Roll out the red carpet at your milonga?

A dancer and deejay from Canada visited the Buenos Aires milongas earlier this year.  He sent questions that his local milonga is discussing, and I offered my thoughts.
How to behave with new female dancers attending a milonga for the first time?
We can’t control how people behave in any situation.  Are we only concerned with women having a good time at a milonga?  What about new male dancers?
Let’s use Lo de Celia as an example.  New visitors come all the time.  No one introduces them or announces their presence.  They take a seat like everyone else and have to fend for themselves.  Lo de Celia is one of dozens of milongas in Buenos Aires that runs as a business of providing social dancing to the public.  The organizers are not responsible for making certain that everyone dances and has a great time.  That is left to the person.
Should the organizers of the milonga inform the attendees of their presence (weird question)?
Why?  Men are observant.  They notice a new woman in the crowd without anyone pointing her out.  It might seem like an organizer asking for “charity” if a newcomer (novice dancer or visitor) was singled out in the crowd.  Hey guys, dance with her, please, so she will return.
The continuous stream of foreign female dancers to the BA milongas has improved a woman’s chances of being invited on her first visit by a milonguero viejo.  I’ve seen it happen after years of patient waiting.  The women don’t know how lucky they are and have come to expect it without proving themselves on the floor.  I had to dance with many bad dancers before I realized that it’s worth waiting for a milonguero viejo.  That is the reason I dance very few tandas.  If I’m busy with bad dancers, the good ones can’t and won’t invite me.  I’d rather be sitting out a tanda than looking forward getting off the floor.
Is there an obligation to the milongueros to invite them to dance?
Never.  There is freedom of choice in the milongas, too.  Men choose with whom they want to dance and when.  A milonguero might wait hours for the tanda he wants to dance with a particular woman.  It’s not about dancing to build a community, as may be the case where tango is a new dance.  In Buenos Aires, tango is a way of life for the milongueros viejos.
What should these women do to get invited by local dancers?
Be patient, not desperate.  Show interest in the dancing and music by watching.  Smile.  A positive attitude does wonders.

2 Responses to “Roll out the red carpet at your milonga?”

  1. Mark Word Says:

    I agree with your answers. And why is it that the question is for new women? You pointed this out too. I was greeted by a woman much older than me when I was new to a community. I noticed that she danced all the time as women complained that “men just want to dance with the young pretty things.” No, there is truth to this for men and women, but what we all want is to dance with pleasant people–and as you said, “A positive attitude does wonders.” A side question if I may. If you take away the tourists, is gender imbalance an issue in South America?

  2. jantango Says:

    I can’t respond to a gender imbalance in South America because I only dance in Buenos Aires where each milonga on a given day is different. Sometimes there are more men than women, but it doesn’t really make a difference. Milongas run for six to eight hours, and there is opportunity for all to dance.

    Buenos Aires offers a milonga marathon every day of the week. For example, today is a holiday in Argentina. It’s possible for someone to go to a milonga at 4:00 in the afternoon and continue dancing until 4:00 in the morning. There are three milongas venues within three blocks — Tango Obelisco, Lo de Celia, and Centro Region Leonesa. Gender balance is never really an issue in Buenos Aires.

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