Tango etiquette on the dancefloor - Los códigos en la milonga
Some rules of dancing tango in a milonga enable everybody having a good time dancing. A popular argument in Europe is that rules are killing creativity. Actually in a milonga setup it is the other way round. Due to these rules it is possible to rely on a certain behaviour of other dancers which enables you to concentrate on the music and your partner instead of being distracted by tricky navigation and collision prevention.
- The dance floor is divided in lines. You dance along these lines counterclockwise.
- Whenever possible start to dance at a corner of the dancefloor. Try to get in eyecontact with the approaching dancer to let him know that you would like to get into his line of dance. Normally he will acknowledge this by a light nodding gesture indicating that it is ok for you to start dancing in front of him. (1)
- Try to keep a comfortable distance to the dancer in front of you. If there is lot of space between you try to catch up in order so as not to block following dancers. If everybody tries to keep this in mind there will be the same distance between every couple and a steady flow of movement throughout the dancefloor. (2)
- If you need to overtake somebody in front of you, do it on the left side only. Check dancers on the line next to you and change line when it is safe. You may stay in that line, or change back after the "obstacle". (3)
- Try to stay in your chosen line of dance.
- Try to avoid entering the dance floor in the middle of a line. Do not enter the line of dance without taking care of approaching dancers in order to avoid collision or forcing them to change the line of dance. (1)
- The space behind you is NOT yours! It belongs to the dancer behind you. Therefore avoid any back step! Even if you might have learned that the "base" or "paso basico" begins with a back step - don't do it in the milonga! You may start with the second step to the side, or angular to the direction of dance. On the other hand all the space in front of you belongs to you! (2)
- Try not to blockade dancers behind you if there is enough space in front of you! (3)
- Do not move around the dance floor from one free spot to the next one referred to as the "shark navigation"! This helps nobody and will bring chaos and make life difficult for all the others. It may still work as long as everybody respect the rules and there is one "shark in the pool". But just imagine if there were only "sharks".. (4)
- Do not dance in between dance lines and do not change dance lines all the time! (5)
- Try not to get too close to the dancers in front of you! They should be able to turn. (6)
- Do not overtake on the right side! (7)
- If there is a collision between dancers try to apologise to each other.
- Small turns will help to become aware of nearby dancers being near by.
- You may change the line of dance after checking that it is safe to do so.
- When you are not dancing walk on the side of the dance floor only! Please do not cross the dancefloor and avoid collisions with the dancers. Dancers have priority!
On a crowded dancefloor:
- Keep your feet on the ground! No high ganchos, boleos, etc.
- No open, dynamic and wild figures when there is no room for it.
- Please take care of elevated elbows. If it is very crowded try to keep them rather low and flexible in case of collisions.
Try to show respect and sympathy to all dancers regardless of dancing style or level of dance. Please try to be non-judgmental about other people's invitation behaviour or reactions to invitations. Everyone has certain preferences, and there might be many reasons why somebody does or does not like to dance with someone to certain tangos. In the end everybody is there to enjoy a pleasant evening. Let's dance!
c) 2010 Bernhard Gehberger