Want to be able to dance confidently and feel comfortable in traditional milongas of Buenos Aires?
Our bootcamp-style social tango classes develop your musicality, connection, technique & improvisation, as well as your confidence with milonga etiquette.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Some recent BsAs milonga photos

Just loaded up some snaps taken at Buenos Aires milongas a few weeks ago.

Our very talented and renowned teacher, Aurora Lúbiz, introduced us to Sin Rumbo, a historic milonga in Villa Urquiza. Driving home in the wee hours, Aurora explained the significance of the place. This unassuming neighbourhood milonga, full of classy dancers - young and old, is where some of the great names of tango learned about the dance. At that time, there were no tango teachers as we know them. As very young dancers of other disciplines (ballet, folkloric, etc.) they would take the bus for over one hour across the BsAs metropolis to learn from locals like Julio Duplaa - an elegant dancer who has been running the Friday night milonga for around 40 years. At these informal practicas, young dancers like Aurora, Jorge Firpo, Pablo Verón, Lorena Ermocida, etc. first learned to dance tango. After the practicas they would journey home again by bus, where they would practise till the early hours and make sense of the dance which would later take over their lives & careers, and become a worldwide obsession.

It was also great to catch up our friends, Gustavo Benzecry Sabá, author of Embracing tango and María Olivera at their haunt, Salon Canning. Despite having returned that day from teaching in the USA for a couple of months, there they were at the milonga, exhausted but still dancing! They are great believers in totally improvised tango, including for their performances. This video shot at the Portland Tangofest is a perfect example. The unfortunate DJ experienced major technical problems: their selected music would not load up properly , and when it started playing, the speed was variable, so in the end, he just threw on something else. Their milonga performance brought the house down.

Dru and Roger from Adelaide experienced Club Sunderland for the first time. Yes, it is held in a brightly lit basketball stadium, but the organisers always arrange a high quality couple to perform for the crowd. But to be honest, I reckon the regulars are more interested in just dancing. Still if you are lucky, you might see the likes of Javier Rodriguez and Andrea Missé.

We were treated to a less traditional performance at La Baldosa, with Miguel and Augusto, organisers of La Marshall, the gay milonga at Maipu 444. The crowd at La Baldosa, which I would have thought was quite conservative, loved them.

Finally, a couple of shots of the gorgeous Teatro Maipó, taken after the brilliant show with the orchestra Sexteto Mayor celebrating their 35 years!

It's good to be home, but a few more weeks there would have been better.

Friday, 7 November 2008

More on Buenos Aires milongas

Attending milongas as a single opens one to new experiences with unfamiliar partners: adjustment to the new body, style, musicality - not unlike getting to know someone in conversation, actually.

As a follower, I find that allowing myself to be at one with my partner and the music for a tanda, means I feel like a different dancer each time, expressing myself differently with every new leader. Such is the experience of the entrega. Bob's experience is not dissimilar. His partner's embrace will tell him whether certain movements are likely to be feasible, eg. an unchanging embrace will limit possibilities for turns - without diminishing the dance. After all, the enjoyment of the tanda comes primarily through the connection with one's partner and the music.

As a single, your seating at a milonga makes a difference to how easy eye contact is for the cabeceo - singles who are regulars at a milonga get prime positions, of course. At the start of a tanda if your desired partner is across the dance-floor in a busy milonga, you have to establish eye contact as early as possible, otherwise it will be near to impossible to use the cabeceo due to the crowd of dancing bodies which rapidly gathers. The exception seems to be tandas of milonga music, in which somewhat fewer dancers seem confident in the dance, or might be uncertain whether a prospective partner would handle the challenge - yes, this happens in BsAs, too!

Each milonga has its own personality, even if the venue remains the same. The venue of Maipu 444 is an excellent example, where milongas are held most nights of the week. On Tuesday evening, the milonga Sentimental y Coqueta is a traditonal, largely singles milonga, with great music and very open to visitors who can dance well. Wednesday night sees the venue hosting a gay-friendly milonga: La Marshall. Whereas Saturday night, Cachirulo, seems to be a somewhat more exclusive milonga. For more details on milongas and other tango topics, you can subscribe to the free online version of BA Tango by emailing abatango@yahoo.com with the subject line Subscribe. El Tangauta, another free monthly tango publication can be read online at www.eltangauta.com

Music may be purely Golden Age tango, or some milongas include tandas of swing, rock & roll, chacarera and even cumbia. At a couple of milongas, some tandas of tango/electronica will appear. A few milongas seem to be largely an opportunity to catch up and dance with friends who are regulars, whereas at other milongas, getting a dance as a visitor is much easier. Of course, the more frequently you dance there, the more people get to know you. We're finding that with each visit to BsAs, dancing with familiar faces means knowing which style you can slip into when you take up the embrace. On the other hand, dancing with a new partner can be quite exciting, especially when after a few moments it becomes apparent that it is going to be a memorable tanda together.

Pat & Bob (looking forward to our last week in BsAs.)

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