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What Makes Dancing Milonga So Special?

What Makes Milonga Dance So Special?

Marcelo Solis and Mimi dancing milonga at San Mateo Event Center, June 2024.

Milonga, a distinctive variation of Argentine tango, stands out for its vibrant tempo and unique rhythm. Unlike the more dramatic tango, milonga is lively, lighthearted, and infused with a playful spirit. This dance variation not only showcases the technical prowess of tango dancers but also emphasizes the joy and spontaneity of the dance.

The Dance of Mastery and Playfulness

Milonga is often considered the dance where a tango dancer’s skills are truly tested and displayed. The fast-paced nature of milonga requires dancers to execute quick, sharp movements with precision, making it a challenging yet exhilarating form of dance. This is beautifully captured in the lyrics of “Señores, yo soy del centro” by Ángel D’Agostino y su Orquesta Típica with Ángel Vargas, recorded in 1945: “otros creen que en la milonga / se aprecia la calidad,” which translates to “others believe that in the milonga / quality is appreciated.” This lyric highlights the belief that milonga is the true measure of a dancer’s ability.

The Rhythm and Technique of Milonga

Milonga differs from tango not just in tempo but also in rhythm and technique. Milonga follows a 2/4 beat, which is more upbeat compared to the 4/4 rhythm of tango. This tempo demands agility and a different approach to movement. Unlike tango, which often involves intricate footwork and dramatic pauses, milonga is characterized by continuous movement and a more relaxed, playful style.

Expressing Emotions Through Milonga

While tango is often associated with deep emotions and intensity, milonga allows dancers to explore a different set of feelings. It’s a dance that encourages humor, lightness, and an overall sense of fun. This makes milonga not only a technical challenge but also a medium for dancers to express a wider range of emotions, making their dance more dynamic and engaging.

The Cultural Significance of Milonga

Milonga has deep roots in Argentine culture and serves as a testament to the rich history of tango. It is a dance that has evolved over time, blending influences from various dance forms and cultures. This evolution is reflected in the dance’s lively tempo and playful nature, which continue to captivate audiences and dancers alike. By mastering milonga, dancers pay homage to the historical and cultural significance of tango while pushing the boundaries of their own abilities.

Conclusion

Milonga is a special variation of tango that highlights the skill, agility, and emotional range of dancers. It is a dance that celebrates the playful and joyful aspects of tango, providing a dynamic contrast to the more intense and dramatic traditional tango. Whether through its unique rhythm, technical demands, or cultural roots, milonga remains a cherished and vibrant part of the tango tradition.

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Unlocking the True Essence of Tango: Beyond the Dance Moves

Unlocking the True Essence of Tango: Beyond the Dance Moves

Marcelo Solis, an Argentine Tango Maestro, dances with Mimi in an elegant pose. Marcelo is dressed in a pinstriped suit while Mimi wears a red velvet dress, set against a two-tone green background.

Perhaps you were asking yourself: Why a Tango School?

When I receive a new student in my class, I only know that he or she wants to learn to dance. However, teaching to dance Tango involves not only showing the moves but also giving the student a sense of placement, making him or her aware that you cannot just make any move at any time.

I must give the new students a sense of Tango as a whole and 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 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 and how my happiness or unhappiness affects everybody around me. In sum, I learned that everything I do affects everybody and everything in this world.

I have realized the importance of teaching the beauty of Tango.

In my classes, I teach almost all the elements you may have in your checklist that every Tango instructor claims to teach. Name your favorite element; there is a big chance I teach it.

However, the meaning that the move carries within is more important than the element itself.

A while 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 I made my students change partners in my classes. 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 “colgadas” in one class and found it uncomfortable doing “colgadas” with other people.

I told them that learning “colgadas” did not make much sense because if they went to Buenos Aires milongas, they would find out that nobody was doing “colgadas” 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 more than 20 years of teaching Tango in the Bay Area (and more than 30 years teaching Tango in Argentina and worldwide), I have discovered that the main obstacle to teaching a new student is to overcome all the previous ideas about Tango he or she brings to the class and change them into understanding what Tango really is.

Now, you are probably asking: What Tango is in reality?

My answer is that tango is what happens in the milonga. And when I say milonga, my image is that of the best of the most authentic milongas in Buenos Aires.

This guides my instruction, which is why, along with others who are after the same goal, we created the Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires.

Embracing the Cultural Roots of Tango

To truly appreciate and master Tango, one must embrace its cultural roots. Tango is a dance that reflects Argentina’s social, historical, and emotional landscapes projected to the world. The music, the lyrics, the movements—all these elements are deeply intertwined with a way of life. Understanding the origins of Tango provides my students with a richer context for their learning journey.

The Role of Music in Tango

Music is the heart and soul of Tango. Each note and rhythm tells a story. To dance Tango, one must connect with the music on a profound level. This means not just hearing the music but feeling it and interpreting it through movement. My students are encouraged to listen to classic Tango orchestras, understand the different styles, and learn to dance harmoniously with the music.

The Social Aspect of Tango

Tango is inherently social. The dance floor is a space where people come together, communicate nonverbally, and share a unique connection. This social aspect is crucial for understanding Tango. Although not obligatory, the practice of changing partners in class helps dancers adapt to different styles and builds a sense of community. It mirrors the social dynamics of a milonga, where dancers interact with multiple partners, enhancing their social skills and empathy.

Technique and Expression in Tango

While technique is essential, expression is what makes Tango captivating. Each movement in Tango should convey emotion and tell a story. This expressive quality sets Tango apart from other dances. I focus on the precision of steps and helping students express themselves through the dance. This balance between technique and expression makes Tango both challenging and rewarding.

Creating an Authentic Learning Environment

For a Tango school to be truly effective, it must recreate the atmosphere of an authentic milonga. This involves more than just teaching steps—it includes fostering a sense of community, encouraging cultural immersion, and promoting the etiquette and customs of Tango. By creating an environment that mirrors the Buenos Aires milongas, my students experience the true essence of Tango.

The Lifelong Journey of Tango

Learning Tango is a lifelong journey. There is always more to learn, refine, and experience. The joy of Tango lies in its endless possibilities for growth and discovery. I instill in my students a love for this ongoing journey, encouraging them to explore, experiment, create, and continually deepen their understanding of the dance.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the essence of Tango lies in its rich cultural heritage, music, social dynamics, and expressive potential. Our tango school aims to impart technical skills and artistic and emotional depth to the dance. By doing so, I offer students a truly transformative experience that goes beyond the dance floor and resonates in their everyday lives.

The creation of the Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires is a testament to this holistic approach, ensuring that the true spirit of Tango is preserved and celebrated for generations to come.

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“El Entrerriano” by Juan D’Arienzo y su Orquesta Típica, 1946.

“El Entrerriano” by Juan D’Arienzo y su Orquesta Típica, 1946.

The story of “El entrerriano” and its main recordings

With this number the three-section structure that prevailed in the old trend tango began to spread and, more than a hundred years later, “El entrerriano” is still one of the greatest classics of the genre.

The canyengue liveliness of the melody amazed the audience from the first bar.

The dancer José Guidobono, who was present, could not dance as he used to because the spell of those musical notes paralyzed him.

When the number was finished, he approached the composer and suggested,” Why don’t you dedicate it to Segovia?”

He was referring to Ricardo Segovia, a landowner from Entre Ríos, who was making whoopee in the Buenos Aires nights.

Mendizábal told him he would honor him by naming “El entrerriano” his new tango.

Read more about “El entrerriano” at www.todotango.com

Listen and buy:

We are happy to have a collaboration with the people from tangotunes.com from whom some of you may have heard, they do high-quality transfers from original tango shellacs.

It is the number 1 source for professional Tango DJs all over the world.

  • Now they started a new project that addresses the dancers and the website is https://en.mytango.online
    You will find two compilations at the beginning, one tango and one vals compilation in amazing quality.
    The price is 50€ each (for 32 songs each compilation) and now the good news!

If you enter the promo code 8343 when you register at this site you will get a 20% discount!

Thanks for supporting this project, you will find other useful information on the site, a great initiative.

Ver este artículo en español

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“El sueño del pibe” by Osvaldo Pugliese y su Orquesta Típica with Roberto Chanel in vocals, 1945.

“El sueño del pibe” by Osvaldo Pugliese y su Orquesta Típica with Roberto Chanel in vocals, 1945.

Reinaldo Yiso, Argentine Tango lyricist.

Reinaldo Yiso

Lyricist (April 6, 1915 – December 15, 1978)

It was in 1945 when Reinaldo Yiso found wide acclaim with the tango “El sueño del pibe”, recorded that year by Osvaldo Pugliese with his friend and neighbor Roberto Chanel on vocals. 

The subject of soccer approached in this tango produced a widespread famous lyric. 

In “El sueño del pibe” the author reminisces his own times of happiness and illusion that he spent in his youth.

Read more about Reinaldo Yiso at www.todotango.com

Listen and buy:

We are happy to have a collaboration with the people from tangotunes.com from whom some of you may have heard, they do high-quality transfers from original tango shellacs.

It is the number 1 source for professional Tango DJs all over the world.

  • Now they started a new project that addresses the dancers and the website is https://en.mytango.online
    You will find two compilations at the beginning, one tango and one vals compilation in amazing quality.
    The price is 50€ each (for 32 songs each compilation) and now the good news!

If you enter the promo code 8343 when you register at this site you will get a 20% discount!

Thanks for supporting this project, you will find other useful information on the site, a great initiative.

Ver este artículo en español

More Argentine Tango music selected for you:

We have lots more music and history

How to dance to this music?

“Marioneta” by Alfredo De Angelis y su Orquesta Típica with Floreal Ruiz in vocals, 1943.

“Marioneta” by Alfredo De Angelis y su Orquesta Típica with Floreal Ruiz in vocals, 1943.

Floreal Ruiz, Argentine Tango singer.

Floreal Ruiz

Singer (March 29, 1916 – April 17, 1978)

He was undoubtedly a subtle, delicate singer with excellent diction, which allowed the understanding of the lyrics and their dramatics.

In 1943, he joined the orchestra led by Alfredo De Angelis, with whom he recorded eight numbers; the first was “Marioneta”.

Admired by the new generations, he is the model of a way of feeling and interpreting our Tango.

In his adolescence, around 1934, Floreal ventured into singing serenades.

Despite his father’s opposition, he appeared in singers selection contests using pseudonyms.

In 1936, he won the first prize on Radio Fénix.

Read more about Floreal Ruiz at www.todotango.com

Listen and buy:

We are happy to have a collaboration with the people from tangotunes.com from whom some of you may have heard, they do high-quality transfers from original tango shellacs.

It is the number 1 source for professional Tango DJs all over the world.

  • Now they started a new project that addresses the dancers and the website is https://en.mytango.online
    You will find two compilations at the beginning, one tango and one vals compilation in amazing quality.
    The price is 50€ each (for 32 songs each compilation) and now the good news!

If you enter the promo code 8343 when you register at this site you will get a 20% discount!

Thanks for supporting this project, you will find other useful information on the site, a great initiative.

Ver este artículo en español

We have lots more music and history

Learn to dance Argentine Tango