cover image Milongas


Edgardo Cozarinsky, trans. from the Spanish by Valerie Miles. Archipelago, $18 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-953861-10-8

Through wry anecdote and masterful observation, Argentine writer and film director Cozarinsky (Urban Voodoo) unspools the history of tango and its cultural influence across the globe. To the uninitiated, tango music and tango dance can seem interchangeable; but with this exploration of milongas, or tango gatherings, Cozarinsky makes a distinction and focuses on “the ways the dance is staged: the scenes, the rituals, and above all else, the characters.” With the companionable tenor of a humorous, well-informed raconteur, he traces tango dancing’s rise from the “slum yard bars of its origins” to the “nights of wild abandon” it’s brought to dance halls around the world, transporting readers from Argentina to England, Poland, and France. Both a wily spectator and avid participant, he sprinkles in moments of tango comedy—for instance, recounting how, at a milonga in Krakow, he invited a woman he assumed was a tango student to dance, only to be “flabbergasted by her expertise.” While these immersive snapshots are tantalizing, equally impressive is the research, notably demonstrated in his storied history of tango in Paris, where a couple once won a dance tournament “after dancing seventy-two tangos straight without collapsing.” Dance enthusiasts will find much to treasure. (Nov.)