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December 12, 2011


Had a conversation the other day which gave me a new perspective on the roles played by the milongueros in Buenos Aires.

I had always imagined (or “misled” to have the impression?? 🙂 ) that the milongueros as we know were more or less the torch-bearers of tradition and everything old-school!? Not that there is anything wrong with that, mind you, because otherwise we won’t be able to get glimpses of how tango was back in the Golden Age, 50-60 years ago.

However, perhaps due to the “competition” to dance with good followers, or entire nights of dancing to only one orchestra*, rivalries between barrios, lack of any one dominant style (more teachers??), etc., the milongueros were able to create many things which were distinctive and unique, both for themselves individually and at milongas at different barrios. Here I am not really talking about “innovating” as in the original spirit of Naveira/Chicho/Salas (and definitely not the modern-day tango nuevo) which for me has its place. I am referring to the act of pushing the boundaries of what was possible without opening the embrace, and discovering subtle ways of dancing to the music. It’s a pity that there are fewer and fewer examples of that variety from the Golden Age era every year.

* There is evidence to suggest that orchestras such as D’Arienzo, Di Sarli, Troilo, etc., played at one place for the whole night.

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