About Milonga Típica


Milonga Típica is the name of the milonga which has been organized regulaly since June 2012 in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Why Milonga Típica?

Traditional milonga* in Buenos Aires is not just any social dancing event. The milonga must follow some traditions. Nowadays almost any social tango event is called "milonga". Most of them, however, cannot be called "milonga" according to usual understanding of what is traditional milonga in Buenos Aires.

The word Típica (tipical) we owe to orquesta típica: that's how traditional tango orqestras are called.

With the name of Milonga Típica we want to ephasize that in our milonga we try to follow traditions of milongas of Buenos Aires.  We strive to make our milonga as close to "tipical" milonga of the center of Buenos Aires (milonga del centro) as is practically possible here in Europe and in our not so big tango community of Vilnius. 

Why we organize Milonga Típica? Who organize it and for whom?

The organizers and owners of Milonga Típica are Ramunė and Evaldas. They both dance tango for more than 10 years and organze tango events since 2008. They often go to Buenos Aires to dance in numerous milongas there. Evaldas owns big collection of tango music and is recognized tango DJ since 2007. 

It is difficult to find anything similar to traditional milonga ouside Buenos Aires, including Europe. Even in Buenos Aires not all milongas are "traditional". So we think Milonga Típica is an innovation, especially in Lithuania and in neighboring tango communities. We strive to fill up the gap, and, maybe, to ease that feeling of sharp nostalgy so tipical for people who have been visited milongas in Buenos Aires or can't go there for some reason.

What is códigos?

Los códigos de la milonga are unwritten rules or etiquette of traditional milonga. 

Códigos appeared as a result of practical needs of social conduct in a milonga. Strictly speaking, a dance event can only be considered a milonga, only if those rules, códigos, are observed, because traditional milonga and códigos are strongly linked to each other. Nowadays, when social habits and needs are significantly different, attitude to códigos changed also, they are usualy observed only partly at best, even in Buenos Aires. Outside Buenos Aires, códigos are often unknown altogether. 

Do we strongly require to observe códigos in Milonga Típica?

No, there's no requirement of this sort. How can we? We all are free people living in a free country. We have right to behave according social norms we are accustomed to, while respecting rights, wishes and tastes of other people. But...

In Milonga Típica we recommend to observe some rules, actually elements of (otherwise quite strong) códigos. That is because these rules, invented by milongueros during many years are very practical ones even today, they help people in a social environment of milonga. It's códigos what creates unforgettable community spirit of a milonga.

If you choose not to observe to some simple recommendations listed below, it might happen, that Milonga Típica will not be completely comfortable environment for you.

What is cabeceo?

Cabeceo is one of códigos's rules. Cabeceo (sometimes word mirada is used) is a clear eye contact between man and woman and invitation with the nod, usualy while sitting. Cabeceo means commitment to dance. No cabeceo (i.e. clear eye contact), no commitment to dance. Only after cabeceo, man approaches the lady, then she rises and goes to the dancing floor where they meet to begin the dance.

If you want to dance, you have to be active and seek eye contact and cabeceo, i.e. you have to make your gaze available to those, with whom you want to dance.

Why Milonga Típica strongly recommends to use cabeceo ?

Because it's, again, very practical. By using cabeceo one can avoid awkward situations, when woman says "no" to the man, who approached her with invitation to dance but with whom she doesn't want to dance. Nobody can see cabeceo from side, only those two, so one's dignity will be preserved even in case of rejection. Actually, woman simply doesn't look to the man if she doesn't want to dance with him. The same is valid for men.

Don't approach lady with invitation to dance without prior cabeceo!

Why Milonga Típica asks men and women to sit separately from each other? 

That's because of cabeceo. Men look to women's side, women look to men's side, this way cabeceo becomes realy natural and unavoidable, especially in rather small venues of Vilnius's milongas. From the other side, it creates some playful tension between men's and women's sides, tango is a reflection of the real life!

If you came to a Milonga Típica in a couple or in mixed company and you want to sit together, then you of course will have this possibility in the part of the dancing hall together with other mixed companies and couples.

Upon your arrival to Milonga Típica, hosts will meet you at the entrance and will find you a place. Please don't try to find your place yourself, it can be already occupied by others. 

Why we usualy use bright lights in Milonga Típica? 

We do it this way because of cabeceo. When there's not enough light, you cannot make clear eye contact, especialy with a person in the other side of the room. The european idea of dimmed environment as a romantic one is problematic in traditional milonga, especially in big venues. For similar reason Milonga Típica doesn't use candles on tables. 

Another reason is that before inviting someone, you first observe dancing people to have an idea about his/her dancing quality and to be sure it might be good partner for you. This might be difficult in dimmed environment.

What kind of music is played in Milonga Típica?

We invite to Milonga Típica only Tango DJs who play tango records from Golden Age, precisely from the period from 1927 to 1958, rarely earlier or later.

Music is always organized in tandas and separated with cortinas (see below). Milonga Típica always announce DJ of the evening some time in advance: follow announcements!

You will not usualy hear tango nuevo (e.g. Piazzolla), tango electronics, neo tango, tango fusion or "tango alternative" in Milonga Típica. But you can hear (and dance to) different latin and Caribean (tropical) rythms such as salsa, cumbia, merengue as well as old foxtrot or swing.

What is tanda?

Tanda is a set of 4 or 3 tangos, valses or milongas (musical genre). Two tandas are separated from each other by cortina (curtain). Cortina is any non-tango music, usualy 20-50 sec. long piece. You are not supposed to dance during cortina.

In milongas partners dance by tandas. If a couple starts to dance, they dance to the end of tanda, until cortina. Then they stop dancing and return to their places each. E.g. if you start dancing 3rd tango in a tanda, you dance only two tangos and then go to your places.

To break a tanda intentionaly is rude, actualy it's an insult, you do it only if you realy want it. So when you are accepting an invitation you better be sure you realy want to dance with that partner. If you aren't sure, start dancing 2nd, 3rd or even 4th tango in a tanda.

Why Milonga Típica recommends to dance no more than one consecutive tanda with the same partner?

That's because in a milonga we foster community spirit. After dancing with a partner, let him/her dance with someone else. You'll have a chance to dance with him/her later (if you both will want it). If you observe this rule, social communication becomes more intense and community of dancers become more open and more friendly. In the end of the day, this is what we all are looking for.

According to classical códigos, dancing two or more tandas in a row with the same partner means those two people are in a relationship. It may easily be the truth, and it's all good. But this is also a signal to others, and the others will be less inclined to invite to dance people, who demonstrate they are couple and/or prefer dancing with each other. That's why we recommend to sit separately and not to dance together too many tandas with your spouse or boy-/girlfriend, if you want to get more dances.

Very important is that dance area would become empty during cortina. Otherwise it will be difficult to make cabeceo for the next tanda with partner in the opposite side of the room. 

What is ronda?

Ronda (circle) is a circular counterclockwise flow of dancing couples in a milonga. Tango unlike salsa, lindyhop or rock'n roll, etc is not danced in one place, dancing couple travels all the time on the dancefloor. It's one of códigos rules: dancing couples must slowly move counterclockwise in a circle (ronda), showing respect to other couples, adjusting their speed to common speed of ronda and never trying to outstrip or detain other couples. If the dancing floor is crowded, then ronda is moving in several lanes.

Men (leaders) are responsible for floorcraft. Good floorcraft is what makes good milonga. And it says something good about the community. Maintaining ronda is very important for community spirit in a milonga. For this reason in Milonga Típica we recommend using traditional Buenos Aires styles of social tando dancing and avoid wide, unpredictable and even dangerous moves (e.g. high boleo or gancho) as well as different show-off moves which require more space and interfere with the ronda.


* Milonga is a social dancing event where argentine tango is danced (the word itself has african origin and reached us from XIX century together with tango culture. In the context of tango it has several meanings).

Regular visitors of milongas in Buenos Aires are called milongueros. Nowadays this word is usualy applied to old tango dancers, those who started dancing in Golden Age times (1950-ies) or later, but usualy not later than tango revival in 1980-ies. Milongueros viejos are those people who represent authentic tradicion of social tango. There are less and less milongueros viejos every year.

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