Simply put, a practica is a somewhere you can practice your tango.
Some people go to a practica just to enjoy dancing.
Some people use it as a safe space to try out new moves or sequences, or to refine their technique without the pressure of a milonga atmosphere.
And many people go to a practica to get verbal feedback and input on their dance from their dancing partners and to work out together what is working and not working and how to improve.
What’s the difference between a practica and a milonga?
A practica is less formal than a milonga. For example, there are no cortinas, therefore no obligation to dance a whole tanda with someone, and people typically don’t dress up. Although floorcraft is important, it’s perfectly ok, for example, to pause on the dance floor if it’s safe to do so and discuss the move you’re practising with your partner.
Asking for and giving feedback to your partner is strongly encouraged in a practica but would be a breach of etiquette at a milonga. At a practica it’s always fine to ask your partner if they have any feedback for you, but it’s still a good idea to be cautious about telling your partner how to improve their dance unless they’ve asked you for your input!
Some customs from the milonga are still important. For example, people still use the mirada and cabaceo to invite people to dance and the leader’s cabaceo to join the line of dance.
Who can go to a practica?
Anyone, at any level, is welcome to join a practica. The bare minimum requirements would be to know how to walk in an embrace, and to be aware of basic floorcraft – i.e., make progression in the ronda, keep to your lane, use the leader’s cabaceo to enter the line of dance, and don’t lead any moves that would endanger anyone around you.
We teach floorcraft and milonga etiquette as part of our Tango Fundamentals courses in Cambridge, UK. If you’ve attended either of our Tango Fundamentals courses you’re welcome to join the Simply Tango Wednesday Practica at St Paul’s.
How is the music arranged?
At a practica the music is often played without cortinas so there is no obligation to dance with someone for a whole tanda. You can start and stop dancing at any point.
At the Simply Tango practica we play music in groups of three tracks by the same orchestra, but we don’t play a cortina. So, you will hear three tango tracks by one orchestra, three by another, then two vals tracks, then two more groups of three tango tracks followed by two milonga tracks.
What’s a guided practica?
Many practicas are run by a tango school and the teachers will be on hand to offer advice and assistance. Sometimes there’s a short class beforehand to focus on technique or a sequence of steps.
At Simply Tango in Cambridge, UK, our weekly practica is preceded by an intermediate class. Savio and Katriona are available throughout the practica. We don’t go to couples to offer advice during the practica (like we do in our classes), but we are always very happy to answer questions about technique or to help you to smooth out a sequence of steps.
We hope to welcome you to one of our Wednesday practicas at St Paul’s, Hills Road, Cambridge.
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