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Milonga All Night Long 

Tango has about as many casual dancers as crystal meth has casual users. In Atlanta, the community either scares people off with the fanaticism of its members' devotion to the dance, or it seduces them with tango's sensual passion, forever ruining them for the superficial sugar buzz of salsa. But as with most recreational addictions, it's usually the addicts who throw the best parties.

Angel Montero, Alan Forde and Usha Menard are definitely addicted. All three are relative newcomers to the tango, but they're about to gather a couple of hundred tango dancers from around the country for the first Atlanta Tango Social, placing our already respected local tango community on the map for traveling dancers in search of a fix.

Actually, we're already pretty well on the map among salon (or "open embrace") style tango dancers, who know Atlanta for Ronda and Manuel Patino's popular tango parties at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. The new Atlanta Tango Social is primarily (though not exclusively) aimed at those who dance milonguero (or "close embrace") style tango. And if you think I'm going to get in the middle of the heated debate over which of those two styles is the "true Argentine tango," you've never seen a tango dancer stomp her well-heeled feet.

Events in the four-day festival include several workshops for both beginning and experienced dancers, taught by internationally renowned instructors Brigitta Winkler and Tomas Howlin, and Jennifer Bratt and Robin Thomas.

Thomas, along with Robert Hauk and Ramu Pyreddy, will DJ several milongas (tango parties), including an "Alternative Music Milonga" Saturday afternoon. Sorry all you Bright Eyes fans: In this context, "alternative" means any music not specifically composed for tango that has a rhythm to which tango dancers can dance. Middle Eastern, Turkish and Greek music are common choices, though anything is fair game. Menard says she once danced tango to Eminem.

Saturday night, the truly devoted will dance an "All Night Milonga" with foot masseurs and everything, scheduled to last until 6 a.m. Sunday, followed at noon by a champagne brunch. See? Stick with the addicts; they'll show you a good time.

thomas.bell@creativeloafing.comAtlanta Tango Social is Fri.-Sun., April 8-10 at the Holiday Inn Select in Decatur, 130 Clairemont Ave. $30-$135. 404-376-6732. www.atlantatangofestival.com.

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