Want to be able to dance confidently and feel comfortable in traditional milongas of Buenos Aires?
Our bootcamp-style social tango classes develop your musicality, connection, technique & improvisation, as well as your confidence with milonga etiquette.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Milonga Q and A

Last week we conducted a brief Q and A.  We asked dancers in our group about their concerns in the milonga. Had they experienced behaviours which they didn't like, but didn't know how to respond to? From a tentative beginning emerged quite a number of issues, many to do with plain good manners!

We thought it might be useful to share the concerns and some suggested responses:

Surrounding couples are doing big movements, which are either disturbing your dancing or posing a danger. (Assuming that the norm of the milonga is small movements)
  1. At a break in the music, the man could take his partner to a safer part of the ronda. 
  2. Where the movements are dangerous to others, ask the milonga organiser to deal with it.
  3. The man can navigate to reduce the space the offending couple has, so that they have to dance more conservatively in a smaller space – but the man will always always protect his partner in doing so.
Your partner (male or female) uses an uncomfortable embrace
e.g. too intimate (e.g. man putting your right hand to his chest); stressful (pushing your right/left hand out or up too far;  man pushing & pulling as a means of leading); physically uncomfortable (gripping you too tightly; man ‘paddling’ your back as he leads).
  1. You can move your hand to the position that you prefer; if your partner complains, mention that the other position is uncomfortable; if he/she ignores that, tell him/her that you’ll need to sit down if he/she doesn’t do as you’ve asked. 
  2. If the embrace is too tight, wriggle out of it until you have the room you need.
Your partner is talking, singing, whistling, making noises that you don’t like
  1. “I can’t dance and listen at the same time”.  
  2. “I’m finding your talking/singing/noises distracting” (but not the case when a milonguera sings the words in your ear in BsAs, gentlemen!)
The music starts – couples continue to talk in the ronda
  1. Dance within your own space until the ronda starts moving ahead 
  2. If the couple ahead of you continues to talk at length, pass them on the man's left & rejoin the ronda in front.
You experience collisions, with no acknowledgement or apology

It’s good manners for the man to acknowledge a collision with a wave or nod.  In the case of a significant collision, approach the offended couple at the end of the track to apologise.

At the start of a tanda you are sitting and having a conversation
  1. If you’re planning to continue the conversation and not dance, then keep your focus on the person you’re talking to.  But, if you want to dance, chat and scan at the same time. 
  2. If someone approaches you and interrupts your conversation, simply say, “No thank you, I’m chatting at the moment” or “Maybe later”
Poor lighting makes the cabeceo difficult
Men may need to move around the room so that the eye contact becomes more visible, but not too close to your intended partner.

Your partner (both men and women) keeps telling you what they want you to do
  1. “I can’t dance and listen at the same time”.  (man or woman) 
  2. “You lead it and I’ll follow”. (woman) 
  3. “Let your body do the talking”. (woman) 
  4. “My focus is on the music and leading with my body, not on figures” (man)
Man persists with a figure without leading it effectively. You don’t understand what he wants
Ladies, you could use your body language (e.g. puzzled expression, shrug of shoulders) to show you don’t understand what the man is leading. If he persists, and you feel uncomfortable, tell him. If he ignores that, tell him that you don't feel comfortable and you’ll need to sit down.

Ladies may fear that they won't get dances if they refuse poor dancers

Is a bad dance really better than no dance?
Your dancing may be judged by potential partners before they look in your direction; dancing poorly with a bad dancer may give them an impression of you as a dancer that you don’t desire.

Ladies tending to be too nice …  not knowing how to refuse an invitation from someone they simply don’t want to dance with

Certainly, it’s helpful for experienced women to dance with beginner men.
  1. However, this doesn’t help poor ‘experienced’ dancers if they continue to believe that they can get dances without making the effort to improve. 
  2. Accept with the proviso that “from now on, it’s with the eyes only!” This can be done in a light-hearted, yet assertive manner. 
  3. When it’s very clear that dancing with a particular man would be a disaster: “No thank you, I’m afraid our dance styles are incompatible”
Note: Effective use of the cabeceo is a way of avoiding some of these problems altogether.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Random tanda thoughts

Adelaide has just finished hosting a lovely long-weekend of tango, bringing together dancers and DJs from far and wide, including New Zealand! No workshops, just social dancing. It was delightful discovering 'new' dance partners and having the opportunity to reconnect with 'old' ones.

This brought me to reflect on a sense of being somewhat short-changed at times. Allow me to explain: I would be enjoying a lovely dance with someone I hadn't seen in 12 months or so, and after 3 tangos the cortina was already playing. Or my new partner and I were just 'getting to know' each other in our first ever tanda together - really starting to connect during the second track of the tanda, and found that there was only one tango left to enjoy.

People who prefer three tango tandas often express the opinion that the arrangement allows dancers to circulate more and therefore dance with more people at the milonga. I can see that viewpoint.  However, that argument doesn't seem to work for those of us who perhaps prefer to dance less often, but with partners we really want to dance with. A four tango tanda leaves me feeling pleasantly satisfied and ready to happily float back to my table, rather than the sensation of an unfinished dish being snatched away from me by an over-zealous restaurant waiter.

I'm sure some will read this post and vigorously shake their heads.  They might even label my views as anti-tango community.  But there you are....

On another tanda note...
I recently came across this interesting background of the origin of the tanda.

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