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October 11, 2010

Further thoughts on floorcraft

After writing the previous entry which about what we can do at an individual level, I realised that I should also share some things I have tried in the past as an organiser to improve floorcraft or at least minimise degree of disruptions.

  • Limiting the size of the dancing space: In my experience, when people see a smaller space they will make a mental note to either limit crazy moves or migrate into the centre of the floor – either way out of harms way for rest of the dancers. For small to mid-size communities, the amount of physical space is usually not a limiting factor. It’s people’s perception of how much floor space they are entitled to which can cause problems. Since 2005, when relatively crowded milongas held at small venues became the norm in Singapore, I have witnessed a marked improvement in space management in our community. On the other hand, the people who seldom visit these venues continue to have problems with navigation even at larger venues! 😆
  • Providing appropriate walking space so that people don’t need to walk on the dance floor: I realise this may not be possible for all venues due to space constraints, but some thought must be put into channeling walking traffic away from the dance floor, e.g. providing walking space behind tables, even if the dance floor needs to be reduced slightly as a result. Secondly all milonga-goers need to be “educated” that if anyone really needs to walk along the edge of the floor, give consideration to the dancers, and patiently for the end of the song or a gap before you move in!
  • Seeding a few trusty leaders to set the pace for the ronda: This is an active and in my opinion the least unobtrusive way of promoting a smooth flow to the floor. It is really amazing how much what amounts to benevolent “peer pressure” can do to bring some order to the dance floor. This of course brings to mind stories I have heard about the old days in Bunenos Aires, where it was not unusual for a group of milongueros to dance around any serial traffic offenders until the couple was unable to move.
  • Providing suitable music: This is a tricky point but in general appropriate is necessary to accompany the mood on floor. For example, clear and rhythmic music can be used to set the tone and warm up the legs in the earlier part of the night. On the other hand, if the floor looks to get chaotic, either tone down the energy level or switch to more soothing music altogether.

At the end of the day, I feel that tango is after all a social dance and we need to be tolerant of other people’s occasional errant behaviours, unless they become habitual and totally unacceptable. I personally don’t want to be too regimental about enforcement of too many rules because, as in life, all humans are fallible at some point and so on the tango dancefloor even the best will err occasionally. Dance and make friends, not enemies! 🙂

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