A very talented, outspoken, colleague of mine asked me this a while back during a break we had in one of our morning of meetings for musicians that teach teachers how to teach music. Well, that was a very interesting question, but one that really makes most Argentine social tango dancers laugh, and laugh out loud.
My immediate response was “No…Bob…let’s just think about this a moment, how could we all (tango social dancers) circumnavigate the dance floor safely with others doing that at the same time?”
Hmmm, his look of surprise and concern was quickly forthcoming. “You are right Isabella, how could that happen?”
What a brilliant and quick mind he had. Immediately he understood that in a social context, jumps and kicks just cannot happen.
This begs the question “What does happen on the tango social dance floor?”
Here is a very recent video taken in one of the more famous places.
Many people that dance regularly in the dancehalls (milongas) in Buenos Aires, (milongueros and milongueras) just say that ‘life’ happens there.
In the milongas, people socialize, listen to tango music from the Golden Age (1940’s), dance a soft intimate style of tango that mainly plays with walks and turns moving in spirals that is respectful of all the participants.
Often people have bottles of champagne on their little tables in buckets of ice, tall glasses of Fernet-Branca and Coke, or plastic bottles of water with accompanying glasses. The table often includes mints and even hand santizer nowadays.
Upon entering the milonga people pay an entrance fee (minimal) and are escorted to a seat assigned by the milonga organizer. Oftentimes the ladies are seated on one side of the room and gentleman on the other. This facilitates the non-verbal invitations to dance of looking and nodding (mirar, cabeceo).
People are there to have a great time and they make every effort to be well-dressed and perfumed.
The Argentine tango social dance scene is full of passion and sparkles.
This alternate world thrives, it pulses and keeps everyone part of it desiring more.
Please also see “The end of a beautiful evening”…
Recently I was incredibly surprised to see my image on the newsfeed in facebook with my picture advertising that there would be a birthday celebration for me at the beloved “el maipu” milonga (tango social dance) here in Buenos Aires.
What a fantastic idea!
Having invited a few friends, enjoying some local champagne and laughing a lot….the organizer Dany whispered something in my ear like…so we will have a birthday vals for you.
I had actually never seen a Birthday vals done in this milonga before so didn’t take it very seriously. Once the announcements were done and my Birthday mentioned, Dany suggested that since I had blown out the candle on the Birthday cake too early (or late)(who can remember with all the champagne) I would have to dance a Birthday vals in front of everybody.
Once having stood up a friend of mine danced a little spiral of the vals with me and very quickly someone else cut in and danced a little phrase etc…. etc…it was a lot of unexpected fun and really felt great to have the organizers invite me to do this with all the regulars. This milonga has been a regular place for me for over six years.
Thank you to all the regular dancers.
A special thanks to Lucy and Dany of “El Maipu” that run a truly generous, friendly milonga (dance) that makes everyone feel ‘at home’.
Click the image to enjoy the full issue!
Often while in the milongas (dancehalls), such as La Nacional, run by Lucy and Dany on Mondays, (El Maipu) in Buenos Aires, I find myself peering off in the distance staring at the magical footwork on the dancefloor, my absolute favourite of all time being Juan Carlos Pontoriero.
His elegance of movement, unending smile and absolute joy, made you desire to strive to be a much better dancer. The grace and polish in his footwork to me … legendary.
Thank you for inspiring me to keep on with this wonderful tango journey.
In Coqueta, by Orquesta Tipica Victor, 1929, the very first notes viscerally punch me in the stomach and make me feel melancholy and sad. My whole body wants to move in slow motion recalling all old losses in this mood of death and disaster. During this social tango we walk together, play with the rhythm and pause.
From my side step at 1:01, I try and create a little adornment that is languid and full of beauty. My partner pauses for me and pulls me in a little closer to begin the next part of his lovely intimate walk. The tango is a soft, loving game or dialogue. We internalize the music and freely interpret the movement based on the social tango dancing style of Buenos Aires. Each of us moves from a loving, longing, respectful centre that knows this is an ephemeral moment in time, only making our tango, Coqueta, more remarkable.
Thank you to Paul Akmajian and the wonderful community in Tuscon and Green Valley, that completely encircled me from the first moment. A special thanks to Niki Glen and Cristian Sierra who invited us to dance a third tango, that he selected.
All my life three passions have been travelling with me from inception. Music, dance and art. No matter what, they have kept me inspired and always with the desire to seek out more.
At a very young age with a family that believed in the arts, the road has been a very compelling one.
The joy of the arts has been fundamental. Building on a strong familial theme of continuing education, for life, I have found myself getting as much out of participating in classes as constructing and teaching them.
A lifelong pattern of studying something deeply that you love and then share the essence of it with others emerged.
Inspiring a few along the way is thrilling.
Hence the blog, in this medium I hope to affect, motivate, share my experiences, reflect, and share my passion of Argentine tango.
Thanks for visiting us and we hope all of you follow (or continue to follow) your passions towards happiness in the New Year.
Please enjoy this beautiful tango vals by Osvaldo Pugliese, Navidad.