There were five milongas during the Sitges festival, I attended them all and danced slightly less than I did last year (3 tandas last year, 2 tandas this time), lightheartedly declining when invited.
Sometimes I feel a bit sorry when declining but not at Sitges where the festival milongas are invaded by enough full-time tangueros to keep all the ladies busy. This is another species of leaders, very different from me. They come for the festival but don’t attend any workshop. Before and after the festival milonga (from 22:00 to 2:00 this year) they find some place along the beach (in front of hotel Subur this year) and they keep dancing.
While they’re vastly superior to me on a dancefloor (who isn’t?) they also have their own limitations of course but the most experienced of them deal with it perfectly. “He leads nothing really but he stays around me and gives me all the freedom to do my stuff. If I go for out-of-axis he will hold me.”, a follower classmate explained me once about such a self-made tanguero, very popular here, who has been following this path for 25 years, “and once you get used to his way it is very enjoyable.” Leading less gives him plenty of time for adornos, piropos and so on.
When they are less experimented the limitations are more apparent of course. My friend Paul, once a classmate of mine, became attracted too, some years ago, by the Dark side of the Force. I saw him one week before Sitges, there was a workshop followed by a milonga, I came for the workshop, he came for the milonga and as he was quicker to put on his tango attire than I was to leave mine, I had a few minutes to watch him dancing. It was not really convincing yet. Side step, side step again (the other way), forward, one step around the lady, stop, one step around the lady (the other way), forward, side, stop, side, forward, around, stop and so on. The one fancy/choreographic/stage-only elementI saw was a parada during the stops.
It was not either the kind of simple steps for which the old, fat gentlemen of BsAs are praised by estilo-milonguero teachers, no, it was more more like manoeuvring your caddy when the supermarket’s alley is jammed with wooden pallets.
And he was at the festival too, I met him the second night. After the handshake he had a look at the dancefloor.
“There is nobody here.”
For me it was ok. Enough space to take one step (but not two) in any direction. But he was definitely worried.
“I hope more people will come dancing.”
He kept sitting as long as there weren’t enough dancers to justify his (lack of) vocabulary.
One hour later he was happy, inviting one lady after the other on the packed floor (packed by Sitges standard, not as Nino Bien can be; say, enough room for one step in two possible directions).
Well it’s a kind of modus tollens of the “no fancy stuff when there is no room” principle: no simple stuff where is room.