Tango Argentino > Understanding codigos

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Dave Bailey, Aug 12, 2008.

  1. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Interesting topic.
    In my opinion, starting Argentine Tango should not be different from entering any social community for the first time. Before traveling abroad, we try to find out about some specific local rules and customs that, if not observed/paid attention to, could put us in trouble. When we begin a new job, we do not start by saying that some things had been done wrong (even if it seems so at times), and by teaching everyone new ways. When we start socializing with any unfamiliar party, we listen, look around, pay attention, are we not?

    All teachers I have taken lessons from spoke about the rules. It might not be happening everywhere, and I agree, instructors, <i> if they intend to prepare social tango dancers</i>, got to speak about such matters in classes. But, as in any classes, some people listen, some do not.

    There are some nice informative articles about milonga rules on the internet. There are blogs of avid milonga goers. Reading them helped me a lot when I was starting (and still does). Not to mention this forum :) I would think, people who take tango lessons in this country usually have Internet access and can read English. Have some of them been banned from Google?

    I am always more than willing to talk with new people in milongas and answer their questions. Some consider, some just go on and do their thing. I had a couple of newcomers who, upon hearing some of my answers, said things like "Dancing several songs with the same person, that is a silly rule. I am not going to do that". Or: "Some men do not like to be asked? But they won't turn me down if I insist, can they? I am a woman, they cannot say "no" to a woman!" etc.

    Actually, I have an impression, that some people are not interested in a social aspect of tango. For them tango is putting on a vintage dress with sparkles or a fedora hat, and be a passionate and exotic creature for a night that in real life they are not. So, in milongas, when they bump (pun intended) into those for whom tango is not Halloween, there happens a culture clutch. Personally I try to let these people be. I don't know what is to be done about it.

    Bottom line, what I see most of the time, people break the codigos and step on toes not because they have no information or no way to obtain it, but because <i>they don't care</i>.
  2. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Yes, floorcraft in Ceroc is even worse.
  3. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

  4. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Should teachers spend more time explaining "the codes" during classes?

    For example, almost no teachers in London I've encountered spend a lot of time describing things like the cabaceo, tandas / cortinas, floorcraft and other "social dance" issues. Perhaps they assume we know them. Or perhaps they assume we'll work them out ourselves?

    Should they tell us more?

    One of the reasons I expended so much time and treasure in learning Argentine Tango is that it comes from another culture. Admittedly, I was first attracted to the very cool "moves" that are part of the dance, but there are other things that don't quite fit our "Contempory Western Civilization" attitudes.
    The differing roles of men and women are one example that always comes to mind.
    Learning about other societies, and the fact that not everyone thinks or acts like us is, I think, important. It's also important, again, my opinion, to accept that other cultures are no less "right" or "wrong" in how they do things.
    So, if you take the music and dance out of its cultural context, you aren't giving people the "full deal". On the other hand, just with teaching women specifics about their role as follower, teachers have to know about it themselves, and have to know know how to communicate the information in a useful way.
  5. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I think Ceroc is a dance...I've seen some documentaries on it. It has lots of lifts and so forth...like maybe Jive on steroids for lifts and drops....
  6. Taniquel

    Taniquel New Member

    Tani would be just fine... :D
  7. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member


    Many good points have been made here. Among them....

    This is true. However, it is only true when visiting said country. Once one returns home, the custom becomes irrelevant, or at the very least, only a matter of personal preference.


    This is excellent, as well. However, iterating, it might not be necessary to force these differences into yoru own culture to appreciate them. Things like the miradita (cabeceo), and not thanking a partner after a dance are not normal parts of our culture. To insist upon it simply because it is done in BsAs, IMHO, is ridiculous. Good manners is really all that is necessary in either culture.
  8. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Yes - see here.

    Technically, the dance form is Modern Jive, and Ceroc is the organisation which dominates the Modern Jive dance scene, rather than the dance form itself. (Think "vacuum cleaner" and "Hoover")
  9. Light Sleeper

    Light Sleeper New Member

    Pheweee - exactement!

    Please forgive me in advance for a bit of a grumpy rant re tango:

    I can only speak of my experience in the UK but it strikes me that tango is beginning to take on the worst of some of the negative social elements in ballroom - arrogance/ snobbishness - but in tango - pretentiousness really seems to be our speciality. (possibly a defensive response to being held up by BR as some kind of poor relation?). Really, we are doing ourselves no favours. How often do we bemoan on this very forum the fact that the number of active tango dancers is much lower than we think it should be? Tango is beautiful music with many moods - not all melancholy and soulful - don't see why at some point it shouldn't be as popular as salsa.

    Okay, I'm feeling a bit grumpy today but generally this is how I feel.

    In countries where English is the mother tongue why do we use so many Spanish phrases and words? E.g. why call a walking promenade an 'Americana' - or that other word I've forgotten that means 'mirror' or something?

    1) "Tango Argentino" strikes me as particularly abusrd as in Spanish speaking Argentina I presume they do not refer to tango as 'Argentino' tango.

    2) Tanda - I know the implication of a 'tanda' - the custom of dancing 3 dances with someone (didn't know it could mean 4). But WTH is a Cortina? Would knowing what a Cortina was help me in my dancefloor ettiquette? My experince is that the 'tanda' is not always adhered to and it does not appear to be causing massive problems on the scene.

    3) Cabaceo - useful to know if you're in Argentina - but whatever new place we're visiting surely we do a little research on the local customs?

    And finally if someone from Argentina was visiting I'm sure they'll pick up the local customs without too many misunderstandings. (Though not currently as we're still forming our tango identity somewhat?)

    Point: tango is relatively new, certainly in my neck of the woods (say, 10 years) so I still think it's early days in how things will pan out. However, I sometimes really get the impression that certain folks who teach and perform try and give themselves a 'mystique' on purpose by blathering on at length about all this nonsense (Cabaceo etc). Or using over complicated phraseology (and to be blunt - BS) I see it all the time at my place of employment - pet peeve of mine - people using tonnes of acronyms that nobody will have a hope of understanding. Why can't we develop our own customs? If you want to dance a tanda great stuff - but if you don't and you say 'thank you' this shouldn't be an insult. Maybe this is easier if the music is edited to make the tanda easily discernable - so you may ask someone after the second song if you only want one dance etc.?

    Further point: a lot of people who organise milongas also don't take on the role of host. I remember reading on here of some really great hosts a DFer knew of who introduced the new people by getting them to stick their hands up, fostering a friendly, social spirit so that everyone gets a bit of dancefloor action. Maybe if we actually start calling them 'socials' instead of 'milongas' people will get the hint.

    Also - in this country, a large proportion of people are too young to have had any experience of the tradition of social dancing - the formalisation of ballroom into the huge capitalist machine that is now has killed that off. We really need to get down to brass tacks I feel with regard to this - and develop our own identity when it comes to social dancing. Note: not that there aren't plenty of capitalist orientated milonga organisers out there.

    Kill pretentiousness before it kills the future of tango!

    However, to return to Angel's point on good manners. So true, so true. All social dancing should have some general ettiquette rules based on common sense and politeness but we seriously do not need to learn a set of special 'codigas' (nnggggggg!!!) Unfortunately in the UK (always known for our politeness historically) manners seem on the decrease ... which I reckon is in part to the rise of a largely materialist and self-indulgent culture.... Years ago socials were the only place you could meet members of the opposite sex which in itself fostered a kind of respect - nowadays people rather get plastered on booze and be raucous. I hardly go into the town centre of where I live anymore on a weekend night - it's full of people peeing in the street...anyway, I'm beginning to digress here and sounding like a grumpy old woman (which I'm not - well, old, at any rate though I felt old ever since I was about 27!!)

    Rant over!
  10. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Actually, I've been encouraged over the past few years by how BR tango is now seen as the outsider, and AT is now (rightly) seen as the "real" dance - shows like Strictly Come Dancing have really helped here, I think.

    I can't see AT ever being as popular as salsa, because:
    - Salsa sells sex better, especially to younger people
    - Salsa's easier to learn

    Now this is something I completely agree with - I think the Spanish terms are just used to be pretentious.

    Why call a social dance a milonga? Why not call it a freestyle?

    I hereby declare the launch of the Plain English Campaign: Tango Subdivision! :D

    Ooh, I said that! :)

    I also agree that AT teachers have no conception of "after-lesson dancing" - i.e. that during the social dance part of an evening, they should still be "on duty" and should make an effort to get newbies up and dancing.

    It was a good one :cool:
  11. Taniquel

    Taniquel New Member

    I have a teacher who was really good at that. The few first times we showed up at the milonga (when at beginner level), he made a point of dancing with all his students (women, obviously!). It made us feel really welcome plus we got a chance to dance with a really good leader! :D
  12. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I'm sure to get blasted for this but...

    I for one, don't really have a problem with things having names....

    What's easier...."The sum of the squares of the sides of a right triangle....blah blah blah...." or.... a(2)+b(2)= c(2)...the Pythagorean Theorum? You say that, I probably know what you mean....you say the preceding long sentance...I get a glazed look in my eyes and wish you would come to the point.

    So I think it is much easier to say Ocho Cortado (or one of it's related names) and have much better chance of getting someone to understand quickly what I am saying than having to say every time..."you know...that move where you rock forward outside partner on your left foot, then back on the right, then....blah blah blah...."

    And as for other names that have come about...like the "Espejo Americano" which you seem to disapprove of. I didn't come up with it, it probably was thought up by an Argentine to give a name to some thing to encourage a visual reference (which is soetimes the case in dance names), and because it got the Americano attached on, I doubt seriously an American was being pompous about it. It is a dance position that people in ballroom go to quite often, and whoever it was probably gave it that name for a visual reference for what they were talking about...to try and make sense to people so they didn't have to use 10 minute long explainations every time.

    Also- most dance have positions and names....why so many complaints just because they aren't in ENglish?

    I know west coast swing has plenty of names for things...sugar push, left side pass, whip...and so on. Maybe there are whip and west coast dancer out there too bemoaning the naming of their patterns (maybe Steve would know), but all the names are is shorthand for the thing itself and what's so bad about that?

    The names in Spanish aren't that hard to learn and they are often related to the action (giro- turn , ocho- figure 8, gancho- hook). I guess growing up around Spanish speakers I don't find it an issue, just a part of the dance just like other customs of the dance so I accept it and I don't consider it pretentious at all.

    Same thing in West Coast. The names are part of the dance, part of it's culture and so I accept that.
  13. Light Sleeper

    Light Sleeper New Member

    Oooh dear, you might get me on another rant there! SCD *hawk spit* just is dumbed down c**p telly. I can't believe that the major appeal isn't either from BR dancers or people who like 'car crash celebrity' telly or people who miss the Larry Grayson show (camp telly). Surely it's post modern ironic - please tell me it is so!! Oops, sounded snobbish there - but I make no apologies for deploring c**p telly - it's the televisual equivalant of a MacDonald's franchise. They cancelled Inspector Lynley (okay it might be cliched but at least it had high production values) to put more of this cheap rubbish on.

    That gets my goat, too - Argentine Tango should be called 'Tango' and BR tango should be called 'Ballroom Tango'.

    My main beef about the AT on SCD is that Flavia Cacace dances it with a distinct latin style/ technique. Don't see this in Vincent but definitely her. Drives me bonkers - am not criticising her dancing per se more the fact that she's supposed to be a top pro and 'world champion' no less yet she can't present a different technique - that which she's puporting to be world champion in. And they're still hawking that Pugliese routine round theatres all around the UK - again this suggests to me the appeal is of the MacDonald's variety - they want a cheeseburger every time.

    True, true but I am ever a dreamer!

    Hear, hear! let's get the crystal clear symbol on all tango literature and websites. http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/

    Yeah, maybe it attracted people in the beginning who were pretentious and wanted somat to call their own ;)

    Ta! :friend:
  14. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    That gets my goat, too - Argentine Tango should be called 'Tango' and BR tango should be called 'Ballroom Tango'.

    ....so then...names are not so bad...???
  15. Light Sleeper

    Light Sleeper New Member

  16. Light Sleeper

    Light Sleeper New Member

    See my previous post - I never said names per se are bad!!!! :shock:

    Incidentally, I suppose ( I think I'm right here) it would be more accurate to call AT South American Tango?????
  17. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Me neither. Names Are Good. But why this fetish to call everything by a Spanish name?

    What's wrong with (for example), "freestyle" or "club" instead of "milonga"?

    Names are only Good Things if they help make things clearer. If they don't, then they're jargon, and act to protect the "mystique".

    Or, you could call it a "Cut cross", which would be even simpler to understand.

    If I'm in England (and I am), going to a class taught by an English person (which I will be tonight), to an English audience, surely it makes sense to describe names in English? Surely it's easier to do that, than to expect people to remember unfamiliar terminology in a foreign language?

    But why should they be any hard to learn? Why not make them, I dunno, easy to learn? Crazy idea I know...

    So why not call them turns, 8s, and hooks?
  18. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    Ocho cortado is a god example of things getting misnomers; its not an ocho and its not cut but otherwise I'm all for using terminology that works. but i differentiate between a gancho and a "wrap" because they feel different in the way they are lead and danced, though they were both taught as ganchos.

    Freestyle is another misnomer. In swimming it means you choose which stroke you do. If you came to a tango dance and did free style does this mean you might be dancing salsa or cha cha cha or rhumba?
    Surely calling it a milonga isn't that confusing?

    I don't understnad you point about Pythagorus. Are you saying its quicker to dance along the hypotenuse than the other two sides? or that tangueros are squares?
  19. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    I like it :) - and more importantly, it's a prime time show which promotes partner dancing in a positive way, and which has undoubtedly done a lot to help the partner dance scene in the UK (and possibly worldwide).

    Sounds like a plan to me!

    Ahh, you're just being picky. We should be grateful that 7-8 million people are watching and enjoying AT, surely?

    Hmmmm.... I think I'm going to do a "Tango in English" glossary for my site, that should keep me busy for a few days...
  20. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    I think it is - it confused me. Mainly because of the venue / dance thing, but even so...

Share This Page