2 ene 2008

Well, that didn't take long.

Last night, the Hangover Milonga at La Pista, hosted by Ney, fresh from his travels eastward. A limited number of dancers in house, but he kept the chairs empty by evoking "Texas Rules": at least five couples dancing at all times, and since it was follower-heavy no leader gets to sit while a follower is waiting, else he calls last tanda. Was still coddling my back but felt much better about my dancing. I'm thinking perhaps the amount of free space affects my overall dance in a way that goes beyond the physical, that when I'm in a crowded room with difficult energy my mental focus gets stretched to the point where everything ends up functioning at a very low level. It's definitely a consequence of my reluctance to dance. You'd think I'd have accumulated enough experience to deal with tight spaces by now. Then again, it's not so much the amount of space as the consistency of flow. Give me a packed floor that moves well and I'm okay.

(Followers: unless you've had the chance to lead in a difficult space – though you may be sympathetic to the leaders' plight – you have no idea how difficult it can be. I know a top-notch follower who is of late devoting practice to leading, and after a night on a difficult floor she was flushed with exasperation as I've never seen her. "When you follow it's always so easy," she said. "Just close your eyes and dance. But leading... the middle of the floor is chaos, and the outer lanes don't move!")

But we all know leaders who can make the best of any situation, the ones who just seem to carve a path through the maelstrom and emerge as easily as through a fog. I don't know exactly how to do that, obviously. Some part of me suspects that you have to be willing to use your partner as a kind of wedge and that's not something I'd want to do. I've spoken to some leaders about this and voiced my concern about protecting my partner and being mindful of her space, and the responses I've gotten tend to indicate that they don't really worry about things like that. Which is not to say they don't take good care of their partners. They take responsibility for the couple primarily by dancing well, that's all. Simple, no?

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