Tango Argentino > To claim or not to claim...that is your milonga!

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Heather2007, Oct 22, 2007.

  1. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    One London teacher quoted these words on her weekly letter:

    "Milonga is one of the three dances from a Tango family. You can't
    claim you can dance Tango if you have not also mastered this cheerful
    and rhythmical dance"

    I'm undecided as to whether the statement true. (Still mulling it). What do you think? If, you are reasonably (or notably) proficient at following or leading tango but shun the milonga can you still claim to be able to dance Tango?
  2. Twirly

    Twirly New Member

    Yes, that's interesting. Maybe it depends on whether you see "tango" as something separate from "vals" and "milonga", or if you see all three dances as part of a larger "tango" family. Then you'd have to be able to do all three to say you could do (the larger) "tango".

    I'm not one of those people who see milonga as a separate dance from tango. Maybe historically it is, but these days I'd say it's the same dance done in a different style (different steps, or at least done differently and more/less, different mood etc.)

    So I guess I would be inclined to agree with the teacher. But obviously I don't really care if people go around claiming to dance tango even though they don't dance milonga (but I would feel sorry for them as milonga is so fantastic!).

    And anyway, what level do you need to reach to be able to say that you "can dance tango"? What does it really mean?

    If you mean that you are a GOOD tango dancer, then I think that includes being able to dance rhythmically and be able to play with the rhythm, which is what milonga is about in many ways. Tango isn't just moving slowly and elegantly to Di Sarli, or doing chilled out nuevo moves to Bajofondo.
  3. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I dunno. Meh. I definitely think there's some truth to the statement. Otherwise, I kind of think it's like me saying (in a very fanciful world), "I dance Standard. But not Foxtrot." Seems a bit odd.

    One thing which is interesting, though... IME, it seems fairly common to have leaders who are perfectly comfortable and rather proficient with tango and vals, completely fall apart when it comes to milonga. Despite the fact that it uses the same steps, and can be considered just a different style...there certainly seems to be something about it which a lot of men seem to have a harder time leading. Seems that I've found the best dancers (in general) to be the ones who have mastered milonga.
  4. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    That's a good question and perhaps deserves to be a Thread of its own. The phrase "what's one man's meat...." comes to mind.
  5. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Maybe because we like "tango" for a reason, and the feeling of milonga is different from tango or vals.
  6. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Yeah, but why is it always milonga that gets left out? You never hear of people saying that they love tango and milonga, but just won't do vals. (I've never heard it, anyway.)
  7. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    From my experience of viewing those as well as dancing with, men tend to struggle more with, and staying on, the beat of the rat-a-tat-tat sounds of a fast milonga. Many a man has excused himself off the floor for that reason. In much way the same way one finds it hard just to click or tap toe to the beat in any genre of music. A foot deaf kinda thing as opposed to being tone deaf. Maybe?
  8. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member


    To be fair, I don't lead and have never tried it. (Have thought about taking lessons to learn to lead, but I just have way too much fun following to want to give that up.) So if it's just that much more difficult, I can accept that. But why, then, would they be able to stay on the beat with tango or vals?

    My gut is that a lot of the moves that work well for tango or vals don't translate quite so well to milonga, because of the speed involved. Especially if you're going to go the extra step of doing milonga con traspie. Furthermore, milonga seems to get glossed over a bit, almost like it's not considered as serious or worthy as tango or vals, so most people don't actually really learn it or study it. It seems like people are kind of left to their own devices to learn how to adapt the steps to the rhythm. And, since it's difficult, I wonder if people just give up with it.

    Also, it seems to me to be a different sort of musical interpretation. Perhaps people are less sure of how to interpret based more on rhythm than on lyrical/melodic elements.

    Hmmm...don't know that this is making any sense. Apologies.
  9. Twirly

    Twirly New Member

    Yeah, I agree that it isn't taught very much, so you really need to learn it on the floor. I know a lot of followers, and not just leaders, who are scared of milonga because it's "so fast", so they don't want to do it. And so they never learn.

    I'm still kind of scared when I'm dancing with someone new! If you screw up it tends to be more noticeable in milonga than in tango.
  10. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Screwing up in a milonga is noticeable but far more forgiving as it is such a fun dance. :p
  11. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I would probably tend to agree with the teacher as well. The three dances are part of a family and I think it would be like going to school and studying art and learning to paint and not experiementing with the different kinds of painting mediums... like oil versus watercolor or acrylic...they each use different techniques and a have different "feeling" to what you can do with them.

    I wouldn't hassle anyone who decides that milonga wasn't their style (too bad!) but I think to be well rounded you'd at least need to have some experience with it.

    I certainly agree with Peaches that it gets glossed over alot, and I think most guys find the rhythm more difficult. We've had to hunt sometimes to find classes for it, but like any other thing, if you want it you'll find a way to do it.

    For myself, tango and milonga are my favorites and vals is second place, though with the right partner....any of the 3 could be my favorite at the time!
  12. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    I would venture to say that, this would be true. To be able to claim to have conquered Tango, you need to be able to master... Ok, lead the Tango-triumverate well (i.e. Tango, Vals, & Milonga).

    It took me the longest to learn and lead milonga well. I decided to be proficient in Tango and Vals well first, then, Milonga. :confused:

    Why? Milonga goes so fast that you need to be able to process information, analyze and deliver your intent, coordinate your own body, transmit your intent to your follow, to the music to make it work. A bit much for a beginner. :headwall:

    Once I was able to dance the Tango, and the Vals WITHOUT thinking (e.g. it comes naturally now), that was the only time I was able to train myself to do milonga. :raisebro:
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Something is wrong with this picture.

    Milonga is basically a one step. Saturday night I danced milonga with a woman who said she had taught ballroom. It was at the country western place and they were playing a faster song that most people did two step to (although probably not fast enough to keep up with the music).
    I told her we were doing One Step.
    After the first "break" in the song, which we hit rather roughly, I told her that there were more breaks coming up, and that we would be hitting those, too.
    When they came along, we were into a grapevine, um... giro, and she streched out her back step and landed solidly when the break came.
    We even danced in "crossed system" for a while.

    Listen for the dominant beat or pulse in the music. Milonga is 2/4. Dance on the 2s. Use traspie (the "syncopated" or quick steps usually in triples) less and less if the music is faster.
    Don't worry that there might be special patterns for milonga. Do simple waking steps, "single time" rock steps, and changes of direction. Take really small steps if the music is really fast.
    Folowers should keep their weight towards their partner or they will miss the change of direction on the rock steps. You also need a more solid than usual connection for turns and pivoting movements.
    You should both stay on that dominant beat, unless you feel comfortable with traspie.
    Think of it as One Step.
    It should be fun.
  14. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    True, and I suspect the reason is that Vals is a lot more like Tango than Milonga is. To me, Milonga has a different feel / mood to it (faster, more bouncy, and certainly not the same "connection"). Vals has a similar mood to Tango, but it's simply danced to songs with a different meter to them 6/8 rythym rather than 4/4.
  15. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Of all the dances of AT I like milonga. And I'm an AT newbie.
  16. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Interesting. I don't get that impression at all. (Not saying you're wrong, just that I don't get the same feelings.)

    To me, tango is (generally) very contemplative and melancholy...or intense...whereas vals is (generally) more romantic and lyrical. I suppose, though, that tango and vals are closer to each other than either is to milonga.
  17. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    It may depend on the song selection as well. I suspect I gravitate more to Tangos that are lyrical and romantic, and now that I think about it, a higher percentage of the Vals that I hear, do tend to be lyrical.

    A question, is it possible for a song to be both romantic and melancholy (say like Di Sarli's Bahia Blanca, Mirame de frente by Rodriguez, or even Otra Luna by Libedinsky)?
  18. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Which teacher? (I can't believe it was Bianca or Kicca, so that narrows it down...)

    Errrm, it's a point of view?

    In the milongas I've been to, there's usually a few Milongas (!) played, along with a few Vals-es and the "normal" tango - so I guess it makes sense to say that to to get the most from a normal milonga, you shoud be able to dance to those 3 types of music.

    Having said that, I was at Negracha last Friday, and when they played some Vals tracks, I saw a grand total of 1 couple doing what I'd call Vals dancing. So I don't think it's compulsory or anything.

    Weeeellll, I guess it all depends on what you define as "Tango" :)

    Basically, it sounds like she's trying to sell Milonga lessons.
  19. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

  20. Me

    Me New Member

    What, is enrollment in her milonga class low? :rolleyes:

    What was this statement a part of? It might help me better understand what she is saying if I could see the entire piece this quote was pulled from. As a stand-alone statement it reads as tiresome tango snobbery.

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