The code

2009 January 25

Red no entry sign by anthonygrimley, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License by  anthonygrimley

It can be difficult to learn tango. In addition to learning to know the music, leading and following and the basic vocabulary, there are the rules. So many rules to remember. Or codigos, as some prefer to call them. Codigos de la milonga.

And there are some that think way too much attention devoted to these “rules”. Ancient rules from Buenos Aires, we can manage very well without them, thankyouverymuch. In our country, we do it our way.

What these people fail to understand is that what they see as rigid rules from a distant time is only common sense or simple courtesy. I know courtesy is out of fashion these days, but here is your wake-up call: so is couple dancing! And they go together, the two.

It is astonishing that one has to teach grown up individuals, tell them explicitly that one should not kick the others on the dance floor, respect a no for a no and in general behave like  grown ups. And even more startling: after being taught these things, people still do it.

4 Responses leave one →
  1. 2009 January 26

    I am now on to my 8th month of living and dancing in BsAs, and the codes come naturally, without me having to think about them.

    In Melbourne (where only 2 males use the mirada/cabeceo, and everyone sits toether – males and females, couples, etc), I remember this one particular incident – X (lovely dancer) had just come back from a 3 week holiday in BsAs, he asked me for a dance. After the first song ends, we break away form the embrace. I smile and I tell him ‘it”s good to have you back’, and then, since the next song had begun, I leaned in to embrace him, in order to start dancing again. His response:’Oh,no’ (as he pulled back a bit) ‘in BsAs they wait a while before they start dancing…’
    i didn’t quite know how to react, but I refrained from saying ‘you’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto’

    observing the Codigos (when in Rome…) is one thing
    … taking on affectations is quite another.

    having said all this, I definitely agree, that common courtesy should be applied at all times regardless of geographic location.

  2. 2009 January 28

    Thank you for your comment!

    I agree that “because they do it in Buenos Aires” is not a good argument for following the code back home. You need to understand why they do it like that to judge whether or not it is a good idea. Quite a few of them make sense in my experience, some do not.

    I think much of the reason for importing the codigos is that this simple courtesy related to couple dancing is largely forgotten in many countries, including my own.

    And it is good to know before going to BsAs, so you won’t make a fool of yourself.

  3. 2009 May 29
    David permalink

    When The old and ancient golf course in England started they made a set of rules,codes and everyone had to follow them. Today those rules still apply throughout the world.No matter where you play golf the rules are the same.
    Tango has rules for a reason and yes I agree that some of the rules don’t apply any longer but some of them do. Respect the floor, respect the line of dance, keep your feet on the floor. If the organizers of milongas would enforce these rules everyone would enjoy tango. We have one milonga in So Cal where the organizer will ask people to leave if they are not respecting the floor. She’s not afraid to lose the $10 to keep the dancing civil.
    As far as nuevo existing with traditional tango it’s never going to happen. One nuevo dancer can disrupt the entire floor, I see it all the time. What would you rather do pay attention to the connection and the music or pay attention to the nuevo clown that’s spinning like a top leading high kicks every other step and generally disrespecting the floor and every person on it. The sad thing is he’s to stupid to realize that what he’s doing is wrong. So whats the solution to the problem????

  4. 2009 May 29

    Funny thing is that one conversation that inspired this post was with a golfer 🙂 For some reason lots of people have a hard time accepting that tango — like most other activities are governed by some rules to make the activity enjoyable for all. Has the ‘freedom’ of tango been oversold, maybe?

    In a greater community I guess being strict is a viable option, but for very small communities, one often has to make some sacrifice to keep a ‘friendly’ and ‘informal’ atmosphere. Ignoring the fact that a proper milonga in many ways is a quite formal event. Hard to strike a balance when you want the community to grow, trying to avoid attracting clowns, nuevo or not.

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