Tango Etiquette, a practical advice

Igor Polk, 2003 June 2

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Milonga Etiquette

Progressing Around the Dance Floor - Line of Dance;

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Tango is danced closely. Sometimes even very close. It certainly looks very intimate. But not necessarily should be. Dancers, especially men, should not abuse the intimacy. A woman is a queen, and should be respected as such. For a man, it is most important to respect and protect, and even follow his partner. Men who are trying to bypass bounders of intimacy set by A WOMAN, or who are dragging their followers, are wrong. They do not look good and they have to change the bad behavior. If you want to be a king, if you want women to dance with you, if you want your name to be known, and ultimately if you want to receive pleasure from dancing, you have to dance with your partners respecting them. It will pay off. If you feel that the dance is not as intimate as you want, not as good as you want, not as technical as you want, you have to work on yourself, or find another partner, but you have to finish the dance the way your current partner wants and feels good about.

Gentlemen, it is not good to drag your partner, even if she is a beginner. YOU MUST FOLLOW YOUR PARTNER, EVEN IF SHE DANCES WRONG !!! Yes, leaders must follow. That is the greatest paradox of a good dancer - men are leaders, but they follow women. That is a woman who defines the style of dancing, distance, intimacy, speed, and rhythm. You do not agree? Then you will never be a good dancer with whom every woman would love to dance. This and only this defines who is the best dancer in Argentine Tango. Competitions in Tango are nonsense. Do not try to gain more intimacy than a woman allows. The intimacy is earned, not conquered. Do not take advantage of a beginner, who does not know yet how to protect herself. Remember, it is always noticed and spread around.

Ladies! An experienced woman knows how to put bad behaving partner on the right place. It is easy. Gently push with your left hand from his shoulder and set the appropriate distance. If he insists on bringing your closer, stop the dance, say thank you, and return to your place. Do not refuse dancing with this partner the next time. He might have recognized his mistakes.

Read this article in French

- Yes, but how !?

How to dance milonga in confined space

Easy. Make very short very sharp steps. Lots of cortes and cut ochos (ochos cortados). Let your legs free play in micro-movements. Keep tight close embrace. All movements are led exclusively with body. Woman can make her own steps as soon as it is reflected in body. Bodies dance one dance - legs another one. Oops, it is not that easy now! Shortly, post the square 2x2 feet and let it go. It is paradox, but dance in a confined space is easier if music is fast. Music of 1920-1950 will do the best for you. Slow, especially modern music demands longer free movements, which is not always possible to do on a small floor. Well, unless you are very experienced in something which is called Apilado Close Embrace or Nuevo Close Embrace.

How to dance on a crowded floor

Tango is in connection. It does not matter what you dance, it only matters how you dance. So, dancing at very crowded place like CafeFino, make small steps and restrained moves. Keep yourself closer to the edge of the floor. Keep progressing rotational movement around the floor. We have to do it in tango. Progress forward until somebody is in front of you, then you can make figures on that spot. Do not take space in the center of the floor! Use this space for "emergency" moves only. Gentlemen, keep ladies on outside of the floor where it is safer. Work out corners. Move into a corner, then move out. Learn to dance "in line".

Gentlemen: When you have to step back make the step very small and careful - somebody may be leading a lady on the same spot. Ladies as well as gentlemen, hold the embrace. It is most important to have strong connection.

With practice, it is possible to dance all familiar figures: ganchos, boleos, sacadas keeping feet on the floor! It is not widely taught, but it is the way. Do not put your legs up! Move your legs carefully, as if you expect somebody else's foot to be on your way. Then if you touch something unfamiliar - consider it as a touch of your partner - just a touch and move away. We are all partners on the crowded dancing floor. Most of all kicks is done with feet up. So, keep it down, it is that easy! I have learned it the hard way, and still learning :)

Imagine, somewhere in Paris or in San Francisco or in Tokyo you meet a wonderful person. You step into any cafe and dance Argentine Tango. Does not matter what music, what floor, how much space. Everybody including your partner are astonished! This may be a dance of a lifetime you were waiting for. This is The Real Tango.

Keeping Line Of Dance

Outside Line Of Dance ( LOD ) is a "Fast Line". Naturally, in according to Ronda. The center has 0 speed of Ronda rotation, so if one wants to dance slower, move to the center. If one dances outside - you move on in progressing movements forward while you can, then you make dancing more "local". One should keep as close to the edge as possible to make more space for the crowd inside and along the Line Of Dance. Yes, the closer we are to outside, the longer the LOD is - the more space for us.

It is not possible to enforce the Ronda rotation. It happens itself, when there are no obstacles, especially to the "Fast Line", like chairs, and "bySitters", and "byPassers", when dancers are good, and when there is enough people on the dance floor. Clean, steady Ronda rotation which happens at the best milongas is a magical thing.

One can easily spot an experienced dancer - he keeps steady progressing dancing when possible, keeps closer to the edge, never sits sticking his legs into the Floor, walks to invite a lady taking all precautions not to hinder the dancers, and enters the floor when no one is behind.

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My name is Igor Polk. I dance Argentine tango in San Francisco.

Copyright©2003-2006 Igor Polk
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