I just love all the experts on my life. People who think I don't dance anymore, or don't dance that much. Mostly because I don't have time to write about it anymore in my blog. My clothing line DEVORA M. takes up so much of my time that writing in my blog ends up staying in my head. There are 1000s of blog posts, I just don't have time to write them anymore.
If I write them, instead of arguing with the taller who is consistently late on producing my garments, then I will have nothing to sell. Or if I don't go to Once at least twice a week to see if the vendors have bribed anyone at customs enough to receive decent fabrics, I won't have the beautiful patterns and good quality fabric my designs are known for. So the blog goes lower on the food chain.
But dancing no. It is still there. I still dance. 3 - 5 times a week. I just do not write about it. When you live in Buenos Aires tango takes on a different dimension. It has to. Either that or you will get eaten up alive. The experience of the milonga is different for every person who comes here. If you come for 2 weeks, a month, 2 months, or 6 months, or are a repeat tourist.
Until you live here, with a visa, and you work here and are considered part of the community, you are a tourist. It does not matter how many times you have been here. You will have a different experience than the person coming the first time, the person who comes every year for a month. When you live here, the tango is another dimension with all its dark sides.
Those of us who live here always find the transient tourist rather amusing with their "know it all" attitude. They boast about who they know, all their "Argentine friends," and everything else, that makes them an "authentic" whatever. I don't know what is worse, the foreign ego in the milonga or the Porteño ego.
I decided about a year ago to start going to other milongas. I was bored with the same old milongas in the Capital. It was not only the same old people playing the same old games, it was that the milongas had changed. It was sad for me to go and not have the spirit that was once there.
People used to dress up, and go see their friends. The quality of the dancing was great. I could watch for hours. Granted, my dancing has improved significantly, but I love to watch good dancers. Now the floors are peppered with clones all dancing the same way, bad dancers, foreign women doing boleos.
Taxi dancers appeared to have a lottery going after women. The women are just as bad, it wasn't just the men. Teachers everywhere, half of them can't dance. Sometimes I feel like I am at a tango singles bar more than at a milonga. It got disgusting. I didn't know who was worse. I knew all the players. It was rather boring. The clubs I used to go to were now just older versions of the the other places. Buah!
Then I fell into a new crowd. People who lived outside the capital. In the province. Another world. I found that a longer bus ride brought a new world. Held in clubs the milongas are truly barrio milongas. The people love their tango. They love the music. They serve food, they sometimes have a lesson, and the music is king.
I told a friend where I wanted to go dance. "They won't dance with you." He told me. An Argentine. They stay to themselves. "I went." he told me. "I heard the dancing is really good there. No one would dance with me." My friend although a really nice man and attractive, and a nice dancer, is not a stellar dancer. I told him I was going to go anyway. He tried talking me out of it. "That long bus ride for nothing." he told me. I know he was thinking because he was Argentine and I was not, definitely no one would dance with me. I have known him for 3 years. He still does not get how many people I know in tango.
I mention to another friend, this time a woman, that I am going to go to this milonga. "Loca," she says to me. "They don't let touristas in that place." "Bueno," I say to her. "I am not a tourist, I have lived here 7 years." She catches herself. She means to say because I am foreign. She thinks because I am foreign they will not let me in. It is a possibility. Although I think they would just give me the cold shoulder once inside. I tell her I don't care. I am going anyway. So I go.
I take the long bus ride to a sort of sketchy place. Me and my platinum blond hair get off the bus. Being born in Detroit and living in Oakland helps. I don't care if they stare. I know I don't "belong" here. I just keep walking. Finally I get to the door of the club. I hear the music.
The man outside stares at me. "Buenas Noches." I smile at him, "Buenas Noches." He tells me this is a club for tango. I feel like I am in 2001 all over again. It's OK. I walk inside. There is a table near the door. I am looked up and down like a martian from outer space. I pay the entrada. How can they refuse me? I am seated behind a post.
I see many faces I know. I know I am going to dance. The women may not like it, but I will dance. First I want to watch. The place is small. People are eating dinner. I like this. They are in groups. There is a side of single men and a side of single woman where I am seated...behind the post.
I watch the dance floor. The dancers are nice to watch. Smooth, to the music, and in close embrace. The music is lovely. Not music that you hear in the other milongas. I get so sick of the same Pugliese, DiSarli, Darienzo. It is nice to hear some Demare, some Varela. I watch. The men use the cabaceo here.
I look over to the men's side of the room. A man sends me a cabaceo. I have seen him at another milonga. I accept his cabaceo. He comes to get me. How nice the codigos are in place here. He says to me between songs "This is your first time in this milonga?" "Yes" I tell him. "I love the music." He is lovely to dance with. After the tanda he walks me back to my seat. Something else rare these days.
I stay until 1:00 am dancing. Every dance I have is wonderful. I am seated alone. No one shares my table. Just like in 2002, 2003, only now I dance much better. It makes me laugh to myself. I love the music. I love how people are dancing here.
Finally a few of the woman who know me from other milongas nod to me. I am always friendly. It serves no purpose to not be. I think what I want, but I want to come back to this milonga if I can. The bus ride is a long one.
At 1:00 I get ready to leave. I thank the organizers. I tell them I love their milonga. I think they were shocked by how much I danced. I think they got the low down on me from someone. I ask about the bus. The first man I danced with asks me where I live. When I tell him Palermo he is shocked. He says he will take me part of the way so I don't have to wait so long for the bus.
I had a great night. It was the first true barrio milonga. Since then I have gone to many others and I continue to go to them. It is not that the people are unfriendly, or mean, or rude. Some people see the tourists as having ruined tango. They want to keep their milongas closed. They have their milongas and we have ours. Besides, these milongas are so far, it would be rare that anyone would want to come out this way. (But then they would come..on some blasted tour.)
One tourist has a great time and tells another..and then as the saying goes - there goes the neighborhood. These people want to protect what they have. They don't care about the Campeonato or the mundial or having 24 pair of tango shoes. Tango is their patromonial and they want to leave it that way.