Milongas we host in Tucson
Milonga a Definition
A milonga is the event where we dance to tango music. The milonga carries several attributes that most other dances do not. The Milonga comes with the following format the world over. One can expect this from Sydney to London from Buenos Aires to Paris from New York to San Francisco. The milonga is laid out the way because tango is a complex dance form, with the ever needed and desire to improvise the following is to be expected at a authentic “MILONGA” in the style of Buenos Aires:
- Tanda – A tanda is a grouping of 4 songs (short milongas sometimes use 3 songs, in Buenos Aires and larger cities where the milongas are 3+ hours 4 song tandas are the norm) by the same orchestra, the same mood, the same genre and usually even recorded and released in the same year. One dances the entire tanda with their partner. This is an important part of the culture for a number of reasons. With a stranger it might take a full tanda to smoothly settle into a comfortable tango movement with your partner. There is a warm up period in the first song. A get to know one another period in the second. The finding the music and sequences in both partners during the third song. Then the all important dance that happens in the fourth song.
- Cortina – In between the tandas a short non-tango song is played which is an indication that the tanda is over and it is time to change partners. The cortina plays a big role in setting the the energy for the milonga, it helps if it is up beat and is well off the tango genre.
- Ronda – this is the look and direction of the group that is dancing. Tango is a traveling spot dance, meaning that the dancers are drifting line of dance (counter-clock-wise) as they also turn in place. Generally speaking steps against the line of dance are avoided, though on sparse floors or when there are several step between couples and it is safe to do so a step or two might be seen moving against line of dance. A ronda should gently flow toward line of dance with a nice space between couples.
- The Cabeceo – the infamous cabeceo (it means to nod) teh cabeceo is a look that passes between to dancers to indicate that they want to dance together. The cabeceo like all of the codigos of the milonga come from the milongas in Buenos Aires. Functionally the cabeceo is a convenient and fast way to get a dance across a crowded room. Line of sight is speed of light. If you are aware of your surroundings and friends at the end of the cortina all it takes is a look to get a dance. It does take practice and awareness in order to work. If one gets lost in conversation during a tanda when they are not dancing it is easy to talk right through the cortina and miss the next tanda and an opportunity to dance. Because of the structure of the milonga it takes practice to learn to get invited or accepted to a tanda.
It is advisable to finish the tanda. It is known world wide as a message if the couple do not finish the tanda, it may well connote poor behavior on the part of the leader. It might make men think that the lady is a poor dancer. Think twice before abandoning the tanda before its conclusion, think about the message you want to send if you do not finish the tanda with your partner. As a rule of thumb do not accept a tanda that you are not sure you can finish.
The tandas usually run in the following format: tango, tango, vals, tango, tango, milonga. Milonga, Vals and Tango are all genres within the tango genre. The tandas are the secret to a good flow and positive energy at the milonga. A good DJ will see to it that the energy in the room is flowing and moving from romantic to dramatic to playful and back again with the mood and flow of the songs and orchestras selected for the tandas.
Once you have spent years of your life and discipline in study and practice, you will want to get dances with good dancers. This should be easy since during this time you have met people in local classes and practicas. If you are new, dance with the beginners and intermediate dancers, you will actually enjoy a dance more with someone near your level. Ask one of your friends you met in class to dance with you. Stay alert for cortinas and be sure you are making eye contact with the room at large if you want to dance.
Never take it personally if you are not getting dances – well provided you brushed your teeth, you are wearing deodorant and your hygiene is up to par – dancing tango seems very personal but in truth it is a reflection of ones practice and study, not ones talents or looks.It is not uncommon to truly and genuinely like someone but be at totally different levels of comprehension in the dance or just not have good dance chemistry. This has nothing to do with age, beauty or attire. Your getting tandas or not will depend more on your ability to dance the tango than it will on how you look. It does help to be happy and upbeat, but that is a normal in anything. Sitting on the sidelines with a sad or rejected face will not help you to get dances.
Personal Note from Rusty
In the past I have accidentally hurt the feelings of those I care about, I hope to avoid that in the future by writing this note:
I teach, practice and train scores of people and this can make it hard to dance with those that I am not studying, practicing or working with. There are even nights when I cannot get a tanda with every one of my students at the milonga. If I miss you it would not be a reflection of how much I like or respect you as a person or friend.
In my life I live and breathe tango, that is the choice I made. Tango is not just what I do for a living, it is a life style I have chosen. Nowadays there are some really good dancers in Tucson that one can find a nice tanda with… I know this because I have trained many of them myself. If I haven’t danced with you and you would like to dance with me, please feel free to ask, but please don’t be offended if I have too many commitments in that moment to make it happen right there and then, let’s keep trying and eventually we will dance. The easiest way to get on my dance card is to come to our classes or to study with me one on one.
I love what I do and I genuinely like all people. I wish you have tons of yummy tandas!