Monday 31 October 2011

European Milongueros and their Encuentros - a conclusion

In the last few months, I‘ve presented some of my friends. All of them share a vision of Tango as a social encounter, to be danced in a close embrace in deep connection with partner, music and the other dancers in the Ronda. They may not be living in Buenos Aires and most of them are fairly young - but they are real Milongueros. 
They are nevertheless not as lucky as a Milonguero in BA, who can find a traditional Milonga every evening in his barrio. All his friends will be close and he will never lack opportunities to dance with great partners. Plus: dancers from all over the world will come and visit. Buenos Aires is one big Encuentro Milonguero!
The European Milonguero‘s situation is totally different. He/she will find little opportunity to dance in his home town or region, because there are just not enough traditional Milongas - if at all. This is why most of them spend many hours in cars, trains and planes to travel to the next Milonga, Encuentro or Festivalito and meet friends who share their philosophy. This costs a lot of money, energy and time. At home, they try to build up Tango communities by teaching and organising Milongas or bigger events. But this is a work in progress - it takes years! Only few of them make a small income by teaching or DJing - most of them spend far more on Tango, than they could ever earn. And solely by their enthusiasm, traditional Tango has come that far outside of Argentina.
I only mentioned some of my closest friends, the ones that I know best and that I can tell authentic stories about. There are many more - some of them thousands of kilometres apart. But this lack of Milongas and friends nearby has been turned into an advantage: distances are crossed, international friendships are formed and great events for Milongueros have developed. Social Tango has become an European phenomenon of a very unique variety. And I‘m honoured to be a part of it!


Anonymous said...

I don't know why you say european milongueros are in a totally different situation to those of Buenos Aires and have little opportunity to dance where they live. It all depends on where in europe they live. For example there there are fifty milongas a week in Paris.

Melina Sedo said...

THere may be 50 Milongas in Paris, but only very, very few (if at all) for people who enjoy dancing close embrace in a traditional setting. Same with Berlin, London and other big cities. Rome might be an exception.
Parisians, who want to dance at a traditional Milonga travel to Impruneta, Saarbrücken, Crema and Slovenia because they do not have this kind of Milonga in Paris! Yep. Sad, but true...

Anonymous said...

There are many traditional milongas in Paris every week. How many milongas a week are there in Impruneta and Saarbrücken?

Melina Sedo said...

Listen Anonymous:
I've been to Paris quite often and I have not discovered ONE real traditional Milonga there. There are always people kicking on the dancefloor, nobody uses proper Cabeceo & Mirada, nobody knows how to move in a Ronda and the music very often is far from traditional. THe good close-embrace dancers I know in Paris all complain about the disastrous quality of dancing there.
I KNOW, that there are one or two monthly Milongas in Paris, which could be quite traditional and nice, but I did not have the chance to visit them so far. But please name the traditional Milongas amongst the 50 Milongas per week that you were talking about.
As for Impruneta: Please read my blog carefully: I'm NOT taking abbout regular traditional Milongas in Impruneta or Saarbrücken (although there is one in Impruneta), I'm describing Milonguero Encuentros that take place all over Europe as a RESULT of the lack of regular Milongas.

Ana Saraiva said...

Yes, sadly, there are many milongas in Paris but very few that could be described as "traditional" (layout of the room, music, floorcraft, style of dancing, etc). Good close-embrace male dancers don't abound, either...

Alter said...

"[..]Same with Berlin, London and other big cities. Rome might be an exception."

Madrid and Stockholm might be an exception also.

Chris said...

Melina, from the ten years I've been dancing in many different places in Europe, I don't recognise your bleak description of the European milonga scene. I've found traditional milongas in every major city in which I've looked, including all the major capitals. In London, did you try Carablanca, Pavadita and Tango de Salon? I think I saw you dancing recently in Eton - that was a tradtional milonga, no? And now that I dance more at home, this year I've enjoyed great traditional milongas in Birmingham, Oxford, Bristol, Norwich, Bedford, Windsor, Sheffield and Brighton. There are good reasons that some prefer the markedly untraditional format of countryside Festivalitos and other such tango holiday events, but I don't think absense of traditional milongas in the European cities is one of them. Tango always was and always will be primarily a music and dance of city life.

Melina Sedo said...

Chris, I know you only want to oppose out of spite, but please do not turn the words in my mouth: I have never said, that there are NO traditional Milongas in Europe. There are and we have enjoyed many of them.

But they are few, and usually people have to travel to dance at a decent event - may that be a "simple" Milonga or an "Encuentro". You can certainly not compare this to the situation in BA, where there are at least 10 respectable traditional Milongas per evening.
The average European Tanguero can call himself lucky, if he lives in a city that hosts ONE traditional Milonga per week. If he wants to dance a second time, he will most likely have to make lots of Kilometres on the road.

And please, do not take London as an exemple! I have not been to ALL of the the Milongas you've mentioned, but what I so far saw of London's Milongas did not amuse me very much.

And just for the fun. Here's my definition of a traditional Milonga:
- 100% traditonal Music in Tandas & Cortinas
- people dance in an unbroken embrace. Some might open a little to turn, as in Urquiza style.
- people know how to navigate on the dancefloor
- people dance exclusively movements, that are appropriate on the dancefloor, no ganchos, voleos, or any other movement that breaks the embrace or disturbs other dancers.
- there is proper seating around the dancefloor
- people invite by Cabeceo & Mirada and there is light enough to allow for it.

If you can show me more than 1-2 Milongas in London, where all of these features apply, than I take everything back, that I said about London.

But I can assure you, that there are 1 Milongas of that sort in Munich, none in Torino, none in Florence (Imprunea does not count, as it far away), 1-2 of them in Paris (allegedly, as I've not seen them yet. ALL Milongas that I visted in Paris were ether Nuevo or just bad), 2 in Barcelona...Amsterdam is better, but only few people invite by Cabeceo, so that's not so traditional... Just to mention a couple of major cities...
If you then go to smaller cities, you may be lucky, if you've got a traditional Milonga per month.

That's just it.

And Chris: You're a Troll!

Melina Sedo said...

I was not describing something bleak in my post, but something wonderful: the Encuentros Milongueros.

But I guess, Chris, you have not been to one so far.... Isn't it?

Patou said...

I have just been to my first ever milonga in Paris recently, full of hope and anticipation, only to leave two hours later, deeply disappointed at the appalling floor craft and unwelcoming attitude of all there. And yet I love tango and I love Paris - thought this needed to end on a positive note!

Anonymous said...

I agree whole heartedly. If it were not for my (motor)fuel bill I could afford to travel to Buenos Aires more often. As it is I have to travel miles every week and put up with some very strange music just to get some tango in.
There is only one traditional milonga in the North West of England, non to my knowledge, in N.Wales and so we have aregular practica in my house every Monday.
It is too small to have people sitting in the same room as the dance, but the music is always traditional.
My life revolves around my trips to BsAs, and I live in anticipation of my return in April.

Anonymous said...

Melina, thank you very much for your blogging, even if you stopped it meanwhile.

You mentioned that there are no traditional milongas in Paris at a weekly basis. I was searching for them for some time now and did not found anyone so far. You mentioned that there are two monthly ones. Would you be so kind to let us know which ones they are, even if you do not know them personally so far?

elbohemio said...

Melina - just got acquainted with your blog and I really like your point of view. It's very difficult to find good traditional milongas in Europe and on each travel there I always work hard to get this information, You recall one traditional milonga in Munich, could you indicate to which you refer. Thanks.

Melina Sedo said...

Hi Elbohemio!

The blog is inactive - I have not posted any new entries for over 9 months now.

Nevertheless: Traditional Milongas in Munich are:
El Duende
Theresa's Milonga at Giesinger Bahnhof

hAve fun!