Milonga Popular


Tangotourist in Berlin, Summer 2014

A major benefit of dancing tango is walking home through cities quiet for dawn.

Even if the milonga was uninspiring.

Milonga Popular is run by the hopelessly hip youngsters, the ones still seeking satisfaction in righteousness. Actually not quite. This milonga reminded me of the first El Yeite, which later became quite anti-foreigner. What I noticed was a philosophy of dancing adhered to by all but the professionals. It is a dance which can  be very sweet and charmingly seductive but relies on very little skill or body control from the revel. It’s built exclusively of rebotes and ochos and the charm is in the embrace and the musicality.

The two very sexy girls who I asked to dance were very willing to dance with me but could not do a voleo, front gancho, or barrida and were clearly annoyed by the introduction of anything unfamiliar.

So in this scene everybody gets to feel good about themselves while doing very little. In a way it’s the same dance people are doing in Sydney but with better connection and different musicality.

In addition to the homogeneity of age, interestingly there were no women marking (besides me one girl marked one tanda), and only one male-male couple danced. So there is a correlation between this restricted vocabulary and a gender retrenchment.

Aside from the professionals present, the revels were insipid, obedient, and hungry. I also noticed that almost all the girls were wearing grandmother shoes with 4cm heels. By the measure of the footwear it was the daggiest milonga I’ve ever been to.

The music was also uninspiring until the last tanda, which was beautiful. They ended the night Viru style, turning off all the lights in song 3 of the last tanda and then turning them up starkly partway through the last song.

Of course the entrance was dilapidated industrial baroque grand gorgeous.

Thomas Conte’s photos, as usual manage to capture the mood accurately. It’s very serious here. (The out of focus one is mine…)



Silences in history. Silences by code. Silences of fear. You already know that Tango’s silences can be sublime and they can be devastating.

What I do in my blog is use myself as a lens – sometimes a microscope, sometimes a telescope. I try to be as honest with myself and you as words concede. Then I try to find a deeper meaning and imagine a pathway for us.

A blog post can be a fragment, a wisp of inspiration, an outline for thinking. A book must complete and reconcile it all. Now I drag the social scientist to the scene to enumerate the facts of the case, the mystery which brought both stardom and tragedy to my life.

I invite you to join my resolution to take a look at the dark silences of Argentine Tango in our lives. It’s time.


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