Tango Códigos & Milonga Floorcraft

11 07 2010

Tango Códigos & Milonga Floorcraft

Here are some guidelines that I recently developed for a local tango festival attended by about 300 people.    People generally responded favorably to the guidelines — being helpful and not too intrusive — which may also have helped bring some sanity to the festival’s milongas.  When preparing these guidelines, it was hard to know exactly what to include, as some of the guidelines are common sense for both experienced, as well as beginning tango dancers.  And whether fitting or not, some people either believe that tango etiquette only apply to others and not themselves, or that such guidelines only apply in Buenos Aires — where people can get kicked out of milongas for a minor breach of etiquette.  Other people seem to arbitrarily chose to ignore them or perhaps don’t even know that they exist.

The most most interesting comment I received in reaction to the Códigos was that next time,  I should make sure and get them  translated into at least two other languages, after English – not intended to pick on anyone in particular, but at least removing a language barrier, where it may exist.

Tango Códigos:

  1. Typically, the man asks the women to dance, instead of the woman asking the man.
  2. If possible, use the cabaceo method to find a partner, which helps people ‘save face’ when choosing a dance partner.   (The cabaceo is agreeing to dance through the subtle inclination of the head, through eye-contact or a wink.)
  3. The man should then approach the women while she remains seated, and stop near where she is sitting so they can meet on the edge of the dance floor.
  4. More experienced couples dance on the edge of the dance floor.  Less skilled dancers dance in the middle.
  5. When dancing, don’t confuse the social dance floor with a stage (see below).
  6. At the end of a tanda, the man accompanies the women to her seat, before chatting with others or  returning to his seat.

Milonga Floorcraft: Respect the line of dance

  1. All tango social dances have a line of dance, as dancers slowly circle the dance floor in a counter-clockwise direction.
  2. Dance counterclockwise on the edge of dance floor.
  3. Couples should stay in their lane until the song ends.  No zig-zagging in and out of the lane.
  4. Avoid passing the couple in front of you.  NEVER pass a couple on their right side (your left side) while in the line of dance.  (It continues to amaze me that some experienced dancers routinely do this.)
  5. Don’t teach (particularly for leads), don’t ask for tips (particularly for follows) or offer suggestions (everyone).  Lessons or tips are for practicas or classes.  Milongas are social dance events where people should be able to relax and enjoy themselves, instead of calling attention to what they’re doing wrong.
  6. During a dance, keep all of your feet on the floor.  No boleos on a busy floor.  That helps avoid injuries to other dancers with a mis-directed spiked heel.
  7. Respect the space of others in front of you and others behind you in the line of dance.  There is a small amount of space around you that’s yours, while the rest of the space is shared space.  It’s up to you to know the difference.
  8. Don’t disrupt the dance of others.  Your responsibility in the line of dance is to keep circulating without disrupting those around you.  If you want to stop and work on something special, go to the middle of the floor.
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6 responses

22 07 2010
jantango

Nice job putting together a list to help keep things under control.
Codigos:
Combine #1 and #2. A man invites a woman to dance while seated at his table using some head movement or facial expression directed towards her across the floor. A man can raise an eyebrow, tilt his head, or smile. Whatever works to communicate the invitation and receive a response. A woman may respond in kind to him or she may look away.
#3. A man crosses the floor making eye contact with the woman and waits for her to meet him on the floor. He doesn’t approach her table.
#4. Those who can keep pace with traffic dance in the outside lane on the dance floor. There are two or three of them moving in concentric circles around the center reserved for stationary dancers.
#5. The social floor does not allow for stopping in one place. Keep moving so you don’t halt traffic.
#6. When the cortina music begins, it signals the end of the tanda. A man then escorts his partner off the floor by putting his hand on her back or waist, walking beside her to the edge of the dance floor near her table.
Floorcraft:
#8. If you bump or accidentally kick another dancer, it is appropriate to promptly apologize for the offense by a nod or hand movement to the other man. The middle of the floor is not a practice area. It is for dancing. Do your practicing at a practica or at home.

27 07 2010
Richard

Good stuff … thank you for your suggestions! Your comments are helpful explaining what actually happens on and around the dance — I’ll try to incorporate as much as I can. Your comments also remind me, that like with learning to dance tango, each of us is limited by the point at which we find ourselves on the tango curve today. For example, we learn one new thing and all of a sudden we understand three more things that didn’t make any sense to us earlier. My next step might be to develop basic códigos for the absolute beginner, as well as more nuanced (is that a word?) códigos for the more advanced dancer. Thanks again!

28 07 2010
jantango

One’s experience as a dancer doesn’t matter as far as the codes are concerned. Everyone should learn them from the beginning because they are an integral part of dancing. Buenos Aires milongas have codes that aren’t used in the USA, so one has to observe, listen, and learn.

31 07 2010
Bookmarks for July 27th through July 31st | dekay.org

[…] Tango Cdigos – (tags: tango floorcraft @fb tradition codigos ) […]

11 11 2010
Carlos

Very interesting text. It’s always important to discuss the rules of social dancing like this, to continue learning the good costumes of respect at dance.

3 08 2011
Why is this so difficult? - tango hub

[…] 5. “There is a simple truism that eludes too many of our tango friends: Tango is not a race: there is no finish line. Therefore, there is no reason to overtake.” — Tango-L Essay6. “Avoid passing the couple in front of you. NEVER pass a couple on their right side (your left side) while in the line of dance. (It continues to amaze me that some experienced dancers routinely do this.) ” — Tango Chose Me […]

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