A Floorcraft PSA from the Mail Bag

A story from one of my readers (from an undisclosed location):

Four dancers sitting at a table on the edge of the milonga floor. Three of the dancers have been dancing more than 2 years, the fourth has been dancing about six months.

All four dancers watch the couple in the middle of the floor as the leader leads a triple traveling volcada, followed by a waist high leg wrap and ending in a lightening fast gancho.

Beginner dancer: Wow! Now that's real tango!!
The other three dancers at the table: ::blink-blink:: . . . :: triple facepalm ::

Advice from my friend: Just a reminder, be sure to set a good example for the young'uns.

*PSA - Public Service Announcement


Dieudonne said...

Great idea "PSA"! if it were up to me, we would have them at milongas on the walls.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I would have had to actually *see* them though to tell whether I would facepalm or not. Though I'm guessing I might...

Anonymous said...

Just to play devil's advocate, let me state for the record that a triple travelling volcada (hmm, I'm having difficulty picturing that), waist-high leg wrap and lighting-quick gancho could be beautiful and certainly "real tango": to the right music, under the right circumstances, danced technically well and with feeling and respecting the conditions of the dance floor. Though those are pretty hard conditions to fulfil.

Marika said...

Terpsichoral - I believe, from what my friend said, that the moves were beautiful, stunning in fact. Just wildly inappropriate for the small, crowded milonga floor they were performed on. His point was that when less experienced dancers see that kind of thing, which is indeed impressive, it gives the impression that that should be the goal on the social dance floor. Which is how you end up with lots of unhappy dancers at the milonga.

He was also annoyed that the newer dancer at his table considered that little performance "real" tango as opposed to the walking, and turning everyone else was doing.

Ghost said...

Looking forward to more PSAs :)

I believe the triple volcada is what they do here at 1.04

Anonymous said...

Ah, OK. But were the moves themselves disruptive or was it just that beginners would watch and copy them, punching above their weight? (In which case, the problem is more with the beginners and their teachers, perhaps.) I can't really judge without having been there, of course.

I speak as one who was led all kinds of things on a crowded floor by an extremely experienced, very playful leader who really knew how to use the available space without harrassing, bullying or disrupting anyone else. He was an exceptionally good dancer, though. He used all kinds of tricks, I later realised, when I watched him leading someone else, to make sure that any more flamboyant moves fitted into dead space and wouldn't get in anyone else's way. You can read about him here:


Ghost said...

This is something I've puzzled over. What is the difference between the two beyond movement? Is nuevo more fun, reckless? Salon more profound, stale? I honestly can't find anything that works. Oh sure there's the generalisations that both sides use to refer to themselves and insult the other, but in truth they don't hold up. I love Paris, Texas - but it makes no sense whatsoever to charge around like a bull in a chinashop to it. The only time a woman has remarked that she could feel my heart beating was after a slow, profound piece of nuevo. I love Pugliese, but then I also adore Di Sarli.

The best I can come up with is it's a matter of understanding. Someone syncopating to Troilo may do identical movements to someone who has no awareness that music is actually being played and is merely moving his feet randomly.

So too with nuevo and trad. If you understand what it is you are doing, that's what's makes the difference. If you don't, facepalm.

So in the above case the above couple may indeed have been beautiful and stunning. But the young 'un shows a lack of understanding for the contrasting beauty of the trad dancers who are simply walking by singling it out.

Tango Therapist said...

I doubt seriously that people making dangerous moves on the social dance floor perceive themselves as dangerous. That is precisely why they are dangerous. The same is true of people driving their cars or teen ice skaters swerving around toddlers. The self-talk goes like this: "I am not dangerous! I just have superb control and talent that others do not. A besides: I am having fun! So get out of the way!"

Anonymous said...

Still playing devil's advocate, I have to say, while dancers should *always* dance with good floorcraft and respect for others, they aren't always obliged to be 'teaching', i.e. dancing only moves which are suitable for beginner dancers to watch and copy. However, since the dance floor was crowded, it seems overwhelmingly likely to me that this couple *was* doing something inappropriate to the venue.

Having said that, people do all kinds of flashy things at La Viruta late at night on one of the most crowded floors there is. Everyone complains about the other leaders: and everyone leads flashy stuff themselves. Because they the level of dancing is often very high and they are just dying to play. There are still far fewer collisions than there are at the local London milonga, Carablanca, where people only walk and lead half giros and a boleo (even a low one) is a rarity.

@Ghost I think this has nothing to do with nuevo versus traditional. Yes, milonguero dancers tend to collide less (although believe me they can have bad floorcraft too). But salon can be a pretty flamboyant style too. And the poor floorcraft I saw in Berlin was pretty much all by salon dancers. There was almost zero nuevo dancing in evidence at the milongas I attended (nuevo is out of fashion).

Hmmm, I feel a blog entry coming on.

Ghost said...

Yes, sorry if I wasn't clear. I don't think this is a trad / nuevo thing. Individual dancers can stamp their personality on either sufficiently that there's no discernible line to be drawn beyond the physical movement.(And even then some will argue that nuevo was done back in the day).

The difference I think is understanding. If someone leads a volcada, what do they understand in doing so? The potential impact on the dancers around them, musicality, the feel of it and so forth. I don't think it really matters whether or not it's a volcada or a single step forwards - it's the understanding of the people doing it that defines what it is, and indeed isn't.

It's the couple's combined understanding that elevates what they do from moving while music is played to dancing. Just as the Master and the Beginner are seperated by their understanding of tango.