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Milonga Madness with Detlef Engel & Melina Sedó

Milonga & The Habanera Rhythm

When a Milonga tanda is played, more than half the dancers leave the floor for a smoke, the bathroom, the bar, to re-evaluate their lint collection or immediately start counting the ceiling tiles. The reasons why this phenomenon occurs are wide and varied but the subtext is clear: Milonga is clearly a challenge! It’s not that milonga isn’t fun. It is! It sure looks like it is. The music is very light and uplifting. Nor is it that Milonga is not entirely engaging. It clearly is that. It’s just that Milonga has become a complex dance by some estimates. There are a few primary reasons why the floor clears: a.) Some people feel a little foolish because they don’t understand the Music. b.) Milonga is so fast. c.) Don’t want to look foolish or screw up. d.) Some people would rather not dance with someone that doesn’t hear ‘the music’, and can’t build a dance from that. So they leave the floor.

Want to know a secret to Milonga ? Milonga is actually really easy. The dancing part is actually quite simple. For the most part, Milongas’ movements (its figures are a limited subset of tango, and really it’s done in on the linear, almost nothing curves in milonga). However, the thing you really want is 1.) To understand the Music. And 2.) Do something with that music. That’s where we talk about The Music and The Habanera Rhythm!

Usually, the idea of the Habanera Rhythm is taught in every Milonga class or workshop for one simple reason that you cannot dance Milonga without it! To be certain you can dance Milonga solely on its “1”, “2” beat, or you can dance to the melody of a Milonga tune, and a lot of people dance either of these ways. If, on the other hand, you want to enhance your Milonga skills, make your Milonga beautiful to look at, fun to do, inviting to others to so that they want to dance Milonga with you, then you really do want to learn how to incorporate the Habanera Rhythm and it’s Rhythmical Variations into your Milonga skills!

Enter Detlef Engel & Melina Sedó

If you’ve studied with Detlef Engel & Melina Sedó, or spent any time with them, danced with them, then we don’t have to explain how important a workshop with them is, and just why you should register below.

If not, then understand these two key points: 1.) They Make Milonga Accessible in a way that you can actually use the material almost immediately using what you already know about Argentine Tango with a few modifications here and there. A few ‘gotchas’ you absolutely have to be aware of in order to dance Milonga successfully. And 2.) There are no videos online, anywhere, of them demonstrating their work, or demonstrating how they teach, and in English! Let alone a complete Milonga Seminar! Yes, there are plenty of performance videos of them dancing to Tangos, Valses, and Milonga which you might be able to infer how they translate Milonga into what is referred to as ‘Social Milonga’, but that’s, to put it mildly, a stretch! But those are performance videos, not them breaking down how the Habanera works, what to listen for in Milonga, and then how to apply it going forward as a Lead or as a Follower!

On the other hand, you could purchase their book, Caminar Abrazados, which contains their Tango concepts and practices, in a extremely well written, and exceptionally well thought out 175-page tango exploration (and the included 2hr – 12 section DVD), where you’re presented with their teaching methodology. Which, as a side note, in our estimation is a clear, concise, and inherently detailed tool that you should order ASAP (very similar to TangoTopics in many ways). But unless you’re able to travel to them (spending several hours on an airplane, and then train, plus food and lodging, and not to mention several hundred dollars/euros in the process just to get to them), the only way you’re able to see this fabulous teaching couple is in your dreams. 🙁 Sadly. That is until now. 🙂

The reality is that they’re exceptionally knowledgeable and detailed teaching couple that have been refining the craft of explaining the materials laid out in this video for the last 18 years (at the time of this writing). This isn’t learning a few steps, patterns, or figures and you’re done. No. This is getting refined, clarified, clear, distilled information put in a useable form in its absolute essence to give you all the tools that you need from a video seminar on Milonga and the Habanera Rhythm, and The Rhythmical Variations of The Habanera Rhythm, and then….what you can do with all of that!

A Few Good Reasons

Why do you need this video series ? Because Detlef & Melina give you all the tools that you’ll need in order to enhance your Milonga skills, to make your dancing comfortable, consistent, and very conscious fun on every level! Musical, Kinesthetic, and Socially. Look, Milonga does not have to be complicated or complex. It can be a very simple and pleasant dance, and that’s what this video series emphasizes on multiple levels. Simple. Clean. Clear. Easy Milonga so that you can generate a very pleasant, and fun dancing experience with your partners. That’s why you need this video series. 

What are you going to get out of this video series ? A whole bunch of stuff. First and foremost is the Milonga Beat, the clear “1”, “2” of Milonga, just where that is and what it sounds like in various Milongas. Secondly, you’ll start to hear a Milonga beat that can be danced as a choice in either Half-Time and how to do that, Single-Time, and even in Double-Time and where and why that wants to happen! Third, they introduce a very important concept of “Counter Body” movement or what Tango Topics refers to as ‘Opposition‘ which is incredibly important in Milonga for a variety of reasons. Fourth, you’ll get an introduction to the Milonga “and” note that occurs (or “+” as it’s sometimes represented), and just why it’s so important that we dance it in Milonga and not discard it. And Last, but not least, probably the single most important thing about Milonga is what defines it as a musical genre in the first place: The Habanera Rhythm and what that is and what makes it so distinctive

Next Detlef and Melina take things to a whole other level with not only hearing The Habanera Rhythm, and walking through it and around it, but then adding in the 2 more common Rhythmical Variations of the Habanera Rhythm that you want to dance to and why. And then they add the icing on the cake: Milonga con Traspie, and you learn the when, where and how those rhythmical variations are applied with Milonga con Traspie! This video series completely demystifies the Milonga Beat, The Habanera Rhythm and it’s variations, and Traspie, and gives you the tools you need to enhance your dancing. 

Will you get any new and useful information on the Embrace, on the Walk, and how to hear the Music ? Yes to that entire question. You will have a greater, mmmm…wait, a deeper understanding of how you want to walk, how to engage opposition in your walk, how to step, how to land your foot, and why you want to walk in the way that they demonstrate. They break down close embrace, and show you a few pitfalls that happen in Milonga, and then put you on the straightened arrow so that you’ll want to make your embrace like what you see them doing. You get this from a Leading perspective as well as from a Following perspective. And lastly, of course, you will hear the music as they hear the music, and what you specifically need to listen for and then how to apply it.

That’s what you’re going to get. 😉 That and you will no longer want to clear the floor, or sit and count the ceiling tiles!

Access Options

Milonga Madness with Detlef Engel & Melina Sedó Access Options.

Option 1: Milonga Madness Option 2: Gold Level Access + Milonga Madness

What do you get with Option 1 ? The Full video of Milonga Madness for viewing on this website, your tablet, or your phone.

What do you get with Option 2 ? Gold Level Access on Tango Topics for 1 year + The full video of Milonga Madness for viewing on this website, your tablet, or your phone. 🙂

2018 USA Workshop Participants:

Detlef & Melina USA 2018 Participants: For participants of Boise, Philadelphia, or Newport News workshops in 2018 ONLY you will automatically get the discount above assuming that your organizer has submitted your name and email address to us, if they haven’t then you’ll have to contact your organizer have them submit your name to get the discount. In any case, your discount will be applied. Boston participants, your account is already set up for you, and you should receive a notification just go and log in!

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Milonga-In-Single-Time

Milonga-In-Single-Time

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.

learning tango is challenging. registering makes it easier. 😉

Have you seen the Walking Systems video ? This video series showcases the Six Ways of expanding your walk in Tango using: Parallel System Walking, Cross System Walking, Three Track Walking, ‘Lazy’ Ochos, The Snake Walks, & Alternate Walking.

Learn > The Six Ways of Walking

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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 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

There’s a lot more to this ArticleThere’s the extensive Lead’s Perspective, the deeper Follower’s Technique Perspective, and sometimes we throw in a complete Dancing Perspective part, all of which are only visible to Tango Topics Freemium Registered Users, Gold Subscribers, Diamond Level Users, and Milonga Madness Users. To become a Freemium user, Registration is absolutely 100% FREE, click the button below, and you get access to this article, and over 400 videos, hundreds of articles on a wide range of Tango Topics. So what are you waiting for, go register, then login to your Tango Topics Library page and then select the “ARTICLES” button and you’ll see this article with all that good stuff in there. Easy. No ? 🙂

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The Reality of WHY You Need This: There are many moves, steps, patterns, and figures to Argentine Tango that are really cool. What you may not realize is that most of that stuff is ‘fluff’, they’re nice to have, they’re nice to know, but honestly, you’re not going to use them that often! Mind you this is one side of the argument. This ain’t that! This piece is one of the more venerable selections of Argentine Tango that you will use frequently like Walking, Milonguero Ochos/Milonguero Turns, The Follower’s Molinete/Traveling Ochos, or The Argentine Cross. Tango Topics take this stuff very seriously, and we say that because we use this stuff ALL – THE – TIME! Our case is that you need this stuff because > This is all about foundation, or one of the Seven Foundation Steps that we use all the time to create the dance that we know as Argentine Tango. That’s why! 🙂 That said, you do actually need to watch this stuff. You can learn what you need from this video and then apply it. No lie. No gimmick. As always YMMV and to remember that the video itself is only a stepping stone! You will need some private lessons to go along with it to get the ‘feel’ of things. That is the reality of WHY you need this stuff. So subscribing for a few months to TangoTopics to get what we’re on about wouldn’t kill you. Further, it would probably help to hear another person saying what your current tango teacher has been saying all along. Think of this stuff as one more reminder that you absolutely need to hear.

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The Missing Information. Dearest Reader. TangoTopics is glad that you want to read this Topic, so that you can dig a little deeper into your foundation, into the music, into the codigos of the dance. However, you’re missing three important parts to this Article: The Follower’s Perspective, The Lead’s Perspective, and The Dancing Perspective. Which can change your thinking by informing of some important pieces of information that you may not necessarily be aware of. Watching a 5 minute video will not help you to change. Change is a concerted effort and requires a little thinking on your part: Becoming a Freeium User! As the name implies, it’s FREE. Register. You get to see everything above, and a whole lot more! 😉 Have a nice day.

Have you seen the Milonga Madness series ? Over 2.5 hrs of pure Milonga Instruction GOLD with one of the best Social Milonga Teaching couples alive: Detlef Engel & Melina Sedó! It covers everything you need to know to get you up and running today with Milonga. Don’t delay, subscribe today!

Milonga Madness with Detlef Engel & Melina Sedo

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Why should you subscribe instead ?  Several reasons.  1.) Probably the biggest reason is to save a boatload of money. Buying these things outright isn’t cheap. Besides when you buy you only have access to the one video. Subscribing, on the other hand, gives you access to everything else so you can see the foundational material that goes with this stuff. 2.) Even if you’re a Free User, you’ll get access to free tips that aren’t available to anyone just reading the post like this one. 3.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 4.) Because the Dancing Perspectives (Lead, Follow, and Dancing) are hidden to the open user. And that’s where all the information is at, unless you actually subscribe. Until you do, those very important textual descriptions of what’s going on for both Lead and Follow you want to read. 5.) And the real reason you should subscribe ? If you’re used to YouTube videos where you’ll see a performance, those Youtube videos don’t explain or walk you through how these ideas work! That is why! What you’re seeing is a presentation, a performance. Not how things work! And what you really need to see is how things work, and more importantly why they work! This website shows you that and more! 

Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’  or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of vocabulary there, or how to make things fit. This website is all about those things and more!

You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular situation. Bend your body this way or that, twist and force this position or that. Place your foot here or there and figure it out. This is known as Tango Twister.  Which can be a lot of fun, but more than likely it won’t help you, because you’re missing something: The explanation from an experienced teacher showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perspective as well as from a Following Perspective!

The goal of YouTube videos is to get you to study with those teachers in person. The goal of Tango Topics videos allows you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and you’re done.

Eventually, one way or another you’re going to pay for this lesson, either here and now, or with them. TANSTAAFL! The difference between that lesson and this ? Is that you get to play this lesson over and over and over again. Further still, there are supporting materials (other videos) that help to explain the language and the underlying technique of how and why things work, so you can easily reference those things in the corresponding articles that go with the material, and or any language in the Tango Topics Dictionary. 


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The Four Parts of Social Milonga

Social Milonga

Milonga, and really ‘Social’ Milonga, is a difficult dance to Lead, but an easy one to Follow. Easy, if and only if, the Lead (person, not the action – ‘lead’) has a frakkin’ clue about what they’re doing. If they don’t, you, as the Follower are screwed and not in a good way either! Good Milonga is a step above modern Tango in that it requires both parties to be at their best technique wise. It requires both parties to understand an embrace that is non-compressive, non-restrictive, and have mastered a stable, clean, clear walking platform that does not ‘thud’. There is no need to ‘hang’, ‘pull’, or ‘push’ in any way, shape, or form. 

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Have you seen any of our Foundation Series ? It’s over an hr (8 videos) of Foundation Technique covering your Extensions, Feet, Posture, Embrace, and the beginnings of your Walk, and much more….

See > Foundations Bundle

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Let’s get a few terms and definitions out of the way before we go any further for the initiated and the uninitiated. The word ‘Milonga‘ has 3 definitions.

1.) It refers to the ‘dance’ party, and social experience that we aspire towards dancing at via classes and workshops and learning the codigos of the dance itself. The whole point of tango is to emulate the Milonga experience as a whole that we would find in Buenos Aires.

2.) It refers to a musical style of music that is typically written as 2/4 time, or at about 80 – 100 beats per minute. There are several versions of Milonga music, not the least of which is Tango-Milonga, Milonga Porteña, Milonga Criolla, and a few others. Candombe is not Milonga, but is frequently confused with Milonga. A poorly trained DJ will add one into a milonga tanda thinking that it’s Milonga music when in fact it’s not.

Further still, a common error is to add a Foxtrot or a Tango Foxtrot, thinking that it’s milonga when it’s not.

3.) Refers to the dance itself, which is a frequently, and mistakenly thought of as a subset of Tango movement, and this is an error. Milonga (not Milonga Porteña or Modern Milonga) begat Tango, and from that Tango as we think of it today grew.

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Have you seen the Walking Systems video ? This video series showcases the Six Ways of expanding your walk in Tango using: Parallel System Walking, Cross System Walking, Three Track Walking, ‘Lazy’ Ochos, The Snake Walks, & Alternate Walking.

Learn > The Six Ways of Walking

mark found the habanera in gold madness. you can too! 🙂

What is ‘Social’ Milonga ? Social Milonga is a Milonga of ease, of least resistance, of effortlessness. It’s what we would dance at the Milonga when Milonga music is played but for a social environment not a performance! Which translates to smaller (very small) movements, and steps. This isn’t about turns, ganchos, volcadas, sacadas, colgadas, death drops, …. no, none of that. Simple, clean, small movement. Rather it’s about linear movements with one’s partner in either close or open embrace (yes Milonga can be done in open embrace), small linear movements that move down the line of dance. Social Milonga should not back up against the line of dance, but rather angle against the line of dance, think of 45º angles so that no one backs up directly into another couple. Social Milonga is small, compact, and doesn’t need to take up a whole lot of space…ever.  Horacio Godoy, who is a god of Milonga, is a good example of performance milonga, but it’s still a performance! What he’s doing is nothing short of magical, however…it should be noted that again, it’s a performance and not social dancing. He’s taking up oodles of space, and in the line of dance, you don’t have oodles of space! This is Social Milonga.  

Just as a side note: Social Milonga rightfully should never be attempted with a new partner that you’ve never danced with before.

Have you seen the Milonga Madness series ? Over 2.5 hrs of pure Milonga Instruction GOLD with one of the best Social Milonga Teaching couples alive: Detlef Engel & Melina Sedó! It covers everything you need to know to get you up and running today with Milonga. Don’t delay, subscribe today!

Milonga Madness with Detlef Engel & Melina Sedo

From a Following Perspective, you’re in for a rough ride, because a good portion of your leads don’t have a frakkin’ clue as to what they’re doing when it comes to Milonga. They will either race you around the floor and take a breather in odd places that have no relationship to anything that’s happening in the music, all the while squeezing the living daylights out of you, hoping you won’t notice that they’re not anywhere close to a beat that has any relation to anything that’s happening in the music. Or they’re so timid as to not wanting to step on your toes because they’ve recognized that this is insanely difficult that they back off completely. That’s the bulk of your experience. It’s rare, ever so rare that you have a lead that dances Milonga Lisa with you, and then expands that to Milonga con Traspie, and actually builds a milonga experience on the whole. These leads are rare, but oh such a wonder when you find one. It’s like Christmas morning, Easter day, and a box of chocolates all rolled into one! Fab! At the same time, let’s not kid ourselves…you as the Follower, have to be up for the challenge. Which is to say that your skills in Forward steps, Side Steps, and Back Steps must be absolutely spot on! Repeat after me: “I MOVE ME“. You must be responsible for your own movement. You must listen to what is being led (not waiting but listening) and then engage that movement immediately without fail. If you feel it, you go there, if you don’t feel it, you don’t go there. A good portion of the time, most followers fail these most basic things. And we end up with a less than desirable experience.

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Have you seen any of our entire Follower Technique Series ? It’s over 2.37 hrs (24 videos) of Follower Technique covering your Extensions, Feet, Posture, Embrace, Walk, Embellishments, Traveling Ochos, The Follower’s Molinete, The Argentine Cross and more…

Read & Watch > Follower Technique

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From a Leading Perspective, it means that you must have mastered all of the things listed above in addition to understanding and employing ‘Intention’. Why ? Because Milonga is all about the small, tiny movements, not about squeezing the living daylights out of your Followers with your embrace trying to make things small. It’s about leading small, tiny, incremental. It’s not about big, galloping steps…it can be, but isn’t. It’s about the tiny movements between the partners to the accents in the music.

However, the real key to milonga is the Weight Change. Being able to generate it in its myriad of forms without pushing, pulling, using force, and/or compression to accomplish this goal. If you can lead a weight change through opposition or a with-weight change instead of pushing or pulling, you’re onto a better class of leading as a whole.

Leading Milonga, or we should say, “modern” milonga, is a whole different class of leading. And doing it well, is a different kind of Lead (the person, not the action). How’s that ? This is choreographing on-the-fly, they’re making minor adjustments on-the-fly, they’re maintaining the line of dance on-the-fly…are you seeing the trend yet ? > on-the-fly! Is the key component. Mind you this happens in Tango and Vals as well, but there is a difference! The difference is the kinesthetics involved are a whole different class of minimal, minute movement, that is seemingly imperceptible except to the people dancing it, and to the trained eye.

In this version of Milonga the same thing that happens in the 5 Common Social Figures (which is a reduction of vocabulary choices) of Tango, happens in Milonga! Only instead of 5 Common Figures, it boils down to about 4 very specific choices.

1.) A variation of the Baldosa Box.
2.) A very simple and occasional Traspie, with a single Traspie, not multiples but not, and mostly not aligned with the habanera’s El Golpe! (and if you don’t know what that is…follow the link). You might…eeek, learn something.
3.) An occasional scissor step (not a pendulum step). and
4.) Every once in a blue-moon when there is a ‘race’ in the milonga beat and not the habanera, Patter In Milonga is used to accent the race of the beat.

Most of the better Milonga Leads have realized that a simplified Milonga is actually a better way to go than to race around the room which is what typically happens and why the better Followers will say “NO” to a particular Lead/er (follow the link for what that ‘/’ means) repeatedly. The better Milonga Lead will engage this simplified Milonga over and over and over again. It will look somewhat repetitive until you actually dance the Milonga with that Lead and for a time after the shock wears off that you’re dancing Milonga with that Lead it may even feel somewhat repetitive, until you start to listen to the music, and then the genius hits you like a ton of bricks. It’s simplified for a reason, to accent the music itself! Which is to say that you don’t need a vocabulary for good Milonga, what you need is an understanding of Music. And for that you first have to be able to hear the Habanera, and then, and only then can you start to play with the music. Once Habanera awareness occurs, and it will take some time for this to happen, it’s not something that happens overnight. More on this in a bit. Once Habanera awareness occurs, then the refinements of the dance of Milonga start to happen. Sometimes. Some Leads never, ever make this leap of logic > Less Is More. Most of them go in the opposite direction > MORE is BETTER! And this is a mistake. But they don’t and won’t ever realize it for a wide variety of reasons that are too numerous to mention here. Suffice it said, some folks never learn.

And unfortunately this space is too small to incorporate those ideas here. Fortunately for you Tango Topics does possess a Milonga track > Milonga Madness that discusses some, not all, of this stuff. For the rest that isn’t covered in Milonga Madness, we strongly recommend a long series of private lessons with the Author!

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Have you seen any of our entire Leading Technique Series ? It’s over 5 hrs (18 videos) of Lead Technique covering your Extensions, Feet, Posture, Embrace, Walk, Embellishments, Traveling Ochos, The Follower’s Molinete, The Argentine Cross and more…

See > Lead Technique

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From a Dancing Perspective, ‘Social‘ Milonga is insanely difficult to master. It requires all of the above to ‘work’, to ‘function’ with ease. Not an easy task at all. When done properly it’s simply divine. When done poorly…well we’ve all had that happen, and it’s just an absolute disaster. There’s no nice way to put that. More often than not we have all had far too many Milonga tandas that is nothing short of “GAWD PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!”. And a good portion of the time it’s because the embrace needs to be reset and is too restrictive, and/or the Lead (person), needs to actually listen to the beat and then walk (see ? walking, not running) the Follower on that beat…but doesn’t.

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Learn > The Eight Tango Turns

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The Musical Prerequisite

There is an absolute prerequisite to this milonga business – two things about Tango Music as whole that you, as a Lead, or a Follower must know:

a.) The Musical Pause in Tango Music as a whole! Without understanding this, you’re kinda screwed when it comes to dancing and really milonga as a whole. Oh and if you’re thinking that you can just ‘count’ beats and that will get you to your pauses…no. Fully 40% of Tango music does not contain an 8 count beat. Sometimes its a derivative of 4 yes…but sometimes it’s 4,8,12,16, or 24 beats before you hit an actual rest. So counting is about as useful as a small kitchen appliance unplugged. Why ? Because a good portion of the time, your count will be off for a variety of reasons. 1.) The transfer from shellac to digital (assuming it’s that direct and it almost never is) is probably flawed, scratchy, crackly, and slows down and speeds up. and 2.) Two words for you — TANGO MILONGA, which is to say that that the 2/4 time signature that you’re used to hearing in Milonga Porteña (or Modern Milonga), not so much with that! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Long story short, you want to actually learn to hear the 5 Major Types of Pauses in Tango Music.

b.) The Rhythm of Milonga which should not be confused with beat, melody, nor tempo, which is what a lot of you do. You do actually have to understand the Habanera Rhythm which is the basis of ALL Milongas. Not Candombe, Not Foxtrots…MILONGA! If you don’t know what the Habanera is, and/or think you have a handle on it, you really do want to go look at this definition of the Habanera on TangoTopics. This is the Rhythm that you absolutely must pay attention to because it quite literally forms the backbone of the music itself. If you can’t hear that, if you cannot find it in the music, then we have a problem, and it may require you to actually do a little study. Now to be fair, there are some milongas where the Habanera only appears sporadically, there are some milongas where the Habanera is a variation and you have to hear the variation, there are some milongas where the habanera is so distorted and so off of what you think it might be that it’s almost….ALMOST unrecognizable. However, that’s still no excuse for not practicing, and then working on finding the Habanera and then figuring out WTF to do with it.

That said…

Rather than show you charts and images which are about as helpful as a screen door on a submarine…let’s skip to a class summary by Oliver Koklier and Silvina Valz shot at the 2009 Portland Tango Festival. This is probably one of the best didactic Milonga videos you will need to see…ever. What Oliver & Silvina talk about in under 9 minutes will blow your mind. It’s a simple, clean, and clear, almost religious explanation of what Habanera and really the Milonga Rhythm is and is not, and what you can do with it. In 90 seconds they pretty much nail the Habanera. Quite honestly contained within this video is the basis of almost everything you need to know about a Milonga Rhythm. Once you understand the Rhythm of Milonga (and it is a rhythm, not a beat!) it is only then that we start to talk about what you actually do with it.

Ok, now that you’ve got your pound of free flesh that will only help you so far, now comes the real toy, which when this article was written originally hadn’t actually happened yet. Actually this article was written a year before what we’re about to talk about: Milonga Madness. This is going to sound like a sales pitch for Milonga Madness. It’s not. It’s the fact that we really have studied with a lot of people on this topic, spent years and more money than you can shake a stick at, at how to hear Milonga and then dance Milonga. This is one of the ONLY workshops that we’ve ever attended where we came away with a deeper understanding that Milonga does not need or want to be complex. It is a simple thing that does require you to actually hear the Habanera. Without that, then you’re just racing around the room. So here’s our advice. Go subscribe to Milonga Madness, you won’t be sorry! Truthfully, and we say this with how much we teach and talk about tango, it’s even better than all our own videos! Go SUBSCRIBE! Just scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click on the Milonga Madness Button! You’re welcome.

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4 Parts of Social Milonga

Part 1.) The Baldosa Box & one of several Baldosa Box Variations
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Part 3.) Scissor & Pendulum steps and variations.
Part 4.) Milonga Patter

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