El Lunes, la vida loca…

It’s Monday about midnight and I’m out on my balcony watching the Buenos Aires street life. I’m ready to dance. None of my girlfriends are free so I decide to head out alone to my favourite Milonga. It’s cold outside so I’m in several layers, black loose trousers, black skirt over, green vest top with lace trim, wrap-around black cardigan, fake sheepskin coat, scarf, fingerless gloves, trainers with holes in. I’m carrying my tango shoes (my well worn Commes and my practice shoes) in my pink bag. I don’t bother to dress up for the Milonga, just want to be comfortable and have options if it gets hot or my feet start to hurt. I walk a couple of blocks to get a cab heading the right way, might save a peso or two. The driver lets me off $0.25 pesos so I feel that it’s gonna be a good night.

I love the entrance to this Milonga. The place is only marked by a few people hanging around smoking in the street. I walk down the long corridor and look at the huge photos of tango dancers.  I can hear the tango music drifting through the far doors. I start to buzz inside. I pay my $10 pesos, enter the large dimly lit room.

‘Hola princess.’ are the first words I hear. The guy I call ‘the bodyguard’ who is really the photographer responsible for the fantastic photos on the way in, greets me with a big hug. I call him ‘the bodyguard’ because the first time I met him he was with a guy I call ‘Mafia man’ just because of the slick suits he wears… Anyway my guy is a gentle and beautiful dancer and we often dance. I love it that he calls me ‘princess’ or ‘bonita’. It’s nice to know people. I don’t have a reservation. I greet the manager who recognises me, ‘Solo yo esta noche.’ I say, ‘No tengo una reservation.’ He replies that it’s no problem and seats me with two young guys. Result! I recognise them from many Milongas and they are great dancers. Maybe one of them might ask me tonight for the first time.

I chat to an American woman who is seated opposite me. It’s only her second Milonga in BA and it’s nice to have the chance to speak English, discuss our tango journeys.

I put on my shoes and head to the ladies armed with my cambio to pay for the paper and handtowel. Of course the toilet lady is selling sweets, mints, cigarettes, postcards, tango memorabilia and you’ve guessed it, lucky for me… tango clothes. She chats to me and tempts me with a lacy red top. She tells me that tonight I can have it for $35 pesos. I try it on. It looks great. But I only have a $100 peso note. She of course has no change. Meanwhile a young woman is trying on a leopardskin top. We all chat and I notice that not only does she have my share of breasts as well as her own, but she has a plaster across her nose. She says that she just came out of the clinic. I say she looks beautiful. I am in a good mood and she is friendly. The top is unbelievably a bit too big for her and so to my amazement the toilet lady gets out her sewing kit and starts stitching her in. I say the top looks great. It does. Why am I still there at all, reflecting on my lack of assets? Not because I want to spend half an hour in the toilets but because the woman being stitched into the top is going to provide my change…

I return to my table, now only $5 pesos down on the deal, with instructions to return later to receive the balance owed. Immediately one of the young guys at my table asks me to dance. He’s a wicked dancer, slightly open embrace but touching heads and great funky hip movement which makes it fun and I smile lots. I hope I am doing ok. His style is refreshing but a challenge for me. I love a challenge. We chat a bit in Spanish after. His friend knows my teacher Ariel and gives him the thumbs up so that’s a great feeling too.

I glance up and see a man waiting in my line of vision. He invites me with ‘the look’ and I accept. The place is quiet tonight and there is plenty of dance space and thus opportunities to be observed. Secretly I hope that he saw me dancing and chose me because of my grace, my skill. I feel full of hope. The tanda goes brilliantly. He compliments me. I feel beautiful as I dance. Our heads get very hot where they touch. This is a real hazard of the close embrace! I carry a hair clip for when things get steamy, which to be honest is a colourful way of saying sweaty…

I dance with my ‘bodyguard’ which is always a delight, and then the young guy asks me again. Can things get better? Actually they do because my teacher, Ariel shows up and dances with me. He rarely dances at a Milonga and it’s nice to have a bit more space than in his apartment. Also we laugh alot about how people talk in Liverpool (he is fascinated by accents and loves John Lennon lyrics) and other things that are not clean enough to write here.

It’s one regular’s birthday. He is a popular figure and a well known teacher and performer, especially of Milonga. We all sing to him. Then a couple dance for us. A great Milonga. Very fitting. We have the announcement that Color Tango will be playing the next night. I decide I will be back. I love Color Tango.

Another young guy walks towards my table and I’m in heaven. The average age of my dances has dropped, this night, by possibly 30 years. Now, I love dancing with men of all ages because the older guys are often seriously good, but hey, come on, it’s nice to connect with the younger tango scene. Funny thing is this guy doesn’t say a word to me the entire tanda and doesn’t smile. I am a bit anxious because he is good, good, good. He dances milonguero style with teeny tiny multiple side steps, multiple tiny giros until I am dizzy and it takes me one whole tango to click in. Also he reminds me of my dream dancer of Hampshire which unnerves me slightly. As we finish I decide to speak and say, ‘Soy Sally. Te llamas?’ and then he does smile. Turns out he doesn’t speak Spanish, is from Greece. Maybe he thought I didn’t speak English… Anyway later he asks me to dance again so I must have passed that tango test as well. Feel pleased with myself.

I do have the ‘pleasure’ of dancing with one slightly crazy guy who holds me round the neck, shoves me off my axis, and talks constantly, but I survive. The next woman he dances with leaves him after one dance, and with the next woman he actually falls over. Ariel says to me, ‘Imagine if you fell over here Sal when you were dancing!’ and seems highly amused at the idea. I say ‘Ha bloody ha! You mean what if you did?’

As I’m leaving at 3.30am having collected my $5 pesos, I notice that the lovely woman from the toilets with the new nose is dancing with a man who also has a new nose, plaster still in place. Only in Buenos Aires…

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4 Responses

  1. Solo-adventures are always a bit scary, good thing you know so many people now. I thought the idea of BA milonga etiquette was to avoid dancing with “slightly crazy guys”?

    On the topic of big women… at least you don’t have to suffer from gravity.

  2. Yeah, but it’s sometimes tricky to tell if a guy is ‘slightly crazy’ until you are actually dancing with him… SC

  3. I live a little more when I read your stuff! Adventures so far away from a teaching job and a Manchester rainy night. Keep adventuring and working at that tango. I want everyone to want to dance with you! I await the next chapters…

  4. This entry made me smile (a lot). Well, I must be off to bed now. It’s 1:30AM and I have to get up in 5 hours…

    …I am getting way too addicted reading you every night…still, it’s a nice to slow down the heart rate and relax before heading to bed.

    Thanks for being a new pen friend, Sally.

    *muah!* Kisses and hugs, “Sly” 🙂

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