and suddenly your friend, who is a police officer, draws his gun and starts shooting at some road signs. When you tell him to stop and this is dangerous he tells you. “Trust me I am a police officer. I know what I am doing!”. What would you do? Run away or continue your walk saying that… “OK… If you say so… No problem!”.

Finally something more close to dancing and leading in Tango since many people draw a parallel to driving. Let’s say that you are friends with Lewis Hamilton (yes… the Formula 1 driver). You go on a night out, you have fun and you drink your asses off. When it’s time to go, he takes the car keys and enters the car telling you to jump in. You are drunk enough to do it, and if that’s not enough he steps on the gas and starts running in the busy city streets like he does in the races! What would you say? Would you say “It’s ok he is a Formula 1 champion… he knows what he is doing!”… or would you be shitting on your pants?

Justice and equality

As you see, in all cases the professionals breaking the rules they should follow is not a good sign. A basic function of rules in any social structure is to ensure and build trust. When there are rules you know that there will be consequences if you violate them and therefore you don’t. That is why we trust each other to embrace us so easily in Tango and rarely think that they will take advantage of it. So even if you are a professional, when you break the rules you should be subject to the same consequences. In some cases, professionals breaking the rules might be punished even more harshly than any other person. Because they are supposed to set an example.

Moreover, a fundamental part of rules and justice is that we are all equal against them. There are no different punishments for the same crime if someone is a professional. If some people violating some rules get away with it then the whole system is in trouble. People start to have less and less trust in the justice system, corruption creeps in and you end up in a social structure full of instability and insecurity which is another huge topic for another post.

The deeper problem

Imagine you are in a milonga where people tend to frown upon beginners who break the rules but applaud the professional dancers who do so. In any other social context, a professional who goes against the rules would be a red flag. But in Tango… it often seems like we are in a typical case of double standards. We forgive them for breaking the rules… because… well… they know what they do… they are professionals!

If you indeed allow this… then the problem goes even deeper. Those professionals are the ones people admire. They look up to them and want to become like them. Even if as teachers they preach the opposite of what they do, what kind of example do their actions actually set? And what is more possible for their students? To follow the practical example in the milonga or the preaching in class? Don’t forget… in the end… we are just monkeys!

My answer

So to everyone who tells me as an excuse for someone acting like crazy in the milonga that they are professionals and they know what they do. I am now answering.




If they were real professionals they would be the first ones to NOT act like this. If they were real professionals they would be the ones setting the example. What they are, is just dancers who know they will get away with breaking the rules because of their status in the community. What they are is just… wanna-be and never-will-be professionals! That’s all!

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango is a song full of rage and despair by the lyricist who sees injustice and corruption taking over his country. I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between the image depicted in the song and the image of some communities that turn a blind eye and even idolize those “professionals” who break rules on every occasion in social dancing.

So how about you? Do you have such “professionals” in your community? What is the community’s stance against them? Do you idolize or do you not like their behaviour? Do you think that the “I am a professional” in Tango can be a good enough excuse for such behaviour in the milongas? Why should it be different in Tango than in other occasions?

Did you like the post? Spread the word…

Do you have something to say on the topic?


Leave a Reply


Skip to content