Exhibitions in the milongas

A milonguero goes to a milonga to dance.  He is not interested in watching exhibitions.  They are the nightly entertainment at most milongas these days in Buenos Aires.

I don’t remember exhibitions at milongas when I visited Buenos Aires in 1996, except for Club Almagro.  That milonga was organized from 1993 until it closed in 2000 by Juan Fabbri and Dolores de Amo who were interested in tango shows.  Today they produce the shows at Esquina Carlos Gardel and Tango Porteño.  It was a total change from the way the milonga at Almagro had been since 1960.  Not only were there nightly exhibitions, but announcements and raffles.  The entire milonga environment changed and others followed suit.  Famous personalities began coming to Buenos Aires to see tango, and they went to Club Almagro: Madonna, Julio Iglesias, and The Rolling Stones.  I was there when Wynton Marsalis and his band showed up the night before their concert at the Gran Rex on Corrientes.  They say that Almagro was no longer Almagro, and that was the beginning of its demise.

Couples are invited by organizers months in advance to perform in milongas so that advance promotion can be done on the internet and in tango magazines.  Organizers pay well for top performing couples because they bring more people to the milonga. 

The problem I have with exhibitions is that they interrupt the evening for those who came to dance, and the performances usually don’t demonstrate good social tango.  It’s all about fancy steps to gain applause and be videotaped for YouTube promotion.  If everyone danced like those who performed, we would kill one another on the social floor. 

There is one refreshing example of an exhibition that is simple and elegant.  When Beto Ayala dances an exhibition in Salon Canning with Amanda Lucero, he doesn’t change anything about his dancing.  He dances as he normally does in a milonga.  He follows the line of dance around the floor.  He keeps his feet on the floor.  And he dances for his partner and with the music.  Beto doesn’t dance for applause.  Here is their recent exhibition in Salon Canning dancing to El Tigre Viejo by Fresedo.  It’s pure tango.  Beto is a milonguero who feels tango and doesn’t have anything to prove.

I’m glad that there is at least one milonga where people can go to dance tango without interruptions for raffles, announcements or exhibitions. The owner welcomes everyone and mentions the times for her other milongas.  Then it’s back to dancing at Lo de Celia.  There is too much talking these days, another big change from the way things used to be only a few years ago when everyone wanted to listen to the music.

Tags: , , ,

2 Responses to “Exhibitions in the milongas”

  1. Colin Brace Says:

    Thanks for posting that link, Janis. Most tango videos are kinda the same but this one had a great milonga vibe. I miss Buenos Aires.

  2. LoveTango Says:

    Thanks for that video. It helps us understand what is good tango.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s