Ask Arlene…Fear of the Milongas

Hello All,

Please note that I have quite a few saved comments for Ask Arlene that I am trying to work my way through.  I will be answering them, slowly but surely, as there are some interesting topics to cover.  Life is a bit busy right now so please bear with me.  I will get to everyone as soon as I can.

From: Tango neophyte

Dear Arlene,

I’ve been learning Tango for about a year now, but have not been brave enough to attend any Milongas until recently when I attended Tango Al Fresco in Regent’s park, unfortunately I was never asked to dance! Whereas it was lovely to watch people dance it would have been nice if I’d had one dance.
Can you offer any advice as to how to get over my fear of attending Milonga on my own and not been asked to dance?
TN

Dear TN,

I find it very interesting and strange that you have not attended any Milongas in the year you have had lessons.  I am really surprised that your instructor did not encourage you, nor suggest any venues for you to attend.  (The Crypt is a pretty friendly place and so is The Wine Bar.)

Frankly, it does not surprise me to learn that you were not asked to dance at Tango Al Fresco.  Most people that go there tend to go in groups and dance with their friends, or if alone, dance with people that they know because they met them in the other Milongas.  The rest are usually onlookers.  Outdoor Milongas are not necessarily the best places to start dancing.

I have written about getting dances on many posts on my blog.  It might be useful for you to read some of them.

I always go to Milongas alone.  If I waited for anyone to do anything, I would be sitting on my butt at home alone.  You just have to do it.  I didn’t dance much in the beginning.  It takes time to get to know people.  You need to put yourself out there and be sociable.  Make friends with women.  They are THE most sane people at a Milonga.  Go to classes before the Milongas to meet people.  It is called networking.  Smile.  A lot.  I did the same thing when I first started to learn Salsa (which I learned before Tango) and Ceroc.

There is nothing to fear but fear itself.  The fact is, you already went out of your comfort zone and went to an outdoor Milonga, good for you.  Now that you have experienced that, it will get easier each time you go out.  Oh, and don’t have any expectations, then you won’t get disappointed.  You can’t expect people to dance with you if they don’t know you or haven’t seen you dance or if you don’t put yourself out a little bit.

But be careful what you ask for.  Try and be a little bit selective.  Look at the dance floor and see what you like or don’t like about someone’s dancing.  Tango isn’t always about dancing.  It is about the music and enjoying yourself.  Before you know it you will be dancing.  Sometimes it will be good, it will be great, it will be average and it will be bad.  Give it some time and you will be complaining with the rest of them about there not being any good dancers to dance with. 😉

So you better get out there.  There is another Tango al Fresco coming up soon!

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Ask Arlene…About Food at The Milonga

Dear Arlene

I often get a bit peckish during the milongas and I really wish that someone could come round selling those delicious Argentinian pasties known as Empanadas. I have tried the tea and cakes at the crypt and I find it’s all a bit WI – a bit at odds with the exociticsm of the dance and more in tune with pensioners Old Time dancing on a Thursday afternoon. I have looked up the recipe for beef empanadas on the internet and theres a great one on the bbc website. Could you organise this Arlene ? (sssh! A woman called Tina who helps out at the Crypt knows how to make them)

Todo Bien

Dear Todo Bien,

If you haven’t already, I suggest you read my first post on Personal Hygiene.

We are not in Buenos Aires where you can order a meal and have a dance.

I personally have never found the dance to be exotic and at odds with cake.  I love cake and am particularly fond of the tea and cakes at The Crypt.  On the El Once nights, Paul’s bakes the cakes himself and they are very yummy, a good source of carbs for all the dancing, and most importantly, they don’t give you bad breath like an empanada would.  You all know how I feel about BB and smells!

Every once in awhile the organisers of the Milongas have food for a special event, which I think is great.  I always pack my toothbrush anyway so if I am eating something I wouldn’t normally eat on a Milonga night, I make sure I use the facilities to clean my teeth and have the breath mints or chewing gum at the ready, but I still worry about being offensive.  My big issue is when the organisers leave flavoured crisps on the tables.  Why can’t they use plain, salted crisps?  I think I may have unintentionally insulted someone a couple of years ago when I asked him if he tucked into the crisps, as all I could smell was cheese and onion!  He hasn’t danced with me since.

So, the answer to your question is ‘no’.

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