'Asi Se Baila...': The Codes of the Portena Milonga and 'Everyday Law' ('Asi se baila...': Codes de la milonga portena et 'droit du quotidien')
35 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2008 Last revised: 30 Nov 2008
Date Written: July 16, 2008
Milongas, where Argentine tango is danced, are an interesting test case for theories of norms and regulation in the micro-legal realm. As highly integrated yet decentralized communities, they rely on a heavy substratum of rules. This article seeks to identify the logic of the system of rules known in Buenos Aires as the "milonga code". Legal analysis, particularly "every day law" theories, as developed by Michael Reisman and Roderick Macdonald, can help us understand the genesis, nature and status of those rules. It highlights three levels of rules where the norms unfold: the individual, the dancing couple, and the group. For each of these level of analysis, the article provides an ideal-typical equivalent in the law: the law of personal status, contract law, and the highway code. Even in the absence of centralized authority, milonga norms are implemented, albeit in subtle and original ways. The article concludes with a few reflections on how the milonga code stands for certain gendered conceptions and acts, more generally, as a metaphor for tango, norms and the idea of society.
Note: Downloadable document is in French.
Keywords: tango, everyday law, regulation, dance, popular culture
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation