The real reason we go to the Milonga

My former teacher had a student who confessed she was feeling frustrated at milongas. She said she wasn’t getting the dances she wanted – or thought she deserved. There weren’t enough dancers at her level to dance with. There were too many beginners and dancers with bad habits that made them undesirable. On top of that, she wished some of the leads were more exciting to dance with.

So he asked her, “Why do you REALLY go to the Milonga?”. She stumbled through various explanations.

“I go to dance with my favorite dancers… and to get good dances.”

“I go to practice my moves and show off my skills.”

“I go to have fun… and socialize… and it’s good exercise too.”

She was going to milongas with the intention of “getting” something. She was going to the milonga with the expectation of having a good time, getting amazing tandas and scoring compliments for her beautiful footwork, elegant outfit and fabulous new Comme Il Faut shoes. She expected to be sought after all night because she believed she had developed some skills.

Instead, she found herself sitting out tandas, feeling frustrated, waiting for a cabeceo that would excite her.

Meanwhile we see men looking frustrated as they scan the room looking for the followers they desire… the ones who are excited to dance with them, who appreciate them and are fun to dance with (i.e., kindly forgiving of their imperfections). They might be looking to try out some new moves. Or perhaps just have a good time.

But a milonga is not just a place to find a good time and great dances. A milonga is where we go to find ourselves. We find ourselves in others, oftentimes in those who are like us in some way.

We may dance with a beginner and be reminded our own journey and struggles. That beginner may elicit kindness and compassion – the kind that builds and sustains communities of warmth and growth. They may remind us what it’s like to dance without ego… to simply be happy in another’s embrace moving to music that is new and exciting.

In beginners, we may find a part of ourselves that we lost touch with long ago.

We may dance with someone more advanced and discover something in them that is just beginning to bloom within us… Perhaps they emulate vulnerability or expression that we ache to embrace in ourselves. We may see our own future in that dancer and become inspired to deepen our development.

A dancer may evoke parts of ourselves to come out to play… expressions and abilities we didn’t know existed or were capable of executing. That same person may trigger insecurity or anxiety. Finding those emotions gives us direction on what to work on next (i.e., staying calm, building confidence, or simply enjoying the dance).

And some nights, we may find ourselves sitting alone. Waiting and expecting. Wondering why we are invisible as others overlook us. We can find ourselves in those moments too. Finding oneself in an undesired state is a nudge to change something.

Perhaps we need to circulate more… walk the room and greet everyone we know in the room. Spark conversation with a new person, perhaps someone we wouldn’t normally engage with. You never know what part of yourself you will find in another. When we are truly being authentic, we will find some part of ourselves in every person.

Sometimes it’s as simple as being open to the moment without any expectation. When we stop going to the milonga with an expectation of getting something specific, we change our entire experience. Instead of seeking the “perfect tanda”, seek to find yourself in every moment, with every person in every dance.

Pay attention to what each person elicits in you; joy, inspiration, insecurity, anxiety, playfulness, vulnerability, artistry, sensuality, fear, hesitation, perhaps envy! Challenge yourself to surrender fully to whatever you feel, and allow yourself to feel the rawness of that emotion into your dance.

Remember the dancer who wished the leads were more exciting to dance with? Perhaps what she REALLY wanted was to experience more dynamic and playfulness in her own dancing.

Instead of seeking to “get” what we need from others, perhaps it’s time we find what’s missing in ourselves – and build it within.


Written in collaboration with Marcos Questas @

About Epiphany

epiphanies on life and spiritual living as I chase wisdom - one insight at a time.

Posted on June 30, 2017, in Dance and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Well said, well said…


  2. Voy a la milonga con una pareja ,la prepara para bailar con Migo, y hablar con los amigos( claro) escuchar los tango y mirar otros bailando?


  3. The accompanying picture underneath really illustrates your text. Really.


  4. Magnífico texto gracias!


  5. Everything you said is true. Sadly though, when you don’t dance perfectly there is always someone ready to criticize instead of enjoying the dance! I have improved my dance that now l can adjust the missed step whether it be done by me or my partner. It doesn’t matter! We move on without a word! Without a pointing
    finger! I dance enjoyably enough to know that you can not dance with everyone. If you do then you risk dancing with a leader who can ruin a beautiful song because his ego takes over! I’ve had wonderful tandas & awful tandas. I would never walk away from the pista as l know many followers have done! I simply look forward to the next wonderful tandas!


  6. You go to the milonga to discover the world. To discover people. To discover yourself. The miracle is that all these people (including yourself) are there to dance and expose their flaws. Their imperfections. Everyone is dancing embracing not only another person, but also with his/hers problems and mistakes. This is indeed a strange feeling, that all of these guys are living their own dream, right there, right now, trying to be better ,trying to bring out their best quality.
    As soon as you realize that, as soon as you start thinking with that special manner, then you start loving them, all together and one by one just a little more.
    And this is tango all about. Love the music, love the steps and the technical artistic aspects but most of all:
    Love the people.


  7. When I am in the Tango embrace I experience different aspects of myself and I surrender to the moment. I become One with my partner and the music that speaks to my Soul.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: