New friends in BA

Three weeks ago yesterday I arrived in Buenos Aires. I was not alone because I carried my friends and my family in my heart, but in this huge city  I knew no-one. Things have changed. My heart has had to expand to fit in my new BA friends…

Last night Gabriella and I relaxed at Ariel’s apartment. We ate an Argentine takeaway. They played guitar and sang – everything from Brazilian love songs in Portuguese, to Black Sabbath. I lay back on a huge bean bag and read 1990s’ issues of the BA tango scene magazine El Tangauta. We laughed and chatted until 3am. I have known Ariel for three weeks but I make food in his kitchen, lie on his sofa, and feel relaxed in his home. His warmth and generosity is typical of the Argentine people I have met.

At our second Milonga in BA at Sabor A Tango (in the days when I was shaking in my shoes) Fernando asked me to dance. I introduced him to Gabriella because I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. He brought Melina over to sit with us because she is Swedish and speaks English. We bumped in to them again last Friday at Salon Canning, where being able to sit at their table saved me from my ‘stalker’. On Wednesday this week we were at Melina’s leaving party: she was heading back to her home in Denmark the following day. At the party we met young dancers Rodrigo and Gabriel who accompanied us to La Viruta later that night. They have recommended their favourite Milongas to us and we will see them again. This is the way things go here. Meet someone, meet someone they know, bump into them at a Milonga, get a generous invitation, meet someone else they know, get a recommendation, follow it, and so it goes on… Our circle of familiar faces is growing. It is almost normal for us to see someone we recognise at a Milonga these days. Soon it will be normal.

Then there are the travellers I have met through staying at the hostel for my first month here: the gorgeous and entertaining Gabriella, the stunning Laura who Gabriella met during her five months in El Salvador and the young and  beautiful Binky who is here working and studying Spanish. These girls are now my friends and it is a joy to chat, eat, dance and shop with them! We have many South American guys staying here too: Venezuelan, Ecuadorian, Uruguayan, Columbian. They are great fun. They cook, play table tennis and table football – very loudly, dance samba, break dance, laugh all the time and whistle at us as we leave at midnight for the next Milonga. Ok yes sometimes when I want to sleep it’s noisy, but I love these guys. They remind me that life is to be lived…

The people I appreciate most every day are the ones who start to make the difference between a new city and a familiar one in the moments when I am alone: the waiter who knows that I will order a cortado before my tango lesson, the security guard at the phone shop I pass on my way to the Subte (who still apologises for banging my head on his door), the smiling guy at the kiosk where I buy mints to get change for the bus.

Finally there are the guys we meet at our group tango classes: Jorge, Pepe and Julio – the Porteños whose arms it is a pleasure to dance in. And of course, the guys we dance with in the Milongas who we maybe will never see again. This afternoon I went to Confiteria La Ideal alone. I was asked to dance immediately and then did not sit out a single tanda! I had some amazing dances with men of all ages, sizes and styles. Without exception they were charming and polite. They made me feel beautiful. All except one was Argentine. I felt like Sally Potter as I was led in tangos and milongas around the columns and across the tiled floor. I did not stop smiling and these days if I make a mistake I just laugh! 

Last night in a 2001 edition of La Tangauta, I read the following quote by Sonia Abadi (translated from the Spanish):

‘For women to dance with many men is like building a figure of the ideal man with shreds of each one of them. For the man to dance with various women is like embracing with the arms all the women of the earth.’

Beautiful words and for me true ones. In every man I dance with, I find a different shred of beauty, of joy, or of pain. From the tango I steal a piece of the perfect dancer, the perfect friend, the perfect lover, the perfect man. I treasure these precious fragments. Sometimes I am taken by surprise and I am gifted with a shred of my dream dancer of Hampshire. In an instant I am transported back to Bournemouth, to Southampton, into his embrace. I feel sad in these moments because I miss him. I long to dance with him again.

But then again, on Sunday, in the arms of an Argentine, I found a new longing – to dance with Carlos one more time. He was not at El Beso, nor Porteño y Bailarin, nor at La Ideal this afternoon. For now he is my dream dancer of Buenos Aires and I will find him, however long it takes. In search of him I shall return to La Glorieta at the weekend…

This evening, I have a more practical matter on my mind. After an hour and a half of practicing spins and dancing milonga in my private lesson, followed by two hours of continuous dancing at La Ideal, my feet are in agony. Plus I’ve only had twelve hours sleep in total over the last three nights. How will I ever manage to dance again tonight?

See pictures of my new friends in Buenos Aires

See pictures of Friday afternoon at Confiteria La Ideal


3 Responses

  1. I am a friend of Gabriella’s. Great pics. Will you tell her I miss her and would love to see more of these. Thanks for posting them. You found a gem when you found Gabriella!

  2. Hi Sal

    Sooooooooooooo pleased to see you are having a wonderful time, miss dancing with you as Shaun cannot follow as well!!!!

    Keep the news coming.

    Love Peter & Alex

  3. You seem to have a flair for poetry, Ms. Sally. *warm smile*

    Do take care of your feet. They are you most important assets. Try soaking your feet in epsom salts, if they have those in Argentina. Helps relieve the aches and pains.

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