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Sunday, 26 April 2009

Códigos de la milonga (milonga etiquette) – Have your say! #3

It's fair to say that if rules, regulations, codes no longer have a practical purpose, then perhaps they should be allowed to die. The milonga codes developed gradually over a significant period of time, in response to local conditions in Buenos Aires, in order to help make the milonga experience enjoyable for everyone. How relevant are they to our local setting, in this day and age, one might ask?

Interestingly, much of the material for this series of postings on codes has come from talking to Adelaide tango dancers over a drink, listening to their stories, and sharing our experiences as they seek answers to dilemmas on the local dance-floor. You are invited to forward a comment to any of these (see the bottom of the post) and to send in other milonga scenarios that you'd like raised.
Scenario #6
A woman likes the concept of the cabeceo, but is not sure how to use it without feeling uncomfortable. Music is playing which she wants to dance to.
  1. She should simply stare at the man she wants to dance with.
  2. She should chat with the person next to her and hope he will ask her to dance.
  3. She should chat casually with her neighbour, but also look around from time to time to indicate her interest in dancing.
  4. She should scan the milonga in the direction of the man/men she is interested in dancing with. If he wants to dance with her, he’ll be doing the same. He catches her eye, tilts his head in invitation, she indicates agreement, he approaches her.

Scenario #7
A couple has danced the first track of a tanda and the second track has just started:
  1. The woman should raise her hands, ready to take the embrace.
  2. The couple should continue chatting, and get the "feeling" of the music, developing a mood and attitude towards the particular melody that’s just started to play.
  3. The man should immediately take up the embrace and start dancing.
  4. The couple should continue chatting, engaging in quite an interesting, in-depth topic, while other dancers begin to dance around them.

Scenario #8
A beginner female dancer isn’t getting much time on the dance-floor. A leader should:
  1. Ask her to dance and show her lots of his tricks – despite her clearly struggling.
  2. Ignore her – we all had to start at the bottom; leave her to the other beginners.
  3. Ask her to dance, gradually work out what she is able to do, and use this to make the dance enjoyable by connecting with the music.
  4. Ask her to dance, and teach her new things by talking her through some figures.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Give me a packed milonga!

Give me a choice of a milonga with wide open spaces or a comfortably packed dance floor, and I'll choose the latter. There's something about dancing with the other dancers - picking up on their movement, feeding off their energy, feeling like the milonga is an organism which is slowly moving around the floor.

Then there are the navigational challenges - leading my partner, responding to the rhythms of the instruments, capturing the emotion & timing of the melodies (of the orchestra or vocalist), advancing & turning with adjacent dancers, utilising tight spaces - and making it all work.

The wide open spaces in a sparsely filled milonga? - great for practising complex figures or the fun of racing around to a vals, but there's something about the essence of the milonga that's missing here.

However, there are a couple of conditions to my preferred packed floor: it should be comfortably, not tightly packed (when it can be simply difficult to dance at all), and other dancers need to respect the codes of use of the dance space. Here's an interesting and amusing article on Tango & Chaos that's worth reading on use of the dance floor.


Friday, 17 April 2009

Códigos de la milonga (milonga etiquette) – Have your say! #2

There are so many situations at the milonga where the codes not only protect one's fragile ego, but also help avoid nasty exhibitions of territoriality. You don't have to examine the códigos de la milonga too closely to see that they acknowledge and guard against all manner of human frailties. This issue has not only provoked discussion, but some dancers have contributed their own scenarios. Here are a few more familiar situations:

Scenario #3
A couple bumps into another couple on the dance-floor. The man should:
  1. Ignore it and keep on dancing - he does it all the time, and doesn't notice it anymore.
  2. Make a signal of apology to the couple and keep dancing.
  3. Stop dancing, approach the couple, and apologise on the dance-floor.
  4. Make a signal of apology to the couple, continue dancing, and approach the couple at the end of the tanda to offer apologies.
  5. Leave it to his partner to do the apologising, because it was she who made contact.

Scenario #4
You are sitting wondering who to ask to dance. You see someone you know, although she's engaged in animated conversation with another man. Do you
  1. Try to catch her eye and if you can't, then refrain?
  2. Walk up to her and ask her if she wishes to dance?
  3. Walk up to them both and engage in conversation, then at a suitable time ask her if she wishes to dance?
  4. Walk up to them both and wait patiently until they give you some attention, then ask her to dance?
A man is leading large open figures which take up a lot of space on a busy dance-floor. They are interfering with the line of dance and he's encouraging his partner to execute moves which are dangerous to couples around them. His partner should
  1. Go along with it and enjoy the ride.
  2. Tell him she feels uncomfortable because she doesn't want to collide with anyone.
  3. At the end of the song, say "Thankyou" and return to her table.
  4. Resist his leads for any dangerous moves.
  5. Dance the whole tanda, but avoid dancing with him again.

What would you do?

Bob & Pat.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Códigos de la milonga (milonga etiquette) – Have your say!

Lately, a number of dancers have been reflecting on some etiquette-related experiences at milongas. Maybe they’ve chosen to share their thoughts because we’ve written about the códigos in the past, or because maybe it’s because we seem just a tad fanatical about them. But basically, the codes are about facilitating the enjoyment of everyone at the milonga …. and often, plain good manners. Oops, here we go again!!

So following a lively discussion in the pub after class the other night, we thought it would be fun to do a somewhat provocative & progressive quiz. Just two questions this time, more to come every few days. Comments, sharing experiences, etc. are encouraged! (By the way, if you’re a little shy, comments can be posted anonymously.)

Scenario #1

A woman is invited to dance, but has already turned another man down, saying she needed a break from constant dancing. She should:

  1. Jump at the chance to dance with a man she sees as a better dancer
  2. Politely refuse, saying that she’s already turned someone down
  3. Politely refuse, saying she’d be happy to dance a tanda later.
  4. Before the man approaches, make it clear from body language, intense conversation with her neighbour, and avoidance of eye contact, that she’s not interested in dancing this tanda.

Scenario #2

A woman "misses" a lead during a figure. The man should:

  1. Continue dancing while telling her the name of the figure that she had missed.
  2. Stop dancing, and take her through the steps in the figure; rehearse them a few times on the dance floor while explaining the details to her.
  3. Ignore the ‘mistake’ and see it as an opportunity to improvise so that the dance continues without disruption.
  4. Continue dancing and at the end of the tanda, take her aside and give her tips on how she can improve her tango.

Over to you - what do you think?

Bob & Pat

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