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’.