Welcome to the Conspiracy

4th May 2009

(More Unlocking the Milonga articles.)

"A conspiracy is nothing but a secret agreement of a number of men for the pursuance of policies which they dare not admit in public" ~ Mark Twain


Welcome to the Conspiracy. We're gonna bring floorcraft to London Milongas one way or the other!

And we're starting with lanes.

Starting with shielding

Our problem is simple - if no-one in London is actually obeying the lane system, how can you learn it in a safe environment, instead of trying to understand it in the midst of a Grand Melee (also known as a Milonga dancefloor)?

A while ago I was dancing on a chaotic floor with a good friend, when I noticed her husband happened to be dancing near us. He's a lovely guy who simply likes to walk musically.

So I figured I'd ghost along behind him and try and shield him a bit so he could dance in relative peace.

Bless him, he kept to the lane system, but what surprised me was how well it worked. It seemed to be far more difficult for people to cut in, and instead they followed the path of least resistance and simply went past us both (where they then continued crashing into each other).

Time passed. Another chaotic dance floor, another two friends. And it worked again.

Which got me thinking...

Touched by a Hedgehog

Then I read this post.

A group of likeminded people tried it under "safe conditions". Then David, I and a variety of followers tried it out in the field, in one of the most dangerous places known to Man - otherwise known as Downstairs At Negracha's.

Woo hoo! Tango makes so much more sense now :o)

Speaking as the guy in front (for a change)

Both while I was doing it and afterwards I realised almost all leaders are focused on what's in front and not behind them. This got me regularly checking behind me as if I were driving and checking my rear mirror. At first I was actually turning all the way round (180) but then I realized that I could turn much less to see where David was in my peripheral vision.

I also was able to see what was happening behind David ie when is he going to need some space in front of him to escape into?

If I wanted to change lanes (mainly because someone was either stopped and talking, or, in one case, was stationary and dancing salsa), I needed to make it clear I was doing this, have enough time and space for *both* couples to change lanes.

I didn't need "advanced" moves. It worked fine with a follower who could only do back step, side step, pivoting rebounds.

On the whole most people couldn't cut in. If someone was truly determined, the solution was just for me to get to a place where there was room to pass me on one side - and then stop progressing. If they were impatient enough to cut David up, they were impatient enough to overtake me. Even the worst time when about 5 couples descended on David, we were back in formation in about 20 seconds

Light dawns

I now understand the reason for moves that go against the line of dance. The tricky part is when I progress as that's when I'm most likely to leave David behind. It made sense occasionally to go back against the line of dance to close up the gap between us a bit to stop people cutting in. The important distinction was that I was able to see where I was going, ie I wasn't steeping backwards along the line of dance.

It's so much easier dancing in lanes. If David came up close it simply meant I needed to progress to give him room so he could get away from someone - normally it would have mean I was about to be collided with.

I noticed at the end of a tanda of us doing this, the last movements of the whole floor were actually all in two lanes! That's with only two couples doing it!

Oh, and the followers didn't realise what was going on (well except for the one who started us all doing it!)


It remains to be seen what the other variables are. I do know that one person trying to follow the lane system isn't enough.

The next step - trying it with more couples.

Go on, join in the Conspiracy!

 - Christopher O'Shea, 4th May 2009

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