LOS ANGELES & surrounding areas MILONGAS
Your guide to TANGO in LOS ANGELES
Because of the many changes in the milonga scene in our area, it has been too difficult for me to keep this blog current.
For current Milonga information please send an email to: email@example.com to get on an excellent list for notifications of milonga activities in Los Angeles and surrounding areas. Thank you.. Howard
For a complete listing of all of the milongas, practicas, classes and special events in other parts of Southern California:
San Diego and surrounding area go to: http://www.tangosandiego.com/
Santa Barbara and surrounding area go to: tangomilonga.biz, or http://www.tangosb.com/
Ojai area, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Still available below are postings of very useful advice and information about certain practices and traditions at milongas in almost any milonga in the world (Buenos Aires is different especially in asking for a dance). These are titled:
1. What is dance floor etiquette?
2. How do I ask for a dance ?
3. How do I decline an invitation?
4. How do I end a dance?
They are reprinted here with permission by Jay Rabe, the webmaster of the Portland Tango website. Click HERE to visit that informative website about their very active Tango community.
"Floorcraft" is the ability to navigate smoothly around the dance floor, staying in "Line of Dance" (moving counterclockwise around the dance floor) while avoiding collisions with walls, furniture, or other dancers. With some exceptions, floorcraft is the responsibility of the leader. This allows the follower to "zone out" and just enjoy the embrace and the music, trusting her leader to take care of her.
The main goal of floorcraft and dancefloor etiquette is to avoid injury - to the follower, to other dancers, and to walls and furniture and potted plants. This requires that the leader be paying full attention to his surroundings and to other dancers and their styles of dancing - whether they are controlled and disciplined, or whether they are wild and crazy.
The second goal is to keep traffic moving around line-of-dance. This means not stopping and blocking other dancers behind you if there is an empty space in front of you.
As you progress CCW around the floor in line-of-dance, the most strategic place to dance is near the wall, close enough that no one has space to get into your blind-spot by passing you on the right.
Stay in single-file if you can. At a crowded venue, it will naturally happen that couples will migrate into several "rings" or "lanes" of single-file dancers. Try not to switch lanes to pass slower couples, unless they appear to be clueless and a traffic jam of dancers is building up behind you.
Is is customary to not talk at all while dancing at a milonga. If you want to talk or teach or discuss a step, it is polite to wait until you are off the dance floor so you don't disturb other dancers. At practicas, this protocol is relaxed, and it's OK to talk, to work on your steps, or to discuss technique while on the dance floor.
Entering the dance floor while other dancers are dancing is like merging onto the freeway: wait for an opening, make eye contact if you can, and move in gracefully without disturbing the other dancers, rather than forcing your way into the line of dance.
Most often, you just walk up and ask someone. Usually a man will ask a woman to dance, but at some milongas, in some cities, it's acceptable for women to ask... and it's accepted at most venues for women to dance with women or men to dance with men (but very few in Buenos Aires).
However, there is a charming convention that originated in Argentina called the cabeceo (ka-ba-say-o) that involves making eye contact. If there's someone you want to dance with, you stare at them until they look your way. When you make eye contact, you raise your eyebrows and/or make a subtle head nod (cabeceo = nod) toward the dance floor. The responder answers "yes" by smiling and nodding back, or "no" by turning and looking away. (It's polite to wait until your potential partner has come off the dance floor before you ask them for the next dance.)
The key thing to make this work is that you must make eye contact. In American culture that can be considered aggressive, but, well, you just have to get over that if you want the cabeceo to work.
If you avoid eye contact, the potential asker may get the message that you don't want to dance. If they come up and ask you anyway, a simple, "No, thank you," with or without a big smile, should be sufficient.
You may offer a courteous excuse to soften the refusal, for example: "I am resting/would rather not dance to this music/ want to finish this conversation." If you are hoping to dance with this person some other time, be sure to say so.
If you have declined an invitation to dance with the excuse that you are "resting," it would be thoughtless and/or rude to then accept another offer, even if from a more desirable dance partner, before the song or tanda has ended, unless of course you INTEND to give the first person the message that you don't ever want to dance with them in the future.
You have the right to refuse to dance with anyone, at any time. You have the right to end a dance at any time, even if you are already dancing with them (see next section).
The cortina (the non-danceable interlude between sets/tandas) is the customary time to change partners. However, it's entirely OK to dance more than one tanda with the same partner, and it's equally OK to stop dancing before the tanda or even before the song is over, if you are sufficiently uncomfortable for any reason. Maybe the leader (or follower) is throwing you around, maybe they smell bad, or maybe you're just getting a blister on your foot. Whatever the reason, just stop, explain whatever you want, thank them, and leave the dancefloor.
That said, there is truth to the saying that "Everyone sees everything on the dance floor," and ending a dance early, especially in the middle of a song, is potentially enbarrassing. So if you don't INTEND to embarrass them, it is sensitive to make up some excuse, like your feet hurt, perhaps feigning fiddling with your shoes to lend credence, and let them escort you off the dance floor amicably.