Why are so many men lousy navigators?

#1
I don't see this topic on the first three pages so it's time to raise the issue and let the elephant out of the room- - or out of the milonga.

I went to a milonga last night where the navigation was just about the WORST I ever experienced. Even with my short and long range radar, it was a challenge. My partners said, "It's very crowded." They also complained about being stepped on and kicked from boleos. I said, "No. Just filled with lousy navigators." At the end of each dance, I showed each partner big pockets of empty space that could be occupied. The men wouldn't move into these pockets for a few reasons.

1. They want to do figures for which there isn't enough room and do them anyway. They treat the woman like a mannequin or worse, inflatable doll to lead figures beyond their skill level or the woman's skill level. There's one guy who loves to do backward lunges (without looking). The women don't look amused based on their facial expression.

2. They have no technique. An example is leading a molinete. The molinete is supposed to be circular, NOT elliptical. Because of lousy frame (that's another issue), the woman is sent out like a satellite orbiting the earth. The man looks like a truck driver and the woman looks like a trailer swinging out wide to avoid jumping the sidewalk and hitting pedestrians.

3. They think they bought the ENTIRE dance floor. There is space in front of them to move but they would rather hold up the line to do a time and space consuming figure, e.g. parada. This reminds me of the New York City subway. The subway is usually 10 cars though some lines, e.g. shuttle trains, G line, are shorter. Instead of spreading out along the platform, passengers will cram into the first two cars, which are already crowded so they won't fit. The conductor is yelling "This train has 10 cars. That's 30 doors. Please use ALL of them." They don't, the train runs late, and eventually the train dispatcher calls "Why aren't you MOVING?" The train falls behind schedule and will fall even further behind schedule. A train running late has more passengers to pick up at stations down the line than if it was on time.

4. No musicality. They dance milonga as if the music was tango. This is the equivalent of putting a local train on the express track but runs like it's a local.

5. Unlike the subway, they ignore all the signals of a crowded floor. They lead high boleos or lead molinetes with high elbows. At least subway operators follow the signals, especially the YELLOW one which means APPROACH: Approach next signal not exceeding medium speed PREPARED TO STOP. If the operator overruns the STOP signal, the tripper will automatically stop the train. The operator is then escorted by police for a drug test. HMM. Should tango dancers be tested for DUI, Dancing Under the Influence of drugs and alcohol?

Is navigation taught? Is it an afterthought?

I have Blue Cross/Blue Shield and have to find out if I can add a tango addendum to my policy.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#2
I feel your pain.
I stopped going to the Portland tango festivals for exactly this reason.

The better teachers teach "navigation." One of the worst offenders at that festival was a young guy who taught AT at a local venue. He was not one of the better teachers.

I was out dancing two evenings this weekend and somewhere in there I told someone how wonderful it was to dance at Lo de Celia several years ago, and how I felt a bit bad about touching someone else once or twice during the many dances I had that evening. Different, higher standard, I guess.

With people like Alex Krebs, Steven Payne, Bill Alsup, Megan Pingree, Robert Hauk, all Portland based, you get exercises to build floorcraft as part of your training. Other folks... I can't say.

If a guy is thinking more about doing something that he hasn't "internalized," or "committed to muscle memory," he has less attention to give to the people around him.
Let's face the fact, though, that most of us were attracted to AT by the flashy, and "sexy" moves we see in movies and on tv.

We can maybe talk about self defense tactics if "you" want.

BTW my milonga consists of my AT steps, but danced with more energy and sharpness and rhythmic feel, as dictated by the music.
 
#3
I danced at lo de Celia. However, I'm showing a different milonga, Milonga de los Consagrados. The men I described could NEVER survive here.
EVERYBODY is dancing close embrace and simple figures. The men aren't suffering with excessive testosterone and the need to do expansive figures.
 

ArbeeNYC

Active Member
#4
I don't see this topic on the first three pages so it's time to raise the issue and let the elephant out of the room- - or out of the milonga.

[snip, snip]

I went to a milonga last night where the navigation was just about the WORST I ever experienced.
I snipped to avoid repeating everything you said. But, yeah, it's all true. Part of it is selfishness, part of it is inability, part of it is moving on to the pista before learning how to lead. I've witnessed all of the behaviors you describe and then some. I've had couples bump into me even when I'm standing still and before I've started dancing the next song! That's the leader's fault, of course. Some guys use the follower as a battering ram. There are some leaders I hate to dance behind because I know they are going to simply stop with 10 feet of space in front of them and meditate on the spot. Some guys just zigzag across the floor, this way and that and will simply walk in front of you without warning. And on and on it goes.

Some teachers try to teach navigation in a rudimentary way but it never sinks in with some people. Some guys are thickheaded, you really have to spell it out for them. Most of them are unaware of how the ronda is supposed to work and why it's important. But there's rarely any "Don't do this, do this. Don't do that," and so on in class. By the way, some of the culprits are experienced dancers and some even "teachers"! Go figure.

I've written about this very issue in slightly different terms on my own blog. Here (https://tango-high-and-low.com/2015/12/07/floorcraft-and-its-discontents/) if you're interested.
 
#5
I've written about this very issue in slightly different terms on my own blog. Here (https://tango-high-and-low.com/2015/12/07/floorcraft-and-its-discontents/) if you're interested.
The blog with the video is great. There was MORE than 1 Mr. Showoff at last night's milonga. The only thing they showed off is how badly they dance. Their partners looked liked human pretzels.

I don't have a clue why women put up with these men. Is wanting to dance so strong that women will tolerate anything? Part of the problem is a lot of milongas are almost pitch black so you can forget cabeceo.

As for making eye contact to enter the floor, forget it. You can't make eye contact with men who don't pay attention to where they are going.
 
#6
Human nature is reflected in all walks of life; dancing in a Milonga is just one of these.
Some people are considerate of their fellow dancers, other are self centered and narcissistic. You see them all on the dancing floor...
 

LadyLeader

Active Member
#7
If I pick up one single thing which made my navigation better it would be the ability to maintain a FEELING of dynamic dance in spite of step length or style. During the first leader years i was advancing with long and fast steps - when the others had one round on the pista I had two. It was for sure irritating for quite many!
Today I can get same kind of feeling by dancing on the spot or with 2 inch steps.

On encuentros the dancers must respect the dance lines and adapt the steps to the space available during the milonga. No fancy moves here! It is frustrating for some leaders. They respect the rules when advancing on the sides of the pista but when they reach the corner they just explode in a party of long fast steps to get rid of the accumulated frustration. With other words we are dancing with our history until we create a new base for our dance. We are addicted to our steps until we create a new addiction!
 

opendoor

Well-Known Member
#8
..Is navigation taught?
I share your concerns. My answer is my mantra: the reason is over-schooling or schoolification of tango (sorry I'm not so good in englisch). Sounds contradictory, but I find that navigation is taught in a proper way, but it is taught to students. Once taught, these students feel like masters on the dance floor. Those dancers (aficionados) who learned on the dance floor, instead of schools, studios, and classes, are dying out. (today) milongas are the funeral ceremonies of social tango. Todays milongas largely are practilongas, training events, school socials. Have you ever asked why experienced dancers today travel around and hop from one encuentro to another? Encuentros are closed-shop events, students must keep outside, at least eight years of experience required.
 
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#9
I think only a small part of poor floorcraft is about education and knowledge (line of dance, rondas), technique (leading smaller figures/steps) and experience (managing your dance on a busy/crowded floor). The real issue is about RESPECT.

Driving on the road is based on traffic laws and the highway code. Every conceivable situation a motorist might encounter while out on the road is covered; detailed studies and analysis dictate what you should or should not do. Yet there are incidents and accidents every single day. If such unfortunate events occur continually and with such frequency with so much regulation in place, it's no real surprise to me that this situation is replicated on a lesser scale on the dance floor.

The difference however, is that when I share the floor with a relatively large group of people who I believe have the same interests, respect for each other would naturally keep us out of 'harm's way' by observing the established norms and etiquette (given whatever the particular circumstances might be at the time e.g. busy v quiet floor. I'd have no issue with someone 'dancing big' if there was plenty of space and they weren't affecting anyone else.)

Some very experienced dancers/leaders get away with 'dancing big' without ever bumping into another couple; they dart in and out of spaces and send their partners giddy with delight...in blissful ignorance of how much all the other equally experienced dancers/leaders had to compromise their own dances to accommodate the 'performing Alpha' :dancingbanana:
 

MaggieMoves

Well-Known Member
#11
Moving around in crowds is something many people don't do well. Heck - drive in traffic in your city for about a half hour and you'll see exactly what I mean.

The main problem is a lack of foresight. Leaders need to think 3-4 moves ahead at all times.
 

dchester

Moderator
Staff member
#13
I think only a small part of poor floorcraft is about education and knowledge (line of dance, rondas), technique (leading smaller figures/steps) and experience (managing your dance on a busy/crowded floor). The real issue is about RESPECT.

Driving on the road is based on traffic laws and the highway code. Every conceivable situation a motorist might encounter while out on the road is covered; detailed studies and analysis dictate what you should or should not do. Yet there are incidents and accidents every single day. If such unfortunate events occur continually and with such frequency with so much regulation in place, it's no real surprise to me that this situation is replicated on a lesser scale on the dance floor.

The difference however, is that when I share the floor with a relatively large group of people who I believe have the same interests, respect for each other would naturally keep us out of 'harm's way' by observing the established norms and etiquette (given whatever the particular circumstances might be at the time e.g. busy v quiet floor. I'd have no issue with someone 'dancing big' if there was plenty of space and they weren't affecting anyone else.)

Some very experienced dancers/leaders get away with 'dancing big' without ever bumping into another couple; they dart in and out of spaces and send their partners giddy with delight...in blissful ignorance of how much all the other equally experienced dancers/leaders had to compromise their own dances to accommodate the 'performing Alpha' :dancingbanana:
I'd agree that lack of respect is a factor, along with just plain selfishness, which seems to be increasing in society as a whole. Now I certainly don't think all people are like this, but more seem to be only concerned with what they want, and are unconcerned with how there actions effect others.

Also, since the title said men, (and not people), to be clear, I don't think women leaders are any better at this than men.
 

ArbeeNYC

Active Member
#15
Moving around in crowds is something many people don't do well. Heck - drive in traffic in your city for about a half hour and you'll see exactly what I mean.

The main problem is a lack of foresight. Leaders need to think 3-4 moves ahead at all times.
Foresight for sure. But mostly they need to pay attention to what's happening around them at that moment and not dance with their eyes closed. Knowing when to move and where is a skill but it can be developed if you're attentive. It's an essential element of tango.
 

ArbeeNYC

Active Member
#16
I'd agree that lack of respect is a factor, along with just plain selfishness, which seems to be increasing in society as a whole. Now I certainly don't think all people are like this, but more seem to be only concerned with what they want, and are unconcerned with how there actions effect others.

Also, since the title said men, (and not people), to be clear, I don't think women leaders are any better at this than men.
True. One of the problems is the failure to see the ronda as an organic whole and that you and your partner are but one element in that whole. Yes, you need to pay close attention to your dancing and your partner, but you also need to care about the movement of the floor as a whole. When leaders are in sync and the floor is moving continuously, without congestion in one place and deserts of space elsewhere, it can be a beautiful thing.
 
#17
A beginning leader is dancing in his own little bubble ....​

If I was only complaining about beginning leaders, I wouldn't have started this thread. I'm complaining about men who know too many figures and feel compelled to dance every one of them during the tanda. I can understand beginner's fright. More experienced leaders should have more maturity, which a lot don't.​
 

MaggieMoves

Well-Known Member
#18
If I was only complaining about beginning leaders, I wouldn't have started this thread. I'm complaining about men who know too many figures and feel compelled to dance every one of them during the tanda. I can understand beginner's fright. More experienced leaders should have more maturity, which a lot don't.​
More figures = bigger penis, right? ;)
 

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