17th June 2010

"How many times have you been stepped on or kicked by other dancers tonight?"
"Maybe a dozen"
"Doesn't that bother you?"
"You just accept it as the price you pay for dancing"
~ a conversation at Negracha


The advice given here works well, but in field testing it, I discovered it still had two flaws that could be exploited by other aggressive dancers with no awareness of what floorcraft is and no apparent concern for their follower's (or my) well being. This article fixes these.

So does it work now?

While I haven't tried it in every single London milonga, I have tried it in:

  • Quiet and packed venues
  • Traditional and Nuevo venues
  • Oddly-shaped and rectangular dancefloors
  • Venues which encouraged floorcraft, and venues which don't appear to know it exists
  • "In" venues and lesser known venues
  • Venues with teachers and experienced dancers and venues with mainly beginners
  • Even a venue which had tango dancers and Blues dancers on the same floor

So yes, I'm confident that you can use this to dance socially in peace.

The problem

Daniel: Don't you know anything you can tell me?
Miyagi: Hai. No get hit.
~ The Karate Kid

Fundamentally in order for someone to collide with you, they have to get close to you. By keeping a reasonable distance from the couple in front, they shouldn't be a problem. Let's face it, when was the last time you saw someone actually trying to continually dance the wrong way around the floor? (The one time I did see this, there was a pile up of people long before they got anywhere near to me).

The problem is the guy behind you. However although he may well tailgate you, unless he's drunk, he shouldn't just walk straight into you. What he'll probably do is one of the following ways of "overtaking"...

The Corners - and Killboxes

"Why shouldn't I stand here?"
"Because it's a KILLBOX, Tony! People go there to DIE!"
~ Iron Man 2

Corners are both your friend and a Very Bad Place to be.

It's not unusual for London dancers to cut the corners. In doing so they effectively travel a shorter distance and so overtake you. Unfortunately, the difference in distance isn't really that great so more often they misjudge it and crash into you.

When you come to a corner, go right into it. You're safe there. Now for the Killbox - as you exit the corner, that's when you're vulnerable.

Fortunately even in close embrace you'll always be able to see to your left. So much like joining motorway traffic, make sure that no-one's going to collide with you before you step into the Killbox. I'd also recommend trying to get a bit of space ahead of you so you can get past this danger zone quickly. You really don't want to hang around here.

If you do have someone who's tailgating you and you're near a corner, usually simply going deeply into it will cause them to overtake you. Now they're not a problem any more. Well, not your problem anyway.

The Straights

But what if you're nowhere near a corner and the guy behind you is tailgating anyway?

Well the first problem that can happen is this. You move to the part of your area shown in the diagram and he'll try to overtake as shown by the arrow.

The only bonus with this is at least people seem to do it quickly. The problem with this is if there isn't quite enough room, then the only safe thing for you to do is to switch lanes and move towards the centre of the room. I see this happen a lot to considerate dancers in London. They start off on the outside and gradually get shuffled into the centre by the more aggressive dancers trying to overtake them on the left.

The solution is to really hug the side. If you're going to take a step that would cause you to move to that part of your area, first get in really close to the side. That way, when you do the step, you'll only be in the middle and he won't be able to try this.

That solves the immediate problem, but it's not fun having someone right up behind you, especially if his follower is wearing heels.


Merlin: What are you doing? You're slowing down, you're slowing down!
Maverick: I'm bringing him in closer, Merlin.
Merlin: You're gonna do what?
Maverick: I'll hit the brakes, he'll fly right by.
~ my favourite scene from Top Gun

You can adopt this strategy to tango. You need to be careful of the timing, but basically you can deliberately shift one lane to the inside and dance on the spot - that is, don't progress. The guy who was tailgating you will zip past and then you can change back into your original lane.

I prefer to use the corners, but as I say, sometimes they're just too far away.

The Next Step

Jester: That was some of the best flying I've seen to date - right up to the part where you got killed. ~ my second favourite scene from Top Gun

Londoners take a fair amount of abuse about the quality of their dancing. Yet quite simply there are plenty of dancers out there who dance with respect for themselves, their partner, the music, and the other dancers.

The problem I've repeatedly seen is that they often don't get to actually dance well, because they're forever having to deal with the insane lack of floorcraft around them. Let's face it, it's hard to be musical when you're being continually edged out of your lane and dodging flying boloes.

Hopefully this method now solves this problem.

Take some time, get the hang of it and you should be able to dance musically and socially in London. If you get the opportunity to combine this with the convoy method, I'd recommend it, but using this method, I can dance a whole night in London without either me or my followers being touched by other dancers.

And yes, that does include Negracha.

~ Christopher O' Shea, 15th July 2010

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