Tango Angels

3rd August 2010

"The turning of the millennium was a lawless age.
It was the age of the Hoggers.
Crazed dancers tearing mercilessly through the milongas leaving swathes of chaos in their wake. Each week many innocents fell before them in the arenas.
But a few angels still prowled the milongas, secretly bringing hope and joy to those who truly sought to dance."
~ The Lawgiver


My recent articles on floorcraft were designed to work with a follower who had her eyes closed. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this. Having your eyes closed allows you to focus on the connection be a better follower. However it is possible for followers to take a more active role in floorcraft beyond not doing wild unled boleos on a crowded dance floor.

Soft and gentle

The first thing you can do is learn to step backwards without force. That way if your leader does lead you into someone else, you'll gently bump them rather than impaling them.

Likewise don't lock your leg. I've had follower's legs thrust between mine in a variety of what ended up as sacadas and barridas. But if I'd tripped they would have had my body weight, plus probably my partner's, coming down at a bad angle into their leg. If you've got some give in your leg and you start to trip up the leader behind you, there's still some leeway left for you both to avoid tripping or getting tangled up.

Look, smile, talk

"O! Wretched mortals open your eyes" ~ Leonardo Da Vinci

If you're with a leader who's not got the greatest floorcraft skills, opening your eyes is definitely a good start. Remember the leader can't see behind him. Also if he's in close embrace he can't see to his right side. But you can. The simplest option is to press more firmly against the leaders back to indicate that he shouldn't take the step backwards or to the side that he's about to.

Smiling at lunatics tailgating your leader works well too. It's a strange phenomenon that leaders aren't too bothered about hard looks in tango. But they really don't like being watched while they crash into your leader.

Remember there's nothing stopping you speaking to your leader to warn him if there's chaos approaching. But if you do this, give him some time to mentally shift gears from leading to processing English.

Self-Preservation Society

"Where's your sense of adventure?"
"Probably in a bar somewhere chatting up your sense of self-preservation"

There's a strange phenomena among followers whereby they forget basic skills like walking and running. Women walk forwards every day of their life, but just try to lead a woman to walk forwards...

I remember vividly 3 couples converging on my follower. Literally the only safe place was for me to go backwards and sit down on the seat, with her following me and sitting down next to me. This is not the easiest of things to lead!

Likewise there have been times when I've simply let go of the follower, grabbed her hand and said "Run!".

As a follower, remember there are times when you're not dancing any more. Collecting properly or not splitting your weight have become irrelevant. Now you need to protect each other. I find it's helpful to have a clear mental distinction between the two states.

Having said that, a piece of advice I was given years ago was that the safest way to move across a dance floor is to dance. So even if you are running away, if you move roughly in time with the music, you'll find it much easier.

Tango angels

To finish, here's the quote that inspired this article:

"So an active, engaged, intuitive follower (which is what I try to be) will enjoy being in partnership with her leader. Some leaders are mindful that there are two things happening - one is the dance with the partner, the second is the dance as part of the room. so, if a move which could be injurious to another close couple is led, the follower can change how she executes it without spoiling the leaders intention, sometimes without him even being aware it is being led.
By being an active follower we can sometimes stop people tail-gating! Perhaps we could have a secret service of followers, whose mission is to dance with those "bad floorcraft leaders" and teach them the error of their ways - lol ..."
~ Suzi P

Good luck.

~ Christopher O' Shea, 3rd August 2010

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