Wednesday, June 17, 2009

BA to date

So far, it has been a good trip, there are things I really like, things that amuse me, and some things that I don't like at all. All of the above is subject to change without notice however.... ;o)

I have to say that I really really love the traditional milongas. The vibe is great, whether I am at a large table of new friends or a small table with a couple of friends, I like the atmosphere. And I like cabeceo. It took me exactly two nights to get it down, it is not hard at all, I just had to get over my North American training that staring is rude. It is. Unless you are in a milonga! :o)
I have had some amzaing dances with men who have been dancing 50, 60, 65+ years. There are no volcadas, colgadas, no -adas period. But their musicality is amazing. They know every note of every layer of every song, and they will dance on whatever note they most fancy. Most will sing or hum to their partner, which I find incredibly sweet. The embrace is firm, yes, but completely unrestrictive. I can pivot very easily, although dissassociation is an absolute must when dancing with them. And I can actually feel them dancing not only with me, but with those around us. Navigation is not even an issue. I have also danced with several young "old milongueros" in-training, and it is nice to see the traditions being passed down.

I thought that perhaps in dancing with the milongueros, I would have to become "passive" again, give up being active. And that is not the case at all. As with all leaders, active following may or may not be welcome. But I did find that those leaders who have a sense of playfulness in their dance welcome an active follower, and in fact, will up the ante on you! It is great, and challenging, because one has to become active without a large "vocabulary"- it is mostly in embelishments and musical phrasing.

The Young Generation milongas. These are extremely tough, at least for me they have been. The younger generation milongas, Villa Malcolm, La Viruta, Praktika8 - are more of a social outing for friends. People arrive in a group, or quickly attach themselves to a group dance with each other and sit together as a "pod" for the whole night. Most of my experience is that they really do close ranks around each other and rarely look around the room for anyone else to dance with. This is not to say that there are not individuals sitting with an open body language for dancing, there are. Unfortunately, the good individual dancers are all trying to get the attention of the really good dancers in the pods. I have had some good dances at the younger milongas, but they are usually about an hour or more apart. And I find it extremely taxing to sit for hours, look interested, look interesting, and not turn into what Sorin calls "The Mona Lisa" - where I get a slightly bemused, tiny smile, cross hands in my lap, and look vaguely distant. Mostly this happens when I have been sitting for a long time and I am trying hard not to yawn or glaze over.

It is tougher for me at the younger milongas, plus, everyone tell me to wait it out, eventually they will dance with me after they have seen me for a few weeks. But you know, my reaction to that is why bother? Why would I sit and sit and sit for weeks, dancing two or three tandas a night, hoping that I will soon be seen as interesting enough to break away from a pod and dance with when I can go to a traditional milonga and have great dances all night? Granted, no one at the traditional milonga will ever compliment my boleos as none of them would ever lead one, but that is ok with me. I am led in many boleos in class.

Classes. I am taking classes at DNI. And you know, I really like them. Even though they are a nuevo school. Why? Why would I like nuevo style classes when I prefer to dance milonguero? Because they trick you at DNI into learning technique. I love it. They teach a sequence part by part, they talk about body posture, foot placement, foot technique, weight transfer. They go around to everyone and help you with the technique of the sequence. And if you are paying attention, you learn technique that will help you in your entire dance. Sneaky sneaky. I have had two conversations now with leaders in the classes who were complaining that the sequencec they have learned they will never use on the dance floor, and I have asked if they would use this section of the sequence, or did they find that using this posture for the orcho cortada was helpful, and they agreed and then went back to their original assertion that the sequence was unusable. I had to laugh. But as long as they keep coming back and keep learning the technique that is hidden in the steps, they will do fine.

So that is it for now with tango. I will write another post soon about non-tango reflections (food, shopping, pollution, the city, etc).

Oh, and for those who are interested, I have already exceeded my shoe quota of 3 by one. But in my defense the 4th pair were actually very inexpensive and comfortable ($200 pesos - about $55 USD) so in my mind, they don't really count..... ;o)


SeƱora Capone said... have possibly convinced me to take a group class at DNI in the future.

And you can never buy too many tango shoes, you will regret the ones you left behind.

Debbi said...

If you do, take the 5/6 level. I really like it there, although the teachers are very young, they do know what they are talking about.

Don't tempt me with more shoes!!!
Of course, by don't, I very well may mean do..... ;o)

Tina said...

Wheredya get AR$200 peso shoes? Want! Pictures! Please. :-)

You know, you're the second person who has said good things about DNI lately. I've always been convinced that I'd never endorse them but now two people have given positive reviews. I'll reconsider!

I think it's so great that you've discovered the ways of the milongueros and that you're having a good time.

tangocherie said...

I love this post, and I love your perceptions, and I love seeing you having fun at the milongas!

tangocherie said...


I think that any way you can achieve dominance and control over your body, it can only help your tango. Whether it's ballet classes (as all the stage tangueros take), modern, contract improv, folkdance, tango nuevo, whatever, it's only a good thing for whatever dance you wish to pursue. And more power to you.

That said, I know several European folks who used to be good milonguero dancers, but with lots of DNI studies, have fallen way back.

I'm sure it depends on each individual, but it helps if you branch out knowing your priorities. For example, if a tanguero begins the study of ballet and starts to think he can be a professional ballet dancer, his tango may suffer.

I'm just saying...

Caroline said...

It's funny but conversely to what tangocherie was saying - the better I get at "milonguero" style tango in BsAs - the harder it is for me to follow leaders in Montreal. The contrast just become too obvious and great. You start to depend on leaders knowing what they are doing and having a total understanding of axis and balance then you have to re-adjust to dancing with North American leaders who don't feel as present, as firm, as confident and who do not have as great of an understanding of women's axis. first milonga I went to in Montreal after returning from BsAs - I felt totally off balance and off my axis and also as if I had to always hurry through the tanda. Don't like it.