Milonguero and Bailarin

Milonguero, milonguera, and milongueros are Spanish words for a man, a woman, and people who frequent milongas, when connotations are dropped.

Bailarin, bailarina, bailarines are Spanish words for a male dancer, a female dancer, and dancers.

A few years ago, I was at the Club Sunderland for its popular Saturday night milonga. After a series of events, I happened to sit in front of a well-respected old milonguero. He had been dancing for 60+ years. He gave me an advice, which was “be a milonguero, not a bailarin”.

In the context of milonguero vs. bailarin, a milonguero means a person who socially dances tango at milongas and a bailarin means a person who dances tango to perform for others. Thus, his advise was to dance socially, and not to dance to perform for others.


Milongueros aim to evoke emotional reactions from their partner. Bailarines aim to evoke emotional reactions from the audience.

A milonguero’s purpose is the partner. A bailarin’s purpose is the audience.

I believe that the basis of tango dancing is the yearning for the warmth of a human being. In this regard, milongueros are more aligned with this basis than bailarines.

From time to time, bailarines forget that they are dancing for others, and the audience say “Look. They are just enjoying themselves. How beautiful.” In this moment, the bailarines have become milongueros, and emanate their satisfaction from finding the warmth from each other.