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Floorcraft 103: Stay In Your Lane

Tango Floorcraft as has been mentioned several times via Tango Topics is not an easy topic to discuss for the simple reason that the topic itself encompasses so many different areas for the dancer to master from both roles, not just one. One line of reasoning when teaching the Tango Floorcraft is just tell people that they must maintain the line of dance and that’s it. You don’t need to do anything else. This is purile thinking at best. Floorcraft for the uninitiated encompasses interpretation of the music, mastery over ones foundation, mastery over one’s embrace and the embrace of others and how to enhance or negate it, mastery over spacing, and last but not least mastery over the execution of vocabulary within the line and lane of dance. So it’s not just a matter of telling someone that they must maintain the line of dance but rather all of those things at once. This is why the topic is so nebulous because it touches on every aspect of the action of tango within the Milonga environment with the exception of codigos and tango history.   Some people view this stuff as boring, almost pointless, like as in “Why study this stuff ?” or “Why create reminders about this stuff ?”. The answer to that question is simple: Doing so creates a safer and more enjoyable environment for everyone involved. A problem raises it’s ugly head when a lead or a couple does not imbue this advice into their dancing and then we, as a room, have a problem. And as a result an unsafe dancing environment where someone more than likely is going to get here. There are reasons why the rules of Floorcraft exist and this is probably chief among them. One of those rules is today’s Practical Tango Advice: “Stay In Your Lane“.

What does “Stay In Your Lane” mean ? Actually, you would think it’s a very small and simple idea, but it’s far bigger than you might imagine it to be for a variety of reasons. First, what ‘lane’ are we yapping about ? And secondly why does this stuff matter. Let’s answer the first question: Typically on a social dance floor there are at best Two, sometimes, Three or more rings of dancing couples depending on the size of the floor and numbers of dancers. Those rings of dancers are in Lanes of dancing that are Following the line of dance (counter-clockwise). Ideally, we would like those lanes not to touch, and to remain as untouched by the other lanes as possible. However, sometimes that’s just not possible for a wide variety of reasons. Most notably the Lead can not control or contain their own actions, the Follower that’s being asked to engage is used to doing things a certain way and can not even conceive of doing things any other way, which can be dancing too big, or too small. Or due to someone’s embrace being to restrictive or too compressive the receiving dancer has to make modifications to their steps to allow for some piece of vocabulary to function (on some level), and these are just some of the possible reasons, there are many, many, many more. So what does “Stay In Your Lane” actually mean ? It means that the dancing couple must both be responsible for what happens to the dancing couple. It’s not just a Leading proposition but also and more importantly a Following proposition. The answer to our second question is insanely simple: It’s more about the safety of not just the couple, but actually the people around that particular couple, and if you really stop and think about it, the long term health of the entire ronda. One couple can radically affect the Lane of dance that they’re in, and the entire ronda as a whole. How ? Simple, they could dance in a very large way, and in doing so take up lots and lots of space. And if they’re not careful in doing this infringe on other’s space as they dance, thereby creating a navigational and safety hazard for others to avoid and to be wary of. Which as a result creates fear in the other dancers around them, and a need to dance in a restrictive way that they may feel inhibited by. And that’s the tip of the proverbial iceberg. So yeah, this stuff matters. A lot

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