Tango Argentino > Tanda Etiquette

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by pygmalion, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    Oh, no, not negative amusing. Like fun amusing.

    Yeah, it's just a form of non-verbal communication. :) Tango dancers don't have the market on that, but it is built into the traditions.
  2. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    Another thought occurred to me. We've been talking recently about the negative aspects of the tanda system, but it makes more sense to understand the positive to see how it came about. AT is an intimate dance; it takes some doing to get really close to someone and get sync'd up to them. So the tanda offers 4 chances to get into it. The goal is connection. That's why it's done.

    All these negative things in the first post are important socially, but it's best to come at things from the positive side... you're expecting when you agree to dance with someone to give them your best for 4 songs. If it's not happening, then worry about it then. And always be nice. Unless they're really being a jerk. :D
    Zoopsia59, sixela and pygmalion like this.
  3. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I would also imagine that a lot of people who frequent milongas get to know each other over time. So all this speculation about needing to leave the floor if he's a jerk is probably moot. If you know he's a jerk, don't meet his eye when he does the ESP thing (cabeceo lol) across the floor. Done and done. So now we see why there's another one of those pesky traditions. :)

    My question came from the perspective of what if (like Peaches ) you get injured or are on call at work and get paged, or have a wardrobe malfunction, etc, and you need to leave the floor suddenly. Or if, as has happened to me at ballroom socials more than a few times, the guy who looked nice enough turned out to be drunk and overly amorous. In ballroom, loosen up the hold and get the heck out of dodge in three minutes. In tango, what? That was where the question came from, not from a place of putting down the traditions, which I'm sure evolved for good reasons.

    OTOH, don't forget the story of the ham.
  4. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I've only ever heard the story of the ham told in first person, so here goes. (I've heard the story told by a million people, but somehow, all of them tell it in the first person. lol) Here it is in less personalized form.

  5. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    Just to clarify, there's nothing wrong with saying "thank you" when you liked a tanda (and body language is, of course, everything).

    But saying just thank you and moving on, i.e. not saying anything else and (at the end of the tanda) not escorting your partner back off the dance floor, that is something else.
  6. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    You apologise (profusely) and you leave the floor together. Never, EVER, just leave the partner standing on the dance floor. At least not if you still want to dance with her in this life, that is.
  7. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    You mean it helps to approach each other and to get into physical contact?
    I don´t believe so. Most dancers start hugging quite soon. Also in the golden age: once in the crowd and out of sight... I think the tanda tradition is an atavism that stems from the period of two alternating live orchestras: once the musicians were breathless or finger-lame the other one took over. Off course two or more orchestras also could serve to change the style and the sound: typical tango orchestras alternated with typical jazz (swing) or caribbean bands. Off course some bands played every style, Enrique Rodíguez for one. But he also had to admit pauses.
    In other styles as for instance at salsa parties we´ve got extreme long pieces, whereas in traditional tango the pieces are rather short. Jazz orchestras in north america invented instrumental solos that helped the other musicians to recover in between.
  8. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    I think he means that it's impossible even for two very good dancers to have the absolute best dance they are capable of having after just one dance to a particular orchestra/period: you need to adjust to each other and to the way that you both interpret the music.

    That's also why it's important for the mood of the tandas not to change abruptly too often, since a tanda haphazardly cobbled together is no better than one-track tandas (well, most of the time, unless your purpose is to give the dancers a little jolt).

    Of course in the golden age the reasons for having tandas were partly different, since you could expect the same orchestra (and style) for the better part of the evening. Still, if you danced only one tanda with any one person the functional reason for you as a dancer would be the same.

    By the way, I think that the reason a particular custom creates itself is often very different from the reasons that allow the custom to sustain itself. No doubt the tanda system was at first also to the benefit of the orchestras. But here we are and tandas are still popular, for very different reasons.
    Subliminal and opendoor like this.
  9. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    Yes, thanks! That's a great way to put it.
  10. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Didn't like the ham story, huh?:p

    My only point was that from time to time it's a good thing to examine our traditions, to understand why they're there and whether they're still useful. :cool:
    sixela likes this.
  11. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    No argument from me: it's not a religion (or at least not one with a single orthodoxy). on the other hand, I do hear some people desperate to throw all traditions away as 'old-fashioned rubbish' before they've taken the effort to understand what other people appreciate about them.
  12. B. Reguise

    B. Reguise New Member

    Ironic that a dance that "can't be put in a syllabus" and is "the most free form of dance expression " has all this crap associated with it.
  13. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    You illustrate my point exactly: I don't think that you have a fair assessment about what is 'crap' and what is not. Neither do I. I might vehemently disagree with some positions that some people take, but I won't easily say they're "crap".
    bordertangoman likes this.
  14. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member


    i don't think that is a BsAs thing at all. I have scored like that, albeit it in my youth...;) and certainly used eye contact to get dances in noisy discos..
  15. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    While I have often noted that eye contact with an acknowledgement of some sort can be found outside of AT culture, I will now hasten to add that it is unique in Buenos Aires in that it is the accepted way to find a partner, and walking up to someone to ask "would you like to dance" marks you as someone who either ignores, or is unaware of, the proper way to ask for/accept an invitation to dance at a traditional milonga.

    That is rather unique.

    I'll go on to say that anyone teaching "Argentine Tango" should at least tell their students about this tradition, even if it doesn't apply locally.
  16. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    Generally, if a woman danced a tanda to the end, she enjoyed it. The man knows it instinctively, doesn't he? Then whose place is it to say "thank-you" to the other? Should the woman say thank-you to him for inviting her? Or should he say thank-you because she accepted his invitation? If she enjoys the tanda with him, then he's happy. If either one for any reason is not comfortable, the thank-you after one dance ends it for both.

    In the last few years, portenos are learning a bit of English because of the flood of tourism in the milongas. It's not unusual to hear one of them say "thank you" after a tanda instead of "gracias."

    There are only a few who post on this forum who have been to Buenos Aires. It's beneficial to anyone to know the codes before making the trip. If you stay home to dance, ask friends at the milongas how they handle things.
  17. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Can't they both say it to be polite?
  18. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think it is specifically because of that that this dance had all this "crap" associated with it.

    We dance 3 songs because it is a relatively free, and so everybody dances a different style, and we need at least 1 or 2 of them to figure out how to dance with each other, and often that time is not actually enough to figure out how to do it in a way that is at least remotely enjoyable. And in reverse, there are strong rules in place so that we are able to more or less gracefully not dance with people who dance incompatible styles.

    We are cautious about who we dance with because there is no syllabus, and people often dance both vocabulary and music that they are not actually able to pull off because they don't have the foundation.

    (I actually wonder how for example contact improv or other groups maintain social harmony - in every group there are people asymetrically don't get along with each other (A likes B, B doesn't like A quite as much), and where A probably enjoys working with B much more than B does)

    Sometimes, in very deranged moments, i wish there was a syllabus, and we could tell people things like "this is a classic quickstep figure, and we are dancing rumba right now, please be very sure of your leading and choreography skills before you attemp this" or "this song is a viennese waltz, please don't jive to it" or "you are a beginner dancer, please don't dance a vocabulary that consists solely of gold moves" (any resemblance to actual dances are incidental - i did ballroom ony for a very short time a loooong time ago)

    Though overall i experience the etiquette as helpful - in my experience to more milongas use the etiquette the better they run. In the end it is functional. I know that this is the most off-putting argument one can make, but in this "that is how they do it in BA" is actually an important point here - the milongas there _work_. People have a good time - they actually have a good enough time that you will see people celebrating their birthdays at milongas, and they bring all their non-dancing friends, and of the table you will have maybe one or two people dancing, and only after half the table has already left. I am not willing to bring non-dancing friends to a milonga here. You can see a similar thing at the festivals where the "codigos" (i dislike this term - i agree that this makes it sound like some sort of secret handshake, which it isn't, it's just mostly common sense things) are heavily promoted - the milongas are just more pleasant.

    Common sense description of the "codigos"

    1)Mirada/cabeceo: Lets form couples who actually want to dance with each other! As the man does the formal asking/walking up to the womans seat he should be sure that she actually wants to dance with him. The easiest way for that is to make eye-contact, make some guesture to indicate that you would like to dance, and see if she reacts favourably. If somebody avoids your eye contact she is probably not that interested in a dancing with you, and it is the gentlemanly thing to not force her (and also, there is probably somebody who will appreciate my efforts more)

    2)only 1 tanda: i am probably not the one and only person somebody wants to dance with at a milonga, so not monopolizing somebody is a nice thing to do. We can acknowledge that we feel we are doing especially well together by dancing 2 tandas, but then we are up to almost half an hour, so that is something special. Three tandas go into the "one and only person i want to see here" territory, and thats ok, too, if we accept that other people will notice that i am only at the milonga to dance with her, and vice versa. (this is the local version here, different places have different limits as of where it becomes "this is making a very strong statement that we really like dancing with each other". It also depends on the milonga - there are places here that tend more to the only 1 tanda ever thing, and others where 2 tandas are basically standard)

    3)tandas: People need time to synch their dance. 3 songs in general works nicely. Additionally it is nice if everybody leaves the dancefloor at the same time, and then there is a small pause, as it makes it easier to find a new partner. If we want to dance more with each other, just do another tanda.

    4)cutting tandas short: if you miscalculated in step 1 and you end up dancing with somebody you dislike dancing with, you don't have to dance the whole tanda - but you need to be aware that your partner will notice that you are doing this, and realize that you dislike dancing with them. If you have a non-dance reason, just tell them, and they will usually much happier. (it is still a sign that whatever makes you stop is more important to them than you are, and they might not agree with you there. I for example find cell phone use not a good excuse - if you don't expect a particularly important call waiting till the tanda is over would be better. Basically, i feel that everything that would allow me to excuse myself from the dinner table is ok).

    5) dancing half tandas: it is ok to dance a short tanda (the last song, the last 2 songs). It is usually a sign that we don't know each other, and have not seen each other dancing, so we are launching a trial-balloon by creating a situation where we have less to lose.

    sixela likes this.
  19. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I can tell. ;)

    Agree with 99% of the rest.
  20. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    You'd be surprised at how well some men can fool themselves ;-9.

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