Dream dancing?

IMGP8082 Yesterday my ‘dream dancer of Hampshire’ arrived in Buenos Aires. Last night he danced his first tango on a Buenos Aires ‘pista’. And about eight tandas into his first visit to a Buenos Aires Milonga, Saturday night at Maipú 444, he danced his first tanda with me, in Argentina that is. It’s been a long time. Eight months to be exact. And I was nervous. This guy knows what my dancing used to be like. Back in England when I was a total beginner, he was one of the first members of ‘the advanced class’ to risk walking me around the floor. He tried to help me to get my tango foundations in shape before I left for this trip to Argentina. It was with him that I danced my last tanda before leaving my country behind. So I was nervous. Why? I was nervous because he is the one English person that I trust over and above anyone else to tell me how and if my dancing has changed. After my eight months of Buenos Aires tango, I wanted him to enjoy dancing with me. It mattered. I couldn’t help it. It mattered.

It’s the first time I’ve been to Maipú 444 on a Saturday night. I liked it. The Milonga, Cachirulo, runs from 6pm until 3am. We got there about 9.30. We had reserved, because there were five of us, and it was good thing. It is a relatively small space and there were no tables without ‘reserved’ signs when we arrived. By 11pm there was not a free seat to be seen. We sat at one end of the room with the groups of friends, and couples. Women sat in a single row  down the length of one wall (I counted thirty at one point), with the men opposite them. I got the impression that the standard of dancing here is high, and that the competition for dances is intense. The music was great with all my favourites getting me and Carlos up on to the floor: D’Arienzo, Los Reyes del Tango, Miguel Calo, a delicious selection of vals. Even Carlos, who is very picky about the music, was happy because the DJ played the tango that gives him goosebumps every time: Café Dominguez, D`Agostino. And the sound was perfect: loud. I like loud! There was a tanda of swing (which we didn’t dance) and a tanda of tropical. Carlos and me danced merengue, which I have to say I am getting rather good at. Carlos dances it like a demon… he’s brilliant! I always thought that tango was like having sex without taking your clothes off, but truly merengue is more so… it’s like frantic sex without taking your clothes off, and I love it! At about 2am those left (by now the crowd was thinning out), danced the Chacarera. Sadly by then, my left foot was giving me a lot of trouble and we were changing our shoes to head home.

I had a perfect night. I danced all my favourites with my Argentine and I danced several tandas with my ‘dream dancer of Hampshire’, including a tanda of milonga. So how was it? Well I’m going to be honest. The first tanda was not brilliant. We were both nervous, and the connection was elusive. I missed a few leads. A few times he stood on my toes: I wasn’t judging the length of his step well. I laughed a lot, said little, and thought ‘Shit.’ I wanted to dance perfectly you see, and I know I didn’t. But, by the time we danced the milongas, things were changing. The nerves had gone. I was tuning into his lead. I was relaxing. I was starting to use the music ( like I do all the time with Carlos). He was saying, ‘Yes!’. And I was thinking, ‘Wicked! The next three weeks are gonna be FUN!’

When we sat down after our last tanda of the night, Carlos had a little story to tell me. He had just cabaceo-ed and danced with one of the women sitting ‘sola’ along the wall. She had been trying to catch his eye all night. He had noticed of course. Often he only dances with my friends when he is out with me, but he had observed that she had been sitting for hours and he had decided to return her stare. She had travelled 450km within Argentina to come to Buenos Aires to dance for the weekend. She explained to him that it is very difficult for someone new to get a dance with a milonguero at Maipú 444 on a Saturday night, but that the dancing is worth the travel and the wait. I was absolutely delighted and so was he, that after he danced with her she never sat down again! The milongueros were just waiting to see her on the dancefloor. After that they knew how tall she was, how she danced, who she was. This just illustrated for me the way it really is here. I know that she, like I used to (when I didn’t know any better), could probably have accepted dances from people she didn’t really want to dance with. But as an experienced tanguera, she had her eyes on her top choices, but they were looking elsewhere. She did not compromise. She held out all night for one of them, in this case Carlos. And one,  is clearly all you need…

So, we all went home happy. Carlos and me had had sex a few times (with our clothes on of course), he had made a stranger happy, and I had relaxed into the tango embrace of my ‘dream dancer of Hampshire’. Plus we’d enjoyed conversation and laughs around the table between un Argentino, tres Ingleses and our dear Canadian tanguera. You might wonder how we are managing the language: who is translating? Ah well here’s the thing. Carlos is speaking better English these days. Shaun, Melody and Caroline all speak a little Spanish. And unbelievably, I can translate just about anything that anyone wants to say. I remember when I first got here and Gabriella translated everything for me. Eight months later, and it’s me doing the translating. It’s amazing. Truly, to be sitting amidst my little ‘family’ of the moment, in Buenos Aires, helping them to understand each other is something that makes me feel extremely proud. I honestly don’t think I could have been happier last night. Welcome to Buenos Aires, my ‘dream dancer of Hampshire’!


Maipú 444 on a Saturday night, with its gorgeous wooden floor.


10 Responses

  1. Hello!

    I hope you and Shaun have a great time Sally! Say hello to Shaun for me and tell him he is a lucky so and so!



  2. Hey Emily!

    Thanks for your good wishes. I don´t think I could have wished for a warmer welcome here. The weather´s even cleared up for me! It´s just fab. Just about to head out to my first lesson with Ariel! Can´t wait!

    See you in three weeks!

    Shaun xx

  3. dear sally, i love this post! just reading it a couple of times was enough to make me happy and dreamy.

    someday, i hope to host my own international friends here in new york city, and make them feel welcome and happy.

    and i can only dream of the day when i will make it out to BsAs.


  4. Nuit, keep dreaming and you WILL get here! SC

  5. Emily, ‘our dream dancer of Hampshire’ is coping well with the shift to staying up dancing half the night… it isn’t that easy to adjust to ‘la vida loca’, but he is making me very proud! SC

  6. Your friend is a wonderful dancer, and such a caballero as well!

  7. It’s amazing how you have so quickly become a part of the city, with friends visiting and you being able to translate (!). A joy to read about and no wonder people want to come to BA to see you. I sure do.

  8. Miss Tango, I have passed on your compliments.

    Tangobaby, make sure you let me know when you are coming… SC

  9. Hi Shaun,
    Hope you’re having a great time….look forward to dancing with you when you get back. Dance a milonga for me. B xx

    Sally – will drop you a line soon.

    Bernadette xx

  10. Bernadette

    He is, I think, having a great time and he picked up a few compliments on his dancing from the milongueros at La Ideal this afternoon. I was impressed! SC

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