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Thursday, 11 June 2009

Códigos de la milonga (milonga etiquette) - Have your say #5!

The debate continues worldwide over milonga codes, particularly the use of the cabeceo. In some countries, and some cities in Australia, the cabeceo is almost non-existent, making it harder for out-of-towners to get dances. Some would argue that it is an anachronism - with no part to play in modern societies, while others talk about it protecting dancers from unwelcome partners or from music they don't want to dance to.
However, we don't hear much dispute about the importance of codes like keeping the line-of-dance, leading & executing figures which are safe in the circumstances, and treating partners with respect. These are all about ensuring that everyone at the milonga has a chance to enjoy the dance.
Scenario #15:
A woman approaches a man to ask him to dance. He should:
  1. Accept, even if he doesn’t want to, and dance the tanda with little connection.
  2. Politely decline, because, in truth, the music isn’t the type he can connect with.
  3. Accept, make the best of the music & partner, and strike up a light discussion about the fun & value of the ‘cabeceo’ at the end of the tanda.
  4. As soon as he spots her coming, dash into the toilet.
Scenario #16:
A man is leading large open figures which take up a lot of space, intruding into the line of dance, and encouraging his partner to execute moves which are dangerous to other couples. Another couple should:
  1. Put up with it and keep well out of their way
  2. Approach the couple in a break in the music and suggest they dance in the middle, not in the dance lanes
  3. Speak to the milonga organiser and point out that their dancing is affecting other couples negatively
  4. Try doing the same, since the other couple seems to be having fun dancing this way.
Scenario #17:
A woman is being taught on the dance floor during a milonga because she’s apparently not following what her partner wants her to do, and she doesn’t appreciate it. She should:
  1. At the next break in the music, suggest to the leader that he find someone who already knows what he wants, thank him, and return to her seat.
  2. Tell the leader that she’s simply following what he appears to be leading.
  3. Put up with it for the tanda, but make a mental note not to dance with him again.
  4. Tell him that she isn’t able to concentrate on following while he insists on talking.
What would you do?


  1. 15.- It's difficult to choose one option. I would say that all 4 are possible; depending on many factors
    16.- 1
    17.- all 4 are possible depending on the relationship between the couple

  2. Hello again, Constantino! Thanks for keeping an eye on tango in Oz.

    Most of these options are indeed possible and provide an insight into what people may be thinking, but don't necessarily act upon. Through these scenarios we're hoping to stimulate some thinking about the types of behaviours at a milonga which contribute to the comfort and enjoyment of others, and those which don't - especially in our relatively young tango community.

    Your contributions continue to be most welcome.

  3. 15. I would decline if I couldn't connect, but offer to dance a tanda later. Sometimes certain Tandas can only be danced with certain people.
    16. 1 - but if happens too often speak to the milonga organiser.
    17. Hasn't happened to me, but one woman, in this situation, said she told him to shut up and also stop humming in her ear. Apparently the dancing improved, slightly. I think I would go with 4. Shut up.
    Actually I have said to a follower, when she was talking, "I cant dance and talk".

  4. Scenario #15: 2 (without the excuse that he "cannot connect to the music" which will seem mendacious if he proceeds to dance the tanda with someone else -- a polite "no, thanks" is all that is needed).

    Scenario #16: 3. Don't cause a fight on the dance floor -- talk discreetly to the organiser. And defend yourself against dangerous leaders by forming a "leader train".

    Scenario #17: 1. Break tanda, ladies. This is unacceptable behaviour.


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