A little note on music in the milongas… The music has been incredible in all the milongas. Incredible in comparison to what we have generally heard in Toronto. The playlists are generally amazing and the djs are generally reading the floor. It just seems completely unacceptable that bad tango is being played in milongas around the world. Keep in mind that we’ve only been to the traditional milongas where the “good” DJs play.
Before leaving for Buenos Aires, we had done our good share of research on people we might be interested in learning from. We knew that we would focus more on group classes until we found someone we might be interested in learning from in privates. We also knew that we would not pay ridiculous prices for private lessons from some or any of the “big names” in tango. As we slowly got our bearings in this city, we started attending some group classes. OK, we attended two group classes and realized group lessons were NOT going to work for us; at least not the “popular” classes or “all-level” classes. In the classes we went to, you were forced to change partners. Yes, yes, this is supposed to be a good thing. Well it’s not a good thing when the dancers have no idea what they’re doing (in the intermediate/advanced class), but then attempt to avoid the obvious foreigners (i.e., the two of us). This is quite amusing when you are obviously the best dancers in the class!? Yes, a complete lack of modesty here, but we also want to be honest about our experiences. There were some great technical aspects taught, but it was at this point we realized that group classes were going to be a waste of time and money for us.
At our fourth visited milonga, we spent most of the night being captivated by the dancing of one much older couple… what INCREDIBLE dancers. They were older but danced much younger in that she had beautiful technique in her legs and his posture was straight and beautiful. Their dancing was extremely intricate and super musical. They were elegant and amazing. We decided we must speak with them and see if they teach. And we did. He was very happy that we liked their dancing and were interested in lessons. His wife and him do teach (they have a card that says so ;) and they teach only couples at their place… for get this, 60 pesos for a 1.5 hour lesson by both of them! Finally, a non-tourist price and they are one of the most beautiful couples we’ve seen dancing so far. Are they “milongueros”? No. But they have a special something.
We start lessons with them next week. If it goes well, we’ll definitely continue with weekly privates with them. We have never seen them on YouTube, we haven’t heard their names before and you can’t really find anything about them on the internet. However, they seemed to be really respected at the milonga and we trust our background in dancing and our short lives in Tango as proof that they are quite amazing.
Finally, we emailed the one young, “semi-big name” couple we adore for lessons. Since they are touring a lot, they weren’t teaching any group lessons during their brief return to BA (and as we mentioned, we’re pretty turned off group lessons). We were extremely happy to hear that they charge very reasonable prices (somewhere between Argentinean prices and tourist prices). We booked 3 lessons with them (in order to get a more discounted price AND to get a couple lessons with them).
We had our three lessons with them and they were great. When asked what we wanted to work on, we replied, “Our walk, our posture, and the Argentinean feel of the embrace” (more on this in “The Elusive Embrace”). They were able to spot very specific weaknesses in our dance and then give us very specific exercises to work on (right there during the lesson and as “take-homes”).
As time progressed, we realized we weren’t all that happy with the private lessons and we realized their teaching was not specific to our needs. In other words, we found that we could have been any couple and they were sort or regurgitating the same things they teach everyone (regardless of level or ability). With that, we decided to take their group classes instead.
Still more to come in Part IV!