We very often find ourselves drawing similarities between dancing tango and motorway driving – stay in lane, don’t overtake on the inside, keep a safe distance, check your mirrors and so on. What makes sense in a car makes absolute sense on the dance floor. Good floor craft is what allows dancers to concentrate on their dance without being distracted by the ‘idiot driver’ in front or behind.
Here’s an example of the floor craft techniques we teach for milongas:
- Tango is danced anti-clockwise in imaginary lanes, usually two or three but it depends on the size of the floor and number of dancers. The outside lane should be for walking and moving with forward intention. It should flow evenly, keeping pace with the music. The next lane generally forms when the outside lane is full, and the centre of the floor is for couples who want to dance figures.
You’ve heard the first track of the tanda and have a great partner to dance with – what next?
- Join the dance floor where there is enough space and make sure the approaching leader has seen you –make eye contact with him to let him know you’d like to join the floor (the leaders’ cabeceo). If he doesn’t see you, wait and repeat with the next leader. (see the diagram – 1)
- Followers, take your lead from the leader – don’t rush ahead of him on to the floor.
- Don’t barge on to the dance floor and force the approaching couple to move out of their lane to avoid you. (2)
- If you want to move into the next lane for whatever reason, first make sure there is space to do so, and that the approaching leader has seen you…and then stay in that lane.
Once you’re on the floor –
- Start your dance immediately with a salida and move with the speed of the ronda. (3)
- Maintain the flow of the ronda. If it’s moving freely, don’t hold things up with complicated figures or by dancing too slowly.
- If there is a lot of space in front of you, move into the space. There is likely to be a hold-up behind you!
- Don’t dance too closely to the couple in front of you. You don’t know what they’re going to do and besides, it just causes tension. (4)
- Be aware of the dancers around you. Use your peripheral vision – it was made for tango!
- Avoid using backward steps! (5)
- Try not to overtake people in front of you. If you must, then make sure to do it on their left side, not the right. Once you’ve changed lanes, stay there! (6 & 7)
- Don’t dance between lanes. Sometimes this happens when dancing large figures – if you can’t complete them within one lane, don’t use them. (8)
- Don’t zig-zag in and out of lanes finding available space even in the case of a traffic jam. (9)
- Don’t cut the corners. You will encroach on the inner lane. Make the most of the extra room that the corner gives you. (10)
- If there is a collision, apologise swiftly or at least acknowledge the other couple. If you can’t do it immediately, find them after the tanda to apologise.
- Followers – don’t do high boleos and ganchos on a crowded floor. You should be aware of the space as much as the leader. Accidents aren’t always the fault of the leader.
- Leaders – don’t lead high boleos and ganchos on a crowded floor!
If you’re sitting this one out –
- Not dancing? Then avoid the dance floor. Don’t cross it, and don’t walk or stand in the dancers’ way.
Remember that it’s not just you and your partner dancing – there’s the whole ronda.
In effect, you’re dancing with everyone else on the floor and we need to work together as a group to make it work. When everyone is of the same mindset, the dancing is so much easier and more pleasurable. The pressure is off; you can relax and enjoy your tango. We hope you do.
See here for the milonga codes at Silueta Tango.