Orillero and Villa Urquiza – what is it?

090Following on from my last posting where I described the different styles and rhythms of Tango, I briefly mentioned the styles of ‘Orillero’ and ‘Villa Urquiza’.

There seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding about these styles, so I decided to have a chat to Leo, who, although he dances all the styles of Tango, describes himself as dancing ‘Orillero’.

As I described in my last posting, you have the 2 main styles of ‘Milonguero’ and ‘Tango Salon’. Remember, these are ‘styles’ of Argentine Tango. The Milonguero style was popular and danced by mainly working class people in the 1930’s/40’s. The Tango Salon style evolved when the Tango became more popular amongst the more affluent members of society.

They both use similar methods of getting around the floor, namely the Tango walk, but I think it would be fair to say that the Milonguero style gives more emphasis to bringing out the different rhythms of simple, syncopated and double time whereas the Salon style focuses more on making the lines in the walk, and, it could be said that it looks more elegant.

The complication comes when you start hearing the terms ‘Orillero’ and Villa Urquiza’, (don’t forget in Argentinian Spanish, a double ‘l’ is pronounced as a ‘j’).

The way Leo described it to me, is that in Buenos Aires, he comes from an area called Avellaneda, which is next to the port and the artist area called ‘La Boca’, which is also where the famous football team, ‘Boca Juniors’ come from.

IMG_3034Avellaneda is on the south side of the river with La Boca on the other. People on the South side of the river were locally referred to as living on the Orilla, which literally means, ‘on the shore’.

These people were all working class people and they danced Milonguero Tango. They all went to the local dance clubs or milongas in the area and consequently they had a particular style of Milonguero dancing, a bit like a regional accent. As these people came from and danced in the ‘Orilla’, the style of Milonguero they danced became known as ‘Orillero’.

If you look at a map, you can see that the river called ‘Riachuelo’ or Rio la Matanza is on the edge of the Buenos Aires district. This area was full of working class people who worked in the port. Many famous musicians and dancers came from the river districts of Pompeya, Barracas and Avellaneda including Carlos Gavito, Pepito Avellaneda and Luis Grondona.

It’s a similar situation with the style of ‘Villa Urquiza’. This is a ‘dialect’ of Tango Salon because it was danced in an area of Buenos Aires called ‘Villa Urquiza’. If you look at a map you can see the district of Villa Urquiza in the North of Buenos Aires.

So, if we remember that Argentine Tango is a language, where we have a conversation with our partner on the floor, it all makes perfect sense, that within the  ‘styles’ of Tango, you also have regional dialects, just as you do in any language!

The interesting thing is, that although many people dance the style of Milonguero, you can distinguish this regional dialect. I have seen a few people dancing from clips on You Tube and thought how they looked like Leo dancing, only to be told by him, “oh, yes, I know him, he’s one of the guys I used to go to the milongas with!”

Most Tango dancers whether they dance the Milonguero style or the Tango Salon style dance much the same, after all, it is a dance based simply on walking. However, when you see 2 people dancing essentially the same style but they still manage to look different, it may not just be a skill factor that makes the difference but simply a regional dialect!

Take a look at the video clip below of a couple that Leo thinks currently reflects the Orillero style. He says this because of the embrace, the way they walk and the use of the feet. However, don’t forget that Tango is personal, we all think we dance Tango, the style we dance or identify with comes later on in our journey! Check out the video of Alicia Pons and Luis Rojas here.

Thanks for reading!

Tracey – http://www.tango-fandango.co.uk

About Tracey Tyack-King

I'm a professional Teacher and Dancer of the improvised art form of the social Argentine Tango. Together with my partner, Leonardo Acosta, (Leo Fandango), we teach regular weekly classes under the name of Tango Fandango, mainly in the South of the UK. We also teach our own Teachers using our defined teaching methodology under the name of 'The London Argentine Tango School'. We believe passionately in the social art form of improvised Tango and dance as we teach - all our performances are improvised.
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2 Responses to Orillero and Villa Urquiza – what is it?

  1. Yes, it’s true – her footwork and musicality is beautiful to watch and makes a refreshing change. This type of dancing is not appreciated by the majority who maybe prefer to watch more choreographic movement. For me, I know how difficult this type of decoration and musicality is and I can fully appreciate her style of dancing!


  2. Cliff says:

    Really excellent example of how to dance intimate tango without all the knobs and whistles that have become so boring to watch over the years. Oh, and her footwork is wonderful! Funny, elegant, precise and cheeky! How to decorate ladies!


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