Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Just like BsAs

Not the tango.
Although I can´t complain, I´ve had some really nice tandas yesterday. So nice, actually, that I stayed much later than I had meant to; when I arrived to the métro, the entrance was already shut for the night.
I had been chatting with this fellow at the milonga, and when I was leaving, he insisted on walking me to the métro - just across the street, but the neighbourhood doesn´t have a very good reputation, and he seemed upset at the idea that I should take the métro alone at that hour - apparently Spaniards are gentlemen, and courtesy towards women ought to be encouraged, so I gracefully let him accompany me.
Seeing the entrance shut I decided to take a taxi, so he walked with me to a nearby taxi station. The taxis are all in uniform colours, with the emblem of the city, registration number, etc. My companion suspiciously squinted into the one I was going to take, and said with a solicitous expression: ´Hmm.. the driver looks ok.. I hope he´s a serious person..´
I laughed, shook my head, and thinking something about over-protective gentlemen said good night to him and got into the taxi.
The African driver was very amiable, we chatted on the way, and when we arrived, I got off on the roundabout, because my street is a one-way one, and my house is about ten metres from the roundabout. It is one of the expensive and posh neighbourhoods, with boutiques and cafeterias, very calm and generally considered safe.
As I was getting off, the taxi driver said, approvingly: ´Aah, the street is very well lit; you shouldn´t get mugged.´
Excuse me?!!
For a split second, I felt just like in Buenos Aires.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

More Milonga Musings

Tanguillo mentioned in his comment to my previous post that one must ´tener el sabor (de la milonga)´ to dance it well; I say that to dance milonga well, you must love milonga, nothing less than that.
It boils down to the same thing, really.
If you´re not confident about the way you dance milonga, if you´re insecure about it, if you dance it tentatively rather than with gusto, in short if you don´t revel in dancing milonga - then you are not dancing milonga. IMHO.
You can always tell from your partner´s reaction when they hear the first notes of milonga:
´Oh - uhm - milonga..´ (eyes going wide with horror)
´Oh - milonga.. well, shall we try?´
and other like reactions generally bode no good.
´Milonga!!!´ (usually exclaimed by both simultaneously, with delighted smiles), at which point the couple quickly embraces and starts dancing without further ado because milongas are too short to waste time with words.

Once, I met this bloke (on the dancefloor); I had never danced with him before, didn´t know him at all, and our first tanda ever was MILONGA (risky, I know.) But we clicked, it was great, and in the pause after the first song, smiling delightedly and unable to believe our good luck, I said ´Adoro la milonga!´ to which he answered, ´Bueno, agarráte!´ And off we went.
THAT is milonga attitude. Not ´uh, well, shall we...?´

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Better than sex?!

You know how people sometimes compare sex and tango? And how some will go so far as to say that a good tanda is almost as good as (if not better) than sex?

I have always been firmly convinced that, if comparisons must be made, then (good) sex is BETTER than tango.
But I am beginning to foster some grave doubts as to whether sex is really better than -

a really good MILONGA!

Yes, I´ve had a couple of fantastic milongas yesterday, and by the end of the set I was in that state of insane bliss (you know, that one..) and floated home sur un nuage, insanely smiling at the few loosers sharing the last métro with me.

I have become something of a milonga addict. And I think men who also love milonga can feel it.

I have a hunch though that men who CAN dance milonga (I won´t say dance it well, with milonga you either can dance it, or you cannot. Full stop.) are really thin on the ground - perhaps more so then good lovers.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

You think you´re a tango addict? Think again...

I found this article some time ago, leafing through the March edition of El Tangauta, where it was published in the section Renegando con René (a humourist fiction page, basically); I still remember that, reading it back in Buenos Aires, in the whirlwind of the milongas, I didn´t find it remotely funny, but deeply disturbing (not the article as such, which is a bit on the ridiculous side, but the addiction itself, which is pretty well described there, and its potential to mess up people´s lives). The notion of tango addiction had acquired a whole new dimension, and it no longer seemed the harmless (and rather cool, admit it) quirk it mostly is outside of Bs As.
At that time I read it with a shudder and put it away. Now, with some detachment, I think it´s quite interesting, though I still believe it will not seem all that funny to those really addicted to tango, or close to someone who is (unless they are in denial, of course).
The English translation provided by El Tangauta was not up to the high literary standards of this blog; I have therefore taken the liberty of translating it myself:

Grupo Carriego

(´...curdelas de caña y locas de pris...´)

First of all I would like to thank the doctors here for all they have done for me... I would like to bear witness, because the doctor asked me to, and I cannot fail him... well, I hope this can be of some use to somebody... what I want to say is that I am not doing this to torment myself, but in case someone should identify with another´s person´s misfortune, right, doctor?... I´ll go on; should I say anything wrong, stop me... I wanted to tell you that I also used to be a ruin, like you... I had ruined my life, altogether. First I lost my job, then my friends, lifelong friends they were... then my girlfriend left me, and she was a great girl and a beauty... never again in my life will I get a girl like that again... The thing is, I didn´t realize what was happening to me, it seemed normal to me and I thought it was the others that had a problem. I didn´t realize that I was ill, that I needed help... In the beginning of my troubles, those close to me wanted to help me. Because, to be fair, I must say that more than one person came to talk to me... People who would come to me and tell me I seemed odd, untidy, unkempt. And I would tell them that was what was fashionable at the time, that there were many people who wore white shoes, and that those shiny shirts were worn by all the cool guys... They were trying to help me, right, doctor?... Now I can see it all clearly, but at the time I wouldn´t listen to anyone. I changed the way I dressed, I changed friends, I stopped doing the things I used to do: I stopped going to the football matches, for example, because I just couldn´t get up on Sundays. In short, I was a real addict, a guy with a serious problem... Thinking of the dancing, all day long, imagining steps, thinking I had invented stuff; I couldn´t stop... The thing is, at the beginning one thinks one can cope, but then one realizes that he cannot. I even see foreigners who come here, again and again, and they will sell their own mother if needs be but will come every year – they can´t stop, just like I couldn´t... Until, one day, they found me with a compass, a ruler and a notebook full of notes, examining a turnstile in the subway. I tried to explain, but they wouldn´t listen; they gave me a shot and then brought me here to this farm. I have been here for three months, and I truly cannot complain – they take care of us, they teach us crafts, organize activities for us... Just the other day we played a football game with those from the Grupo Andrés. And the doctors are fantastic, they have helped me a lot to deal with my problem... And no tango, none of it – they keep us in shorts and flip-flops, and send us to bed at ten o´clock. And if someone gets a fit, the only thing they will let them dance is the minuet... It´s tough, but you´ve got to endure it... Now, in a couple of weeks I´ll be getting leave permissions, but just for the day and will always have to be back in the evening, to avoid the temptation... Because, once you´ve tried it, you remain hooked for life... right, doctor?

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Embrace

I haven´t really written anything about my tango in Buenos Aires. I have posted about all kinds of silly stuff like buses, coins, security, but I have completely left out the tango - and that despite the fact that I probably spent about 70% of my waking hours there on high heels :) so much so that when I came back, for a while I had this funny feeling of being shorter, all of a sudden; as though tango shoes had become a part of my body which extended my legs and reshaped my feet in a somewhat curious, but fairly comfortable way (for dancing, that is; it all depends on your perspective, but if you spend more time dancing then, say, playing football, you´ll feel more comfortable in high-heeled shoes than in sneakers, clearly).

To be honest, I have been reluctant to write about tango in Bs As. For one thing, once you become a part of the milonga world, it makes no sense to post about it as if from an outside perspective. If you´re a part of the zoo, you no longer find the animals´ habits strange and intriguing, to be described and analysed. Also, it would be quite inadequate to say that ´the porteños do this, and the porteños would never do that..´ - they are a fairly heterogeneous bunch, the porteños, and besides there are different groups and tendencies within the world of the Bs As milongas, some places where the codigos are on the wane and some where there are no codigos in the old sense, but there are still some rules which may be completely different and will leave those travelling tangueros/as who came equipped with a perfect knowledge of ´los codigos´ entirely flabbergasted. I mean, just watch your surroundings, listen to people around you (but don´t believe everything they say) and use common sense, it should be sufficient. Actually, when you think about it, even most of the old codigos are just logical consequences of polite behaviour and common sense, not all that specific to tango.

I haven´t written about my learning experiences either, which was perhaps a bit selfish, but I first needed to absorb it all and, you know, me ranger les idées.. I´ve learned lots, and I think that I´ve come back with what I had been looking for - my own style (or what I want my own style to be like), the tango that ´I´ want to dance, and the confidence in that. It feels nice. Also, dancing in Bs As was like a trial by fire for me - content as I might have been with my dancing before going to Argentina, I had naturally been curious to see whether it was good enough for Buenos Aires. I emerged from the trial unharmed:)

What sometimes worries me a bit is that, dancing with people who cannot dance - or who dance ´differently´, to put it in a more ´correct´ way:) - could eventually ruin my own dancing and make me loose all that I have learned in Bs As. Javier told me quite uncompromisingly ´Don´t dance with blokes who can´t dance. They will ruin your posture, and your embrace. You won´ t enjoy it. There´s no reason why you should do it.´ Surely that sounds somewhat harsh (not if you know him and the way he has of saying things; but it does, written down like that, or said out loud at a milonga in Europe). It is good advice; it cannot always be followed strictly, but, on the whole, I dance with fairly few men now, but get really good dances and come home from the milonga feeling happy and content.

But I am getting to my point: Yesterday I went to my favourite milonga, and danced with this bloke whose dancing I really like; he goes to Bs As quite regularly, and just got back a couple of weeks ago. After the first tango, as we broke the embrace, he started laughing and couldn´t stop. ´Oh yes,´he said ´I recognize the embrace. You sure do embrace like a porteña!´ Ha!
:))) So I guess I haven´t forgotten.