Origin of Tandas

Here's a hugely entertaining explanation of how Tandas and Cortinas came to be... that, may even be true!

It is reproduced here (to make it somewhat easier to read) from this archived mailing list post.

Date: Fri, 14 Mar 2008 14:05:33 +0000
From: Sergio Vandekier <...@...>
Subject: [Tango-L] Origin of Tandas
To: Tango-L List <tango-l@mit.edu>

There was a time, very early in tango history (1880 - 1920) when tango was danced in "pirigundines" also called "academias". These places were situated in the periphery of the city and required special permits from the City hall to function. Pirigundines continued to function till not too long ago although with different characteristics from the original ones.

Those places, where music was played and hired women were available to dance with, were patronized by lonely males in search of fun and perhaps some romance.

They normally were required to buy a ticket called "lata" (tin), because they were made of tin. Those tichets allowed the male to dance a set number of tangos, milongas or valses, or a mixture of them. For example: three tangos, one milonga and one vals. The male client gave the "ticket" to the female dancer and started dancing with her.

The "Cortina" a music different from tango, announced the end of the set or "tanda". Couples separated.

To dance another tanda another ticket had to be given to the lady. This sequence continued during the evening till two or three in the morning.

There are expressions in our coloquial language of Buenos Aires that refer to certain elements of those days.

"Tener la lata" (to hold the tin) : It means to wait a long time. " Fui al medico y tuve una lata the una hora " (I went to the doctor and had to wait for one hour).

This is a reference to the time when a man had to wait for the lady , tin in hand, till she became available to dance with him. He would say then "tuve la lata" for a long time till I could dance with her.

Best Wishes, Sergio

Mar del Plata - Argentina