Clearing the dance floor

Those who have taken on the task of programming music for their community milonga want to know how long to play music for the cortina,  the music played that signals dancers that the tanda has ended.  The length depends on how long it takes all dancers to return to their seats.  I filmed a cortina at El Arranque — see how long it took for everyone to sit down before the next tanda began.

It’s common to see a couple dancing the cortina music, and they get strange looks.  Those who program a different cortina after each tanda are keeping the dancers moving on the floor, not off it.


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7 Responses to “Clearing the dance floor”

  1. b Says:

    Brilliant idea for a video. Thank you for it.

  2. Alan jones Says:

    Janis,I have looked at the cortinas on the music that I brought back from the DJ at Maipu 444,they range from 53 seconds to 1 minute and 39 seconds.A few of the dancers here in England stay on the dance-floor when a cortina is played,and I did see it in Buenos Aires too,when Rock-and Roll was played between the tandas.It is just my own opinion,but I find it a bit boring to listen to the same cortina,as there are many pieces of popular music to use as cortinas(even if it just to listen to!) Kind regards from(a back to normal) rainy, cool day in England.Alan Jones.

  3. jantango Says:

    I know one milonga with the same cortina music for more than ten years. It’s not for listening pleasure, but to clear the floor.

  4. terpsichoral Says:

    I’ve also found that people in London tend to stay on the dance floor during the cortina, often snuggling (dancers here are rather more touchy feely) and commit to dancing a second tanda with you, no matter what it is. In BA, though, people always clear the floor. I enjoy the cortinas at El Beso, where they play several different ones over the course of the evening (Queen and Mercedes Simone are favourites) but am also accustomed to places like La Baldosa where they always play the same cortina. I was actually quite startled to hear the La Baldosa cortina being played in a taxi once and to realise that it is an actual song, not just a signal to clear the dance floor!

  5. Michael Hayes Says:

    In most milongas in Australia only one cortina is played (very occasionally two) over the course of the evening. It is extremely rare here for dancers to remain on the floor during the cortina. Smart DJ’s pick a piece of upbeat but non-dancing music and around 35 to 40 seconds is long enough to get everyone off and reseated.

  6. Chris Says:

    The length depends on how long it takes all dancers to return to their seats.

    I suggest the more generally applicable measure is: until floor clearing has ceased – regardless of whether it has completed.

    Here in London there are always a few who don’t leave the floor. And many who do, remain standing on the edge, because there are insufficient seats.

  7. g Says:

    I agree with the observation about staying with the same dancer: there is a finite amount of time the clearing takes. After that there is no point in continuing the clearing, right?

    As a young DJ I noticed that on many places with a younger population the floor clears, almost completely, within the first 20 seconds (they are eager to start dancing again ASAP regardless with whom). I rarely need more than 30 seconds of cortinas.

    Also, I rarely repeat a cortina during a milonga. Even the 5-hour milongas. I use cortinas not only to clear the floor but also to suit the mood of the dancers and, on the other hand, to even influence it: you should’ve seen how a right cortina works miracles to change the energy output of the dancers. Primarily to wake them up after they get sleepy, but also the other way round. 🙂 Their response is positive 100% of the time.

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