Tango Milonguero

(Last modified 01 july 2007 - scroll for video clips)

  The roots of the close embrace-hold or "Estilo Milonguero", also called Apilado (from apilar: to pile up, tightly together / crowded), lies in the liberal ‘twenties. The demografic male/female balance was getting equal and as the First World War had changed the role of women, dating became more easy. The opening of cabarets changed gradually the image of tango criollo as a brotheldance. Dancing gained popularity and by 1919 many dancehalls had opened. Both men and women went to crowded tango clubs and confiterías, where they danced very close socialized, the woman’s head over her partner’s right shoulder, so he could whisper in her ear and visa versa. The Second World War redifined the gender roles even more.

From '45, the Urquiza town became the breeding place for the Villa Urquiza "milonguero"-style. It is related to Luis Lemos, nicknamed "Milonguita", who had an unique elegance and danced like an angel, and Josè Brahemcha, "El Turco". Villa Urquiza "milonguero" is an elegant and rhythmic style with long steps, a firm position and using great, recognizable pauses. Carlos Gavito: " The secret of tango is in this moment of improvisation that happens between step and step. It is to make the impossible thing possible: to dance silence. This is essential to learn in tangodance, the real dance, that of the silence, of following the melody. The milongueros personify, incarnate that hidden treasure of the tanguera dance, the representation of a Buenosairean- porteño imaginary which belongs to another time, the conservation of codes in extinction, a source of inexhaustible knowledge, wisdom and the delicacy, subtility of an unique dance.

More tangopages, video illustrated :
Tangodance interpretations on Gallo Ciego
Dance interpretation on Francisco Canaro's Poema
Walking the tango rhythm
Walking Seduction
Dance is a physical need
Tangowals tangovals Milena Plebs Ezequiel Farfaro and other clips
Online Tangolessen videoclips videolessen updated
Carlos Gavito and Maria Plazaola
Showclips Forever Tango - great milongueros

Selected YouTube TangoVideos:
1. TangoClass - instructional vídeos - TangoLessons
2. Milonga and Candombe dancing
3. Tangovals clips - Tango waltzing - Valse - Tangowals
4. Great Tangoclips - fast internet access needed
5. Fast Links to Selected Tango Dance Vidio Updates
6. TangodanceClips with Humor

" The secret of tango is in this moment of improvisation that happens between step and step. It is to make the impossible thing possible: to dance silence ", says Carlos Gavito, recognized milonguero and Zen philosopher of the dance, who spent half of his life looking for this moment of illumination in the dance, his choreographies astonished people of the contemporary dance like Oscar Araiz.
- First, to dance it is to know how to listen to music. "Nocturnal" is like listening to the street at night, it is incredible. All noises must be dance.
"In the music are all the steps. The low one, for example, marks the walk of the man with all the problems of existence. There is the violin, which sounds as the woman.. That's why, when one is dancing and comes a very pretty part of violin has to say to the woman: ' Dance me, dance me, bailame, bailame´. Later the piano, that is the moment at which both are walking together. Then there is a comunión of movements. And El Bandoneón, in which lives the spirit of tango Argentino. It is like a pomp of soap and I get there in, inside. The pomp moves inside with me, but I do not move.
This is essential to learn in tangodance, the real dance, that of the silence, of following the melody.

Carlos Gavito: " The important thing is to know why we want to dance. We dance a solitude that we have inside us and cannot occupy with anything. This gap, that emptiness to which we put movement is the tango. "

Till not long ago time, the milongueros were destined to die in the anonymity of the dance. But the phenomenon of the tango in the whole world transformed them into last decade into the figures looked by prestigious artists as Pina Bauch, Carlos Saura, Sally Porter and for ballet dancers dedicated as Miguel Angel Zotto, who inspired by this dance de salón with style and elegance for his spectacles.

The milongueros personify, incarnate that hidden treasure of the dance tanguera, the representation of a Buenosairean- porteño imaginary which belongs to another time, the conservation of codes in extinction, a source of inexhaustible knowledge, wisdom and the delicacy, subtility of an unique dance. Carlos Gavito y Puppy Castello they belong to this race of dancers.
Popular in the milonguero world, Gavito and Castello they were summoned to overturn their lessons in the project Ballet School of Argentine Tango, that it will try to teach to the new generations the secrets and the identity of that dancel, next to other milongueros outstanding like the "Pibe" Avellaneda, the "Gitano-Gypsy" Domínguez, the "Turco-Turk" Jose, Gerald Portalea or "Chino-Chinese" the Perico, among others.

Puppy Castello is the counterface of Gavito. His dance and his comments are so sharp and definitive as the sheet of a razor. The milonguero of Boulogne comes of an epoch in the one that was practised between men and the important thing was to extract an own style. " Now the pibes dance all the equal ones. Notice that one: Pará pibe that you are not traversing the group! ", says Puppy Castello to a young beginner who stands firm, frozen by the comment of the teacher.
And wherefrom does his style come?
Of people like Gerardo Portalea, who does not have a great change of steps, but it has an impressive cadenza. Better or worsened, my style comes from these old men of Urquiza. Well paradito, armed good, taking the compass. Not running, because now they dance you a Pugliese and seem that they dance you a D'Arienzo. Earlier, in the contests, at which they were looking for you was the compass and the elegance, more than the steps. To walk is everything.

They are the last milongueros. Those that were hardened in the clubs of Urquiza, Pompeya, Slaughter houses and Avellaneda; those that know to walk the track and conserve the dance to the floor, and those that were received in the academy of the street. Now they are rescued of the negligence, for the Ballet School and for a documentary that Bebe Kamín is filming.
click for source: lanacion

* The legendary dancer Carlos Gavito (°1942), passed away on the 1st of July 2005. He started his career as a tango dancer in 1965 in Buenos Aires. He joined the cast Forever Tango on December 1995, dancing and choreographing two classics of the show "S.V.P" and "A EVARISTO CARRIEGO", with Marcela Duran. He was a true representative of the milonguero style, very close up and passionate dance.

  Perceptions of performances are mostly seen from the point of view of the audience, reducing it to the privileged senses which are sight and hearing, reducing the act of dancing to its elegant and stylish visual image. Intensity however, relates to all senses, they are all engaged during dancing. All of them play a shining part. The silence of the close embrace allows them to enter the relationship even more brightly. It becomes a thing in itself. The key is body knowledge. In communication, feelings are explored and experienced by the own body. If one knows it, one can recognize it.

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  Visual channels only perceive visual phenomena, it is as making a split between mind and body. Moreover, it is not always certain that visual images are understood in terms of a real exchange between the performer and the viewer. Movements have symbolic significances, which have become choreographic and aesthetic components in their own right, without necessarily referring directly back to their real life sources. Maybe a visual design is attractive because one has no idea what it means. So when an audience 'watches' a performance, what is it looking at, exactly?

Click here for online Tangolessen videoclips videos tangolessons updated

  Is stage dance only an enlargement of the private dance on the dancefloor ?

  Stage dancers will tend to put appearance above partner-connection, more on performing to an audience, that is their intention. The focused intention of milongaclub or social dancers will be primarily on their partners-connection and musicality. These subtle rhythmic cadence movements are the pleasure of salondancing, but are no stage spectacle for an audience at a distance. However, since 1955 is Argentine tango also made for a stage performance with more fantasia, called "Tango por enscenario". A crucial link regarding choreography and the world of the milongas, is Antonio Todaro.

Antonio Todaro (1929-1994), innovator and milonguero, was a very influential danceteacher. At the moment when the temptation of the most intimate dance had become weak because lack of attraction, Todaro caused a renewal for the conception of the stage tango. His tango is strong, masculine, fast and powerful... not a slow, soft, romantic. Estilo Todaro is the original dancehall tangostyle in combination with stylistic choreographies. His style alternates between the social dancing at the milongas and the professional stage performances.

Antonio Todaro had a special fondness for dancing as follower and as an innovator, he had fun expanding the follower's part. He is also famous for his skilled Tango Doble Frente / double front (tango al reves - inversed/reversed) in which the woman has her back to the man and the man embraces her around the waist, so both dancers face the front/public, it is a very historical style of tango invented by the popular milongueros of the 1940s. All steps that one dances in the regular, or "derecho" position, can be danced al reves.

Todaro and Raul Bravo had a tango school for sixteen years in the 60's and 70's. Raul Bravo had a lengthy career as an exhibition tango dancer in the 1960's when he toured the world with the Mariano Mores orchestra, the technique for dynamic powerful stage movement taught by Todaro is visible in the dancing of Raul Bravo. At the beginning of the 90's, Miguel Angel Zotto and Milena Plebs led the first world wide changes. When they reconstructed elements of the popular dancestyle in their spectacle Tango x 2, they revealed the wealth of the world of the milonga to eyes of the public. Then, the classes of Antonio Todaro, with whom Zotto and Plebs had made their punctilious stylistic work, began to fill with new customers.

Today, Todaro's mark is world-famous and the roots of Tango Nuevo are Todaro. It goes through his pupils Miguel Angel Zotto, Milena Plebs, Roberto Herrera, Vanina Bisousand and others in the show Tango por dos. Alejandra Mantinian and Gustavo Russo took likewise instruction with him. Dancers of the today's generation (Gustavo Naveira, Pablo Veron, Fabian Salas, Sebastian Arce and Chicho) are directly or indirectly inspired by him.


  Another story. Argentine tango, milonga and tangovals are examples of irrational dancing, improvising creativity. This character was changed dramatically in Paris in the 1930's, where the dance was combined with the proud torso of the other ballroom dances, and given a staccato action. It moved the visual emphasis to the torso and head, which puts the bodycenter higher. This is a characteristic of dances coming from Western Europe, and is a heritage of the origin of dancing in the royal courts of Europe, like a symbol of higher education. But in Argentine tango the body energy-center lies lower. A little downwards pressure in the hips, makes the knees bend more and gives a more centered body axes, a sneaking way of walking. This less royal way of moving is related to knifefighting, which is a fast, fluid and dangerous affair. To master this most lethal of martial arts demands self-discipline, physical sacrifice and years of intensive training. The experienced knife fighter will easily see an opening and go in for the kill without being countered.

  The socialclub dancer's skill is to know how to choose the most effective move at the right moment, optimize the energy available at that occurrence, as well as turn the hints offered by the partner into an unique, unusual personal dialogue. The interactive nature of pair dance gives lots of opportunity for partners to subtly affect and kill each other. This means that there is a 3th beat-pattern dimension. Underneath the "quick quick quick"-traspiésteps and the living pulse of the music, grows a natural dialogue of rhythm in the choreographic couple's dance interaction, which is based on the opposition of characters, between what is inside you and what is inside your partner. It's a face-to-face engagement. When two people dance together, what they do affects each other in a profound and ongoing way. A dialogue exposes, maybe something of a courtship “dance” rhythm, the bottomline is chemistry.

  The more a dancer has a greater response variability, interactive competence and higher sensitive attention towards the partner during the interaction, making him or her feel exclusive in the game, the more the whole body is involved in the rhythmic structuring of tango. The level of indirectness, distance, depends mostly on the amount of feedback one is getting from the partner. In this, the woman has more fatale impact and control then the leading man. The woman can activate a series of “body signals”, bit by bit, like a soft laugh or singing, perhaps coming closer, which ignite the curiosity of the man thus lightning him up, if she wants. To be effective, the leader must also involve a degree of flexibility, improvising, that of being able to harmonize and synchronize with the partner. Every move is according to the partner’s response. The main goal, the know why, is to build an intriguing bond with the partner, reaching a genuine connection while dancing.

Tango-E-Vita, multilingual Belgian website which focuses on the many different dimensions of performing and experiencing Argentine Tango Dance as a living, ongoing event. Online multimedia such as instructional video-clips on guiding technique and views of shows. Articles in English, Dutch and other languages, with information and thoughts on the manner and quality of couple dancing and, regarding the mind-body relation and the act of exploring non-verbal communication, the powerful contemporary value of it. A special attention for multiple perspectives on gender, social class differences and mentality changes in the history of Tango Argentino.

Partly Translations - Scroll for Sp/ Fr/ German/ Port :
Carlos Gavito y Puppy Castello, los últimos milongueros. Los que se foguearon en los clubes de Urquiza, Pompeya, Mataderos y Avellaneda; los que saben caminar la pista y conservan el baile al piso, y los que se recibieron en la academia de la calle. Ahora son rescatados del olvido, por el Ballet Escuela y por un documental que está filmando Bebe Kamín.

Gavito es un reconocido milonguero y una especie de filósofo zen del baile, que se pasó más de la mitad de su vida buscando ese momento de iluminación en la danza.
" El secreto del baile está en ese instante de improvisación que se da entre paso y paso. Es hacer posible lo imposible: bailar el silencio ", Lo primero que hay que hacer para aprender a bailar es saber escuchar la música. Escuchar "Nocturna", de Julián Plaza, es como escuchar la calle Corrientes de noche. Es increíble cómo escuchás los ruidos y los bocinazos. Todo eso tiene que estar cuando bailás.
"Lo importante es saber para qué queremos bailar. Bailamos una soledad que tenemos dentro de nosotros y no la podemos ocupar con nada. Ese vacío al que le ponemos movimiento es el tango."

Puppy Castello: Caminar es todo.

More collected notes :

Susana Miller:

Two styles of Argentine tango, performance and milonguero, bring about a controversy in the dance community. Some attribute a false dichotomy between these styles. False because, in relity, they are complimentary. In a certain aspect, performance tango or Buehnentangos and milonguero tango are two sides of the same coin.
The Milonguero, or "close embrace" style is danced in the crowded clubs of Buenos Aires. It evolved to compensate for large numbers of couples dancing in limited space. The Milonguero style is a rich and complex form of body signals and incorporates deep respect for the music and its varied rhythms. The result is a form of Tango that allows for simplicity of steps while encouraging a natural connection between the dancers. 
However, tango is known throughout the world because of performance tango. The beauty and splendor of its figures are spread by TV and on the stages of theaters across great distances to far away places. In this tango the couple separates in order to execute complicated figures and steps that have more visual appeal. The separate because it would be difficult to see the "closed" tango in a large theater of 500 or more people. The body work, particularly the leg motions, would not engender great interest. In the performance tango the steps are based on milonguero style, but are enlarged and embellished, and become choreographies that cross the stage diagonally, creating displays and making full use of the ample space available. The tango is known throughout the world thanks to the artists, very fine and expert dancers, and thanks to their inspiration and the hours of daily work that they devoted to their talent. Thus, the tango was saved from remaining an exotic popular dance of a remote country. The far away Buenos Aires brought the heart of its culture near the heart of the world.
However, the origin of tango was in the salon, where it still lives. This tango relates to the passion which is awakened and grows within the couple, including a specific manner of manipulating the space, and a special combination of rhythmic beats. This is what the people who come from other lands discover in Buenos Aires; another tango. Then they understand that the true place of performance tango is on the stag. This is why the best performance dancers always go to the salon, to immerse themselves in its foundation, to invigorate their choreographies and enrich them with the spontaneity of the salon. After all, for the choreography to be thrilling and exciting, it must not appear to be rehearsed. Instead, it must translate the spontaneity and heat of the salon.
In the salon the couple dances for their own enjoyment, and not for show. The steps are a method to circulate within the space, which is very limited. It is a "closed" tango, with erratic figures that vary within the necessities imposed by the place. The milongueros can dance on four tiles, one tile, or even in place, while preserving, with great passion, the rhythm and contact with the other body, with a mixture of relaxation and tension both physical and emotional. The man offers his musical consciousness to the woman, and she follows him as if she was his shirt. Her creativity flows through her interpretation of the manner of enjoying in her body, and giving back what the man proposes.
Anyway, this explanation is ineffable, and the emotion of the "salon" is non-transferable. It's only verifiable with that wink that characterizes all communities that share a passion a little secretively. The beauty of this style is its simplicity, the great energy that flows on the dance floor. The couples are as in a trance, in a kind of "beyond consciousness". The body language is extremely rich. The feelings give meaning to the steps and to the movements of the bodies.
The vocabulary that this dancing elite communicates with permits a view, a gaze at the meaning of this dance: "to walk the tango". "apilarse" 1, "to sleep the woman", "to move her", "to dance her".
The performance must have spectacularity, but it needs the "salon" as inspiration because otherwise it would be showing something that does not exist. The "salon" also needs the performance tango to disseminate itself and transmit itself to other generation. But even though everyone can dance "salon" not all of us can dance "performance". Sooner or later, anyone who intends to will learn the "salon" tango, which is something feasible and more near to the expectations of those who begin to take classes.
The people are a solitary community which seeks love, to love and be loved. The embrace of the tango, la franela 2, the excitement it contains, are an emulation of love, a relief for the soul and an act in which the man and the woman tell each other without reservation their joy and passion in an embrace.


1.     Apilar means "to stack". In this context it suggests to stack the woman on the man, and the man on the woman. It refers to the leaning posture used in this style of tango.

2.    "Franela" is a Lunfardo term that has no word in English. Literally it means "flannel", but the Lunfardo meaning is a subtle and sensual caress of the woman's body by the man's body. In tango when the man rocks the woman in place, he enjoys the feeling of her body against his. Also, a tight caminata, with the legsbrushing together is franela. "sleaze" dancing has franela, but the word "sleaze" might have a vulgar connotation not implied with "franela".

Susana Miller has probably put more people on the dance floors of Buenos Aires' milongas than any other single teacher. In a 1999 article in the Buenos Aires daily paper "Clarin," she was named one of the four most important contemporary influences in tango. Susana is internationally noted teacher of the Milonguero style of Tango.

Milonguero style is danced in a close embrace that is not altered during the dance. You both have your weight over your feet and maintain your own balance. There is body contact from the head to the waist area. I don't agree that a woman has to lean on her partner in this style. Perhaps some have come to this conclusion after observing men with extra weight around the middle dancing with slender women who need to change their body position to adjust to his shape. In order for her to maintain a straight back, she needs to bring her feet away from her partner and change the angle of her body position. But for the majority of men I dance with in Buenos Aires, this is not necessary. In fact, if you lean on some men, they may ask you to stand up and dance on your own two feet rather than leaning forward on them.
It's important to relax when you dance. I admire the wonderful calmness that milongueros have. Even on a crowded floor, they can move around and use the space well. If there is a collision, they quietly pause and wait for the space to continue without interruption. If a woman has tension in her body, he will feel it.
There are three head positions for the lady: 1) your left cheek bone to his right cheek bone (for salon style) 2) your right side of face to his right side of face (for milonguero style) 3) your nose and forehead to the right side of his face (alternate possibilty for milonguero style)
Try these positions out with a partner and notice that you can stand directly in front of your partner with your head in position #2. However, in position #1, you may be in a V position with your body in relation to his; more appropriate in salon style, but not in milonguero style.

Tangowals tangovals clip

More Collected notes

Daniel Trenner :

In the spicy night life of Buenos Aires city center, the close embrace that we foreigners have been less familiar with until lately became popular. This helps to understand why it was frowned upon in the neighborhoods where elegance implied a paper thin separation of respect between gentleman and lady. Even so, it could be that there were neighborhoods where the close style was preferred.
Exhibition tango was first developed within the warfare between different neighborhood schools. For the most part it was danced as a kind of loose warfare between different neighborhood schools, at the social dances, in breaks between the social dancing. In the fifties, Juan Carlos Copes led the development of tango for stage dancing, which culminated in Tango Argentino and modern show dancing. With this development, the tango style branched again, and the show dancers quickly broadened and evolved their vocabularies creating even more stylistic diversity.
In the modern epoch, after the return of democracy, stylistic differences in social tango still loosely exist by geography. The best known style is from the north and west, based on the style originally developed in the Devoto neighborhood by Petroleos circle. More recently popular among younger students is the close embrace style, danced mostly downtown. And, while there are certainly other styles, these two styles dominate the Argentine social scene of today.

So finally we get to names.
This is not an easy subject, tango dance history being for the most part an oral one; there have been many names.

Canyengue, refers to the late twenties and thirties neighborhood styles. Dancers tell of how the canyengue died out and the forties social style tango took hold. Then tango actually had two divisions: Salon, the walking dance, and Orillero, the one with the turns. (Styles were also identifiable by orchestra allegiance). Also, some dancers were known best for their milongas. In the forties the word milonguero was not all that flattering, as it referred to one who was addicted to the night life, never worked, and was often begging for a loan.
However, in the modern epoch Salon and Milonguero have become more interchangeable in describing the more vaguely defined styles of a now older generation. They are now allied in being contrasted to the stage fantasy tangos, inside and out of Argentina, and foreign social dance forms.
Hence, dancers from each of these two major stylistic groups in Buenos Aires today refer to what they do at their most elegant, i.e. when walking the salon as opposed to showing off figures, as either Salon or Milonguero. It is a matter of oral history. What words you use to describe what depends on who you learned from first. But history marches on, and the meaning of these words seems to be diverging again.
The modern proponents of the style from the North West are all first or second generation followers of the early group led by Petroleo. This group includes the social dancers, Fino and Miguel Balmeceda (passed on), and Juan Bruno and Mingo Pugliese (living). The fantasy artists including Todaro and Virulazo (both passed away), many performers still working from the Copes generation and many important youngsters. They all seem to be most comfortable calling the root of what they do Salon Tango, although Lampazo, for example, still uses Milonguero to describe this style, while Juan Bruno continues to insist on dividing this style into Salon and Orillero styles.
Then along came Pedro Rusconi, "Tete" (the first proponent of the close embrace to arise to prominence as a teacher) and Susana Miller, who has coaxed several other milongueros of this style to teach with her. They all would be comfortable with salon as the label for their style, but most people in Buenos Aires are calling it milonguero style.
So, for the most part, the salon and orillero styles of Devoto have become combined into salon style tango. The closer embrace style, which went untaught for longer, has taken milonguero style tango by default.
Nobody yet is talking about the style of the south or of the neighborhoods ringing the capital, where the younger Argentines often go on their own spelunking expeditions. One thing that I am sure of is that these neighborhoods offer fertile ground for further explorations in Buenos Aires.
As for myself, while I have been attracted to all these distinct "styles" of tango as I've seen them danced in Buenos Aires, I have not yet formed personal preferences for any of them. I didn't even start noticing close embrace, "Milonguero", style until I'd been in Buenos Aires for a while. It took several years to get past being fascinated with the steps, which were my first draw to the dance. The dancers who were doing less footwork were uninteresting to me and I just didn't see them.
Then, years of milonguero advice to feel the dance, not just learn steps began to take effect. I started to notice the dancers for how they stood, embraced and felt the music. It isn't like I didn't know about these things before, I just didn't see them even though they were right in front of me.

I awakened when I saw Tete dance.
I watched him for two years without ever being able to steal a single step or copy his style, but with great envy for his ability to express the tango feeling, sensuality and music. He could do this with his partner Maria, Mingo's wife Ester, who is a mistress of the other style, and a plethora of young tango starlets.
Two years ago Tete began to teach, albeit with all the pedagogical glitches of a beginner teacher, and I finally had a chance to get into it. Here was a style that challenged from the inside out. If I couldn't make heart-to-heart contact I couldn't dance.
As I made my first breakthroughs I started to gain a much deeper understanding of what I call tango trance, that is the state in which one dances a set at the milonga in a timeless space. Becoming one with the music and my partner was no longer an abstract, intellectual concept to be related somehow to my footwork. The music in its simplest syncopation, came into focus as the basis for my connection with my partner.
After that experience in milonguero style my other tangos have also improved. My "salon tango" is ever richer as I learn to stand tall and make elegant my footwork and musicality. My "Orillero tango" keeps offering more and more complexity and variation as I improve my strength, agility, and concentration. It is also easier to try the vintage canyengue styles and, several distinctive versions of milonga. Most importantly, I am winning the sensual attention of the good dancers I partner.

Tango-E-Vita, multilingual Belgian website which focuses on the many different dimensions of performing and experiencing Argentine Tango Dance as a living, ongoing event. Online multimedia such as instructional video-clips on guiding technique and views of shows. Articles in English, Dutch and other languages, with information and thoughts on the manner and quality of couple dancing and, regarding the mind-body relation and the act of exploring non-verbal communication, the powerful contemporary value of it. A special attention for multiple perspectives on gender, social class differences and mentality changes in the history of Tango Argentino.

CANYENGUE - danza canalla
Sylvie Delisle y Boguslaw Dygasiewicz

Según Martha Antón y Luis Grondona, bailarines y profesores de tango de Buenos Aires, el canyengue "Es la esencie pura de los principios del tango. Sus orígenes se remontan al 1900. Su significado en afro es "caminar cadencioso". El canyengue contiene el abrazo de origen. Su andar es suave, picaresco, sensual y divertido. Sus movimientos son cortados, corresponden a los compases del 4 x 8 y, con el pasar de los anos se transformaron en el tango actual del 2 x 4".

Pero, como todo que se refiere al tango, hay otras explicaciones al respecto de la palabra "canyengue". Según José Gobello (autor de los libros sobre el tango) la palabra viene de los africanismos: "candombe" y "yongo". Juntas, esas dos palabras forman "canyongo" para convertirse, por las transformaciones lingüísticas, al "canyengue". Un otro autor, Eduardo Stilman, cree que esa palabra significa "menoscabado", "perezoso" en dialecto de los esclavos negros que llegaron en la región del Rio de la Plata.
Roberto Laguardia Trias va también en ese mismo sentido afirmando que "canyengue" viene de la palabra "ngengue", la cual, en una lengua africana, significa "inútil" (sin valor). Y, después de añadir del prefijo "ka" y una pequeña modificación, llegamos a la palabra "canyengue".
Podemos agregar más significaciones confirmando así los orígenes plebeyos de la palabra "canyengue" y, por ese hecho, del tango mismo. Y la lista es bastante larga. Aquí tenemos unas: "canalla", "arrabalero", de baja condición social. También: "deteriorado", "estropeado", "descangayado". Como podemos deducir, en los principios del siglo XX, el canyengue era sinónimo de alguien marginal que vivía en los barrios pobres, los arrabales. Hasta hoy mismo, esa percepción no ha desaparecido completamente. Un amigo, bailarín profesional argentino, me ha dicho que él baila el canyengue para bromear y para burlarse. Y él no ésta solo en su punto de vista.
Como se sabe, el tango nació en los conventillos de los barrios populares de Montevideo y Buenos Aires; en los arrabales, en los salas de baile de baja condición y en los bares de mala fama, en los burdeles y en la calle. Entonces, no nos sorprende que, en los principios, el tango no era apreciado, pero al contrario, denegado por la "buena sociedad". Pues, según esa clase, el tango era un baile para la plebe, para el populacho, para prostitutas y malevos. Solamente, después su pasaje triunfal, hacia los años 1907-1914, por las capitales europeas, que los salones de Buenos Aires y Montevideo habían empezado a acostumbrarse al tango. Sin embargo, los clientes de los salones rechazaban de bailarlo en la misma manera que la clase popular. Entonces, el baile "canalla" se hizo más pulido, más elegante. Y el sombrero de compadrito fue sustituido por la chistera de "Monsieur", vestido de frac, acompañado de una copa de "champagne". El baile de la clase popular ha invadido los salones, convirtiéndose en "tango-salón". La "buena sociedad" ha limpiado el tango de su aspecto canalla, bailándolo sin cortes y quebradas. Los viejos tangos fueron despojados de su ritmo "canalla". Después de todos esos afinamientos el tango fue más aceptable para los salones.

El canyengue - es la manera de bailar, pero también - la manera de tocar la música, que consiste de golpear las cuerdas del instrumento con arco y la mano. Esa manera ha sido inventada por el contrabajista de la orquesta de Roberto Firpo, Leopoldo Thompson. Y en los varios tangos tocados por esa orquesta se puede distinguir esas fiorituras. También se puede encontrarlos en las interpretaciones de algunas otras orquestas, como por ejemplo: Julio De Caro, Osvaldo Fresedo, Juan Bautista Guido, Francisco Canaro, Edgardo Donato... La música tiene el ritmo sostenido, regular y bien pronunciado. Las frases musicales son, generalmente, bien definidas y se prestan perfectamente a la ejecución de diferentes pasos. Los bailarines se tienen bien "pegados", uno al otro. El principio del tango que dice que dos personas hacen una, es aún más verdadero en el canyengue; los dos cuerpos, salvo excepciones, no se separan. Las orillas de los bailarines están plegadas (lo más bajo posible), la mujer se inclina hacia el hombre y se apoya sobre él, pero sin colgarse sobre su cuello. Gracias a esa postura los pies están alejados y los bailarines forman una especie de pirámide. El baile está compuesto de los pasos relativamente simples, habitualmente cortos, repetitivos, bien definidos, regulares y rítmicos. En esa manera de abrazarse y de bailar se puede adivinar los orígenes picarescos del tango. Sí, tenemos que admitirlo que la manera de bailar el canyengue no es muy elegante, pero es tunante, especial y divertida. Como se puede ver, su manera de bailar se distingue de los otros estilos (tango-salón, milonguero o tango-espectáculo) por su postura, su abrazo y su manera de caminar. Es un estilo bien particular quien necesita un cierto esfuerzo físico (ante todo en los principios del aprendizaje) por el hecho que las piernas están plegadas y que hay una contorsión de los cuerpos de los bailarines, especialmente de la mujer.

Tango-E-Vita, multilingual Belgian website which focuses on the many different dimensions of performing and experiencing Argentine Tango Dance as a living, ongoing event. Online multimedia such as instructional video-clips on guiding technique and views of shows. Articles in English, Dutch and other languages, with information and thoughts on the manner and quality of couple dancing and, regarding the mind-body relation and the act of exploring non-verbal communication, the powerful contemporary value of it. A special attention for multiple perspectives on gender, social class differences and mentality changes in the history of Tango Argentino.

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