It's said that tango is popular world-wide now because of Copes and the popularity of his show, first in France then on Broadway, in 1984. Without that, it's possible that tango now would be danced in a just few milongas in Buenos Aires, and we simply wouldn't know about it. If that's true, thanks, many many thanks!
But the downside is that our sights have become fixed on stage tango. If our teachers aren't stage tango dancers, their teachers probably were. Getting instruction from dancers who have never danced on stage or been taught by stage dancers, whose entire background is dancing in the milongas, is really difficult. A few of them live in Europe, and others visit Europe from time to time. Most of them would never dream of teaching anyway: they dance because it's their social world, it's what they've always loved to do for a night out.
Stage dancers are quite different. They are trained dancers, often with backgrounds in contemporary, in ballet; quite a few come out of gymnastics. They are trained from childhood in display, in showing, even in showing off, whatever gets applause on stage. They are often trained teachers too, and what they teach us comes out of this world, the world of the stage rather than the world of the milonga. It's more than just the 'steps', it's a whole mind-set. Hence, I think, the volume of complaints about 'floorcraft': MsH and her jivetango friends aren't the only people I hear loud and clear. Floorcraft doesn't concern stage dancers, with their well-designed choreographies, but it was vital in the old milongas of BsAs where you wouldn't get to dance if you weren't competent, and dancing well didn't always mean displaying a huge repertoire of flashy steps.
That's the difficult legacy: stage dance.
In Paris recently I learned some simple turns from Tete and Silvia. I've seen these often enough in videos, and they are used frequently in BsAs milongas. They can be done in little space, and they enable leaders to turn 360 degrees and see what space is available. They are simple and elegant, but I'd never learned them in four years of classes in London. I'd been taught giros, with saccadas at every step and a gancho or two thrown in, which take a lot more room and a huge amount of practice to look even remotely effortless, but not simple, practical moves that evolved to suit crowded dance floors.
MsH's friends aren't responsible for the problems they complain about. I'm sorry to say that I don't think their attempt to analyse the dance, the type of music, the shape of the floor, is going to help. I think that turning our (since I'm one of them) backs on the big London milongas and starting a small milonga (or two) is the only thing to do. Small, because it won't cater to so many people, and there won't be room for big moves. Just small friendly gatherings where people, friends, can get together for evenings to enjoy dancing together, and gatherings that can invite dancers who have long experience of the milongas, to teach. They won't be trained teachers, but they'll have spent a lifetime watching and dancing social tango, and they know when it doesn't look right, and why. & they have a warmth and love of tango that is really encouraging.