It was the last tanda. I wasn’t dancing. I was just watching the couples moving to the highly romantic sounds of El ultimo cafe and La Cumparsita and enjoying the view with a smile on my face. The whole milonga was just wonderful. Not only for me. You could see all the people leaving with smiles and an air of happiness!
Flash back some weeks before that. Attending another milonga in another place… another community. I left before the end but the place was already getting empty till that time. The taste left from this milonga was not the same. Although I had a good time and enjoyed the few tandas I danced I couldn’t say I experienced the same kind of shared happiness with the other participants. You could feel people leaving the place somehow… unsatisfied.
Too cold to dance?
Whoever knows me, knows that I usually dance a lot. So it is rare for me to be in a milonga and sit for more than two tandas in a row. If this is the case then something is definitely off. It may happen that my mood is not the best sometimes or that I don’t like the music so much…. but there are still cases that I won’t dance because the event/milonga doesn’t “inspire” me. That was the case in the second milonga I described and it wasn’t only me. It was the general mood. When it is the music that I don’t like… or I am in a bad mood… I know what is the problem so I can answer the question easily. But some other times although I love the music choices of the DJ I just don’t feel like it.
So what is the other factor that can influence our collective mood in a milonga apart from the music?… Us… The participants! Have you ever been to a milonga that you want so badly to dance a DiSarli tanda and no one cares to look at you while you are searching to cabeceo someone? Yes… people can sit in a milonga… and discuss or browse on their phones when Podesta is singing “La capilla blanca”… just like nothing special happens!… I have seen it happen… and I don’t mean that just a couple of partners I was aiming for, were sitting… I mean almost close to 40% of the participants!
Some would say, maybe they don’t like the music. My answer to this would be…. then they are in the wrong place. They better go to a bar and listen to some pop… rock… RnB or whatever else kind of music and have their drinks. But no… they selected to come to a milonga instead because they supposedly like Tango… and if you like Tango there is a high probability (almost certainty) that songs like “La capilla blanca” will automatically make you search for an embrace to share it with. So what’s wrong with those events and people can resist such a huge temptation? The answer is in the “temperature”.
Radiators and air conditioners
In a very interesting long video podcast, Yelisaveta starts by analyzing the 4 main categories of dancers you will find in any milonga. The two extremes are the teachers or professionals and the outcasts or very beginners. Then the biggest part as she explains is the two middle layer categories. The first one she calls “the cool kids” and the second she calls “the connectors”. The cool kids are the people who will go to a milonga and dance a few tandas mostly with a few selected friends and the connectors are the ones who go to a milonga seeking genuinely to connect with other people through their dance. I’d like to consider myself a connector (although sometimes I come across as a snob) because as I said when I go to a milonga I am usually dancing a lot and if you also read my posts you will realize that there is nothing better for me than to find and dance with a new partner I never danced before and have this amazing connection like we knew each other for years. How could I be sitting for so long in a milonga?
Well, it’s all a matter of temperature as I said. You see… when you seek connection it means you create friction… energy… heat! A connector raises the temperature in a milonga. On the other hand, you probably know when and why you call someone cold? When they are distant, unapproachable, still. So in a milonga or an event, everything is a matter of temperature. Cool kids act like air conditioners, bringing the temperature of the event down. They will only raise the temperature when they get on the floor but then again this happens not so often and not with many people so the amount of heat is not big enough to compensate for their coldness. The connectors on the other hand are like radiators. They will warm the event and they will create a nice cozy “temperature” for everyone to feel comfortable. So if you think of an event as a room… then the ratio of air conditioning units to radiators you have will make the difference.
The organizers’ dilemma
In a milonga where there is no application and acceptance process… on any given day the number of cool kids and connectors that will show up will determine the atmosphere of the milonga. You can’t control it easily as an organizer. But for events like marathons, the screening process allows the organizers to determine the temperature of the event. So as an organizer, you can make a decision. Do I want to create a cool or a hot event? If you know you can control the number of cool kids or connectors and accept them.
Now I know that most organizers would want a hot event but the decision is tricky and kind of counter-intuitive. Cool kids are usually cool because they are (or they are considered) good dancers. They are popular and they attract attention and possibly more participation in the event. I mean if a popular cool kid says I am going to be on the X marathon there is a number of people who would follow up and register as well. So who wouldn’t like to have a lot of cool kids at their event? On the other hand, connectors come from all different “levels”… and maybe they are not as good dancers as the cool kids… so they might not be the best material for advertising. But if they like the event they would most probably want to repeat it.
So there is a dilemma… a trade-off to be made here. If you manage to hit the right balance you have a successful event and many of the connectors will like to come next year and then you build a long-lasting event. If not… you can try next year to get it right with a mostly fresh batch of dancers.
Tonight’s Goodnight Tango
Since I already mentioned “La capilla blanca” a lot… tonight’s Goodnight Tango is exactly that. Try to ignore Podesta and DiSarli’s amazing work and do something else. Can you? I know I can’t.
How about you? How do you like the events you join? Hot or cold? Do you consider yourself a connector or a cool kid? Have you ever experienced an event that was too hot or too cold for you? And if you are an organizer… what is your mindset when selecting participants? Let me know with a comment below, an email, or a PM on Facebook… oh… and if you liked it… don’t forget to share it with your friends.