Tango is not only a fascinating dance but also a fascinating philosophy, culture and lifestyle. The search of tango is the search of connection, love, unity, beauty, harmony and humanity, 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 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, reconciliation and compromise. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.

July 26, 2019

How to Dance Milonga

Milonga music is 2/4 time. There are two quarter notes in each measure, each quarter note receives a beat, counted as 1 +, 2 + (1 is the downbeat, 2 is the upbeat, + is the subdivision), which is twice as fast as tango. (See Tango Music and Its Danceability.) How well one dances milonga depends on one's ability to handle its fast rhythm.

There are three ways to do that.

Milonga Lisa

The first way is called milonga Lisa, in which the dancer steps only on the downbeat of each measure and ignore the upbeat and the subdivisions, that is, right foot on 1 of the first measure, left foot on 1 of the second measure, right foot on 1 of the third measure, left food on 1 of the forth measure..., in even speed.

Milonga Lisa is the simplest way to dance milonga, but because it skips the upbeats and subdivisions, it feels a little too monotonous and slow.

Dynamic timing

The second way is using dynamic timing to step on both downbeats and upbeats in different speeds.

For example, you may step on 1 of the first measure, then on both 1 and 2 of the second measure (slow, quick-quick), or vice versa (quick-quick, slow), or on all downbeats and upbeats (quick-quick, quick-quick).

You may also step on the subdivisions in addition to the downbeats and upbeats: left foot on 1, right foot on +, left foot on 2 (quick-quick, slow); or left foot on 1, right foot on 2, left foot on + (slow, quick-quick); or left foot on 1, right foot on +, left foot on 2, right foot on + (quick-quick, quick-quick).

Using dynamic timing to dance milonga is more interesting, but it is busy and could be tedious if the whole tanda is danced this way.

Milonga Traspie

The third and more advanced way to dance milonga is called milonga traspie. Meaning stumble, traspie refers to the stumble like steps used to reduce the weight change, thus slows down the pace of the dance.

When the foot is blocked by an obstacle, it could either cross over to land on the other side of the obstacle, or rebound back. Similarly, there are two types of milonga traspie.

The first type is double-step traspie, in which the dancer steps twice with the same foot on two consecutive downbeats in slow-slow timing. The first step resembles the foot meets the obstacle. The second step resembles the foot crosses over the obstacle. The first step is not an actual step but only a tap, carrying 50 percent of the body weight. The second step is a real step, carrying 100 percent of the body weight to free the other leg.

The second type is rock traspie, resembling the foot rebounds back after meeting the obstacle. The dancer uses a rock action to transfer weight back and forth three times in quick-quick-slow timing: (1) stepping forward/side/back with one leg and transfers 50 percent of the body weight to that leg on 1, (2) pushing with that leg to transfer weight back to the standing leg on +, (3) pushing with the standing leg to transfer weight back to the other leg completely on 2 to free the standing leg. 

Whether using tap or rock, traspie allows the dancer to step on all beats and subdivisions without actually changing weight on every beat and subdivision, thus not only retains the rhythm of milonga but also make this fast paced dance an easier task.

Experienced dancers mix all above methods to make their milonga more diversified, interesting and fun. The following are few examples.

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