Tango is not only a fascinating dance but also a fascinating philosophy, culture and lifestyle. The search of tango is the search of humanity, connection, love, unity, harmony and beauty, i.e., an idealism that is not consistent with the dehumanizing reality of the modern world. The world divides us as individuals, but tango unites us as a team, community and people. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through connection, cooperation, accommodation, reconciliation and compromise. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.
March 11, 2017
Being a milonguera is a high call, only the best tangueras deserve that title. A milonguera is not a performer but a social dancer. She dances for her partner's enjoyment and her own pleasure. Dancing with a milonguera is a real treat because her consummate dance skills enable her to focus her entire attention on her partner, her body is so well-trained that she can make him feel totally comfortable even in the most challenging movements, and her musicality is so excellent that dancing with her becomes an indulgence.
A milonguera has transcended the narrowness of egocentric popular ideas like egoism, individualism and feminism. She understands that tango is a relationship and teamwork, that the gratification of tango comes from surrender, cooperation and sharing, that her own enjoyment of the dance relies on her partner, and that unless he is happy she cannot be so. Therefore, she gives her undivided attention to him, just like he does to her. Tango is an altruist dance, and a milonguera is an altruist.
A milonguera connects to her partner by leaning forward into him with a firm yet gentle pressure of her breasts against his torso, tuning constantly to the messages emitted from his chest. She stretches her body upwards as if it were the string of a violin that vibrates at his slightest touch. Her head rests affectionately on his cheek, void of pressure. Her body is completely relaxed, thus it is comfortable to be held in the arms and is easy to lead. Her weight is on the ball of her standing foot, but her whole foot including the heel, is in contact with the floor, thus she is stable. Her right hand rests in his left hand without weight, and her left arm lands on his right shoulder to secure the torso connection and enjoy his embrace. But she keeps her own balance and doesn't hang on him for stability, thus she is light. (See Raul Cabral, Driving and Synchronization.)
A milonguera dances beautifully, but the meaning of tango to her is not so much in the impression as it is in the communication of emotions. Steps, just like the embrace, are the tools she uses to connect to her partner, express her feelings, being one with him, and bring contentment to him. They are a part of what makes tango an intimate, loving, playful and comforting dance.
Her body is so supple and flexible that she can dance on either side of him or around him without upsetting the embrace or causing discomfort to him. She twists her body in his arms in such tender and seductive way that it pleases to the sense of his body. She can dissociate her upper body and lower body to such a degree that the two partners are always perfectly connected in even the most difficult maneuvers. For her, to tango is to pamper the man in her arms, and she is equipped with an educated feminine body to do that.
She has danced the milonguero style of tango for at least ten years and has accumulated tremendous experiences. Her skill is so proficient that she can dance intuitively without having to think about the steps and techniques, thus she can concentrate on making him feel good. She knows all the tricks to please him with her body: caressing him with her body when she twists it in his arms, letting her chest trundle on his torso when swiveling her hips, massaging his chest with her breasts in ocho cortado, wrapping his body with her body in molinete, and entangles his leg with her leg in sacadas, etc. She is a maestra (master) of the art of seduction.
A milonguera knows the music inside out. She knows the story of every tango song. She knows how to express the feelings of each song with her every movement. She is moody when the music is moody, passionate when the music is passionate, sentimental when the music turns blue, and affectionate when the music becomes tender. She accelerates, slows down, strengthens, softens, reinforces, syncopates, pauses and suspends as the music tells her to do so. She can express the feelings of the music so well that you feel like you are dancing with the music itself. Dancing with a milonguera is a pure enjoyment of music without slightest disharmony.
A milonguera is versed in the milonga world. She follows the protocols about personal hygiene, dress, seating, invitation, mirada, cabeceo, navigation, and all the dos and don'ts of the milonga. (See Milonga Codes.) She is easygoing, polite, warm and charming. She greets everyone, respects everyone, is friendly to everyone, and does not have an attitude that scares men away. She always lets men know her appreciation and love for them. Milonga codes have been a part of her life for so long that they become her second nature. She might have been an arrogant, egocentric, individualistic, independent, competitive and feminist ultraist. She might have possessed all the attitudes, habits and imperfections many did when they started tango. But tango has changed her and transformed her into a marvel - a milonguera treasured by all milongueros.
I've just returned from Newport News Encuentro, Virginia, one of the best milonguero gatherings I have attended. The women that I have danced with in that event inspired me to write something about them. My special thanks to Liga Losseva, Sherry Chou, Olimpia Stein, Eva VonEsse, Flo Woodreuff, Yemiko Yagui, Marina Aleshker, Sandra Angel, Emily Mooney, Shirley Putnam, Gloria Swindoll, Pamela Ruth, and many others whose names I don't know or remember. Special thanks also to Andy Stein, the organizer of the event, and to Raul Cabral, whose writings are always an inspiration and whose appreciation for milonguera women I deeply share.
The Chivalry of the Milongueros