All Portenos are good dancers

Ok that is a lie but I will go into this more later.

We went to El Aranque again today but Viv is now hooked on this cabeceo thing and insisted we sit separately.

Again we were far too early and had our pick of all  the seats. I chose to sit in the middle whereas Viv sat against the wall, the theory being that she could see the whole room. From where I was I had to crank my head around to see the other women but it did leave little doubt who I was looking at. Viv was having some problems seeing across the room, but seemed to get plenty of dancing.

The standard of dancers that we danced with was variable to say the least, but the big difference here was that there is no accusations or blame. Something goes wrong, move on and do something else. I watched one guy who had been cutting it somewhat, tone right down to just about walking when dancing with a beginner.

You do, of course get the “I can teach you’s” here. We had the guy dressed like a milonguero trying for all he was worth to get Viv to hook her legs around him and dip to the floor. She was having non of it and I could hear her saying”No hablo Espanol” Then there was the guy who wanted us to come for lessons with him (four years ago, but we don’t forget) hustling a new extranjera, teaching her on the dance floor and eventually driving her away. (If you want to teach you need better people skills than this). But in general they were a nice bunch who welcomed us and made us feel at ease.

My one question is when they say “Bailen muy buen” is it because they know I am new and nervous or, do they say this to every man in order to get him to dance with them again, or (this is my prefered option) is it because I have led them well in a simple dance that they are able to follow? Although I prefer the latter choice I think it is probably the former.

I would like to make some observations here about one of the things we have heard.

“Nobody will ask you to dance unless they have seen you dance well and they know you”: Well no one had seen Viv Dance (there was no one in the room when we danced together) we were not known, Viv sat alone yet she got dances. I managed to cabeceo women with no problem, even though they did not know me. Don’t waste your money on taxi dancers go to an early milonga and learn to look people in the eye.

Three hours of this and we had had enough so we took the subte to Scalabrini (big mistake at this hour) we watched three trains go through with people trying to get on without luck. When we did get on one old dear was giving it verbal at us trying to get on, and those tying to get off. Four stops later and she was still at it, I hope for his sake she does not have a husband. We burst out eventually at Scalabrini and breathed again.

We wanted to go to 1810 for some food (or should I say Viv wanted to go to 1810) but it was too early. What a shame we had to go to Oporto instead for a Phillippe segundo ( a giant steak for sharing). Like most things here it was double the price and I wonder again how they calculate the inflation figures. It was worth it you cannot cross half the globe, the equator and the Atlantic Ocean to the home of beef and not have at least one great steak.

We did find out though what is wrong with the service here; “Que quires?” “Phillippe segundo” “si” and he disappears. “quires una menu?” ” no phillippe segundo por favor” and he went again. Then Viv said “he thinks you are asking him to come back in a second” So that is why it has always taken them so long.



Filed under Argentina, Tango

8 responses to “All Portenos are good dancers

  1. I am still frustrated at home by the lack of milongas, the in fighting and the way nobody wants to run a dance unless they can make loads of money first from a class.

    Things in the UK have improved in the year since you wrote that, Bob. New traditional class-free milongas Tango Journey, Madame Ivonne and La Milonga Conexion have joined the existing Menuda, Los Gatos de Baile, Milonga Liso (which I know you know) and probably more that I don’t know. I’ve stared a list here. The UK total is only about one tenth of BA’s, but is rising a lot faster! 🙂

  2. Pingback: New friends | The life of a frustrated Milonguero

  3. tangobob

    Hopefully you have not taken my comments on the ladies that I have danced with in the wrong way. I certainly mean no criticism, but what I am up agaist at home is ladies who are constantly told how poor is their dancing and having their confidence shattered. I hope to show that they are no different than anywhere else and that if they come here they will not look like idiots on the dance floor.
    You have me at an advantage now, I guess you recognised me from the photos, next time I will introduce myself properly.

  4. Bob Y

    I go to El Arranque to dance with some of the ladies that I’ve danced with on my visits in previous years – in fact, I sat at your table last night! The women may not be the best in the technical sense, but they are lovely people and often sing in my ear. It’s an honour to catch up with them each time, and I love dancing with Clarita – she’s in her 80s and is a beautiful dancer.
    But there are milongas and milongas in Buenos Aires. Certainly, getting dances at El Arranque without being seen first is not uncommon, but it’s a different story elswhere. It won’t happen at El Beso, and it’s unlikely to happen at La Nacional or Entre Tango y Tango for example. Having danced at a number of venues previously means that I can get on the dance floor early, but I never start looking for other partners until I’ve watched the women dance first. It requires a lot of persistence to get dances with the better dancers using the cabeceo, and then the pressure is on to make it a good one – for their sake as well as mine. And what about the men who make direct approaches to women – my partner always refuses: there’s a reason why they don’t get dances using the cabeceo.
    The more you go out as singles, the better it gets – but it requires confidence in your own ability to dance in small spaces with good navigation, and a feeling of certainty that you can give your partner a great dance. In BsAs, one of my mottos is ‘keep it simple, but make every step count’. It works!

  5. tangobob

    It’s true, they always say you will not get a dance unless you are known, that has not been our experience, although the way people at home try to put you down knocks your confidence, here they just welcome you.
    I am still frustrated at home by the lack of milongas, the in fighting and the way nobody wants to run a dance unless they can make loads of money first from a class. This is why I travel half way across the world every year, to vent my frustration. Thank you for your comments they are appreciated.

  6. Anna

    Really pleased you are getting the hang of the cabeceo and are getting dances without being known. I had always thought of the reluctance to dance with an unknown quantity as a disadvantage of dancing in Buenos Aires, that I would travel all that way to only ever dance with my close friends. Now I’d like to dance in BsA even more. Maybe we’ll get there in a couple of years, if we could persuade my parents to come along for the adventure (and the babysitting).

  7. Dieudonne Dang

    Do you still feel frustrated as the title of your Blog suggest? Having read your tango journey for awhile, I don’t read that much frustration with tango anymore, but rather the tale of someone nicely interacting with an enjoyable pursuit, just the way we should all do with life. Might it be time for a different title, as it seems that you are well on your path to becoming a Milonguero. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  8. jantango

    I love reading “The Adventures of Bob and Viv in the Milongas of Buenos Aires” with these daily reports. It’s about time for the two of you to try out the cabeceo. There was no doubt in my mind that Viv would be invited for tandas.

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