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13 - 17 April 2017

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Social dancing

Tango dancing is a social activity. A single dance space is shared by all participants at an event, much like a single road is shared by all who travel along it. Almost from the very beginnings of tango, social conventions developed hand in hand with dancing steps. Some of these conventions, depending on social morals of society in general, were maintained and expanded during the ages. Some others fell into disuse. Yet further conventions evolved specifically in the context of tango, without obvious links to conventions in larger society.

By 1916, Nicanor Lima codified the conventions prevalent in his time in his book Método de baile teórico práctico para bailar el ‘Tango Argentino’ de salón. Certainly by the end of the 1930's, the beginning of the Edad de Oro, many tacit norms and customs had become commonplace, and universally respected at tango dancing events, many of these norms reflecting cultural norms of the time which today are no longer self evident, e.g. consideration and respect for one's peers, protection of women, and general courtesy.

The códigos de la milonga, as these conventions are known in Spanish, allow hundreds of dancers to share a single dancing space without ever colliding, kicking or disturbing each other, through auto-regulation by the dancers themselves who take full responsibility. Trasnochando highly encourages everyone to discover the special beauty of a milonga, which is that it is the one occasion where dancers of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels meet and socialize. This is precisely the meaning of "social dancing", where no-one feels invaded or disrespected by others.

Códigos in common use today

A result of cultural evolution, the códigos should be understood as a form of etiquette, respect and courtesy to everyone participating in the shared social experience, rather than as a set of legal instructions. It is expected that the dancers auto-regulate themselves, thus ensuring a wonderful time for all.

One generally distinguishes between floor etiquette on the one hand, and general uses and customs on the other.

Floor etiquette (Códigos de la pista) is a set of conventions which ensure a fluid and continuous movement around the dancefloor, and eliminate the possibility of collision or other disturbances between dance couples. These conventions are more or less universally accepted, and we kindly ask all participants to observe them at Trasnochando:

General uses and customs are more varied than floor etiquette, and not all milongas have the same customs. When arriving at an unknown milonga, part of the fun is taking the time to discover the customs, and attempting to adapt to them.

A few generally accepted uses and customs are fairly widespread, and we strive to respect them also at Trasnochando:

Source (in Spanish): Los Códigos de la milonga
Illustrations (in French): Les Pas Parfaits

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