I’d wondered how it would feel, returning to dancing in London. Whether my familiar milongas would now feel strange. Tonight’s didn’t: lots of friends were there, and I dived straight back in.
What did feel strange was that it had been four whole days since my last milonga! Technically, three days, I suppose, since we left Yira Yira in the early hours of Saturday morning and I was at the Tango Space milonga when it started at 8pm on Tuesday. As an added bonus, there was a touch of Buenos Aires to the dance …
One thing dancing so much in Buenos Aires had made very clear to me is the night-and-day difference between music I love and music I find merely ok.
Beyond specific favourites, it’s about knowing my tastes. Mine are very much for lyrical music. My favourite genre in non-tango music – on the rare occasions I still listen to it – is singer-songwriter. And what I love about that is the same thing I look for in tango music: the singer evoking an emotional response in me. Sometimes that can happen with a purely instrumental song (Desde El Alma is one of my all-time favourites, for example), but it’s far, far more likely with a lyrical one […] So that means finding milongas with one of two things: a live band, or a DJ with a love of lyrical music.
I’d asked on a couple of Tango Facebook groups for recommendations for suitable DJs, and received a number of them. In addition to those based in London, Steph said I should also keep an eye out for La Rubia – ‘the blonde’ – when she visited from her home city of Buenos Aires. As it turned out, she was DJing at Tango Space tonight.
Her choice of music was every bit as great as Steph had suggested. I was there from beginning to end, and danced almost every tanda. I think I sat out about five in the course of the entire evening, and those were because I wanted to chat with friends.
I’d concluded that a mix of great music and my favourite followers was most of the secret to a magical time, and that was indeed the case. But I was also incredibly lucky when dancing with some new followers. Literally every tanda was lovely – and that’s, as I say, when dancing almost non-stop all night.
There was some comedy too. One follower friend is interested in doing a little leading. I let her know about a Queer Tango London class for leading ladies on Monday. Steph and a friend or two are doing it. But when she said she needed some practice, I gestured toward the practica room next door and we proceeded to mix a beginner leader with a beginner follower – with the kinds of results you might expect!
But while it wasn’t pretty, she did successfully lead me around the room without any collisions, broken feet or damage to the building. I’m calling that a win.
La Rubia got a very well-earned enthusiastic round of applause at the end of the evening, and an A+ rating in my newly-started favourite DJs list!