Milonguero codes

I had my first introduction to the milongas on my first visit to Buenos Aires in March 1996. I began watching and learning how things were done differently in Regin, Almagro,  Gricel and other milongas. When I think back to my first nights of dancing in those clubs, I had so much to learn about the codes and customs. Fortunately, I’ve had help along the way from the milongueros.
Women hear music, and they want to dance. We’ll dance with any man who asks us that is, until we figure out he doesn’t know how to dance. Patience is a difficult lesson for us to learn when it comes to dancing in the milongas of Buenos Aires, but it certainly worthwhile. I would rather sit and listen to the music than dance with a man who doesn’t dance well. A tanda is only ten minutes, but it will seem like an eternity in the arms of a man who pushes you around or who can’t connect to the music.
A milonguero will not invite a woman to dance until he has seen her dance. I’ve learned to do the same before accepting an invitation. I went to Gricel last Friday night and saw a man whom I had never seen before in the milongas. I thought he danced fairly well. Later, I was dancing with a milonguero and saw the other man watching me. When he invited me for a tanda, I was reasonably sure I wouldn’t regret it. We checked out each other’s dancing before we danced together. I accepted a second tanda with him. He told me that he waited to see how I danced before he invited me. That confirms he is someone who wants to dance well or not at all.
A few hours ago in Lo de Celia, the woman with whom I shared a table decided to accept the invitation of a man for the Osvaldo Pugliese tanda. He was seated close to our table and had recently arrived. She wanted to dance, so she took her chances. I warned her and predicted disaster, which she confirmed at the end of the tanda. We both agreed that we would rather sit and enjoy the music than dance with a man who doesn’t dance well. I danced only four tandas in three hours, but they were with Antonio, Rodolfo Indegno, and Anibal Serena, all excellent dancers.  

Patience is a code of the milongueros worth practicing.






2 Responses to “Milonguero codes”

  1. Colin Brace Says:

    Excellent advice, but it does take time to know what to look for, to be able to recognize a good dancer. I still have trouble determining how good a follower is; sometimes a lady looks accomplished but turns out to have no sense of musicality or doesn’t move with agility. I am sure that those sharp-eyed milongueros know what to look for though…

  2. stilllifeinbuenosaires Says:

    I enjoyed your post. I plan to start tango lessons soon so I can navigate the milongas.

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