La pista sagrada

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, as we all know.  So when you want to talk with a friend on the other side of the dance floor, you walk a straight line to get there.  Well, that is unless you know you are crossing sacred territory .

On my very first visit to Buenos Aires in 1996, I didn’t walk, I ran across the floor when I saw a dancer I wanted to greet.  I was impulsive in my behavior without noticing that the floor of Club Almagro was clear during the cortina.  I cringe recalling my blunder that night.  I can only imagine what the milongueros were saying about la extranjera.  In those days, no one paused to talk or crossed the floor during the cortina. 

Things certainly have changed.  Newcomers aren’t aware that the aisles behind rows of tables are paths for getting to and from a table, and the floor is for dancing.  The only time men should walk across the floor at a milonga is after the tanda begins and a woman has accepted his invitation.  Imagine someone trying to get to their front-row table against the flow of dancers on the floor.  It doesn’t seem to occur to some that they could wait until the end of the tanda before walking to their table or even wait until the pause between dances.  This code of respect is too often forgotten.

I recently saw a foreign woman walk along the edge of the floor with her taxi dancer following behind her.  The floor was crowded, and there was no room for them to pass.  It obviously never occurred to her to use the aisle behind the tables or wait until the end of the tanda.  She wanted to get to her table as quickly as possible.  She wasn’t escorted by the hostess who seats people at the milonga.  It appeared she decided where she wanted to sit and went there on her own.  Her taxi dancer didn’t direct her to the aisle behind the tables.  It was interesting to see how they both worked their way against the flow of dancers like salmon swimming upstream to spawn.

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One Response to “La pista sagrada”

  1. tangobob Says:

    Tell me about it! I find it hard to talk about without swearing, you are happily dancing when you are bumped roughly not by a dancer but someone walking up the floor.
    In some milongas now you not only have to dodge all the people coming and going but the waiters and organisers as well.

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