Tag Archives: Tango

Comical Compliments x 2

We have been struggling a great deal with a big faux-pas here in Buenos Aires.  We do not enjoy dancing in the milongas.  Yes, everyone take a moment to gasp and shake their head in disgust.  We definitely didn’t see that one coming ourselves.*

Here is a brief overview of our reasons.

Both of us:

1) don’t enjoy having to sit apart in order to dance with other people – we miss out on enjoying each others’ company

2) we don’t like the lack of space to dance – dancing Tango in busy downtown milongas is akin to shuffling forward in a grocery line (there is a contradiction in the fact that the walk is one of the most important elements of Tango given that there is NO space to take one normal sized step in a milonga)

K:

1) has not been impressed with the level of dancing (we were both convinced this would not be an issue here, but it is)

2) although she may enjoy some wonderful dances with some wonderful dancers, she does not care if she dances with any of them again (were there some exceptions? yes, but few and far between)

3) she grows tired of the same old steps and patterns found on the crowded milonga floor

Jorge:

1) hates how his dancing is dictated by space and the couples around him rather than by the music and his creative energy

2) finds it difficult to dance with the Porteñas of the milonga that are used to dancing the same old steps and patterns found on the crowded milonga floor because they assume the steps rather than follow

This last point leads to the title of this post.  K received the most comical compliment from two different men on the same night.  In Castellano, she was told by surprised men, “You follow everything!” This compliment really shines light on the difficulties Jorge has with the dancing of the Porteñas.  Meanwhile K was flattered but couldn’t help laugh to herself.  Isn’t she supposed follow everything!?

*As a post-script: We learned to love dancing in the milongas once our Tango movement became appropriate for crowded milongas AND once we unlearned/released the muscle-leading/following we were accustomed to.

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The 2-Week BA Adventure

Don’t get us wrong, we are not insulting people’s desire to Tango in Buenos Aires.  We are not insulting the fact that two weeks is the longest amount of time one can manage to spend here.  However…

There are exceptions, but what Tango dancer believes that coming here for two or three weeks is going to further their knowledge of the dance (especially if this is their first time here)?  Two to three weeks of dancing at milongas, and taking group lessons and private lessons cannot even begin to scratch the surface of what Tango is here. Although, so many people come here with no intention of even trying to learn a thing.  They are blissfully happy to continue their North American version of tango – completely free of the culture that makes up this dance.

We have been here two months now.  It took us a full month just to figure out which milongas and classes we enjoy and this past month has only begun to alter (although quite dramatically) our Tango.  Even after having this wonderful opportunity to spend eight months here, we don’t believe we would ever return for anything less than four weeks.  We simply don’t see the point.  Then again, we are travellers-at-heart and we are not very big fans of any 2-week holidays.


Tango in Buenos Aires (Part I)

We arrived in Buenos Aires at the beginning of the month with nasty colds. Scratch that plan of diving into Argentina’s tango culture, we were diving straight into bed every day for a week. Once we began feeling good enough to venture outdoors, we visited one of the popular milongas… just to see. The sight of the floor and the sound of tango had us running back home to get ourselves ready for our first night of dancing tango. And so began our immersion into Argentine Tango.

With almost 6 months of tango ahead of us, losing one week to a cold wasn’t too devastating, but we are aware that we need all the time we have to find the milongas we like on any given day, break into those milongas, find dancers/teachers we might be interested in learning from, and learning from those teachers. Some days six months feels like it will last forever, but most days… most days it feels like it will never be enough time.

We are thoroughly enjoying Buenos Aires. It is a beautifully ugly city that has us on our toes at all times. We’re either avoiding being hit by cars, jumping off buses or trains while still moving, or trying not to be ripped off by the locals.  We are loving every minute of this experience. For this reason, we are going to start with the one big negative we have that we just read about on Tango Trails. Then we’ll move on. We think it’s a good thing to point out so other foreigners will be aware if and when they visit the city.

Negative Stuff – The Rip Offs

We have been ripped off or almost ripped off twice since we’ve been here (and probably more times that we weren’t aware of). Both times by waiters at two different milongas. The first time, the waitress charged us 9 pesos per coffee (at most, they are usually 5 pesos each). K. called the waitress on it, but the waitress stuck to her guns and K. was too flabbergasted to fight her on it more. Now we are little more experienced and we know we should have asked to see the menu or asked the organizer about it. Although, we witnessed the organizer tell two foreigners that the milonga cost 10 pesos, but when the organizer saw that they came with 12 pesos each from their tour operators, the milonga was all of a sudden 12 pesos!? And let us say that this organizer was the sweetest person ever!

Rip off number two almost happened again at another milonga. We asked how much our empanadas and water were, knowing that it was 18 pesos, but the waiter said 28!? Right away we said, “nooooo” and we said we had only had one water (even with the extra water, it would have been 24 pesos)… It’s really sad, it’s like a bad stereotype that the Argentineans will cheat and steal from you (the foreigner) if and when they can. It’s so frustrating because then you don’t even want to tip them (even though they gave you good service). However, we do end up tipping them because we know we’ll go back and we want to have good service again. Now we know we have to always be aware of the cost of everything when we order and what we order… It really isn’t good when you feel like you can’t trust anyone here.

Good stuff in Part II coming soon.