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Saturday, 26 April 2008

Sharing the real estate ... aka floorcraft

Energy levels were high at the recent Comme il faut with 50 people in attendance. It was a great night! But it also led to several experienced dancers tentatively, and ever so politely, suggesting that a reminder about floorcraft might be timely.

Tango is, after all, primarily a social dance. In general, the flashy, cool moves which dazzled us all in our early days of learning tango, tend to be more suited to performance and are inappropriate at a busy milonga. You know the sort I mean: where a section of the dance-floor, disproportionate to the dimensions of the couple, is effectively unavailable to others for fear of lethal stilettos, or simply because they "need" the space. Dancing in control, in la ronda (ie. in one lane, following the line of dance) with awareness of those couples around, rather than zig-zagging, will mean that everyone can enjoy the dance. It's one thing being transported into the tango zone, but as someone's mother somewhere, sometime said, "It's not all about you! You have to learn to share."

Depending on the size of la pista (dance-floor) there may be two, even three, parallel lanes. "What about changing lanes, when there's a gap in the traffic?" I hear you ask. Well, the convention is that you don't ... at least not during a piece of music. The couple in that lane, or at least the leader, will know how much space he has to play with and you're courting disaster, in the form of a collision, if you cut them off. If there's plenty of room and you wish to change lanes, all you have to do is wait for the window of opportunity between tracks.
"Patience!", I hear mother say.

With all those parallel lanes, there's going to be a section in the middle which can also be used. In my experience, that tends to be used by dancers requiring more space. Navigation is less predictable, but the same principle applies, ie. ensure that your dancing doesn't interfere with others' enjoyment. How that works depends on the amount of space available.

Granted, these conventions are strong in BsAs where sheer numbers at milongas absolutely require them, and we're only in little ol' Adelaide. But as our tango community grows, we need them more and more. These codes have been refined over the decades and are still going strong ... because they work.

Interested in knowing more? Take a look at the piece by Tom Stermitz in ToTango from North America.

Happy dancing,
Pat.

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