When I first walk into a milonga, I am always excited to be there. If it’s like our mid-week milonga, I get there partway through and stop just inside the door to watch the dance floor for a while. I look around to see who is sitting around the floor, stopping to say hello and exchange hugs and kisses as I find a place to sit down. I chat a bit, change my shoes, warm up my ankles, and usually find something to drink.
If we are near the beginning of a tanda, he nods toward the floor and we go to have a warmup set. I am always a little awkward, a little stiff during that first tanda. Sometimes I regret that he is always stuck dancing with me like this, because soon I am warm, flexible, stable … but those first few songs are always a little off-kilter. Then I am off greeting friends, finding out what is going on in my friends’ lives and how the leaders are feeling that night.
I start paying attention to where the leaders head after the tanda, so I know where to look later on. I get a better sense for how the DJ is setting things up, make note of when he will be available for a dance. I pay attention to the leader-follower balance, so often in my favor but sometimes, like last night, very nicely balanced so that I can sit and chat without pressure. I love the mid-week milonga, because it is very often well-balanced and has a great atmosphere and great attitudes – I very rarely feel pressured to dance or rushed through the night, even when there are more leaders than followers. I can sit, drink, talk, and dance as I want to with some of my favorite leaders.
At the end of the night, we all thank the DJ and say our goodnights. We promise to see each other soon. (Tomorrow at X’s house, or On Friday, I am sure, or Have a lovely trip, I will see you as soon as you get back.) We drive home, a little sleepy but glowing, trying to carry that glow until the next milonga, the next dance.