Las Chinitas have a vision to bring the Buenos Aires milonga experience back to Hong Kong. Tango to us is not only a dance, the fancy steps or the alluring embellishments. It is the spirit, the culture, the attitude of the milongueros and milongueras that draw us into Tango. We created Milonga Las Chinitas not to blindly follow the general rules applied to a traditional milonga, but we hope through this event you can understand the meaning behind these rules, and how they serve to make a milonga much more enjoyable.
Why do men, women and couples sit separately?
The moment you enter our milonga, you will notice the chairs are arranged facing the dance floor, with men, women and couples seated separately. Many will think, "We come to a milonga to socialize. Why can't I sit with my friends?" In BA, there are lots of single milongueros and milongueras who go to a milonga purely to dance out of their strong passion for tango. The setting, including the seating arrangement and the lighting, is designed to allow "Cabaceo" - invitation by the eyes, as through the years they have discovered this is the most effective, non-invasive way to invite a person to dance. By using Cabaceo, it is ensured that both the man and the lady want to dance with each other at that particular moment. They dance not because the man reached out his hand and the lady felt obligated to accept. They dance not because the woman asked the man and the man was too polite to reject. They dance because they searched for each other, because their eyes met and a mutual consensus was made. In addition, as seats are assigned, you will know where your favorite dancers are sitting, so that you will know where exactly to look at when you want to dance with that person. The couple, or the mixed area is for couples or groups of friends who come to the milonga to socialize and dance amongst each other. In BA, it is almost an unspoken rule that the single men/women will not invite those sitting at the couples area to dance, for important reasons. However, in Milonga Las Chinitas, we hope that everyone - men, women and couples will be able to have fun dancing, mixing and mingling. The seating plan is arranged such that you will have a taste of what it is like dancing in a traditional milonga in BA.
Enjoy more by making use of the Tanda
You may also notice that the music is played in sets of 4 tangos, forming one "Tanda", with a piece of non-tango music called the "Cortina" in between each set. This rule is there for various reasons. The beginning of a tanda marks the time when you should start inviting people to dance by cabaceo, while the end of the tanda (or the start of the cortina) marks the time when the dance is finished and the leader escorts the lady back to her seat. There should be no dancing during the cortina. This rule is set such that there is no confusion as to when you should say "Thank you", and there shall never be hard feelings when you do say so, as it is simply part of the rule. If you enjoy dancing with that person very much, you can always ask him or her again during another tanda some time later. If you don't enjoy dancing with that person, your "bad experience" will only last until the end of the 4 songs when you can legitimately say "Thank you". Of course you can always ask a person to dance during the 3rd and 4th song, but you should keep in mind that you must stop dancing at the end of the tanda.
Secondly, a milonguero or milonguera will never start inviting people to dance before the first song of the tanda is played. Not only is this because they will only dance when they like the music being played, another reason is that, to them, certain people are nice to dance with to certain types of music. For example, Milonguero A is an energetic, rhythmic dancer. Knowing this, Milonguera B will never cabaceo him when she hears the smooth and romantic sound of Di Sarli playing. She will cabaceo Milonguero C, who is a calm, gentle leader whom she thinks will allow her to enjoy the music of Di Sarli to the fullest. Knowing that she may only get to dance with Milonguero A for one tanda for the whole night, she will save her dance with him until she hears the exciting sound of D'arienzo to cabaceo him. This brings us to the reason why a tanda typically consists of 4 similar pieces of tango / milonga / vals music of the same orchestra and in the same period, such that the mood is consistent throughout the entire tanda. This ensures there are no surprises in the middle of the tanda. By listening to the first song of the tanda, dancers will know what music to expect for the rest of the tanda in order to make the right decision of who to dance with.
Good floor traffic defines a good milonga
Lastly, we strongly encourage leaders to follow the line of dance, which is the outer and inner anti-clockwise circle along the edge of the dancefloor. In BA, the centre of the dancefloor is for beginners who cannot navigate or those who want to do their big tango fantasia steps, so, you don't want to be one of them :) Every leader appreciates a smooth flowing line of dance which will make floor navigation much easier for them. Every lady will appreciate a non-chaotic dancefloor where they don't have to worry about being stepped on or stepping onto someone. This demands the cooperation of everyone on the dancefloor, including ladies keeping their heels close to the ground when the floor gets crowded, and guys trying to lead smaller, simpler steps and following the leader in front of you to ensure the line of dance is moving. Do not be afraid of having no space to move forward, but rather, use the time to enjoy the pause and savour the music with your partner. Also, a good leader is one who can dance with musicality even when he is on the same spot. Overtaking is to be avoided as you will make everyone else around you nervous because they can never expect when the person will shoot out of nowhere. It is the duty of the man to protect his partner, so please don't make this task harder for each other. All in all, good floor navigation is a form of respect for your partner and for the other people sharing the same dancefloor with you. Good floor traffic is the crucial aspect to distinguish a good milonga from a bad milonga, so we count on YOU to make Milonga Las Chinitas a GREAT one!!
See you tonight :)