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Posts from the ‘BsAs 09’ Category


Joy of dancing

This was meant to be the last post related to my trip to Buenos Aires in 2009, which unfortunately I never managed to complete satisfactorily, till now.

“Why do we dance Tango?”

To many people, and I am presuming that you are at least keen enough to have devoted some time to take classes to learn to dance Tango well since you are reading this blog, this may seem like a no-brainer question?

From my observations during the trip to Buenos Aires, the local Argentinians probably took up Tango for the following basic (although this is by no means authoritative) reasons: for the company (e.g. keeping in touch with friends, singles looking for companionship, etc.), earn a living (as instructors, organisers, etc.) but, perhaps most likely of all, for the pure enjoyment of Tango music and the dance itself.

On the other hand, for the endless stream of Tango tourists like ourselves, who finally made the long trek to Tango mecca, I suspect the most common reason for going to Buenos Aires is to improve our dancing. I mean, after spending quite a fortune in money and time, wouldn’t you want to get your money’s worth? We want to perfect our techniques and aim to be a better dancer in the technical sense.

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Grocery list

To add on to the main lessons I learnt from BsAs, here I attach a short list – to serve as a reminder for myself – of the important technical things I picked up, and need to revise…

Group classes at Escuela de Argentino Tango

  • steps and leads that can be used for milonga (as in the music style)
  • lossening of the embrace and yet have a closer connection with my partner
  • some slightly fancy enrosque patterns that requires the leader to be a bit more “selfish” in keeping his balance/axis (in the highly-hyped Villa Urquiza style 😈 )


  • how to dance freely
  • going with follower’s axis/weight so that she can also move freely and not be restricted by me
  • the mental attitudes to project

At the milongas

  • feeling the music
  • joy of dancing
  • truly dance with each other
  • patience and yet be quick to react to music and situation on the floor

Valuable lessons from BsAs

I have been meaning to write a summary of my experiences of BsAs. This is a quick attempt to try to capture some of the most important lessons (majority below is from the classes I took) I learnt during the one-month stay.

  • Dance freely. This is a concept I cannot stress enough. In particular, 1) Not to feel constrained to dance in a particular style and 2) not to be afraid to make mistakes – they may lead to new “creations”. And, as a teacher I respect highly put it succinctly, “to dance you need to move!”
  • For leaders: allow your partner the freedom to move and express herself, through your embrace (which by the way does not mean opening the embrace if you are already in close embrace… :shocked:) and the next point.
  • Follow your follower – physically, not just some mental delusion…
  • Listen to your partner. Respond to her mood, energy and musicality. For followers, assert yourself in this equal partnership we call tango.
  • Dance with passion. Move only when you feel compelled to do so because of the music.
  • Patience. This applies not only in developing navigational skills in crowded conditions but also in learning and adapting to every new partner you dance with.
  • Most importantly of all, have fun in every dance! Go with the energy you feel on any night, whether it’s high or low.

Flavours of milongas

After attending a variety of milongas during my brief stay in Buenos Aires (from the ultra traditional to something from the left field), it seems that there are two types of “milonga cultures”, for lack of a better term. By the way, I am not suggesting that they are mutually exclusive, but only that some milongas are more conducive for one or the other types of behaviours, and they do tend to co-exist within the same milonga, to a more or less degree.

The first type is where people – mostly going alone – go for the sole purpose of dancing Tango. Apart from few simple greetings when people first arrive, there is really very social interaction except on the dance floor at the start of each song – especially less so among the ladies. When people feel moved by the music, they cabeceo, dance, separate to return to their seats and the process is repeated all over again when the next “good” tanda comes up. Some examples are the milongas at Plaza Bohemia and El Beso.

Then there are the milongas where people tend to go with a bunch of friends and where more socialising/dancing among friends occur. In general, the mood tends to be more informal. Some typical examples include Niño Bien, Salon Canning, Sunderland and, well, La Viruta. From my experience, these milongas also tend to be more (single) visitor-friendly than others. Naturally there are still many more in between the two extremes.

Putting aside stylistic considerations, it’s therefore not surprising which types of milongas the young people (Argentinian or otherwise) preferred…