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Posts from the ‘Social Dancing’ Category



I think, as in all walks of life, any tango communities can have people who are delusional.

I believe it all goes back to how differently people grapple with new concepts, or in some cases how they have been led “up the creek” by one or more teacher-figures, as it were. 🙂 It is often amusing to see the consequences because of these slightly skewed interpretations.

For example, it may not be uncommon to see a couple practicing hard at some fixed choreographies. This, even if executed awkwardly, is fine by me as long as the couple is not under the illusion that the same steps can be tried out on a unsuspecting partner on a social dance floor. Or that they think that they are actually preparing for social dancing, where each part in a dancing couple moves by listening to the proper leads/follows of the other. Otherwise, to each their own!

Another common misconception about Golden Age tango music is that it’s really only for beginners, and full of rhythmic stuff*? Or so people interested in using alternative music would have you believe… Actually I have no specific disdain for using alternative music – as long as it is the music that can bring people to dance, to the music that is. After all, tango is a dance which yearns for an emotional connection to the music you dance to. However, I do take issues when people consider alternative music as something superior and essential for “survival” of tango music, or that tango nuevo is somehow more “interesting” for the masses when the very same advocates still have trouble walking in flats to the beat… 😯

* The irony is that the same people who made these claims don’t seem to notice the heavy rhythm in techno-style music from Gotan Project, for example.


Salon or milonguero?

Melina, of the Melinda-Detlef fame, recently had something to say about tango styles. What she had written reminded me of my own experiences at a recent tango festival. I do agree with her overall thesis, that tango de salon is a sufficient description for social tango, and should not be used as a tag to separate dance styles between Susana Miller’s use of tango milonguero or Jorge Dispari’s use of Villa Urquiza = tango de salon.

Having taken classes with teachers who dance in a style that is suitable for crowded downtown milongas* in Buenos Aires (nowadays usually associated with the style prominently popularised by Susana Miller, as mentioned in Melinda’s piece), I feel that even here there can be quite distinct differences. As a postscript and before I digress too much, I suppose this is par of the richness that some are lamenting when they complain about tango “clones”!?

To me this “cloning” or “fashionable dance styles” are not really as much of problem as some people make out to be because it’s just indicative of how people came to experience tango. In the old days, people might learn from or were heavily influenced by their peers/elders, hence a style would likely remain dominant in any given barrio. In addition, from what I have heard, due to the relative isolation of different barrios, various styles usually remained untainted. In contrast, nowadays increases in the number of teachers available and fewer men practicing with other men before they can attend a milonga, people will naturally dance in the way they have been taught. I don’t think people should be faulted for trying to learn something new!? With more dancing mileage, things will surely and certainly change. It’s just a question of time.

* I think for the purpose of discussion, this long-winded description is necessary to avoid further confusion.



With the closing of Maipu 444 in Buenos Aires as a tang venue (the building was sold apparently), various milongas held weekly in that relatively small dance floor on the second floor probably had to scramble for alternatives in the last couple of months. Even some of my friends in Singapore who have been to this iconic location have lamented, as it were, an end of an era. For the detailed comings-and-goings of milongas once held at Maipu 444, please see Sallycat’s excellent update (accurate as of February 2011).

Relocation of Cachirulo – milonga for the ultra-traditionalists – to Club Villa Malcolm, better known for its nuevo associations, was a surprise to me initially. The following is a video of the inauguration that took place a couple of days ago on 5th March).

As can be seen, this clip really bears out what I have already known: a different organiser, with his/her preferences in seating arrangement, lighting and of course choice of DJs/music (not so apparent from such a short clip) can completely transform the same venue. Contrast this with the usual clips and photos one sees of Villa Malcolm. Perhaps, with the change in location and a larger dance floor, I felt the atmosphere was a little more relaxed than what I remembered on Saturday nights. Hopefully, too, in time, the same milonga can attract an even larger group of quality dancers that Cachirulo has been known for, and not the opposite as a result of the relocation.


Organising milongas

A tongue-in-cheek vision of a good milonga.

While I don’t agree with everything shown here (food, and no mention about teaching on the dance floor, for example), for me some of the take-home messages are:

  • Good music – with a not-too-shabby sound system that can produce consistent quality of sounds,
  • Good floor (not necessarily dust-free but at least should be stable and safe to dance on!),
  • Considerate dancing which becomes even more acute as the size of the dance floor gets smaller,
  • Pleasant atmosphere, which from experience is largely dependent on the attitude of the host.

On a more serious note, I recommend highly to anyone contemplating (or even if you are already organising events) to start a milonga to read: “How to organise a milonga”. Almost all of the major points of ensuring a good event are covered, as anyone with some hands-on experience can attest to.

If you are already organising a regular milonga, how many of the issues listed have you considered? If not, probably not too late to learn something new and time to take action! 🙂