Week eight of the Twilight Dance Series will have attendees dancing on the Santa Monica Pier with the captivating theme “Tango on the Timbers” tonight Thursday, Aug. 25 with music provided by big band Milongatron.
This “Orquesta tipica” — a Latin-American term for a band that plays popular music— will include elements of jazz, soul with horns, and percussion to energize the dance floor on the pier.
“Tango is such a tender way to communicate with people,” said Miguel Schwee lead singer of Milongatron. “Our music is a mix of classic golden age styled tangos.”
Schwee also plays a squeezebox called a “bandoneón. He said he looked forward to dance circles saying, “Let’s go to the milonga,” as tango professionals and amateurs turn up at the event.
Schwee said the word “milonga” was both a type of Argentine Tango and a term used when people gathered for a party.
Isabelle Pampillo is a dance instructor from Argentina who teaches Monday night tango classes at her studio “Isabelle’s Dance Academy” in Santa Monica. She said a common mistake of Tango dancers was when they cast their eyes away from their partner.
“Americans never look at each other,” said Pampillo. “Argentinian Tango is a communion of two people who can have an intimate experience and become one on the dance floor. American Tango is what you see on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’”
Pampillo brought her original version of the dance from Argentina and remains convinced her form of Tango is more closely related to the original Tango that was developed by rancheros in Argentina.
“Tango started in the brothels,” said Pampillo. “American Tango is more like ballroom dance. There is no intimacy.”
Professional dance instructor John Cassese holds a different opinion of Tango.
“American Tango is more fluid and less staccato,” said Cassese. “Argentinian Tango is more intricate.”
Cassese is the owner of the Dance Doctor Studios in Santa Monica and performed at “On the Timbers” during last year’s Twilight Dance Series.
“There are times you should look at your partner and times when you shouldn’t,” Cassese said. “That doesn’t mean that when you do certain moves you can’t look at each other. The choreography dictates the head styling.”
He said tango dancing “gets your endorphins flowing and is a great way to socialize.” “It’s good cardiovascular, a great stress reducer, burns calories, works the neural system, and is a lot of fun,” he said.
A dance floor etiquette exists and should be adhered to when performing the Tango, according to Amanda Glick, a dance instructor from Arthur Murray Dance Studios.
“The gentleman should escort the lady onto the floor,” said Glick. “If a lady refuses the dance with a gentleman she should wait at least one song before returning to the dance floor.”
Once the dance begins, all the dancers will travel counterclockwise on the dance floor, said Glick.
“Since tango travels, you need to make sure you continuously go with the flow of the dance floor. You don’t want to bump into anyone else.”
If dancers accidentally bump into one another they should be courteous and polite, she said.
“Don’t talk during the Tango,” said Glick. “During the Tango, it’s quiet time. When the dance is over, the gentleman will escort the lady off the floor.”
Glick advised ladies who wanted to be pulled onto the dance floor during the Tango to stand close to the edge of the dance floor and to not enter the floor until a song ends. Ladies who do not wish to dance should stay clear of the dance floor and be engaged in conversation as to not attract potential Tango partners.
Free Tango lessons will be offered at the Twilight Dance Series event by Argentinian dancers Cecilia Piccinni and Lucas Molina for the first hour of the event at 6 p.m. At 7 p.m., Milongatron will play for an hour and a quarter before taking a break before returning to play until 10 p.m.
During the break, a live DJ will keep the “milonga” moving along so the Tango dancing doesn’t stop all night long.