Direct Comment or Overheard at a Milonga: No. 1

Negracha a couple of weeks ago:  I was chatting with a friend I hadn’t seen for awhile when the gentleman (loose term) sitting next to my friend interrupted our conversation, without saying ‘excuse me’, to ask my friend to dance.  Surprised at this rudeness, we both turned our heads to look at him, saying nothing.  He asked again.  She told him we were having a converstion.  He looked at us and said, ‘This is a Milonga.  What are you doing? Dancing or talking?’

We ignored him.

Later: I was chatting with a lovely Norwegian lady, a visitor, when a friend of mine sat next to me.  I knew he wanted to dance, but I was in the middle of a conversation.  I put my hand out to him to let him know I knew he was there, then in a pause he asked me if I was chatting.  I said ‘yes’ and that I would be with him when I finished.  He waited for me.

We danced.

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46 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sophie
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 10:42:28

    Hello Arlene
    I have noticed that chatting with a girlfriend is like a man magnet – so many (great) conversations get interrupted more or less politely (whereas standing alone ladies in general get a lot fewer offers).
    Not all invitations are accepted (by either me or my friend), and indeed some men seem flabbergasted by the fact that people can prefer talking over dancing (with them). I don’t think these men read your blog Arlene, in any case, but it’s just part of the quirkyness of milongas.
    My thinking: don’t reward rude behaviour.

  2. El Chupacabra
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 22:32:18

    We should have a “things that happened” section on a tango website to collect all these stories… One of the BA print newsletters has a similar “things I heard”…

    I was at a milonga once where there were 5 empty consecutive chairs. I went and sat in one of them, leaving 4 of the rest empty. Within a minute a man rudely asked me to move. It was his chair he said. So I moved. To the next chair along. And sat next to him for 10 minutes which I hope were very uncomfortable for him.

    Crazy.

  3. Mr Milonga
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 02:10:20

    I can’t believe this boring old subject has come around again.

    Even though I don’t condone bad manners, my sympathies goes with the rejected dancer, as I believe he has a point.

    I’d bet good money if you knew he was a good dancer you’d have stopped your conversation in an instant.

  4. Arlene
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 08:50:21

    Mr. Milonga,

    For your information, I go out to dance as much to socialise with my friends. The man was rude and I don’t care how good a dancer he is or not, and I didn’t know if he was as I had never danced with him before, I never interrupt a good conversation with a friend for a dance. The friend who waited for me is in my opinion a good dancer and I didn’t interrupt my conversation for him. You don’t know me so if you really were a betting man, well you lost.

  5. Mr Milonga
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 09:24:37

    Dear Arlene,

    It appears I am out of pocket.

    I appreciate that there are a lot of people who go out to tango to catch up with friends. It is many of those same people who complain about not being asked to dance enough.

    There are a lot of men who will not ask women to dance if they can see that the woman is talking to someone else. Some of those women are talking to fill in time while waiting for someone to ask them to dance, while some are just catching up.

    How is any man supposed to know the difference?

    As Sophie intimated people who stand alone often get asked to dance less than those with someone.

    I hadn’t thought about this, but I think there’s some truth to it. I’m sure many men ask themselves the question “Why would a woman be in a milonga alone if she is a good dancer?” This sort of snap judgement about someone on their own is wrong, but it happens.

    I think when you’re in a milonga you’re fair game to be asked to dance. Of course it is up to whoever is being asked to dance to make a decision.

    To ignore someone who has asked you to dance is in my book ruder than the person who has interrupted your conversation. You’re under no obligation to dance with someone, but if you come down to the level of someone you perceive to be rude you’re no better than he is.

    Arlene, I may not know you but if ignoring someone when they ask you to dance is dealt with indifference, then it’s probably better that I don’t.

    Courtesy costs nothing.

  6. Fatty Arbuckle
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 09:38:28

    Re: Overheard at a Milonga

    I was at Balham last Sunday and I overheard that there is a new milonga opening in central London at the begining of May and that they are going to be selling EMPANADAS . Yipppee!!!!!!!

  7. Arlene
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 09:42:37

    Mr Milonga,

    Re-read my post. We ignored him AFTER he was so rude when he asked us if we were dancing or talking. It was also his tone of voice that was rude. The fact that he couldn’t accept we were having a conversation was pretty selfish on his part and he obviously didn’t take rejection very well even though my friend very nicely told him we were having a conversation. I never ignore people when I am spoken to. I am done with this conversation with you and you are the last person I need a lecture from on good manners.

  8. Tango Totty
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 09:58:31

    Is the moral of this story then that if you ask someone to dance rudely you wont get to dance with them but if you ask politely you will ?

    OK I’ll bear this in mind. Thanks for the tip Arlene!

  9. Trish
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 10:56:47

    Hi Everyone

    In this situation I do agree with Mr Milonga in that if you are out in a milonga surely you are fair game to be asked to dance. AFter all dancing is the main reason why we are all there and the reaons why we’ve paid to £10 to get in.
    If I asked a man to dance I would be quite affronted if he chose gossip over a dance!
    After all if we just want idle gossip we can go and sit round the corner in a cafe with tea and cakes and then we know for sure we wont be interrupted.

  10. El Chupacanra
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 11:26:52

    Me, I avoid the complications by only asking ladies who are not talking and looking eager to be asked. Nada podria ser mas sencillo.

  11. Voice of Reason
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 11:59:25

    Hi Arlene

    I think that this story has a flip side.
    I am always reticent about asking women to dance if I feel that they are engaged in conversation, unless I know them well. Even then I wait.

    On the other hand there have been occasions when I have done the right thing and acted totally respectfully and found a rude and dismissive woman sitting by herself, just waiting for the opportunity to dance but only with the right man. I love dancing and I always feel that if a woman is on her own and is being ignored that I should give her an offer of a dance. I feel it is good manners. As a result, I have had many women refuse a dance and I accept that they can do this. However, I think Mr Milonga has a point that eventually the informal nature of tango in London will be damaged if women are as rude as this rude man you describe. I am not suggesting for one moment that you or your friend were. I just think he has the right to make his points. I have had the odd scathing remark from Mr Milonga but they are funny and aimed at provoking response which can only be good for your page.

    Totty you know that the moral of this story is nothing to do with how polite you are. Mr Milonga has a point that if the right dancer comes along women will be up, like rats up a drainpipe and if not the others will be dismissed.

    Lets face it you can’t have your own way all of the time. Sometimes its just taking liberties and smacks of double standards. If we are ignored and dismissed for long enough eventually we get the message and we are gone. Do not take us for granted.

    VOR

  12. David Bailey
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 18:16:14

    I have to say, I’m with Mr Milonga and the others on this one. London ain’t BsAs, and you can’t use the same standards for codigos.

    Firstly, yes, the guy was probably rude and lacking in sensitivity. He was, after all, a man. But I don’t believe ignoring people is right. It’s better to explain or refuse than to ignore in my opinion.

    Secondly, it’s reasonable to assume that a woman is at a milonga to dance.

    Thirdly, us leaders have _all_ experienced the “rat-up-drainpipe” phenomenon, where women pay far more attention to the Tango Gods and give them far more leeway. I’ve no idea if you’re like this, but many / most women are. To use and extreme example, I suspect if Pablo Veron were to approach you like that, you might find it difficult to ignore him.

    Fourthly, it’s inconsistent to complain about poor leaders, and then treat them like this. Leaders need to be cultivated, and their sensitive male egos need to be stroked. That’s just life; good leaders are a scarce resource I think.

    Fifthly, both men and women should be educated as to basic dance etiuquette. Unfortunately there’s no money in this, so we have to work it out for ourselves. If sometimes us leaders come across as rude, then sometimes that’s because we’re nervous or unsure.

    Finally, I don’t believe dancing is a “gift” or a reward for good behaviour. It’s dancing.

  13. El Chupacabra
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 18:30:33

    Agree with Mr Milonga and VOR.

    In the end, blokes, think of it this way .. its them who are losing out. There are plenty of other followers in the sea and the riches, pleasure and joy of your dances await them.

    There will always be a few rude or selective followers who refuse to dance for silly reasons. It took me a while to get over this. They do have the right to refuse. I know many leaders who took a while to get over this. But in the end you get to know followers who are a pleasure to dance with and you occasionally get lovely dances with followers you’ve asked for the first time.

    Blokes, if a follower has been particularly unreasonable in you opinion, back off. Don’t ask for a while, weeks, months. Then try again if you’re still interested. If they are really that unreasonable or rude … do you really want to dance with them?

  14. Virgin at the Milonga
    Apr 26, 2009 @ 09:13:31

    Hi there, I came upon this site having just started in Tango.
    In comments upon the ettiquette of Tango I am not qualified to discuss, however in matters of general manners I believe that we all are competent.
    I believe that some may have missed the point made by the author of the blog.
    Should bad manners be rewarded?
    If a person for whatever reason, in whatever circumstances acts outside of the normal conventions as percieved by the recipient of such behaviour do we reward or do we admonish?
    Manners maketh man as they say and good manners are noted and acted upon.

  15. Andreas
    Apr 26, 2009 @ 11:39:17

    Hello Arlene, hi everyone,

    I followed this thread with interest and I must say I am quite shocked by what seems to be emerging as the consensus.
    To me, the guy Arlene describes in scene #1 is an idiot. He deserved everything he got. If you make the mistake of interrupting a conversation you can at least do so politely (even when you’re a man…), and when you get a “no” you better bugger off nicely and save face instead of bitching, being a jerk and revealing your utter ignorance to boot. A milonga is not just about dancing as much as you can. Of course it is also about socializing, having a nice glass of wine, listening to the music, watching the dancers… Actually, for Arlene being at the milonga is exactly what Arlene wants it to be about. She gets to decide, not some fool who thinks she is there to please him.
    But the thing is, nobody in the UK cares about the codigos, and as a result the milongas are the utter mess they are.
    When I started dancing in the UK, I was shocked at the behaviour of the men, and how the women allowed themselves to be treated. If, as David suggests above, you stroke the guys’ ego, you get fake machismo with a wide open back door and fake dancing combined with whiny as-if-ness. If the blokes can’t take the heat, they should get out of the kitchen. Cuddling men doesn’t do much for their male-ness, and that is a quality necessary in a good tanguero, after all. So if you stroke their egos all the time, how will they ever become good leaders?
    And don’t get me started on women at milongas being “fair game”… what a horrible thing to say.
    -Andreas

  16. tango totty
    Apr 26, 2009 @ 11:45:07

    David Bailey

    Excellent , totally agree – You,ve hit ALL the nails on the head.

    Virgin at the Milonga – YOU have missed the point – A milonga is not a house of correction about personal manners – its about dancing- as David Bailey succinctly remarked.

    I also think this whole issue of manners is tango trivia that has been elevated to a position of major importance. Good manners may be a civilised personal trait but they are nothing to do with the QUALITY of the dance. Get real – just dance.

    Totty

  17. Game Cat
    Apr 26, 2009 @ 12:19:00

    Firstly I agree that it is reasonable to expect anyone in a milonga is “fair game” to be asked. But a right to ask does not imply an obligation to accept. You pay £10 to get in and take a chance, not to get guaranteed dances. You can always choose another milonga if you think you have a better chance to be asked/ get accepts elsewhere.

    Secondly, I agree bad manners is a ‘public bad’ – no one benefits from it. But rejection is not in itself bad. It is only fair that men/women have the right to choose the dance partner that is right for them – this isn’t a dictatorship, and it is a very intimate dance. Also if rejection occurs on the grounds of perceived skill, then it can only make us try harder to be better dancers….and that can be only be a ‘public good’. If people can’t handle that, they have the right to get better or leave. The milonga is a reflection of life, you can accept and move on, or whinge about it.

    Arlene – This thread is getting very similar to another thread in the past.

    On the original topic of women in/ not in conversation, it’s up to the men to decide if they should interrupt. Avoid engrossed conversations (her friend may need her now). Be polite. Wait for a pause. Ask if she would prefer to dance AFTER she finishes the conversation, then wait nearby. If it’s not worth it, ask someone else. It’s not rocket science.

  18. Voice of Reason
    Apr 26, 2009 @ 19:57:51

    Dear Virgin at the milonga,

    Might I complement you on your title. However, I need to ask you … No, no, I won’t.

    On the topic in hand, I think you are not looking at the big picture. This idea of rewards or admonishment for good manners is misleading when linked to tango. Certainly women won’t dance with a rude tosser. Or will they? Hmm, thats a tough one; No its nonsense, they will if its the right tosser.

    We all need to be better human beings, I know that it matters to me that I behave properly, regardless of the circumstances. I always admonish myself when my halo slips and I know it does. Honestly.

    VOR

  19. El Chupacabra
    Apr 27, 2009 @ 01:26:07

    I was at a milonga just earlier. I asked a follower to dance. (she was not in a conversation, didn’t look occupied, and was tapping her feet to the music).

    She paused, looked at me and said “You’re a beginner. Yes, you’re a beginner.”

    I’ve had a similar query in the past (“are you advanced, I only dance with advanced dancers”). so I was ready with my reply.

    “Yes, that’s why I asked you. You look like a beginner too”

    Don’t get mad, blokes. Get even.

  20. David Bailey
    Apr 27, 2009 @ 09:16:26

    @Andreas:

    “I followed this thread with interest and I must say I am quite shocked by what seems to be emerging as the consensus.”
    To be clear, I want to re-iterate that Arlene (and other women) have every right to refuse rude people, and to say “You’re being rude”.

    I also believe people can and should refuse on grounds of tiredness, of potential injury, if the asker is a perv, or smells.

    “To me, the guy Arlene describes in scene #1 is an idiot.”
    – as described, yes. But, you know, there’s always two sides to the story. He may have been nervous, or simply lacking in social graces.

    ” He deserved everything he got.”
    – here’s where I disagree, I think it’s very difficult to judge these things.

    “. A milonga is not just about dancing as much as you can. Of course it is also about socializing, having a nice glass of wine, listening to the music, watching the dancers… Actually, for Arlene being at the milonga is exactly what Arlene wants it to be about. She gets to decide, not some fool who thinks she is there to please him.”
    – Hmm….. yes, but fundamentally it’s reasonable to expect that you’re there to dance, and that you want to dance with people if asked.

    “But the thing is, nobody in the UK cares about the codigos, and as a result the milongas are the utter mess they are.”
    – No, the thing is that BsAs codigos DON’T WORK in London. We’re not Argentinian, and we simply don’t have that culture. So we need to create our own codes. And until we devise our own set, then yes, there will be a mess.

    “If, as David suggests above, you stroke the guys’ ego, you get fake machismo with a wide open back door and fake dancing combined with whiny as-if-ness. ”
    – And if you go to the other extreme and don’t stroke egos, you find that you have even less leaders, because the male dancers will go to other dance forms like salsa. There’s a real lack of good leaders in the UK – it’s the absolute inverse of the situation in BsAs in the 1900’s, and any codigos we create need to recognise that.

    “If the blokes can’t take the heat, they should get out of the kitchen.”
    – And they will. Which means that there’ll be even less male dancers in the London scene, who will be in even more demand, and who will conserquently become even more arrogant – because they can.

    Is that what you want?

  21. David Bailey
    Apr 27, 2009 @ 09:19:48

    @ Gamecat:
    “Also if rejection occurs on the grounds of perceived skill, then it can only make us try harder to be better dancers….and that can be only be a ‘public good’.”
    – I disagree. Rejection on grounds of perceived skill is rude. Very rude. And it _will_ be remembered by that person.

  22. Game Cat
    Apr 27, 2009 @ 13:54:39

    David

    It’s probably me – but I’m not clear from your wording that you disagree because (1) it is just rude or (2) you don’t believe skill selectivenss could make leaders better. Could you clarify please?

    If (1), I agree that it can be perceived as rude, and while I am not strongly convinced it is “right”, I’m equally not persuaded that it is “wrong” either because I don’t see why a person should not have the “absolute right” to refuse. People have the right to ask to dance, but under no circumstances do they have an obligation to accept (except for the obligations they make up for themselves).

    Beyond the rights/ wrongs, what does this mean for a guy practically? It happens already anyway (not always impolitely and likely mostly white-lied). He can’t change women. He can however try someone else and/or become better.

    If (2) – more selectiveness by women may partly compensate for the reverse of the “BsAs 1900s” problem you raised, which has been partly attributed to developing the dance as such. If we believe that raising the skill level of the overall milonga population is important, I would be cautious to sully any signal to dancers to become better….and rejection is psychologically a very strong signal.

    Moreover, as you rightly pointed out – people remember – so they, when refusing, should be mindful of the downside risk of not dancing with a good dancer in the future….and it is up to them to trade off their future happiness for the present.

    On another note – I’m very intrigued and agree with your assertion that London needs it’s own codigos, as it is not BsAs. I’ve not thought about what it could look like, but I’m very interested to share ideas.

  23. Mr Milonga
    Apr 27, 2009 @ 16:43:57

    Hi,

    If women aren’t going to dance with men then how are men going to get any better? In fact if dancers stop dancing with each other doesn’t the dance suffer? As pointed out in earlier posts, bad behaviour, attitude and manners is going to have the effect where enthusiastic tango dancers with potential will give up because of the ridiculous egos of others.

    That goes for men who will only dance with beautiful women, as well as women who turn down men for arbitrary reasons.

    I do feel that if you’re in a milonga, you should accept that someone will eventually want to dance with you. Even though I’m not a believer in apartheid, I’m beginning to think milongas should have areas which are distinctly for people who want to talk and socialise, so they are not in danger of being asked to dance or offending anyone.

    David Bailey, Voice of Reason, Game Cat and Tango Totty you all particularly have my respect. It appears that we are all in agreement that a milonga primarily is a place to go and dance.

    El Chupacabra – great story.

    I think the one trait we have to bring into a milonga is humility, regardless of how good or bad we are, how we are feeling and who we want to talk to.

    It would be good for some people to remember that.

  24. Planeo
    Apr 27, 2009 @ 17:30:12

    I think that this whole issue of manners is a bit of a storm in a teacup!

    One far more disturbing phenonema of rudeness that I have seen happen several times in the milonga to different people is when for example you spend a considerable amount of time dancing with one person – but the next time they see you they totally blank you because theyve found ‘better’ or more ‘trendier’ partners. How rude is that! An example might be a visiting dancer in London for a few nights, who will settle to dance with you for a few hours at a milonga cos they dont know anyone. Next night, the milonga might have trendier dancers and you don’t see them for dust. THATS RUDE! Also there are some dancers, -and it seems to be particularly true for the male dancers who when beginners – will regularly dance with older women to practice – but as soon as they are confident they have reached a certain level, they never ask for a dance again.
    SUPERFICIAL!

  25. ColaTango
    Apr 27, 2009 @ 17:45:03

    Nice to have you back Mr Milonga. Iwas beinning to think Arlene had blackballed you – ot that you ran away from the fire you started!

  26. Mr Milonga
    Apr 27, 2009 @ 18:34:48

    Hi ColaTango,

    Planeo I half agree with you. If someone blanks you when they have so obviously seen you, then yes that’s rude.

    What’s as annoying is to be refused a dance by someone, then to be asked to dance by them on a later date. I love it when that happens and I reward them with the only answer they deserve.

    This scene is full of superficial people. Sad but true. Once you can get your head around that then the world might be a nicer place to live in.

  27. Mr Walker
    Apr 27, 2009 @ 18:35:02

    Hi Arlene

    I am relatively new to tango…But i do read and talk aboout tango alot…with as many people as possible, So that i may learn all about these traditions when inviting a lady to dance….one of the things i did not need to be told or reminded about was good manners…i am quite able to make my presence known without interrupting a conversation…And if i am ignored then i move on,I am not refused a dance..And the follower doe’s not have to stop talking or turn around and refuse me a dance….I win they win…

    Another situation is this if i asked a follower to dance in a rude manner/or ignorant fashion(in anyway that she feels uncomfortable) she has a right to believe that i am not likely to treat her with respect on the dance floor…(asking her nicely doe’s not mean i will dance with her nicely either) but we are talking about first impressions here…If you have danced with her before then you do the maths.(with my very close friends i interrupt) and because we are friends the answer doe’s not matter…

    I have been reading your blog for awhile now Arlene and i would like to ask this question of the readers of your blog…

    there are many forms of dancing and i would like to know

    WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TANGO/WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE TANGO.

  28. David Bailey
    Apr 27, 2009 @ 20:35:13

    @Gamecat:

    “It’s probably me – but I’m not clear from your wording that you disagree because (1) it is just rude or (2) you don’t believe skill selectivenss could make leaders better. Could you clarify please?”
    Both, actually. 🙂

    Women could afford to reject men in BsAs in the 1900s, because there were – so we’re told – so few women and so many men.

    In London, a century later, it’s not the same – there are usually more women than men, although admittedly not to such a degree, and not as consistently. So, using that logic alone, codigos developed for BsAs then would be totally irrelevant to London alone – the power dynamics are totally different.

    “If we believe that raising the skill level of the overall milonga population is important, I would be cautious to sully any signal to dancers to become better….and rejection is psychologically a very strong signal.”
    Mmmm, I think encouragement is better than discouragement. Also, if I’m ever rejected by a follower on the basis of perceived skill, you can be damn sure I’ll remember that, and that I’ll never, ever, dance with that follower again.

    “On another note – I’m very intrigued and agree with your assertion that London needs it’s own codigos, as it is not BsAs. I’ve not thought about what it could look like, but I’m very interested to share ideas.”
    Feel free to write an article for my site 🙂 – we’ve got a few on that topic already…

  29. Game Cat
    Apr 27, 2009 @ 22:47:14

    David:

    I agree that encouragement is good, and that discouragement can be bad. In fact I’d argue it cuts both ways – too much of either is not healthy – you need a balanced combination of carrot and stick to motivate yourself and anyone. It happens every where – at work, in sports, even raising children. The beauty of being responsible for your own tango education is that you can control how much of either you get….take only as many risks as you can handle if you get rejected. If a man really want to dance with someone who is good and suspects he may be rejected, then he could hold off till he gets better – as you said, there are usually more women than men, so choosing someone more likely to say yes should not be much of a problem for him.

    It is precisely because there are more women than men in London that I think the skill level of men will not progress as quickly as could be possible if the population were more balanced (or women were more selective).

    My concern is that there should be any pressure at all on a woman, no matter how virtuous or selfish, to have to be subject to someone else’s satisfaction against her will. No harm is done to a man in refusing a dance (except to a man’s ego, and he’ll survive).

    Mr M:

    I agree that if ALL men or ALL women refuse to dance then there will be no dancing. But there will always be some dancing, just not all the people all the time.

    I think you raise an important issue which is how to signal you want to dance/ not dance. Smart women avoid having to decline because they signal non-verbally and smart men pick that up. Talk/ socialising-only areas would help greatly. Unfortunately there is very little space in most milongas to have a separate area…unless you include going out to have a smoke!

  30. David Bailey
    Apr 28, 2009 @ 09:22:25

    “It is precisely because there are more women than men in London that I think the skill level of men will not progress as quickly as could be possible if the population were more balanced (or women were more selective).”
    – Balanced, yes. Selective, no.

    Typically, if a woman is too “selective” – i.e. refuses often – then in the long run, in London, word will get around and she’ll stop being asked to dance, at all. I’m not sure how that’ll help develop the level of male dancers, it’ll just foster bad feeling in the community if people do it a lot.

    “My concern is that there should be any pressure at all on a woman, no matter how virtuous or selfish, to have to be subject to someone else’s satisfaction against her will. ”
    – Well, it depends how you look at it, doesn’t it? Should there be an obligation to dance with someone who asks (and who is not a yanker / perv / smellie)? I think there should, generally; I think the choice element should be reduced that way, because it encourages a more friendly and approachable community atmosphere.

    Also, for example, in London in 2009, why shouldn’t women ask men to dance more often?

    “No harm is done to a man in refusing a dance (except to a man’s ego, and he’ll survive).”
    – Well, enough refusals and he’ll leave the scene. Enough refusals and the Tango scene will get a reputation for snootiness. Enough refusals and the whole atmosphere of scene will be less friendly. So “no harm” is not accurate.

  31. Mr Milonga
    Apr 28, 2009 @ 12:43:59

    Hi Game Cat,

    You’ve hit a nail squarely on the head pointing out how the men/women ratio makes it difficult for men to get better as quickly as women.

    Most certainly there will always be dancing – even if there’s a stalemate of people not asking other people to dance.

    I think all milongas have areas which could be deemed as ‘leave me alone, I’m talking’ areas. E.g downstairs at Negracha, behind the tables which line the long side of the floor at the Crypt, the stage at the Dome, the back room at the Bedford in Balham.

    In my experience the people who have refused me a dance did so because they didn’t want to dance with me, which is of course up to them. (like you DB it’ll be a cold day in hell before I ask any of those to dance again) I think those women should be viewed differently to those who want to have a chat in a milonga. If tango were football, players who are injured or not eligible to play would not be allowed on the subs bench.

    I’m sure some people are going to read this with the view that they’re not going to be told where to sit. I reckon they’re the same people who want to go a milonga for a chat. Something has to give.

    The bottom line for me is that if you come to the party be prepared to dance

  32. Arlene
    Apr 28, 2009 @ 14:11:55

    @ Mr Walker,

    You have asked me, why did I choose Tango? I have written about this in My Tango Beginning https://londontango.wordpress.com/2008/12/01/my-tango-beginning/. In some ways the Tango chose me. It was the music that seduced me more than the dance. Same for Salsa. I danced Salsa before Tango. I love the music. It is happy music. The dancing reflects the music. Tango for me is not so much sensual as it is emotional. In some ways I feel that I have no choice about Tango, but I can choose who I dance with. 🙂

  33. Voice of Reason
    Apr 28, 2009 @ 15:11:09

    El Chupacabra

    I read your post with interest. When I had been dancing for about a year, I had a similar thing happen. I was absolutely put down to such an extent that I seriously considered giving up tango. This was done by a woman who I would speak to regularly. She asked me why I wasn’t dancing. I said I was just about to ask her to which she replied “oh no, I only dance with really good dancers”. Not only was I insulted but I had been set up for it. I have only seen her a few times since then and believe me her dancing is no better than adequate. She may play piano well but her tango manners stink.

    VOR

  34. Planeo
    Apr 28, 2009 @ 16:08:42

    I believe that dancing in the milongas should definately become more less cliquey and more democratic. I think it has been said in previous posts that the whole point of the milonga is social dancing and that refusing to dance with someone for an arbitary reason is not definately not being social. It may be idealistic , but I think everyone who enters the milonga should be prepared to dance with a whole range of dancers from beginner to very good. I have been dancing for several years, but if someone asks me, I will generally never refuse to dance because I think this is just bad manners – especially is someone ha s had to cross the dance floor to ask. But this needs to work both ways – many of the leaders I see seem to be quite selective in who they dance with as well – especially the very good dancers.

  35. Andreas
    Apr 28, 2009 @ 19:22:32

    @David Bailey – >>No, the thing is that BsAs codigos DON’T WORK in London. We’re not Argentinian, and we simply don’t have that culture. So we need to create our own codes. And until we devise our own set, then yes, there will be a mess.<<

    – And that is a myth that is proven false every night in traditional milongas in Germany, Italy, France etc where people use the cabeceo and where tandas and cortinas are used, and where in general the codigos are respected. I have heard this meme many times before, and repetition doesn’t make it any more true.

  36. David Bailey
    Apr 28, 2009 @ 20:23:37

    “I have heard this meme many times before”
    Doesn’t that in itself imply something?

    If a lot of other people are saying the same thing, but you disagree with them, then, to use the words of Thomas Cromwell, you might want to consider that you’re mistaken?

  37. Game Cat
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 12:48:06

    David, Andreas,

    I believe we agree that some sort of codigos, explicit or tacit, should exist in London, as it would enable efficient and considerate partner-matching, while protecting their dignity. However…

    …to what extent “London codigos” would look like BsAs? I think if allowed to develop on its own, some BsAs-type practices will appear, and others will not. There is no reason why London (or any other city) should do exactly what BsAs does, so long as it works locally.

    …What action should people take to help this develop, if at all? There is no reason why anyone should not introduce BsAs practices they do like into London. If people don’t see the point, they will not adopt it. E.g. cabaceo is I think great, and I use with women I know who do, but typical layouts of London milongas are not conducive (e.g. no fixed seating for men and women facing across the floor, as in BsAs).

  38. Andreas
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 13:17:30

    @David Bailey – A lot of people once were saying the earth was flat. Evidence said otherwise. Where do you stand on *that* issue?
    I stated my evidence. Go see for yourself.

  39. Voice of Reason
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 23:32:21

    Andreas

    What do you mean people were that the earth is flat. Is this not slightly out of date thinking. It is in fact Geoid shaped and not round as most people think. You’re not going to tell us you also heard that the moon is made of cheese? Are you?

    VOR

  40. Andreas
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 12:15:27

    @VOR – I have no idea what the hell you are talking about. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough, so I will try and explain what I tried (obviously unsuccessfully) to say:
    David suggested that because a significant number of people say something (ref the idea we can’t or shouldn’t have the codigos) it must be so. The flat earth example was meant to illustrate that the opinion even of the majority or of those making themselves heard is not necessarily correct. Had people like Galileo and others bowed to the lazy public/official opinion of the time instead of looking at the evidence, we might still be in the late middle ages. Sorry if that comparison isn’t precise enough for you. I hope you get the idea anyway.
    So what I propose is that instead of forming opinions untouched by reality we actually go out and look around. I mentioned that people e.g. in Germany are using the codigos with no problems, and unless you tell me the Germans are somehow “more Argentinean” that the British, I take that as an indication that the codes can work here, too.

  41. Andreas
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 12:31:17

    @ Game Cat – I agree. The places where I dance on the continent use the codes to varying degrees. Nobody there tries to force anything on the dancers, it all feels quite natural and easygoing, contrary to the fears some people seem to have of being forced to adhere to some strange foreign and arcane practices.
    Contrary to what happens in London, in those milongas I never ask for a dance, and am never asked, except in rare circumstances. It is not necessary. And still I dance a lot if I feel like it. The cabeceo does it.
    The problem with layouts can be solved simply by changing them a bit. I don’t really know any milongas in Europe where men and women are being strictly separated, and I don’t think people would really go along with that in most places, but then we don’t really have to be more catholic than the pope. Placing the tables all the way around the floor, even at the cost of less floor space (often actually beneficial) is a good first step that often makes quite a change. Being consistent with tandas and cortinas instead of the haphazard way they are being used currently is another, extremely important one in my opinion.
    I think something to be addressed is the idea many people have of tango being about the steps or the movement per se, so they can do it without any exterior structure, and to any music. I disagree with that view. To me, tango is much more, and the more you take away the greater the danger of really not just diminishing, but actually gutting it.

  42. David Bailey
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 14:36:02

    “@VOR – I have no idea what the hell you are talking about.”
    He’s being funny. 🙂

    “David suggested that because a significant number of people say something (ref the idea we can’t or shouldn’t have the codigos) it must be so.”
    Nope. You suggested that a lot of people say that, and then I suggested that there may be a reason why a lot of people say that. That’s all.

    They may be wrong, of course, but since we’re fundamentally discussing people’s opinions and culture, some amount of weight shouldf presumably be given to such opinions. Codigos aren’t objective facts, they’re a set of beliefs, after all.

    “So what I propose is that instead of forming opinions untouched by reality we actually go out and look around.”
    – Yes, that’s what I have done. My experience is limited, but not non-existent.

    Please understand me. I’m not saying all codigos are bad – just that some of them are universally-useful, and some of them are not; they’re tied in to a specific time and place and simply don’t work well outside of that time and place.

    Which is which? Interesting question…

  43. Voice of Reason
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 19:29:12

    Andreas

    I lost part of my post when copying it on. I should have checked it more closely. The moment has gone now. On reading it I can see why it left you somewhat befuddled as to what I was saying.

    VOR

  44. Andreas
    May 01, 2009 @ 12:17:09

    @David Bailey – >>Nope. You suggested that a lot of people say that, and then I suggested that there may be a reason why a lot of people say that. That’s all.Codigos aren’t objective facts, they’re a set of beliefs, after all. <<
    -I guess they are neither, really. But the thing we discussed, I believe, was whether they could be used in the UK. I pointed to people using them in other parts of Europe as proof that they can. I still haven’t heard anything here to tell me that the UK dancers are so different from the Dutch or the Germans that it can’t work here.
    I think the problem is that people sometimes don’t really *want* to get their “feet wet”. Usually the people who say it can’t be done just want to take those pretty steps, but don’t even like tango music. I saw those “tango playlists” on your website – not a single tango on them. So I guess there is really a deep, deep gulf between us. But it was nice talking, and thanks for keeping it civil.

  45. David Bailey
    May 01, 2009 @ 15:00:35

    Hi Andreas

    Firstly, “Codigos” defines a whole gamut of codes. I’ve never said “No codigos can work in London, ever”.

    I repeat what I said before:
    “Please understand me. I’m not saying all codigos are bad – just that some of them are universally-useful, and some of them are not; they’re tied in to a specific time and place and simply don’t work well outside of that time and place.”
    – did you miss that bit?

    Secondly, I value all feedback on my site. However, my playlists are specifically neo-tango, and are generally marked that way. Or are you saying that neo-tango (Otros, Gotan, Bajo) are not tango?

  46. Andreas
    May 01, 2009 @ 22:23:42

    Hi David,
    >>- did you miss that bit?<<
    No, I didn’t, but it is too vague to respond to. If you are more specific, maybe I can say something meaningful. As it is, I have the feeling that your “some are not” (useful/useable) might be rather broadly defined.
    Why that feeling? Because the only playlists on your website are what you call neo-tango. If I look at the three berko lists, I see 3 tangos (two Di Sarlis and one Federico) in three hours of music. The rest is undefined (just a title, so I don’t know what it is), tango/pop/lounge fusion (Gotan etc) or outright pop music (Michael Jackson et al). Just because something is called tango (Tango de Roxanne, Tango to Evora) doesn’t make it so. Mind you, I’m not saying Gotan, Otros Aires or Bajofondo is bad music. It’s just not tango (though some of it certainly has tango elements sprinkled in here and there).
    So whatever goes on at those prácticas does not meet my definition of tango (which surprisingly requires tango music). Please note that I do recognize that tandas and cortinas might be absent from all those playlists on your site because it is a práctica, not a milonga.
    So the thing is: it seems you are able to dance to Michael Jackson’s music and call it tango. To me, that is so far beyond the pale it boggles the mind. I suspect we can’t find enough common ground to agree on anything concerning the codes. But I think we can both live with that.

    @Arlene: please don’t be shy about shutting us up any time you think this has run its course… as it may well have.

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