Argentine Tango – Traditional Format Milongas -vs- 2×2 Format

The question that I’ve asked myself over the last few years, is whether the traditional format of Argentine Tango Milonga is relevant or even possibly discouraging, outside the context of Argentina, particularly in a small community like Perth, Western Australia.

This question particularly came to my attention recently when venturing to a few social nights where the Tanda’s (For the uninitiated, the number of songs played as a set that a couple will dance to) were 4 songs long.  In my own Milongas I’ve kept my Tandas to 3 songs for the last few years.  During this 4 song Tango, and over the course of several Tanda’s I watched dancers (particularly some newer followers), miss a dance in the first Tanda, again in the second and then in the third.  So, this poor new dancer, sat without a dance for nearly 40 minutes.  This is NOT the kind of atmosphere that encourages new people to dance, and be engaged in the social dancing Tango.

I decided at that point that rather than focus on what is “traditional” but focus on what is “important”.  And so began (with evident success), my concept of the 2×2 Milonga.  Two songs of each genre of Tango, with no Cortinas (Short Breaks between Tandas).  No obligation to dance more than one song at a time, though I often choose to dance 2 songs.

What we’ve witnessed is a much friendly atmosphere in the Milongas.  We’ve also encouraged women to be more active in approaching men to dance.  I’m certainly not advocating that all Milongas use this format and certainly a more traditional format Milonga should be experienced by all Tango dancers, if for no other reason than that they are aware fo the protocols.

As a dance teacher, who has invested their life and love in to this dance for over 20 years, it is my job to find solutions that encourage people to dance and keep dancing.  We need to be aware that “tradition” out of context is not always the best path towards this aim.

We need to be aware that Milongas in Argentine are much longer in duration, plentiful and often include food and many other facilities.  They are a social occasion, as much as they are a place to dance.  They are also not restricted in closing times.  Our Milongas, in contrast,  are short and really exist for the sole purpose of people wanting to dance, so long Tandas, traditional systems of interaction may not be the best format for every Milonga in a small community, particularly Milongas run by dance schools who want to encourage mixed age groups and a more dynamic environment.

ALSO CHECK: ZouKiz Night – January 2019 – White Party


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