The Tango Police:
- Don’t become a Tango Police Officer and critique someone on the dance floor. You should address your concerns to the dancer instructors or the person running the Milonga or Pratica let them issue the violation.
- Don’t be a “Tango Snob”, just because you have been dancing Tango for years doesn’t give you license to be a “Tango Snob”. There are always dancers better at Tango than you.
- Don’t stand on the “Rules” to be rude to new dancers. If the experienced dances don’t welcome new dancers into the Tango community the newbies will just fade away never to be seen again.
Teaching on the Dance Floor:
Often intermediate level leaders with some experience like to teach followers on the dance floor. This is generally frowned upon because often the leader is not qualified and his “teaching” is often unwelcome and resented by followers. It is also a distraction to the other dancers who want to dance in a party atmosphere, not an instructional one. In the Argentine tango world, there are special practice dance parties called “practicas.” Teaching and practicing at these practicas are very much in place.
Teaching on the Floor and Etiquette at Milongas:
Our manners at milongas are probably the most important factor effecting the growth of our dance communities. I would like to add my comments to some things that have seen.
First of all since we all seem to agree that teaching on the dance floor at a milonga is a bad thing, we all need to do something in our communities to reduce it to a minimum. This is often done by fairly inexperienced leaders who have been dancing for awhile, and who need to feel like they know something. These people usually dance only with beginners, and they teach a steady stream on the floor from the beginning of the milonga until they leave. I don’t think they mean to really hurt anybody. I think that they are happy to have the feeling that they know something, and they are still very excited about tango and want to share the fun. They are also probably still feeling insecure in their knowledge; dancing with beginners gives them the illusion of knowledge. That said, though, the constant teaching does drive beginners away.
I have seen this in our community here in the Hudson Valley. I have been told by people who run a practica or host milongas for years, and I can say with confidence that when there are as few as 2 or 3 leaders doing this very few beginners stick around. This is the primary effect, but also the ones doing all the teaching seem to stop learning. Since these people have such a negative effect on the growth of our community they need to be persuaded to stop teaching and just dance. They will begin to learn again and become better dancers, and you will be able to keep more of the new people who try tango. You don’t have to chase anyone away; you just have to establish some good social rules. Address these issues with the dance instructors, don’t join the Tango Police.
There has been a lot of talk about whether or not beginners belong at the milonga. Some people say that the milonga may not be a good place for beginners; some dancers don’t like lessons for beginners before milongas. I am going to differ with these opinions in a few ways:
Certainly in a place like Buenos Aires –where there are so many places to dance, so many practicas to go to, and an established dance culture –beginners probably shouldn’t’t try to dance at milongas right away. Navigation is so challenging at a crowded Buenos Aires milonga that they have little hope of doing well. They will probably disrupt the flow of the whole dance floor. Now, with that said, I need to also bunch of people who think they know something already, trying out brand new steps on the dance floor. In my experience the beginners adapt to the situation quite quickly. They are rarely the navigation hazard that the more experienced dancers (who know lots of steps) can be. Beginners tend to be modest, take smaller steps, and generally try to stay out of the way.
I have heard many dance teachers complain that it is very hard to get their students to go out dancing. It isn’t hard to understand when we tell them that they shouldn’t go out right away. We make it sound like it is so difficult. The truth of the matter is that for them it will never be as easy to get on the dance floor as it is right at the beginning when they don’t know much. They won’t feel like they have to be anything because they are just getting started; and they will stick to easier steps, and often dance well enough. They should get plenty of encouragement from the rest of the community.
Once again, don’t join the Tango Police if you have a concern take it to the teachers or the Milonga promotors and avoid hard feelings with your fellow tangeros.
When the teaching stops, you will see dramatic growth. Surprisingly the navigation on the floor isn’t impossible. The beginners join the ronda, the middle of the floor is empty, and you will rarely get bumped into. There is a little chaos, but that just gives you more practice navigating.
Maybe you don’t want beginners in your milongas, but until we have a bigger community and crowding that makes it impossible for beginners, I want anybody who is interested in tango to share our dance floors. I want to have a friendly environment that lets people have fun. We all know that the road is long — that doesn’t mean that it can’t be enjoyable.
Simple Tango Rules
Dancers to enjoy Tango dancing to it’s fullest practice some simple dance floor etiquette rules.
- Always be courteous, friendly and welcoming to beginners and fellow dancers.
- Dress for success-look your best- no jeans, sweat shirts, tennis shoes or causal attire at milongas. Tango is an elegant dance respect it’s dress codes.
- The magic of tango is in the “Imitate Embrace” when your partner embraces you it is a gift!
- It is not acceptable to talk while dancing because it breaks the “mood”.
- Don’t correct your partners dancing on the dance floor during a milonga!!
- Be alert to the presence of other dancers to avoid collisions and inappropriate embellishments such as high boleo’s.
- Avoid perfumes and after shave, some people are sensitive to them.
- Personal hygiene is important: use deodorant, mouth wash and be sure to bath before leaving the house.
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