To all those of the List.
The discussion on dancefloor navigation seems very interesting to me.
I wanted to add a few thoughts.
In the first place, there seem to me to be two issues which are different and are sometimes confused.
One is the chaos which is produced on the dancefloor by a style of tango that involves, as many have already mentioned, whirling, boleos, ganchos and kicks from here to there.
The other is the chaos which is produced because people don't know how to navigate the dancefloor.
Lately in Buenos Aires, there have been many people learning how to dance, many new people and these people, apart from the fact that they may be learning from teachers who are showing them boleos, kicks and ganchos before anything else, don't yet know how to navigate. Training in manoeuvring the dancefloors is not just a problem dependent on the style of tango danced, above all else it depends on experience.
I know a very skilful tango expert who can manage to dance on a crowded floor with whirls and ganchos in every direction, but without bumping into a single person. In the case of this teacher it looks like magic, but it's in fact his dexterity, it is clear we are talking of an exceptional case. In contrast others, who have a far more milonguero-like style, bump into everyone because they don't know how to navigate the floor.
As Polo says, in Rio de la Plata discipline exists in the air. But there are also transgressors. Not just because dancing without crashing maybe doesn't matter much to them but because of their inexperience. Lately on traditional dancefloors such as those of Almagro, Gricel and La Trastienda depending on who is present, one can see collisions and bruises. I think the cause of the problem resides particularly with the teachers, because of the way they are teaching people to dance. Many don't bother to explain the codes and methods for manoeuvring the dancefloor, and so the pupil when he goes to dance finds he has to learn all of this on his own.
On the other hand, it also depends on the consideration of the beginner and his choice of a venue for practising in. At the moment, today's hectic fashion means that after very few classes people very quickly go out to the round of milongas. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing, what is certainly true is that it contributes to the chaos on the dancefloors, because people who have only recently started are going out to dance.
I don't know what the milongas outside Rio de la Plata are like. But here, a few years ago, there weren't so many of us involved in tango. There was a real mysticism about it which meant that people didn't go out to dance in the milongas for quite a while, until they felt sure of dancing well. I remember a pupil who waited two years before daring to dance in the milongas. I don't know if this is better or worse but that's what practicas are for, to practise in so that you can then go and dance in the milongas. Now there are people who take a few classes and immediately dance in the milongas. It's a freedom which should be respected, but it does produce these difficulties.
On the other hand, in Buenos Aires, there are various milongas attended by mainly young people where the codes, for example that of rotating in an anti-clockwise direction, are not very strictly adhered to. Generally, those who start don't know about them which means that these dancefloors are pretty chaotic. These same young people, once they start to enjoy dancing properly, begin going to milongas where such codes are respected more and where they can dance more easily without crashing.
What I'm saying is that in Buenos Aires, the fact that there are many new people dancing is what is making the dancefloors chaotic.
The milongueros, the traditional ones, know how to navigate the floors without bumping into others. La Vampiresa says that not only do you have to know how to manoeuvre but that this also depends on the other navigators. Exactly, but what's notable is that those who navigate very well can even avoid being bumped into. One can also notice how many dancers will refrain from dancing when the dancefloor is in the height of chaos.
On the other hand, people who dance milonguero-style but who aren't able to avoid crashes also exist. But whatever way you look at it, as Polo says, the dance-style of steps, ganchos and kicks inevitably produces chaos, because one needs a lot of space to dance it and those who dance in this style are not always skilful at navigation.
Lidia of Buenos Aires
copyright © Lidia Ferrari 1996
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