Thursday, September 30, 2010

Victims of my Snobbery, part III

Here is an edition of Victims that is not written by Jaimito. This post was inspired by my experience at a recent regional tango festival. It was, in general, a lot of fun, with a set of really good teachers, nice venues and a great all-nighter. As everything in life is though, the milongas were occasionally marred by little annoyances. You know, how someone will occasionally do something dumb that will upset you, taking away a little bit of the enjoyment out of the milonga. I’m sure every one of us has experienced something like that. Well, this has made me think of a few kinds of people who are victims of my snobbery.

The hypocrite:
So the Friday night milonga was in a smaller room. Generally, this would not be a problem, except that it was a free for all. You know those milongas, where the floorcraft is horrendous: people weaving in and out, bumping is rampant, and there some people in the center just going everywhere. It was tough to navigate, and in that big jumble I fell into the trap of being part of this free for all. Now, don’t go off on me! I did keep in the line of dance, I did not bump into any other couple (honestly, not once!), but I disregarded one piece of etiquette that I generally adhere to. 

Generally, before entering the ronda, I try to catch the eye of the guy I’m cutting in front of and to get his acknowledgement. In this particular case, and in this big free for all, I held my partner and I spotted a gap in the ronda, I dived in.  Again I didn’t bump into anyone and I didn’t feel that I in particular disturbed the (non)flow of that milonga. At the end of the the song, I had one of the “organizers”, a tall, physically imposing guy berating me about how I should have let him know that I was entering in front of him. I’m generally not the kind of person who shies away from a bully, but in this case, I figured that I was in the wrong, and defused the situation. I wonder if he was going around yelling at people for bad floorcraft. If he was, then I don’t think anyone was paying attention to him. Also, there are much nicer ways to establish good floorcraft. The most important of which is to advise your local dancers of proper floorcraft and make sure they lead by example.

The hilarious part was at the milonga the following night. That milonga did have better floorcraft, and which I did take extra care to establish eye contact with leaders I was entering in front of. That same leader who went off on me about how I didn’t let him know I was entering in front of him, was a few couples in front me, embraced his partner with his back to the ronda and stepped into the gap! I’ll refrain from further comments, and leave that to our dear readers.

The wanderer:
He’s the guy who can’t sit if he’s not dancing. Nothing wrong with that per se, but realize that when there is a lot of space behind the chairs and the tables, the organizer meant to have people walk on the outside of the pista. It actually works! You walk on the outside, and everyone on the pista dances. It’s a win-win situation!

That guy I’m referring to, walked in front of me once entering the pista, another time exiting, and then he crossed in front of someone else, walked across the pista and stopped, on the inside of the pista, in front of one of the table, talking to this friend. This situation was solved pretty quickly, when I paused, tapped him on the shoulder and nodded my head to signal him off the floor. This was done with a smile (or was it a smirk?) and a thank-you when he was off the floor. And I don’t recall seeing him on the pista again, while not dancing.

See? There’s a nice way of correcting bad floorcraft. Don’t be an asshole unless you’re ready for someone who might be ready to take it outside.


  1. Knowing you, Ingeniero, it was probably a smirk ;)
    I'm almost tempted to advocate being an asshole and taking it outside, for both cases

  2. I'm going to go a step further and really advocate to fighting fire with fire. I went to a milonga last night, and this venue is notorious for being a cradle of nuevo people. Now the more experienced nuevo dancers don't take more space than other dancers and follow the line of dance. The less experienced ones are a pain in the ass, so the floorcraft is usually quite awful. There was this guy yesterday whose dancing style I can't describe because of how awful it is, but it takes a lot of space and he incessantly moves in and out of the outer lane to the center of the floor, pissing off everyone. Finally, he bumped into a hot tempered dude, and voices were raised, and they grabbed everybody's attention. The tension got high, and some people were scared shitless. Thanks to this, the floorcraft for the rest of the night was exemplary.

    Fight fire with fire

  3. Que buena Jaimito! By the way, at a recent weekend workshop in a big city not far from where I live they were enforcing line of dance for the first time. Can you imagine that? Thankfully there was only one case of a guy being asked to stop all the shitty-floorcraft nonsense. I agree, floor-craft should be enforce in a friendly manner, but ENFORCE non the less.