No, Milonga is NOT a Fast Tango.
It is true that most milongas average faster than most Tangos. It is also true that we can use some similar step combinations in both dances.
But Tango and Milonga are not variations of the same dance - they are different dances, with different music, and they are danced with different techniques.
The first difference is in posture and connection - milonga is danced closer, and somewhat tighter. While we do not crush our partner to our chest, there is a less flexible connection in milonga,which is necessary to convey the lead of the faster steps and rhythm changes. Often the man places his hand lower on the woman's back to better transmit the rapid weight changes. Another way to say it is that in Tango the emphasis is on conversation - in Milonga the emphasis is on unification because there is no time for conversation.
The second difference - in milonga we dance ON the beat. In Tango we dance THROUGH the beats.
We use a different technique when stepping on rather than through the beat. In Milonga, we go to the foot. In Tango we travel across the foot. Milonga thus has a much more staccato look to it. In tango the foot glides across the floor in an extension. In milonga we dance much more from foot to foot. In Tango we smoothly pass the axis to the front of our foot - in milonga the axis goes more from split weight to split weight.
The third difference - Milonga is a 2 beat dance, while Tango is a 4 beat dance. In Tango our basic rhythm steps on every other beat. In milonga we step on every beat. We will frequently put two steps on one beat in milonga - 1&2, step-step-step, but almost never one step on two beats - 1-3, step and step. Thus steps that require 2 beats to perform - ochos for example, which use one beat for the step and one for the pivot -.are not milonga steps, unless you do them without the pivot, and step on every beat.
So in milonga we generally step on every beat. This creates a somewhat different model for the follower:
- In Tango, the follower assumes she will not step without some sign from the leader that she is to step.
- In Milonga, the follower assumes she is going to step on the beat -every beat - unless the leader specifically indicates that she is not to step.
Finally, in Milonga there is a more dramatic use of the upper body. The contra body, the strut of the shoulders, are not only part of the milonga style, but also part of the lead, giving the follower cues as to where the leader wishes her to step.
If you want to dance to milonga music, take a good milonga class.and expect to take as much time learning to dance milonga as you would take to learn any other new dance.