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September 28, 2006


Milonga, milonguita?

It’s perhaps rather confusing to new-comers to our small Tango community in Singapore that the words “Milonga” and “Milonguita” are used almost interchangeably to mean pretty much the same thing – a Tango dance party in this context. In fact, I sometimes wonder, when we use such terms, if we really have a full understanding of the original intended meanings ourselves? According to the Guide to Tango terminology on Stephen Brown’s website,

Milonguita – Questionably, an affectionate diminutive for the milonga.

So, it seems that a milonguita is actually a kind of a smallish milonga?

The next logical question is then: small in what sense? The size of the dance floor, maybe? Well, (in a serious tone, tongue in cheek…) I am sure that dance floors of all milongas held in Buenos Aires are huge*!?!? 🙄 Or, should we just consider the attendance? Again, this is a relative concept in my opinion because, for a large community, even 100 people may be considered small, but, for a small community, a regular attendance of 40 may be considered excellent! An interesting extension is the following possibility: can a Milonga be demoted to a Milonguita as the community grows and matures?

This begs the question: what are the differences between the two, if any? I will try to offer an alternative based on personal experiences which is still consistent with the definition above.

A Milonga is a larger Tango party where there is a good chance that you won’t know everyone well, i.e. a higher percentage of strangers (or acquaintances). A Milonguita on the other hand is a party where everyone is more likely to know each other reasonably well, and quite comfortable in each other’s company. While the music, dancing and all the external frills may be identical, it’s the people dynamics which set them apart. Perhaps if I ever get the chance to travel to Buenos Aires, I can test my theory there – not that I have heard of any milonguitas there, I must say…

Finally, to pre-empt any questions from new dancers and the certain thorough confusion it’s going to cause, my standard answer from now on will be: Milonga, Milonguita, whatever… It’s a party for you to enjoy the music and the company of your friends. 😆

*You can see some excellent examples here and the links at the bottom of the page.

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  1. eric
    Dec 19 2011

    I think Milonguita has sprung up by people who think it “COOL” to start using a fancy word. Its a Milonga. Not something like the Lunfardo “language” that sprung up for the locals to use. Is amazing but the world is full of people trying to impress with things like milonguita

  2. Jan 3 2012

    Haha, Eric, you are quite right! “Milonguita” is indeed often just for marketing, as has happened here too.

  3. Daniel
    Feb 18 2012

    in Buenos Aires a milonguita is a young woman of doubtful, shady reputation, who attends milongas in a quest for generous men 🙂

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