Respect and Navigation

For many people to have a good time dancing on the same floor of a milonga, respect is needed – the wanting not to disturb other people on the floor out of respect for them.

In the early days of tango, it was needed for one’s own life because guys who went to milongas carried a knife and knife fights did happen due to a collision on the floor. Later, fist fights became more common but the possibility of an unhealthy consequence of bumping into someone on the floor still existed.

Physical violence from bumping into someone is now rare, but hazardous navigation often goes unchecked as a result. Below are some pointers for becoming a good citizen of a floor.

– In your mind, divide the floor by the number of couples on it to get a rectangular space for each couple. Imagine a square that most fills the rectangle for each couple, and then imagine a circle that most fills the square for each couple. I will call this circle a couple-space circle.

– Catch up to the couple-space circle of the couple ahead of you so that your couple-space circle touches it without invading it.

– Your freedom space is where you can move your couple-space circle into without invading others’.

– When a couple progress forward, the next couple see it only when the first couple have moved away, and then this next couple can decide to move into where the first couple were. This creates a delay effect as in traffic. Thus, just like when a car races back and forth on a lane and no other car can dare to enter any of the area where the first car is covering, when a couple rapidly move back and forth in the line of dance, in effect they occupy the whole space of their movement. Thus, when you see a temporary opening of space due to congestion somewhere in the line of dance away from you, keep dancing within your couple-space circle and progress it forward. If a couple take this opportunity and occupy more space, the congestion will continue as long as they keep doing so.

– Generally speaking, progress your couple-space circle only forward in the line of dance. The trick is to go forward in the line of dance while still taking a forward, side, or back step, by employing pivot and turns. In a simplified example of taking three steps forward and three steps back, if the space given to each couple is big enough for doing this and if all the couples do it, the ronda will not move and the couples will just go back and forth in the space given to them. However, if they take three steps forward, pivot by 180 degrees, and take three steps backward, they will have progressed forward in the line of dance by six steps. If all the couples on the floor do this, then the whole ronda will have moved by six steps, making it a rotating ronda. The difference between the first and the second case is a stationary and stale ronda where people are stuck vs a live and rotating ronda where people feel alive.