Milongas

9 Suggestions for a Personally Improved Milonga Experience

An improved Milonga Experience you say? Ok, to be fair this blog will not be about my opinions on lighting or table seating arrangements, although I am sure I have opinions on that too, this is about YOU and how YOU can improve your own experience, or at least attempt to.

I hear so often (and have heard since I can remember) the diametrically opposed feelings of attending a milonga. I will addressPortland milonga the followers’ lament – the time spent dressing up, smelling good, really looking forward to the dance and the music. Then the apprehension from the mind chatter: will I get dances, will he like me, will I find “the one”, am I pretty enough? Am I good enough? Will I ever be like her? When? How many more classes?

And then comes the post-milonga chatter – why not me? Why her? Why not him? She’s so x? He’s so y? Maybe I’ll buy more shoes!

What if we could choose to change our milonga experience (obviously, if we were not having a good one)? Well, after a European tour of several hundred milongas with seas of women sitting down and then back in the US with the same dilemma, how are we going to change our experience? I suppose we could stop dancing – but I know for my soul and body, that’s not an option.

Can I really change my milonga experience?
I ventured more deeply into an understanding of energy and what I called, at the time, alternative thinkers, when I moved back to Arizona in 2003. With a strong link to Sedona, AZ where everyone is a mystic and seemingly blessed with endless happiness, my exposure came more intensely not only with a love interest but with a life coach.

If I am having a bad experience I am the common denominator, so how do I change it?Ladies sitting at milonga

So as I sat at another very large festival watching and wondering about the dynamics at play and being accosted occasionally by a negative rant from a female friend, then it came as no surprise that my reading of Dr. Wayne Dyer sparked these ideas.

  1. Before you even start to get dressed for the milonga, take a moment to assess your mood. How am I feeling right now? Happy? Apprehensive? Stressed? On a scale would it be a 10 = yepee I feel happy or close to a 6 or below. Don’t judge it or beat yourself up. Just assess it. Notice it.
  2. I vowed several years ago that I would not go dancing unless I was feeling really great. And I also vowed that when I felt content at a milonga and satisfied, I would give myself permission to leave. Whether it was after 1 tanda in 4 hours or 4 tandas in 2 hours, whatever it was, that when I was still happy and feeling satisfied I would leave and leave happy. But this still put the milonga in control of me, the milonga as the ruler of my mood and how I would feel for a few hours afterwards or days sometimes!!! So I worked on raising my mood anytime I felt a little down. We can change our mood by eating well, exercising, yoga, a little meditation, breathing, listening to music we love, dancing alone, affirmations. Whatever it takes. If you want to wear those cute shoes, dress, scarf, wear them if that makes you feel good. Recognize when there’s a shift in your mood to the negative and see if you can change it or at least release it.
  3. Intention – Have a clear intention. “I intend to feel great and to have great dances”. (And the clincher here is not to censor it afterwards with a buzz kill, ie: “I intend great dances unless that guy that smells badly who always asks me to dance asks me.”
  4. Take a sip of water! Sometimes hydrating helps to move energy and can change how you feel.
  5. Acceptance – Anytime a thought comes to you that judges another person, say to yourself, “I allow everyone their own experience”. And then be happy for them!
  6. And SMILE to your self! (breathe and relax!)
  7. And then smile more! And pay someone a compliment, “What a beautiful dress, what a nice tie, lovely earrings, I love your shoes”!  Last year in a European marathon I knew only a couple of people and I really was putting these ideas into action! There was a woman whose necklace I had noticed earlier in the evening and I found myself standing in front of her, and I told her I thought her necklace was lovely. She told me thank you and commented that women rarely compliment each other and how nice it was to receive a compliment. SO LADIES sincere compliments are nice!
  8. Practicality – On a practical note, get to know people, circulate in a room, figure out a way to meet people. Where are people congregating? Where are the exits and entrances to the dance floor? You have to do the work of meeting people or knowing people. Do the work pre-milonga, during the milonga and post milonga or take a class to meet people. This too will help your mood! I like to circulate, especially in a large room. Sometimes this is a hindrance, because a leader will say to me, “I saw you sitting over there and then I couldn’t find you!” BUT overall, taking a walk-about can let people see you, you get to see who is there, it allows me the time to assess the milonga as well.
  9. And finally (or maybe firstly) – don’t care what others think about you. It doesn’t matter because you can’t control that. What you think about you is all that matters. Wouldn’t you want to choose to be happy and want to stay that way? I would.

What do you do to have a great milonga experience?

Read more

Creating Community or Disintegrating Community

Crowded MilongaThe ins and outs of the milonga community is a subject for much discussion. As I have ventured in and out of many communities throughout this year of travel, I still ponder the question on how to create community or how we contribute to disintegrating community.

Interestingly enough, just last week, Buenos Aires milonga organizers and dancers joined a large outdoor demonstration, that consequently turned into a milonga. They were protesting the closure of milongas due to the rising costs of the building owners’ overhead: electricity, gas, general maintenance costs. The AOM – Associacion de Organizadores de Milongas  got together to create a legislation that would help owners of the buildings and organizers to work together so that the milongas would not have to close – after all, these establishments are hosting an intangible world heritage event. On this day it didn’t matter which milonga you normally attended or didn’t attend, everyone was joined by a common cause: keeping the milongas alive and kicking in Buenos Aires. All the milongas, organizers and dancers alike, found themselves joined together for this purpose.

I bring this up maybe as a contrast to what happens in so many cities: milongas compete with other milongas and there sprouts hard feelings, etc. Or even within a milonga people are competing for attention and feeling inclusive or exclusive (invited or uninvited, friendly or unfriendly).

Possibly a positive way to look at this, is that it is normal and healthy for communities to be varied. There will always be cliques (after all you have known your friends for years!), there will always be the loners (and some people like to be loners), there will be people ok sitting with new people, and some ok sitting alone. And it is all ok.

As I continued to reflect upon all of this by comparing my great experiences with my not so great experiences, I thought there might be a “less painful” transition to entering communities.

The Steps

I recall a British TV series I watched several years ago, Teachers. In one particular episode the lead character, a high school teacher, is questioning how a new teacher is entering their after school drinking social group, he is a little miffed that she didn’t actually follow the proper steps.

He outlines them as thus:

Initiation
Apprenticeship
Acceptance
Inclusion

I think each of these words are understandable without needing too much of an explanation (a person initiates into a group usually through another person or through common activity, they are taken under that initiators wing, the group accepts them, and they are now included) so let’s look at how the model might apply to the tango community.

Initiation

How you are initiated into a community and into the milonga might be the key to feeling successful and to the reason for staying or for leaving the tango community. If a teacher brings students to the milonga and invites them to sit at a table together, this helps the initiated to feel less awkward and more welcome.

I think we forget, as those who have experienced or learned Argentine Tango outside of the culture, that Tango is first and foremost social. It is about the community. Tango is (although not exclusively) a Friday night with friends in Buenos Aires. So I think it is difficult to extract Tango from its culture even when we bring along all the codes! I suggest if you are going to a new community alone, email the organizers ahead of time, find someone in that new community to introduce yourself to, then meet them at the milonga, and get invited to sit with them. And then smile and have a good time. Facebook is great for this, as so many communities have their own Tango pages now.

Apprenticeship

It is a bit hard to imagine that there is an apprenticeship phase in entering a community regardless of your years of dancing but maybe look at it like this, if you have some “new tango friends” at a milonga they help you during this phase. You see who they dance with and who they don’t. You get to decide who you might like to dance with or not, and, without a doubt, they will let you know some of the ins and outs of that community (call it gossip or not!). And hopefully, they will also introduce you to some of their friends and favorite dancers. Thus your apprenticeship, until you get on your own feet!

Acceptance and Inclusion

I have combined these two phases. It is hard to say if there is a predetermined time frame for when one is accepted or feels accepted. I also know communities where dancers never feel accepted, and they therefore stop attending milongas and often stop attending classes too. Therefore, clearly, they do not feel included.

The acceptance phase is quite personal and community – based. You might feel accepted by some but not by others. If you have the luxury of choosing among different milongas, then you can find yourself accepted and feeling included at one and maybe not at another milonga. I have found that sometimes even the same dancers who might dance with me in one milonga, might not, in another milonga (ie: Wednesday night in one location versus Friday night in another location). So I feel accepted and included in one milonga and variable in the other! And my desire to go dancing on Friday night is incredibly lower unless, I know people who say to me, “come, we will be there!”

I had an experience, where I had already been in Berlin for 6 months, and one of the leaders, who I saw everywhere (we clearly liked the same milongas), finally asked me to dance. His first words were, “you’re still here!!” AHH – he discovered I was going to be part of the bigger community, not just here for the weekend!!! And then subsequently, his small group of friends, all took me for a tanda afterwards. And now a year later, he rarely asks me to dance although we still pretty much attend all the same milongas. One of his friends asks me to dance sometimes and there you have it! BUT I do feel accepted and included in the milongas that I enjoy attending regularly. Otherwise, I wouldn’t go, right?

So maybe not a perfect model. And in the TV show, the young teacher who was missing the steps, found herself included anyway!

And you?

What about you? Were you initiated into your community? Have you initiated another into your community?? If so you will probably not have an inclusive/exclusive issues! Do you find yourself feeling accepted and included?

Would be interested in hearing your thoughts. And I know many of you have a lot to say on this topic too!!!!

Read more

Happy New Year 2016!

Happy New Year to you!

I just spent the last few days in Karslruhe, Germany at a small intimate Encuentro. And I did run into people that I knew!!Karlsruhe Which is becoming a fun surprise for me! I spent a lovely time connecting also with new dancers. It seems that a visit to Belgium is definitely in the cards.

I had my first adventure in a Hostel, since probably 1989 when I studied in France and toodled around France and Italy with fellow students staying in hostels. Let us just say, I seem to never have a dull moment! or maybe it’s just perfect content for a future book!

The visit to this event was very last minute and I jumped on the hostel bandwagon after the Airbnb booking I thought I had showed me that I needed to reconfirm with a code that I didn’t receive in time. Ironically, on the Hotels.com site I found a 3 night deal for the hostel right next to the train station in Karlsruhe, as long as it was a room for 4 people. Well, I arrived to an empty clean room and thought, yeppeee!!! But that was too soon to rejoice. I returned to my room at 2am after the milonga. As I got off the elevator on the 5th floor I heard quite a bit of moaning and thought, wow, some people are enjoying their evening. As I approached the door to my room, I thought, “O! my gosh! They are in my room! and then I thought, is this my room?” I hesitated a moment and backtracked to the elevator and thought, yes, this is my room. So I went in! Poor young things! Faster than a cartoon character someone dashed into the bathroom, which I hadn’t realized until she popped out of the bathroom several minutes later in a t-shirt, “hallo”! As we all: she, her poor young boyfriend, and I all acted like nothing happened, she crawled back into the twin bed with him as I proceeded to get ready for bed… No words were exchanged. They spoke in German to each other and said nothing to me. They left in the morning. Another couple came the next day and I saw them and mentioned to the young man that I would be back in the early hours of the morning so any activity should be conducted before hand! They were quiet and managed to sleep through my early AM arrival. And on my last night, an older gentleman came in with a lot of plastic bags. In the evening as I prepared for the milonga and to check out the next morning, he, in tank top and black tight boxer shorts, proceeded to make several smelly sandwiches in the room, then crawled into bed with his ipad and headphones to watch a movie and all those sandwiches – of which he ate and proceeded to put the crumbs on the floor behind him!! I returned to the room around 4am and as I opened the door was accosted by the smell of smelly feet, sauerkraut, sweaty man odor, cheese, and I don’t know what! Although cold outside, I opened the window! wow, that was a hard quick nap to endure! I checked out in the morning, danced all day and took the train back to Switzerland! Needless to say, I slept through most of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day! I did feel a little silly, being here in Europe with SO many great options for New Year’s Eve! Oh Well, I will plan better for next year!

I am off again to Zurich for a couple of days of dancing and sight seeing, then back to Bern and then off to Italy! Then back to Berlin in February!

I have had a lot of time to reflect over 2015. This journey has given me a lot of nice surprises and can really be called an adventure. I have found that I can’t be upset for long, or sad for too long, or angry for too long or anything! Just grateful for all that I am experiencing, even when it is difficult, or seemingly difficult.

I posted the following on New Year’s Eve on Facebook for those who did not see it and I share it with you.

I wrote to my maestra: “Nunca pensé que el tango me salvaría de inmensa soledad”. (“I never thought that tango would save me from immense loneliness”.)
2015 was an unexpected journey for me: of meeting new people, being in new places and self-discovery…. and it still continues…
I have never really needed to ‘rely’ on other people and it’s a skill I never really learned.. until this year. I am so so grateful to everyone who has helped me out this year – and in countless ways – from an act of kindness, to shared conversation, to finding places to live! The list of YOU is truly endless.. and I’m very grateful to my parents for their continued support. As a dancer my whole life I Know that dance can change people’s life and tango completely changed the course of mine, HOWEVER, I had NO idea the depth to which I would come to rely on Tango to help me as well….
I wish everyone a truly wonderful, prosperous, and joyful 2016. May it bring you all that you desire and need most.
I will see you passionately on the dance floor somewhere soon! And thank you for your support!

Happy New Year! Feliz Año Nuevo! Joyeux Nouvelle Année! etc….

Read more

2 Classes Coming Up

I had the delight of participating in a small tango weekend in a lovely German town about 2 hours from Berlin called Erfurt a weekend or so ago. There were about 100 attendees. The dancing started in the day and went into the evening for 3 days! This happens often here in Europe but this was my first one!
I met one of the DJ’s, Julian, in 2008 in Houston and we hadn’t seen each other since. Amazing how tango can bring together people after so much time.
I think I have mentioned before how hot these milongas get. Well, it was another hot milonga but I took a picture when most of us were still fresh!
Meeting a handful of people living in different parts of Germany including some Argentines who are living in Munich is part of the fun!

I am excited to report that I will be teaching 2 classes (finally) in Berlin. One will be a part of the pre-milonga Practica class at the El Ocaso Milonga on Wednesday, July 15th at 7pm.
The next one will be an Alignment For Dancers class on Sunday July 19th at 12:00pm at Tango Berlin Studio.

I am looking forward to both of these events as most of my teaching up until now has been private lessons. So this will be a nice change.

I am still finding that I desperately need to immerse myself into a German Language class and with all the craziness of my living situation I have had little time and energy to commit to a course. In a nutshell, EVERYONE is looking for a place to stay/live in Berlin. Unbelievable!

The heat and humidity have arrived in Berlin and now most Berliners are heading to nearby lakes to cool off and get some sun(burn)!
That’s the update for now!

Reminders that I’ll be teaching in Scottsdale, AZ in October and in Albuquerque, NM. Let me know if you’d like me to come to your city!

 

Erfurt Architecture 2 Erfurt Architecture 1 Julian Inram DJ Gabor Afternoon Milonga Erfurt Afternoon Milonga

 

 

Read more

Tango Packed Week

So much Tango this week!!!

TuesdayPracticando fun @SNAP. Class starts at 7- 8:30pm. 8:30 continues Practica. This will be my last Tuesday night practica and Rommel will take over into January.

ThursdayDIA DEL TANGO
Rommel and I will be hosting a free tango class from 7:30 – 8:15pm at Mijana Restaurant followed by performances followed by the Nostalgias Milonga! Come join us for my last Milonga in Tempe.

FridayLast Solana Milonga
7pm – onward @ the Solana Tango Room 335 E. Solana Drive Tempe, AZ. BYOB $5 come share snacks and dancing.

Saturday2 Final Workshops
Rommel and I teach the last of our series of workshops on Saturday.

Be sure that you are subscribed to my Blog so you can follow me on my adventures.

Read more
Next Page »