Why are so many men lousy navigators?

#21
The well organized pista has never been an easy creation - didn't they have a kind of pista police who had right to talk to people who didn't get the rules right.

If I want something I work for it! So I use several strategies to get a space for my dance and I do it on the pista during the dance.

A frog I use when the the couple before and after me are dancing with attacking irregular steps and with elbows out in crowded milonga. I just extend my frame to maximum to point out what space I require for me/partnern. It is enough if one of them get the message and respects my space! If the case is even beyond that I ask my follower to put her hands on my shoulders and then I stretch out my arms some more and turn around slowly to the music. (I extend my self as a frog)

I use to monitor the two couples before me and the two behind to see what is going on. If someone is pushing me from behind i can slow down until the queue is even or I dance a little bit too near the couple who is stopping the traffic. I dance with my back towards the leader who I want to have impact on and I do it with care. I have talked with two of the local stoppers and understand their thinking but they must learn. They are not bad or anything else but they just MUST learn.

When i still was teaching beginners I trained them to dance in a formation. Think 3 dancers in outer line and 2 in the second line. They learned always two variants of figure - one to advance and one for the moments of waiting. When the music was playing my partner were advancing or blocking the way for our students who should continue to dance and manage different situations. This formation was also an idea for these terrible pistas - go together with some calm dancers, create the formation, a calm island advancing through the rough sea.
 

ArbeeNYC

Active Member
#22
Then there is not much we could do as we are not really able to change "the society".
But I think it's the job of the organizer to keep the needs of his guests in balance.
True, the host(s) and organizers of the milonga play a big part in setting the tone for the event. That, to a large extent, determines how people behave at the milonga -- dress, navigation, courtesy, use of the cabeceo, behavior on the floor, and so on.
 

newbie

Well-Known Member
#23
it's time to raise the issue and let the elephant out of the room- - or out of the milonga.
Uh?
An elephant has a very controlled walk. A common demo of their virtuosity is to make them walk on a ground where eggs have been randomly placed, and not a single one gets smashed by the elephant.
I'd say the navigation skill will be markedly improved if all the leaders see themselves as an elephant.
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#25
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.
If people are getting kicked by boleos, that's the fault of the followers doing the boleos. I teach followers that unless the leader uses so much force that it's painful to resist the momentum, they always have the option of keeping their foot low, and their knees together. Yes, some leaders lead boleos like they are going to do a skater's throw triple axel, but much of the time, it's the followers doing either unled boleos or boleos too big for the space. As a follower, I feel totally ok slamming my fellow followers for this mistake.

To the leaders who lead every boleo so hard that the followers will injure a muscle keeping it low:
Stop doing that!

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.
I think this is by far the biggest reason. and I'd lump the 1st part of #2 into this description because they are part of the same issue

(2. They have no technique. )

People dance what they are taught. If they go to classes and workshops and get taught long combinations and fancy step patterns, that's what they will dance. If they get technique, floorcraft, connection, and basic moves drilled into them, they will dance that. (or quit and find another teacher who gives them fancy moves, but there will always be those people... they don't have to form the majority).

One of the reasons I prefer teaching privates or small groups, is that it's easier to focus on fundamentals. I know this sort of teaching can be done successfully because I have had a number of followers tell me they enjoy dancing with my student leaders. Of course, it's not the best way to make money because it's hard to get beginners to invest in privates, and the best results come from people who take a series of privates rather than just one or two.

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.
At least people who hold up the line doing a parada or moving slowly aren't as likely to cause someone else injury, so there's that... ;)

My current pet peeve is people who move slowly in the outer lane and then complain about other people "passing on the right". Yeah.. you aren't supposed to squeeze past someone who's in the outer lane by passing them on the right, but on the other hand, you aren't supposed to be moving slower in the outer lane either, and for the couple stuck behind a sloth, veering into the inner lane to pass is also a no-no.

My other current pert-peeve (and it relates) is the leader progressing slower than the general pace of traffic simply because "that's how tango is supposed to be danced" and some arrogant attitude of "I'll enforce the way they do it in BA by simply ignoring what's going on around me and insisting on dancing "The BA way", turning themselves into creeping sloths with loads of space in front of them and a pile up behind.

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.
Well, that takes time to learn well. I don't think that's the biggest reason floorcraft is an issue. If anything, IME, people get MORE dangerous in milonga, not because they are moving too slow, but because they go hog wild.

Is navigation taught? Is it an afterthought?
I teach it. In fact, at the top of the handout I give all my private students or class attendees is in bold:
Proper Floorcraft is the most important thing in Tango. No matter what moves you learn, if you can’t execute them without making life hell for your partner or other people on the dance floor, you’re not a good tango dancer. This applies to both leaders and followers.

On the top of the "Tips for Leaders" Sheet, I have this:
Floorcraft, Floorcraft, Floorcraft. I can’t say it enough! Dance safely. Everything else is secondary.
Look where you are going, not at your partner, your partner’s feet, or down at your own feet
If all you can manage is basic walking, then do basic walking. Followers would rather do simple walking in a divine embrace than complicated stuff done badly requiring chiropractic repair!
Seriously. No one ever believes me, but it’s true. Ask any advanced follower. Keep it simple!


Now I'll probably get some dissent about whether Floorcraft is THE most important thing in tango, but I figure I'd rather err on the side of over-emphasis that under-emphasis. ;)
 
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Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#26
I don't have a clue why women put up with these men. Is wanting to dance so strong that women will tolerate anything? .
Pretty much. When you've been sitting for 2 hours, you'll accept almost anything just to stretch out your stiff muscles.

I do think however, that it is more common with beginner/intermediate followers. Beginners certainly just feel grateful that anyone asked them at all. Intermediates haven't learned yet that less is sometimes more and that quality beats quantity. They also haven't necessarily gotten to dance yet with a bunch of different really good leaders, so they don't realize there's a better world out there.

There's also a point that most of the followers I know who are over 45 decide that they have to weigh injury against getting to dance more. I can't dance with just anyone anymore. I can't afford to go to the chiropractor every Monday. It took years, but I feel far more comfortable turning people down now, even in my small neck of the woods. I'm more at ease with the fact that there are leaders who don't ever ask me and never will.

At a milonga where no one knows you, there's a fine line followers have to walk of being seen so that you will get asked, vs being seen dancing badly with crappy leaders. You can't be as picky when you are a stranger or you won't get to dance at all. But you have to be careful who you accept and for what music. Then there's the problem that if it's a really great tanda of music, then the leaders you want to dance with may not even be watching because they are dancing. This is a problem I've never seen addressed in the "how to get dances" suggestions... I can dance a number of tandas without the leaders I want to see me ever actually sitting out to watch.
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#27
There's another reason floorcraft is so bad sometimes and that is that most leaders look down instead of where they are going.

It doesn't help that so many videos have famous dancers performing looking down or that there is this image of tango being serious stuff created by seeing pictures and films of leaders looking down like they are so soulful!

My first teacher used to say that many men claim to look down because they are serious or engaging the feeling of the music, when the truth is that they just don't know where their partner's feet are.

So I think there's a major hole in some teaching methods that never give the leader understanding of where the follower is, and what the result of his move is. The technique instruction doesn't specifically mention how proper connection will give the leader a better sense of where the follower's weight is and what foot she is on, nor does it demonstrate the difference.

Add to that the trend of dancing "close" but without much actual physical connection, it's no wonder the leaders don't know where the follower is. I've given the occasional private to a leader who isn't a beginner and talked to them about how to physically connect, then made a strong torso connection myself. I then ask.. "is it easier to know which foot I'm on now and where my feet are?" and they are amazed at the difference.

The sad thing is that I'm not doing something radical and magic... it's just basic connection that I learned in my first 2 months of lessons... it shouldn't be mid-blowing for someone who has been dancing a few years! Unfortunately, the followers are often just as guilty of not facilitating that connection
 

Gssh

Well-Known Member
#28
this is basically a big +1 for everything Zoopsia said.

In group classes tango is often more like a slotted dance than anything else, privates are per definition privates, and where else would anybody learn how to move in the ronda? At the same time it is pretty obvious that running into other people is not the thing to do, so people develop their floorcraft from first principles:
1) tango has stationary figures
2) it is traditional to move some distance between these stationary figures
3) other people are obstacles that either
a) take up space in front of a couple so there is no space to do a figure
b) move into ones reserved space from the back or even the side and interrupt these figures
So the goal becomes to move to sufficiently big spaces to allow one to dance ones figure - and the people who insist on "proper BA walk" are just treating BA walk as a figure.

Joking aside - i think that what makes a ronda is leaders dancing with leaders - it is often very difficult to create a connection with the leaders around one because they don't make eye contact, and their musicality is either indecipherable or detached enough from the music to make dancing with them somewhat non-intuitive. As a leader being part of a ronda, where the whole dancefloor has a communal pulse and identity is one of the most amazing experiences.

I think better musicality would help a lot - if the majority of leaders match the ebb and flow of the music at least somewhat i think we will get a ronda. It makes everybody predictable, and from this predictability comes freedom.

I often suggest to people that learning chacarera and dancing it socially to explore this feeling of being part of a choreographed whole, and at the same time how much it is possible to bend the choreography for oneself without breaking the gestaltness of the dancefloor. (i assume that you can get the same from other folk dances when it is danced socially - i have limited experience with that because aside from social chacarera teachers/groups tended to discourage playing with the dances - but i am pretty sure that people who dance square dances to flirt with each other have plenty ideas of how to play that, too)
 
#29
I am learning a number of new figures now and need to develop them so they can be used on the pista.

One of the best methods for me has been training them in a 3m long corridor at my followers home. That space forces me to control the step length and the angles so I use the entire smal space but not more.

Step length gives one dimension for the needed space and this is talked about. Another dimension is the turning radius created by the abrazo/frame which you can expand or squeeze according to the space available. These corridor exercises have taught me also how helpful it is to change the angle for next step by pivoting less of more to facilitate comfortable advancing on the floor. These two i have never heard talked about as navigation tools.
 
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ArbeeNYC

Active Member
#30
...

As a leader being part of a ronda, where the whole dancefloor has a communal pulse and identity is one of the most amazing experiences.
Absolutely, that's one of the best elements of tango, but it's rare to see since so many leaders are disconnected from the music and the people around them. When the couples are in synch though, it's a beautiful experience.

I think better musicality would help a lot - if the majority of leaders match the ebb and flow of the music at least somewhat i think we will get a ronda. It makes everybody predictable, and from this predictability comes freedom.
Yes, couldn't agree more. Musicality is critical, along with *respect* for the other dancers on the floor. By all means, focus on your partner, but pay attention to the others on the floor as well. Try to create a collective experience. Sometimes you'll see three or four couples in a row, those who dance to the music and maintain the ronda, which is a lovely thing. But I've rarely seen everyone on the floor do the same.

I'm not sure what the solution is. Some class exercises, group exercises would be helpful, but musicality is hard to teach. Some folks just never get it. And some people (leaders) are too egotistical to show respect to the other dancers and recognize that they are part of a larger whole.
 
#31
I'm not sure what the solution is. Some class exercises, group exercises would be helpful, but musicality is hard to teach. Some folks just never get it. And some people (leaders) are too egotistical to show respect to the other dancers and recognize that they are part of a larger whole.
As long as women continue to dance with lousy leaders, reinforcing their egos they are great dancers, nothing will improve. Imagine a milonga where women refused to dance with lousy leaders. (They know who they are.) I was at a milonga where a man dropped a woman to the floor. (That's his reputation.) The organizer was concerned she might have a concussion and asked if she wanted an ambulance to the hospital. She declined medical attention. Other women danced with him after this mishap. Do you think he's going to change? What motivation does he have to change?

Women have a lot of power in tango. Either they don't know it or know they have it but don't know how to use it or are afraid to use it because the man's feelings will get hurt.

Maybe there has to be a *ME TOO* or *TIME'S UP* movement in tango to get some men's attention. Men in Hollywood (at least some) are getting the message. I guess the message has to be drastic to get attention.
 
#32
I think there can't be "so many lousy navigators".
There will be a majority that determines the average.
And that majority bears the majority of the costs of most milongas.
 
#33
There's also a point that most of the followers I know who are over 45 decide that they have to weigh injury against getting to dance more.
Most teachers I know are over 45 and tackle 3 group classes in a row. So I think it is natural that they limit body-to-body-teaching to a certain extent und prefer an open embrace then. To teach longer do-this-to-that-sequences instead of fundamentals might be an - unconscious - way to achieve this. And not a good basis for floorcraft in general.
 
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#34
Followers would rather do simple walking in a divine embrace than complicated stuff done badly requiring chiropractic repair!
Seriously. No one ever believes me, but it’s true. Ask any advanced follower. Keep it simple!
Yes, I believe that every advanced follower will confirm that. But there are not so much advanced followers around and intermediate leaders most times dance with intermediate followers. Follower which might themselves not have achieved a smooth walk and enjoy some "ballroom feeling" in an open embrace. So a year ago was there a ongoing traceoff between floorcraft and figures for me. Even I as the leader didn't want to get bored by myself!
 
#35
I think there can't be "so many lousy navigators".
There will be a majority that determines the average.
And that majority bears the majority of the costs of most milongas.
I wasn't writing from a statistical perspective though I was a statistician with the Bureau of the Census in Washington, DC for 18 years. I wasn't trying to quantify the number of lousy leaders. The point is there are TOO MANY!
 
#37
Why are floorcraft and figures a tradeoff?
That time I had less than a year of experience, was parallel engaged in four intermediate and advanced classes, more or less at a "local milonga intermediate level".
But I was only able to focus my attention on one topic - like figure, embrace, floorcraft, musicality, connection, dialog - others had to suffer inevitably.
And to dance "only" a decent walk was not a real option, especially with the ambitious class mates.
There was a job to do, there was a risk to take...
 
#38
That time I had less than a year of experience, was parallel engaged in four intermediate and advanced classes, more or less at a "local milonga intermediate level".
But I was only able to focus my attention on one topic - like figure, embrace, floorcraft, musicality, connection, dialog - others had to suffer inevitably.
And to dance "only" a decent walk was not a real option, especially with the ambitious class mates.
There was a job to do, there was a risk to take...
I want to be sure I understood what you wrote. You had less than a year of experience and you were taking intermediate and advanced classes?
 
#39
I want to be sure I understood what you wrote. You had less than a year of experience and you were taking intermediate and advanced classes?
Of course. My beginner class mate had two years of experience. We jumped into an intermediate class and I added a milonga class after two months. One more intermediate class two month later. The invitation to help out in an advanced class after two more months. All in parallel and with different class mates, was not so difficult. Dancing with different partners at a practilonga since week five yielded some stress, but after a year I was at a "local milonga intermediate level" and stopped all group class activites.
And since that time do I slowly improve and refine my floorcraft... :cool:
 
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Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#40
Most teachers I know are over 45 and tackle 3 group classes in a row. So I think it is natural that they limit body-to-body-teaching to a certain extent und prefer an open embrace then. To teach longer do-this-to-that-sequences instead of fundamentals might be an - unconscious - way to achieve this. And not a good basis for floorcraft in general.
Most teachers that come through here are younger show dancers.

I myself am over 45 and I teach in CE in both classes and private lessons. The traveling teachers coming here that are over 45 are more likely to teach and dance CE than some of the younger ones.

It is far easier to teach in CE without getting hurt, than to dance with random leaders socially in CE. For one thing, there's a totally different dynamic happening when someone is dancing with a teacher instead of someone they consider a "peer". Plus as a teacher, I can simply STOP at any point that an injurious thing is happening in a class and correct the person. I can't do that in a milonga.

Well I can stop during the milonga if I'm going to get hurt, but I can't teach or correct the person in the middle of the milonga floor and I really shouldn't stop until the end of the song even if I'm not going to finish the tanda (it's disruptive to the other dancers to leave during a song). When I do stop before the end of the tanda, I am risking who knows what fallout from walking away (and being seen walking away) from a leader during the tanda. Unfortunately the injury often occurs without much warning in a social setting and by the time I get hurt, it's too late. Liek the guy who didn't just step on my foot... he raked across my toe so hard he nearly tore my toenail off! That wouldn't happen in a class because I would have control over the material being danced and (hopefully) I'd be noticing and adjusting for him all kinds of postural or movement errors earlier in the execution.
 
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