A class, a practica, a milonga: two nights in Melbourne


Within hours of arriving, I was on my way to my first tango class since I started this trip. Melbourne, like Sydney, seems to have tango events nearly every night of the week and I wanted to make the most of the 48 hours that I had there.

The class had just started when I arrived on the first floor of the Exford Hotel bar. A group of about 20 people were gathered in a circle doing an exercise to practise dissociation, i.e. moving one part of the body independently from the other, in this case, the torso and the hips.

This warm up exercise was to prepare for the ochos which we practised in couples for the rest of the lesson, varying between linear and circular ochos. The group was balanced between leaders and followers and the teachers encouraged us to change partners after every tango so it was easy to get to know people.

The teachers Doni and Renee put a lot of emphasis on communication and connection with the partner, rather than mechanically executing the steps of the figure.

The lesson was followed by a practica and about half of the students stayed for that, with some people arriving especially for the practica. It wasn’t really a guided practica, but Doni and Renee were at hand in case of questions.

It was a friendly, relaxed crowd, mostly more experienced dancers and very welcoming to newcomers. Maybe because this was a practica rather than a milonga?


Which way to the next milonga?

The next night, I went to Bella Union, located within the historic Trades Hall. This is a performance space and bar which runs concerts, plays and, once or twice a month, a milonga.

I arrived at the start of the milonga and there were just a few people, who obviously knew each other. I sat down, changed my shoes and settled down, expecting to spend the evening watching others dancing. Oh well. I had danced a fair bit the previous night. And it wouldn’t be the first time. Anyway, no one else was dancing yet. I was surprised when a few minutes later I was invited to dance and so we, so to speak, opened the milonga.

While I didn’t dance as much as the previous evening (I didn’t see anyone from the practica there, it seemed to be a different crowd), I definitely danced more than at the two events I went to in Sydney. Of those I danced with, quite a few seemed to be inviting me to dance because they hadn’t seen me there before. They were curious to know where I was from, how I’d heard about the milonga and where else I’d danced during my trip. I really appreciated that and it showed me that even in a city with an active and large tango scene, it’s possible to get some dances as a newcomer!


Practical information: I took the Tango 2 Class, which takes place every Monday at 8pm on the first floor of the Exford Hotel. There is a beginners class at 7pm and a free introduction class at 6:30pm. I paid 15 AUD for the class; the practica goes from 9pm to around 10:30pm and costs 5 AUD. They also do classes on Tuesday and Thursdays, more info here.
The milonga at Bella Union takes place on Tuesdays, once or twice a month. Entry costs 10 AUD. Enter via Lygon Street. Check on the Melbourne tango calendar or here for the latest information, also for tango events on other days of the week.

Do you have tips for dancing tango in Melbourne? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!


All photos are mine except for the one of the milonga which is from Melbourne Practica Inc: http://melbournepractica.org/event/mpg-milonga-bella-union-6

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