This page is a first attempt in defining terms that can and should not be defined – yet need to be in order to know what people are talking about.
Please help to improve!
Be aware that it’s difficult to fit the correct names on every event. There has been so many different concepts as there are events, but this terminology is an attempt at making some general distinctions. We hope that people will understand the differences and also try to use the terms in a similar fashion, just so people will find better ways of communication.
Tango Marathons are usually events from friday night to sunday afternoon with many hours of dancing (but there is usually a few hours of no-music break so everyone can have a chance to sleep).
There are no workshops, no shows or live music. Instead multiple DJs are invited to provide excellent music selections to the dancers.
Marathons are closed events with a guest list that aims to be equal in followers and leaders; some say a quota of up to 4% more leaders works best.
Many marathons aim at internationally travelling dancers of a high level who are coming to dance well, much, and meet their friends.
Often these marathons are “full packages”, where there’s brunch and dinner included in one fee.
The most prominent Milonga Weekend is El Corte’s Chained Salon: basically it’s an event where multiple milongas (i.e. tango dance events with beginning and end, which means often different people, too) are aligned in a way that enables many dancing hours during a weekend; usually many more than regular milongas would offer in a city or region.
Milonga Weekends are open events: there is no required pre-registration, and thus there is no planned gender balance.
In some analogy Buenos Aires could be called a Permanent Milonga Series.
Festivals are usually big events that focus around celebrating tango with live music, shows of multiple maestros – as well as focusing on learning tango in workshops by these maestros. There usually are night-time milongas where the shows and live music take place, and these milongas are more formal and “up dressed” in character.
In recent years many festivals have expanded to also have afternoon tango cafés, as well as “afterparties” to accomodate those who are coming more for the dancing and less for the maestros. In general these cafés and afterparties are less formal than the “grand milongas”.
Festivalitos are the smaller sisters to the Festivals: usually not as big, not as international, or just not as many maestros.
a.k.a. Encuentro Milongueros
Are basically “Marathons” in most ways (closed, pre-registration, leader/follower balance). It’s just a different mind-set, somewhat other people, and….:
Here’s a quote from Melina Sedo:
…Tango events for Milongueros who cherish the “Abrazo” to traditional music. Although some of these events also offer classes and short, improvised demos, the focus is on social dancing. The etiquette of invitation by Mirada & Cabeceo plays an important role as does the respectful interaction of all dancers on the dancefloor. These are traditional Milongas and no place for people who want to show off their newest Sentadas, Montadas and Ganchos. Please stay away, if you don’t like dancing in a close embrace!