Ladies Leading Men

The single most effective way in becoming a better tango dancer – is to learn the opposite roles

Ladies leading men have different issues than same gender partners.  It may be worth reading the article on Ladies Leading Ladies as well – here

Unless we have the full co-operation of men wanting to learn following properly – this will be very difficult for the lady leader to achieve.

So have fun with it on the hoof, but if you’re serious about this, the best way to learn is for both leader and follower to learn their respective roles  from the beginning.

Ladies – because you know what it is you’re trying to lead, unless you’ve been taught how to lead properly – leading a man can be challenging, if not damaging.  You’ll also develop bad habits as a leader that will be hard to unravel.  More importantly, you could end up with serious aches and pains and even compromising your following technique.

Over the many years I’ve taught ladies to lead, without exception, they have said to “this, is much harder than I thought!”.  And it is.

Not only have you got to learn how to lead, it’s also giving your attention to your follower’s movements, axis, floorcraft, dancing to the music, creating an improvised dance, and, keeping your follower safe.

That’s why on a normal learning cycle, male leaders do not learn this dance as quickly as followers.

Men –  it was only a matter of time before the question of more men wanting to follow started to emerge.

You will have several aspects to overcome: Psychological, Physical, Technique, Emotional – to name a few.

The psychological hurdles for men who want to become good followers, is learning how to listen and respond.  This is not easy, it will not feel natural, and it will take time and work.  These are major factors for any male dancers to learn and overcome to become a good follower.

Just by way of a short story, I’ll offer an experience I had with a man who had been learning to lead, and asked me to lead him…  part way through the dance, I had to release the embrace and the man almost fell backwards.  He looked rather astonished and said:  “What?”  I said: “Two things, you’re leading and you’re not listening”.   I explained that he was leading himself thinking he knew what I was going to do next, or should I say, what he would have done had he been leading!  I said I cannot fight his weight by trying to hold him towards me in an embrace.  He was at least a foot taller than me and had clear vision over and around my head.  But he wasn’t listening and his attention was not centred, it was open and around the room.  So we had no connection.  The weight in his shoulders pushed against my embrace which made him extremely heavy to hold to me.

The benefits in learning both roles are many:

Ladies – will become far less irritated with their male leaders, knowing the complexity of their role.

Men – as a follower you will begin to have more awareness of how the lady’s body moves, the time it takes for her to execute her movements, and the importance of respecting her axis and just how much lead you actually need.


The one thing the man isn’t going to wear is stilettoes!  He may have Cuban or ‘Talon France’ (similar to a cowboy) heels.  Mostly though, he will be in normal flat dance shoes.  And, like many lady follower’s who wear flat shoes,  all followers will still have to elevate when doing some movements.

Most likely the man will be taller and almost certainly heavier.  Even if he is the same height as you, a man’s weight distribution is entirely different.

I have had men say to me “I’m not giving them enough lead”, but it’s more than adequate for my lady followers.  I put it down to the differences in weight / energy distribution, and the importance of taking classes to learn how to adapt to their new roles.

Ladies power tends to be in their thighs and hips, so our lead is not from upper body strength, but more energy based.  This is probably why the male follower doesn’t feel any ‘strength’ in the lead, they tend not to ‘feel’ the more subtle leads.

Men are grounded through their legs and feet which can make them feel heavy, and their energy is the power of their upper bodies.  It’s important that ladies don’t feel that you have to support his weight in your embrace.  He will need to be taught and find a way of moving backwards, keeping his own axis upright and energy light.  For this reason it’s better to keep to the salon-style embrace.

Think how tenderly a male leader’s embrace is for you.  There is no reason to expect your embrace with your male follower to be any less tender.

Have fun …

© Tango Nomads, 2019