If you can't play nice together . . .

Now the question circulating Tango-L is this: If traditional tango dancers and nuevo tango dancers can't get along on the milonga floor - should they hold separate milongas?
In some communities this is already done. In my community it's a bit different with every milonga. As far as the music goes most of the milongas play some alternative/neotango/nuevo tango tandas toward the end of the night. Some of the more traditional dancers (not very many) prefer to sit those out. The rest of dancers either a.) dance their regular tango steps to the alternative music, or b.) dance nuevo style steps or just dance a little bigger/more open than they would to traditional music.

If someone wants to dance "bigger" steps or more in the nuevo style during the traditional music, they usually move toward the middle of the floor where there's more space. That's not always the case, but most of the time it is - and it's certainly encouraged, to keep the line of dance moving smoothly. However there have been instances where the number of bigger-steps dancers were so numerous that those who wanted to dance more traditionally had a hard time finding safe space on the floor. There was literally one couple in the center dancing swing and pushing other couples further and further out. This was a small venue so there was really nowhere to go. I believe that the organizer should have said something - and I'm not sure that she didn't. But nothing changed until they decided to leave later in the night. With money tight for everyone, I'm sure venue/milonga organizers don't want to discourage anyone's business. So is the answer separate milongas? Would you go to an all-traditional or all-alternative milonga?

While I don't mind a little alternative music (and I like some pieces quite a lot) interspersed with traditional music, I would be disappointed after an entire night of alternative music. Whereas if I go an entire milonga without hearing any alternative tandas, I hardly notice. As far as nuevo dancers and dancers that just prefer to perform larger steps - that's where it gets tricky. Some venues are better than others. Dance Institute and Uptown Dance, two of our local studio venues, have loads of room for that sort of thing, so as long as the dancers look out for others and the line of dance, it's much easier on everyone. At Esquina Tango and Tazza Fresca (a local coffee shop), nuevo moves and large patterns wreak havoc on other dancers because the floor is much smaller. In the case of Tazza Fresca, it's also an irregularly shaped floor. In those venues, executing larger moves like boleos, volcadas, leg wraps and ganchos can be done, but they have to be led very carefully and very small or else they're disruptive to other dancers. It's been my impression that either some of the leaders can't lead them small, or the followers don't know how to execute them small. I've been kicked, hit and stabbed in the leg with a stiletto heel at Tazza Fresca - not to mention the usual mild bumping that happens in a tight, awkwardly shaped space.

Even with that all that in mind, I think separating people is almost always a bad idea. I think more focus on the part of organizers and teachers on floor craft and codigos would go a long way in helping everyone share the space better. When you start dividing people, it can become difficult to bring them together again. A cohesive, strong, and supportive community is in everyone's best interest.

So what do you think? Can we all just get along? Or is time to separate the milongas so both groups can have the milonga they want most?

(Pictured above, milonga at Tazza Fresca.)


Anonymous said...

Hi Mari,
One of our venues plays alternative music downstairs, but that doesn't stop people from dancing large upstairs where traditional salon music is played. This place is notorious for this and it causes problems. Unfortunately, in London, there are many younger people who prefer the style of open embrace and doing tricky moves. It is more about playing with the dance than feeling the music. Unfortunately, things won't change here.
I see no reason why different clubs shouldn't be successful. Not all people who dance nuevo style like to do it only to nuevo music. I think if the organisers let it be known what floorcraft is expected and stick to it, then the word will get out and the undesireables (so to speak) will go elsewhere.
It's like clearing the clutter. Making room for what you want. Problem is, people are afraid they won't get the clients/punters/customers. I think if you focus on what you really want, then you will get it. There is more to life than focusing on the money.

Mari said...

"I think if the organisers let it be known what floorcraft is expected and stick to it, then the word will get out."
Thank you for your comments. I think that's the key right there.

The Tango Notebook said...

It'd be nice to think that by placing a stripe down the middle of the dance floor, all would be solved.

Sadly, one person's curious experiment with Tango Nuevo will always be another's annoyance.

Hell yes! Promoting floorcraft would help eliminate many of the stragglers and, hopefully, motivate them to get with the program. Good call.

Nuevo tangueros might still sneak in their fancy moves undetected using their polished floorcraft skills ;)

(in a perfect world)