The Milongueros are the tango dancers who have spent their lives in the dance halls of Buenos Aires. Many, though not all, are in their 70s and 80s and are the last of a rich lineage of dancers from the Golden Age of tango (1935 - 1952). They are uniquely social dancers who developed their art form within the spatial limits of crowded milongas (dance events). As such, their figures tend to be small, compact, easily navigated and safe for fellow dancers. For the most part, they dance fully on-body, heart to heart in a close intimate embrace. Their dance, while being relatively small on the outside, has typically a spacious internal experience where lead and follow has a deeply energetic quality rather than merely a physical one. Their dance, based on walking, developed among the regular population, and so by nature is accessible to everyone.
The Milongueros are characteristically focused on the internal experience: a sensual feel, a quality of safety and comfort, and an easy relaxed presence. They attend to the present moment and to the changing context of the dance floor. Perhaps most importantly, they attend to their emotional experience of music which is the heart of their own unique expression.
Many of the Milongueros speak with reverence about the quality and elegance of movement - how felt it is and how much it reflects the uniqueness of the dancer and the moment at hand. They do not identify their tango as that associated with flash or posturing. They dance with and for their partners, not for audiences. They dance improvisationally, playfully and passionately, attuned to internal changes rather than dancing from choreography and mental agendas. The best of them show a true freedom and naturalness in movement and they believe that tango is about pure presence with their partners and shared uninhibited self-expression.
In the U.S., Milonguero-style tango refers to the dance developed and taught by the Milongueros still dancing at large in the traditional milongas (dance events) of Buenos Aires.
* It is extremely difficult to make generalizations about any group of people - know that I do so with trepidation (and any apologies in advance!), but also know that I do so with a sincere desire to explain faithfully the philosophy they have shared with me. This account is based on long-term teacher-student relationships, and the many encounters and conversations I’ve had with milongueros and milongueras in BA, as well as more formal sources in film and writings. (Liz)