Let’s say you’re in Buenos Aires and you’re looking for a class or milonga. Typically, you might do some research using the internet or follow the advice of someone you don’t know that well, which could lead you to missing out on what only Buenos Aires has to offer in relation to Tango.
This is because Tango is not a commodity. Tango is an apprenticeship. You do not get Tango the way you get gasoline. It’s not like you can go to any place, or the cheapest place, pay, fill up, and leave having acquired Tango. You learn Tango from a “Maestro”.
The responsibility of your Tango teacher is to be the bridge between your life before Tango and your transformation into a milonguera or milonguero. You also have a responsibility on your journey, which will require passion, courage, commitment, discipline, stamina, focus and patience. You must be willing to jump wholeheartedly into Tango.
You want to learn to dance Tango. Why? Because you are meant to do it.
The rest is either preparation or avoidance of it.
If you were in a place affected by war, you would either drop out by hiding away, or escaping; or you would choose a side and fight.
In peace we are able to be good and beautiful, and we should choose to be as such.
Tango is a language that allows you to speak with your whole being. Your entire body is talking, in verses, or in a poetic prose, with an everyday colloquial conversational style that can speak in very deep and charming phrases.
Why should we choose to be charming?
As well as we are always learning, we are always educating others. It is inherent to our human nature. We must charm to bring others into the task of making this world the way we can be proud of it.
Why are we so insecure when we start dancing for the first time? Because we are exposing ourselves. We realize how transparent we become when dancing. We could hide who we are to others by not dancing, even by learning and rehearsing a choreography, perhaps. We can hide ourselves to others by acting as a character instead of being who we are. But Tango is improvised. It requires spontaneity.
Tango is a way to educate you on how to be more like yourself, being proud of it, building on the pieces which are often ignored at work, at the gym, at the bar…
By exposing your weaknesses, you can begin to work on them objectively and improve. Learning to be a milonguera or milonguero requires a sensitivity to its inherent value. This is another area where a Maestro can be valuable.
Right now, Buenos Aires is the only city in the world in which there are certain milongas where this system of ethics and aesthetics is the norm accepted by all the participants. It starts with the hosts, the DJs, the wait staff, the regulars and all others who attend. Are you willing to miss out?
You may like to read also: “The Tango Journey” Read… and “How to best take advantage of my classes?“ Read… and Tango is education”, click here. Also “What is your goal in learning tango?”, click here.
argentine tango, Buenos Aires, classes, lesson, milonguero, philosophy
Tango is a social and partner dance that originated in the city of Buenos Aires, where, together with its music, poetry and culture, the population consider it their identity.
To learn it, you will embrace not only your partner, but Tango itself, its music, culture, and home city.
In my classes, I will guide you into the beauty of Tango music, how to interpret this music with your body, how to enter the dance floor and stay there while you dance. I am going to guide you into the embrace of your partner, into the society of the milonga (Tango dance party), into the culture of Tango, and into the city of Buenos Aires.
In the second half of the eighteenth century, when Tango appeared for the first time, the main social dance was the waltz. Tango continues and intensifies many of the elements already present in the waltz, for example, taking the proximity between partners to the limit and making them dance in close embrace. Another element already present in the waltz is the line of dance, in which all the couples on the dance floor circulate in a counterclockwise direction. Tango also incorporated this, but now the couples do not have to be continuously moving. Now, dancing Tango, they have more freedom and a more creative use of the space.
In order to make you understand “with your body” these characteristics of Tango, and educate your sensitivity in regard to these and many other elements that shape Tango to be what it is: “A unique manifestation of the human potential”, I will train you with exercises and concepts.
If you have the desire, the passion, the stamina, the perseverance and the necessary patience, I will help you be a part of Tango, to be Tango yourself, to be a “milonguero” or “milonguera”.
In response to those who expect to learn patterns and fireworks in my classes, and get disappointed because I am not giving these kids such unhealthy candies, and ask me with a disappointed tone: Is then Tango “JUST” walking?
Yes! If you got nothing inside you: no emotions, no passion, no feelings, if you are an empty shell, if you are a robot that only works and tries to take advantage of everybody… yes… it’s “JUST” walking, as you expressed.
But, if you are a HUMAN BEING, with capital letters, is not.
Your walk is yourself. The way you walk expresses who you are.
If your walk is only utilitarian, your whole life probably is the life of a tool.
I am looking forward to seeing you and dancing with you soon,
argentine tango, Buenos Aires, classes, milonguero, philosophy
Dear students, friends, milongueros and milongueras:
How long since you have started your Tango journey?
A while ago I had a conversation with a student in my class (not one of my regular students). She complained about studying Tango (although not continuously) for three years, but not achieving very much of it. I asked her what milongas she had being going to, since I never saw her in any milonga. I realized from her answer that she was not a regular in the milongas. Well… if after three years of studying Tango you still do not go to milongas… something is not right. Another student (a regular one but returning from a month long break) was feeling a little sad because I gave her corrections about her posture: the basic “please lean forward a little bit, find a soft point of contact with your partner’s face…” which is often difficult to do for ballroom dancers. At the end of the class she said with a crying intonation that she felt her dancing was not improving. I reminded her that the correction about her posture was the same I gave her at her first class (a year ago?), that we had done many exercises in classes, that I gave her drills so she could practice by herself to incorporate these details in the posture, and that I gave her the same correction over and over again many times.
- Posture is essential. Why? When we dance Tango we engage in a multiple faceted experience. If you like a simple description, it is like a diamond, but furthermore, for me, it is like a “string” in the “string theory” of physics, with outside and inside dimensions. One of these facets is purely mechanical: a couple dancing Tango makes a mechanical system. Our posture is, in essence, the way we set up a fundamental piece of that mechanical system. If a part of your car is not well placed or not well shaped, your car won’t run.
- I can teach you, showing what is necessary. I can give you a set of different exercises to do. I can make you do these exercises at a class, but nobody can change your posture or make any other necessary changes but yourself, as well as nobody can do your dance but yourself.
- That takes us to an important realization you have to make in the very beginning of your Tango journey: you will need to make changes in yourself, many kind of changes, many self-explorations, many plain acceptances of corrections, many learning curves. All that will require a great deal of courage. Tango is not about satisfying your ego. It is about Tango itself. It is very important to take a minute, and think about what is our goal with Tango. Be aware that you are about to be part of a community. The natural habitat of that community is the milonga. It is not the class. The class is merely a school to prepare you to be at the milongas. It is not the festivals. They make only exceptional moments in the life of a milonguero. It is not the stage, where Tango is as real as a Hollywood movie or a Broadway production is real life. The life of a milonguero consists of everyday milongas. So, we have to make the milongas our wonderful experience if we want to be milongueros.
Many of you know how much I love to learn and practice martial arts. In a martial art class, when your teacher is giving you corrections, all the oxygen in your lungs and your brain is taken by the fact that you just tried to beat the other person , or avoiding to be knocked out by him or her. Nothing is left to talking back, giving excuses. So, you just listen. And that is great, fundamentally, because you always learn something when you listen. I understand, you have a life that sometimes gets in the way of your desire of dancing Tango. You have a day job; you are stressed out by many factors like the economy, your health, your children, etcetera, etcetera… What I propose, when you get corrected, is to just listen, consider, and try. Do not come back with excuses. There are way too many excuses not to dance well. Our learning process is not a continuum. I understand that you may be tired. Something might be going on in your life, and you cannot focus on your passion as much as you would like to. However, my job is to do what you pay me for: showing you how to dance Tango. I know that you know all that. I know that you know that I know it. I will be patient. After all, I do what Tango does, something older people in Tango always tell you: “Tango is waiting for you”.
argentine tango, Buenos Aires, dancing, lesson, milonguero, philosophy
Perhaps you were asking yourself: Why a Tango School?
When I receive a new student in my class I know that he or she wants to learn to dance. But teaching involves not only showing the moves, but also giving the student a sense of placement, making him or her aware that you cannot just do any move at any time.
So, I must give the new students a sense of Tango as a whole, make them understand that they are learning a culture.
I heard someone calling Tango a “sub-culture”. I do not agree. All the elements I have learned while studying Tango are substantial in the general society, and the broader world culture. I learned the importance of my body as the root of my existence. I learned a lot about my interaction with others, how my happiness or unhappiness affects everybody around me. In sum, I learned that everything I do affects everybody in this world.
I have realized the importance of teaching the beauty of Tango.
In my classes I teach all the elements you may have in your checklist, that every Tango instructor claims to teach. Name your favorite element, I do teach it.
However, more important than the element itself is the meaning that the move carries within.
A week ago, I attended an event related to Tango. I was chatting with a couple. They told me they took some tango classes. They asked me if in my classes I made my student change partners. I replied that, yes, but that it was not obligatory, as I knew many couples liked to remain together during the class.
Then they said they were learning “ganchos” in one class, and that they found uncomfortable doing “ganchos” with other people.
Well, I told them that, anyway, learning “ganchos” did not make much sense because if they went to Buenos Aires’ milongas, they would find out that you were not supposed to perform “ganchos” there.
They were surprised, and, I think, a little incredulous of my assertion. Since they never went to Buenos Aires, they could not tell for sure. But I do.
In my 15 years of teaching Tango in the Bay Area (and 19 years teaching Tango in Argentina and worldwide), I have discovered that the main obstacles in teaching a new student is to overcome all the previous ideas about Tango he or she brings to the class, and change them into what Tango really is.
Now, you are probably asking: What Tango is in reality?
My answer is: Tango is what happens in the milonga. And when I say milonga, my image is that of the very best of the most authentic milongas in Buenos Aires.
This is what guides my instruction, and that is why, along with others who are after the same goal, I created the Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires.
argentine tango, Buenos Aires, classes, milonguero, philosophy
When I go to the supermarket, I buy groceries, take them home, and then do with them pretty much whatever I want.
The same happens with any merchandise I purchase.
If I decide to become a member of a Club, I only take home my membership card , and the pride of belonging to my beloved Club. The Club stays where it is, and I come to the Club for whatever activity (social, sports, etc.) it is for.
When I come to the Club I belong to, I have to observe behavior For example: taking a shower before getting into the swimming pool, no diving, no smoking…
If I do not follow these guidelines, I will first receive a call, and eventually will be expelled from the Club if I keep ignoring these warnings.
When I come to the milonga, I first pay at the entrance. What am I getting for my money? A dance? A glass of wine? A snack?
I may get all that, but I am also receiving something more important. All these are elements that the organizers of the milonga provide you with the intention of enhancing the experience of attending.
The money I pay at the entrance is used to organize it: pay the rent, arrange the chairs and tables, clear and clean the dance floor; the lighting, the ventilation of the room, the DJ, the sound system, the personnel that takes care of everything, and for all the freebies organizers give you to make you and all the milongueros and milongueras feel more than welcome to the home of Tango.
The milonga is where Tango lives, where Tango is kept alive.
When you are at the milonga, whether a well known milonguero/a or a new good student, you are making possible that Tango lives. You bring Tango to life, in your body, in everything you do with your body, not by dancing only, but by everything you do.
Once we start dancing, we realize that everything we do is dancing. Dancing feels so natural, It makes us feel so at home in our bodies that it makes sense to see all aspects of our life from the point of view of being at the milonga.
The fee we pay at the entrance of the milonga is not the price of what we are getting for that money. The $10 does not make a milonga a profitable business. The true organizers of true milongas do it for passion of Tango, not as a business. With that $10 you just contribute to the necessary setup of the milonga. But in reality the milonga is pretty much made by you.
Since it is you who actually makes the milonga, the milonga will be the way you are: the quality of the dance, the behavior, the outfits of the dancers, the ambiance, all these characteristic of the milonga are what you bring with you.
Not liking the milonga you attend is comparable with living in a neighborhood that you do not like.
Everyone at the milonga is essential. So everyone must be aware of having the responsibility of making the milonga a good place, even and especially, for having fun, as we are responsible for the world we live in, and particularly, for being happy.
In that sense, the organizer of the milonga is not the one accountable for how a milonga is.
argentine tango, Buenos Aires, classes, dance, milonguero, philosophy