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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Territorial tendencies

Have you ever been dancing, blissfully transported by the music and your partner, only to be rudely shaken by another couple colliding with you? They appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, moving out of the line of dance. Adding insult to injury, they made no sign of apology and danced on oblivious.

Humans are, by nature, territorial animals. They can exhibit aggression when someone tries to muscle onto their patch. Milongueros in Buenos Aires protect their partner and their space in the ronda.

Of course, they are not immune to feelings of annoyance when subjected to an intrusion. In the early days of tango, knife fights reportedly took place, perhaps over a woman or due to lack of respect on the dance-floor. Nowadays, the milonga tends to be a more civilised environment - on the surface, at least.

Codes of etiquette in traditional Buenos Aires milongas evolved to prevent violent encounters, and to curb other anti-social behaviours associated with the primitive part of our brains.

When even a minor collision happens on the dance-floor, the male dancers immediately signal an apology to each other.  This happens even if the dancer was not responsible for the collision. It keeps the peace.  It shows respect.

I suspect that those who don't do this in BsAs are considered no better than barbarians.

So, how do you deal with such mishaps on the dance-floor?


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