What is a silent milonga?

There were silent milongas in Maui, Hawaii.  They are the idea of Murat Erdemsel

“We dance to the Music. Nobody speaks between tangos, tandas and around the dance floor.”

Here’s what Ingeborg Mussche wrote:

For more than a year now a friend and I have danced silently, no talking between songs, well 90% of the time. Yes, it was awkward at first and sometimes still feels a bit awkward, but now mostly it seems normal and more comfortable.

Tonight, for the first time I especially realized how lovely this. I became distinctly aware of relaxing into the music, our embrace, my/our breathing, and the enjoyment of our moving together and listening together. Also, the dance felt more relaxed and not rushed. My mind was not thinking what I might say between songs. I was just enjoying, just present in the moment. We chatted briefly afterwards and both felt it had been a lovelier tanda than we typically experience.

I hope many more have the opportunity to enjoy this during their tandas, but be aware it may take a long time before you realize that sensation. Will it happen again? I hope so.

Of course.  People don’t know what they’re missing without silence.  The music of a tanda continues for about 12 minutes.  The few seconds from the end of one tango to start of another doesn’t allow for conversation.  What is so important that it can’t wait until after the milonga?

I wrote about this topic here and here.

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9 Responses to “What is a silent milonga?”

  1. Chris Says:

    > “We dance to the Music. Nobody speaks between tangos, tandas and around the dance floor.”

    No surprise that’s a dance instructor speaking. Who else would presume to tell dancers they should not speak? Whether to speak or not is the choice of each couple, and no-one else.

  2. jantango Says:

    Good for Murat! The milongueros go to hear the music and dance, yet all the loud chatter often drowns it out. I think Murat has a good idea of introducing the concept of a silent milonga. I knew the milongas in BA twenty years ago when there was less chatter and fewer tourists — on the floor and in the salon.

    It’s one thing to speak softly and briefly close to your partner’s ear and quite another to talk loud enough while dancing that your conversation is heard ten feet away by those at the table. That is exactly what I saw a few days ago — I heard three men talking loudly while dancing. I’m certain their partners weren’t interested in listened to the music. ;))

    Those who need social interaction can find lots of activities and places for it. The milonga is for one activity — dancing a feeling. I’d like nothing more than for my favorite milonga to go silent, but I know that won’t happen. I live in silence at my apartment, so I limit my conversation in the milonga and between dances. I wrote a few months ago about a wonderful silent tanda of Di Sarli I had with a partner. The music remained in us without any interruption, and I basked in the feeling long after I left his embrace.

    When dancers feel the difference in a silent milonga, they will be promoting it. They will find something special when they are present in the moment.

  3. Felicity Says:

    “No surprise that’s a dance instructor speaking.”
    Harsh. Different kinds of milongas are on offer. Anyone can choose whether to go or not.

    Murat: “We dance to the Music. Nobody speaks between tangos, tandas and around the dance floor.””
    I read that as a description, not an order.

    “Who else would presume to tell dancers they should not speak? ”
    It’s not a presumption, not speaking is implied in the type of milonga.

    “Whether to speak or not is the choice of each couple, and no-one else.”
    In a regular milonga that would be true. At any silent milonga advertised as such not to abide by the convention of would just be impolite.

  4. Chris Says:

    It’s one thing to speak softly and briefly close to your partner’s ear and quite another to talk loud

    And quite another thing entirely to be told one should not speak at all.

  5. jantango Says:

    I had a phone conversation today with Ernesto Jorge De Gouvea, who has been dancing tango since his teenage years and who danced in the confiterias bailables during the 1950s. This is where the “estilo del centro” with a closed embrace and tiny steps evolved because of the small dance floors. I like to get it “from the horse’s mouth.” Jorge spoke from personal experience in the confiterias. He said there was no talking whatsoever, neither at the tables nor on the floor. People were there to hear tango and dance. They cared more about the music than dancers do today in the BA milongas. It’s turned into a social circus and popularity contest to see who gets to the floor first. One’s private life is no longer kept outside, but shared with total strangers. Jorge says that this change is because of tourism to the milongas. I agree. I’ve been in BA for 19 years and have seen all the changes first hand for myself.

    Did “silent milongas” ever exist? Yes, they did in the city center of Buenos Aires. That’s why Murat’s idea of introducing the concept is so important. It has the possibility of transforming dancers and the milongas worldwide.

    Those who cause collisions on the floor are usually the ones engaged in conversation while dancing.

  6. Felicity Says:

    Why do you see it as “being told” rather than a type of milonga? There are 50% alternative music milongas, famous milongas like El Corte without cortinas I believe, even naked milongas apparently. There are noisier milongas, quieter milongas, milongas that vary in seating and there are some silent milongas. Many of these types have advertising which lets dancers know explicitly or by code what to expect. Why do you see silent milongas as a rule rather than a choice?

  7. Chris Says:

    Felicity wrote: “Why do you see it as “being told” rather than a type of milonga?

    Because we are being told. Told “Nobody speaks between tangos, tandas and around the dance floor.” at ‘silent’ milongas.

    We don’t get told “Nobody does XXX” etc. at noiser, quieter, alternative music, curtain-less etc. milongas.

    And because I see the telling abusing “We dance to the music” as if that somehow precludes speaking when not dancing.

    Having said that, I would have welcomed “Nobody speaks between tandas” when this particular instructor did just that for ten minutes and interrupted everyone else’s dancing one night at the Copenhagen Tango Festival last year. 🙂

  8. Geotan Edwards Says:

    Hi All,
    To me it is just common tango etiquette not to talk during the dance. How can you immerse yourself in the music and interpret it fully with your dance if you are chattering? Chattering during dancing as well as doing a disservice to your dancing and your partner (who may wish to concentrate on the music) also disturbs other dancers. It annoys me to have to listen to people talking while dancing. For me it breaks the mood and my connection with the music.
    What is so important that it can’t wait until the end of the dance track or tanda? If it is to correct or school your partner, this is breach of another tango etiquette -that is not to teach or instruct during a mionga. That to be left to practicas.
    A few quite words between tracks is polite and I have no problems with that. The same goes for greetings or introducing yourself at the start of a tanda.
    Talking off the dance floor should be mute so it does not distract the dancers on the floor.
    What is nealy as bad is chewing gum while dancing. Immagine the chomping of gums in your ear – yuck or worst still having the chewing gum chomped into your hair as happened to a lady friend of mine.
    Ciao Geotan

  9. jantango Says:

    Geotan,
    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I am in total agreement with you. There are many who put social chatter above dancing at a milonga. This includes locals and tourists. It is one of several reasons I’m no longer interested in dancing. I want to hear the music; if that’s not possible, why go to the milonga?
    Jantango

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