Skip to content

November 3, 2006

Milonga codes

With the Tango calendar in Singapore getting rather packed recently with various “baile”, “milonga” and “milonguitas”, it is quite timely when a friend forwarded to me some information on “milonga codes” which exist in Buenos Aires. Because of the slightly broken English, I have taken the liberty to summarise and transcribe some of the key points; my comments on the relevance of the particular codes to our community in Singapore are in italics. As always, it is very worthwhile to read the original (link seems no longer valid) milonga chronics when you get the chance.

Note: another meaning for “chronic” is “having a habit of long standing”, i.e. customs.

  • Milonga settings: During Milongas, traditionally the women are seated directly opposite the men across the dance floor.
  • Comment: This is generally impractical in Singapore, due mainly to lack of space, and the fact that over the years very few Milongas had actually been held in restaurants/cafes AND the organizer having the authority to assign seats. In any event, in a small community like ours where everyone knows pretty much everyone else, it is more natural to sit with your friends, male or female.
  • Invitation to dance: It is customary for only the men to invite ladies to dance, not the other way round. The invitation and acceptance/rejection to dance are only made through eye contact – known as cabeceo. At the conclusion of the dance, the men should accompany the ladies to their tables.
  • Comment: Cabaceo is a good approach to invite, but not widely practiced in Singapore, or many parts around the world outside of Buenos Aires, largely due to familiarity of the community. It is perfectly fine in Singapore for ladies to invite men to dance.
  • Navigation: The line of dance is ALWAYS in the anti-clockwise direction. When you intend to enter the dance-floor once a tanda has begun and other couples are already dancing, they should wait patiently wait for a space before entering and immediately set off so as not to block other couples.
  • Comment: The basic philosophy follows from the fact that Tango is a social dance. While it is important to enjoy the music and ambience with your partner during the dance, it is just as important to respect the other couples sharing the same dance-floor.
  • Dancing: In the Buenos Aires, Tango Salon(meaning: social Tango) is danced. The important characteristics are: continuous embrace and dance to the floor. Experienced dancers generally do not begin to dance with the first note of the Tango, but wait till after the melodic introduction present in many Tango tunes) to complete. Another reason is simply to use the time between songs within a tanda to socialize with the partner.

Finally, the author remarked that in general it is men’s responsibility to observe such traditions. The fault of any transgressions lies entirely with the men… 🙁

Read more from Social Dancing

Comments are closed.