Argentine Tango Etiquetteby Ramu Pyreddy
TANDAS, RONDAS, OTROS.....
TANDASWhat is a tanda?
A tanda is a collection of 3-5 songs, usually played by the same orchestra from a given era. In a typical milonga in Buenos Aires and many places around the world, music is played in tandas of tangos, valses and milongas. Traditionally, people will dance the entire tanda with the same partner. Not finishing the tanda with a partner is considered an insult in many places.
What is a cortina?
A cortina (translation: curtains, as in a curtain on a stage) is usually a short piece of non-tango music that is usually not danceable. The cortina indicates that the tanda has come to a close. It is also a cue for the gentleman to escort the lady to her table.
Why is it better to play music in tandas?
Argentine tango is about dancing a feeling, and each orchestra has its own feeling. Playing the music in sets by orchestra gives the dancers the opportunity to find and then dance the feeling of that particular orchestra. Also, it allows you to choose your partner to fit the music. Dancing to a sequence in a set lets you get to know and appreciate the subtlety of the lead/follow of your partner in your search for that special feeling.
RONDASLine of Dance
The tango, like most traveling dances, has a line of dance. It traverses the perimeter of the dance floor and moves counter-clockwise. When the leader is facing the line of dance, the leader's right is away from the center of the dance floor and the follower's right is to the center of the dance floor. You always dance in the line of dance progressing at the same pace as everybody else in your lane.
Lane of Dance
The lane of dance is formed by a number of couples moving along the line of dance in a big circle. There can be 2-3 such concentric circles (lanes) on the floor.
What is a ronda?
The literal translation of ronda is round. A nice ronda forms on the dance floor when all the dancers stick to their lane of dance and move in the line of dance.
OTROSWhen we learn to drive a car, the first things we are taught are the rules of the road. You learn to drive on the right side, to stay in your lane, to brake if somebody is ahead of you, etc., etc. You learn that your safety and safety of others on the road are critical.
You do NOT learn the best way to corner at 60mph. Neither do you learn how to race from 0-60mph in 5 seconds nor how to cut somebody off in the next lane.
You share the road with everyone else - no matter how good a driver you are or how expensive and "cool" your car is! The same goes for dancing on a social floor. No matter how good a dancer you are and how many fancy and "expensive" steps you know, you share the floor with everyone else.
But for some reason, not much importance is given to this aspect of tango either in lessons or in the workshops by master teachers. So I put together an analogy between driving on the freeways and dancing in a milonga. Most of it might seem like common sense, but unless you practice them, you can very easily pick up and retain the bad habits.
Here is a link to a very nice article on floorcraft by Robin Thomas, a tango dancer and a very popular DJ from New York.
TEACHING ON THE SOCIAL DANCE FLOORThis is a big NO!
Please refrain from teaching on the dance floor unless you are asked to. And if you are asked for feedback from your partner, please step aside from the dance floor. Stopping abruptly on the floor breaks the flow of the line of dance.
If a step is not successfully led/followed, then you can try to lead it two or three more times, and abandon it if it is still not successful. Ask each other then to work it out at the Practica. Practicas are the right place for working out a step.