After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

More On the Codigos

Due to much interest in this topic and a debate on Facebook, I'm reposting the links to my previous blog posts on The Codigos.

Those Mysterious Milonga Codes

More Milonga Etiquette

The Milonguero Way

Please remember that this is my perspective from Buenos Aires, and that I only attend traditional milongas. I believe the codigos are fantastic for many reasons, among them that the woman alone feels safe and in charge of her evening. The codigos were developed over a very long time for very good reasons. If some people don't like them or don't want to respect them, no problem; they can stay in their own countries or just attend the "alternative" milongas here that cater to young foreigners. There is not just one way to dance tango, nor is there just one kind of milonga, thank goodness. To each his own.


Patricia said...

I simply love the codigos of the traditional milongas!

They ensure civilised behaviour, as well as contributing a challenging edge to the milonga experience, when attending as a "single".

Thank you for refocussing on this topic, Cherie.

Anonymous said...

I love your article Cherie I could only wish that this was adopted in my own country Australia. What I have experienced in Buenos Aires has been fantastic. Shirley

Tangocommuter said...

Thanks for the thoughtful look at the codigos.

Curiously, as a visitor, I've found the situation much less strict than you suggest. I thought that if a couple are sitting together, the woman is 'out-of-bounds' to other male dancers. But at Porteno y Bailarin the friend I was with had no problem in getting to dance with local men by cabeceo, the older generation of portenos, the good dancers who sit on their own waiting to get dances. It was much the same with another friend at El Arranque. Typically, the dancer would bring her back to my table and thank me (even though I hadn't been asked!): it all seemed beautifully courteous, but not particularly strict. At Canning I had little trouble in getting dances with portenas, even though I was sitting at a table, and dancing with, another friend. On another visit to Canning my friend found it easy to get dances even though she was sitting with me, although it was harder to pick out who was worth dancing with, since Canning gets crowded.

I wonder if this is because it's assumed that visitors are automatically outside the codigos? I wonder if my friends had been, or looked like, local women it would have been different?

I was interested by 'Chiche' Ruberto's recollections of a time when there were punch-ups over women, and his relief that now people just go out to dance together. This must be a common background to his generation, hence the caution you speak about. I wonder if visitors get a different treatment because they aren't your neighbours and friends, they won't be around long enough to make lasting trouble, and perhaps even because they're not expected to know right and wrong in milongas! For whatever reason, I was pleased; I wouldn't wanted even a good friend to have to dance with me all night!

tangocherie said...

Hola TC! (we have the same initials!)

I'm glad you had a good experience dancing in BsAs.
I think you hit the nail on the head when you observed that foreigners are "excused" from the codigos, as locals think they probably don't know them.

And those who are not "macho Argentinos" are not deferred to in the same way as locals when it comes to women.

Foreigners come and go, may know/follow the codigos or not, may dance well or not. So they are generally considered out of the loop.

BTW, there are still fights over women in the milongas, even with the old guys. It's just that they no longer carry knives.