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Thursday, 7 April 2016

More higher order skills for men

Dancing in El Beso can be challenging, but need not be, provided yet another higher order skill for men is employed.

Yes, the floor gets crowded, with couples closely sandwiching you at front, back and side, but the standard of dancing is high, so navigation skills are fairly well refined.  In fact, it’s this knowledge that gives me confidence – I rarely have to worry about dancers behaving inappropriately or with poor control.

But there is something else that happens – I not only dance with partner, I dance with the couples around me, particularly those directly in front and behind.  We need not be interpreting the music in exactly the same way or utilising the same small batch of figures, but there is and ebb and flow as our movements resonate with each other.  While I’m dancing with my partner, I’m constantly adjusting my position so that the other couples can use their ‘space’ relatively unimpeded; and they afford me the same courtesy.

Certainly, I am ‘in my own world’ with my partner – listening to her, responding to her, picking up the rhythms, cadences & moods of the music and responding to them too.  However, I connect with ‘my other world’ – surrounding couples, by dancing in my space and respecting theirs, which means walking and pausing, ochos cortados, vaya ven, lots of small turns, and whatever else my body (not my head) decides to do.

“Dancing in the ronda" is therefore much more than moving around the floor anti-clockwise parallel to the walls, it’s about dancing with others. 


  1. Do you mean "vaiven"?

  2. Thanks for picking up the typo, Anonymous. You're right, it should be vaivén.

  3. What I find challenging and it does not only happen when the dance floor is crowed is that some male dancers close their eyes while dancing and they bump into you and your partner and just continue on as if it was your fault. Just this weekend at a Sunday Milonga I was dancing the dance floor was not over crowed, one would say and yes the same people had their eyes close and yes something went bump in the night it. It seems to be something that is tolerated and accepted by the tango community because it is the same individuals that are so caught up in the embrace that everything around them does not exists.
    I do not think it has anything to do with floor craft with these individuals but more to do with what is lacking around them that tango allows them to have that is not in their family life.

  4. Well, Anonymous, maybe we're heading towards "Higher order skills #3: Avoiding collisions"!

    Certainly, part of my dancing with surrounding couples involves moving in such a way as to avoid them. However, when the couples around me dance in an unpredictable fashion, then I have to be on my guard - which begins to intrude on my connection with my partner and the music. Yet, despite this caution, there are times when a bolt comes out from the blue, and I get bumped; if the man immediately acknowledges his error (and apologises, perhaps in a break in the music), then all is forgiven. However, if he carries on as if nothing has happened, as you've experienced, I make a fuss.

    I'm aware of the occasional man with his eyes closed at times, and that is simply irresponsible. Other culprits can be seen executing their performance figures regardless of the music or the available space, and yet others simply have poor body control - they can't control their movements nor manage their space.

    So what's to be done when this is going on in a milonga? In my opinion, the organiser has a responsibility to intervene if a dancer is repeatedly presenting a danger to, or disrupting the enjoyment of the other dancers. The organiser sets the tone of a milonga by way of expectations, the regulars embrace these codes and become models for newcomers. In the end, the milonga will run with more calmness, as dancers can rely on the respectful behaviour of others.


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