Milonga-In-Single-Time. Milonga for a lot of people is a very challenging musical genre, and a challenging dance. Which is putting it mildly. Don’t believe that statement is true ? Just watch a Milonga tanda at your next Milonga. Watch how 80% of the floor clears. Mostly people fall into two categories: 1.) LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Milonga. or 2.) RUN, RUN, RUN from Milonga. And there is no middle ground. Those people that fall into the 1st category are usually Followers first who’ve danced more than a Milonga or two with a good Lead that understands HOW to fuse the music with linear compilations of the dance of Milonga. 😉 Those people that fall into the 2nd category are usually split into two subcategories. a.) Leads that have a distinct fear of Milonga because they’ve realized that the music is faster than they think they can dance, and/or they don’t know what to do to it or with it, and then leading that stuff at that ‘speed’. They just freak right the frak out! b.) The Follower who has learned the hard way that they’d rather sit than dance a Milonga with someone who races them around the floor jerking them this way and that. Today’s Tango Topic deals with the second category of dancer and applies to the first category of Follower only in the minimal. That said, let’s dive right into Milonga-In-Single-Time.
Let’s get something out of the way, Milonga-In-Single-Time is not a step or a pattern, this is not going to change what you do to Milonga, well not immediately but it can and will change how you can access Milonga on multiple of multiple of levels.
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What is Milonga-In-Single-Time ? This is a construct to help you access Milonga which is more for the Lead and less for the Follower. It’s a tool that can change how the 2nd category of dancer hears Milonga so that they can actually dance it and not freak out to it. In short, it’s a way to slow down Milonga in real time without actually doing anything crazy really. In it’s simplest form it is dropping a beat really.
A little clarity: Milonga from a timing perspective is 2/4 time. Meaning that there are 2 beats per measure. By contrast Tango music is typically 4/4 time, meaning that there are 4 beats per measure.
We typically step on the 1st and 3rd beat of a Tango, and the 1st beat of Milonga. The first note in both cases is the strong beat of the music. The 3rd note is a weaker ‘strong’ beat. While the contrasting 2 and 4 are softer weaker notes. There’s a reason why we’re talking about this stuff of notation and timing and beats and which note we typically step on, and that’s because it’s important that you understand what normally happens.
Try tapping/clapping out the beat here, just a hint, you’re going to want to tap/clap on the 1 and the 3, that’s what your normal walking beat would be. Now here comes the fun part, believe it or not, this is actually Milonga-In-Single-Time even though it’s a Tango. 😉 And that’s the key to this tool right there.
Milonga-In-Single-Time would take a normal Milonga which is 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, and instead turn it into 1-2-3-4, where the 3,4 is the next 1,2 in the sequence! Now we add one more thing, remember we’re only stepping on the 1, not the 3 in this case. So a Milonga like the one used in the video is Francisco Canaro’s ‘Milonga Sentimental’ (see below) would go from 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, to 1-2-3-4 where the 1 is what we walk on, thereby effectively 'slowing down' the Milonga! As a result the typical ‘rush’ or freak out that happens for that second class of dancer above never happens because there’s ‘time’, lots and lots and lots of time. 🙂
Difficulty Rating: (3 / 5)
From a Following Perspective there are two ways you’re going to hear this construct when you’re being led to it, and it all depends on what you’re used to. a.) You’re the Follower who LOVES Milonga and wants to be danced to it at the proper ‘speed’. So having this done to your idea of Milonga will make you go absolutely crazy, and not in a good way. You’re going to think that your lead doesn’t have a clue as to what they’re doing. And nothing could be further from the truth. One of two things has occurred. 1.) This Lead is really trying to hear Milonga. or 2.) This Lead already knows Milonga and they also realize that every Lead before them that has danced Milonga with you has probably jerked you around with their embrace and raced you around the room as if they’re sprinting for the finish line. Instead this Lead is taking the slow, careful, well thought out approach of building a Milonga tanda carefully. Constructing it patiently. Note the word there, TANDA, not song. They’re building their idea of this particular tanda and interpreting it slowly, carefully, meticulously. Truthfully this second version of a Lead doesn’t happen all that often, but they are enough of these kinds of dancers out there that when we get one as Followers we’re exceptionally happy. There’s usually a line to dance with these kinds of leads, and this is reason number 3 on the long list of reasons why they’re desirable to dance with. Reasons #3 ? Yeah, it’s not the top reason because that’s reserved for (in order) 1.) their embrace. and 2.) their musical interpretation skills.
All said and done, when you get a Lead that does this to the FIRST song of the Tanda, here’s some good advice for you: CHILLAX! Seriously, this is a gift. You know you hear 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, and they’re in build mode of 1-2-3-4. Relax, you’ll get there. Eventually. Or maybe never. And there are several reasons why they may never get there. And one of those reasons has everything to do with you, and not necessarily them. It’s that your skills (read that as ‘thud’, ‘pressure’, ‘compression’, and ‘hanging’ all of which are not desirable in Milonga in any way, shape, or form) aren’t what you think they are (see ‘follower bashing’). The other reasons have everything to do with them, and nothing to do with you. In short, breathe, smile, nod, and chillax.
From a Leading Perspective this stuff is all about you. Let’s cut through it, shall we ? If you’ve been dancing for a while and Milonga scares the shit out of you, then this item is for you. If you’ve been dancing for a while and Milonga turns you on, then this toy is for you. See ? This is applicable to everyone!
The Happy Lead: Let’s deal with the happy Lead that gets Milonga first. You love, love, love Milonga. However more than likely you fall into one of two categories of Leads that are ‘Happy’ about Milonga. 1.) You race Milonga. Which means you hear and and race on every musical note (pay attention to the phrase ‘musical note’) and not necessarily the beat of the music. You hear one thing and in reality Milonga is much slower than you think and no one has thought to correct you. And quite rightfully it’s not their place to correct you unless you specifically ask for it, and quite honestly you’re not going to ask for it because you believe or think that your Milonga is spot on. When in fact you’re the guy who’s racing around the floor, causing floorcraft havoc when a Milonga Tanda happens. 🙁 or 2.) You get Milonga. Period. You hear it at the speed it’s played at and dance it accordingly, but you also realize that there is no need to squeeze, pull, push, hang, or worse - compress when dancing Milonga. You understand the fusion of Milonga movement to Milonga Music, while at the same time you dance it with each and fluidity. So if you’re either one of those types of Leads, then the tool of Milonga-In-Single-Time can be of use to you on multiple levels. For the first type of Lead, it will allow you to actually hear Milonga, probably for the first time. For the second type of Lead it will be more of a cool toy that you can use to augment your Milonga dancing experience!
The Fearful Lead: You are rightfully afraid of screwing up Milonga. You run from the floor whenever a Milonga tanda comes on, or suddenly have an interest in sorting your lint collection, or need to get some fresh air, a smoke, a glass of wine, whatever…just as long as you do not have to dance Milonga with anyone for fear that you will look like an idiot or appear that you don’t know what you’re doing. While this tool will not correct that problem, it will give you the skills to actually hear Milonga and thereby give you the confidence that you lack in this one simple realization: You can do whatever you want in Milonga. Understand this one single idea if you take nothing else away from this Tango Topic: Milonga is a simple, linear dance. It doesn’t necessarily turn, nor was it designed to either. Designed is the wrong word there, more like ‘grown’. Milonga is a subset of Tango. Or more appropriately Tango grew out of Milonga. Not the Milonga Porteña that we know today but an earlier form of Milonga, called ‘Milonga Criolla’. None of that stuff matters to you right now. This is all about calming your fears about screwing up, and this is one way to do that. Slowing the speed of Milonga to the point where you can manage it. And once you do that, then you realize that you can do anything within that time because you have oooooodles of time. A turn, a cross, or just walking. Anything at all. Milonga is possible!
From a Dancing Perspective the real key to dancing Milonga is in two places, one that almost no one tells you: 1.) The Musical Pauses! and 2.) The Weight Change. It’s true. Stop and think about this last one for a moment. If you’ve danced a successful Milonga recently, think about how the weight transfers ‘just happened’. There’s a reason for that, it’s because the partner you were dancing with understands that in order to dance Milonga the weight transfers (and really collections) have to be spot on. Once you realize this and able to do it, Milonga becomes…easier, physiologically accessible. How does this relate to Milonga-In-Single-Time ? It relates because hearing the music is only one of two components of the equation, then there’s what you can do with it, and that starts with understanding and executing weight changes in their proper place and time. The other is hearing the music. 🙂
Watch It On Youtube ? Why should you pay for this video, or subscribe to this website when stuff like this is available on Youtube ? Because what you'll find on Youtube doesn't explain and walk you through the how Milonga-In-Single-Time works! That’s why!
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In an hour long class, with the blind leading the blind through rotation of partners (uuuggggh!), you may glean a piece of the information you need and not get the whole thing, and you’ll miss important pieces that you’ll end up having to take a private lesson for to get the finer points. This way, you can watch over and over again, and get all the supplementary materials, and if you want you can still go take the class, only you’ll be better prepared to do so!
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