Tuesday 14 July 2009

Social Dancing - Videos

I've got a couple of nice video clips of social dancing from the mini-festival I went to at the weekend. I didn't think that post was really the place for them. These are from the Sunday afternoon, so it's full daylight and you can see well. There isn't a lot of real social dancing to be seen on video, so I think people need to see this kind of thing. It's informative if you're a beginner, and some of my friends will really like them.

In this one, I wanted to show you the cortina, because it's so pretty the way everyone clears the floor and looks so sociable about it. The tandas were longish, always four tracks. So enough to get used to a new partner and be thoroughly enjoying yourself and satisfied by the end.

This one is from later on, after all the workshops have finished. A lot of people have gone home or sat down for a rest, so the floor is rather empty, but there's some very fine dancing to be found in there, and you get a good view.

I'm not going to say anything else here specifically - I think I'd like to give my readers a chance to watch for themselves. Again, it's informative if you're a beginner - you can watch it a few times and think about what interests you and which couples you like to watch best. It's often hard to judge these things when the movements you see are not ones you know how to accomplish yourself, so don't worry if you are just starting and you don't know what to make of it. You can always come back and watch it again later, you don't have to have an opinion now.


tangocherie said...

Lovely vals, and a gorgeous venue!
Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

Nice videos, thanks for posting.

When I've danced in Asiapac the floor is almost always cleared during the cortina. Not sure why it doesn't happen in London. I also notice that we don't always start dancing during the first song in a tanda so perhaps in order to get three to five dances in we go past the cortina?

Game Cat said...

Looks and sounds fantastic. From the videos, I'm certain you must have had a great time!

Must have been tough to get on the train back to London ;-)

For what it's worth, welcome back.

Game Cat said...

Earlier, I forgot to comment on the way people clear the floor during cortinas....d'oh.

Doesn't happen in London. I'm just as guilty as everyone else. I admit I'm lazy and don't want to look eccentric hopping on and off the floor when nobody else is doing it.

However I think clearing during cortinas indicates whether people care about what music they dance to (and don't want to dance to).

If you like the music of the new tanda, you get back on the floor, else you let others on. If you're still on the floor and don't like the music, there will be chaos as you fight the others getting on the floor. Just like getting on/off the Tube.

If someone else has a better perspective on this, please contribute. Thanks.

ghost said...

@Gamecat -
"However I think clearing during cortinas indicates whether people care about what music they dance to (and don't want to dance to)."

An interesting example of this is when you both want to keep dancing with each other. At that point the standard of music you're willing to tolerate may well lower considerably...

"You can always come back and watch it again later, you don't have to have an opinion now" :o)

msHedgehog said...

@cherie, you're welcome, I thought you might like this!
@yabotil, I'm sure that's part of it.
@gamecat thank you! I had a lovely time. It more than lived up to expectations. I'm missing the sensation of looking forward to it, now.

In London:
1. There aren't usually cortinas, so people don't get into the habit. Cortinas are rare. I think partly because the evenings are short, because of transport, so people feel they have to pack the dancing in.
2. The tandas are rarely more than three tracks, which is often not long enough to be satisfying if you've got someone you like. And it's often not clear when a new tanda has started if there isn't a cortina; but three dances is still widely regarded as polite; so that means you get out of sync, as well as ending up dancing to music you didn't choose.
3. It's hard to develop preferences about people and music if the tandas haven't got such an obvious orderly structure. And if clearing the floor isn't the usual practice you can't be certain that your partner won't take offence if you do, or will be available later. A lot of people don't even realise it's possible or acceptable, let alone good or right, to make a choice about the music. And if they're not crazy about what's playing they probably don't feel they can safely assume that something better will be along later, anyway.
4. Because you don't know when or if the next cortina will come, and because the quality and style of dancing is extremely variable in London, if you've got someone you like and feel safe with there are very strong incentives to hold on to him/her, especially if you're a bit tired and not feeling adventurous.

msHedgehog said...

@yabotil, Asiapac - there may also be a broader cultural aspect. Things like clearing the floor tend to be presented as something you're told to do by authority or someone who knows better than you. Authority is not something the English actually take particularly seriously. Only when they are presented as something like queueing - and just try not obeying the rules of a checkout queue! - will Londoners start not only practicing them, but defending them by any means necessary. That, or like standing on the right and walking on the left of the escalator. In England, it's necessary to persuade people that it was their own idea. Not usually that difficult - most women are quite good at it ;)

Anonymous said...

Very nice dancing. Some people do play 4 songs in a set. The general rule is 3 - 4 sets of tangos, before a set of vals or milongas and generally there should be 4 songs in a set in case you miss out on the first song. The sets should also be by the same artist. There are some DJ's that play this way. If they only do 3 songs in a set, it is not considered rude to change partners at the cortina if you have only danced 2 songs. How do you know what is going to be played next and if you will want to dance to it with the person you are with? Or if you want to dance to the music at all? Also gives a good/polite reason to cut short dancing with someone if you are not happy with them.
If I am not happy with the music after a set and I would still like to dance with the person I am with, sometimes I say that I am not into this music and could we dance later. Better to be dancing to something that moves you. I have danced with people and then they tell me that the song hadn't done anything for them. I can usually tell.
As for time restraints at the milongas, there is no excuse to avoid cortinas. They don't take up that much time from dancing and most people do not dance continually for 3 -4 hours anyway. I think that is just lazyness and thoughtlessness.

tangocherie said...

I totally agree with London about the value of the cortina. The DJs here in BsAs usually time the cortina to the size of the dance floor; i.e., how long it takes everyone to clear it. So in a small space, the cortinas can be quite short.

However without all of the other codigos that are used here (cebeceo, no consecutive tandas, etc.), the cortinas are not as effective. But still so much better than a whole milonga without tandas.

msHedgehog said...

I agree about the value of them too, they make it a lot more straightforward to manage your evening, no matter what your skill level is or who you want to dance with.

ghost said...

There's also the question of what you think of the DJ. If the music is all "barely tolerable" then an alternative to trudging home with a wasted evening is to focus more on the connection, other person etc. Not ideal of course, but another reason as Gamecat pointed out why people may stop caring about the music.

At the other extreme, if the DJ is superb, you may be content that whatever they put on next will be something you'll be inspired to dance to and so if you like the person you're with, may not leave the floor for that reason.

Or you may be a Barbarian who likes dancing to cortina music....

Keno said...

This is a great incite of social dancing. I have traveled around the states dancing tango, and had the chance to dance in Victoria, B.C. The venue was great, the food was great, the dance was great, only the music was not that great. The DJ did not know what a cortina was, and the people did not dance in the line of dance. I love tango and will deal with bad DJ's only because there is no such thing as bad tango, just some is better than others. Thanks for the peek into the UK tango seen.

Andreas said...

Re the tanda structure: The usual thing is to have tandas of 4 tracks, all of them by the same orchestra, usually of the same era/year, and the same singer (if any), eg. 4 tracks of Di Sarli featuring Rufino. Milonga and Vals are sometimes shorter. Some DJs play Milonga and Vals tandas of 4, some of 3, and some do 4 V and 3 M. I play 4 T, 3M, 3V.
The overall structure is usually TTVTTM (meaning 2 tango tandas, then a tanda of vals, again 2 tango tandas, then one milonga tanda, rinse and repeat). Anything else is unusual, certain pamphlets claiming otherwise notwithstanding.
Tandas and cortinas are part of tango culture. I find them indispensable, and a lack of such structure drives me crazy. Lack of structure makes for bad dancing. Tandas and cortinas are not optional, just like the embrace is not optional.

msHedgehog said...

Dude - Actually exposing people to good DJing (and dancing) in reality is a strong argument, the strongest there is or can be on that point. Mere assertion of what is usual somewhere or other is the weakest, for the same reason you mentioned over dinner. I think you have to show them the superior product in their world; and if that should fail, well, that's another matter. We'll see.