Although Tango has to thank professional dancers for its renown popularity, the old milongueros represent the essence of social Tango and the link between the golden age and modern times. Some of them have become very popular, and either performed in the Buenos Aires milongas or had their own Tango academy. It is very possible that in the golden age of Tango there were many milongueros that we have never heard of.
Listening to the old milongueros
Few years ago Monica Paz (a milonguera and Tango teacher from Buenos Aires) interviewed many old milongueros. She broadcasted her interviews in a youtube channel, practimilonguero. In most interviews it is possible to understand more how was Tango before and how people lived it. A common theme is the respect of the codigos (codes) in the old time compared to nowadays.
The old milongueros: the artisans of Tango
Today most people fall in love with Tango because of its choreography. They see a way to express themselves and their artistic side through Tango. In one of the practimilonguero videos, there is an interesting interview with Osvaldo Natucci, who did not live the Golden age of tango but has a great knowledge about Tango and its history. He expresses a very interesting point of view about the three “A” in Tango. The amateurs, the artisans and the artist. See the interview on youtube. The old milongueros are still there to remind us this difference between amateur and artisans on one side, and artists on the other side.
Tango is a feeling, not just a dance
Contrary to the new generation, they got closed to the dance because of the music and every single Tango is imprinted in their memory. When you see an old milonguero dancing, you realise that he is not just trying to express himself through Tango, but to express that Tango through himself. This does not mean that these amazing artisans don’t have technical skills. On the contrary, most of the steps that nowadays professional dancers have brought to a high level of complexity and stylistic perfection, were created by the old milongueros.
The musicality of the old milongueros
What really makes the difference between a good milonguero and a great one, is the musicality. Watching these old milongueros dancing can teach a lot on musicality, as it is quite evident that they are not trying to run after every note of a Tango, but instead they filter the music through their head and their heart, and then transmit it to their feet. As they have learnt to dance in milongas, most people who are new to Tango often cannot see the subtleness and beauty of two old milongueros dancing together, as they seldom perform steps of great visual impact.
The codes of the milonga, dancing for each others
Nowadays the difference between tango show and social Tango is a very grey area, while previously dancing in a milonga required to follow precise codes of behaviour, the most important of which was the respect of the ronda and of the other dancers. But regardless of the steps they perform, the old milongueros always listen to both the partner and the music, they try to do everything together and they think of nothing else than each other and the music.
Learning from the old milongueros
Nowadays there are very few old milongueros still alive, and almost none that lived Tango during the Golden Age. In the milongas of Buenos Aires it is still possible to meet El Chino Perico, El Flaco Dani, Cacho Dante and other less famous, who keeps going to their favourite milonga. Some of the greatest milongueros and milongueras are:
El Tete Rusconi
Osvaldo y Coca
El Chino Perico
El Flaco Dani
Pocho Carreras y Nélida Fernando (Nellie)
Adela la Gallega
Carlos Alberto Anzuate