Tango Argentino > Understanding codigos

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

  1. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Inspired by the "Why some women are not asked to dance" thread, and this post in particular:
    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?
  2. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    The cabeceo, I'll grant you, can be a bit puzzling. As does the idea that saying "thank you" is a polite way to end things early, not actually a compliment. But honestly, how much do people need to be spoon fed? Spend 30 seconds glancing at the floor of just about any milonga, and the LOD becomes obvious. Spend 20 minutes watching, and the tanda/cortina thing becomes obvious. Floorcraft--well, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that you shouldn't go running into people, and to play nice with others.

    Social dance issues? Like what? Good hygeine? My take on that is that people can talk 'til they're blue in the face--if someone is clueless to go around smelling, telling someone to be sure to have good hygeine isn't going to help. Didn't we all learn to brush out teeth somewhere around the age of 3? And to take a shower and wear clean clothes when we're going out? No adult should need to be told this stuff.

    Failing all that, what's wrong with some personal responsibility? As in, do a bit of research on your own and understand what it is that you're walking into. The internet is a wonderful thing.
  3. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    More to the point, it doesn't really exist in most venues I've been to. Which makes it even more puzzling :)

    If you're used to a progressive dance mentality, sure (e.g. if you've come from ballroom). I spent over a decade dancing salsa before AT, and believe me the whole progression thing was weird beyond belief. I still have problems with some parts of it.

    In which case, why are there so many collisions?

    Take that argument to the extreme, and why bother going to classes at all? Why not just pick it all up from the internet or from watching others?
  4. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Perhaps weird, but not hard to figure out that it was, in fact, progressing, I would imagine. You don't need to understand the "why" immediately; it's enough to know that you should be going counter-clockwise. "Why" can wait; for the time being "because that's what you do" will get you through.

    Well, having spent an hour driving in towards work this morning...because there are a lot of freakin' idiots out there?:rolleyes: Seriously, though, there's a whole host of reasons why collisions happen--poor dancing, poor floorcraft, who knows. But it really doesn't take a genius to know that they shouldn't happen. This is not a bumper-car race, no smashing your partner into things. Really??? C'mon, no one should have to be told that.

    That's not the same thing at all. The dancing itself is a skill, which is (IMO) best developed by studying with someone more knowledgeable, and by practicing. Learning how you're supposed to behave is a mixture of common sense, simple courtesy, and a few quirks...which I've already conceded should be explained, or can be researched. Or, failing that...what's wrong with asking?

    I really have issues with what seems like the current culture of not requiring any personal responsibility, but instead spoon-feeding and treating everyone like they're three. (Combined, of course, with people not taking responsibility for themselves and their actions.)
  5. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    It is the eternal problem with many people that come into the " profession " with no formal training, only teaching the single dance they " know? " .

    As you are well aware, the B/room genre has a strict code of floor ethics, and pretty much all trained teachers pass on ALL of this vital info. from the git go .

    However... this will NOT guarantee adherence.. spacial awareness is a social grace, that is all too sadly lacking, in all genres .
  6. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I think it is nice if teachers give at least some mention to the social structure of a milonga. Not everyone comes to AT as their first dance and may not be aware of the norms and may have other ideas of what is normal in terms of the social dance structure in other dances and might just be thinking those apply in AT as well.

    I don't really mean things like LOD and floorcraft because that stands for every traveling partner dance I know of....but the odd things like Cabaceo, the "thank you" faux pas, which to people not from Argentina may seem odd or silly, but still has developed its own meaning within the context of the social aspects of the dance and the tanda system. Those would be the biggies, and I can almost bet that there are dozens more codegos out there I have no cluse about, but it seems like if you can at least get the basics in there, then people might pay attention and pick up smaller nuances.
  7. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Around where I am, teachers do explain this stuff at beginner's level classes. The problem with this, is that it's often not beginners who are causing the problems (with floorcraft in particular).
  8. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Well, obviously, they do need to be told that.

    I'm in full agreement with you on the personal responbility issue. But in my view, good social dancing is a skill, and like all skills, directed training is more effective in developing that skill than self-teaching.

    To use your analogy, you could learn to drive in a private environment, understanding the theory and the mechanics, then you could figure out how to drive by simply going out onto a road yourself and working it out, watching traffic go by and looking at videos of driving on the Web.

    Or, you could be taken in a more controlled manner into a real-world environment to learn the equally vital skills of "roadcraft" as taught by actual professionals.

    I'd suggest the latter is better.
  9. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Apparently it does, from what I've seen at some milongas. Apparently it also takes a genuis to realize there is a line of dance.
  10. Taniquel

    Taniquel New Member

    So, in your opinion, knowing how to behave in a specific social environment/event is not a skill that can be taught and learned?...

    I truly believe it is and while some people pick it up really fast just watching how the others do it, some need more explaining and practice.
  11. Taniquel

    Taniquel New Member

    Not to forget that some people seem to think that it's everyone else who should get out of their way... I've danced with someone like that in a class. He would run into the other couples dancing and not only would he not apologize but he would look almost angry when that happened.
  12. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    The probelm isn't the what or the why.. its the HOW.

    In the majority of classes I've attended (and with some pretty well known teachers too) the teacher does not give any hints as to how to make the complicated step pattern they teach travel properly in line of dance. The patterns are almost always too advanced for the leaders in the class to work that out on their own, because that is not a beginner level skill.

    And in an intermediate class, why would the leader figure he shouldn't do what's being taught? Students can easily turn into sheep and try at all costs to perform what the teacher requires. I even went to a class where the teacher SCOLDED everyone for NOT doing the pattern as he set it even though it was impossible for almost everyone due to space constraints and the teacher's lack if instruction on how to make it work under those conditions.

    When I first started learning to lead, I had already been following for YEARS and knew about line of dance and even knew the dance and its fundamentals fairly well from the follower's standpoint. Even I couldn't figure out how to do the combinations without violating line of dance and weaving all over the place, and I was TRYING. I can't imagine the beginner leaders who were totally unfamiliar with the dance could do it when they had no reason to know they SHOULD. In one class I took as a leader, there were only FOUR couples in the room and we STILL couldn't avoid getting in each other's way.

    They wouldn't even realize they were supposed to worry about it if the teacher allows everyone to wander around doing the step. The closest I even saw anyone get to addressing the issue was to put some chairs in the middle and tell everyone to stay out of the middle. But they still didn't explain HOW to stay out of the middle or mention that traveling around the edges against line of dance was not ok either. And in that class with the 4 couples, it got resolved by everyone defaulting to a corner of the room and doing the move in it without any progressive travel at all. (and the teacher said nothing)

    So why would any of these people realize that they can't just wander all over willy nilly when they get to a milonga just like they do in class under supervision? Especially if other people are doing that?

    Teaching floorcraft is not spoon feeding. Its absolutely required. Not just the "what" but the "how".
  13. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Actually, I think it is something that can be taught and learned. In my mind, it's called Basic Etiquette, and it's something that should be taught to...I dunno...kindergarteners? I'm not meaning to come across as snippy to you, Taniquel (hmm...that's tricky to type...but it doesn't lend itself to shortening, like bordertangoman's btm, or Zoopsia59's Zoo...I'll have to work on that :) ).

    I've already conceded the need to tell people about the use of "Thank you," and the cabeceo.

    But so much of the other stuff is just common courtesy. Don't go smashing up your partner and others (no hitting!). Ask nicely, accept/decline nicely (Golden Rule). I mean, really. Isn't this stuff we all had hammered into us by about the age of five? Maybe I'm just getting old (Is 30 old enough to yammer about "kids these days?), but certainly saying please, thank you (or no, thank you), introducing yourself politely, being courteous of others around you isn't a totally lost art. And I say this as someone who considers themselves to be pretty socially inept! ;)

    That some people don't care enough about their partners to avoid hitting others, or have to show off so much regardless of the lack of available space and appropriate setting, is not an issue of knowing the codigos or not...it's an issue of rudeness and ego, IMO. And no lecture from anybody is going to fix that.

    I guess I just don't see a milonga as some sort of hyper-specialized environment which requires detailed instruction as to how to behave. (Exceptions have been noted.) Go, watch, behave, be polite. "Be on your best behavior," as my parents used to put it. It's not hard.
  14. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    OK, on this we agree. I absolutely think that teaching HOW to navigate nicely should be taught...and how to use steps and patterns and space to move around the LOD. ABSOLUTELY!!! I guess when I think of "codigo" and "floorcraft" I was thinking more along the lines of--you should use good floorcraft, and hit people...not, "this is how you can maneuver to have good floorcraft." ...if that makes any sense...

    I just never would have considered that as a codigo that needs to be taught. I think I'd consider it more as practical, technical teaching...not a code of behavior thing.
  15. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Not unless the kids are 10 ;)
  16. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Fair enough. I assumed that "codigos" was shorthand for "how to behave at milongas", I may have been wrong on that one.

    Is there a comprehensive list of the codigos somewhere? Or would that spoil the fun? :D
  17. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Meh, I interpreted it the same way. I guess we just had/have different ideas of what it entails.

    No list that I know of. How are we supposed to maintain our clique-ish and snobby rep if we go around publishing that sort of stuff?!?! :)
  18. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    Hmm I think this all pales into insigficance copmared to some of the uncontrolled Cerocers I see especially beginners. Its like guiding a spaceship through an asteroid belt of human-sized pistons shuttling randomly. Not that there's a lack of politeness or consideration, just no brakes!
  19. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

  20. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    Yeah, I agree with Zoops. What is a ceroc anyway? You seem to talk about it a lot.

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