[Tango-L] Beginners and milongas

doug@swingfusion.com doug at swingfusion.com
Fri Feb 15 11:13:44 EST 2008

Most fail to see tango in its social light - that it is a social dance - a
social experience. Tango has its own culture. (Some have called it a cult.)
Beginner classes often fail in not teaching or conveying the other aspects
of tango (beyond the dance, the vocabulary, the technique) - not delving
into the history, the culture, the social aspects and ultimately the (local)
opportunities available to dance tango socially on a regular basis.
Lindy Hop is not easy.  Most(?) Lindy Hoppers come in via east coast swing
which is rhythmically much simpler, is (arguably) NOT the REAL swing, often
teaches bad habits (giant rock steps, arm yanking and "girl tossing" among
others) that need to be unlearned, and all sorts of other bad things.  But
it is easy and fun.  In almost no time, people get it and are dancing and
having a good time.  In six months most are pretty good.  Those that are
inclined and able move on to Lindy and/or Balboa and/or West Coast Swing.
Many are happy to be where they are, simply dancing east coast swing.

Tango has a very fun, rhythmically simple, mechanism for getting people out
dancing and having a good time quickly.  It is called Milonga.  If beginners
were taught 8 to 10 basic Milonga patterns, got to walk/run around without
all of the culture, the history, the expectations and the occasional
outright arrogance that makes Tango simultaneously so subtle, so beautiful
and so difficult, I bet that many more (in the US at least) would stick and
then move on to a real study of Tango.

Totally off the wall suggestion (dons flameproof attitude):  What if
beginners were taught Milonga, and the first, say six or so songs of the
Milonga after a beginner lesson were Milonga, and the beginners were
encouraged to change partners after EVERY song (I agree with Carol
Shepherd's comments regarding the negative impact of tandas on beginners)?
Yes, not PC and totally culturally incorrect.  But it might help get
dancers, especially younger dancers, having fun and dancing a lot sooner.
It might even get them to stick.



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