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Saturday, 7 January 2017

It's all about the milonga

What draws you to tango?
People take up tango for lots of reasons, but for me, it’s all about the milonga.  

Some people spend a lot of time & money taking lessons, going to practicas, and milongas.  Yet, some see attending milongas as the least important, and rarely put their skills ‘on the line’.  

I’m a great believer in dancers getting explicit & expert advice on the essentials: posture, embrace, tango walk, body control, body lead, rhythm.  Then, add some fundamental tools to these essentials to enable people to improvise: ochos, cross, simple turns, etc.  A good teacher will blend these essentials & tools into functional movements.  Now the dancers must practise, and a practica is the most appropriate place, as well a safe place to get constructive feedback.  

At some stage, however, the dancer needs to take the plunge: attend milongas, do a lot of watching & listening, and have the occasional dance with a trusted partner. It will be pretty obvious that the milonga is very different to a practica – intimidating is a fair description to the novice. Gradually skills & confidence develop with regular milonga attendance, just as familiarity with potential partners will grow.

Compare this with taking up a new sport. You are taught the fundamentals at training week after week, then you play practice matches before the season starts, and the main event is ‘the game’.  No-one wants to go through the season playing just the occasional match – likewise, tango dancers shouldn’t be satisfied dancing in the milonga just now and again (or never!!).

What is the magic of a good milonga that makes you want to keep coming back? 
For a start, like the sports match, it’s the real thing.  It’s a total experience - venue, music, the dancers, the etiquette, the energy - and the delicious challenge of the unexpected.   Maybe the magic is the personal connection we have with particular milongas - El Maipu and Lujos (video below) in Buenos Aires are two that come to my mind.

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