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Thursday, 4 May 2017

How big is a baldosa?

Dancing in busy milongas requires a couple of important elements: specific dance skills and a social mind-set.  Together they allow you to enjoy your dance, as well as allowing couples around you to enjoy theirs.

Nowhere is that more the case than the busy milongas of Buenos Aires, where the above elements are oftern referred to as the ability to bailar en una baldosa (dance on a tile).  Last Monday, at one of our favourite Buenos Aires milongas, they were much needed.  It is normally a busy milonga, but the public holiday (Labour Day) brought out more dancers than usual, many of whom are not regulars.

Some were good dancers, who, according to one of my dance partners, don't get out often during the week due to work commitments.  So, you might think "the more, the merrier".  However, after the first hour or two of the milonga, the floor was very busy indeed.  Couples were dancing shoulder to shoulder.  It became clear that some of those dancers who initially had looked good, weren't coping too well with conditions that they perhaps were not accustomed to.

As you read this, you might be asking yourself: How would she know?  The answer quite simply is that they were disturbing couples nearby.  It looked like they were either unable to modify their dancing to suit the conditions, or were blissfully unaware of how their dancing was disturbing those around them.  (Another unfortunate possibility might be that they didn't care).

In stark contrast, the majority of dancers were coping well with the challenging conditions.  What these dancers were doing included reducing the size of their movements, doing tight turns, making full use of the space efficiently with the man's default position facing the tables, being able to spontaneously change direction in the dance, etc., while still maintaining their musicality.  Interested in successful navigation strategies?  Take a look at the illustrations devoted to this topic in Tango and Chaos.

So, how big is a baldosa? As small as it needs to be to suit the conditions on the dance-floor!

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