Going to a Milonga tonight. For the uninitiated, that means going to an Argentine Tango dance…and yes, “the uninitiated” includes me. I have to make that translation in my head, Milonga = AT dance. I guess it’s because, to me, “milonga” means a type of South American music. It just happens to be the sort of music that one dances to when one dances AT.
This was my 2010 New Year’s Resolution–to finally learn how to dance Argentine Tango. I’ve danced Argentine Tango socially a number of times, but always at a ballroom club dance. I have a good friend, Craig, who’s an AT fanatic and a very good lead. I can usually follow him in a social AT, even if I don’t know the steps. But dancing an occasional AT at the university ballroom club is not the same thing as going to a Milonga and dancing AT all night long. I hope I survive.
I resolved to learn Argentine Tango because the philosophy of this dance feels so right to me. It’s ALL about creativity and lead/follow. Sure, there are steps and technique, but familiarity with these is not the be-all and end-all of the dance. You can be a complete beginner and, if you have have a creative heart, you can still experience the dance. I don’t think you can say the same of a lot of ballroom dances. I mean, technically, I suppose the same could be said of rumba or cha cha…but the thing is, the ballroom dances expect a lot more technical knowledge up front before you get to the level where you can get creative and expressive. AT places the premium on expressiveness, creativity, and musicality. That’s what I like. What I love.
So tonight I’m going to stick my neck out. There’s a Milonga at Sontes here in Rochester. This is where all the “cool” people around here go to dance, or so it seems.
April, from the dance school I go to, will be there, plus at least two of the other female advanced dancers and one of the new teachers. It sounds like a better crowd for me. I just need to avoid getting intimidated. I’m not used to being the rank beginner anymore, and that’s what I’m going to be tonight. It’s nice to be able to go and show off. I enjoy doing that. That won’t be me tonight. I am going to learn and to soak in some of the local AT culture. Grow my dancing. Become more humble.
Maybe that’s the lesson I’ll be learning tonight: to become humble about my dancing again. Every once in a while, we all need an opportunity to start over.
The Milonga went well. Turns out that they tend to dance in sets: three dances at a time. So while I feel like I didn’t dance with that many different people (compared to the number of people I dance with at a ballroom dance), I did dance 5 or 6 sets.
My partners were all very patient. And I was relieved to find that not EVERYBODY there was an Argentine Tango specialist. There were plenty of other people there who, like me, had a background in ballroom and had only recently started to pick up AT. What that meant was that they knew how to lead and improvise, even if they didn’t have a huge repertoire of AT steps. There was one fellow I danced with who clearly had done much more American Tango than Argentine 🙂
So I think I’ll go back and try it again some time. Hopefully by that time I’ll have had a few more AT lessons.