I‘m not happy and I‘m going to tell you why.
In the last few weeks, we‘ve been travelling to several events, where I‘ve been shocked by the total lack of social skills on the dance-floors.
Mostly, Detlef and I are invited to places and festivals, where people are connected to a social Tango. So we are used to meeting dancers of the most different levels and styles, but sharing a general philosophy of how Tango has to be applied in a social context, a Milonga. I usually do not attend the typical big Festivals or events, that are focused on a more showy kind of Tango. So maybe, in these past few years, I‘ve been living in a kind of Salon/Milonguero bubble, getting the impression, that Tango has really developed in Europe! It surely has, but...
... obviously, there are still too many communities, where dancers are limited to a dangerous Tango-Escenario & Tango-Nuevo combination. This leads to huge gestures on the floor, dancing without any connection to the music or the partner and mostly without any sense of direction. I‘ve recently seen people do Sentadas, linear high Voleos, Soltadas, women-used-to-sweep-the-floor-movements and other stuff in packed Milongas. Do not misunderstand me here: a good Tango-Nuevo dancer will be able to adapt his movements to a social dancefloor. But these people were just going crazy!
How can that be?
Since the beginning of the new millennium, there are many teachers, who focus on social dance or at least pretend to do so. If you look at webpages or festival announcements, you‘ll find lots of Maestros, who seem to transmit skills usable in the Milonga. Are they not well booked or do they not hold what they promise? Do teachers still teach the grand steps? Don‘t teachers explain the difference between a move for the stage and a move for a Milonga? Somehow, I doubt it....
In my opinion, there are at least three factors, that are responsible for people going crazy at Milongas:
1. Classes with non-social contents: Is it really necessary to teach all those big movements to social dancers, dear colleagues? Could you not restrict your classes on high Voleos, end poses, jumps and kicks exclusively to people who aspire to use them as show-dancers? Or to those who sign a contract, that they will only apply them in their living-room, whilst practising alone? Could you please also explain to your clients, that some kind of movements require an exceptional control over the body, only found in skilled dancers with a classical or contemporary background. Please help them to not make fools of themselves on the dancefloor!
2. Maestros who teach social Tango, but don‘t show in demos: There‘s nothing wrong in being an artist and expressing the music with spectacular steps. But please, if you dance a choreography or an improvisation with „unsocial“ movements, point out to the audience, that this is not, how Tango is meant to be danced in a Milonga. You may know that, but do your students?
3. A non-social choice of music: Please organisers, invite DJs and (if you must) orchestras who play danceable music. If you don‘t understand, what I mean by that, please check this article. Do always keep in mind, that expressive and highly dynamic music encourages people to do the same kind of movements. And do you really want to hear complaints about a messy floor at your event?
I wish instead, that teachers and organisers showed their clients how to:
- navigate and behave in a social environment,
- adapt the amplitude of every movement to the space on the dancefloor,
- adapt the timing and dynamics of every movement to the requirements of the music and the dancefloor,
- Improvise freely without relying on memorised steps,
- find pleasure in the embrace and simple movements.
In short: how to dance an interesting an musical Tango without the need of big steps, without hurting each other and without disturbing the line of dance!
If you already do all that, please try harder. I will as well!