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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?

PP

2 comments:

Chris said...

TSA wrote: "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.
"

I think you're correct, TA. It's sad that the opposite behaviour is demonstrated and promoted by so many tango de workshop teachers, for example Javier Rodriguez here:

"Accidents/mistakes can happen. Never say sorry! Laugh at what has happened and make sure you do not repeat it. However, there is something which one must take on to the dance floor which can prevent such occurrences, and that is attitude. One must never be apologetic or explain it was your fault, as this mindset attracts just these encounters. If one enters the dance floor with assurance and poise, you will not collide or attract collisions. Part of this attitude is one’s confident stance and correct embrace. It acts as an energy field and as a protective defence mechanism, the man’s well-placed elbows also providing a strong physical barrier and deterrent." http://j.mp/1fyHe7T

Tango Salon Adelaide said...

There is always a danger in taking quotes out of context, and it is worth reading the full statement that Chris has kindly provided a link to. I very much doubt whether a milonguero of the standing of Javier Rodriguez would actively promote poor etiquette at the milonga. On the contrary, he appeared to be impressing on his listeners that it is very important to avoid collisions, and to have a mindset to dance in a manner that diminishes the possibility.

When I dance in Buenos Aires, which is every year, I do as Javier suggests, dance with the other men around me: it is as if we are collaborating in the dance, and collisions are extremely rare. However, I do make it clear from the attitude that I take to the dance, that I will actively protect my partner and the small space that is understood to be mine to use. It’s assertive, not aggressive; it’s respected, and is an indication that I understand & accept the codes of the milonga.

Occasional collisions are inevitable in this very human activity, and in the spirit of the above-mentioned collaboration, I will quickly acknowledge the other man – usually non-verbally. If I feel that an oversight on my part was a contributing factor, I see it as respectful to apologise – and it is usual for it to be ‘waved away’ as if to say “not to worry”. It is over the apology that I would disagree with part of Javier’s statement; however I agree with the rest entirely.
Bob

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