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.
This is a true story.
A few years ago, a small dance studio began a fortnightly milonga. Months later, once the attendance started to stabilize, a larger studio which opened later promptly decided to hold a competing weekly milonga on the same night – despite already running a weekly milonga on the following night.
Could the organisers of this fledgeling milonga have kicked up a big fuss under the circumstances? Certainly it was an option. However, seeing that both studios were supposed to be serving the same smallish tango community, the owners of the first milonga decided that it was unhealthy to create divisiveness in the community, so instead doubled their efforts to create a friendly and conducive environment with excellent danceable music. The rest, as they say, is history. Dancers voted with their feet and the new milonga remained largely empty on the nights when the “small” milonga was running, which was also unofficially known as the milonga for experienced dancers… 🙂
Moral of the story? People are intelligent and sensitive enough to see when you care about them and not trying to make a quick buck. It is not by coercion (if it is even possible?) or otherwise, but by delivering good services and, of course, a demonstrative passion for tango that you earn the respect of the community.
Since I have been neglecting my blog for the past couple of months, thought I’d bump up the post count before the end of 2011! 😉
Here is Part 1 (of 5) of a series of interviews (English subtitles) with tango teachers in Rosario, Argentina (map below).
Thanks to Janis for alerting me to this series.
I think, as in all walks of life, any tango communities can have people who are delusional.
I believe it all goes back to how differently people grapple with new concepts, or in some cases how they have been led “up the creek” by one or more teacher-figures, as it were. 🙂 It is often amusing to see the consequences because of these slightly skewed interpretations.
For example, it may not be uncommon to see a couple practicing hard at some fixed choreographies. This, even if executed awkwardly, is fine by me as long as the couple is not under the illusion that the same steps can be tried out on a unsuspecting partner on a social dance floor. Or that they think that they are actually preparing for social dancing, where each part in a dancing couple moves by listening to the proper leads/follows of the other. Otherwise, to each their own!
Another common misconception about Golden Age tango music is that it’s really only for beginners, and full of rhythmic stuff*? Or so people interested in using alternative music would have you believe… Actually I have no specific disdain for using alternative music – as long as it is the music that can bring people to dance, to the music that is. After all, tango is a dance which yearns for an emotional connection to the music you dance to. However, I do take issues when people consider alternative music as something superior and essential for “survival” of tango music, or that tango nuevo is somehow more “interesting” for the masses when the very same advocates still have trouble walking in flats to the beat… 😯
* The irony is that the same people who made these claims don’t seem to notice the heavy rhythm in techno-style music from Gotan Project, for example.