Quite a few deep and meaningful thoughts are being written about Argentine tango and life in the milongas. To my knowledge, room temperature has never been one of them. I am pleased to say that this terrible discrepancy ends right here. In this series of blog posts, from the perspective of the milonga organiser, I intend to uncover the ingredients that create the ‘Ideal Milonga’. Optimal room temperature and humidity are essential for a good milonga experience. Too hot, you get a laid-back, humid atmosphere. Too cold, you get no atmosphere at all…
Any discussion involving room temperature is incomplete without mentioning a) sweat and b) human body heat. I happen to be an expert on both topics. For many years, my family has identified me as the Secret Reason for Global Warming. Once, on a trip to Mongolia, while sleeping on a hillside in a raging storm, my body was used as the windbreaker for a group of expeditioners. Everyone who sought shelter behind me enjoyed a great night’s sleep. On camping hikes, during cold nights in a tent, my body keeps a family of four, and hundreds of hungry insects, perfectly happy. What would be useful during Mongolian nights, is not helping me to enjoy tango during hot, humid summers, nor centrally heated, winter milonga nights.
If you are one of those dancers who doesn’t seem to sweat and looks perfectly composed under all circumstances, then, we have probably never met. I tend to avoid your kind. It is just too intimidating and embarrassing. It’s like dancing with Galadriel, the mightiest Elf queen from Lord of the Rings. I need earthly creatures, with hot cheeks, desperately in need of a fan after each tanda. Like most tango dancers, I am not bothered by a little exchange of salty fluids during the course of an evening. A bit of humidity never hurt anyone, and hey, once you start sweating as a group, there is a point where most people stop caring about it. It only becomes unbearable, when, right in the middle of some dramatic pasada, you start dripping on the follower. As a result, the floor becomes harder on the knees. Clearly, the milonga organiser has failed in keeping the temperature below 22 degrees Celsius.
If the room is too cold, on the other hand, the ladies generally feel it and complain. The floor remains very dry and slippery and people tell you about it. A general mood of frustration creeps in, which in turn, may make the boys grab an extra beer and start discussing soccer rather than dancing. Anything under 18 degrees Celsius will cause this. But what about temperature developing during the evening? A group of twenty people exercising is like putting a gas heater in the middle of the milonga. On average, we welcome between fifty or sixty dancers every Tuesday, that is three gas heaters. In normal Dutch-weather circumstances, the temperature then goes up to 24 degrees or higher, without counter measures. As you can clearly see, before becoming the Hottest milonga in town, you might have to work on being the Coolest.