Some thoughts about codigos

by Svetlana Nekrasova

What if I could imagine a marathon of my dream?

Or some thoughts about codigos

Ok, guys, I know, that nothing can be ideal in our not-ideal world, but what if I could imagine coming to a marathon, spending time there and saying after: that was an IDEAL experience? What would I include into my understanding of IDEAL? Well, ambience of the place, level of dancers, gender balance, hospitality of the organizers, quantity and quality of offered extra things, nice ideas of entertainment, high level DJs, - yes, yes and yes. But if we put aside these matters, which depend ultimately on the organizers, what else do I need as a participant to feel amazing and flying? Of course, cooperation and respect of other participants! And this cooperation and respect can be easily shown through using codigos, - rules of behavior on and out of the pista, - as simple as that.

There are many opinions about codigos, some people support it fully, some say that some points of it are outdated, the third part claims that no any codigos exists as “who said it should be like this” and “where is it written”. In my opinion, such debates are just talking in sake of talking. As I believe, we should accept codigos as “common business practices” speaking about it in a legal language. Both as a tanguera with more than ten years’ experience and as an organizer of a marathon, I vote for following codigos with my both hands and with both legs which suffered many times from people who neglected it.

First, but not the last for me, is invitation by mirada (a look) and cabeceo (head’s nod). In this connection people tend to discuss situations “what if”. What if it is my usual partner for Biagi or Pugliese, where is a harm if I invite her by hand? My answer is: are you sure she would not want to try Biagi this time with somebody else? What if she did not answer my cabeceo for several tandas, maybe she or he did not notice? No, everybody notices cabeceo, it is just her or his choice now, due to numerous reasons. Just accept it without forcing a person to explain these reasons to you and try later. And many other “what ifs” which are easily avoidable by using this geniously simple way of invitation. The main aim of mirada and cabeceo is to avoid embarrassment of any person and, ultimately, to give an opportunity to dance with bigger quantity of new people without awkward situation of refusals in front of everybody. So, I love cabeceo and I love when people use it. Take it as a hint. Believe me, the feeling of “cabeceoing” a partner from the other side of basketball hall was one of my most intense tango experiences.

Navigation and keeping rondas. Oh, so boring, we all know about it, right? But quite often it looks like we know about it in very theoretical way. This is common disease of many tangueros independently on their level of dancing and years spent on the pista. Ladies and gentlemen, I confess that I prefer to dance with a medium-level partner who is respectful to ronda than with somebody who is extremely high in technical knowledge but running from ronda to ronda and making everything possible to bump me into the others. Well, I admit that there are partners who can do many things, I myself love to dance actively, but there is one criterion: does ronda allows to do it? So I would like to ask our dear respected partners: please keep rondas clean, do not stop the movement of the ronda, do not push couple in front of you, do not step more than one step behind, do not overtake ronda from “blind” right side, use left side of ronda for it, - well, you all know it, correct? One more thing which I would like to mention here, - should woman take part in the navigation? My answer is yes. No way that I would recommend to girls “lead the leader”, this can be very frustrating for both people in the couple. But you share responsibility of safe and pleasant time for the couple on the dance floor, - this is my steady and strong belief. No doubt, nothing can compare to a feeling when you close your eyes and totally dissolve in music and dialogue with a leader. But when pista is crowded, any kind of accident is possible even if people are careful and respectful (and what if not?). In this case I strongly urge followers to share responsibility with leaders. Do not put all burden on leaders’ shoulders, they have enough of work in tango! Being follower does not mean being weak and passive, I am sure, you know it. Tango is all about balance, so find balance in this matter as well.

High boleos, ganchos, numerous sacadas, etc. The matter is very much connected with the above topic of navigation as it is all about respect to the other people in the ronda and to your partner as well. We all want to make our dance to look nice, to express what we feel, to use our tango vocabulary, to underline peak moments in the music, to experience this amazing feeling when you can transmit your understanding of the music to your partner. It is great pleasure to dance in this way and great pleasure to watch a couple which dances this way. But it does not mean you need to use everything what you learned and saw in your long tango life in one tanda. It is the same as you would have a nice relaxed chat with your friends somewhere in the bar and all the time use very literary scholarly language. Probably your friends will be impressed with the quantity of words you know, but will they feel nice about it? Believe me, I am very much for high boleos, adornos, etc. But to me they look good only when you use them as a cherry on a cake, in very correct time and without extra effort. This is not that I would not enjoy technically rich tanda, - not at all! I love when both partner and me looking for a way to move our limits. But, - and this is “but” in huge letters, - it should be reflection of music, of our feelings, of our souls. Not just an acrobatic show in which I have a role of doll to demonstrate technical skills, - believe me, girls easily feel the difference.

But we are talking not only about aesthetic point of view at tango - eventually you can have totally different feelings and ideas about it. The most important thing here is safety of everybody on the dance floor. As a person who not once was scratched, hit, pushed and kicked, had bruises and bleeding scratches after milonga (yes, tango is amazingly dangerous kind of activity) I am saying categorical NO to high boleos, ganchos and complicated figures in crowded pista. No heels off the floor. And if in navigation I share responsibility between leaders and followers as 50-50, here I place most of the responsibility on girls. This is your choice not to make high boleo if your partner due to some reasons, maybe even unintentionally, is leading you to it in packed surroundings.

If you love all these figures as much as I do stay till the end of the even. For at least one hour you will enjoy possibility to do whatever you want (did I say it? Ok, nearly whatever you want).

One more thing, well actually a bunch of things, I would like to slightly touch in this article, is what we can call things of common sense. Maybe it will seem obvious to you, but experience shows that there is no harm to mention them again. Dress code and hygiene. Our dear men, look at all ladies who come to dance with you. Can you estimate time they spent on their hair, make up, choice of dress, parfume and shoes? Did you? Now multiply it by two (I have nothing to wear, these shoes do not match, I do not like my hair, - all this stuff, you know). You like the final result, enjoy looking at them and dancing with them? Then please appreciate these efforts and make yourself worthy of them. Be a king to get a queen.

Politeness. Strange to mention it, no? Not so much. Ask for permission to enter the ronda. It is extremely annoying (not to mention risk of damage) when somebody just jumps in front of you out of nowhere. Smile and apologize in case of an accident, - does not matter if it was a fault of anybody or unintentional collision what happens very often. And smile in return and accept the apologize, - nobody is saint, everybody has right for a mistake, and we do not want to revive a tradition of fights outside milonga. Do not bring food inside the dancing hall, - smell of it is very unpleasant during dancing and if it drops on the floor, - you understand. Do not distract DJs when they are playing music, - it is very stressful job and they need all their energy to do it properly. They will be happy to talk and dance with you after their set, but not during it.

What to say overall… Codigos is actually nothing more than common sense, politeness and avoiding embarrassment for any person on and out the pista. Definitely it is not possible to cover all details in one short article, but even if you take these considerations into account, believe me, - you will the most welcome person in tango community for everybody, - your partners, organizers of any event, DJs and will earn blessings from the Gods of Tango.

Abrazos and do not stop to dance!