Tag Archives: Music

The Honeymoon Phase is Over When:

Honeymoon Bliss?

…you don’t feel the need to dance every “tanda”.

…you actually enjoy sitting and listening to the music at a milonga.

…you have no desire to dance outside on a concrete floor, in cold weather, or at other locations not meant for Tango.

…you are aware of the Tango music you are amassing – you no longer download/copy any song that is Tango-like in nature.

…you are no longer interested in volcadas/colgadas/ganchos (if you ever were).

…you no longer attempt to put Tango moves to every piece of music (if you ever did).

…you no longer find it acceptable to hear anything but “golden era” Tango music at a milonga (if you ever did).

…you know how to decline a dance… and you do it.

…you no longer think “El Huracan” is a good piece of music to dance to (unless it’s D’Arienzo’s ’44) and you’ve heard “Desde el alma”, “Corazón de oro”, and Poema” (Canaro) played often enough, thank you.

…you think it’s outrageous to hear 3 or more D’Arienzo Tango tandas played at the milonga (especially if it’s less than 4 hours long)… and in fact, you don’t think everything your local DJ plays is good, is in a properly constructed tanda (i.e., what happened to playing songs from the same era?!), or is being played at the appropriate time in the night (because you can actually hear the difference between the songs AND you are actually listening to the music now).

…you do not want to hear Tango tandas by D’Arienzo and DiSarli following one another (too much!).

…you still love Caló with Berón, but you now know that it is like vanilla-flavoured ice cream (flavoured with REAL vanilla) – simple and special, but not the end-all of Tango music. (A friendly poke to some of you out there – you know who you are ;)

…you no longer think that chest contact alone amounts to an embrace – you want more than a feather-light touch.

…you no longer think that any/every teacher brought to your city or seen on YouTube is amazing and you are not impressed or interested in all the tricks and flashy moves they do.

In many ways, it makes us sad to admit that we are no longer in the Tango honeymoon phase. On the flip-side of the coin, we are happy that we are not dancers who are STUCK in the honeymoon phase – and there are many of those.  Once you grow out of the honeymoon phase, that is when you and your dance can begin to mature. We feel that we are now more knowledgeable, our dancing has evolved, and we don’t live in a delusion. We KNOW that Tango in Buenos Aires is so much better.

How We Teach & Promote Argentine Tango

... Tango Awareness, that is.

1. We play only traditional Argentine Tango music AND we only dance to this music.

2. We teach our students to dance counter-clockwise, in one lane, and to not pass other couples (unless absolutely necessary – and NEVER on the right side of a couple) AND we dance with these proper floor skills.

3. We teach our students to keep their feet on the ground as much as possible AND we keep our feet on the ground as much as possible.

4. We do not teach ganchos or other unnecessary movements AND we don’t dance with these kinds of movements.

5. We teach social and improvised Tango that is conducive to dancing on a milonga floor AND we dance a social and improvised Tango.

6. We teach the “cabeceo” (reminding our students that it is done from your seat and not at the corner of the woman’s table) AND we actually use it.

7. As teachers, when we go to Buenos Aires, we go as students ready to learn more. We take classes, we learn more about the music, we dance socially, and we live Tango.

8. We teach our students about the music and the importance of it. We tell them which orchestra/singer/era will be playing during the class. We even remind our students that they should not embrace until the song has begun in order to develop a feeling for what is being played.

9. We teach our students that a “cortina” is a small piece of non-Tango music used to CLEAR the floor between “tandas” and no one should dance to the “cortina” or remain on the floor during this time.

10. We tell our students to go out dancing, to dance with various partners… but we also let our students know that they are allowed to decline dances for whatever reason.

*Although we teach and promote these concepts (and more) with the hope that we’re positively influencing our students, we are often reminded that people will eventually make their own choices – for better or for worse.

The Stroh Violin in Tango

We know it when we hear it.  We had learned the name and seen a picture of this interesting instrumental contraption while in Buenos Aires… but we always forgot it!  It was only today that Jorge finally discovered the “violin corneta” again when La 2×4 radio station discussed Julio De Caro.

As is the bandoneon, the violin corneta is a German invention

“In 1920s Buenos Aires, Julio De Caro, a renowned Tango orchestra director and violinist, used it in his live performances, and was called “violin corneta” (cornet violin) by the locals.”  – Wikipedia

Tango in Buenos Aires (Part III)


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!

Read more about our experiences in our previous posts: Tango in Buenos Aires (Part I) and Tango in Buenos Aires (Part II).