Important Distinctions Between Tango Events

Different tango events – what to expect

Classes

These should be designed to help you learn as quickly and effectively as possible.  But that’s only the beginning of the process.  From then on, it’s a question repeating what you’ve learned until you have internalised it.

We believe that the lack of proper practice is a major reason why so little of what is taught in class gets translated onto the dance floor.  Often there are practice sessions after classes, but usually they do not give enough opportunity to work on what you have just learned, especially if you are tired and time is limited.

Prácticas

In its original form, young men who wanted to learn how to dance well would attend all male Prácticas to perfect their technique by dancing with other men.

After months of learning the follower’s steps they would finally be allowed start to learn how to lead.  In this way they already had a good idea of what it was they were leading!  By the time they attended their first Milonga they would have mastered both leader and follower roles and were well and truly ready.

Given the shortage of women in Argentina at the time, being a good dancer was a young man’s best chance of meeting women and finding a girlfriend – so motivation was high!

Meanwhile, it was customary for girls to learn Tango from their mothers and sisters, so that by the time they were old enough to start dancing socially they too were capable dancers.

Typical Practica

NOW
These days we have to find a shorter route.  Classes are designed to help you learn as quickly and effectively as possible.  From then on, it’s a question of practice, to get posture and movement into your muscle memory so that you can dance naturally without having to think about it.

Our bodies only become familiar with new movements through repetition.  Tango can be challenging – especially at first – and there is no substitute for regular practice.

It usually takes longer to get something into your muscle memory than into your brain, but once it’s there, it tends to stick.  However, what you practice, and how you do it, makes a huge difference.  The old saying goes “practice makes perfect”.  Well, unfortunately it doesn’t . . . but practice does make permanent!  Your body learns exactly what it does repeatedly and it’s far better to get into good habits rather than bad ones.

–  the term Práctica is often used to describe an informal tango social evening, away from the more demanding rules and structures of Milongas.  These friendly events work for some people, but often they are not focused on actually practising.

Remember – whatever you do repeatedly becomes permanent – whether it’s done well or not.  Hence the importance of . . .

Guided Prácticas 

These are not widely available – and yet they are the only place dancers can actually work on things together, outside of classes, and with expert and supportive coaching available.  They retain a friendly, fun and relaxed space dedicated to practise.

They should be open, friendly and a supportive environment so you can workshop through movements on the dance floor.  Although there is no formal instruction, the coach will keep an eye out for any struggling dancers..  They are readily available, so just ask for any help.

Typically there will be continuous but non intrusive music.  Although some organisers will keep the formality of traditional tandas.  Either way you can start, stop, dance, discuss what’s happening, and discover what works for you.

Video can be used as an instant visual aid to help you see your dance clearly, and to decide how best to work on any improvements.

These sessions should not be intimidating, structured or regulated, except to provide the best possible conditions for practice.

Anyone can ask someone for a dance. There is no expectation for you to complete a formal tanda.  You can even practise your Cabecceo.

NO pressure!  The whole ethos of a either a Práctica or Guided Práctica is to create a reassuring experience to allow you to work at a pace that suits you, to help you grow in confidence, become more familiar with all aspects of your  tango and become a better dancer.

If you want dedicated practice with full hands-on expert coaching support, then a Prácticoaching session would be ideal.  More on this – here

Práctilongas

Some years ago we devised the Práctilonga.  It’s between a Práctica and a Milonga.  Whilst Prácticas retain the purpose of learning and practice, there is still a need to bridge the gap between Prácticas and more formal Milongas.

We designed the Práctilonga to help people transition between their weekly classes, informal Prácticas, and Milongas.  Ideally a Práctilonga should be relaxed, friendly and an elegant evening with a DJ and Tandas AND ALSO with coaching available in a discrete area off the main dance floor.  This enables people to practise and get help with technique or repeated movements without hindering other dancers.  They can then re-join the dance floor at any time.  This helps with understanding Milonga etiquette, trying out your cabecceo, completing full tandas with one partner, keeping the line of dance (la ronda) and dancing in small spaces.

However, many Práctilongas are now just informal Milongas without any supportive coaching.  If you’re unsure, check with the organisers that there is an area off the main dance for to practise, and whether there is any coaching support available.  Otherwise you can expect a relatively informal evening of social dancing, whilst still following some aspects of normal Milonga etiquette.

Hall Dressed with Mood Lighting

Milongas

Are purely for social dancing, ranging from informal and friendly to formal and traditional.  It’s widely accepted that you do not instruct on the dance floor or stop to practise something.  Respect La Ronda (line of dance), and non-dancers walk only around the outer edge of the dance floor.  Also, the cardinal sin – do not criticise your partner.

Another important convention to follow – do not dance during the cortina!  The purpose of the Cortina is to allow dancers to clear the floor and change partners.

Crowded floor – Salon-style

At many Milongas it is also important respect the Salon style of dancing.  Inappropriate moves such as high leg kicks,  flicks and lifts are not appropriate at any traditional Milongas.  They are considered to be inconsiderate to other dancers and can even be dangerous.  If this is your preferred style of dancing, better to choose alternative / neo type events.

These are a few of the more important rules of Milonga etiquette here

© Tango Nomads, 2017

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