It’s a cultural thing

I live immersed in the tango culture — the music, the language, the people, and the milongas.  I accept the way things are and haven’t tried to change things to suit my cultural tastes.

I recognize that the culture is an important part of tango.  It makes it what it is, like it or not.  Tango was born in Buenos Aires, and it will always be connected to this city.  Other cities may try to produce their idea of a milonga, but they will fall short for obvious reasons.  If you take tango out of the culture, you no longer have tango.

I enjoy reading other blogs describing milongas in other countries.  It’s clear that culture plays an important role in the end product.  I want to make a few comparisons.

Who are you?  I attended several tango festivals in the USA before moving to Buenos Aires.  Identification by name and city during festivals is as important as “getting dances.”  They are about socializing and making new friends.  I gather that the same applies to festivals and milongas in Europe.

The opposite is the case for porteños.  Most dancers in the milongas are anonymous even among those who share a table.  They leave their personal lives at the door of the milonga.  Names are not important in the context of the milonga.  Many have danced together for years without knowing one another’s names.  And it doesn’t matter.

Two tandas.  As more dancers travel to Buenos Aires, they see how it works in the milongas.  I read the other day that it’s common to dance two consecutive tandas with the same partner at milongas in Europe.  It seems it’s all about dancing more.

Again this is not standard practice by porteños.  They select partners depending on the orchestra.  Two consecutive tandas at a milonga occurs between couples at the same table.  It’s a clear sign that they are not dancing with others.

Would you like to have coffee?  Americans get together for coffee to get to know each other better before dating.

This question from a porteño means something else.  Tango is an intimate conversation.  When a woman accepts several invitations from the same man during the same milonga, she is answering the question.   Quiere tomar un cafe? is a direct proposal for sex.   One knows this only in the context of the culture.


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