Tuesday 2 December 2014

Quo Vadis Encuentro Milonguero II

In the beginning there was just Tango. And everyone was happy dancing with everyone else. Then came the separation between „Tango de Salon“ and „Tango Escenario“. And much later the schism between „Marathonistas“ and „Milongueros“. Everyone complained, but actually the two groups were enjoying the fact, that there was someone to be different from. One could be „amongst oneself“, the ones living in total liberty, the others in the security of their set of codes. The ones were moving, the others embracing. The ones were holding on to their partners, the others enjoyed short-time relationships. The ones liked their modern beats, the others stuck to the golden oldies...

Nah... you all know, that these are just stereotypes. There was never black and white, but all shades of grey, all kinds of events. Over the years, more and more Marathonistas joined the ranks of the Milongueros and I have even heard of the odd Milonguero visiting a Marathon. Now there are even „Marathon and Milonguero mergers“ - obviously a big success and great idea, because both groups actually have the same preferences: dancing socially to traditional music.

Yet, despite all similarities, there was and still is a feeling of „we“ and „them“. You could always be sure to enjoy ourselves at an Encuentro, because you‘d meet with dancers who share your philosophy. But recently, a divide is opening in our midst. It is called „separate seating for men and women“. 

Yes, I am dramatising. Again. ;-)

Fact is, that two sub-categories of Milonguero-events are forming and I will surely contribute to this development by commenting on it repeatedly. However, as I feel strongly about this particular question and don‘t like being surprised on site, I will from now on offer my (soon to be published) recommendations for Milonguero events divided into two sections:

  • Events for Milongueros WITH separate seating: Men and women are seated in different areas, usually on the two longer sides of a room. Sometimes, there is an additional area for couples or mixed groups of friends, but the majority of places will be taken by the women‘s and men‘s sections. Quite often, seats are assigned to you, before you enter the Milonga. The average age at these events usually is a bit higher and most take place in southern European countries and France. A change of roles (women leading, men following) is less likely to happen at these events.
  • Events for Milongueros WITHOUT separate seating: Men and women are seated in mixed groups. Sometimes, seats are assigned in advance, but more often, you just choose whatever seat is available and are free to change places during the Milonga. The average age is a little lower and you‘ll find a growing number of (ex-) Marathonistas at these Milonguero events as they have discovered, that Milongueros indeed do it better. ;-) Changing roles is getting quite frequent in this context, which is why some organisers (including me) nowadays manage bookings by „followers & leaders“, not anymore by „men & women“.

You might prefer the one or the other type of event, yet you can still count on the fact, that the other pre-requisites for Milonguero events are met by all Encuentros or Festivalitos on my list. So if you don‘t mind whether you are seated gender-separated or in mixed groups, you can visit any of them and enjoy the party!

However, I am facing another problem: In the last two years, quite a number of new „Encuentros“ have appeared in the calendars. Far too many for me to visit them all or to be able to know if they are even „authentic“. Unfortunately, a lot of organisers also use the label „Encuentro Milonguero“ to sell their Festival to the Milonguero public, although they do not really share this philosophy. This is one more reason for me, to recommend only such events, that I have visited or that are organised by personal acquaintances. For a more complete overview, check out Gato Milongueiros site.

I want to finish my post by suggesting a little checklist to help with the question:

Is a particular event an Encuentro or Festivalito Milonguero?

Does the majority of dancers (95% for an established event. Maybe 70% if it is a first-time Encuentro, that wants to integrate „new“ people into the Milonguero scene):
- dance in close embrace
- respect the ronda
- avoid movements, that take up too much space or lift the feet from the dancefloor
- invite each other by mirada & cabeceo
- dance together one tanda only, then clear the dance floor during the cortina in order to be free to dance with someone else (very important feature of distinction to Marathons)
- comprehend themselves as Milongueros and behave in the same way at other Milongas or Festivals

If there are demos or classes:
- are these purely social Tango

Do the DJ‘s:
- play traditional Tango only
- use tandas & cortinas

Do the organisers:
- partake in other Milonguero events
- promote the above-mentioned social behaviour of the dancers
- admit an equal number of followers & leaders (or men & women) to the event
- organise the event as a series of single Milongas (and not as one ongoing Milonga)

If you can answer most (or better all) of these questions with a YES, than you‘ll have a genuine „Milonguero Experience“. Which is what I wish you all for 2015.

See you on the dancefloor!

By the way: check out the original post "Quo Vadis Encuentro Milonguero".


thomas said...

Thomas Kroeter (see my facebooksite) says: dear melina, i like your videos dancing with detlef. if you gave a workshop in berlin, i'd try to participate. but imaging all tanueros/as would be dancing like this, horrifies me. the advice, not to lift the feet off the floor reminds me of my german "tanzstunde" (the same is with gender separated seating). i stick with the famous german bundeskanzler adenauer who said: "gods garden is wide". its possible to respekt the ronda and the other dancers without limiting our dancing this kind of strict milonguerostyle. i even can do "neo" things respecting my codancers (viceversa milonguering aint a garantee for politness on the dancefloor). but there's another point, why my disire vor encuentros, marathons etc. isn't so strong: lucky me - i'm living in berlin (i know many people from her too go to encs etc), not in saarlouis or neustrelitz. the manyfold scene here allows me to integrate tango in my day by day social life. monday this milonga (a traditional 1), tuesday a mixed 1, where i somtimes dance to the neo- an nonmusic, sometimes use it for a rest... and so on over the week. i decide, what, where and when i am dancing. no guardian tells me to go or stay home - may he named sven marquardt at the berghain or melina sedo at an encuentro. am i provincial? 2 - 3 times a year i go on a tangohollidaytrip, but most of the time i become aquaintetd with dancers from all over the world going to a milonga in berlin. so me being an "encuentromuffel" we probably won't meet on the dancefloor 2015 - exept you visit "embrace", the festival of the whole berlin tangoscene (traditional, mixed and modern). best wishes

Melina Sedo said...

Thanks Thomas.

This is the good thing: In Tango everyone can indeed choose, which kind of dancer he/she wants to be and which kind of events he/she wants to visit.
This is why I post my list and explain, what these kind of events are about. Then everyone can decide for him/herself.

And: as you may have noticed from my earlier posts: I am strictly against separate seating. Therefore the separation in two columns. ;-)

Have a nice day,


Aimée said...

Hello, I have been looking for some answers and maybe am right here: I have just been back from Buenos Aires where I have been visitng various milongas. There is the traditional style which I assume is milonguero and danced mostly by older people and the more modern style (tango salon or de pista?), with giros, molinete, parades, barridas, ganchos, etc danced by younger people. Both styles are danced in close embrace on crowded floors. The only thing that is disliked is boleos for obvious reasons.. So in Europe, at encuentros milongueras is the tango danced a tango with no figured, just ochos cortados and basically "just" walking?

Melina Sedo said...

Dear Aimée,
tango at the encuentros can be very varied in style and complexity. Some people will dance very simple, basically just walking and doing some ochos, others might use very intricate movements to express the music.
But all movements that lift the feet from the floor (high voleos, ganchos, some forms of decorations) will be frowned upon as they endanger the other dancers on the "pista".
Wishing you a good 2015,

Melina Sedo said...

As for your other question Aimée:
For me, the term "Tango de Salon" describes all social tango. There are numerous substyles, that tend to attract different sorts of people, but the public at the encuentros varies from very young to old.
It is not so much about a certain style of dance, more about a general philosophy about how people would like to interact on and off the dancefloor, the limitation of movements to "safe" ones" just being one of the defining factors.