Preventing Teaching on the Milonga Dance Floor: The Role of the Pre-Milonga Lesson

 

  • Teaching on the milonga dance floor is disruptive to the flow of the ronda and therefore is unacceptable behavior at a milonga.
  • Feedback on dancing may be accepted by the partner, but often it is unsolicited and unwanted. This can be an unpleasant experience for the person receiving the feedback.
  • Milonga organizers can decrease significantly the probability of teaching on the milonga dance floor by taking certain preventive measures and by direct intervention.
    • Increasing floor density can inhibit ad hoc instructors from teaching on the dance floor because they need space to demonstrate any discussed movements. Floor density can be increased by a priori selection of a milonga site with a sufficiently small dance floor, and by placement of tables at the selected site to decrease the area used for dancing.
    • Pre-milonga lessons should not be included as part of a milonga program. These lessons may attract dancers to a milonga and assist in income generation as well as recruitment of new dancers to the community, but there is often a residual effect with the material presented at the lesson discussed subsequently on the social dance floor. In particular introductory tango lessons should not be scheduled prior to a milonga because if these students remain at the milonga, their presence will invite teaching on the dance floor from more experienced dancers.
    • One advantage of the pre-milonga lesson is that it increases attendance and thus floor density at the beginning of the milonga, thereby creating more challenging conditions for ad hoc instruction on the dance floor. Alternative means of increasing floor density at the beginning of a milonga include a pre-milonga dance lesson on something other than tango (e.g., chacarera), a lecture on tango music or culture, or a social event such as a community meal.
  • If these preventive measures are insufficient to eliminate teaching on the milonga dance floor, the milonga organizer may need to approach ad hoc instructors directly to inform them that this behavior is unacceptable at a milonga.

 

One of the behavioral codes of milongas in Buenos Aires is that teaching is not permitted on the dance floor [Do Milongas Exist outside Argentina? (The Milonga Codes Revisited)]. Teaching on the dance floor at a milonga disrupts the progressive flow of the ronda. It is also considered rude to offer unsolicited advice to one’s partner on how to improve one’s dancing. Incomplete satisfaction in a partner’s dancing should be reflected in lack of consent (via the cabeceo) to future dance invitations.

In First World tango communities, there may exist milongas where it is possible to observe teaching on the dance floor. (This is less likely in mature tango communities, where the cultural traditions of Argentine tango are understood, and where the average skill level of dancers is higher.) At these milongas, it is not unusual for some dancers to offer advice as feedback to their partners while dancing, even to the point of reviewing or showing dance movements on the dance floor. In some cases, for example between a man and a woman in a relationship, both partners may consent to this practice. The couple may even perceive that the teaching on the dance floor is not disruptive to the flow of the ronda if the teaching is done in the center of the floor, and particularly so at a milonga with low floor density. This is usually most common at the beginning of a milonga, before most dancers have arrived. In other cases, teaching on the dance floor may be imposed by one partner on the other. This may be done by someone who has helpful intentions, although the recipient may not perceive it as such, or by someone who is trying to impress a partner with his/her self-assumed expertise, for whatever purposes that may serve. Often the self-appointed teachers are not qualified to teach, although sometimes they are paid tango instructors attempting to attract business during a social activity. (This is also done occasionally by tango instructors in Buenos Aires, although typically in conversations after the tanda is completed.)

The issue addressed here is how milonga organizers can act to prevent teaching on the milonga dance floor.

Direct intervention, i.e., speaking to those who instruct on the milonga dance floor, asking them to refrain from such activities, may be sufficiently effective in terminating the offensive behavior. However, this may be perceived by the offender as being too controlling of a harmless activity and thus create the impression of an inhospitable milonga environment for some dancers, which could through word of mouth gain the organizer the reputation of being the ‘tango police’ and thus lead to ostracization of the organizer in a tango community. An organizer could post signs on milonga codes, as has been done at the Cachirulo milonga in Buenos Aires, which is less intrusive than direct confrontation of milonga code violators, but this too is not always well received within First World cultures that value liberty above respect for cultural traditions, and may not be effective for dancers who neither read nor heed the posted codes.

What will be addressed in this post are methods for minimizing the occurrence of teaching on the milonga dance floor in the first place.

(1) Increase milonga floor density

In general, increasing floor density will decrease the probability of teaching on the milonga dance floor. Dancers mutually agreeing to discussing tango movements on the milonga dance floor generally will be inhibited from undertaking such discussions as the floor density increases. Self-appointed tango instructors need space to demonstrate their knowledge to the partner upon whom they are imposing their instruction. If a milonga floor is crowded, potential instructors with foresight will recognize the risk of collisions with other dancers on a crowded dance floor. If not, in hindsight, instructors concerned about social etiquette will cease subsequent instruction upon collision.

An obvious way to increase floor density is to decrease the size of the dance floor in planning a milonga. From previous experience, a milonga organizer may be able to estimate the size of a dance floor needed to accommodate couples who wish to dance while also minimizing the amount of empty space on the floor. This factor should enter into the decision making process for selecting a site for a milonga. Floor density also can be increased at a given site by placement of tables. Milonga organizers often attempt to maximize dance floor space by placing tables as close to the walls as possible. (This even occurs in Buenos Aires milongas, where the goal is probably to increase the number of seats to accommodate as many attendees as possible, and thus maximize income.) Creating an aisle behind tables (i.e., between the tables and the walls) can decrease the space on the dance floor, as well as guiding traffic of non-dancers to the aisles instead of along the edge of the dance floor, thereby reducing the risk of collisions of dancers with people walking to and from tables to other areas of the milonga building. Additional creative measures in placement of tables can further decrease the size of the dance floor and thus increase floor density.

(2) Do not schedule tango lessons immediately prior to a milonga

It is quite common for organizers of First World milongas to schedule one or more lessons before a milonga. This also occurs for some Buenos Aires milongas. Milonga organizers who are also tango instructors may host these lessons because they may feel they have valuable instruction to offer, or they may do so because they wish to attract tango students who are not otherwise taking their classes, or both. Perhaps most importantly to a milonga organizer, pre-milonga lessons usually attract additional dancers to a milonga, increase organizer income and provide monetary assistance in paying space rental charges. For the dancers, pre-milonga lessons provide an opportunity to assess the ability and compatibility of other dancers with whom they have not danced previously, assisting them in the selection of appropriate partners during the milonga. The content of pre-milonga lessons may be targeted specifically to attract newcomers to tango, thus providing an opportunity for community growth. When pre-milonga lessons are well attended, there will be tend to be more dancers on the floor at the beginning of a milonga, providing energy and thus motivation for dancers to come out onto the floor and dance. If the floor density is high enough at the beginning of a milonga, this will discourage the performance of space consuming movements, as are characteristic of Stage Tango and Tango Nuevo.

The aforementioned advantages of pre-milonga lessons are apparent. What may not be apparent are the negative consequences of holding pre-milonga lessons. Pre-milonga lessons are catalysts for teaching during the milonga. It is not unusual to witness dancers who have just participated in a pre-milonga lesson dissect and discuss the contents of the lesson on the milonga dance floor, disrupting the flow of the ronda. If the lesson instructor is still present, students from the lesson may be observed discussing the contents of the lesson with the instructor while standing on the dance floor. If it is necessary to host a pre-milonga lesson (e.g., to bring in income to meet space rental expenses, or to recruit new dancers to a community), usually it would be best to hold the lesson in a separate room, if available. In such a case, the instructor can remain in the instruction room after the lesson to answer questions.

In general, pre-milonga lessons have limited instructional value. They are typically discrete units (i.e., not part of a continuing series) and thus lack continuity in content and student participation with other instructional units. They often attract dancers of various skill levels and it is challenging for tango instructors to communicate tango dancing skills to a diverse set of dancers in a limited time. Thus, many (if not most) pre-milonga lessons consist of teaching a step pattern, which does little to improve the improvisation and leading-and-following skills needed for dancing at a milonga. Often pre-milonga lessons provide an opportunity for tango instructors visiting a community to recruit students for upcoming workshops (or other pre-milonga lessons) and milonga organizers may feel compelled, for the sake of community harmony, to host visiting instructors as they make the rounds through community milongas, exposing dancers to their instructional material.

Although pre-milonga lessons may attract beginners to a milonga, the milonga is not an appropriate event for beginners. Milongas are for experienced dancers who know how to navigate (and also know the social etiquette for dance invitation). Having beginners at milongas invites teaching from those who wish to share their tango knowledge on the dance floor. The appropriate place for tango lessons allowing subsequent practice with instructional input is the practica. The practica can serve the purpose of providing an introduction to the tango community for beginners if more experienced dancers are encouraged to participate in the practica. Socialization (and thus community growth) can be enhanced by serving food and beverages at a practica. To varying degrees, this is what occurs in the informal social tango dance events frequented primarily by young adults in Buenos Aires (The Tango Practica, the Practica Nueva and the Tango Dance Party in Buenos Aires). The term ‘practica’ does not have a specific meaning for (non-Spanish speaking) tango newcomers; thus, it probably should be reserved for communications internal to the tango community. For the public at large, the term ‘tango practice dance party’ would be more appropriate, communicating that the event has room for practice and also has a social atmosphere. Regardless of the level of instruction, a tango lesson given as part of a practica is more likely to give immediate and lasting reinforcement to acquired dance skills than a pre-milonga lesson, even if it is a discrete unit (i.e., not part of a weekly series), although a practica following a weekly class series is likely to be even more effective.

(3) Schedule activities other tango instruction prior to a milonga

Although the pre-milonga lesson may be effective in attracting dancers to a milonga and thus avoid the empty floor conditions that often plague milongas at the start, which inhibit dancers from arriving at the beginning of a milonga, there are several alternative ways of attracting dancers to the milonga before social dancing begins. If a dance lesson is given, it can be for some other dance, e.g., chacarera, that may be part of a milonga. An alternative to providing dance instruction could be a lecture or even participatory workshop on tango music (e.g., differentiation of tango orchestras). There could be a lecture and/or discussion on tango culture and history. Another attractive option that attracts attendees is to have a meal before a milonga. This situation is quite common for the Saturday night Milonga del Barrio in Buenos Aires (Variation in Traditional Tango Venues in Buenos Aires). In North American tango communities, when this occurs, it is often a ‘pot luck’ dinner, where dancers bring a dish to share. Another attractive possibility is to have a concert of tango music before a milonga. One type of event to be avoided prior to a milonga is a tango show or set of performances using Stage Tango or Tango Nuevo, as this may encourage some dancers to use their interpretation of the observed movements on the milonga dance floor.

Summary

Teaching on the milonga dance floor is undesirable in that it disrupts the flow of the circulating ronda and because it is rude to impose upon others unsolicited instruction. Direct verbal intervention by milonga organizers can be used to stop such activity when it occurs. However, milonga organizers can reduce the probability of teaching on the milonga dance floor by taking some preventive measures. Not scheduling lessons before a milonga eliminates the possibility for dancers to review lesson content at the subsequent milonga. However, eliminating pre-milonga lessons creates empty floor conditions at the beginning of a milonga, an environment that also encourages teaching on the dance floor. Milonga organizers can compensate to increase floor density by decreasing the size of the dance floor, but still need a sufficient space to accommodate dancers that arrive later. One method of increasing milonga floor density at the beginning of a milonga without encouraging teaching is to schedule an activity immediately prior to the onset of social dancing that does not involve tango dance instruction. Under the best of conditions, a workshop on tango music or culture, a tango music concert, or a community meal can serve this purpose.

If tango dance instruction still occurs on the milonga dance floor despite the implementation of preventive measures by milonga organizers, it may still be necessary to intervene verbally to put an end to this undesirable activity.

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17 Responses to Preventing Teaching on the Milonga Dance Floor: The Role of the Pre-Milonga Lesson

  1. R. Bononno says:

    Another suggestion, but one I’ve never seen implemented here, would be to have instructors inform attendees at classes not to teach or practice whatever has been learned during the milonga. Beginning students (and I mean their first class of tango instruction) often end up on the floor during a milonga, causing no end of inconvenience to other dancers.

    • tangovoice says:

      Tango students probably would find it counterintuitive if an instructor informed them not to practice what they have learned in a pre-milonga lesson. This is probably why tango instructions do not discuss this issue. It appears the logic used by many tango students is that if material is offered in a lesson prior to a milonga, it is acceptable to practice that material at the subsequent milonga, even if this practice involves some teaching and demonstrating and thus interfering with the movement of the line of dance. Milongas are not for practice; practicas are for practice. Providing a pre-milonga lesson implicitly gives permission to try out what has been imperfectly learned. This condition is exacerbated with beginners. This is why tango lessons should not be offered prior to a milonga.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I believe the most efficient way to put a stop to unwanted teaching is for the recipients of such action (usually women, but not always) not to put up with it. Teachers can instruct their students about this all too common practice, and suggest suitable answers–polite and less so, including simply walking off the dance floor. As word will spread about the self-appointed milonga teacher(s), hopefully other dancers will decline dancing with them. (I have experienced many classes where teachers tell students not to teach, and this simply doesn’t work. Those who want to teach don’t listen.)

    The exception here would be the really experienced dancer with the ability to teach give adequate pointer(s) to the less experienced dancer, if these are wanted and welcome. A tricky situation since the newcomer will have a hard time saying no to the question “May I suggest something?” Again, teachers could do a world of good instructing their students how to protect themselves from this, if it is not wanted. If it is wanted, a practica would be the right place for sure.

    Regarding the empty dance floor at the onset of the milonga, what really works is limiting the total time of the milonga. If you give a five hour milonga, the first hour will be empty for sure, and you are usually dependent on one group of people who want to dance early, and another who want to dance late. If you limit the milonga to two and a half hours (no exceptions, no extensions), you will have people hanging the door before it opens!

    • tangovoice says:

      Regarding limiting the duration of a milonga, this is an idea worth exploring. The duration of milongas in Buenos Aires is typically around 6 hours. This can be done because (or if) there is a sufficient number of dancers present. In the US, except for festivals, the duration of a milonga is typically 3-4 hours. Even within this time range, there are dancers who arrive early and leave early, there are dancers who arrive late and leave late, and there a few who arrive early and leave late; this may reflect their schedule and energy levels. It is important for a milonga organizer to recognize the biorhythms of the usual attendees (dependent to a significant degree on age and occupation) and select an appropriate milonga starting time. In any case, the duration of a milonga should match the attendance. However, two and a half hours may be insufficient in most cases. If the TTVTTM format of tandas of music is used, 2.5 hrs would result in this sequence occurring twice plus another tanda or two of tango at the end. For the dancer who is not selective regarding the music played, this may be sufficient if the dancer is dancing nearly every tanda. However, even if good music from the Golden Age is played, 2.5 hrs may not provide enough opportunities to dance to preferred orchestras. Also, if for several tandas preferred partners are unavailable for dancing, a good selective dancer could end up sitting out most tandas. The key to maintaining a sufficiently high floor density is to attract dancers to the milonga early, perhaps by hosting an attractive pre-milonga activity, and keeping them there for a reasonable duration of time by playing good music for dancing and having a good selection of partners with whom to dance. If there is good attendance at the start, a milonga will have momentum that persists throughout the milonga. It is important to concentrate on what attracts dancers to a milonga and onto the dance floor. Limiting the duration of a milonga may signal an admission of failure that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      • Robert B. says:

        Most milongas I’ve been to are approximately four hours (10-2 am). That does not include a pre-milonga class taught by a guest instructor or one of the hosts. By the way, several milongas have no class at all before the milonga; however, this does not eliminate the behavior you discuss, namely, teaching on the floor. I don’t think that such behavior is a function of the class, necessarily; it’s more a matter of individual attitude. Besides, most of those (men) doing the teaching do not attend the pre-milonga class. There are a couple of milongas that run longer than four hours. These almost always have a class before the milonga, plus a performance. However, this does not mean there will be teaching or practicing on the dance floor. It’s really a question of who is on the dance floor, the level of dancing, and the seriousness of the crowd. On-floor teaching is not a consequence of the class. On-floor practicing among newcomers can be a consequence of the class, however, since no one has bothered to tell those people otherwise. Personally, I prefer that a milonga be at least four hours. You do spend a fair amount of time talking with friends, waiting for the music you like, and finding a partner to dance it with. Some folks dance every tanda; others may dance four over the course of the night.

      • tangovoice says:

        Dancers do vary in their tendency to teach during a milonga. Some recognize the milonga codes and do not teach. Some teach at every perceived opportunity. Others teach sometimes, others only occasionally. Some impose their teaching on beginners. Others teach only by consent with a regular partner. Some self-appointed instructors attend a pre-milonga lesson; others do not. Part of the motivation of attending a pre-milonga lesson is to learn something new about tango. Another motivation is to be part of an event where the rotation of partners forces attendees to interact without risk of initiating the interaction; thus, pre-milonga lessons provide an opportunity to meet other dancers, either for the purpose of assessing their dance ability, or for the purpose of beginning a social interaction that could result in an accepted dance invitation at the milonga. Most self-appointed teachers on the milonga dance floor who do not have an accompanying partner appear to engage in teaching because they wish to impress an unsuspecting partner, and use this as a catalyst for initiating a social relationship with this partner (even though this strategy has dubious potential for success). The pre-milonga lesson provides the opportunity for interaction and the material for discussion. Nevertheless, because most self-appointed instructors tend to overestimate their own knowledge and ability, some would consider attending a pre-milonga lesson as providing evidence that they still had something to learn about tango and thus, in fact, some repeat offender milonga dance floor instructors do not attend pre-milonga lessons. However, some still do. Also, there are couples who more or less give mutual consent to discussion of pre-milonga lesson material on the dance floor. Scheduling a lesson prior to milonga provides material for discussion that can be continued onto the social dance floor.

        It should also be mentioned that occasionally the instructors of a pre-milonga lesson will continue their teaching after the lesson is over and social dancing begins.

        This post examines factors that elicit and inhibit teaching on the milonga dance floor. A crowded dance floor inhibits teaching to all but the most self-absorbed self-appointed instructors because there is the potential for collisions, either perceived or realized. The pre-milonga lesson increases milonga floor density because it provides dancers for the milonga, but paradoxically it provides material for teaching on the dance floor. A key element in reducing teaching on the dance floor is to increase floor density without providing teaching material to discuss. Providing an activity prior to the milonga that does not provide material to carry onto the dance floor may be effective in this regard. Optimal timing of the beginning and duration of the milonga may also have this effect. Educating dancers to refuse to accept teaching on the dance floor may also be effective. (Getting the victims of teaching to adamantly refuse teaching is another issue.) If all other means fail, the milonga organizer can verbally request the offender to cease teaching.

        None of the factors discussed are absolute in their effects. What is examined here is the management of probabilities, specifically to decrease the probability of teaching on the milonga dance floor.

    • Chris, UK says:

      Anonymous said: “ If you give a five hour milonga, the first hour will be empty for sure

      Perhaps that is true where you are, but it is not generally true in the wider world, and certainly not in any of the five and six hour milongas I’ve attended in Argentina and Europe.

      and you are usually dependent on one group of people who want to dance early

      Some confusion there, it seems. If people are dancing early, then the early part of the milonga is evidently not empty.

      Here in the UK, milonga duration has on average increased over the last ten years. Currently class-free milongas are typically around 4hrs.

      I would say the anti-social instruction problem has decreased over the same period. It remains most prevalent at milongas that have classes, and are short, e.g. 2.5hrs. Mishortas 🙂

      I believe the most efficient way to put a stop to unwanted teaching is for the recipients of such action (usually women, but not always) not to put up with it.

      On that we agree.

  3. Chris, UK says:

    Nice article, TV. Thanks.

    A further means to minimise the antisocial instruction problem is to avoid shows during the milonga, where (as is usually the case) those shows are by class instructors. This is because the root cause of the problem is the all-too-common class teaching model based on students copying instructors and instructors interrupting dancing to instruct. Allowing such instructors to give shows attracts classgoers who’ve already acquired this antisocial behaviour, and promotes such classes to newcomers who would otherwise learn socially acceptable behaviour in the milonga.

    Also, re: “Do not schedule tango lessons immediately prior to a milonga“, I hope you mean “Do not schedule tango classes immediately prior to a milonga”. Your criticisms apply to classes but not to one-to-one lessons.

    • tangovoice says:

      Perhaps there is a difference between American and British English in the use of the terms ‘lesson’ and ‘class’. The intended meanings in this post are:

      Lesson: An amount of teaching given at one time; a period of learning or teaching:
      (http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/lesson)

      Class: A group of students who are taught together. (http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/class)

      The ‘pre-milonga lesson’ is a unit of instruction given at one time to a group of students (the ‘class’, in this case). What is not covered in this post are ‘private lessons’, i.e, instruction given by a teacher or teaching couple to an individual or couple. The same admonition (‘No teaching at the milonga’) applies with respect to material learned in private lessons as applies for group instruction. However, private lessons are rarely given immediately prior to milongas, at least not in the US.

      • Chris, UK says:

        I see no material difference in the US and UK English meanings of class and lesson.

        What is not covered in this post are ‘private lessons’

        Incorrect. Your term ‘pre-milonga lesson’ includes private lessons. If you intend to cover just classes (group lessons), then I suggest you say classes.

        The same admonition (‘No teaching at the milonga’) applies with respect to material learned in private lessons as applies for group instruction.

        Regardless, I think you’ll find the antisocial behaviour in question originates far more from classes than from one-to-one lessons. This is to be expected, since classes are necessarily heavily based on instruction whereas one-to-one lessons are not.

      • tangovoice says:

        Private lessons given before milongas are rare and when milonga organizers advertise ‘pre-milonga lessons’, it is with rare exception a group lesson with a specified time, location, and cost. Thus, it did not seem necessary to include the modifier ‘group’ before ‘lesson’ when writing here (i.e., ‘pre-milonga group lesson’). It was assumed (apparently incorrectly) that all readers would make this interpretation.

    • Anonymous says:

      The milongas (and also practicas) I have been to over the last ten years in the US, Europe, and Argentina (which should qualify as “wider world”) tend to be considerably slimmer in attendance during the first hour. This is certainly not a scientific fact, but a pretty consistent personal observation. I have definitely not been to “all” Buenos Aires milongas. The exception, in my personal experience, is a weekly three hour milonga in Europe, which is extremely well attended during its entire duration because people know it’s only three hours. That same city has other milongas with the same emptiness during the first hour.

      No confusion, trust me. If three couples always prefer to dance early, the milonga will still be rather rather empty….. and the same is true (again, in my experience only) if dinner is served just before the milonga. Those who come to eat, will typically sit out the first 30-40 minutes, to digest the food! Those who prefer not to have dinner there, know that dancing will be very slim in the beginning anyway, so they tend not to come early.

      I agree with Robert, pre-milonga classes or not, the self-appointed teachers will misbehave…. sometimes they are actual teachers in the community, preying for private students. Sometimes they are a part of a new couple (in life) and relentlessly teach their partner whenever and wherever they can. A simple “Please don’t teach me” should be sufficient to stop them in their tracks, at least with that particular person, on that particular occasion.

      I was never a fan of pre-milonga classes because there was no continuity (as has been pointed out) and because the focus of the participants was on the upcoming dance party, not on the learning.

      • Chris, UK says:

        Anonymous wrote: “trust me.

        No irony intended?? 🙂

        There’s a big difference between your “the first hour will be empty for sure” and now your “tend to be considerably slimmer in attendance during the first hour.”

        And I reject the assertion “empty floor conditions at the beginning of a milonga … encourages teaching on the dance floor”. In fact I believe the opposite is true. Unwelcome teaching craves a wider audience. I’m reminded of this each time I see a pre-milonga class overrun the milonga start time, inflicting the end end-of-class demonstration upon people who have arrived to dance. Such as just about every time in the last few years that I’ve visited a milonga such as London’s Carablanca, where there is apparently no attempt by the organisers to take remedial action against the culprits. Presumably because such action would be detrimental to that organiser’s class takings.

        As for “empty floor conditions … often plague milongas at the start”…. Where the fewer dancers in the first hour of a class-free milonga are sufficient to pay the rent, then I’m glad the milonga organiser has chosen to give those dancers what they want.

  4. tangovoice says:

    Most of the discussion about teaching on the dance floor has focused on men who impose their teaching on women. This is apparent to observers because the men will demonstrate steps on the dance floor and clearly disrupt the ronda. Less subtle, but also annoying to victims are women who impose their teaching on men. This is unlikely to take the form of demonstrating steps. There are some women who will ‘correct’ men as they dance, e.g., noting that the men move too fast or too slow, have an embrace that is too tight or too loose, have a weak or strong lead, etc. Usually this feedback is unwanted as well. The analysis may be correct, but the milonga dance floor is not the place to offer this feedback, which is a form of teaching. Milongas are for social dancing, not for analysis and correction; practicas can serve that purpose. Women correcting men on the milonga dance floor are less obvious to the audience and are less likely to disrupt the circulating ronda (unless a man stops moving upon hearing the comments, which is possible). This behavior is unacceptable because it is rude. Notably some paid female tango instructors will engage in this behavior, perhaps with the aim of soliciting private lessons. Because they have been paid in the past to offer feedback on tango dancing, they may assume this activity extends to the milonga dance floor.

    • Chris, UK says:

      TV wrote: “Because they have been paid in the past to offer feedback on tango dancing, they may assume this activity extends to the milonga dance floor.

      Well they might. The widespread teacher tactic of undermining dancers’ confidence in their ability to learn outside class is as applicable on the milonga dance floor as it is in class itself. And despite being more unpopular, is more fruitful, since the milonga offers the chance to grow that teacher’s class-buying customer base.

      Increasingly, successful milongas in the UK are located between rather than in the large cities. One of the secrets of success here is being outside the economically viable travel range of class-sellers.

  5. Annie says:

    If somebody is physically uncomfortable due to something their dance partner is doing (too tight of an embrace, squeezing of hand (any or both), too heavy pressure on the leader’s shoulder/biceps, etc), then they should be able to say so, politely, without that being regarded as teaching.

    • tangovoice says:

      One thing to keep in mind here is that one partner’s tight embrace may be too loose for another partner. One partner’s interpretation of the music may be different from another’s; likewise for other aspects of dancing tango, such as the energy placed into movement or the length of one’s steps. There are individual differences in preferences in style that are not necessarily better or worse, just different. Nevertheless, there are some characteristics of dancing with a partner that may be unpleasant due to that partner’s skill limitations, e.g., deficiencies in navigational skills that increase risk of collision, or dancing independently of one’s partner. In offering feedback on a partner’s dancing, the criteria for politeness depend upon the context and the consequence. Certainly any feedback that stops the dancing and obstructs the flow of the ronda should be avoided. Between partners in a relationship (married, boyfriend and girlfriend, stable dance partners, tango teacher and student) feedback can be shared at a milonga, but it should be off of the dance floor so as not to disrupt the movement of other couples on the dance floor. The key concept here is consent. The recipient should consent to receiving feedback from his or her partner. Offering unsolicited feedback has varying consequences. Some dancers may not mind receiving feedback. Some may find it annoying or disruptive to concentration, even if it is done politely. Some may finding it threatening to their self confidence and it could negatively impact their enjoyment at the milonga. The milonga is a social event; it is not a platform for teaching.

      If someone is dissatisfied with a partner’s dancing, there are several alternative courses of action. One can end the tanda early by saying ‘thank you’ and leaving the floor. If the dissatisfaction is not severe, one can wait until the tanda has been completed and not accept subsequent invitations to dance. If the cabeceo is the standard method of dance invitation at a milonga, avoiding a person’s glance can easily accomplish this. This is the standard procedure in Buenos Aires, and these guidelines are good models for milonga behavior in the rest of the world as well.

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