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December 13, 2003

Milonga & connection

Had the long-awaited milonga at the History Museum last night. Actually, there was a few excuses for the party – not that they were needed, mind you. For example, there was the official Tango day (11 December), some birthdays, and it’s (close to) Christmas after all!

Despite a few mishaps even before the event got under way, e.g. some dreaded tomatoes, and the caterer getting lost, really happy to say that the milonga was well-attended. Roughly half of the people were relatively new-comers to our Tango scene. In fact, many people stayed right up till the finish, which was 2am! Of course, thanks must go to the museum staff for staying behind and allowing us to go on well past the originally agreed time.

Prior to the start of the milonga, Markov gave a public talk about his 3-month stay in Buenos Aires, the Mecca of Tango. During the talk, he mentioned that part of the reason for making the trip was to discover this mysterious connection that exists between couples while dancing the Tango. His main realisation from his trip is that, aside from the required techniques, there was something more spiritual when two people immerse themselves totally in the music for those few minutes of a Tango track.

He also discussed his deeper appreciation of Tango music, which I can immediately relate to. For me, it is clear that without an appreciation of the music such as the mood, the under lying rhythm, and the subtle changes in tempo and energy, it is difficult to move beyond the executing-the-steps stage. As someone had put it quite elegantly, we as dancers are like instruments, also partaking in the Tango experience as the music is played during the milonga.

For me, the early attraction to Tango was rather straightforward: I saw people dancing Tango in the park during my first trip to Europe and was intrigued by what I saw. The interest was later rekindled after watching the movie The Tango Lesson by Sally Potter.

Then, rather unexpectedly, I found Tango in Singapore. This was followed by a period where I diligently attended workshops (few and far in between at that time) and practicas, but after the initial months found that the progress was slowing to a crawl. Thinking back now, I think I was simply going through the motions without much thought or feelings. In fact, during this period, someone even complained that my movements were becoming routine and ‘boring’, which I suppose became the impetus to search for ways to improve and seek experiment/invent with new variations!? 😉

On a more serious note, at about the same time, I became more interested in Tango music and invested much time (and money!) in building my personal Tango collection of “danceable songs“, predominantly by orchestras from the Golden Age. I am confident of being able to relate to quite a few orchestras by now. Well, the proof of the pudding is in its taste, as people are fond of saying. Happy to say that at least my pretense at musical interpretation seems to be well-received by the people I have danced with so far, especially recently.

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