Skip to content

February 19, 2010

Seating arrangements of milongas in BA

Although I had some opinions about this during my trip, I didn’t imagine they’d turn into a full-blown post until I read some recent comments yesterday.

The background is that in SOME milongas, the “archaic” (my choice of word, not the phrase used by the originator) custom of seating men and women separately* – in particular, having the women in a line against one side of the room. In these situations, invitation is done using the cabaceo exclusively. Basically there was the contention that this was somehow demeaning to women and ought not to happen in this day and age. Firstly I want to point out that in such milongas, men will also get be lined up and get a good sizing over from women from the other side of the room! Secondly, as a visitor, regardless of my own cultural background (and hence prejudices), I always believe in the adage “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, out of respect for the culture that I am visiting.

Now, back to business. I often fail to understand why there is the continuing misconception that women are helpless and completely at the mercy of men in the situation described above? Having been at the receiving end of it, I can personally vouch that the women have just as much power to invite/reject dances when the cabaceo is used! Perhaps, men are under the illusion that they are doing the inviting when the reverse is true? Or at least both parties are active participants in the invitation game? As far as I can see, the only practical difference in this old-fashioned custom is that men need to carry the “gentlemanly” act of actually crossing the floor to complete the invitation. Finally, in defence of the cabaceo: since there is a gender imbalance in many milongas some women will always miss out for any given tanda, cabaceo or not and, conversely, whether there is verbal invitation or not. On the other hand, inviting verbally may lead to awkwardness when the inevitable rejection happens…

My only minor gripe with this seating arrangement is that on some nights I may just want to chat to my friends!? When attending the more “serious” milongas, talking to your neighbours may actually take them away from the floor, where they want to be! However, the solution is actually very easy. As I have alluded to previously, that is why there are different “flavours” of milongas, with some being more appropriate for socialising. 🙂

* Note that this only applies if you were to enter the milonga individually and not as a group, or if friends wished to sit apart from each other.

Read more from Musings, Social Dancing

Comments are closed.