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Thursday, 3 May 2018

Diaries of BsAs - How do I dance at a milonga & why?

Almost two weeks of this stay in Buenos Aires have already passed, and attending various milongas (all traditional) makes us reflect on tango experiences here and at home.  Here is the first musing, with more to come:

I rarely dance more than half the tandas at a milonga, and wondered what determines my milonga experience.  Some aspects are very practical, others are personal.
  • Venue - Does it inspire and invigorate?  Or is it boring and lacking in energy?
  • Hosts - Do they welcome you, ensure you're seated comfortably and make you feel that you belong?  Or are you ignored after paying your money?
  • Set-up - Does the arrangement allow those sitting a chance to engage with the ronda?  Or is there a separation between dancers and those seated?
I have barely sat down, but already these things are influencing my mood.
  • Dancers - Do they dance well, connect with the music and navigate with consideration to other dancers?  Or is the dance-floor a struggle, not allowing me to relax and dance intuitively?
  • Partners - Are there dancers there that I want to dance with?
  • The milonga - Does it run smoothly with high energy amongst the dancers?  Or are there some long interruptions and a generally low energy pervading?
And an absolutely fundamental issue:
  • Music - Does it call me to the floor?  Or is it often uninspiring, or even irritating?
Even before any of this has an impact, another question is how I am feeling when I arrive.  Am I physically tired or mentally drained?  Or am I energised?  The factors above may turn my mood around - for the better or for worse.

Casting an eye over these factors I notice that many of them can be heavily influenced by the milonga organisers.  Others rely on the dancers having put effort into developing their dance.

A good milonga with lots of good dancers will get people on the floor with the energy at a high, but that doesn't mean dancing every tanda.  For me, there needs to be time to watch, listen and reflect (all enhancements to learning) and, of course, time to socialise with friends.  And then there are the tandas that are unmissable, and have to be danced, no matter how tired I may feel. That might mean dancing half or at most, two thirds of the tandas, but they will be to music that I love and with partners that are meant for this music.

How you respond to a milonga is very subjective.  What suits you may not suit me.  In Buenos Aires, our favourite milongas tick all the boxes, while others tick only some boxes. In those cases, my response may very well depend on how I feel before I arrive. The good milongas will carry me along regardless ... but I'll still only dance a certain number of tandas.  I need watch-listen-reflect time ... and to rest a little, so that I can give my next partner my total focus and energy.  She deserves no less!


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