Encuentro is something other than a marathon, festival or milonga…
In this sort of meeting, some 100-200 people take part. It is often a sequence of several milongas with breaks, in the same location, taking place over a weekend.
Music is taken care of by the best DJs who specialise in playing at encuentros. People from all over the world take part, liking to spend their time in this fashion; cultivating good manners and sticking to pre-agreed customs.
Encuenteros are characterised by holding your partner extremely close, using the mirada/cabaceo code, and the aim is to create a friendly shared space between those dancing (a good connection between pairs and smooth movement on the dance floor). While dancing, we are humble, try to avoid showing off, no showboating. We meet in order to create a shared dance and space – not to be gawked at.
This sort of meeting is a very traditional milonga, arising out of the milonga atmosphere from Buenos Aires.
- during this sort of meeting/milonga, the space is divided into sections for ladies/following and gentlemen/hereby leading, and often there is also a section for couples.
- Asking to dance takes place through cabaceo/looking, a successful outcome being a meeting on the dance floor.
- The gaze cannot be forceful or ‘overlong’, so as to allow refusal.
- The person being asked to dance always has a choice: to dance/not to dance and those asking must be sensitive to this.
- Not making eye contact doesn’t mean the invitation has not been noticed, but can – and often is – a sign of a lack of desire to engage a) for this specific round b) with this specific partner c) at this actual moment.
- After a while, a cabaceo can be repeated with the same person. A repeated lack of response from her should encourage the dancer asking to seek a different partner.
- During the encuentro, the rule is that we thank one another for the dance and leave the dance floor after each round.
The way in which we join the dancing circle is very important, especially once other couples are already there. A partner leading his lady to the dance floor has the duty to make eye contact with a partner who is dancing and approaching, in order for them to “approve” and allow the joining in of the new pair.
Emotions and… dance style
it is completely obvious that maintaining good manners during possible collisions is essential. The experience of those taking part in the encuentro and their level of ability should limit such situations, they can however take place, seeing as there is always a margin of unpredictability in such events.
It is important to think how we will deal with such situations. Our abilities are not only defined by our dancing steps, but also ability not to take offence and relations with less capable persons.
There is only the one style of dance during the encuentro – Europeans call it milonguero. This isn’t in any way connected with that we think about when we talk about milonguero as a specific sort of dance.
What is certain during our meeting is the need to have certain basic elements, such as – balance, centring, embrace, contact, musicality. You have these, correct?
There is no strict dress code and yet, sensing the spirit of the tango, a certain celebration of time spent together, taking into consideration a cultural approach to behaviours between men and women, we are more likely to dress with remarkable elegance, rather than totally at random. Our appearance, so freely defined in our age, here is a sign of mutual respect.
Encuentro means meeting. And this is how it should be treated by people who love this dance, this music, but also – those who like other people. This is important, seeing as we have ahead of us several shared days and nights – in order to together celebrate the tango.