The milonga floor

The daughter of a friend of mine has become interested in dancing tango in the past year.  She and her partner came to a milonga one night where I was dancing.  She noticed everything including how men crossed the floor after the invitation by cabeceo had been accepted.  I was pleased to learn that how to cross the floor is being taught where she attends classes, because it is something men have to know when they enter the milonga.  She commented that the man who came to dance with me didn’t walk along the edge of the floor, but rather he crossed directly in the center.  I knew that he hadn’t done anything improper because he crossed at the beginning of the tanda.  Our conversation got me thinking about all the things men need to know about walking across the floor before they begin dancing at a milonga. 

During the cortina music:  I learned years ago that the floor is considered sacred in Buenos Aires.  One isn’t supposed to cross an empty floor like it’s shortcut to see a friend on the other side of the room nor should one dance during the cortina. Yes, there is always someone who disregards this rule.  An aisle between rows of tables is provided to enter and leave the room without disrupting the dancing.

At the beginning of a tanda:  Men walk from their tables directly across the floor to where their partners will enter the floor or in front of the table if the woman is seated in the first row of tables. 

During the tanda: While others are dancing, men must circumvent dancers by walking on the outer edge to arrive where their intended partners will enter the floor to meet them.  This is most easily accomplished at the end of a dance when everyone is standing still on the floor.  Merging into the crowd is an easier transition when everyone begins the next dance.

At the end of the tanda:  Men escort their partners back to the point where they entered the floor.  This is an important part of ending a tanda, so that women aren’t left stranded in the middle of the floor to walk across it alone.  There is nothing stranger than seeing a woman returning to her table unescorted.  After one’s partner has left the floor, the man returns directly to his table.  Everyone is crossing to exit the floor at the same time when the tanda ends after four dances during the cortina music.

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