Thursday 23 June 2011

Rules of thumb: dancing milonga

Heuristics: In psychology, heuristics are simple, efficient rules, hard-coded by evolutionary processes or learned, which have been proposed to explain how people make decisions, come to judgments, and solve problems, typically when facing complex problems or incomplete information. These rules work well under most circumstances, but in certain cases lead to systematic errors or biases.

Here are my ‘heuristics’ regarding dancing milonga:

*Never let your first dance with a stranger be a milonga.

*It is better to not dance a milonga which you love than to dance one with someone whose style you can’t connect with.

*Never make your first tanda on a night out, a milonga tanda (but see below).

*If the dance floor is already at 70% capacity before a milonga tanda, skip the milonga tanda.

*Avoid dancing milonga when you know the DJ has a tendency to ‘up the pitch’ on a milonga in an attempt to make the night a bit more fun (!) (appalling story I heard from someone who had been dancing in Athens).

*When dancing milonga, it’s great to add adornos etc that accent the beat but not EVERY single beat (and half beat) and especially not with a ‘golpe’. [This is not Stomp].

These tend to be my ‘rule of thumb’ thoughts but might occasionally cause me to miss out (since writing these I have in fact danced my first tanda as a milonga when at a social dance. It was fun because we’ve danced a lot together and dance milonga in the same way. I would however say that was an exception).


  1. Hi Golondrina,
    I often dance a milonga tanda as my first dance with a stranger. If I have seen him out on the dance floor and he is a good, confident dancer I feel happy to dance milonga with him. I actually think it is easier than tango in many ways. Although the speed means that you need a quicker reaction time, it also hides errors. And milonga is more fun, comic and casual than tango. You do both have to be experienced milonga dancers, though. But if I see that the guy is a great tango dancer I know his milonga will be good too. So far, I've had no disappointments with this method.

  2. "Avoid dancing milonga when you know the DJ has a tendency to ‘up the pitch’ on a milonga in an attempt to make the night a bit more fun (!)

    Excellent advice, Golondrina. It is sad that it is applicable with so many DJ hereabouts. In contrast, the good DJ combines tracks such that if a couple decides from the first track of a tanda that it's one to which they want to dance, then they will also want to dance to the rest.

    Terpsichoral wrote:
    "Although the speed means that you need a quicker reaction time"

    I think this is complete myth. Dancing milonga, like dancing tango, does not work by action and reaction and so there's no such thing as reaction time. The idea that the girl "reacts" to the guy comes from English so-clased tango classes based on the pattern-dance concept of lead and follow, despite that just about any Argentine dancer can tell you this is not the way they dance. Dancing milonga (and tango) works by the partners staying together such that each responds naturally, continously, unconciously and reflexively to the other. That and only that is what creates the simultaneous and integrated movement one sees and feels as one body dancing with four legs.

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