Here are the codigos for Argentine Tango. Be nice. Dance and smell good, not necessarily in that order. Watch out for the other dancers. The end.

It would be nice if it were that simple, but it’s not. The codigos are extensive and grew out of the evolution of the dance in a very different culture and time. At its peak, the revered Golden Age, more the three quarters of the population of Buenos Aires was dancing socially at least once a week. For a city of 3,000,000 people, that leads to 2,250,000 people dancing at least once a week. Imagine a five story building where each floor has an Orchestra Typica with at least ten musicians. And each floor is packed. The money generated by dancing led to orchestra leaders making perhaps more than $20,000 per week. Tango was a social juggernaut and a huge economic engine. The smooth functioning of the milongas was paramount to a comfortable social scene which in turn fed the tango economy. Thus codigos evolved to help create a comfortable social environment at the milongas and foster a well ordered and respectful dance floor.