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.

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. It feels a bit slow and monotonous, but fits well when music is very fast.

Dynamic timing

The second way is using dynamic timing to step randomly on any or all beats and subdivisions 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 subdivisions in addition to beats: 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 feels busy and could be tedious if the whole tanda is danced in this way. It fits nicely when music is slower.

Milonga Traspie

The third and more advanced way to dance milonga is called milonga traspie. Meaning stumble, traspie refers to the stumble like step used to slow 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 it could retreat. Similarly, there are two types of milonga traspie.

The first type of traspie 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 standing leg. Dancing double-step traspie, the left leg steps in line with the partner's leg; the right leg steps outside of the partner's leg.

With its slow-slow timing, double-step traspie helps to slow down the pace of the dance when music is very fast.

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

Milongueros like to use rock traspie for its plainness, compactness, inconspicuousness and easiness.

Whether using tap or rock, traspie makes the movements consistent with the fast-paced music of milonga without having to change weight comppletely on every beat and subdivision, thus retains the style of milonga but makes it easier to dance.

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

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