The Vanishing Art of the Milongueros: Studying Recordings of their Dancing that Preserve their Legacy

  • Milongueros have served as role models for developing male tango dancers for decades, first in Buenos Aires, and thereafter throughout the world. Milongueros value the tango embrace and the emotions shared with one’s partner. Their compact movements respect the space of other dancers on the milonga dance floor. The direction of their movements (i.e., navigation) prevents contact with other couples on the floor. The unique contribution of milongueros is the interpretation of tango music in their dancing.
  • Developing tango dancers have learned how to dance from milongueros through direct instruction and through observation of their dancing in the milongas of Buenos Aires. However, with each passing year, due to death or poor health, there are fewer and fewer milongueros from the Golden Age of Tango available to serve as role models for tango dancing.
  • In the place of milongueros, tango instructors who are stage performers, practitioners of Tango Nuevo, and tango dance competitors have become the new role models for tango dancing worldwide; the expansive exhibitionist movements taught and demonstrated by these instructors fail to provide tango students models for effective navigation in the milonga. Partner connection through the embrace is lost in movement through various partner distances and orientations. Musicality becomes subordinate to utilization of a repertoire of steps. For women, movement of the feet in the air in various directions replaces maintaining a comfortable partner connection as a focus in dancing. This Evolutionary Tango is creating a new identity for tango that is different from that of the Traditional Tango of the milongueros.
  • Fortunately, there are numerous recordings of milongueros dancing tango from which contemporary tango dancers can learn to improve their understanding of the essence of Traditional Tango dancing that evolved in the Golden Age. These recordings preserve the vanishing dance art of the milongeuros. Demonstrations of tango dancing usually provide the clearest visual images of milongueros dancing. Rarer recordings of milongueros dancing in the milongas of Buenos Aires provide good examples of navigation on the social dance floor.
  • This post presents recordings of milongueros dancing tango, in particular those milongueros with whom First World tango dancers are familiar. Their interpretations of popular classic tango music for dancing are compared to recorded interpretations of the same music by contemporary instructors of Evolutionary Tango, in order to show the contrasts in style. An Appendix of video recordings of the dancing of milongueros is provided for further study.


Milongueros are men for whom dancing tango in the milongas of Buenos Aires has been a central part of their lives for decades. These men have preserved the traditions of tango in their dancing, in their knowledge of tango music for dancing, and in their adherence to the codes of behavior at milongas. They had their initiation to tango during the Golden Age (approximately 1930 – 1955), when classic tango music, milongas, and tango culture flourished throughout Buenos Aires.

Milongueros have served as role models for dancing tango for decades. However, most milongueros have either passed away or have poor health that prevents them from dancing. Therefore, authentic role models for traditional tango dancing are vanishing. As the Golden Age in which tango traditions were established fades from the consciousness of tango dancers, so does adherence to tango traditions. This has significant implications for the future of tango dancing, particularly for the entire world outside Buenos Aires, where direct exposure to tango traditions has been rare. The absence of preservers of tango cultural traditions allows for a market driven reformulation of tango that loses the essence and unique qualities of tango. To some significant degree, preservation of the dance images of milongueros in video recordings provides an understanding of the manner of dancing of the milongueros. At this point in history and in the future, this will be all that remains.

Learning to Dance Like the Milongueros  

During the Golden Age of Tango, most men first earned to dance tango from other men, either informally or more formally in practicas, typically held at community centers. (Some men initially learned to dance from family members.) Women did not participate in practicas because their social lives were controlled more strictly. Some of the men from whom they learned at practicas were or would have been considered to be milongueros, men whose experience dancing tango actively guided the development of other male dancers (i.e., through interactive learning). Reports of this initial phase of learning to dance tango are often nonspecific with respect to its duration, except to indicate that it was ‘long’ (The Traditional Way to Learn to Dance Tango). At some point the tango dance student was told he was ‘ready’ to go to the milonga. His initial experiences at the milonga consisted primarily of observing experienced dancers (i.e., observational learning). In this phase the milongueros provided models for dancing tango which developing male dancers could emulate.

Since the Tango Revival in the mid 1980s, the conditions for learning to dance tango have changed due to changing social and economic conditions. In Buenos Aires, instructor focused group classes with both men and women students have become the norm for learning to dance tango, thereby resembling, in this respect, First World social dance classes. In some cases private instruction for an individual or couple could be provided. However, few milongueros have taught tango dancing in these classes and private lessons, because they have been interested primarily in dancing in the milongas. Neverthless, some milongueros have taught tango dancing. In any case, in Buenos Aires, the dancing of milongueros in the milongas still has served as an example for developing tango students to emulate, although fewer are dancing there with each passing year.

The experiences of First World tango dancers in learning to dance tango have been very different from that of porteños. People from First World cultures began having their first exposure to Argentine Tango in the late 1980s and 1990s by attending tango stage productions casting Argentine dancers. In some of the early shows (e.g., Tango Argentino), dancers with Buenos Aires milonga experience participated and there were some scenes depicting milongas, but the dancing did not accurately represent the Tango de Salon of the milongas in that movements were enlarged in order to be seen, were made more dramatic to captivate audience interest, and were choreographed rather than improvised (Stage Tango / Show Tango / Exhibition Tango / Tango Fantasia / Tango for Export). Tango stage productions piqued the interest of performance attendees in tango dancing, thereby creating a demand for instruction in tango dancing. Numerous stage performers met this demand by teaching First World developing tango dancers a simplified version of dancing including elements of stage tango. Notably, in this manner of dancing tango there was no embrace between partners, thereby bypassing one of the primary characteristics of dancing tango (The Essence of Tango Argentino). By the end of the 1990s, this manner of dancing tango, which became known as ‘salon (style) tango’ in English speaking countries, had become the predominant form of dancing tango in First World tango social dance events advertised as ‘milongas’.

Beginning in the mid 1990s Susana Miller from Buenos Aires recruited milongueros Pedro ‘Tete’ Rusconi and Cacho Dante to teach in North America and Europe a manner of dancing she labeled as ‘milonguero style tango’. This style of dancing differed from the so-called ‘salon style tango’ taught by most tango instructors by incorporating an embrace maintained throughout the dance as well as smaller, relatively inconspicuous movements. (Salon Style Tango, Milonguero Style Tango, and Tango de Salon in Buenos Aires and in North America). This ‘milonguero style tango’ taught by Miller and some of her North American and European students resembled the Tango de Salon Estilo Milonguero (Estilo del Centro) danced by milongueros, but in the absence of the milongueros themselves teaching (as became commonplace), these instructors could not provide examples of the complexity and uniqueness of the dancing of milongueros. In general, developing tango students in North American and Europe had limited exposure to Tango Estilo Milonguero in their home environments, and the information they received was conflated with conflicting images provided by instructors teaching a modification of tango dancing designed to appeal to the cultural tastes of First World cultures (Trans-Cultural Diffusion and Adaptation of Tango Argentino in the 20th Century). Nevertheless, despite the abundance of misinformation regarding social tango dancing provided by tango instructors, some developing First World tango dancers traveled to Buenos Aires to witness the tango danced in the milongas – Tango de Salon – of which Tango Estilo Milonguero, broadly defined, has been the most prevalent stylistic variant [Tango de Salon: the Tango of the Milonga (Part II of ‘Tango Styles, Genres and Individual Expression’)].

Beginning in the early 2000s, variations and derivations of Tango Estilo Milonguero, often labeled as ‘close embrace tango’, became a popular dance style in First World countries. In the United States, organizers of the Denver Tango Festival invited North American and European tango instructors, most of whom had learned directly from Argentine instructors, to teach ‘close embrace tango’ [The Rise and Fall of Tango Milonguero in North America in the 21st Century (Highlighting the Denver Tango Festival)]. This festival, as well as later similar festivals in San Diego and Atlanta, became gathering points for aficionados of ‘close embrace’ tango. However, these festivals rarely included milongueros on their teaching roster, with the appearance of Ricardo Vidort at the Denver Tango Festival in 2005 (video) perhaps being the only such occasion. After Gustavo Naveira, co-founder of Tango Nuevo, taught workshops in 2009 in Boulder, Colorado (a suburb of Denver), advertised as ‘Tango Milonguero’, the Denver Festival (and the San Diego and Atlanta festivals) began to replace (First World) instructors teaching their (‘close embrace tango’) interpretation of Tango Estilo Milonguero with instructors teaching more contemporary adaptations of tango (e.g., Tango Nuevo, Tango Campeonato) that were becoming the stylistic variants of choice for aspiring tango students.

In 2006 the Chicago Mini Tango Festival was initiated and focused primarily upon teaching various representations of Tango Estilo Milonguero, with Susana Miller and Maria Plazaola from La Academia de Tango Milonguero in Buenos Aires as the primary instructors. In subsequent years, several milongueros were invited to teach tango, including Pedro ‘Tete’ Rusconi (2007), Roberto ‘Pocho’ Carreras (2008), Ruben Harymbat (2008 & 2009), and Alberto Dassieu (2010). The instructors invited to the Chicago Mini Tango Festival subsequently toured North America and taught Tango Estilo Milonguero in local tango communities. However, during the 2010s the Chicago Mini Tango Festival, which had been the only North American tango festival that regularly had hosted milongueros to teach, has shifted away from Tango Estilo Milonguero to Tango Campeonato as a primary focus (See 2018 instructor list and accompanying videos).

In the late 2010s there have been few, if any, milongueros invited to teach tango in North America, primarily because there have been fewer active milongueros available to invite, due to mortality or poor health. To have danced in the milongas of Buenos Aires, even during the end of the Golden Age in the mid 1950s, one would need to be about 80 years old or older in 2018. One milonguero who is still teaching tango outside Argentina is Ernesto Hector ‘El Flaco Dany’ Garcia, who has recently been living part of the year in Romania (Todotango) and teaching tango (primarily) in Europe. In 2018, there do not appear to be any milongueros teaching tango in North America. Nestor La Vitola, who toured North America in 2008, still appears to be teaching tango in Buenos Aires. Cacho Dante also still appears to be teaching tango in Buenos Aires. Pedro Sanchez, with whom many First World tango dancers have studied tango, may also still be teaching in Buenos Aires.

Nevertheless, with the few exceptions mentioned above, for the most part today there is only one way to learn to dance tango from the milongueros of the Golden Age of tango – by observing their dancing, of which there are two means to do so, either by watching those still dancing in the milongas of Buenos Aires, or by studying the video recordings of their dancing. For those who do not travel to Buenos Aires and directly observe dancing in the milongas there, the only accessible means of observing milongueros dance is via video recordings. These recordings are of two types – recordings of their social dancing in the milongas of Buenos Aires (see Jantango’s YouTube collection, as well as Milongueros Dancing Tango in the Milongas of Buenos Aires) or recordings of their demonstrations (typically at milongas), of which there are many available on YouTube. Since it is this latter category that reaches the widest audience, an examination of some of these recordings is insightful for the purpose of evaluating the exposure of developing tango dancers to role models for tango dancing today.

Examination of Recordings of Tango Dance Demonstrations: Milongueros vs. Contemporary Tango Instructors

The recorded demonstrations of milongueros dancing tango are a lasting resource for developing tango dancers to consult in their education regarding how tango has been danced for decades in the milongas of Buenos Aires. Although recordings of milongueros dancing in the milongas provide the ultimate verification of their dancing in the appropriate social context, and should be studied in any case, most recordings of this dancing are brief and the observer’s view is often obstructed by the movements of other dancers; the recordings of demonstrations provide an unobstructed view of dancing to a complete song.

Referenced below are recordings of the demonstrations of tango dancing for 6 milongueros, 5 of whom are deceased at the time of this posting. There are 2 demonstrations each for tango, vals, and milonga. These men have all taught tango in First World countries. The demonstrations of the milongueros are contrasted with tango dance demonstrations given by popular contemporary Argentine tango instructors who tour in First World countries. This contrast is provided to indicate the different images presented to developing tango dancers by contemporary tango instructors compared to that provided by milongueros. These different images have different influences on the development of tango dancing in First World milongas.


1. Carlos Di Sarli “Comme il faut”

a. Ricardo Vidort (1929 – 2006) & Myriam Pincen

This dance is characterized by small steps and therefore slower movement. The repertoire of movements is diverse but limited to standard elements of tango social dancing, including walking inside and outside partner, in parallel and crossed feet positions, sometimes resulting in a cruzada, as well as back ochos, the ocho cortado, and clockwise and counterclockwise giros. Ricardo times his movements in close connection with the rhythm of the music. The embrace is maintained throughout the dance, which in conjunction with the softer and slower movements communicates an impression of an intimate partner connection.

b. Julio Mendez & Mariana Galassi

This dance is characterized by long steps and therefore rapid movement. Opening the embrace creates space for conspicuous movements. The repertoire includes numerous elements designed to attract attention, such as arrastres, back sacadas, colgadas, cuatros, deep sacadas, ganchos, high boleos, planeos, sweeping turns and volcadas. The long rapid steps and high kicks would create navigational hazards on the milonga dance floor. The dance is directed outward towards the audience, not inward within the couple’s embrace.

2. Juan D’Arienzo “Amarras”

a. Ruben Harymbat (1939 – 2015) & Enriqueta Kleinman

This is a relaxed dance, with the partners maintaining the embrace throughout the dance. Both Ruben and Enriqueta keep their feet close to the floor with small steps, creating a smooth dance. Much of Ruben’s dance consists of walking, using both single and double time steps in playing with the music, but he is never in a hurry. His steps are simple, including some back ochos, the ocho cortado, and giros, but with the exception of several sacadas, nothing that is particularly attention attracting. Enriqueta occasionally uses subtle ornamentation; the few boleos she uses are all led and maintained close to the ground.

b. Ezequiel Farfaro & Noelia Hurtado

This dance is characterized by long steps and therefore rapid movement. Ezequiel’s use of paradas on several occasions breaks the connection with the music. His dibujos are conspicuous in covering a wide radius. Noelia lifts her feet high off the floor on several occasions, and even her low boleos have a wide radius. On a few occasions Ezequiel uses deep sacadas as well as a deep gancho (i.e., both make contact high on the thigh); use of these movements at a milonga could be considered vulgar because of their invasiveness. There is frequent interwrapping of legs that is a conspicuous feature of this dance.

B. Vals

1. Juan D’Arienzo “Pabellon de las rosas”

a. Pedro ‘Tete’ Rusconi (1936 – 2010) & Silvia Ceriani

Tete and Silvia dance in an embrace throughout the dance; the position of their arms is stable. They use small steps and keep their feet close to the ground. Neither Tete nor Silvia use adornments. Tete keeps Silvia’s turns compact. He is constantly playing with the rhythm of the music, alternately stepping on either 1, 1 & 2, and 1, 2 & 3 of the vals rhythm. He also creates pauses and suspensions in Silvia’s dance, giving her time to complete her movements.

b. Daniel Martinez & Adriana Salgado Neira

Daniel and Adriana’s dance is characterized by flexibility in partner position, including an embrace, an open hold facing each other with both hands on the partner, a side by side position with both moving facing and moving forward and arms outstretched forward in the direction of movement (0:16 – 0:19) [a modified promenade position], a one hand hold transition position, and the al reves position (1:29 – 1:40). Their dance is rich with conspicuous adornments, including high kicks by Adriana, and ganchos and large radius dibujos by both dancers. Other stage tango moves include jumps and lifts and twirls.

2. Juan D’Arienzo “Valsecito criollo”

a. Alberto Dassieu (1936 – 2013) & Elba Biscay

Alberto and Elba dance with their feet close to the ground, taking small steps. The dance is structured around small radius turns. Alberto waits for Elba to complete her movements. He repeatedly plays with the rhythm, stepping on counts 1, 1 & 2, and 1 & 2 & 3 of the vals rhythm. Neither Alberto nor Elba use adornments during the dance. They maintain their embrace throughout the dance.

b. Fernando Sanchez & Ariadna Naveira

This dance begins with Fernando and Ariadna dancing facing each other at arm’s length and the entire dance sequences through numerous variations in partner hold, including an embrace, dancing side by side, release to a one hand hold with an under arm turn, as well as a complete separation of partners. These changes in partner position occur rapidly. Close partner connection is not emphasized in this dance. Back sacadas are used by both Fernando and Ariadna as part of the changes in partner orientation. To add to the exhibitionist nature of this dance, Ariadna lifts her legs high off the floor and directs these movements outwards on several occasions, which would be a collision hazard on the milonga dance floor.

C. Milonga

1. Francisco Canaro “Milonga sentimental”

a. ‘El Flaco’ Dany Garcia (b. 1936) & Silvina Vals

Dany leads the dance with smooth, soft steps. He engages in considerable improvisation involving changes in timing (in conjunction with the rhythm of the music), varying degrees of weight changes, varying foot positions, including numerous changes of direction. He leads small radius turns. With the exception of a final high boleo, Silvina conservatively interjects soft, discreet, and relatively inconspicuous adornments (mostly taps) that accent the music. An embrace is maintained throughout the dance and, with the one exception noted, feet are kept close to the floor.

b. Chicho Frumboli & Eugenia Parilla

 This dance is very dynamic, including changes in posture, the embrace, and the position of the feet. There is noticeable vertical movement of the torsos throughout much of the dance. Eugenia repeatedly lifts her feet off the floor in walking and often uses high kicks. Chicho’s left arm is active in shifting Eugenia on her axis, which does not always remain perpendicular to the floor; this results in vertical swaying of the shoulders and the hips. The dance begins in an embrace, but the embrace is opened about one-third of the way into the dance, at which point movements become larger and more varied, including rapid changes of direction at several points. In addition to high kicks by Eugenia, other conspicuous movements that are uncharacteristic in dancing milonga include an arrastre, a back sacada, a colgada, and a saltada. This is a dance designed for display not for close connection with one’s partner.

2. Francisco Canaro “No hay tierra como la mia”

a. Osvaldo Cartery (1939 – 2015) & Coca Cartery

Osvaldo and Coca take small steps close to the ground, using simple movements such as walking, la cunita, and the ocho cortado. They use small radius turns. They do not use adornments. Their movements are not hurried, even when transitioning into a quick time rhythm. They maintain the embrace throughout the dance, in a stable body position, without significant vertical movement.

b. Sebastian Arce & Mariana Montes                

This dance is characterized by sharp and rapid movements, including stomping and kicking high off the floor. There are conspicuous vertical body movements while walking. There are numerous variations in partner position utilized, including an embrace, an open hold (with rapid changes in partner body orientation at times), a one-hand hold, and complete partner separation. Numerous exhibitionist stage movements are used, including lifts, jumps, ganchos and sentadas.

Contrasts in Tango Dance Role Models: Traditional vs. Evolutionary Tango

The Traditional Tango of the milongueros focuses on the embrace, the connection between man and woman, and the interpretation of the music. It is in the embrace that emotions are shared. In their dancing, milongueros show that they value the embrace, by maintaining it in a comfortable position. The message communicated by contemporary Argentine tango instructors is that the embrace is a starting point along several dimensions of varying distances and orientations between and around partners that are explored for movement possibilities. Lost in this transition is the intimacy of which tango is capable. Instead, this Evolutionary Tango is built on outward display.

The Traditional Tango of milongueros is characterized by small partner-oriented movements, with little fluctuation in the vertical plane. This results in a soft and smooth progression across the floor that supports a calm and stable partner connection. Much of the dance of Evolutionary Tango instructors consists of rapid progression, punctuated at times by vertical movements (e.g., ganchos, boleos, cuatros, saltadas) and quick changes in orientation or direction in the horizontal plane.

In the absence of large and conspicuous movements, expression of the music becomes prominent in the dance of the milongueros. Musicality is evident in changes in velocity (but rarely size or intensity) of movements, as well as by pauses and suspensions. Evolutionary Tango instructors indeed have musical expression, often translated into intensity of movement. The musicality of these instructors often becomes obscured behind the rapid movements along different spatial dimensions.

With the loss of milongueros from the worldwide tango scene, mostly what remains as an example of tango dancing is the exhibitionist dance of the Evolutionary Tango instructors. In Buenos Aires, the example of Traditional Tango dancing is maintained in the traditional milongas, and by tango instructors who teach this manner of dancing. In contrast, in First World countries, there is rarely the community standard of the traditional milonga [Do Milongas Exist outside Argentina? (The Milonga Codes Revisited)], with regional encuentros milongueros serving as the only refuge for tango traditionalists. There are still a few traveling tango instructors who visit First World Tango communities and teach their interpretation of Tango Estilo Milonguero, but most are women (e.g., Susana Miller, Alicia Pons, Monica Paz). Their instructional content is not inherently misrepresentative, but inevitably incomplete. A woman instructor may be able to communicate effectively the woman’s experience dancing with milongueros (in terms of the woman’s role in partner connection and communication), but cannot convey the experience of milongueros as creative improvisers of movement linked to tango musical variation. Given that musicality is such an essential feature of dancing tango, workshops given by these instructors are often reduced to practicing step patterns. Argentine men who dance Tango Estilo Milonguero and travel to teach are an almost extinct class, and men from First World countries who teach their interpretation of Tango Estilo Milonguero can only communicate what they have learned, which is a knowledge of the dance that has been diminished by cultural filters and considerable distance in time and space from the milongueros who have danced in the milongas of Buenos Aires for decades. This is not to say that studying with these aforementioned instructors is a complete waste of time and money, but it is insufficient to achieve mastery of the dance.

In contrast, almost all Evolutionary Tango instructors travel as couples, with the male instructors generally capable of demonstrating clearly their skills in exploring the spatial dimensions in partner connection. Since it is the man who leads and thereby determines the character of the dance (although women can certainly apply their influence in kicking), Evolutionary Tango instructors have a greater impact on the development of dancing within tango communities. Therefore, in First World countries, the influence of Evolutionary Tango instructors and their disciples is more prominent, and it is not at all surprising that many First World milonga floors have become a stage for exhibitionism.

Given the nearly complete departure of milongueros from the First World tango scene, the most authentic role models for Traditional Tango dancing are no longer available in First World tango communities. Instead, a brand of Tango Milonguero (or ‘close embrace tango’) is marketed under the One Tango Philosophy umbrella, and in a blatant misrepresentation Evolutionary Tango instructors have even been inserted in place of milongueros in the depiction of Tango Milonguero (see Wikipedia: Tango Milonguero). Indeed, Evolutionary Tango instructors such as Gustavo Naveira & Giselle Anne, Homer & Cristina Ladas (video) and Joachim Dietiker & Michelle Marsidi (video) [the latter two couples under the guise of the ‘close embrace tango’ rubric (Variations in the Tango Embrace – ‘Open Embrace’ and ‘Close Embrace’ Styles of Tango: The Evidence from Buenos Aires Milongas)], teaching as couples and offering the embrace in tango as one option among many variations for dancing tango socially, have displaced Tango Milonguero only instructors as role models for social dancing.

In order to develop a deeper understanding of the tango dance of the milongueros, today it is necessary to study the recorded legacy of their dancing. Of course, the subtlety of their dancing may not be appreciated without prior exposure to Tango Milonguero. Instructors who specialize in teaching Tango Milonguero may be helpful in providing an introduction to this style of dancing. Immersion in the traditional milongas of Buenos Aires (not the tourist traps or practicas nuevas) is also a necessity for understanding the how milongueros dance tango. In any case, with repeated study of the way milongueros dance tango, a tango dancer will be developing a manner of dancing that is appropriate for the social context of the milonga, as well as rich in the interpretation of classic tango music for dancing.


APPENDIX: Milonguero Video Library

Included here are recordings of milongueros’ dance demonstrations and dancing in milongas. Recordings of this type may be difficult to find if one searches for tango videos on YouTube without specific mention of the names of milongueros.  The milongueros selected here are known in First World countries either because they have taught tango there or because tango dancers from First World countries have taken classes or private lessons with them in Buenos Aires. These videos could serve as a course of study for developing tango dancers. An astute observer will notice the stylistic differences among the milongueros, in choice and style of movements and in interpretation of the music.

Additional videos of milongueros dancing are available in Jantango’s video library.


A. Ricardo Vidort (1929 – 2006)

– Demonstrations

(1) with Myriam Pincen: Di Sarli – Comme il faut (Tango)

(2) with Myriam Pincen: Canaro – Chique (Tango)

(3) with Liz Haight: Canaro – Poema (Tango)

(4) with Liz Haight: Fresedo – Tigre Viejo (Tango)

(5) with Anna Maria Ferrara: D’Arienzo – Milonga vieja milonga (Milonga)

– Dancing in milongas

(1) Lo de Celia (1)

(2) Lo de Celia (2)

(3) Bien Jaileife


B. Pedro ‘Tete’ Rusconi (1936 – 2010)

– Demonstrations (all with Silvia Ceriani)

(1) Laurenz – Orgullo criollo (Tango)

(2) Biagi – El recodo (Tango)

(3) D’Arienzo – Pabellon de las rosas (Vals)

(4) Calo – Bajo un cielo de estrellas (Vals)

(5) Laurenz – Paisaje (Vals)


C. Ernesto Hector ‘El Flaco’ Dany Garcia (b 1936)

– Demonstrations

(1) with Silvina Vals: Canaro – Milonga sentimental (Milonga)

(2) with Luna Palacios: D’Arienzo – Milonga vieja milonga (Milonga)

(3) with Muma Valino: Canaro – Milonga criolla (Milonga)

(4) with Elina Roldan: Caceres – Tango negro (Milonga)

(5) with Maria Plazaola: Canaro – Milonga del 900 (Milonga)


D. Ruben Harymbat (1939 – 2015)

– Demonstrations

(1) with Enriqueta Kleinman: D’Arienzo – Amarras (Tango)

(2) with Alicia Pons: Fresedo – Tigre viejo (Tango)

(3) with Susana Miller: Donato – El acomodo (Tango)

(4) with Ana Maria Shapira: Troilo – Flor de lino (Vals)

(5) with Enriqueta Kleinman: Canaro – Negrito (Milonga)


E. Alberto Dassieu (1936 – 2013)

– Demonstrations

(1) with Eva Garlez: Pugliese – El arranque (Tango)

(2) with Eva Garlez: Pugliese – A Evaristo Carriego (Tango)

(3) with Paulina Spinoso: D’Arienzo – El cencerro (Tango)

(4) with Elba Biscay: D’Arienzo – Valsecito criollo (Vals)

(5) with Paulina Spinoso: Donato – La tapera (Vals)

– Dancing in milongas

(1) Glorias Argentinas (1)

(2) Glorias Argentinas (2)

(3) Plaza Bohemia


F. Osvaldo Cartery (1939 – 2015)

– Demonstrations (All with Luisa ‘Coca’ Anaclerico Cartery)

(1) Di Sarli – Ensueño (Tango)

(2) Donato – El adios (Tango)

(3) Canaro – Noche de estrellas (Vals)

(4) Canaro – No hay tierra como la mia (Milonga)

(5) Canaro – La milonga de Buenos Aires (Milonga)

– Dancing in milongas

(1) Caricias


G. Roberto “Pocho” Carreras (1931 – 2012) 

– Demonstrations

(1) with Nelida ‘Nely’ Fernando: Pugliese – La tupungatina (Tango)

(2) with Rosita Cove: Calo – Un crimen (Tango)

(3) with Nelida ‘Nely’ Fernando: Canaro – Milonga del 900 (Milonga)

(4) with Nelida ‘Nely’ Fernando: Canaro – Reliquias porteñas (Milonga)


H. Pedro Sanchez (b 1935)

– Demonstrations

(1) with Tina Ferrari: Di Sarli – Nobleza de arrabal (Tango)

(2) with Tina Ferrari: D’Arienzo – Hotel Victoria (Tango)

(3) with Cherie Magnus: Di Sarli – Alma mia (Vals)

(4) with Eva Garlez: Canaro – Negrito (Milonga)

– Dancing in milongas

(1) Lo de Celia


I. Jorge Uzunian (b 1930)

– Demonstrations

(1) with Myriam Pincen: D’Arienzo – El cencerro (Tango)

(2) with Heather Whitehead: D’Arienzo – Champagne tango (Tango)

(3) with Haydee Malagrino: D’Arienzo – Papellon de las rosas (Vals)

(4) with Milva Bernardi: Orquesta Tipica Victor – Intima (Vals)

– Dancing in the Milongas

(1) Lo de Celia


J. Nestor La Vitola (birth date unavailable)

– Demonstrations

(1) with Veronica Olivera: Pugliese – Emancipacion (Tango)

(2) with Monica Paz: Pugliese – Para dos (Tango)

(3) with Veronica Olivera – Canaro [unidentified] (Tango)

(4) with Enriqueta Kleinman: Canaro – Milonga de antaño (Milonga)


K. Osvaldo Centeno (1937 – 2017)

– Demonstrations

(1) with Ana Maria Shapira: D’Arienzo – Ya lo ves (Tango)

(2) with Monica Paz: Troilo – Cachirulo (Tango)

(3) with Erzsebet Tamas: D’Arienzo – Pensalo bien (Tango)


L. Oscar ‘Cacho’ Dante (b 1939)

– Demonstration

(1) with Monica Paz: Di Sarli – Ensueños (Tango)

– Dancing in Milongas

(1) Porteño y Bailarin

(2) Plaza Bohemia


74 Responses to The Vanishing Art of the Milongueros: Studying Recordings of their Dancing that Preserve their Legacy

  1. you don’t mention Raúl Bravo, who has been performing and teaching tango for more than 50 years. He just turned 85 last week. He is more of a tango escenario teacher, but his knowledge and excellent teaching make him a living legend, el “maestro de maestros.” Raúl teaches mon, wed & fridays at el Tacuarí in San Telmo.

  2. Raúl también es cariñoso, cálido, y totalmente sin pretensiones. El trata igual a los principiantes y los más avanzados… una cosa casi único entre los maestros de tango de hoy. saludos.

  3. R. Bononno says:

    Excellent post and a wonderful appendix. I’d only add that you could have included: El Chino Perico; Ismael HelJalil; Juan Topalian; Luisito Ferraris; Roberto Calaza; Eduardo Masci; etc. Also, as I understand it, Tete Rosconi never considered himself a milonguero and his dancing has always struck me as both atypical (for a milonguero) and rather showy.

    • Bill In Oz says:

      When he was invited to dance on an empty floor..he danced to entertain..There are a few youtube videos showing dancing in the pista along with everyone else.. And then he danced close embrace without being a show off..

      • John says:

        My memory of Tete dancing Vals at El Beso was a dance full of fun, energy, movement and lightness, occasionally dancing into the corner aisles, just for fun. Totally different from everyone else, his dance was a joy. In doing this he did not interfere or interrupt other dancers, though I’m not sure everyone approved. We learned a lot from him about dancing with energy.

    • tangovoice says:

      There are many milongueros whose dancing can serve as a good role model for developing tango dancers. The ones that were selected for inclusion in the video library are those who (1) have danced in the milongas of Buenos Aires for decades, (2) who have taught tango in classes and/or private lessons, (3) have multiple videos of their dancing in demonstrations, and (4) [not stated specifically] are practitioners of what most tango experts what identify as ‘Tango Estilo Milonguero’. [See Tango Estilo del Centro (Tango Downtown Style): Reclaiming the Term as a Replacement for Tango Milonguero]

      Regarding Tete, yes, he was capable of being showy and his demonstration videos were carefully selected. However, he was a regular and skillful dancer in the milongas for decades.

  4. Bill In Oz says:

    The heart of traditional Argentine tango has always been close embrace and dancing the music…

    But as in any art form, there has also always been different styles. For the past 20-30 years, Argentines have earned a living teaching folks from other countries these other styles..

    Why ? Well they are more showy and ‘specy’. And some folks want to learn such stuff in order to impress and be admired… That’s being human…

    But after a while, these folks discover the joy and and the beauty of simple close embrace.. And for many women dancing as followers, this is why they are at the milongas.

  5. Mark O' Kane says:

    Many thanks for persevering.

  6. Julian says:

    Nuevo has connection, has musicality and floor craft. People who follow traditional tango can display poor floor craft, e.g. traffic jams, charging down dance floor without looking. Not dancing to music, e.g. dancing tango to milonga music, ignoring changes in tempo as if the music is not even there, As for connection, some just hang on their partners. Top tango instructors treat all styles with respect. Arrogance and snobbery is rampant in tango and needs to stop, you are killing the dance.

    • Chris says:

      Nuevo dancing’s reputation for anti-sociality is well deserved, and is reinforced by its most prominent instructors e.g.

      • R. Bononno says:

        Oh, I’ve always loved that page, Kung Fu Tanda, one of my favorites. However, I can confirm the same behavior from personal experience on crowded floors, where some spirited couple just has to try out their pseudo-neuvo moves. Makes life miserable for everyone around them. Personally, I don’t stay well away; I give them the space they deserve, that everyone deserves, but not nuevo space. For that, there’s the stage. On a crowded floor nobody owes you more space than the next couple. Share and share alike. Dance as a unified group.

    • Bill In Oz says:

      Of course there are poor tango close embrace dancers. Just as there are poor open embrace tango dancers.

      But while I have seen many wonderful Nuevo style dancers over the years. it is always only in ‘performances’ with none else on the floor. Never in the pista.

      And it is the poor open embrace dancers who are the major problem.

      I am reminded on the milonga I attended last Sunday night. A milonga set up vy teachers of Tango Salon style for tango salon dancers, with a smaller floor. Yet one couple -who only dance with themselves – were there doing huge complicated steps and demanding lots of space to do it.

      At one point I was dancing behind them and staying well away as I know this leader and follower always do big showy stuff… Despite this my partner & I were crashed at one point by the other leader. And there was this dirty look from his partner directed at me… I just ignored her..

      They sat down at the end of the song. And left shortly after. The rest of us heaved a sign of relief.

    • tangovoice says:

      There are several things that need to be taken into account in response to Julian.

      First, with regard to floorcraft, there are varying degrees of expertise in navigation for tango dancers of all stylistic preferences. However, all other things being equal, larger movements and faster movements (characteristic of Tango Nuevo) are more likely to infringe upon the space of other dancers than are smaller and slower movements (characteristic of Tango Milonguero). Tango Nuevo instructors also encourage exploration of the various dimensions of space, thereby creating greater unpredictability of movement and some movement that may go against the direction of the ronda. Opening the embrace (not to mention extended one hand holds and soltadas) increases the distance between partners, thereby creating a larger ‘couple space’ on the floor. Therefore, by its very nature Tango Nuevo poses greater collision risks than does Tango Milonguero.

      Regarding connection, it is true that Tango Nuevo dancers have a connection. It is necessary to perform off axis movements. However, all other things being equal, a close physical connection is more stable than a more distant connection, and a maintained constant close distance (i.e., in the embrace) is more stable than a varying distance. That only addresses the physical aspect of connection. In the embrace, emotions are shared by being able to feel the breathing and heartbeat of the partner; i.e., there is direct communication of one’s emotional state. At an extended distance one can engender an emotional response in one’s partner by the movement that is created, but there is less direct communication of what the actor is feeling.

      With respect to musicality, any tango dancer regardless of style can express musical creativity in movement. However, when one is giving attention to exploring space, all other things being equal, there is less attention paid to exploring music (i.e., timing of movement with respect to rhythm). The highly skilled Tango Nuevo instructors may be able to be quite creative in their musicality, but the average Tango Nuevo student is usually thinking about movement possibilities learned in class.

      To assume that Tango Nuevo dancers are better at navigation and musicality than are Tango Milonguero dancers, one would need to believe that Tango Nuevo dancers are more skilled and more intelligent than are Tango Milonguero dancers. Perhaps there are some people who hold this belief.

      With regard to respecting all styles of dancing, respect is given where respect is due. Proposing a new idea alone does not justify its acceptance. Not all new tango ideas are workable on the social dance floor. Tango Nuevo is not adapted to the milonga dance floor; it belongs in its own separate environment, the Practica Nueva, which is where it lives in Buenos Aires. First World tango dancers can learn something from the segregation of environments of the different tango dance genres in Buenos Aires. The tango promoters who most respect all styles of tango are those who espouse the One Tango Philosophy that believe that stage tango, Tango Nuevo and competition tango all deserve space on the social dance floor. That works well for their economic agenda.

      With respect to arrogance, it is the Tango Nuevo dancers who are arrogant in their belief that their collision bound manner of dancing is adapted to the milonga environment and that their new ideas must be accepted without evaluation of their impact on the social dance floor. With respect to snobbery, there is a sufficient amount of snobbery in believing that there is an impetus towards evolution in tango and that change in tango is inevitable. In fact, Tango Nuevo appears to have lost its momentum because after all of the money spent on classes in Tango Nuevo, there are very few dancers who achieve competence in this style and these are the attention hogs who create the most navigational hazards on the milonga dance floor. Perhaps the failure of Tango Nuevo workshops explains in part the decline of Tango Festivals and the increased prevalence of Tango Marathons.

      With regard to killing the dance, the agenda of Tango Nuevoists is designed to kill Traditional Tango.

      • Julian says:

        Larger and faster movements? Sure there are the occasional rogue Nuevo dancers whom do that, ditto the trads whom I have seen charging down the dance floor without even looking, at least the Nuevo dancers are looking. Going against the line of dance? Only if there is space and trads do too without regard to space. Unpredictable? No we are dancing to the music, while you may be predictable you can’t say then that you are dancing to the music, Nuevo music is fast so you should keep up and not create traffic jams. If you can’t dance stably open then you can’t dance stable close, you are just relying on your better partner to support you. Nuevo dancers rarely collide, and usually are the ones whom avoid the collisions in the first place as trads often aren’t looking where they are going. I have been on dance floors with majority Nuevo, no collisions occurred. Nuevo is what the young want, not traditional. As for musicality, ask yourself, what is more important the moves or the music? Music I am guessing, then why play music which lacks variety, it encourages Nuevo dancers to become unpredictable as they will just ignore the music and turn the social into a practica. Next time you see a Nuevo dancer not dancing to the music, listen to music carefully and you will hear why. It is hard to dance to a funeral march.

      • Bill In Oz says:

        As I said Julian : they were at a Tango Salon milonga with Golden Age music being played on a rather small pista…

        But they danced Nuevo with flashy big steps.. And finally crashed into me & my partner even though I was a good 6 feet behind them.

        I think such behaviour is selfish and self centered. I was indeed relieved when they left the floor & left the milonga…

        During the rest of the night there were no other ‘crashes’.
        But you seem to think such actions are normal and accepted. Sorry mate they are not..

      • Julian says:

        I see so if your style does it, it ain’t one of yours, right okay, well it ain’t one of mine either mate. Nuevo instructors teach floor craft a lot and their students follow those teachings. I see students of traditionalists practise bad floor craft all the time including kicks which get blamed on the Nuevo, sorry but they ain’t our students, they are yours, we know who all our students are but current and former. Maybe if traditionalists actually taught how to do kicky moves properly, i.e. not on crowded dance floors.

      • Bill In Oz says:

        Julian, If I could actually understand your latest comment.. I would attempt and intelligent response..
        But as you are merely fulminating I won’t.

  7. John says:

    As described above Nuevo & Neo Tango are developments of Argentine Tango from another perspective., ie a development of performance into a social dance or a response to other music, either non-rhythmic Tango or other rhythms (jazz, rock and pop fusion). These dances are enjoyable for some, however they have evolved so differently that they have developed into a different dance. The dynamic, the flow the music are incompatible. It is like suggesting foxtrot and jive should be danced together. It is far better to understand that these are completely different dances (not just different “styles”) and segregate them.

  8. Julian says:

    Not true I have seen both dance to music on the same night together and no collisions, everyone having fun. Hint, in the 1930s people were around in their 20s, what did they want to dance to…, what did you want to dance to when you were in your 20s.

    • John says:

      I have, on every occasion, seen accidents and injury where high figures are tolerated on a crowded dance floor. The circulation and mood is completely different between the different dances and they are not compatible. Typically, the Nuevo dancers are having fun and oblivious to the disruption around them. Others might tolerate them, but that’s all. The 30’s / 40’s was my parents time, when they danced around the floor in exactly the same way that Tango is danced. There was no swing or jive mixed in. By the 60’s many dances followed a 60 / 40 format, with 60% “ballroom” brackets (tandas) of 3, (foxtrot, quickstep, ballroom Latin, swing, jive) and 40% “old time” brackets of sequence dances. Young people also frequented dance clubs with rock bands where the dancing was exclusively rock / pop genres. We danced every one of those dances, every week. I have never seen incompatible dances together at the same time, until Tango.

      • Julian says:

        I have seen swing, modern jive, west coast swing, and tango all dance on the floor at the same time. It is called floor craft. Hybrids of the two styles are the majority, we try and accommodate the traditionalists as much as we can, but floor craft is for everyone, not just everyone else but you. Blocking other dancers on the dance floor is bad dance etiquite, so is crowding people. Everyone is allowed equal space on the dance floor, your dislike of their style and attempts to bully them just gets you kicked off the dance floor not them. Learn to improve your floor craft and you too can enjoy socials too. Time you stop hanging on to the past, all dances evolve over time, tango is no different. Even our oldest say so.

      • Bill In Oz says:

        Not many Portenos in Blackpool John, even now never mind the 1920-30’s…Nor any milongas I suspect…

      • gyb says:

        I just want to say that I love this Blackpool video! One thing I think the video displays very nicely is that when many people dance in a similar style then certain crowd effects (i.e. flow-like behavior) can emerge which would not occur otherwise. These crowd effects can in turn have a major impact back on the dancers’ perception of their activity and can be immensely joyful.

        Unfortunately in tango this added crowd effect almost never exists (I could count on one hand the number of times I experienced something similar in a milonga), partially due to the fact that the pista is shared by people who dance in quite different styles and with quite different musical understanding. I know of very few milonga videos that would display similar flow effect to the one seen in Blackpool; maybe this one (which was shot in Club Akarense in 1990) could qualify:

      • tangovoice says:

        The YouTube collection ( of videos of dancing in the milongas of Buenos Aires provides many good (and some bad) examples of flow of the ronda in Buenos Aires milongas. The good examples (i.e., traditional milongas) may be instructive (perhaps for tango teachers) in educating dancers regarding maintaining flow on the pista.

      • John says:

        Also plenty of video her A lot of demo / performance at milongas, but also a variety of milonga shots

    • John says:

      True Bill. The question was, did dancers of the 20’s to 60’s mix a variety of dances on the dance floor at the same time? The answer is no, they did not, although most dance events had a variety of dances they were played in brackets of 3. Typically the dance was announced, “Gentlemen, take your partners for a foxtrot / jive / cha-cha, whereupon couples would enter the floor before the music started. They were certainly expected to dance the bracket of whatever was announced. From the 50’s to 60’s rock / pop venues became popular and these were more “single-genre”, but by then the ballroom social scene had started to die away. In my experience “circulating” dances were never mixed with “static” dances.

  9. cassiel says:

    A great post. Thank you! There is a tiny mistake in your listing: Osvaldo Cartery is dancing „Nostalgias“ (in the milonga „Caricias“).
    Please keep on writing, I love your thougths.

  10. Chris says:

    the trads whom I have seen charging down the dance floor without even looking

    There’s nothing traditional about charging down the dance floor without even looking.

    It sounds like you mislabelled some Nuevos there, Julian.

    Remember, if it quacks like a duck…

  11. Yokoito says:

    Just a small question for starters: You are rather frequently using the term “First World”. What do you want to express with it, exactly? Not-Argentina, defining it as Third World? How about Second World, then? I would appreciate if you could explain this co-ordinate system a bit.

    As for your classification, it appears that you believe that fast, expressive movements cannot create the feeling of closeness or connection. Perhaps you haven’t made respective experience yourself. I can assure you that shared dynamic movement can create an intense feeling of connection and closeness whixh is at least equivalent to that produced by slow movements in close embrace.

    • tangovoice says:

      The terminology was developed during the Cold War ( but, in the absence of new terminology, is still to some degree a useful classificatory tool today. First World countries include the USA, Canada, the more affluent democracies of Western Europe, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. With respect to tango development, the longer existing (1990s) First World European tango communities have been in the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland. (European readers may wish to add to this list.) The term ‘Second World countries’ has referred to Soviet bloc European countries. Some of these are becoming more economically advanced and tango has spread to many of them in the 21st century. This category is not very useful today. Third World countries are economically developing countries. Argentina is typically considered a Third World country economically (, but culturally has more in common with Western European countries although, with respect to tango, it is unique.

      Regarding ‘connection’, indeed this term can be applied to tango in various ways. In Tango Milonguero the connection between partners is close, comfortable, and constant. The position of the torso and arms change little during a dance. It is easy to relax in this connection. Emotions (often romantic) are readily communicated in maintained chest-to-chest contact. It is a relaxed connection. This is how milongueros speak about a tango connection. In Tango Nuevo there is a different type of ‘connection’. The distance and angle between partners changes throughout the dance. More energy and therefore tension is required to maintain this connection. It is a connection associated with a higher level of arousal. Emotions shared are associated with physical sensations of arousal caused by large and rapid movement.

      • Bill In Oz says:

        Sorry Tango voice, I have to disagree with you about the discussion of First World, Second World & Third World…

        It is now a bit passe…

        I have danced in the UK in Australia ( which btw has a lively long established tango community ), Argentina ( BA’s and in the Philippines.

        The Philippines is a nation with a huge amount of poverty. It is truly a developing nation with a long way to go before the basic needs of everyone are satisfied…

        Argentina does have a significant poverty problem but it is far smaller in scale than the Philippines.. And many of the homeless people are recent migrants from other, even poorer countries like Bolivia, Venezuela and parts of Africa..

      • tangovoice says:

        Argentina is an enigma economically. In the early 20th century Argentina had one of the most economically viable economies in the world. However, corruption and mismanagement in the latter half of the 20th century destroyed much of the potential for continued economic development. In recent years Argentina has been rocked by inflation and stagnation. There is a crumbling infrastructure. In this and other respects, Argentina falls far below nearly all Western European and many Eastern European and some East Asian countries in economic development. Nevertheless, employment opportunities have attracted immigrants from all over South America, as well as from Asia and Africa to some degree. Education and medical care are good in Argentina. There is a wide range of cultural activities. Argentina has the resource base to once again join the class of First World countries, but this potential has not yet been realized.

        Yes, the classification of countries into First, Second, and Third World countries is an oversimplification. With the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, there is no longer a meaningful Second World category. And, yes, THird World countries vary significantly in economic development. However, in this blog, use of the term ‘First World’ (the only terminology used consistently) is an appropriate and necessary convenience to categorize a group of economically developed countries (mainly USA, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand) that also have 20-30 years of established tango communities and many traits of these communities in common. This may change rapidly with the development of tango communities in Eastern Europe in particular. However, for the present, using the term ‘First World’ is an accurate convenience that is preferable to listing each country individually every time a concept common to all or mostly all of these countries applies.

      • Yokoito says:

        About the xth world terminology…I really think this makes no sense in the Tango context. It has no real explanatory or diffentiating power. When I think about reasons to use it, the only “purpose” coming to my mind is that it could be an attempt to push some I political correctness buttons. Doesn’t work. I suggest using a more precise terminology.

      • tangovoice says:

        It would be more precise to label the countries referred to as ‘North America / Western Europe / Australia – New Zealand’, which share many common traits with respect to tango. This is precise, but it is not concise. ‘First World’ is concise and understandable. No political correctness is implied.

  12. Julian says:

    Sorry but they do, and some of their teachers teach it, oh look fast music take big large steps, but what about people in front of you, oh they will get out of your way. So the ducks are traditionalists, granted there are some teach themselves dancers too So if tradionalists display bad floor craft, should they too leave the dance floor?

  13. DJ Polaco says:

    I agree that it is absolutely essential that we recover and systematise a pedagogy that approximates the process and the results of the traditional teaching of tango, and that this means that we need to resist and counteract the current studio dance teaching system, because it is at the core of the development of what I would broadly call ‘contemporary tango’.

    Btw. Having just returned from Spain I can report that the state of the tango scene in Madrid and Barcelona closely resembles that in Asia and Australia, despite many classes and milongas being run by Argentines. I have visited most of the events on their calendar there and have not found any with a satisfactory sound quality (not a DAC in sight), music selection, or dancing skills. Direct invite and women asking men were standard. So what that is telling me is that cultural proximity does not make any difference, ie., cultural difference or language is not the cause of the deterioration.

    I agree with the following points in this article.

    1. The need for an interactive pedagogy: Some of the men from whom they learned at practicas were or would have been considered to be milongueros, men whose experience dancing tango actively guided the development of other male dancers (i.e., through interactive learning)

    I have written (An Interactive Pedagogy for Tango) on this and have argued that given that we cannot replicate the ‘tango dancing uncle’ model of teaching (advocated here so vehemently by Chris) primarily due to a global shortage of ‘uncles’, we should make use of taxi dancers, though perhaps we might call them something else due to the negative connotations of this term.

    I have found myself that I am effectively a ‘taxi dancer’ for both, my female and male students. One might also observe that the same sex dancing by women is a case of this, and the only problem is that they do this at milongas. Practicas is the proper venue for this, and instead of practicing steps with another learner, learners should be simply dancing with experienced ‘taxi partners’.

    2. Using videos: Nevertheless, with the few exceptions mentioned above, for the most part today there is only one way to learn to dance tango from the milongueros of the Golden Age of tango – by observing their dancing, of which there are two means to do so, either by watching those still dancing in the milongas of Buenos Aires, or by studying the video recordings of their dancing.

    I have greatly benefitted from seeing some milongueros from Buenos Aires who immigrated to my home town in Australia, and subsequently I have made extensive use of Youtube videos. I have also analysed these videos for some technical aspects of the posture and embrace that I will publish on my blog in the near future. This may be useful because a big problem is that, watching someone dance, it is very difficult to see what is going on there. One gets a general image but it is difficult to understand what are the key aspects. It is similar with pronunciation: people learning a language may listen to native speakers and yet be unable, even after many years of study, to reproduce some of the sounds without explicit instruction focusing on some specific aspects.

    Having said that, as an observer of social and political events as they are rapidly unfolding in the First World, it cannot escape one that there is a general shift away from musculinity, ‘whiteness’ and discipline. In education, for example, the values of the First World countries, as they became successful up to the first half of the 20th century, are now regarded as patriarchial and fundamentally oppressive. Feminine and matriarchial values are now preferred, and these do not seem (to me at least) compatible with traditional tango and its method of teaching/learning. If we see a complete inversion of values in society as a whole, why would we not expect it in tango?

    • John says:

      1). DJ’s – Re music and systems, no DAC will compensate for badly reproduced music. DJ’s everywhere routinely beg, borrow and steal poor quality music rather than pay for properly restored music and as good a quality audio as you can afford. It is disrespectful to their clients, the dancers and it turns people off Tango. I have purchased and used only high quality restored music from since 2005 (no commercial connection, but a valued friend). A milonga never goes by without someone complementing the music. Most DJ’s are amatuer (that’s OK) and lazy (not OK), not taking the time to learn and listen. I learned a lot from former professional DJ, Keith Elshaw, (50 years in radio and music production) over years of conversation and specific DJ workshops in Australia.
      2) Teachers – “in spite of Argentine teachers” should be “because of Argentine teachers” (see this post). These people tour the world relentlessly teaching teachers and dancers adapted performance as social Tango. It may be a new form, but it is just an impression of the Tango developed in the milongas of Buenos Aires). Teachers of genuine social Tango are few and far between). I agree that teaching in milongas is bad-mannered and/or ignorant.
      3) Invitation – I have a different view of cabaceo / mirada. In order for it to work formally, the milonga has to be set up formally with segregated areas for women, men and couples. We prefer to sit with our friends (practica style). I noticed this in the well-known Sunderland milonga too. As a result women are not perched on the edge of their chairs on the lookout for an invitation and men are not scanning / cruising the floor. However, cabaceo works in a more subtle way (as it has always done) with direct invitation, where a prospective invitee will look away or engage in conversation if they do not want to be invited. It takes a brave or dull man to persist.
      4) This blog post – Thank you for the post and the work that went into collecting and collating examples. I am using them, with attribution to Tango Voice, for our students and small community. It helps a great deal to “brand” our Tango so people know what to expect at milongas and in teaching (another Tango Voice idea).

      • tangovoice says:

        However, cabaceo works in a more subtle way (as it has always done) with direct invitation, where a prospective invitee will look away or engage in conversation if they do not want to be invited. It takes a brave or dull man to persist.

        And persist they do…. Women also need to be educated to look for the cabeceo. There are some women who wonder why some good dancers won’t dance with them. It could be because they are not paying attention to the cabeceo and only dance with men who approach to the table.

        It helps a great deal to “brand” our Tango so people know what to expect at milongas and in teaching.

        Hopefully this will help in attracting the right kind of dancers. Labeling needs to be coupled with education regarding the advantages of observing tango traditions (e.g., choice in partners, best music for dancing, optimal enjoyment of music, many benefits of embrace, plus recognition that competency is attainable, not the elusive realm of tango athletes).

      • Julian says:

        Some good dancers who use the cabacero still may not getting many dancers from top dancers because they rely on the guy to initiate and never initiate themselves.

      • Julian says:

        Djs who go out and buy good quality music, I salute you.

      • DJ Polaco says:

        Re music and systems, no DAC will compensate for badly reproduced music. DJ’s everywhere routinely beg, borrow and steal poor quality music rather than pay for properly restored music and as good a quality audio as you can afford. It is disrespectful to their clients, the dancers and it turns people off Tango

        I don’t understand what you mean by the first sentence: you need a good DAC to reproduce music well, and a good DAC is an essential part of the whole Tango DJ setup. I agree with you about the fact that most Tango DJs, as far as I can assertain, fail to invest in the best music possible. Once I hear that the music doesn’t sound well I take a peek if they have an external DAC and you can also sometimes see if they use iTunes. Because you can’t play FLAC files on iTunes, and anyway iTunes is a piece of junk so you know you’re dealing with a hack.

        Teachers of genuine social Tango are few and far between

        It helps a great deal to “brand” our Tango so people know what to expect at milongas and in teaching (another Tango Voice idea).

        Agreed, the vast majority of people are clueless as to what is “genuine social Tango” and so we need a “brand”, but I don’t think it’s TangoVoice idea, it’s my idea, and I haven’t seen that he’s come around to it yet.

        The reason we need branding, ie., some sort of Quality Assurance certification of the sort you get from TangoTunes or Tango DJs For Good Sound, is that in the current situation there is no incentive for a teacher to teach proper social tango because they get no recognition for it. Without the TangoTunes Badge there is no way for me to signal to students or organisers that I’m any different from the typical MP3-playing hack that calls themselves Tango DJ.

        It’s the same if I teach traditional tango milonguero but have to compete with a bunch of local outfits that do the standard tangotainment routine and squeeze me out. There no way for me to compete with all the marketing produced by the Argentine governent, all their shows, and magazines and websites and noise. On the other side I get attacked by ‘traditionalist’ trolls like Chris for ‘pretending’ to teach traditional tango because, by their lights, you can only learn that in Buenos Aires.

        Btw. When I go back to Australia I might move to Gold Coast.

      • tangovoice says:

        Agreed, the vast majority of people are clueless as to what is “genuine social Tango” and so we need a “brand”, but I don’t think it’s TangoVoice idea, it’s my idea, and I haven’t seen that he’s come around to it yet.

        See Creating a Tango-Brand: The Role of Language in the Marginalization of Argentine Tango.

      • DJ Polaco says:

        See Creating a Tango-Brand: The Role of Language in the Marginalization of Argentine Tango.

        I’m confused. In that post you appear to be either against branding or are just discussing branding generally without endorsing the idea. It’s a very long article but I don’t see anywhere that you endorse my position, which is that there is a need to create a ‘traditional tango milonguero’ brand, to counteract the marketing efforts of the Argentine tangotainment industry, that you associate with the First World, but that I blame on the Argentine govenment/tangotainment industry because without their ‘stamp of approval’ the First World people would find it much more difficult to gain legitimacy for export tango, which is why it’s called ‘export tango’, it’s exported by the Argentines, in particular, the Argentine government. It is unreasonable to expect individual teachers/organisers/DJs who want to promote ‘traditional tango milonguero’ practice and culture to do so individually when we face such a well organised opposition. So what is needed is a ‘brand’ that is an umbrella for traditionalists that supports and incentivises the teaching, organisation and promotion of traditional tango milonguero. I don’t see that you say anything of the sort. As I wrote in my “Critical History of Tango” post, I see you as holding the belief that by providing information on this blog people will prefer tango milonguero, but I don’t see how that’s going to work unless they travel to Buenos Aires, but then in this post it’s starting to dawn on you that the ‘milongueros’ are dying off and then even going to Buenos Aires will be pointless because the tango marketing machine will take over the place completely, but I’m just speculating here. Yeah, I don’t see anywhere that you agree with me on this and so the branding idea is mine. You’re against branding and marketing and so good luck with that. But do correct me if I’m misinterpreting you.

      • tangovoice says:

        Terminology is important here. Creation of a Tango-Brand is a marketing strategy. ‘Salon Style Tango’, ‘Milonguero Style Tango’, ‘Tango Nuevo’, ‘Villa Urquiza Style Tango’ are all Tango-Brand names that have been developed to identify a product competing in the tango marketplace. While deriving income from promoting tango is not inherently destructive to tango culture, a goal of maximizing market share often is because it caters to consumer demand (based on local cultural proclivities), giving it primacy over maintaining cultural integrity.

        Milongueros were not entrepreneurs, they were practitioners of tango culture. This is how tango was in Buenos Aires during the Golden Age. Tango was part of the daily lives of the populace, a source for recreational activity (among other things). Today tango has become mostly a business (even in Buenos Aires).

        It would be better to think of the effort to spread Tango Milonguero (or more broadly, Tango de Salon) as developing a cultural identity to share (including the dance, the music, and the practices, such as the cabeceo). It is not important at all to maximize market share. This will never happen unless somehow in the future followers of Tango Evolution evolve to such a place that they feel that appropriation of the ‘tango’ name no longer serves their entrepreneurial interests. [They may declare the ‘death of tango’ (their own doing) and announce that a New Day has arrived with a new name for their enterprise. (One can hope.)]

        What practitioners of Traditional Tango culture need to do is to develop their own environmental niche in which traditional tango culture is celebrated. This is discussed in some detail in Factors Affecting the Survival of Argentine Tango Cultural Traditions in Non-supportive First World Cultural Environments (The Dominance of Tango Extranjero), particularly under the subheading ‘(3) Segregate from the larger tango community and form a smaller community that promotes Argentine tango cultural values’ near the end of the post.

  14. Chris says:

    have not found any with a satisfactory sound quality (not a DAC in sight)

    Most milonga DJs’ DACs aren’t in sight. They are in-built to the player/computer.

    • DJ Polaco says:

      In this reply you provide conclusive evidence that you lack knowledge and merely have an insider agenda. I will not attempt to educate you as your ego is in the way.

      I can say however that I did educate a DJ in Madrid who runs a popular milonga using mp3s and no external DAC but was smart enough to listen, and I hope is currently on the market for a DAC. I explained the importance of using only lossless FLAC or equivalent files and a quality external DAC.

      For myself I can proudly say that I just received the Quality Music Badge from TangoTunes for purchasing all my music in the highest quality lossless format, and am a member of the new website Tango DJs For Good Sound. If you go there you can see the sort of setup that DJs require. I would suggest that we should support both these websites in their promotion of good quality sound at milongas which is sorely lacking.

      Plugging the audio cable into the audio output of the computer is simply not adequate.

      No External DAC + MP3/No FLAC = Garbage Sound = Noise

      The problem with sound quality is that you can’t tell the quality without any way of comparing it. We are exposed to bad sound everyday in the form of MP3s and cheap sound technology such as Bluetooth speakers and the outputs of electronic devices. I have been to events where Bluetooth Speakers were used. Even PA speakers are not satisfactory.

      Unlike bass-heavy electronic music or even rock music, Golden Era tango music suffers severely from thse sorts of setup.

      Tango music demands an audiophile level setup in terms of source and reproduction (software, DAC, amp/speaker). iTunes is rubbish and most DJ software is also inadequate as it’s designed for electronic music. The DAC inside the computer is not adequate personal listening to any quality recordings of instrumental music, not to even mention for events.

      I would put this problem at the top of the list of the Argentine Tango disasters above lack of manners and poor dancing and everything else, because if the sound quality were adequate I would feel much better about wasting time and money at an event, as at least I would be listening to decent sound. But when you are exposed to bad sound that pretty much kills it for me.

      Sadly the masses, Matrix-like, are unaware of the assault on their ears as the days of the audiophile seem to be well over. Even in my own case, I had to re-learn everything as the last time I did the audiophile thing was still the era of vinyl and I’m myself still relatively new to the computer-based audiophile.

      In this regard, I really hope that Christian Tobler gets his blog for Tango DJs translated into English as it is essential that we move to dealing with this issue. I also urge people reading this to actively support the websites I mentioned above and the DJs who care about sound quality at tango events. It’s a first order issue.

      Sorry but playing Golden Era music from the standard MP3/iTunes/internal DAC/PA speakers set up just doesn’t cut it.

      • Julian says:

        The best way to get good quality sound is from modern recordings, hoping to clean up old recording is just wishful thinking. Lots of djs hearing isn’t the best so may not hear the static, booms and screaches. It never hurts to get a second from a young person with good hearing

      • tangovoice says:

        Modern tango recordings have better sound quality than those from the Golden Age, but it is rare to find modern recordings that have the clear pulsating rhythm and emotional vocals of the Golden Age recordings. (Most modern recordings lack vocals.) This is at least one of the reasons DJs in milongas in Buenos Aires (and worldwide) continue to play tango recordings from the Golden Age.

      • gyb says:

        “No External DAC + MP3/No FLAC = Garbage Sound = Noise”

        “In this reply you provide conclusive evidence that you lack knowledge and merely have an insider agenda”

        I challenge you to conduct a properly set up blind experiment to contrast the MP3/FLAC and the external DAC/internal sound card distinction. I submit that when the setup is done right (i.e. proper equalization and sound level settings) you will

        * not perform better than chance in telling which heard recording gets reproduced from an internal sound card (of a Macbook Pro or equivalent quality laptop) and which recording gets reproduced from an external DAC,

        * not perform better than chance in telling which heard recording was decoded as a 320 kbps (or even as a 256 kbps) MP3 and which recording was decoded as a FLAC.

        FWIW I have conducted these tests myself with several people using various DACs and encodings, with said results.

        The DAC and the encoding are in fact the two least important factors in the resulting sound quality. IMHO the most important factor is the source transfer – does it come from a CTA, BATC, AMP, CdT, Audio Park, Archivo RCA, Reliquias, Disco Latina, El Bandoneon, TangoTunes etc etc transfer? Different songs sound different on these different transfers, and a 196 kbps MP3 from an Archivo RCA will typically sound much better than a FLAC from an El Bandoneon (not to mention that choosing the right source transfer for a tanda does not only depend on a one-dimensionally definable “quality”). The second most important is the speaker setup, then the amplifier/mixer and the cables, then maybe the software used to play the music. The external/internal DAC and the FLAC/ 320 kbps MP3 differences are minute or even non-audible compared to these other factors.

        I’d also challenge you on your “Noise = Garbage Sound” equation. In many cases the transfers which have less noise are the ones with poorer sound quality because the noise filtering procedure applied by the sound engineers to get a clean sound heavily distorts the music; this is typical for instance for the El Bandoneon transfers. In a typical milonga setup (good but not high-end quality large speakers) the noise reproduction is diminished and so transfers that sound noisy with a headphone will sound fine on the large speakers.

        Ceteris paribus holding tango music in FLAC (vs 320 kbps MP3) only makes sense from an archival perspective but not from a DJing perspective. I understand this is difficult to accept for DJs who invested heavily in obtaining FLAC versions of their transfers and/or spent considerable amount of money (as I have in the past) to buy and test various DACs, but then again remember that there are also “audiophiles” out there who invested heavily in buying Monster cables…

      • DJ Polaco says:

        re: gvb
        First of all, I lose respect for anyone who argues that MP3s can be used in an audiophile setting. I admit that I’m not a professional in the field and therefore instead of having an obviously pointless argument with you, someone who listens to MP3s, I defer to the informed opinion and authority of professionals like Christian Tobler. I do use my own ears and I tested his recommendations for myself.

        I stopped listening to MP3s years ago and as I developed an audiophile setup the sound quality improved dramatically. But that means that the whole system has to be set up. Eg., if you use a rubbish speaker the difference might not be that great. For the DJ in Madrid I did a simple test: I plugged my setup into her milonga system and really you’d have to be deaf not to hear the difference. Each individual component (file, software, filter, DAC, etc.) makes some difference and collectively its a very large difference between substandard sound that you normally get at these events and professional level sound that brings out the full impact of the music that you want.

        If you advocate using MP3s and this is somehow the ‘informed’ opinion on the tango scene I guess we need to take into account the sorts of people we are dealing with and decide how to deal with it. Because TangoVoice complains that tango has deteriorated, and this is a really good example of why and how it is has deteriorated, ie., people who listen to MP3s are in some sort of influence or offer their opinion. We need to somehow get rid of that.

        As for the Noise = Garbage Sound, what that means is that at each point you get reduction in the quality of the signal, the digital information. The noise in the actual recording is not the main problem. As is widely available in the audiophile discussions, for a computer-based audiophile setup, the internal noise in the computer, not to mention the reduced resulution of the MP3 file, is the primary source of reduced quality sound. Finally, apart from everything else, I have yet to read anywhere that the internal DAC in the laptop is designed for quality sound reproduction, which is why audiophiles spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on external DACs. But I guess all these people would fail the double blind test. I stand corrected.

      • gyb says:

        Re: DJ Polaco

        First of all, I lose respect for anyone who argues that MP3s can be used in an audiophile setting. […] instead of having an obviously pointless argument with you, someone who listens to MP3s, I defer to the informed opinion and authority of professionals

        I suggest you to listen to the evidence instead. The comparisons I’m referring to have been repeatedly done on a wide scale; with a minimal effort you could also find references on the internet. For instance here are the results of one study conducted with the participation of 580 people about their ability to discern 256 kbps lossy vs lossless formats:

        The results are pretty clear: practically no-one is able to perform beyond pure chance, regardless of their youth, musical training, or quality of their sound equipments. Even the single person out of the 580 who seems to have been able to distinguish the two sound samples have spent 2 hours (!) on comparing the two sound segments – mind you, in an ideal environment with no external disturbances, which does not come even close to being able to make distinctions in a milonga environment we are talking about. (Not to mention that the source masters for the used sound samples are themselves incomparable in quality to the tango transfers that are available from any of the sources.)

        But if you are still not convinced, why don’t you try to test yourself? Here is an online test for you:

      • DJ Polaco says:

        For instance here are the results of one study conducted with the participation of 580 people about their ability to discern 256 kbps lossy vs lossless formats:

        This is just so sad. I was vaguely hoping for a refereed journal study, although I’m not even all that confident in those as, as I already mentioned, you need an expert to interpret those and I am not one. But I have enough expertise to know that when I read “The test was available online for almost a year” … enough said. Science requires that the hypothesis makes prima facie sense. The hypothesis in this study makes zero sense. At no point has anyone claimed that lossless formats can be discriminated by the average Joe under any conditions. The claim is that lossless makes a difference under some specific conditions. So you need a hypothesis and a study that takes these conditions into account. As far as I can tell this study does not control any of those conditions. The conditions would be something as follows:

        1. Golden Era tango music: Tobler’s claim is that specifically Golden Era tango music suffers severely from compression, NOT that ALL music suffers equally under all conditions from compression. If you read his blog, he points out that they initially thought that AAC format would work OK for tango music but they subsequently discovered that these restorations do not sound good in this format. It’s a very specific claim and I have spent many hours checking this because I already purchased hundreds of tracks in the AAC format, to the point where I re-purchased hundreds of tracks that I originally got in AAC format which took me additional hundreds of hours to do. I guess in your world I’m just an idiot who wastes time and money.

        2. A sound system that is up to the task, that is, suitable player software such as Audirvana Plus, USB DAC model that is recognised for this sort of thing, eg., DragonFly is a basic model that would be adequate, and an amp/speaker setup that is recognised as adequate, eg., PA systems, earphones or cheap headphones, most bass-heavy bluetooth speakers, would not be acceptable because tango music requires a strong mid-range and only studio monitor speakers are really up to that.

        3. Subjects who are familiar with the specific music and general features of what music is supposed to sound like. Listening is genre specific: you don’t listen to jazz the same as you listen to classical music. Now, I listened to the clips in the test and I think that I can tell the difference on my system, eg., the bass in the jazz clip sounds different to me. I agree that with these pieces of music it’s not easy to pinpoint exactly what the difference is but I have a general image of what MP3s sound like and they have a specific sound, typically in the bass and high end definition. I would not want to listen to these MP3s. But in my case these are subjective judgements and also if you’re used to MP3s or you don’t have a sound system that can reproduce these differences it might not appear to bother you.

        But in comparing formats or equipment such as DAC or speaker, I use tracks that I know really well and that have specific features, eg., where the violin, the piano or the bandoneon stands out in a specific way that has a specific aesthetic effect. So when choosing speakers I would use the same laptop / player / DAC / tracks; when comparing formats I would use the same laptop / player / DAC / speaker. You see how that goes: you need to control all the variables except the variable that you want to test. This is a completely different scenario then what is presented in this online study, which merely tells us that normal people can’t tell the difference on their sound systems listening to this music. So what?

        As Don Xello points out on the other blog, people are used to ‘clean’ sound and that’s all they really look for in trying to tell the difference. They don’t know how to discern certain nuances that are specific to the genre. But as I said in my reply to Chris, you’re confusing the ability to tell the difference and the fact that it actually makes a difference. There is a reason we listen to classical music in concert halls and not shopping malls. Those differences are multiplied when you play the music in a larger venue and then try to manipulate the music what you find is that, apart from everything else, the loss of dynamics in compressed formats, which means the music loses energy and depth and you get the sort bland of ‘wall of sound’ effect, leads pretty much uniformly all DJs to turn up the volume and then the listening fatigue and noise is multiplied to the point where, in my case, I just leave the venue.

        If you study psychology you would understand that there are many things that make a difference at a non-conscious level, ie., people don’t know that it makes a difference. Example: the layout of stores is designed to make you buy more, but the normal person would not be aware of this, yet it influences them, right? It is not the business of tango dancers but of DJs to know what is acceptable sound. My motto is: “Once you go FLAC you don’t go back”, because once you get used to listening to FLAC files on a good sound system you can then tell when it’s not FLAC … which is why audiophiles listen to FLAC files and buy software that plays them.

        This is why I don’t ask normal people about this issue, because they wouldn’t know, it’s too complicated, and should be discussed by professionals who will look at your study and laugh. It’s a long process of training to be able to tell what is or is not good sound, and this is what we should pay DJs to do. It’s ridiculous to ask ordinary people to discern these differences. Unfortunately, it seems that it is these ordinary people who decide that organising and DJ-ing tango would be a good hobby business and so that’s what we end up with.

      • DJ Polaco says:

        gyb: But if you are still not convinced, why don’t you try to test yourself? Here is an online test for you:

        Did this test and couldn’t tell the difference. However, the test is completely useless because the music samples are tracks that are already compressed, ie., in the mastering phase they compress the music to sound good in MP3 format. That’s why people think that contemporary tango music sounds so much better. What they mean by ‘better sound’ however is a very specific thing, namely, the sort of sanitised sound that you get from contemporary recordings that lack any nuance. This music sounds nothing like acoustic or live music at all. It’s completely artificial without feeling or nuance. The country music sample, for example, I tried to hear the double bass or the banjo guitar but it has no character of an actual instrument, because they run these tracks through filters and compressors that sanitize everything and make sound good in most formats and most devices. But you get this sort of ‘wall of sound’ effect where everything is loud and there is no dynamics. Golden Era music, and good classical music, is exactly the opposite of that and the reason to listen to that instead of the products of pop music industry. But by playing MP3s and modern tango music we are just regressing to the same sanitised stuff. If you want a rock record that would give you more nuance than Hotel California (why would you want to listen to lossless version of that??) you’d use something like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon master recording release, and then I’d be very surprised if you’d get no difference, I mean my head would be literally spinning.

      • gyb says:

        Re: DJ Polaco:

        Again, why don’t you test yourself, and see whether you yourself can spot any difference? Here is a readily available test that meets your three concerns: choose a Golden Age recording you are familiar with, take your FLAC file, and using a halfway decent MP3 encoder (i.e. Wavepad) save it as a 320 kbps MP3 (controlling for volume, of course). Then line up 50x the FLAC and 50x the MP3 version in your favored playing software’s playlist. Randomize the playlist (if the software has no such option, ask someone to do this for you by dragging the pieces around). Then, using your best audio setup, listen to the songs in the playlist one by one, and write on a piece of paper whether you think you heard the FLAC or the MP3 version. When you are done, compare what you have on the paper with the real order in the playlist. (Instead of full songs you may want to use 10-15 sec segments to speed things up.)

        I submit that you won’t do better than chance: you won’t be able to get more, say, than 70 out of the 100 trials right.

        After you do the test and realize that you hear no difference, we may continue pondering esoteric topics such as you not being able to hear the difference but it still having some unconscious effect on you.

        (“this online study, which merely tells us that normal people can’t tell the difference on their sound systems listening to this music.”

        Nota bene if you already conceded that normal people can’t hear the difference even in their home environment my point about FLAC vs 320 kbps MP3 already stands with respect to DJing in the milonga environment. Re: normal people, it was also made explicit by the author that the ability to hear the difference is NOT correlated with youth, musical training, and quality of equipment, but I already mentioned this.)

      • gyb says:

        (Re DJ Polaco: I wrote the previous comment before seeing that you did the first test; doing the test I just proposed should take away the rest of your caveats, although your confidence that the mentioned factors will make any difference, despite you failing the test which uses much better quality music, baffles me. Your faith is strong, man.)

      • DJ Polaco says:

        Again, why don’t you test yourself, and see whether you yourself can spot any difference? Here is a readily available test that meets your three concerns: choose a Golden Age recording you are familiar with, take your FLAC file, and using a halfway decent MP3 encoder (i.e. Wavepad) save it as a 320 kbps MP3 (controlling for volume, of course). Then line up 50x the FLAC and 50x the MP3 version in your favored playing software’s playlist. Randomize the playlist (if the software has no such option, ask someone to do this for you by dragging the pieces around). Then, using your best audio setup, listen to the songs in the playlist one by one, and write on a piece of paper whether you think you heard the FLAC or the MP3 version. When you are done, compare what you have on the paper with the real order in the playlist. (Instead of full songs you may want to use 10-15 sec segments to speed things up.)

        First, lets say that I do this and can tell the difference. You can still claim that nonetheless the average person can’t tell the difference. If on the other hand I don’t 100% I can still claim that my hearing discrimination is not good enough and I have to train my ears better. Or I can claim that it doesn’t really matter because I can still claim that the test does not mean anything for the following reasons:

        1. The argument that mp3s are as good as CDs has been made since the beginning of mp3s. I spotted the difference (what you may hold is merely subjectve) from the outset and burned all my CDs in .wav. Yet this hasn’t stopped a lot of people who care about music more than the average person to get their music in .flac format. So all these people are by the standard of this test (as the only ‘objective’ and ‘scientific’ standard) are irrational.

        2. I have a major in psychology which is basically a major in experimental design for discrimination tasks like this. I have never read anywhere that a difference you cannot tell or consciously perceive is thereby not a real difference. That’s a confusion of reasoning. For example, original discrimination studies used skin pricks to tell the point were the subject could not tell different spots on the skin. On your reasoning, when the subject perceived two spots as being the same they there ipso facto the same. But we have other ‘objective’ standards to tell that they are different, and all we have shown is the subject’s threshold of discrimination.

        3. On your argument, to say that what we cannot discriminate isn’t there is ‘esoteric’. This is the standard argument for mp3s: “The range of human hearing is generally considered to be 20 Hz to 20 kHz”, and those who argue that high fidelity music files are a waste of space point to this. The problem with this argument is that we are not computers or robots but rather biological organisms, and how we respond to sound is very complex. You can call this ‘esoteric’ if you want but I can equally label your position ‘reductive’. My position is not anti-scientific, it’s just not reductive like yours. If you want to simplify you can simplify. On that reasoning eating your nutrients in pill form is equivalent to eating biologically organic food and to deny that is ‘esoteric’.

        4. The online study is specific to the type of music and online streaming. So it does not apply to different music and different setup.

        5. if you already conceded that normal people can’t hear the difference even in their home environment my point about FLAC vs 320 kbps MP3 already stands with respect to DJing in the milonga environment.

        I fail to see your logic here. First, in their “home environment” does not help because (a) the music comes from some sort of a streaming service and is reproduced via some inferior setup like no DAC, bluetooth speakers or cheap headphones, so contrary to your assumption, that will actually make it more difficult to hear any difference; and (b) in a milonga environment the small differences are actually exaggerated because you have the music amplified and pumped through large speakers; and finally (c) the problems are greater for Golden Era tango music. The last two points are made by Christian Tobler.

        6. After you do the test and realize that you hear no difference, we may continue pondering esoteric topics such as you not being able to hear the difference but it still having some unconscious effect on you.

        But I do hear the difference. On your argument, when we decide that we like one sort of apple over another, or anything else, we should conduct a blind test because we’re probably subject to confirmation bias. You are committing a fallacy of extending a very specific issue, ie., MP3s vs. FLAC for contemporary, heaviluy mastered music streamed online, to just about everything in life. Moreover, you simply state without any argument that contemporary music is “much better”.

        But I already stated that it is NOT “much better” because it does not sound like real music. Tell me this: when was the last time that you heard a musical performance without any electrical amplification in an acoustically well-designed space, because my bet is that you only ever listen to electronic and contemporary recorded or amplified music, and so that sounds “much better” to you given your preferences, which are completely at odds with Golden Era tango music.

        7. Finally, the fundamental fallacy of your argument is best exemplified by the fact that you want me to compare FLAC to 320kbps MP3. Following your logic I can equally then argue that you should take the following test: line up two tracks, one 320kbps, and another 256kbps and then see if you can tell the difference. Then, if you find that you cannot, you must then draw the conclusion that you don’t need 320kbps. I would then invite you to compare 256kbps and 124kbps, and so on ad infinitum. If on the other hand, you find that yuo can hear the difference, I can then conduct an online poll that shows that most people cannot hear a difference and ergo, we can use 128kbps files at milongas, although we can show through this line of reasoning that 64kbps would do just as well, and so on ad infinitum.

        This is called the reductio ad absurdum of your argument.

      • gyb says:

        re: DJ Polaco – I made testing between 256 kbps lossy and FLAC lossless easier for you (or for anyone who is interested), it takes only 7 minutes. The basis for comparison is a 20 second segment from Aníbal Troilo’s “Te aconsejo que me olvides” (1941, singer: Francisco Fiorentino); this should qualify as a familiar Golden Age recording. The chosen segment has all the instruments as well as vocals. I used the transfer from (available in their “Golden Ear Edition”, so it should be of their highest quality). To create the test file I cut out a 20 sec segment from the original TangoTunes FLAC file, saved it both in uncompressed FLAC and in 256 kbps AAC formats, reopened the files, created a new file with 10x the FLAC and 10x the AAC versions in it in some order, and saved it as a FLAC. (I used 256 kbps lossy instead of the better quality 320 kbps lossy to make the results more compatible with the study I referred to above.)

        (The correct order could be of course easily guessed by wavefront analysis but I trust you will use your ears. For fun I also created a difference file to show that there is indeed a coding difference in the FLAC and the AAC encodings – indeed the song itself could be easily recognized from the difference file itself! My claim is that even though there is a coding difference, this coding difference does not lead to an audible difference between the FLAC and the AAC encodings under the test circumstances.)

        Here you can download the .zip archive:

        The .zip archive contains three files: the test file (~7 minutes, from 20 x 20 secs), a difference file (20 sec), and a password protected zip file with the solution for the correct order of the FLAC and AAC encoded segments.

        So your task is to guess the correct order of FLAC and AAC segments by listening to the test file. Use your best audio setup. Post your guess as a comment here, then I’ll tell what the correct solution is (the password for the solution file).

        If you get 18/20 or more right that would make it likely that you are performing better in spotting the difference than random chance. Otherwise I expect you will concede that you were wrong and that you stop baselessly berating DJs who do not play directly from FLAC formats.

  15. Chris says:

    For myself I can proudly say that I just received the Quality Music Badge from TangoTunes for purchasing all my music in the highest quality lossless format

    I suspect it’s no coincidence that the few DJs on _the official list of Gullibility Badge recipients_ that I’ve heard are ones I hope never to hear again.

    The audio quality of the TangoTunes tracks I’ve bought is dire. E.g. compare a regular CD release with a TangoTunes so-called “Golden Ear” release _here_.

    • Chris says:

      I wrote: “The audio quality of the TangoTunes tracks I’ve bought is dire. E.g. ompare a regular CD release with a TangoTunes so-called “Golden Ear” release

      Oops, that audio comparison link doesn’t work. Trying again

    • DJ Polaco says:

      Yes, thanks Chris! The discussion below the blog post you linked nicely reinforces my point in response to gyb above: professionals trying to reason with plebs: a lost cause, exercise in futility, waste of precious energy, …

      Sadly, it is the latter that seem to have the greater influence due to ‘democracy of the market’. I can only imagine what Apple products would be like if Steve Jobs conducted polls. Once again, more proof that we need to create a brand and stop listening to the uninformed masses.

      I think that what TangoTunes and the guys at Tango DJs For Good Sound are doing is absolutely the correct approach, and I think that TangoVoice should follow their lead in advocating with me that a similar sort of Quality Assurance system be created for other aspects of tango teaching and event organisation along the lines suggested on this blog.

      Such a system should require minimal use of studio lessons, maximal use of some sort of interactive pedagogy and video, adherence to codigos, and all the other things we’ve been talking about here, but most importantly of all, if we care about Golden Era music, it cannot be merely music selection but just as importantly, the quality of sound reproduction, including the source file, the DJ setup and the room acoustics.

      Since I do not enter into futile arguments with ignorant plebs incapable of basic conceptual thought, I write this for the information of those who are willing to listen and have the intelligence to understand some simple concepts: the sound engineer at a concert hall, nor the sound designer of the concert hall itself, does not conduct a poll of the audience to determine the correct sound design.

      Although, and I ask myself why I need to point this out, the audience are not in position to tell the difference, that does not mean that it does not make a difference, otherwise we’d be listening to classical concerts in shopping malls and not specially designed concert venues. Room acoustics and sound engineering are scientific disciplines and presumably we do not expect physicists nor say construction engineers to decide their theories and models based on polls.

      Finally, the typical dance studio nor night club is not equipped for quality sound reproduction. These venues are designed primarily with pop and electronic music in mind. There is very little relationship between ‘produced’ music, ie., music which is computer generated, bass-heavy, and undergoes a lot of mastering to make is sound good on any cheap device or PA system, and audiophile classical recordings, including Golden Era tango recordings which belong to the second category.

      You need a completely different approach for the latter, and you also need to learn to listen differently, so I expect that people say that they prefer MP3s and CDs because that’s what they’re used to. So that poses an interesting question: what people listened to during and shortly after the Golden Era was audiophile quality sound. What people are used to now is heavily compressed, bass-heavy, electronic sound. In other words, in the following snide response on the blog post linked to …

      “I have no idea with which audio equipment you are listening.”
      I call them “ears”.

      Felicity demonstrates common misconception among the MP3-listening masses that our ‘ears’ are unchangeable and not subject to training. Yet she’s talking to Christian Tobler whose basic point on his blog, that he repeads ad nauseam, is that as a Tango DJ you have to spend the majority of your time on training your ears. I feel truly sorry that this guy, who I believe has contributed more than anyone to progressing tango DJ-ing, has to suffer this sort of thing.

      I admit that trying to give a reason to an MP3-listener why he should listen to high fidelity sound is no different than trying to explain to a junk food afficionado why he should really eat fresh home made meals. They will tell you that they like it that that they don’t notice any deterioration in their health. People don’t notice things if they are used to it. But apart from the lower aesthetic experience, compressed and noisy music causes something called listening fatigue.

      What I would suggest as a starting point for people is attending a few classical music concerts in a good concert hall to get a basic idea of how good sound quality makes you feel. I prefer chamber music because I can hear every instrument and I’m close to them, and I tango orchestras are smaller ensembles. It is only once you learn to hear how different instruments are supposed to sound like (piano, violin, bass, etc.) that you can evaluate the quality of recordings and reproduction equipment, ie., then you will have better ears.

  16. tangovoice says:

    Comments on tango music fidelity have digressed sufficiently from the topic of this post and will no longer be published.

    • John says:

      Agreed. Thanks for the initial post.

    • DJ Polaco says:

      I have maintained all along that for tango to progress beyond the mass marketing of the Argentine state and the individual teachers and organisers so that people become more informed consumers of tango product whose reputation is currently on the level of Chinese fakes what you need is an open, moderated forum. I don’t mind the push and pull of the conversation here and TVs moderating, but obviously this blog is not the appropriate mode of doing it. I agree with TV about some things and not others and so does everyone else. Uninformed consumers of tango product ought to have access to the views of more experienced discussants, and really, “sunlight is the best disinfectant”. Tango suffers from ‘quietism’, and sloganeering and unchallenged partisan opinion is considered information, and so here we are.

      • tangovoice says:

        Tango-L, despite its shortcomings, was a good general forum for discussion of differing views on tango, but it died almost a decade ago. Now tango discussion is dispersed among numerous blogs and Facebook pages, many of which are mainly advertising for some tango enterprise. So, yes, most tango dancers are exposed to misinformation or a lack of information about tango, its cultural heritage, and the value of getting to know that heritage and preserving it.

      • DJ Polaco says:

        I engaged in some discussion forums in the early 2000s but there were two things about those.

        First, while I felt from the outset that tango is being taken over by a particular set of people and taken in a direction I didn’t like, at that time we had relatively little access to knowledge for the following reasons: (a) most outsiders like myself were still relatively new to tango and have not had enough experience to understand the nature and scope of the issues to really confront the problems; (b) it was Web 1.0 which was very limited and basically allowed the unscrupulous organiser-operators to dominate online as they do off-line; and (c) the general amount of information about tango in the form of text and video (other than brute force marketing) was virtually non-existent.

        Second, it is relatively clear to me that a discussion forum about tango in general is too broad a category because people with other agendas will dominate, so that while you don’t want to narrow it down excessively, what is needed is a forum that is specifically dedicated to ‘traditional tango’, or something of that nature. Ten years ago it was still relatively unclear what the issues are, but as I said, now there are people who have enough experience outside of Argentina to have some relatively good idea what is the range of issues that need to be addressed, such as, that Tango Nuevo and Traditional Tango cannot possibly co-exist in the same space, and so on and so forth.

        So the difference is that (a) a general tango forum what be too broad and for our purposes it would have to be defined more narrowly in terms of goals; and (b) the time that has elapsed since the development of globalised tango, and the availability of online information other than brute force marketing, both make a huge difference in terms of the pool of knowlege and experience that we have access to. So instead of looking backward in time to an era that I would call the ‘dark ages’ I would suggest looking ahead and developing new projects.

      • tangovoice says:

        Tango Voice focuses on Traditional Tango and its place in the tango landscape. Many differing views are represented in Comments, but the purpose of this blog is to broadcast through the media congestion caused by Evolutionary Tango. To some degree, this blog or any forum that focuses on Traditional Tango will primarily reinforce the tango worldview of Tango Traditionalists, which is a good thing, as followers of Traditional Tango are often swayed by the overwhelming propaganda promulgated by Tango Evolutionists, but its impact on those enticed by Evolutionary Tango is limited to some of those so influenced who take the time to read this blog.

        A forum that allows free expression of ideas regarding ‘tango’ (as did Tango-L) could have an audience with a diversity of views, and these views could compete in the arena of public opinion. Given cultural biases and economic interests, Traditional Tango perspectives would represent a minority of opinions, but the values and strength of ideas of Traditional Tango could result in a reapportionment of views held by tango dancers. At this point in time, most tango dancers worldwide do not have an educated view of Traditional Tango, so an open tango forum could benefit Traditional Tango. The only such forum that appears to exist today (that is free of commercial advertising) is Dance Forum: Tango Argentino (, which is imbedded within a larger, mostly ballroom dance platform, and does not appear to have the widespread readership that Tango-L did.

  17. gyb says:

    The song for the Nestor La Vitola – Veronica Olivera dance video (for which you wrote that it’s song is “Canaro [unidentified]”) is Invierno (1937) from the orchestra of Francisco Canaro with the singer Roberto Maida.

  18. jantango says:

    It’s been more than a few years since I last saw Cacho Dante teaching in Buenos Aires. He’s retired and living in Mar del Plata. I found nothing about classes from a goggle search. Roman Rodolfo “Rolo” Tomas and Ariel Romero are two more milongueros living in Mar del Plata.

    Not only are there very few milongueros viejos going to the milongas, but the milongas are also facing extinction. Their number has gone from 137 in 2000 to 75 in 2017. If anyone is interested in seeing the real tango by the men who still dance, don’t postpone your trip to Buenos Aires any longer. Within five to ten years, they’ll all be gone.

    Where to find them? — Lo de Celia (Sunday), Obelisco Tango (every day), El Beso (Tuesday and Thursday), and Salon Canning (Sunday).

  19. Chris says:

    tangovoice wrote: “A forum that allows free expression of ideas regarding ‘tango’ (as did Tango-L)

    For the record, the Tango-L forum most certainly did not allow free expression of ideas. The operator Shahrukh Merchant was well-known for berating and banning commenters for breaching of unstated rules of his own ad-hoc creation, particularly on opinions unflattering to named high-profile commercial tango dance instructors. The effective death of Tango-L rapidly followed a 2009 occasion on which the operator banned almost all the regular posters.

    • tangovoice says:

      Nevertheless, in the late 1990s and early 200os, there was a diversity of opinion in discussion on Tango-L. There were some abusive individuals who made ad hominem attacks and were disruptive forces and some of these were banned.

      Any specific information on the 2009 ban, if available, would be appreciated.

  20. Chris says:

    “a diversity of opinion” is very different from what you claimed.

    Also false is your claim that Dance Forum allows a free expression of ideas. And whereas Tango-L’s censor takes responsibility for his actions by being open about his identity, Dance Forums’ censors hide behind assumed names.

    If all you see of a forum is the posts that the forum’s moderators have allowed you to see, you might be able to judge there’s a diversity of opinion, but you can’t judge there’s a free expression of ideas without seeing posts that have been censored.

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