Buenos Aires, after the crowds

At four o’clock on Tuesday morning after the Monday night Milonga I stood outside Scalibrini Ortiz 1331, Salon Canning, in the freezing cold. The Milonga was just closing. I chatted to a guy I met dancing a couple of weeks ago and we laughed together at how bad my castellano can be when I’m tired. We joked with the guy who grabs the taxis for us. He was wearing about four layers of clothes – he had shown me earlier. I was exhausted, cold, and hungry, but I realised as I stood there that this is my home and I love it. I followed my heart and I feel like I belong. England feels a very distant country right now.

The tango life has changed here over the last few weeks. Basically the tourists (of course I am not one: soy porteña ahora!) have mostly gone home, as have the people who live here for the warmer half of the year. The majority of the people out dancing are porteño. The Milongas are quieter. The weekends bring out larger crowds but on Sunday at Viruta only ten couples danced the final tanda, and on Tuesday night at Canning three made it to the closing ‘La Cumparsita’, me and Carlos included. How incredible it feels to have virtually the whole beautiful wooden floor to ourselves. My eyes are closed and I know that I can gancho and boleo to my hearts content. I will not kick anyone. And these days I am less likely to kick myself, than I was… The floor is mine.

I notice now that my dancing has changed. I am confident. I am not afraid to make mistakes. I listen to my partner’s body and I feel the music in my body. I give myself completely to him but I dance my own dance within his lead. I give him everything I can. He chose me out of all the women there and I want him to remember me afterwards : our connection, my passion, the tango in my soul. The fact that I am unafraid to dance when the floor is empty of other couples, speaks volumes. I don’t need to hide in the Milonga crush now. I am a dancer and proud of it. Earlier this week Gabriella and I were at La Ideal to see the orchestra Unitango and to see her teachers dance in the show. The Milonga was half full and many of the people there were tourists on holiday. As we danced they took photographs, videos – of US (as I said, soy portena ahora)! We made a short video clip of me dancing with Carlos at La Ideal that night. The clip is a bit dark and mainly shows our feet but I love it because my feet are beginning to dance their own dance. I am starting to use them in different ways, to try things out within the music, to develop a style. When I look at this clip and think back to my first ever tango lesson at Archers Road in Southampton last October, I can’t believe that the clip is of my feet. And this is only the beginning.

Watch a short video clip of me dancing with Carlos in La Ideal

This is the time of year to make friends with the hard core of dancers here, the managers of the Milongas, the waitresses, the guys who call the taxis. I talk to anyone, anywhere these days. It is the only way to make connections in a strange city. This gave me a great idea for this blog.

A month ago I would never have dared to approach a great dancer here and ask for an interview. Now I’m different. Last night I approached El Puchu, the amazing dancer I told you about recently, the one who picked me out of the crowd at Viruta one night. I had my translator, Gabriella, at my side. I gave him my card, explained what I wanted. I took a risk that he would turn me down, and possibly never dance with me again. Not so. He offered a gift. He regards himself as a milonguero. He makes a route of up to 4 Milongas a night, every night. He invited us to accompany him one night in the coming week on his ‘ruta’, promised to tell us anything we want to know…

Did I ever tell you how much I love the Argentines?


3 Responses

  1. Wow Sal, that is just beautiful. A real joy to watch. I’m dead proud of you!


  2. Nice work Sally, can’t wait to hear El Puchu’s side of things. Good kudos for you too, to be hanging around with such talented dancers.

  3. You, Sally Dearest, are one truly amazing woman! To just drop everything and live in a foreign land for the passion of tango is simply impressive.

    I can’t wait to meet you and to dance with you.

    Love and hugs, “Sly” 😀

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