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Posts from the ‘Musings’ Category

17
Oct

Misbehaving at milongas

I have been hosting weekly milongas almost continuously for the last 3-4 years (and on-and-off since about 10 years ago).

Recently there have been some blog posts about how to handle inappropriate behaviours on the dance floor.

Much of the time, my approach has leaned towards one of minimal interference. Only in extreme (and rare) cases have I needed to talk to the offenders. I take the attitude that no one is intentionally out to injure or bump into other people and my experience has shown that people are generally receptive. The way I see it is that some misbehaviours can happen simply through ignorance, e.g. not tail-gating people, not over-zealous in changing lanes, etc., perhaps lack of physical control, i.e. taking inappropriately large steps every time someone launches into a sequence, unnecessarily large embellishments, etc., or even through disorientation when there is too much space.

From my experience, more often than not, a quiet word is enough to ensure cooperation. Other slightly more subtle means can include having some leaders being in the peripheral vision of the offender or simply manipulate the size of the dance floor – not too small to create unnecessary stress and not too big for someone to take a devil-may-care attitude and encourage reckless behaviours. Ultimately I do believe that when people turn up to milongas they are there to have a good time. As long as they are not put on the defensive, most reasonable people can see the sense once pointed out.

5
Oct

Anti-competition

Speaking from personal experience, as organisers, probably one of the most stressful aspect is to effectively reach out to your target audience.

All too often I see one or two long-time community stalwarts falling into the trap of putting down the competition. Perhaps this was seen as an easy short-cut or simply a sign of lack of confidence!? For crying out loud, why not for once advertise your imperfections so people can admire your honesty and genuine attempts to upgrade facilities, e.g. my sound system is archaic and will cut out from time to time, or that there are tiny holes on the dance floor – as in the traditions of some of the most well-known milongas in Buenos Aires!

5
Sep

Improving one’s musicality

Here are some thoughts from early last year – finally seeing the light of day!! 😉

During a workshop, someone in all seriousness asked, “We can do all these exercises while you are here. How does one improve one’s musicality when you are not around?”

The teacher’s suggestion was (paraphrasing) “Spend more time listening to music, and watching videos on Youtube for examples of people dancing to different types of music. But watch less of the figures.”

I think this is very sound advice. The desire/need to improve musicality is a serious problem for many smallish communities outside of Buenos Aires. I mean, it is one thing to lament the lack of “musicality” – however you may choose to define it – of the gringos, European, Asian or otherwise, it’s another to offer concrete advice on how to head in the right direction.

Personally, I have found the oft-quoted routine advice of “listening to more music” to be lacking. After all, many of us lack the language or cultural context to connect well with music written and played more than half a century ago, no? In order to elicit an emotional response, you’d need to have some feelings towards a particular piece of music and, well, some prejudices about the style of dancing!?

On the other hand, watching ordinary people (middle-aged couples, not teachers or even well-known milongueros) dance in the milongas during my trip to Buenos Aires was really inspirational. Seeing the joy on people’s faces, the engagement and commitment to each other on the dance floor, and also the passion to the music they were dancing, it was not difficult to “feel” different parts of the music after a while. Naturally, being already familiar with most of tracks helped too. However, while seeing happy faces often meant good connections, it did not always imply good technique and, for me, it didn’t matter…

3
Sep

Milonguero (style) or no?

Nice video of Ricardo Viqueira & Maria Darritchon. Perhaps because of his continual use of circular energy, some of his movements (not just certain characteristic “Julio moves”) reminded me quite a bit of Julio Balmaceda. For me this video also highlights the ridiculousness of milonguero vs.salon labels some people somehow insist on using. Viquerira is regarded as a milonguero and yet, for me at least, he is clearly not dancing in the typically-recognised milonguero style. A paradox? Well, there really shouldn’t be one.