Tag Archives: Milonguero

Tango “Styles”

We have previously stated that we don’t really believe in different styles of Tango and that there is only one Tango that has personal styles or is danced somewhat differently due to space, location (barrio), or era.  After our time in Buenos Aires, we discovered that this holds true… almost.  We did observe and hear some definitions for the various styles and here is what we learned (but is by no means the absolute truth on this topic):

Milonguero Style (or “Centro” Style)

Is seen mostly in the downtown milongas where there is less space to dance.  The embrace stays closed, the steps are smaller, and the musicality is slightly more literal and “choppy” (however, it is in no way S.O.S. Tango Musicality).

Villa Urquiza Style (or “Barrio” Style)

This is the most marketed style – especially by those who have no concept of what it represents.  It is about quality – in posture, movement, and musicality. Specifically, there is a focus on the connection of the steps to the music.  For this reason, it is said to be “elegant”.  This style is more easily danced when there is more space in the milongas because it can use a more flexible embrace (at time interchanging between closed and open).  The men tend to use enrosques during giros and dance more elaborate steps.  It is these elaborate steps which provide “space” for the more complex expression of music often seen in this style.


A “milonguero” may dance any one of these styles and does not necessarily dance “Milonguero Style” Tango.

Our “Style”

What “style” do we dance?  We don’t claim to dance any “style” of Tango.  However, here’s our answer:  When we danced in a Buenos Aires milonga that didn’t provide much space, our Tango was more of a Milonguero Style (we were even told a couple times that our dancing was “muy milonguero”).  When we had and have more space, our dancing is more typical of the “Barrio” style.  Although we may have learned some Villa Urquiza Style Tango and our dance may have some flavourings of it, we would not claim to dance it at all.

For those who continuously want to claim that Nuevo Tango is a style of Argentine Tango, we can only say that we never once heard a teacher of Argentine Tango put Nuevo in a list of styles.

When Extended B.A. Tango Holidays Are No Better Than Two Weeks

We met an older couple in a class and got talking with them when we found out the teacher wouldn’t be showing up.  Nice enough couple who chose to come to Buenos Aires for a couple months to continue learning Argentine Tango.  They were a reminder that humans have an amazing ability to choose ignorance over knowledge.  After being in B.A. for three months, here are some of the comments they shared with us:

“We tried to find a book with all the figures of Argentine Tango and couldn’t find one.”

After mentioning that unlike Ballroom dancing (what they dance back home) Argentine Tango isn’t about the steps, they said,

“Oh no, Ballroom isn’t about the steps, it’s more about this…” – The male counterpart of the couple proceeded to show the swing and sway of the upper body.  We competed in International Ballroom and know full well that Ballroom dancing is ALL about the steps.

After speaking about the milongas they said,

“It gets frustrating when you only know and repeat five steps.  Time to get back in the class and learn more steps!”

We also met another older couple the week before who couldn’t comprehend when the teacher said, “Soy Milonguero.  No soy bailarin.”  (I’m a Milonguero.  I’m not a dancer.) Then again, we’ve heard over and over again how tango tourists think any old man who dances Tango is a “Milonguero”.

This kind of ignorance is found in all forms of personal interests and hobbies.  If you’re INTERESTED in something, why not take the time to research it and learn about it?


We didn’t want to hide this dirty little secret.  We decided beforehand that it would be something we shared, regardless of the outcome.  On October 26th, we competed in the first “Intercontinental Tango Championship“.  We saw the news about it on Cherie’s blog before we left Toronto and decided then that we would compete.

The big question is why?  Why participate in a competition involving a dance that is a social dance?  Our main reason was this: To help us conquer our “stage fright”.  We are asked often enough in Toronto to perform and we always oblige.  However, we have yet to overcome being extremely nervous in these situations.

Competing was a terrific experience for us and really did help curb our fears.  At the end of the first night of competition, we found out we had made it through to semi-finals.  Along with this good news, we met some of the lovely competitors who had also qualified.  One couple specifically, invited us to go to a practica the following night.  We took them up on their offer and what transpired has changed our path in Buenos Aires for good.

The practica is lead by a milonguero and is filled with students who are the next up-and-coming names.  Their skills are simply unbelievable.  We saw one young local boy dance amazingly with feeling, musicality (as in he knows every song inside-out), and skill (as a post-script: As of 2010, he became the winner of the Mundial Tango Championship :).  We are starting to understand how and why these dancers do make it huge.  They have been learning for years from some wonderful teachers and surrounded by other amazing dancers.

When this milonguero found out that three couples at the practica (including us) had qualified to the semi-finals, he offered to have us over at his house to help us… for FREE!?  With our limited Castellano, we learned so much from this man and we will continue to do so.

On Thursday, we returned to compete in the semi-finals with Jorge’s fever (and then un-diagnosed tonsillitis).  We gave it our best and couldn’t have had a more wonderful experience.  At the end of the night, they called the names and numbers of those who had qualified for the finals.  When it looked as though they had called everyone, they proceeded to call our names and the names of one other couple.  Confused for a moment, we were informed that we would dance another tango with this couple so the judges could decide which of us would qualify!?

Can all of you see what an incredible opportunity we were given?  Our stage fright was being put to the test!  We were being asked to dance at that moment with one other couple (whereas we had danced with three other couples in our round earlier that night).  Everyone was watching and making their own personal judgments of which couple “deserved” to go through to the finals.  It was one of those experiences of a lifetime and we are so thankful for it – even though the judges chose the other couple over us :)

We received a lot of positive feedback from competitors and spectators (dancers), and we left feeling really great about our experience.

There is a lot of debate over these competitions and their place in the world of Argentine Tango.  Here are our two cents:  We think these competitions are quite stupid because they fail to get at the heart of what Argentine Tango is.  However. there is not a doubt in our minds that Tango can be judged to a certain extent.  Do we not all do it at the milongas?  We judge who has musicality, lovely movement, nice posture, and a comfortable embrace.  We judge this and then make the decision whether or not we’ll dance with that person.  In a competition, the contradiction occurs when the judges appear to favour fancy movements that compromise the aforementioned criteria.

Our weakness in this competition was indeed our inability to execute elaborate giros and turn patterns (patterns, in this context, is not defined as memorized steps, but rather an on-the-spot created chain of movements).  We have no regrets – it was perfect the way it was.  Now we will continue on our journey here to learn and dance more Argentine Tango.