Friday, April 18, 2008

An argument for longer cortinas...

Carol Shepard on Tango-L mentioned something that I think is a good idea.

The thread started out about surplus followers and/or leaders. There is also discussion about couples who stay on the dance floor, through the cortina, for multiple tandas. Whether it is leaders "hogging" followers, or followers being too timid (to end a dance), or simply that the two dancers are really, really, really enjoying each other, it does present some problems.

In Atlanta - I was pretty good about adhering to my rule for the festival - one follower - one tanda. I say "pretty good" - actually I would say it was "pretty half assed" now that I think about it. I think there was one occassion when I wanted another tanda, but at least I had the courtesy to move to the edge of the floor - off the floor - and wait for the cortina to be over.

There have been times that I have missed dancing all together with a particular follower because she was retained/detained/restrained/constrained on the floor between tandas - she was never "available" to be invited. At least not when I was looking.

There is also the common courtesy of sharing. As much as I would like to dance the entire festival with half a dozen followers - I'll call it my festival sweet spot - I resist the temptation. It is a difficult temptation to resist. I am your typical "findsomethinggoodandstickwithit" kinda guy. So, I force myself not to ask women for repetitive tandas - at least on the same night. Is this stupid? As I write this it sounds stupid...

Anyway, you can check out all the debate for yourself on Tango-L.

Carol's idea was longer cortinas. She suggested up to two minutes long. This would, in theory, discourage couples from hanging out on the dance floor and "force" them to mix it up with other dancers. In other words, make it glaringly uncomfortable for them to stay out there for that long.

I have a few 45 second cortinas in my bag of DJ tricks. But I only rarely played them. I have some minute ones...a minute thirty...but I never thought to play them. I thought they would be way too long. I have always tried to stay in the 30-40 second range.

I may need to re-think that. That is, if I ever find another place to DJ, or get an invitation to guest DJ somewhere.

18 comments:

Debbi said...

Honestly, this sounds like the government trying to regulate every aspect of our lives. "Surplus women"??? Uhmmm.... there will always be those who sit on the sides, for whatever reason, and those who do not sit should not be made to feel as though they should not dance because of those who are sitting. That is just silly to me.

When I was not very good, I sat a lot. And I knew why I sat. As I got better, and was better able to socialize and chat with others, and developed a cabaceo of sorts, I danced more.

If I want to dance a second or third tanda with a leader, and he is amenable to this, then who the hell cares? If I want to continue dancing I will ask "Want to hear what's coming up next?" or "One more?" And if I don't want to continue dancing, for whatever reason, even when I have enjoyed the tanda, I say Thank you and we leave the floor.

If there was a 2 minute cortinas, I would be irritated for one thing, but I would definitely find things to talk about for 2 minutes while we waited to find out what the next tanda held for us.

Part of the great thing about festivals is that the milongas are long, the same people are around for 3 or 4 days, and you have plenty of time to get to almost everyone on your wish list. And if you don't, then you need to look at why that might be happening, and try to find a solution other than attempting to regulate how much others dance.

Alex said...

I should have said, "in communities where this is an issue". At the Atlanta Fest, I only saw one or two couples, once in a while, stay on the dance floor. Everyone was very good about clearing the floor during cortinas.

The codigos from the milongas in Buenos Aires have evolved over many decades. They are there for good reason - they serve a purpose in social dancing, and they work.

Here in the U.S. (and perhaps Europe), many people do not avail themselves of the codigos, or they are simply unaware.

I'm not saying that people should not dance multiple tandas together if they want to.

But just imagine if everyone did this - it would be like a ballroom social scene where it is husbands and wives dancing only with each other.

Longer cortinas might be a benefit to the overall experience for everyone at a milonga - in a community that is experiencing multi-tanda issues as discussed on Tango-L. That's all.

As a DJ, if I were noticing lots of people hanging out on the dance floor during the cortinas, I might whip out a 1 or 2 minute version, just to see what happens.

Johanna said...

Alex, this is what my sweetie calls "social engineering", and like all attempts of its ilk, useless. You cannot force people do or not do something they are inclined to not do or do. Or...well, you get the picture.

As for 2 minute cortinas? You're kidding, right? If there are 10 tandas in an evening, you're talking about 20 minutes of cortinas, which could very preferably be spent dancing...

Not to mention "creative" DJs who play absurd and/or torturous cortinas. Who'd want to sit/stand/chat/wait through 20 minutes of that!

Caroline said...

I don't know - it's all about the survival of the fittest, really. Back when I used to sit all the time, it only gave me motivation to work harder at being a better dancer. It worked.
Like Debbi, I don't like the idea of being regulated to dance only one tanda with someone. If I want to dance another tanda with a leader and he feels the same way, that's our business and nobody else's. And I don't like extra long cortinas - I find it brings down the energy level and makes people irritated as they impatiently wait for the next tanda to start. DJs tend to get very pissy looks from those on the floor wondering why the hell he is taking so long. Complaints will ensue - not good for the DJ's reputation.

Alex said...

I don't care how many multiple tandas anyone wants to dance with someone else. That's not the point.

Clear the dance floor during the cortina. Done, simple, get off the floor.

Cuz I said so.

Debbi said...

Maybe I am lucky and have danced in communities where this is not an issue, despite people dancing multiple tandas with their partners. But I have a hard time believing that it is all or none. Everyone dancing with one partner all night or only dancing one tanda each. Never danced ballroom, but that does not sound like a good night to me.
Yes, I am aware of the codigos of BsAs, although I have never been. I think it is a When in Rome thing, and would be perfectly content to follow the one tanda rule if/when I go.
But here in North America the rules are slightly different, regardless if that is a good thing or not.
Having been to a few events recently where the DJs did an amazing job of pissing off most of their audience, messing with music and cortinas can turn a crowd very quickly against a DJ it seems. Not that experimenting is a bad thing, it creates change and freshness, but it is a fine line.
I did not want to write it earlier, but Carol's post just sounds like sour grapes to me. I did not read the whole thread, so I do not know what the history of it is. However the over analyzation and wishes for tight regulation in tango is one of the reasons I left Tango L. It gave me headaches.
Of course, I am cranky this morning, after a night of horrible, disorganized music and asthma attacks... so I might be a little too stringent myself in reaction to what Carol says.

Makes me want to say "Shut up and dance!" and if you are not dancing, then do something pro-active about it instead of trying to hamper others.

Johanna said...

Longer cortinas will not achieve that.

Alex said...

I know. What I meant was if everyone will just clear the floor, the problem, or perceived problem, is solved. Nobody has anything to bitch about anymore, unless it is now that leaders hogging followers on the sidelines. Cortinas can stay the same - 20-40 seconds long.

I do wonder though, what a milonga with one or two minute cortinas would "feel" like. In the U.S., it's almost as if milongas are a tango frenzy - dance every dance at all costs. Someone even told me in Atlanta that they know people whose goal is to dance with every leader/follower who is there.

The social aspect, present in BA, perhaps even the underlying reason for the milonga in the first place, is 90% absent in the milongas/festivals I have attended here.

I'm not saying there are 2 minute cortinas in BA, or that 2 minute cortinas would "engineer" more socializing in a milonga, but I just wonder. As you all know by now, I wonder, and think, too much.

Debbi said...

ahhhh.... well that is what you should have said! Carol's post is about regulating how many tandas people dance together by having long cortinas, and your post seems to support her statement.
But if you are going to dance again with someone, why do we have to leave the floor? I'm confused....
Oh, and just ask Sorin.... but "Cause I said so" does not seem to work with me.... ;-)

Alex said...

I know Debbi, I am cranky too. The full moon is two days away. Plus, I haven't had a kiss (per my other post) or the ensuing physicality in many weeks.

And I know what you mean about Tango-L. I would have to go re-read to trace the thread, but I won't. The posts do seem to be a lot of brain damage these days.

So, let's just go dance this weekend. I think I will head to Atlanta tonight.

I hope everyone clears the floor...or heads will roll...(big big grin...) :)

Johanna said...

Alex, I think this is one of those "balance" things.

I LOVE the BA codigos, and personally believe they are why tango there is perceived as so much more "transcendental" than elsewhere.

However, many/most "western" cultures chafe at the very notion of rules, especially if they are meant to regulate their social behavior.

Alex said...

Debbi and Johanna, I like this blog commentary back and forth. It's almost like instant messaging!

Here's my theory.

With dancers on the floor, the opportunity for anyone to dance with either one of them is 0%.

If everyone clears the floor, then the chances of everyone mixing it up are much greater. Something like 1% or greater.

I can deal with slim to none - but it's aggravating to me to see a follower I want to dance with stuck on the floor tanda after tanda with a hog - the 0% scenario. I can't approach her on the floor. If she is off to the sidelines, at least I can approach and cabeceo the hell out of her, or even verbally "cut in" by saying "next tanda?".

When I do multiple tandas (and yes, I do this at least once or twice at a milonga), I scoot, with my follower, over to the nearest edge of the floor - off of the floor - and wait for the new tanda.

But this is me. Me espousing the codigos of BA. I believe in them and I try my best to adhere to them. If someone doesn't want to leave the floor during cortinas - that is their preference and their business. But, I think it can be interpreted as rude if they don't. In BA it is definitely viewed as rude.

Alex said...

Johanna...

I would offer that the codigos are not intended to "regulate" social behavior, but rather "enhance" or "enable" or "induce" optimal social interaction.

?

Johanna said...

We're talking semantics, Alex. Boundaries - no matter what you call them - are about clarifying and facilitating decision-making.

As for the issue you're trying to resolve here, well, that's how it goes sometimes. Even in BA, you can sit within direct sight line of someone and STILL not get their attention all night.

If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride...

Elizabeth said...

Am I missing something in this argument/subject? If a couple chooses to stay together for a second tanda isn't that their business? If she wants to move on to another partner she can, and so can he. What sort of controls does the DJ have on this? None. No partner dominates my time unless I want him to.

Alex said...

Hola Ms. E....

On tango-L, the issue was about couples staying together for multiple tandas when there was a gender imbalance...which would go to what I call "community service" dances...I have been at a milonga where I was the only leader with six followers...now how would the other five have felt if I would have only danced with my favorite, the one I "wanted" to dance with, the one I was there for...I would expect they would have been pissed...so I did what any gentleman would do, I sacrificed my own desires and danced with all of them (until more leaders showed up)...granted, this is an extreme example with a very small community...

The issue, to me, is not really about couples staying together for multiple tandas, but more about leaving the dance floor during the cortina out of respect for the codigos...

And ultimately this...a follower who may have a habit of staying n the dance floor during cortinas is much less likely to get an invitation from me...because, naturally, my attention is focused on the followers who are off of the floor, and therefore "available"...

Elizabeth said...

I think we are fortunate in Seattle to have a pretty good leader/follower balance and a good level of dance at the moment. some of the problems in dance communities don't sound apply. Knock on wood...Also if I were at a dance where there was only one lead..I guess it would be time for me to go out for pizza. I know a great place. Oh, but then the only guy would probably want to go out for pizza too...

Alex said...

I retract my statements about longer cortinas...

I was wrong...everyone else was right...

Stephen Brown, of the Dallas tango community, said it best today on Tango-L...here is his post....

Many years ago, rumor had it that a milonga organizer in a major North American city would run out onto the floor and give people tickets for breaches of tango etiquette. People ridiculed her for the behavior. I would have found such behavior funny (both humorous and odd).

I don't think it makes much sense for an organizer or a group of community leaders to impose a set of rules on those attending milongas. People go to milongas to have fun dancing tango, not to have a bunch of rules imposed on them, and that includes a forced rotation of partners.

Various communities have drafted social etiquette rules which are intended to be informative rather than requirements. For some examples, see

http://www.portlandtango.com/faq.html

http://www.tangovita.com/page.php?page=14

http://www.tangomuse.com/TangoManners.html

http://www.close-embrace.com/invitingetiquette.html

http://www.tejastango.com/faq_dallas_tango.html

Of course, severe breeches of what is considered acceptable social
etiquette may require intervention on an individual basis.

I don't think it serves the milonga well for the dj to force everyone off the floor with a second cortina or a lengthy cortina. The cortina should be long enough to allow the floor to clear--not to force it cleared.

Dancers know what the cortina means. If they want to stay on the dance floor that is their choice. (If one of them is being coerced to stay on the floor that is another issue.)

Some ideas that I've seen work at milongas (that had the right spaces) to promote more positive social interaction (not force rotation).

1) A milonga has a break zone--an area where people could sit or stand and talk without being asked to dance.

2) A milonga has two dance floors--one for practicing and one for dancing the ronda.

3) A milonga has three seating zones: single males, single females, couples. Couples who want to interact as singles may sit with their own gender in the singles area. The cabeceo is used as a matter of social etiquette--not rules. Anyone is always free to reject invitations that have not been properly offered.

With best regards,
Steve



What the hell was I thinking?

Oh well, I'll blame it on the full moon...