How far would (or do) your local milongas go to follow the codes?

There is much discussion lately, on forums and blogs, about three organizers of a Hong Kong milonga establishing their venue according to traditional Buenos Aires codas. At Las Chinitas, men, women and couples will be seated separately. The cabeceo is to be used. Dancers will never start inviting people to dance before the first song of the tanda is played. You can read the full set of rules here:

http://laschinitashk.blogspot.com/

I can certainly see the usefulness of many of the codes, but I think there would always be a portion of the community who would feel stifled at having such rules put into place. For me there is only one major code that I think I would have trouble with in the beginning at least - separating everyone by gender (and couples). I'm used to being able to socialize with dancers of both genders, so even though I admit to spending my time mostly with other followers, I would have hard time getting used to not having the option of having a conversation with a leader.

Do your local milongas follow the traditional codes of Buenos Aires milongas? Would you like them to? Which codes would you like to see enforced more strenuously? Encouraging the use of the cabeceo? Clearing the dance floor during cortinas? Separate seating for men, women and couples? Dancers waiting until the music starts to ask their partner? Leaders walking their partner back to their table at the end of the tanda?

12 comments:

AmpsterTango said...

Hmmm, I seem to know this forum you're talking about... small world!
;-)

Keno said...

This would be fun, I would give it a try, I might even get to dance with someone who is in top demand. Something to ponder

Eduardo Castro said...

1. Do your local milongas follow the traditional codes of Buenos Aires milongas? No
2. Would you like them to? No
3. Which codes would you like to see enforced more strenuously? Walking the follower back to her seat.
4. Encouraging the use of the cabeceo? No. It only works with old friend followers.
5. Clearing the dance floor during cortinas? No. We dance through the cortinas: Salsa, swing, etc.
6. Separate seating for men, women and couples? No. Most leaders socialise with followers most of the time, not other leaders.
7. Dancers waiting until the music starts to ask their partner? Yes, to find out what kind of song is coming: tango, waltz, milonga, candombe, etc, then decide which follower to ask, depending on the song.
8. Leaders walking their partner back to their table at the end of the tanda? Unable to do this in our milongas. Most followers not used to, so they walk away as soon as the tanda ends.

Panayiotis said...

1. Do your local milongas follow the traditional codes of Buenos Aires milongas? No!

2. Would you like them to? Not really

3. Which codes would you like to see enforced more strenuously? Walking the follower back to her seat.

4. Encouraging the use of the cabeceo? No, but I use it in a playful manner.

5. Clearing the dance floor during cortinas? Yes, but slowly. Some people still get up to dance, though.

6. Separate seating for men, women and couples? Seating is scattered and no grouping takes place.

7. Dancers waiting until the music starts to ask their partner? No, sometimes dances are arranged before the songs start. Even more rare, sometimes the leaders linger a bit to get a follower's attention.

8. Leaders walking their partner back to their table at the end of the tanda? I like to do this, but many women feel awkward even if I have no other intention than to see them to their seat.

Eduardo Castro said...

Hi Mari. Interesting topic about the codes. Why do you think we don't care about following the codes very seriously here in the States? And does that affect our life as a milongueros? I think that we can try as individuals but as a group will be harder because we like the freedom.

Mari said...

Eduardo, I think in the US we are very focused on individual freedom first, and community norms and traditions second (or more likely much further down the list.) The milonga codes were developed for the comfort of the community, not necessarily for the comfort of the individuals. They are, in may respects, old fashioned. How much the codes speak to one's comfort really depends on what brought them to tango in the first place.

I think you're right that as individuals we will find what suits us and we will tend to dance and interact more with like-minded people. But as a group, it would be difficult to force people into that set of behaviors. For me, it would be hard to think of a dancer as a milonguero (one whose life is centered around the milongas) if he danced through the cortinas, left me in the middle of the floor after the tanda etc. It doesn't mean I don't enjoy dancing with dancers who don't follow the codes - it's just a different kind of comfort.

Mari said...

Pete - thank you for your response.

Regarding waiting for the music to start - I used to be so anxious to dance with everyone I possibly could that, as soon as the music started, I wanted to be out on the floor dancing. Now I know that there are certain types of music that I don't dance well to, and so if I want to try to dance them, I look for more "forgiving" partners. There are some leaders that I simply can't keep up with during milongas, for example - they are too far beyond my skill (and stamina) level.

Also, if a vals tanda comes up, I want to dance that with someone who loves vals more than someone who has said he can't tell one song from another (referring to traditional tango music.) And so now I wait a little bit.

Everyone seems to agree about walking the follower back to her table. I'm glad to see that - it's a tradition I value.

Mari said...

Ampter - I'm just all over the place lately! I have to admit I get some pretty good ideas off of Dance-forums.com. Sometimes I'm a little too intimidated to dive into a thread, so I hash it out a little here lol

Keno - I suspect the codes would come pretty naturally to you, having seen you in action. ;)

Eduardo Castro said...

The codes are habits that should be learn when we are beginners because it’s hard to break bad habits when have been dancing for a while.

Since “the milonga codes were developed for the comfort of the community” they can help the beginners to integrate to the tango community. I believe that in Buenos Aires the milonguero is a lifestyle, thus the tango community imposes the codes to the new dancers for the comfort of the community.

On the contrary, in the US, tango is just a hobby and we focus in the individual experience and enjoyment of the dance.

In addition, I think that the codes could be old fashioned here, but in Buenos Aires they are actually they way of life or the norm in the milongas.

Mari said...

Eduardo - as usual, you stated that perfectly. :)

msHedgehog said...

1. Do your local milongas follow the traditional codes of Buenos Aires milongas? I don't know what it would even mean for a milonga to follow a code, but quite a lot of individuals do. One milonga does occasionally make suggestions.
2. Would you like them to? Some of them
3. Which codes would you like to see enforced more strenuously? Playing cortinas and clearing the floor
4. Encouraging the use of the cabeceo? Up to a point. I use it a fair amount, it works with people I know well and with visitors who are strangers. It doesn't matter to me whether anyone else uses it or not, as long as they are polite and considerate about how they ask me to dance and don't chase me around or hassle me or interrupt me or hover.
5. Clearing the dance floor during cortinas? Yes, this is a major help in organising my evening, and is logically necessary if you're going to wait to see what music's next before you ask for the dance. Being danced to cortinas is embarrassing.
6. Separate seating for men, women and couples? No - in my culture this sits somewhere between the ridiculous and the repellent. I wouldn't mind trying it as a tourist, but not for real life.
7. Dancers waiting until the music starts to ask their partner? Yes, very good idea. I don't want to waste a dance on something I don't like and I don't want him to either; and I have strong preferences about who I dance what with.
8. Leaders walking their partner back to their table at the end of the tanda? Not usually possible, there's no such thing as 'her' table or seat, even assuming there are enough seats for everyone who wants to sit down. Anyway the logic is based on men and women sitting seperately, so that the table is a natural place to part. If you don't segregate, it makes at least as much sense to part on the dance floor as it does to walk someone back to a random table and dump her there after making it look as though you were going to sit down and chat. I think a lot of women would find being followed back to the table disconcerting and even creepy. I'm OK with it because I know it's traditional.

Mari said...

msHedgehog - I'm so right there with ya on several of those. As far as being walked back to my seat - I like it better than being left in the middle of the dance floor -but I think that's because I knew very early on that it was a tradition - so it felt a little like a jilt. *shrug* It doesn't really bother me either way lately - so it probably depends on the leader.