I left a recent London milonga evening feeling a bit unsettled. There’s often a couple or two who dance competitively rather than socially, for show rather than for pleasure, but it’s rare these days to have four, five, six, perhaps even more such couples. These days most of us at that milonga go out to enjoy a relaxed evening of dance and music with friends. In the ‘nuevo’ days the floor was largely occupied by extravagant movers and would-be movers, but the performance of a similar dance in close embrace, or something that resembles it, doesn’t make it social dance, and it can feel aggressive and egotistic. A milonga is open to all, of course, and accepts all kinds of dancers, but one can be forgiven for wishing that they’d choose somewhere else.
So it was very reassuring a few days later to chance on one of Normarin1’s videos of the Alo Lola & La Yumba de Dorita milonga in Buenos Aires. It’s probably no more or less crowded than a London milonga, but magically there’s room for everyone. Normarin1 focuses on an accomplished couple, who dance entirely for each other and with effortless respect for the other dancers around them. They enjoy an intimate tanda, without the slightest effort to show off how accomplished they are. Courtesy, tango from it’s city of origin. & the track, fittingly, is Lejos de Buenos Aires (Calo-Beron).
Perhaps the real highlight for me is early on. An older guy dancing with a young woman in red appears in the background from behind the woman who sticks out her tongue at the camera, and they cover a metre or two of floor, fast and gliding effortlessly, fitting totally with a phrase in the music. You can’t see the feet, as often happens at milongas there, and your perception is of torsos floating smoothly and energetically, anchored out-of-sight at floor-level.