The Conspiracy Continues

12th June 2009

(More Unlocking the Milonga articles.)

"Step by step walk the 1,000 mile road" ~ Miyamoto Musashi

Introduction

OK, so David and I had gotten success with two couples in convoy and were ready to try for three. MsHedgehog cheerfully went and found Jonathan, and off we went, once more downstairs at Negracha.

And, it worked. Better than last time too.

For a start David and I are getting a bit more experienced at this. And also having a third couple adds a bit more solidity to the whole thing. It was noticeable afterwards that the leaders found the experience "relaxing" - not a word most would use to describe downstairs at Negracha!

Why?

Which led to the question of why?

  1. Rather than dancing in isolation or worse competition, there's a great spirit of camaraderie
  2. It totally takes the emphasis off "moves" and sequences. Which again means I'm more relaxed because I'm doing simple things well.

I noticed that a couple of the women David led started with their eyes open and looking around a bit apprehensively at the dancefloor (I can't say I blame them), but they ended up with their eyes closed and big happy grins on their faces.

Awareness

Marc MacYoung teaches an invaluable thing about self-defence. It's not about moves. It's about awareness.

The same applies here. It's not about dancing specific sequences, it's about awareness.

The leader is aware of what's going on ahead of him so he can keep progressing appropriately. But he's also aware of the people behind him to know when to give them extra space to move into to get away from incoming Hoggers.

To Convoy or not to Convoy?

There's nothing innately wrong with using boloes, sequences and taking up lots of space, even moving the wrong way against the line of dance, if you're the only couple on the floor. Likewise there are times when there are only a few couples on the floor and a convoy is unnecessary.

The problem seems to be that when the floor is more crowded and a convoy does become necessary, at the moment, very few dancers act accordingly. Instead they continue as if the floor was deserted.

So there's hope.

How to do it

The easiest solution to deal with people who cut in is simply for the leader in front to take the earliest opportunity to allow them space to pass him.

This kept happening. Considerate dancers were effectively catching up either to or being caught up to and so joining the convoy. The Hoggers were cheerfully blasting past, but once past, it became increasing difficult for them to cut back in. we had three couples, but we were ending up with four or five at the end of a single song.

It's also worth noting that with a cooperative convoy, it is possible for the couple behind to close up the gap to nothing if they need to head off trouble. It doesn't bother me in the least to have say David or his partner gently brush against me from behind because I know they're in full control of what they're doing and so not a danger.

What does cause problems is when the guy in front suddenly changes lanes - ie he's not aware of you convoying behind him. At that point I've come to the conclusion you have to stick to your lane rather than follow them.

So basically you're either letting people pass, or letting them join the convoy.

Other comments

Some other views from people:

MsHedgehog

  • I think it's unlikely people behave badly just because they're selfish: it's more likely that they think the bobbing and weaving is what is meant by 'floorcraft'. Some people are delusional but most people are just in error.

Jonathan

  • You *know* that you have your partner "protected" , so you're already half way there to giving them a good dance. Even if you do nothing else.
  • I think it's helpful when you're in convoy to think as if you are a "floor sweeper". In other words, you move forward but if necessary you work within a sort of crescent in front of you. That way when people come in from the sides you sweep towards them to cut them off. Unless they are deliberately trying to cut in, that should be enough to get rid of them.
  • The one at the back has to be a bit more aggressive for the rest of the team. He should do more check steps and rotations in order to look out for couples trying to barge in. Ideally if others come into convoy that responsibility can get passed on...." (Note: this was the idea that inspired me to do this in the first place - Christopher.)

David

  • Like all cooperative ventures, you have to sacrifice some "creativty", i.e. you can't just go hare-ing off and do your own thing. So you need some discipline, and there's a trade-off. Also, I wouldn't want to dance in convoy all the time, at least not at the moment.
  • I don't believe I've ever been taught to dance small, I had to figure it out for myself. Are there any such classes / workshops around?
  • It's difficult to maneouvre; if you see an obstacle (e.g. a couple that simply will not move), it's more problematic to go around it with multiple couples than with one, and you might find that you've trapped the offending couple. On the other hand, they probably deserved it...

What next?

More couples, bigger convoy!

 - Christopher O'Shea, 12th June 2009

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