When it comes to Tango, there are usually a few things you may notice, and some may go unnoticed, especially when you’re new. The Ronda is something that is missed when being taught, or if you only take pre-milonga classes, just taking privates, not seeing a social scene for a while, or maybe you’ve never noticed it after years. Tango etiquette is something everyone should participate in, it helps the dance more, the floor rotate, limits the bumping, and causes everything to go smoothly. So what is the Ronda exactly… maybe I’d best describe it as the line of dance, but it’s a little more complex.
The Line of Dance?
If you observe a dance floor, you’ll notice everyone moving in a circular pattern across the dance floor. Counter clockwise direction across the dance floor in a circle in what the line of dance is. This line of dance explanation above is a simplification to what it really is, so more information is needed to keep things moving smoothly. If you watch a Milonga, the above is true, and you start to see patterns, but if you just watch, you’ll almost always see something that feels off or chaotic when you’re in a tourist area like Buenos Aires, or a festival, and even just a big popular Milonga. What is this chaos?
Dancing in a Tango Milonga should have dancing lanes! When people don’t respect their dancing lane, you start to see chaos, lack of movement except by the people cutting in and out, you’ll see people bumping into each other more, the space feels crowded.
Tango is a dance, it is not a race, but it is a mutual dance with everyone in the room. Having the dance floor separated into lanes and staying in the lane you start with through the tanda (at the minimum the song) you’ll find everything moves smooth, you know where your can dance, you know the person in front and behind you, and you know how much rooms to your sides you have. Staying in your lane, consider it NO passing except in dire circumstance should be the norm. Doing this, the dance becomes like clockwork. If the person in front of you doesn’t move forward, stay where you are, they move forward, you move forward in your lane, that is how the dance is.
But there is space…
If there happens to be space between others, or in the next lane, DON’T just squeeze between or take it. AT most maybe take a step into and then back out if a turn might require it if there is room, but stay in your order and lane. If you see space in front of you in your lane, you’re going to work into a pattern or sequence into that space, it has opened up, so you’ll take it, but what if someone in a different lane just cuts you off… that sucks! You now have to stop short, bump into them, or likewise. It just interrupted the flow of not only you, but the person behind you, all because someone cut in front and didn’t stay in their lane.
As much as it is mentioned that it is good manners to respect the Ronda, this doesn’t just apply stateside or in Buenos Aires. This is indeed something that happens worldwide, from every Country you can find a Milonga to dance at. Even in bigger communities or mixed communities, the Ronda is something followed where ever tango is danced.
You will also find people who break the Ronda and bump into others, cut in, and sometimes they are the ones who are new, other times it is people who think they know all and no one bothers to correct them. So what can you do if you see others not following the Ronda at a Milonga… as another Milonga dancer, really nothing. It’s not your place to teach or instruct someone unsolicited or at a Milonga at all, but it should also be up to the hosts, DJ, or someone to possibly step in a problem is arising and causing problems on the floor for everyone. The best dancers can work around it, and those that do not follow the Ronda will not be dancing all night… usually.