Return of Buenos Aires

 

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This note follows a trip organized by Milonguero Tango Trip to Buenos Aires from 24 February to 10 March 2016.

 

 

Great trip, great atmosphere, friendly group, interesting tours, we discover a good variety of milongas but with an emphasis on traditional milongas.
After a return to normal life, I would like to share my impressions, not the journey itself (the photos and the comments on the above website speak for themselves) but the behavior of Argentine in milongas.
A small time of some events, followed by a synthesis.

February 24: First BA milonga. Tango Obelisco. Begins in the late afternoon.
2 well separated male and female camps + 2 mixed groups. Scrupulous respect for the alignment (including tables and chairs). We have a well-appointed table. Most of the people know each other, they are accustomed to most. Talks between each piece of music are much longer than in Europe (I measured, sometimes up to 1 minute of talk, to get to know his / her partner). The atmosphere is friendly, relaxed, no fuss. Birthday day (I have not understood that ...) But cake and bubble drink glass for all !!

 

 

February 25: Evening milonga at Lujos - very close to the hotel, we go to there by walking. Classic, strict adherence to rules and especially the placement in the room is imposed. We will see why! Newcomers have the worst places. The women in the group are installed at the bottom, in 3rd place in the corner. Men (we are three) have identical treatment. Personally I find myself busy with a chair in front of me (a few centimeters). Not easy to do miradas. On the left there is a wall with only men sitting behind small tables. They are well placed to invite and glancing right and left. For us the eyes must cross the room! No views on the sides. The few women sitting on our row does not concern us. Fortunately we can invite the women of our group (no need to make remote miradas). Formal prohibition to change places and get up inviting. Regulars Argentines are masters, they invite as they want. At the beginning of the milonga we, as courtesy required, invited all the women in the group to make them known to all tangueros. At the same time other women could judge our way of dancing.

 

 

February 26: Tango Plaza Bohemia. Very different atmosphere in this "small" room. We are much better placed. Customers seem less fuss. The outfits are however quite smart - suits and ties for the old tangueros, retro dresses for some women. But it's all part of the "decor" and helps to create a very "show" and friendly atmosphere. Here people really have fun, this is the joy of life that dominates in some reunion of the regulars, the songs of old tangueros (video ) emblematic of an era ending ... sometimes it feels like a cartoonish film about tango with these old characters people and well dressed. But that has a lot of charm.

 

 

February 27: Back to Obelisco for, this time, a milonga organized by Cachirulo. Very classic. The attention is immediately drawn to a group of Portenos all sitting around a large table at the edge of the dancing area. They're celebrating them (about a dozen men, and 2 or 3 women sat at the end of the table). Other Argentine sit at separate tables and have occasionally "favors" of those men who are the masters of the place, laughing with joy when they find one of their own, table lift is without discretion and look around to choose their prey among the sometimes Argentine or foreign that awaits this attention to feel happy to share a tenda with one of those big shots and kings tango milonguero.

 

 

February 28: We return to Lujos. Even more difficult. We are in the second row, behind a table, but also behind the first row of tight tangueros sitting also behind a table. Add the track and distance, it is almost impossible to invite tangueras that are at the other end of the room. Those installed on the side did not even deign to look at our side (anyway you have to contort to see something). This also applies to women in our group, on the same row as me in a corner, invisible ... We leave around half past midnight, disgusted. Note: while I still saw something - before the arrival of other tangueros sitting before me - I managed to invite two foreign women like us, recessed seating also, and one Argentine who had to have a moment of weakness or vision problem ... Otherwise the dancers / dancers are excellent. The purpose of this event was to show us, once again, how does a classic traditional milonga. This is seen.

 

 

February 29: Salon Canning
A milonga very different again tonight. In a beautiful area, great room with plenty of tables, airy, we can move. Staying a while at the bar I can invite some tangueras. Beautiful music, classical. We listen with pleasure a singer and a guitarist. As a bonus we are entitled to a demo!

March 1: Back to Beso Milonga El Cachirulo, again.
We are packed like sardines in a can. Places are imposed. We all, men and women of the group lined up against a wall. Chairs meet, ahead of the small round tables spaced by a chair itself occupied by a person who turns his back on us and prevents any passage. Trapped ! Even before, a continuous back wall of men tidy tight! Further still track with sides rows of aligned women. Men are facing in the same provision. This is the worst situation ever. Also it is not recommended to sit next to a woman because it means she is accompanied and seriously limit  her chances of invitations, and I find myself sitting between two women in the group. I decide to leave. They will have (may be) some chance of being invited and as for me I have no possibility under these conditions to make miradas.

 

 

March 2: Back to Obelisco to Wednesday milonga which is different from that of 27 which was too formal. Good location in the room that allows to invite and be invited to the girls who are starting to be known. Going back several times to the same places used to be recognized, and we end to cross glances and sometimes smiles ...

March 3: Evening at Besos for a less formal milonga. Or is because I'm used to this diet? can be ... We are in a row less packed. Not far from the bar where I can make a few extended stays and invite some foreign. We leave early, and our small group in hand find to another location - Club Grisel. A large room, much less formal atmosphere. For a good 5 minutes a leader clings to his microphone and draws numbers to win whatever. We leave fast enough. Eventually I realized that the formal atmosphere of the classic milongas impregnates more and more in me ... and despite the disadvantages imposed positioning and invitations difficulties is the quality of the music and dancers (even if I spend a lot of time watching rather than dance) that predominates.

Other days milongas follow but sometimes different in ambiance, the position in the room, the population more or less young. We tested traditional milongas but there are many others that may look like our European milongas. However separation man / woman is always respected (what we find in our "encuentros").

 

 

 

Conclusion - Summary of my impressions.
The good old Argentine dancers are still many to practice their art. In fact they are using quite a few figures but they know how to transmit  pleasant sensations through an excellent connection, that women love. Argentine women are looking for excellent dancers, they obviously found among their fellow Argentine but also among some foreigners. If you are a foreign man of medium quality dance, you have very little chance of an Argentinian interest. Argentine sit in the front rows (all women with rare exceptions are grouped in 2 or 3 rows. Men also on their side. The first row of women is for excellent dancers. Needless to attempt an invitation. Anyway they do not look at me ... I do not exist. I can only try to invite 2nd and 3rd rows. Often it is foreign. When by chance (they had to have a vision problem that day! ) I managed to dance with an Argentine, contact was very pleasant. At that moment I regretted not having enough worked my Spanish, which would have occupied the minute for discussions between each dance .. .
Argentine tangueros which sometimes have several decades of practice so use very little figures and follow perfectly the nuances of the music. They will sometimes get up from their table, where they were installed with several friends, often loudly, and with a move towards a tanguera (sometimes after a few steps toward her) will sometimes invite an Argentine, sometimes a foreign previously identified in the room. No way for them to respect the rules of mirada / cabeceo imposed on others. You should know that these men (mostly) are elderly and very sure of themselves. The Argentine female gender, and foreign, seems to appreciate, not the individual but the extraordinary way of dancing of the Portenos.

After the first days of discovery, this play role becomes natural. We fully taste the latest milongas, extraordinary sensations (according to some tangueras), knowing that we will soon return to normal life. Argentina has a nostalgic side that creates a twinge and that makes you want to come back.
Soon Buenos Aires ...

Claude Gosselin

 

 

 

Commentaires

Comment: 
Claude, thanks for writing this commentary about your personal experiences of your first trip to BsAs. I agree with some of the comments above, that for first-timers (like me), who are not used to the way things work on the dance floors of BsAs, it can be a bit daunting, and takes some getting used to. However, it has also been my observation that towards the end of the trip, I felt a bit more at-ease than when we just arrived. I think two weeks is too short to get a complete experience, and I am speculating that if one has the will, time and means to stay longer and visit frequently to BsAs, then his/her experience will keep getting better. In my two weeks, I have experienced some great milongas & connections and some not-so-great milongas; Met some very friendly & polite people & organizers and few not-so-polite people/organizers; Made many observations & musings, both positive and otherwise. But overall, those two weeks have been a wonderful and memorable introduction to tango in BsAs, and I know there is more to be discovered & experienced. I have a feeling that I will be going there again sometime in the future. Now, if I can find that Rosetta Stone CD for learning Spanish.. :-)