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Floor Craft 101:  One of the many tango fundamentals inherent to good dancing.  Every Tango community has to address this issue and each community has their own revised version.  New contributor to Tango Corazon, Lyn Johnson, writes Vancouver Island Tango’s version of Floor Craft 101.

Argentines have been dancing Tango for more than a century.  This has given them time to figure out what works and what doesn’t in a social dance environment.  We  need  to  heed  their  ways  if  we  want to  enjoy  ourselves!

After only a few Tango lessons, most beginners know that couples move counter clockwise around the dance floor and stay in a line of dance.  Easier said than done!

Floor craft is challenging. It takes some time and experience to get good at crafting your dance. And since Argentine Tango is always growing, there will always be people learning their floor craft as they go.

It helps to have guidelines to follow … rules of the road, so to speak.  Traffic travels in lanes and dancers stay in their lanes. The experienced dancers typically dance in the outside lane and beginners move to the inside.


Endeavour to dance with an awareness of all of the dancers around you.  Do not allow gaps in the line-of-dance in front of you to form as this will cause a pileup of dancers behind you. When the music begins, start dancing when the majority of other dancers do.


Adjust your dancing to the space available and don’t take more than your share. Do not impede the line of dance.  In a crowded space keep your feet close to the floor to avoid kicking or stepping on anyone. Stay aware of who is around you at all times. Look for erratic movements in your peripheral vision and keep a distance from those who might be unaware of how much space they are using.


Tango is not a race. If the dancer in front of you is advancing more slowly than you would like, alter your dance so that it is more circular and less linear. Learn to dance well and happily without much forward advancement.


Cutting in and out of line-of-dance is very poor form and disturbing to the dancers you are cutting in front of. If you choose to dance in the center of the room, remain there throughout the song. If you dance in a given lane, finish the dance in that same lane.


Do not get closer than 3 feet (or the size of a back step), to the couple ahead of you. Give them room to back up. No one is supposed to back up but everyone does even if only to avoid collisions, so stay clear. You’ll be surprised how much this can reduce collisions and improve your dance experience!  Always look before stepping back – HINT: rounded back steps with good contra-body technique are much more milonga friendly.


Talking while dancing is distracting and creates a lack of presence in the moment … for your partner as well as those around you. Save the conversation for when the music stops.  Teaching or correcting your partner is particularly inappropriate on the dance floor at a milonga. Save it for a practica or step outside of the milonga space to review, if need be.

We encourage everyone to follow these simple rules … for safety and to provide an environment conducive to the quest for the ‘transcendent experience of tango’.

Relax and take it slowly. You don’t need to demonstrate your tango prowess on the social dance floor. Less is more. Too much energy disturbs the flow of the whole crowd. You are not alone in the room, learn to feel the whole space as you dance.

You are not entitled to do as you please; we are, after all, a community of dancers.

(Every Tango community has to address floorcraft at one point.  The above is my own version, order and emphasis … but based on various web articles on this subject).

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