Saturday was the 6th anniversary of the Tango Garden milonga, and it seemed as though everyone who has ever been there had turned out to celebrate.
It was great to see so many people there from a social perspective, but from a beginner dancer one, it was challenging! For five reasons …
First, the obvious one, of so much of my attention dollar being taken up with navigation – or, in this case, worrying about whether I could keep my follower and I alive for the duration of the tanda.
Second, there was very little walking going on, many people simply doing endless static figures. I don’t have many of those to start with, fewer still that I feel confident deploying in a milonga and even fewer that are possible when so hemmed-in. It was so crowded that I didn’t even risk ochos most of the time (I know those can be done in almost zero space, but I’m not at that level yet with mine).
Third, with almost all the chairs occupied by people chatting, it was difficult to hear the music at times.
Fourth, although there was in theory an inner and outer ronda, every now and then a couple would dart out from the inner lane into the outer in order to complete some sequence or other. Only a handful of people were doing that, but in such a confined space, even the occasional semi-guided missile felt to me like a bit of a nightmare.
Finally, the Intermediate+ lesson preceding the milonga had apparently involved ganchos, and there were a few who decided to use those even though it seemed to me to be crazily inappropriate on such a crowded floor. Again, it was only a handful of people, but there were people being kicked, including on one occasion the person sat next to me in the chairs around the dance floor.
Some very experienced dancers there weren’t going out at all, deciding it was too insane, and just treating it as a social occasion. They were probably wise.
Of course, I wanted to dance despite all this, and ventured out onto the pista a few times, but it was the most limited dancing I’ve ever done. There were a lot of rebounds involved …
Bridgitta’s crowded pista lesson was very useful, but even armed with that, I’ve concluded that, for the foreseeable future, there’s very little point in attempting to dance when it’s that crowded. I don’t have the range of either dance or survival skills.
There were a few wins. I was told my dancing, limited as it was, was musical. I danced a milonga. And I think that, after that experience, an only averagely-crowded pista will feel less intimidating!
Later today, I have a lesson with Mariano, which I’m going to devote to refining my embrace, then this evening the monthly Tango Space workshop, this time on ‘Balance, Dissociation & Giro.’ All things I need to work on, so very much looking forward to that!