Friday, July 25, 2014

The Rogue Dancer: Your Problem

Passive-Aggressive Behavior is not to confront
the rogue dancer assertively.

The tango community and the joy of dance belong to everyone.  But then comes along the rogue* dancer who runs into everyone, causing injuries and even causing people to leave the community to find another place to dance or just give up.  The rogue dancer is not the problem!

The problem is being passive-aggressive.  Rogue dancers come and go, but passive-aggressive behaviors stays.   The rogue dancer needs feedback.  The rogue navigator-guide is usually the problem, but safe dancing is the responsibility of everyone.  Also if you end up dancing with a rogue, you are now part of the "rogue team." A partner not only can but must influence the good-but-
dangerous dancer by saying a few kind things before outright refusing to dance with the navigator-guide or breaking the tanda.  
"I understand you nevermore will dance with me,
but why?"
Passive-Aggressive Community Members
Below, the following document has a link for MS Word or Adobe's PDF.  There is some risk that this document will upset someone. 

Oh, well!

I am recommending an assertive way to preserve your community's social tango scene.   The assertive approach is psychologically more developed than doing nothing, and stewing with anger as a passive victim.  Also more developed is to be kind, firm but assertive over being an aggressive, self-appointed floorcraft police officer. 

Organizers really should be the one who confronts the rogue dancer firmly but courteously.  But what do you do when the organizers do nothing?  Try the assertive middle road:  Speak to the person directly, or (less assertively) leave this below "self-assessment" printout in the rogue dancer's shoe bag.  
Self-Assessment Inventory for Listener-Guides / Navigators

Perceptions of Space for Advanced Dancers ///
1 = “not true” through 5= “very true”
A milonga is best when I have lots of space on the dance floor.  The more room the better.
I hardly ever bump into others, and I am good at protecting my partner from other dancers.
I prefer dancing in the middle, or if I start at the outside edge I often pass others a lot.
Traffic on the roadways is a nuisance, and “traffic” on the dance floor is very much the same.
Direction of dance is not important when there is room.  I sometimes go backwards.
People should be aware that at a crowded milonga getting bumped into is normal.
One of my preferred places to dance is the empty space that is created of those dancing at the edge and those creating a loose second “lane.”
As the navigator or “guide,” I catch the eye of the oncoming dancer before entering the ronda.
I very aware of those around me, and enjoy going faster in the ronda than most.
I notice that I like going slower or faster than those around me.
Tango is a social dance, so it is only natural to talk while dancing.
I tend to dance once the music starts rather than to continue chatting on the pista.
Grade yourself:  First reverse values of questions: two, eight and twelve
Reversed values are for questions 2/8/12 (numbers with *)  5=1 / 4=2 / 3 / 2=4/ 5=1

If you have strong ego-strength gives this to others and have them anonymously grade you! 

40-60 points
Consider dancing only on stage not a milonga. We are cramping your style.
21-39 points
Find milongas that are never crowded and large movements are the norm.
12-20 points
You are a social dancer, able to dance in crowded or open floors. People enjoy dancing near you. Twelve is the lowest score.  The majority of your psychological work is to know how to kindly but firmly deal with those who are risking the well-being of others on the pista.
Dear Great Dancer: 
I am putting this in your shoe bag or am willing to discuss this with you because I value you as a dancer. But the same time, there are moments when you make the dance floor more risky than it needs to be.  I do not want to be part of an accident or hurt; so please consider these often forgotten or never-learned tips for advanced dancers on the next page. We can talk about this if you would like to.


Important Notice for Advanced Dancers: This below explanation of "The Joy of Tango Traffic" is NOT for beginners; they learn from experts’ behavior on the dance floor. "Advanced" dancers are usually the biggest problem. 

You will notice the analogy with dancing and driving.  But what is the most outstanding difference between auto and social tango?  In four words: "Tango traffic's a joy." 

loorcraft Guidelines for experienced dancers and those who mentors beginners:

.  Direction of dance: Partners with their eyes closed are at times startled by a navigator/guide going against the line of dance.  Even when there is room, many partners prefer not to go backwards.

.  Lack of white lines: In reality we dance with the entire group on the floor; however, once it is crowded enough, “lanes” form.  The most dangerous dancers love passing and taking more than their share of the dance floor.

.   Changing lanes: With an auto, changing lanes is normal, but this is not so with a crowded floor.  Especially passing on the right of those who are closest to the edge is dangerous. Even when changing lanes to the left, lane changing creates the second highest risk of harm to others.

.  Dancing on lane 1.5 (between lanes) and on the safety border is extremely unsafe. The safety border may be only a few centimeters.  Do not dance on it between lane one and two! Navigator/guides going between two lanes are the most dangerous dancers, only second to lane changers.

.  Merging into traffic: On a highway, one must get up to speed up to join the ongoing traffic. This is not possible in dancing. Instead the Navigator (most often a man) must have eye contact with the oncoming navigator and then enter. Men are used to offering “ladies first.” This is dangerous on the dance floor. Just as with conventions of everyday etiquette, a woman does not enter and push through a revolving door for a man. Navigators: Be creative about making sure your partner does not jump out into traffic and get run over!

.  Pedestrians: Be aware that as you walk at the edge of the dance floor that the dancers have the right of way. Dancers often cannot see you. It’s a low moment in thoughtfulness when someone walks across the middle of the floor, unless it is the very start of the tanda before dancing starts.

.  Speed limit (going too slow): Someone driving on the Autobahn at a slow speed (or doing stunts in place] is a safety hazard. If there is a lot of room in front of you on a crowded floor, you are a safety hazard.

.  Speed limit (going too fast): The only way to speed on a crowded floor is to change lanes, and to swerve through dancers on the invisible “white line,” the safety border of others’ dancing space. Beware: Speedsters may lose their “license” to dance at certain milongas!

.   Putting it in reverse: Step backwards on a crowded floor as much as you might shift into reverse on a highway: Rarely. Both followers and leaders dancing backwards in the direction of dance are going forwards! However, the leader must be very aware that the flow of dance is making room for him because it still is a dangerous blinded-side step for a leader.

.  Parking: The dance floor is not a parking lot; it is a wooden highway. A song is usually about 3 minutes. Why park-and-chat 1/3 of a song away? Rent a room and chat there! At the end of the tanda leave the floor at the cortina! Others are trying to catch the eyes of those sitting across the room. Reenter when the music starts. Also, please do not stand on the edge of the dance floor to chat. Parking is generally done in a chair to keep your voice farther away from standing/moving dancers.

.  Wheelies and stunts: As a rule of safety ganchos, boleos or large movements on a crowded dance floor are dangerous. When no one is near you or on a sparsely crowded  floor "stunts and wheelies" are okay. Warning: Some Tango Fundamentalists will insist never at their milonga. So be aware.

Have fun in traffic!


  1. I completely and strongly disagree with the proposed.

    In my opinion, it is unacceptable to leave an anonymous message in someone's bag. Nothing fits better the definition of what passive-aggresive behavior is. An anonymous message is coward, inelegant and even offensive. Specially if the content of the message is some sort of test that can be interpreted as ironic scorn.

    The only right way to handle a situation where an individual disrupts the peaceful course of the milonga is to approach him directly and point to him his mistake, giving him friendly advice. In most occasions, this person acts that way because he is unaware of the trouble he is causing.

    Sadly, this "universal rules" that are so obvious to you are often unknown to many dancers, as not everyone follows tango blogs and the teachers who teach this manners in their lessons are few and far between. Be friendly, be kind, and correct the "rogue dancer" in an apart, without exposing him.

    Please, don't leave an anonymous in anybody's bag, this is not high school. If you have a problem with someone, you go and talk to them as adults. If I were to find such a message in my shoe bag I would not be pleased, I would disregard the message and my opinion on the person doing it would be seriously damaged.

  2. Querido PoRiLo... thank you for the anonymous note that you have left in my blog’s “shoe bag.” Unlike your strong emotional reaction and scorn for anyone who would do such a thing, I think it is entirely okay!

    I appreciate your concerns, and your suggestion to speak directly to people is a GREAT IDEA. I would included it in my suggestions, but there is no need, since I already did. One problem with blog posts is that folks seem to read superficially and react to a cursory reading. So lets look at what my post actually says, instead of arguing about what you thought I said. Is that fair?

    (1) You say of my suggestions that... "Nothing fits better the definition of what passive-aggressive behaviour is." This makes me wonder how aggressive my recommendations are since they are not passive. Is it truly aggressive to leave an anonymous note? Even if it were, your claim is overstatement that it is the epitome of passive-aggressivity. Scratching up the person’s car with “learn better floor craft or die,” would be the epitome of passive-aggressive behaviour. The letter I proposed had two options, and includes the words ..."I am willing to discuss this with you because I value you as a dancer." Clearly this is not passive-aggressive. However, not speaking to someone directly is only created from a community who has failed to address an individual who is an advanced dancer. I leave the option of anonymity because the very personality that invades others' space and even harms others or risk harms is likely to have an explosive personality. That is why they have developed their entitlement and feeling that it is okay to endanger others over many years. Your suggestion is for reasonable people, and I agree with you suggestion. Also, the dynamics of the situation and the timidity of the person wishing to take action is different than your very assertive style (shown with your recommendations and tone with me). What if a woman leaves a note saying: "I love dancing with you, Fulano, but please take a shower before coming to dance," is this also not allowable? Is this passive-aggressive? Refusing to dance with him doesn't fix the problem and is simply "passive." Speaking with the person could be very embarrassing. I think you have made a strong point for taking action which many people will not be willing to do; therefore, doing nothing is the default. THAT is how this expert dancer has gone for so long, oblivious to his egocentric behavior.

    (2) I am wondering where you thought that I spoke of “universal rules.” I am confused here. I never mentioned either word in my post.


(3) You give indications that some people just don’t know. Experts do not know? I think you read the post, right? I said, “Warning: This below explanation of "The Joy of Tango Traffic" is NOT for beginners; they learn from experts’ behaviour on the dance floor.” My blog post addresses problems with advanced dancers who have been working at their craft for many years, and have somehow decided that los códigos de tango do not apply to them. You say that these códigos are “often unknown to many dancers.” Really? I was aware of tango etiquette within a few months of dancing. You say that “... teachers who teach these manners in their lessons are few and far between.” I agree with you 100% here. Unfortunately some of the worst floorcraft behaviour comes from the teachers also! Perverse, no?

    We agree fully when you say,“Be friendly, be kind, and correct the ‘rogue dancer’ [off to the side], without exposing him.” I think this is best, but not always practical. I leave that up to the person to decide if they can be that assertive with the personality involved. The biggest problem remains: Being passive. Rarely is someone aggressive about these issues.

    Que te vaya bien, PoRiLo. --Mark

  3. I might be printing this for the leader who managed to do a number on my ankle Tuesday. While I know that they feel badly (my yelling F* louder than the music and jumping up and down was notification and quite unlike me) the same couple still ended up running into, albeit more gently, at least one other dancer several times later on in the night.

    Is it my job? Do you really want the person who was directly injured approaching the people who injured them? Yes, I'm sure they feel bad and embarrassed (they did stop dancing long enough to get me a bag of ice which I needed), but as they still ran into someone else several more times after hitting me I'm thinking that perhaps the self-realization of the problem is severely lacking.

    Is the organizer actually going to approach them and risk alienating them? This was probably a fluke, they probably haven't hit anyone else this hard, but accidents do happen.

  4. SMW (Sara): Of course I want you to approach the person? If you lived in a country where there was a weak government, and the person damaged your car, would you not approach the person? In Germany, everyone has personal insurance that covers even dancers in case the person must go to the doctor. Why should you pay a specialist for your therapy? (If needed.)

    I also do not hold back my pain. Who are we protecting? The Rogue Dancer by being quiet? But you already did this but making a scene. Good job! Sure, accidents happen, and for someone whom you know is normally very good, you will automatically act differently. Every person hurt on the dance floor should be at least as "histrionic" as a soccer player in the World Cup. Which says: "The bastard needs a red card!" So you did it. What good will it do to put a nice little assessment in his bag? Public shame was enough? I think talking to the person is good too. Giving the assessment may help. The Rogue Dancer: Your Problem.


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