Friday, December 16, 2016

Rules for A Crowded Dance Floor

(This is a repeat of a blog I published last year. but with all the holiday milongas on the schedule, I felt it was a timely reminder.)

 Dancing on a crowded dance floor is much like driving in heavy traffic, and the rules are much the same.


1. Use caution as you enter the dance floor. Wait for a break in the flow of traffic. Make eye contact with the approaching leader so you know he sees you. Merge into the flow of the dance like a driver merging onto the highway - smoothly, with no sudden stops.

2: Travel counterclockwise, in the line of dance. Avoid stepping backwards, just as you avoid backing up on a busy street.

3. Be aware of the flow of traffic. On a crowded dance floor dancers travel as a group, starting and stopping together. Maintain a consistent distance between you and the couple ahead of you,

4. A crowded dance floor will have multiple lanes of dancers - an outer lane, one or two middle lanes, and maybe an inner lane. Stay in your lane. The more crowded the dance floor is, the less you should consider passing or changing lanes. And avoid passing on the right. That puts you in the leader’s blind spot

5. Keep your dancing small and simple. Enjoy the music and the connection, and save the fancy steps for a less crowded venue.


1. Be aware of your surroundings. Do not dance with your eyes closed unless you know your leader can be totally trusted to follow the above rules, and the overall level of dancing is high. Do not step into another couple just because your leader leads it. This is your dance too.

2. Keep your feet on the floor, and your heels down. Those stilettos are a pair of weapons attached to your shoes. Polite people do not aim weapons at others.

EVERYONE: a crowded dance floor is not a good place to show off your fancy moves. So don't. Keep it small, keep it simple, be polite to the other people on the floor, and you will come to appreciate the trancendental experience of immersing yourself in the dance.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Take Care of Your Tango Feet

Dancers know that painful feet can take the fun out of Tango faster than just about anything. So it pays to take care of our feet. Here are some things you can do so that sore feet do not interfere with your Tango bliss.

  Oh, Those Gorgeous Shoes!

We women just LOVE the look of high, stiletto tango heels. But unless we also love dancing on damaged feet, we need to take special care when we buy Tango shoes.

Podiatrists recommend that women avoid wearing heels that are higher than 3 inches. Anything higher stresses your joints in a way that can cause permanent damage. So ideally, for healthy feet, we should wear a heel between one and three inches. The higher the heel the more padding you will need under the pads of the toes. High heels throw your weight on the front of the foot, which can cause metatarsalgia. This is especially true in middle aged or older women, because the natural padding in the front of the foot decreases with age. I know you have heard that padding under the ball makes it harder to feel the floor. But so does pain. So we need to decide what is more important. I choose a somewhat lower heel - 2.75 inches - which lets me get away with less padding.


 You know how some teachers tell you to press the ball of the foot onto the floor when you walk? This may create a lovely line, but it also creates overpronation. Overpronation happens when your weight is distributed toward the inside edge of the foot, rather than being centered in the middle of the foot. Overpronation causes all kinds of foot injuries, including achilles tendonitis and plantarfasciitis. The solution is to concentrate on keeping your weight in the center of your foot. 

Dancing on your toes:

 There was a time when a lot of teachers encouraged women to dance on their toes - to never let the heels touch the ground As a result there are a lot of Tango dancers suffering from metatarsalgia. Fortunately this has gone out of fashion. But if you are still doing it, stop. Not only is it bad for your feet, but it shortens your extension and interferes with balance.

 Take care of your feet. Remember - you want your feet to be able to Tango in 10 years -or 20 - or more.

Friday, December 2, 2016

THE WALK: It May Not Mean What You Think

 Over and over, when you are first introduced to Tango, you are told: It's all about the walk. You have to have a good walk in order to dance Tango.

 But "walking" in Tango does not mean what it does in everyday life. Normally, when we go for a walk, it involves getting from one place to another, in a straight line, and in a fairly regular rhythm. But when we talk about the Tango Walk, we are not talking about destination, or direction, or tempo. We are talking about technique.

 In Tango, we can "walk" in any direction, forward, backward, side to side, in place, or in a circle. We can even "walk" while standing still.

 Learning the Tango walk involves learning HOW, not WHAT. How do we use our feet to gather energy from our connection to the floor? How do we find and maintain our axis? How do we keep our connection forward, toward our partner?

 If you watch any good dancer, in demos or at the best milongas, you will note that they seldom take more than 3 or 4 steps in a straight line before stopping, or turning, or changing direction. Tango is not a linear dance. It moves, then stops. It turns, one way then another.

 Teachers need to recognize this, and realize that learning the Tango Walk involves learning to stop, every bit as much as learning to step.