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Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Tango lives of milongueros

For anyone interested in the traditions of tango, the interviews with milongueros on Mónica Paz and Chan Park's blog PractiMilonguero are gold. The recently recorded videos (sub-titled in English) not only convey the unveiled passion each milonguero has for tango, but also shows us glimpses of their personal history. Chan and Mónica are to be congratulated for this valuable initiative which captures some of the story of tango.

Definitely unmissable viewing! The final treat at the end of each clip: we get to see each milonguero dancing.

Here's the latest, quite moving, video of Ricardo "Tito" Franquelo. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Friday, 7 January 2011


Perhaps there ought to be a sign at the entrance of milongas which reminds patrons that teaching on the dance-floor is inappropriate.

Here’s another idea: suggest to the would-be tutors of tango that they hire their own teaching venue for instructional purposes rather than exploiting a milonga.

OK, let me totally frank about this: I believe that providing unsolicited advice to one’s partner at a milonga is disrespectful and offensive behaviour.

Regardless of the intention (e.g. “helping” a less experienced partner, wanting to execute one’s favourite moves, etc.) it’s just not on! And to those who reluctantly put up with it, or even feel grateful for it, let me repeat: It’s just not on! And you shouldn’t put up with it. In fact by tolerating it, you are encouraging the behaviour, and therefore are a part of the problem.

When an invitation to dance is accepted at a milonga, it should be on the premise that the two parties would like the pleasure of dancing together to that particular tanda of music (Dancing as equals). Besides, to be in the moment and really dance tango together, you have to focus on the music and your partner, not be distracted by an explanation of the technicalities of a figure. That’s what lessons and practicas are for.

Not only is this behaviour offensive to the recipient, it also disrupts the flow of the dancers at the milonga. A well-functioning ronda relies upon all the dancers (especially the men) cooperating with each other, some would say dancing with each other, hence enabling the couples to proceed in the line of dance without interference. Stopping to teach your partner on the pista would hardly endear you to your fellow dancers who are banking up behind you or are attempting to avoid you. In fact, it’s a recipe for chaos on the dance-floor.

Finally, I find the instructions which are audible to all those around the would-be tutor & partner so distracting, that I lose focus even when my favourite pieces of music are playing.

So what could be your options if this happens to you:
· Accept the advice with gratitude or in silence – Definitely not recommended
· Say: I simply can’t dance and talk.
· Say: Could we discuss this later, off the floor?
· Say: Thank-you and return to your seat.
· Say: Do you want to dance with me or teach me?
· If you’re a woman say: If you can lead it, I’ll try to follow.
· Never dance with this partner again.
· Look around and discover that it’s often the poorer dancers who are the advice-givers.

Perhaps rehearsing a suitable response would be helpful to some. A consistent approach to this issue could well lead to some noticeable changes in behaviour.

Am I alone in these sentiments?

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