Ask Arlene…About Concessions at the Milongas

From Fatty Arbuckle

Dear Arlene

Have you noticed that theres no concessions for OAPs at the milongas? I think this is an outrage as its always offered at cinemas, bowls, swimming pools and other leisure activities. At some cinemas you get the added bonus of free tea or coffee and biscuits.

What do you think? Opinions please.


Dear Fatty,

As I have been unemployed these many months, I can appreciate the idea of concessions for OAP’s and those on Jobseekeers.  However, in the conversations that I have had with a lot of the Milonga organisers over these last years, most of them seem to barely cover their costs, let alone make a huge profit.  I am always hearing that there is no real or big money to be made from Tango, and in spite of the number of people trying to make a living from it, I tend to believe them.  (Or maybe they are lying and I am being naive.)  Maybe they would make more money if they charged the teachers an entrance fee, as I have noticed some, if not most, do not pay to enter.  Hmmm….

The established organisers have done us a great favour by bringing Tango to London for all of us to learn and enjoy.  They spend many hours setting up, running the Milonga and then taking everything down again.  They try and bring in interesting teachers to learn from.  It is not easy organising and running a Milonga.

I know that these are challenging times.  However, regardless of my own personal situation, I can always find money to dance Tango.  I think that people can find money for anything that they want if it is that important to them.

I think the UK may be the only country that I know of where there are concessions for OAP’s.  I wouldn’t mind hearing more about that from those living in other countries.

What I object to is paying more to see a demonstration.  From what I have seen lately, there are better things that I could have spent my extra £2 on rather than having to sit through a demonstration of Tango acrobatics for 10 minutes.  If I wanted to see that, I would go to see Tango x 2 or Tango Fire or equivalent.

So my opinion is ‘no’, I don’t think that there should be concessions for OAP’s.  Maybe my opinion might change when I become one.  Who knows?

23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. irenicon
    May 08, 2009 @ 08:44:34

    In these days of age discrimination could the young not complain they were discriminated against? I think this might only be lawful if the organiser was trying to achieve a particlar effect and ths concession was proportionate to that effect! 🙂

  2. Sophie
    May 08, 2009 @ 09:13:19

    Hi Arlene
    I’ve had similar conversations with milonga organisers, and having helped organising events I can guarantee you that making money out of tango events is not easy and it’s likely that starting the concessions route (with students close behind OAPs) would lead to having an even harder time to keep milongas going. As for your comment about being charged more for performances, usually one can haggle if they get to the event after the show. For my part, sometimes I wished I had been paid to witness the “performance”.

  3. yabotil
    May 08, 2009 @ 12:16:18

    A lot of community based events such as tea dances in community halls have discounts for OAPs and receive a bit funding or sponsorship from local governments. I know that there are various tea dances that charges entrances for £3~£4. Since the entrance fee is so cheap, the organisers can get away with the venue feeling a bit tacky and music quality not that great and still get a decent turn out. I don’t think any of the London milongas gets government funding?

    I would hate to have our London milongas feel like a tacky tea dance and I would prefer that people support them so that they can at least maintain the quality of the milonga.

    However, I don’t like paying more for boring performances, sometimes I’d wish I could’ve paid them to not perform. Whats worse is sometimes the performances at Negracha are so delayed that those having to catch the tube home had to run off before the performance so they’ve paid more for nothing!

  4. Mr. Milonga
    May 08, 2009 @ 13:56:53

    If you gave OAPs concessions then the people running The Crypt would be bankrupt.

  5. irenicon
    May 08, 2009 @ 17:04:17

    Perhaps a discount for no performance? What is it with this demonstration thing – we pay extra money for less dancing. When I go to a restaurant I dont pay to watch others eat……

    Has anyone ever asked ‘the punters’ if they want or enjoy these forced performances?

  6. El Chupacabra
    May 09, 2009 @ 01:00:12

    And what’s with “teachers” getting in free?

    I think I’ll set myself up as a “teacher” and never pay at a milonga ever again. Plus you get to sit at the high table too.

    If I ever set up a milonga (and I am starting to think about it seriously), I’m not putting up with this.

  7. Angelina
    May 10, 2009 @ 02:18:20

    This is interesting! Just FYI we have a Pensioner discount scheme here in Oz – you get cheap public transport, half price theatre tickets and pharmaceuticals and a few other good things… I’m not there yet, but can’t wait… as am currently struggling to make money out of my writing.
    Rarely do we pay more for performances in Oz – even when we have visiting teachers. They are here for workshops and I think the organisers do a deal with them that the performances are part of the promotion and the workshop package. Local teachers don’t perform at all the milongas – one or two do it regularly and I agree that it is a waste of dance time – though I think watching people stomping round in attempted chacarera is worse!
    And… we also have the issue of ‘teachers’ getting into some milongas FYOC. This is irregular as some do it, some don’t. As a milonga organiser and administrator of TangoAustralia website I get in to some free – but my partner doesn’t! This however is a bit of a cleft stick. Sometimes the takings are just covering the costs and when one puts a heap of work into a milonga (venue, insurance, music for playlist, free tea and coffee…) it is nice to get just a little bit of cash at the end. I don’t teach, but I have been told by organisers that the money is in the private lessons.
    So – I think the OAP, like the rest of us on a tight budget – have to budget in their milonga attendances …

  8. Mr. Milonga
    May 10, 2009 @ 09:32:22

    Two interesting topics have come out through this discussion which I’d like to address.

    First of all the question of paying more to go into a milonga to see a peformance. I hate paying the extra couple of quid, especially if I consider the dancers to be lack lustre. I agree that if you’ve missed a performance because you’ve arrived at a venue late or had to leave early that you should not be charged the extra money, but this isn’t really a question of punctuality.

    There have been many, many times when I’ve seen outstanding visiting dancers who have been so good they’ve been worth the entrance fee all by themselves. I applaud the people who run milongas for attracting dancers and teachers from Argentina as I believe it is important for the tango community in London (or indeed the UK) to see and be inspired by accomplished, innovative dancers.
    Even the not-so-good visiting couples have a purpose, because they dispel the myth that EVERYBODY in Bs As is amazing. I hope that the trend to introduce dancers from Argentina continues.

    Regarding the ‘teachers get in free’ amnesty which goes on at milongas, I think everyone who has a problem should remember one simple thing. Each milonga is a privately run business and it is up to the discretion of those people who run milongas to do what they want to.

    How anyone could be so petty to even comment on who lets who in for free escapes me. It is interesting that the comment came from someone who has rightly vigorously defended her right to choose who she wants to dance with.

    Is this is a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black?

  9. Arlene
    May 10, 2009 @ 10:07:03

    @ Mr Milonga
    You are correct about two topics coming out of this post.

    If you read my post carefully, I merely commented on the fact, based on observation and conversations, that many teachers (and some organisers) get into the milongas for free. I do not understand how articulating an observation can be petty. It also has nothing to do with my right to choose who I dance with and I find your remark more of a personal attack with no bearing on fact. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

    If an organiser is going to complain that they don’t make any money running a milonga, then perhaps they should charge everyone an entrance fee and stop letting people in for free, or stop complaining. If you didn’t understand the context of my statement, then perhaps next time I will try and be more clear, as I thought I was.

    I don’t get into anywhere free. I pay my way. I don’t care what other people do. The organisers can do what they want, it is their business, you are correct. However, when running a business, one shouldn’t complain about it not doing well based on decisions that they have made for one reason or another. That is not my problem, or anyone else’s for that matter.

  10. Tango totty
    May 10, 2009 @ 13:26:13

    I too have a bone to pick about paying for dispalys I take the point that its important to invite INSPIRATIONAL visiting teachers to dance here. But unfortunately out of all the displays I have seen I feel tha very very few ARE inspirational. In the last two years I can count 3 displays that I have thought were worth watching. The majority that I have seen here are neither particularly educative or indeed entertaining. Even if they are so poor quality they are amusing surely that is hardly the object of the exercise! Most of them are just an iirritating cliche which interrrupts the flow of the evening for a good 15 minutes.

    However good or bad a dancer you are, I think most people would agree its better to be dancing yourself than watching others perform unless you know its going to be absolutely EXCEPTIONAL.

    I absolutely do not agree that teachers should just get in free to a milonga JUST because they have the label of teacher. Surely if they get in for free they should be prepared to give something back by getting on the floor and dancing with the ordinary people. There are a few teachers I know that do this, but many of them just sit at the special reserve teachers table or on the stage at Negracha, only dancing with each other or other members of the tango elite. This only serves to promote the tango elitism and snobbery that exists here. They would argue that they are entitled to enjoy themselves by dancing with who they want. Yes they are, as the organisers are entitled to let who they want in for free. But I do think its quite bad psychology on the organisers part – basically unless they are contributing they are only there through pure privilege.

  11. ColaTango
    May 10, 2009 @ 18:05:47

    Mr Milonga, you like winding Arlene up don’t you?

    Even though
    Arlene doesn’t seem to be able to see the point you’re making I do. Everybody should be free to make their own decisions based on their particular circumstances, shouldn’t they?

    Tango Totty, I appreciate your point even though I don’t entirely agree. Teachers should not be shackled to their students or be obliged to dance with anybody else.

    Regarding guest dancers or teachers, it would be great if they we’re all inspirational, but just like my experiences in a milonga I appreciate good dances much more more after a couple of bad ones.

    More performances please – if only to give us all something to write about!

  12. Mr Milonga
    May 10, 2009 @ 19:17:53


    It isn’t my intention to wind anyone up, but sometimes the truth hurts.

  13. El Chupacabra
    May 10, 2009 @ 19:20:51

    If people don’t like bad performances and cheesy chacareras interrupting their milongas, I suggest they vote with their feet and don’t go (and don’t pay). They message will soon get through.

    I go to a milonga where special performances are thankfully rarer than other milongas.

  14. Andreas
    May 10, 2009 @ 20:50:43

    As we know, the only requirement to be a teacher is getting a ponytail, as someone mentioned somewhere else on this blog. So go grow your hair and you’ll be fine.
    As for setting up your own milonga, make sure you prepare by reading Pol Pot’s memoirs. He wrote the book on how to deal with those pesky elites.

  15. Tango Totty
    May 11, 2009 @ 12:41:15


    I never suggested that the teachers should be shackled to their students or anyone else; what I said was that if they are let in to milongas for free, then surely they should be prepared to contribute something to the evening like getting on the dancefloor with some of the ordinary dancers rather than just sitting up on the stage like tango gods looking down at the plebs. This doesnt mean they have to dance all night with their students or beginners. It just means a couple of dances with different dancers. There are a couple of teachers who do this and I think this is the right spirit for the dance. If not, what exactly is their purpose for being there – is everyone just supposed to be grateful for their presence or are we supposed to be just admiring them or what ?

    Chuppa and Angelina – I dont dance the chacerera myself and I appreciate it maybe a bit cheesy and yet another interruption to tango, but I much prefer it to watching a half baked display. Its lively, a bit of a laugh and at least anyone can join in!

  16. Mr Milonga
    May 11, 2009 @ 15:17:33

    Tango Totty if I buy you a drink does that entitle me to a dance with you?

    Leave the teachers alone. Most of them don’t have day jobs, few of them have personalities and not all of them can dance.

    If there’s a teacher you want to dance with Totty why don’t you just go and ask them? If giving up your freedom of choice is the price you have to pay for getting into a milonga for free, then there are loads of men who should be saving themselves a lot of money.

  17. Tango totty
    May 11, 2009 @ 20:24:52

    Mr Milonga

    If you buy me a drink it may not entitle you to a dance but again it comes round to common courtesy – if I accept the drink then to dance with you may be a pleasant recognition of thanks. Quite simply if I dont want to dance with you I dont think I should be accepting your drinks. Or do you think I should be greedy and entitled to a free drink.

    Regarding the teachers – The teachers may not need to dance with everyone but they are supposed to be the standard bearers of dance – this is why they supposedly get in free. Some of them, particularly the visiting teachers would promote more interest and enthusiasm by more active participation. Otherwise why dont they take their recreation down at the skating rink instead? Its no credit to them that they are too grand to dance with perfectly reasonable but ordinary dancers.

  18. Voice of Reason
    May 11, 2009 @ 21:11:22

    After careful consideration I can see no justification whatsoever for anyone getting in for free. However, its not as simple as that. What gives us the right to sit in judgement on a service that would not be provided were it not for the opportunity to fleece us occasionally. Ok, regularly. The very thought of allowing anyone in for free would send some of the milonga organisers into a fit.
    The idea of concessions for the OAP’s is a noble one. However, when you consider that tango OAP’s in London are awash with disposable income. Certainly, the prices keep the poor OAP’s at home huddled round their telly’s.
    As far as the tango teachers are concerned they are probably amongst the poorest of our community. Perhaps each milonga should publish its list of people who get privelege’s in the same way as our parliament should.
    There is no acceptable manner in everyones eyes. As far as I am concerned as long as the costs are reasonable for me I don’t care who gets in for free. It is just not really my business to complain.

    Peace out.


  19. Tango totty
    May 11, 2009 @ 21:56:59

    Mr Milonga

    Are you a tango teacher and do you pay? I think I know who you are. Do you have grey hair, and a beard, and kick the chairs and walls as you go round the dance foor ? And do you always dance with a hanky in your hand and you quite often dance with that older French woman? Do you teach at the Funky Monkey at Camberwell?

    Give us a clue


  20. El Chupacabra
    May 12, 2009 @ 00:33:04

    I asked a teacher for a dance at a milonga once. Wasn’t a pretty scene.

    Thanks for the advice Andreas – I knew I was doing something wrong. If I grow my hair into a ponytail I can finally graduate to teacher level.

    Joking aside … it is up to the organisers who they charge and who they don’t. But it is also within our own power not to go and subsidise bad events. take a minute and find out which events would suit you. No “superstar” teachers and no chacareras and no high-tables suit me fine.

  21. Voice of Reason
    May 12, 2009 @ 19:52:32

    Dear Tango totty

    I think I know the guy you are describing. Mid fifties wears a blazer and chino’s. Has his own unique style. I would also be interested to find out if he is Mr Milonga.
    Mr Milonga are you he? You can’t be? If not, he? Are you that bloke wih the red trousers?
    Will we ever know?


  22. Mr Milonga
    May 13, 2009 @ 14:43:46

    I’m intrigued with this new sport to ‘out’ me.

    Tango Totty, I’m intrigued to think that I’m the anarchist of the milonga. I have never kicked a chair or a table while dancing. I’ve never been to the Funky Munky because I know that bloke will be there.

    Interestingly enough I think I might know who you are. Are you the eccentric, mature lady who is often at the Wine Bar? Did you recently retire from handing the flowers out at The Crypt?

    If that is you, I shall be asking you for a milonga which befits my name.

  23. David Bailey
    May 21, 2009 @ 19:58:19

    Good grief, you lot are making _me_ look mature… What is it with people and psuedonyms? Does it suddenly give everyone licence to get snarky?

    Anyway, I agree with Arlene. Both times.

    Firstly, concessions – for whatever reason – are completely at the discretion of the organisers. I don’t think it’s right to try and say they “should” provide concessions – I agree that there’s probably damn-all money in Tango, like in most dances.

    Secondly, I think most demonstrations are simply marketing, and I don’t see why I have to pay extra for someone to advertise themselves when I could be dancing. If I want to see demonstrations, I have Youtube.

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