The real stuff

2009 January 10

Smallville by oed, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License by  oed

Ah — you dance real milonga (echte Milonga).

After struggling with my milonga for years, this was the ultimate sign I was finally getting somewhere. And one of my favorite compliments ever. I got a tip from the Argentine host to ask this woman to dance, he thought I should dance with someone good. So I did. And was not disappointed. Starting almost right out with a milonga, which would have terrified me only a year earlier. I used to make sure never to dance milonga with someone unknown to me.

Three months in Buenos Aires working on my milonga more or less every day, practicing the rhythm while brushing my teeth, almost being thrown off the roof by Javier because I did so bad; It made a difference. And not only to the milonga. I think my tango changed to the better as well.

In many ways the milonga is the crux of the tango, so few know how to do it well. So often you see people dancing fast tango to milonga music. Which is not the same by far. The milonga appears to be simple, but is not. It is very subtle, and understanding the music is harder, it is not just about the speed. Many of the best milongas aren’t that fast, actually. It is about subtle timing, syncopes and clarity. All of which are also needed in tango, but the lack of them is more easily revealed in the milonga.

I remember we had some friends participating in the 2007 campeonato metropoletano, and is was so much easier to tell the good from the mediocre in milonga. So to find the good dancers, maybe it’s a good idea to watch their milonga.

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