Understanding codigos

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
This thread is all over the place, but I see this again...

"I also mused out loud whether South Amercan Tango may be more accurate? I like the sound of 'South American Tango'."

Here's an example of why this is not a good idea.
It's a long way from Lima and Cuzco, Peru to the Rio de la Plata, both geographically and culturally.
The Andes and the Amazon Basin are a formidable barrier.
Where the Germans brought the bandoneon to Argentina, the accordian was/is more popular in Peru.
Blacks made a big contribution to the development of tango. There are few blacks in Peru.
The advent of air traffic, telecommunications, the internet, etc, has not obiterated these differences in local culture that have been in place for over a hundred years.

Just as rock n roll occupied the imaginations of a generation of Argentines, the homogenization that IS occuring is moving tastes toward "pop" latin music rather than Argentine Tango.

The localized development of dance and music can also be seen with West Coast Swing, which developed on the West Coast of the USA (specifically the LA basin). The music and dance scene there, at the time the dance was first "codified", was likely influenced by the regional musical tastes of immigrants to the LA basin from the American Southern Plains during and after the Depression/WWII era.

In a similar fashion, the Rio de la Plata was a very diffent place than, again as an example, Peru. Again, the music and dance that developed there was a reflection of the ethnic groups who lived there.

Argentine Tango is used in this country (the US) , and others, to distinguish current tango from Argentina from the ballroom versions that are similar to, or the same as, AT as it was danced when it made its way to Europe and the US early in the 1900s.
Even W.C. Handy, "the Father of the Blues" was influenced by tango and included its rhythms in some of his blues.
 
Agree :)

In particular:
I also made a plea for bringing back all social dancing... as it was in the old days and how the formalisation of ballroom put the kybosh on that. I believe it would be nice to have mixed events with social 'ballroom' dances, salsa, bachata, tango, milonga etc etc
Absolutely - the formalisation of ballroom has helped killed it off socially in my view. What's the point of learning a dance if you can't dance to it?

For example, why not have "Latin" dances - the good ones, anyway, rumba and chacha - as separate social scenes? I'd go to one, that's for sure, and a lot of others might (e.g. salsa people).
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
Regarding having names for things...
I came across Skippy Blair's 1978 book "On Comtemporary Social Dance Disco to Tango and Back". he lists 12 named "patterns", and notes that GSTDA has "some 200 or more patterns and variations". No word on whether or not they ALL have names.

In "Tango the Art History of Love" the author decribes, and names, many steps and "moves" (although he doesn't use that word, I don't think). The author is an American, I seem to remember, but SOMEONE, (he lists many dancers) gave him names for things.

It does seem odd to be asking the names of things (I'm thinking of birds and plants here), then being satisfied when that thing was assigned a name. People seem to react with an "AH!", as if knowing the name of a thing gives some insight into the thing itself. Most often it doesn't. But if you want to "talk" about a thing, names can be very useful.
 

opendoor

Well-Known Member
..the formalisation of ballroom has helped killed it off socially ..... why not have "Latin" dances - the good ones, anyway, rumba and chacha - as separate social scenes? I'd go to one, that's for sure, and a lot of others might (e.g. salsa people).
I agree totally. But I think many will not agree to the following idea: I believe that the international ballroom- and WorldDanceProgramm movements cut the social and cultural connection off. They were invented for globalization but turned out as separation. But I hope a social substrate still remaines for every dance. So you can find what you call rumba and cha cha somewhere within the cuban son and salsa scene.
 
Gargoyle elder (Hudson): Must you humans name everything? Nothing's real to you 'til you've named it, given it limits.
Elisa Maza: It's not like that. It's just that, well... uh... things need names.
Gargoyle elder (Hudson): Does the sky need a name? Does the river?
Elisa Maza: The river's called the Hudson.
Hudson: Fine, lass. Then I will be the Hudson as well.
 

bastet

Active Member
It does seem odd to be asking the names of things (I'm thinking of birds and plants here), then being satisfied when that thing was assigned a name. People seem to react with an "AH!", as if knowing the name of a thing gives some insight into the thing itself. Most often it doesn't. But if you want to "talk" about a thing, names can be very useful.
Yes- exactly- it doesn't really matter what the name of something is, it's just something you are dancing and you know how to do, not what you call it...but it sure is a lot easier when you want to tak about it (in a class or forum or wherever) and not have to go explaining it...you can say gancho and people get a general mental picture of it. It doesn't really matter what language or even word it was.

Like I said, they could have called it ice-cream way back when, and if I had associated ice-cream with that action...well, it'd be ice-cream to me and the language doesn't matter because I have a mental image of the idea.
 

Gssh

Well-Known Member
COLGADA: A spinning move executed by a couple at the end of an inside barrida in which both dancers lean out away from each other and spin rapidly until the man leads out with a back step
Can i do it without a inside barrida, spin slowly only a quarter turn and lead out with a side step?


Most tango vocabulary seems to me to be remarkably "soft". The only ones where i think i am sure what a couple is doing would be

1) 8CB
2) ocho cortado
3) Cross
4) ocho milonguero

anyhing seems to be just vague concepts, and depending on how someone sees a particular element, they are described differently by different people. E.g. an overturned back ocho (as an entry to some other element, used to generate momentum and to get into the cross system and to open the followers base) is also a pivot is also a giro is also a colgada.

Anyway what i really wanted to think about: the OP's concern was that the use of "argentinean" structures, and of "exotic" names makes the dance inaccessible and our community seem pretentious.

Now i think the most of the structures are mainly functional and the amount of "exotic" names is not more but usually less than in other genres (e.g. is using "whip" and "feather" and "Suzy-Q" and "1st postition" and "2nd position" really that much more accessible to newcomers? or this:
Hay in the Barn by Chart Guthrie (Improper duple minor)
A1 (16) Neighbors balance and swing
A2 ( 8 ) Ladies chain across, ( 8 ) Half hey, ladies pass right shoulders to start
B1 (16) Partners balance and swing
B2 ( 8 ) Ladies chain across, ( 8 ) Half hey, ladies pass right shoulders to star
source: Wikipedia, entry for contemporay contra dance

I always felt that tango was at its core an amzingly simple dance with simple rules that are grounded mostly in practical considerations. When learning ballroom i was always completely puzzled how figures actually worked, how the figures related to the music (especially in foxtrott??), why the body mechanics worked the way they did, and so on. Granted, i didn't get very far, but but my first tango lesson was a revelation "you stand in front of each other - if you shift your weight before moving, and she shifts with you it is impossible for you to step on her, because the only leg she can move as a reaction of you "pushing her" is the leg that has no weight on it". No need to remember which foot to start on, no need to hope that she remebers which foot she is supposed to start on, nothing - just physics.

For me this makes tango much less complicated and very welcoming to beginners - you don't really have to learn all that much - the principles used are straightforward. A milonga is much less intimidating than ballroom socials to me - i never dance "the wrong dance" - sure, if i do straight tango to vals and milonga i don't use the whole depth of what the music has to offer, but it is still servicable.

So, why is everybody always talking about tango being so difficult, and tango dancers being so pretentious and using weird and strange customs? I just don't see it.

Gssh
 

bastet

Active Member
Can i do it without a inside barrida, spin slowly only a quarter turn and lead out with a side step?


Most tango vocabulary seems to me to be remarkably "soft". The only ones where i think i am sure what a couple is doing would be

1) 8CB
2) ocho cortado
3) Cross
4) ocho milonguero

anyhing seems to be just vague concepts, and depending on how someone sees a particular element, they are described differently by different people. E.g. an overturned back ocho (as an entry to some other element, used to generate momentum and to get into the cross system and to open the followers base) is also a pivot is also a giro is also a colgada.

Anyway what i really wanted to think about: the OP's concern was that the use of "argentinean" structures, and of "exotic" names makes the dance inaccessible and our community seem pretentious.

Now i think the most of the structures are mainly functional and the amount of "exotic" names is not more but usually less than in other genres (e.g. is using "whip" and "feather" and "Suzy-Q" and "1st postition" and "2nd position" really that much more accessible to newcomers? or this:

source: Wikipedia, entry for contemporay contra dance

I always felt that tango was at its core an amzingly simple dance with simple rules that are grounded mostly in practical considerations. When learning ballroom i was always completely puzzled how figures actually worked, how the figures related to the music (especially in foxtrott??), why the body mechanics worked the way they did, and so on. Granted, i didn't get very far, but but my first tango lesson was a revelation "you stand in front of each other - if you shift your weight before moving, and she shifts with you it is impossible for you to step on her, because the only leg she can move as a reaction of you "pushing her" is the leg that has no weight on it". No need to remember which foot to start on, no need to hope that she remebers which foot she is supposed to start on, nothing - just physics.

For me this makes tango much less complicated and very welcoming to beginners - you don't really have to learn all that much - the principles used are straightforward. A milonga is much less intimidating than ballroom socials to me - i never dance "the wrong dance" - sure, if i do straight tango to vals and milonga i don't use the whole depth of what the music has to offer, but it is still servicable.

So, why is everybody always talking about tango being so difficult, and tango dancers being so pretentious and using weird and strange customs? I just don't see it.

Gssh

yeah- that definition gets a little too specific for me. I tend to just take a concept (or action) and keep in mind how people refer to the general idea, not a specific sequence of steps (ie- pattern).

ABout snobbishness/pretentiousness/eliteism and all that in tango. It's everywhere...tango and elsewhere. I don't think tango dancers hold the trophy for pretentiousness by any means...I think it tends to go with a personality type and not the dance (the names and jargon aren't at fault, the person overusing or pontificating is). And believe me, there are plenty of people who love to show off their knowledge in any dance form, including tango.

I don't think the customs are all that strange or weird, but I do think it is a hard dance to do well. Once you've passed the simple linear type steps done in (forgive me, I'm going to use terminology here) parallel system and you start to move in to cross (same-foot) system and start adding pivots in to the mix and ochos, torso rotation and the concept of the leader or follower taking a weight change while the other doesn't...and you actually want people to lead and follow this stuff without resorting to patterns and arm signaling, it gets a whole lot stickier.
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
:cheers: Excellent.:cheers:

The most disgusting behaviour I witnessed with a friend on Tuesday night at a milonga was "a deliberate attempt to maim". A very small dancefloor held in a basement winebar means not much room to exercise flamboyant legwork. One particular couple were dancing inside the rules (that is: not much room then dance small) and thus temporarily holding up the queue behind them. Woman behind her with her partner were forced for a wee minute to dance on the spot. Frustrated by this, she raised her leg as if to do a boleo, made aim for the back of the other woman's calf, lifted her knee and then violently jabbed foot backwards and into the woman in front's leg. The victim doubled over in pain and limped off the dancefloor. The perpetrator and her lead carried on dancing. My friend and I just glared at each other - gobsmacked.
I'm speechless. They should both be banned permanently from all events.
 

bastet

Active Member
I thought it was corrida
well- even in English we may use different terms to describe similar things depending on the context of what we are talking about...walk, stroll, step

like in a recent class we had with Tete, all in Spanish (so I was struggling to translate)...and he ekpt saying "giro giro giro"...not trying to tell us to do giros, but he meant us to turn our steps....
 
Can i do it without a inside barrida, spin slowly only a quarter turn and lead out with a side step?


Most tango vocabulary seems to me to be remarkably "soft". The only ones where i think i am sure what a couple is doing would be

1) 8CB
2) ocho cortado
3) Cross
4) ocho milonguero

anyhing seems to be just vague concepts, and depending on how someone sees a particular element, they are described differently by different people. E.g. an overturned back ocho (as an entry to some other element, used to generate momentum and to get into the cross system and to open the followers base) is also a pivot is also a giro is also a colgada.
Are there not more ways than one to cut an ocho??

I suppose the trouble is in the teaching, some vague concepts get misinterpreted into specific patterns.
 
Yeah, I'm giving up on it... too many posts to keep up with and too many different concepts all happening at once. Everytime I respond to a post, I get taken to the end of the thread and I can't figure out where I was reading
Don't see why this thread in particular is getting picked out in this way. Many times I'll check into a thread and find the discussion bears no relation to the title. :confused:
 
Perhaps I would just add that tango (or any dancing community) is a microcosm. My perception is that a lot of pretentious people seem particularly attracted to tango - some agree with me, some don't. ... again, a microcosom.

Look at what we've discussed here, pretty much human nature in general:

1) wanting to be part of elite
2) wanting to be comradely
3) being contrary
4) being a bully and violent (the woman who kicked the woman with her shoe)
5) wanting rational arguments
6) wanting emotional arguments

I think most people admit to being all of the above at one time or another, I certainly do - with the exception of 4, I hasten to add!!

Anyway, possibly this was a pointless post that didn't need posting! Nevertheless, here it is!
 

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