The monthly tango magazine B. A. Tango—Buenos Aires Tango has a regular column entitled, “Mentime que me gusta” –Lie to me, I like it. Women contribute the comments they receive from men in the milongas for publication. This column has appeared for eight years, and there is no end to the romantic and poetic verse men come up with in the moment. Tito Palumbo publishes eight or ten submissions each month, and women receive two entradas for every published submission.
What’s all the chatter in the milongas? I’m certainly not advocating an end to these sweet lies. However, it seems to me that conversation has taken a priority over dancing. The chatter during the tandas drowns out the music. The deejays have to pump up the volume so it can be heard over the conversation. Then the dancers talk even louder. They talk while dancing as well as between dances. Three weeks ago I walked out of a milonga for this reason. I was ready to scream and left instead after only one tanda. Even the organizer was contributing to the noise level, as she stood on the edge of the floor chatting, oblivious to its impact on dancers nearby.

I got this straight from a milonguero who talked to me about the codes. A milonguero doesn’t initiate conversation. The rule “ladies first” applies in this situation. The topic of conversation is limited to the music—the orchestra, singer, lyrics, etc. and nothing more. A milonguero may ask, “bien?” after dancing for the first time with a woman, but that’s all. If she doesn’t speak, he keeps his mouth shut. There is nothing awkward about standing without speaking. Our attention should be on the music. Conversation isn’t mandatory between dances. It should be brief in a low voice so that it is private.

Tango recordings are short—two to three and a half minutes long. I have seen and heard dancers talking for the entire three minutes of a tango while still on the floor. This is a strong indication they are not in the milonga to dance, but to meet someone. Tango is a means to an end for them. I have been able to hear conversation going on in the center of the floor while I am seated at my table. It’s no surprise that all the chatter isn’t private as it should be.

I would like to see respect for tango return in the milongas. Proper behavior and dress used to be the standard in most of the milongas. People went to listen to the music and dance. Organizers set the tone of a milonga. Unfortunately, many of them are more interested in the income than providing a place for the enjoyment of tango.


Free subscriptions to B. A. Tango—Buenos Aires Tango and the Guia Trimestral are available in digital format (pdf file) at



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2 Responses to “Chatter”

  1. sonia Says:

    More than 5 years later, the chattering is becoming more than an occasional issue: all the modern tech toys from the cell phones to the smartphones, the lack of deep respect each other and for the sacred silence causes experiences like the one described recently by El Nene Masci to be very common — unfortunately:

  2. Nat Says:

    I once commented ‘what a noisy milonga looks more like a pub, how can people hear the music!’ and the woman (much more experienced ‘tanguera’) exclaimed, ‘Natalia, it’s a milonga!’ which was supposed to mean that such ‘socialising’ is a huge part of it. Later on I realised it’s bad manners but people don’t even notice when they talk themselves they only notice when others are talking…

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