Tango Topics | Exploring Your Dance


Códigos. (pron: coh-de-gohs) According to Webster’s Spanish Dictionary it is a masculine noun which when translated to its English cognate means “Code” or the plural “Codes”. .

Usage. In the case of Argentine Tango, we use, and define, the word Códigos (the plural form of the word) in a very specific manner. We mean it as an all encompassing umbrella term for a set of actions that create the social context of how we engage and comport ourselves at, and within, the Milonga experience. Códigos can be, but is not limited to: How we enter a room, Who we talk to (or don’t), Where we sit (or dont’), Who we sit with (or don’t), How we invite a dance, How we decline a dance, How we enter the floor, How we exit the floor, How we change lanes in a multi-lane Milonga, just to name a few of the more important ones. The usual meaning of Códigos refers solely to Cabeceo or Mirada for an invitation of the dance, but it is so much more than that.

I wish they taught proper Códigos for the dance” or “I understand the Códigos of Tango and use it religiously”.

Clarity: You’ll hear this word used by the more experienced dancer who has spent a little time in BsAs (Buenos Aires), and has started to play with their Spanish (or used Spanish extensively) and wants to express more than just the limited idea of Cabeceo or Mirada to encompass a wider range of things.

reflect on these

Lead, Follow, or Both ? Both roles use this word, as it not role or gender specific. It’s a dancer thing, not a role/gender thing.

Technique Video: There is no video on ‘Códigos’, as a whole, at this time. Later on…maybe! 🙂

The Tango Police: No one is dictating to you that these things must happen. Honestly. Some people care, some people don’t. However, there’s one aspect, possibly a second, that you’re going to get a strange response, and that’s the Cabeceo/Mirada thing. This is the preferred practice of dance invitation and/or acceptance/denial. The second possible practice is saying “hello” & “goodbye” to everyone. 😉 YMMV.

a few things to ponder

The Tango Topics Opinion: Códigos, as a concept in Tango, has been limited solely to Cabeceo and/or Mirada, and yet it is so much more than that. This is a way for us to completely surround ourselves into the culture that is Argentine Tango – the Milonga experience as a whole IS Códigos. Each and every time we enter a Milonga we are trying to replicate the experience of what happens in a Buenos Aires Milonga, and Códigos is how the Milonga experience operates. Our primary goal is to replicate as close as we possibly can, the BsAs Milonga experience and that means how we enter the milonga, greeting everyone that we are acquainted with (note the word ‘acquainted’), sitting with friends, asking for and accepting dances via Cabeceo y Mirada, engaging the Salida to the line of dance, employing good Floorcraft and following the line AND lane of dance that we’re in, and then when the tanda is done, to walk our partners back to where we found them. And then at the end of our time at the Milonga, leaving the same way we came in (saying “goodbye” to everyone, etc).

When we fail to enact these actions, ideals, and principles then we are failing to fully accept, envelop, and replicate that Milonga experience as a whole. We are quite factually short-changing ourselves of the entire experience that we want.

Most people, unfortunately, focus on just the technique, just the moves, and next the music, and that’s about where things stop. However, a few of people go the ‘extra mile’ and begin to enact these ideals of the dance which changes the experience from one of running around the room with a friend to some old tinny, whinny music to one that embodies social elegance.

One particular Codigo of the dance that is typically not observed in North American, European, Russian, and Asian Milongas is separating the genders. A few Milongas in BsAs (El Beso comes to mind) separate the genders so that an effective and clear Cabeceo and Mirada can occur (of course line of sight still has a lot of do with this). Still, another is that the organizer of the event greets you, informs you of the event specialties, and then (here’s the Códigos part) seats you at a table! Still, another is that when particular dancers are sitting for a while, the organizer will either invite you themselves or they’ll introduce you to someone else to dance with. These are just some of the more common forms of ‘Códigos’.  #SocialDance #ArgentineTango #TangoDancing

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