Hosting a milonga

In the last few weeks I have been emailing a tanguera who is a long way away about the role of the host at a milonga - her problem began when she went to a milonga that appeared to be hostless and had a horrible time. She has since got involved with this milonga, which is run by a community organisation, and is giving it a face and a direction which is bringing in more and more dancers. So today when I spotted Arlene's posting about the role of a host it seemed opportune to write a few words here. As one who hosts a milonga I know firsthand the organisation required before you even announce your event - finding a venue - then keeping the managers sweet - organising the night (music, refreshments, table set-up, lighting, door prizes....) and making sure you have the right insurance and licences.
Then there is the question of hosting. I think of my milonga as I would a party at my house. The dancers are my guests (albeit paying otherwise I wouldn't be able to afford to do it) and it is my duty to welcome them -even when I have a door person - make sure they have somewhere to sit and move around during the night talking to them and making sure all is okay (unfortunately it isn't always possible to ensure the ladies get 'enough' dances! - though I do have a couple of leaders I can ask - but that is the nature of the milonga).
So when I go to a milonga where there does not appear to be a host or hostess I instantly feel slightly aimless and not particularly welcome - even if I have booked a table or reserved seats. There is one such milonga in Sydney which badly needs a host/hostess - I know if they nominated someone to do this role I would enjoy my evening more - and maybe others would too. I agree with Arlene that a host/hostess is crucial to the success of the milonga - does it bother you?

Comments

jantango said…
You know how things are in Buenos Aires because you've attended milongas here. The organizer may or may not greet you when you arrive, you take your regular seat or are escorted to one, and then you're on your own. There is no handholding. You show up, pay the entrance fee, and learn the rules. I can't name one organizer who goes around the room checking to see that everyone is having a good time and getting all the tandas they want. That's not the way a milonga is organized in BsAs.

If foreigners call it a milonga, then it should follow the way it's done in Buenos Aires. Arlene hasn't been to BsAs yet and will be disappointed if she is expecting to find those standards here.
how to tango said…
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Yes you are right Jan this is not how things are done in Buenos Aires - but Sydney is not BA and Aussies have different expectations. I am not trying to run a BA style milonga in Sydney - it would fail. People like to be welcomed - and I like doing the welcoming. They are also not very good at the cabaceo - and many prefer to actually be asked. And as for the bright lighting found in some BA milongas - I think that would scare them away for good!!
jantango said…
Several years ago, a friend and I talked about what it would be like to run a nonsmoking milonga in Buenos Aires. We quickly arrived at the conclusion that it would fail because dancers want to smoke in the milongas. Then came the no-smoking law about six years ago which meant everyone had to go outside the milonga to smoke. Many thought the milongas would fail, but they haven't.

This only proves that dancers can and will adapt to changes, especially if they want to dance tango. The organizer sets the standards -- lights on for the cabeceo, tandas for changing partners, etc. There is a reason for everything. It works in BsAs milongas. It's part of the social tango scene. Be brave and give things are try.

Those who eventually travel to BsAs have to adapt to the way things are...if they ever want to dance.
Anonymous said…
I assume Jantango is joking to suggest we should in Australia put men one side of the room and women on the other, seating them as they do in an aircraft, first class seats, business class seats and then the rest. If not recognised as first class material immediately we may, if we persist, get an upgrade in a year or two.
David G

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