La Tanguera wrote a nice post about the number of tandas one dances (in a night, in a row, …). It was a fun piece to read after my weekend, which consisted of one 3-hour milonga packed full of dancing and one 5-hour milonga with great dances but lots of breaks in between.
I used to measure what I thought was my own progress ( or what I understood to be as how successful I was as a dancer) by how much I danced. And by this I mean how many tandas I danced a night, as well as how many successive tandas I was asked to dance with a single leader.
I am in an in-between place in my tango journey. I am past the point where I consider quantity to be the highest measure of success. Dancing quality tandas, enjoying the music, socializing with friends … these are the elements of a successful evening. But I am not yet to the point where I am highly selective; I still enjoy quite a range of leaders and styles, and will not always turn down a decent-but-not-great tanda. I still look for a good bit of dancing, although I enjoy the non-dancing parts of the evening.
Actually, the longer milonga I attended this weekend was very interesting. I was there the entire night (a consequence of coming with the DJ), so I endured the slow parts where the faces were unfamiliar and the leaders were uninspiring. But bit by bit my friends trickled in. I talked with someone I had not known much at all before. I spent quite a while getting to know very familiar faces even better. And when I look back over the night, I had some very, very enjoyable dances. The evening ended perfectly with a Di Sarli version of La Cumparsita, one with a gorgeous solo violin part.
The problem with such a long milonga is not the sitting. Sitting and talking was great! You can all laugh at the eager dancer who is learning how to enjoy socializing at milongas. No, the problem was that the energy faded. There were plenty of people there, but it was very slow to start and faded out a lot at the end. A shorter amount of time makes people converge on the milonga all together. It means that while you sit you can still watch a full dance floor with great energy. Five hours is just a bit too long for the size of our community.
But the dancing? The dancing was beautiful. A leader who listens to my breathing, who responds so beautifully to the music and to our partnership … *happy sigh* It was a good weekend.