Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Dancing in Buenos Aires

If ever I’m asked about what it’s like dancing in the milongas in Buenos Aires, my first response is, "It depends". For a start, it depends on which milongas, and we choose our milongas carefully. But the more important response is, “It depends on whether we go in as a couple or as singles”. The milonga experience is quite different in the two scenarios.

When we go to neighbourhood milongas like Sin Rumbo, La Baldosa, Sunderland, Circulo Trovador, we tend to go as a couple because they are traditional, largely ‘couples’ milongas. That means we dance just with each other, unless we’re attending with friends. Here we can relax, knowing how each other dances, take a few risks, but always respecting the local codes and the local dancers. It’s a nice feeling to be accepted, and to be part of the local tango community at these milongas.

However, Cachirulo, El Beso, Lujos, Canning (Saturdays) are very different – largely for singles, with a high standard of dancing. Immediately, there are elements of tension and uncertainty to deal with. Using the cabeceo to gain dances with partners who we’ve identified we’d like to dance with – that can take time & patience, and can be a bit nerve-wracking. Others need to be aware that we can dance well before they’re going to look in our respective directions – so whenever we dance, it needs to be neat with good connection with partner and music …. and, of course, always respecting the codes!

The first embrace with a new partner is a defining moment – it tells our partner a lot about us as dancers. As a leader, I need to instill confidence in my partner immediately, so that she can relax into the expectation that she’ll have a good dance experience and that she’ll be safe. My dancing needs to be very focussed – on my partner’s ability, her responses, and my musicality …… the range of ‘figures’ is almost irrelevant. She wants to dance tango and I need to accommodate her idiosyncrasies. Within these parameters, the tanda needs to be an enjoyable experience for both of us accompanied by a necessary level of tension to keep us sharp.

Which experience is better? They are simply different …… and it’s gratifying to be able to choose and reap the rewards of both.

Bob.

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