The milongas are empty. Most of them. The tourist milongas or the commercial milongas have no tourists. Since they mostly rely on the foreigners who come to Buenos Aires to dance, their floors are empty. The milongas for the locals are mostly empty too. Regardless of what the government says, no one has any money.
The milongas are 25 - 35 pesos to enter. Most are now insisting you order something to drink. A bottle of water is 9 pesos, 10 with a tip. If you have to take a taxi home, that is another 30 pesos, minimum. A night of tango costs around 75 - 80 pesos. Who can dance more than twice a week? I go where I am welcomed gratis. That way I can dance a few more nights a week.
I am sick of listening to the few tourists who do come about the prices here. They come on vacation. We live here. It is like they expect the Argentines to put on a show. We aren't MIckey Rooney and Judy Garland. There is this attitude that they put out all this money to come here, and there better be people to dance with. They want it to be cheap. The all inclusive vacation. Sorry but there is a world crisis folks in case you didn't know.
The other day I was at an asado with friends. Some who dance and some who don't. The topic of tango came up. The non-dancing friends were suprised to hear that those of us that dance do not go to the mundial, nor support it.
We explain how it is more like a competitve sport rather than tango. We are milongueros. We believe that tango is danced from the heart and cannot be judged. That every step is different, that tango is the only dance that is danced in an embrace and has no steps. For us it is the music. How can you judge that?
In the mundial, it is all about perfection. People take classes to be perfect. To learn to dance a style that will appeal to the judges. It has become like ballroom. People want to launch professional careers. It has nothing to do with the music, or the embrace, or how one feels. It is about winning.
We talk about the milongas. One of my friends a man makes a comment about the foreigners who come to dance. "Most of them come for an adventure." he says. I ask him what he thinks the percentage is. In his opinon he thinks 70% of the women who come to dance tango whether they are single or married come looking for "fun." My other friend agrees with him.
They talk about how the women are willing to pay for their fun. Some do it with "lessons," or "taxi dancers," (not the professional services) others are just happy to be picked up nightly. My friends say they have been offered money, clothes, dinners. They find it funny since they are both well employed and do not need any assistance, nor would they accept it.
I find this humorous to listen to. They talk about how sometimes it is "muy pesado." The women do not take no for an answer. They bug them to go to bed with them. My friends say they just want to dance. I tell them now you know how I feel!
On Sunday I am at my favorite milonga. It is a barrio milonga. Few tourists come here. It is mostly locals. I love the music and the ambience of the milonga. I have many favorite dancers here. I have my table.
A man known for bringing tourists to milongas comes with a small group. He is a friend. He comes to greet me. He tells me we will dance later. He seats his women at a table in front. They are a mix of European and a few from the provinces.
Three women are seated at my table. They are foreign. One women is in command. She is dictating to the others on how to behave in the milonga. She is insuferable. She is so wrong it is not even funny. She is telling them what they should and should not do. She tells them they should never accept dances with men who come to the table. A man comes to the table and she nearly pisses all over herself accepting the dance with him. I almost die laughing.
The other two women are surprised I speak English. I introduce myself to them. They tell me they just met this woman and she has appointed herself their expert guide to the milongas. I roll my eyes. "Everyone is an expert." I tell them. The expert has told them they will not dance. They are very nervous. I tell them to relax and have a good time.
I go to dance with a friend. I love dancing with him. He has a wonderful embrace. We hear the music the same way. I feel like I melt into his arms. He always comes for me at the table. He knows I will always dance with him. He is one of the very few men I will dance milonga with.
I met him three years ago in another milonga. This was before European women began to pay his way to Europe. Before, before, before. Now he only looks for the foreign women and for what he can get from them. He dances with me when there are no foreign women to dance with. He tells me all the time how much of a pleasure it is to dance with me. When he comes back from his little European jaunts he tells me how much he missed dancing with me.
The tanda ends and he escorts me back to my table. My friend who brings the foreigners to the milonga is waiting for me. He says to my friend, "This is mi amor impossible." I am shocked. I look at him. My friend looks at him and asks him why. He says "She is beautiful, elegant, intelligent, and I love to have her in my arms, but she is "un amor impossible." My friend begs to differ with him. I have no idea what to say and sit down.
The milonga expert is back at the table giving more advice. "Never get up," She tells the women, "until you know the man is coming for you." They play a tanda of vals. I look to my friend down the aisle. He is my partner for vals. He smiles at me and starts to come to get me. The milonga expert jumps up and starts to go to him. I smile at her. "Permiso." I say. My friend leads me to the floor. I wonder why she never follows her own advice.
On the floor my friend once again asks me to dinner. He is a lovely man. We always have this conversation. I am his amigita del vals. He wants it to be more. I tell him fine, I will dance a tango with you now and then. But this is not what he means. He smokes. Alot. I keep hoping he will find someone nice who smokes. Or who doesn't mind his smoking. He deserves it. He is a widower, young, with a business. One of the few decent men in the milonga.
In the middle of the tanda I look up. In comes a man that I used to date. One of the very few. I miss a step. My friend tells me to listen to the music. I decide I will ignore the man. He was a jerk to me. I go back to the table. The milonga expert is busy dispensing more advice ad nauseum. I decide to introduce myself to her. She sticks her nose in the air "I know who you are." OK. I didn't realize I was famous. Fine.
In this milonga I dance almost every tanda. I sit only if I want to. I notice my ex-friend watching me. He is doing everything to get my attention. I continue to ignore him. What does he think? I am going to go throw myself at him smiling? No. Sorry. Not desperate. He starts to divide his attention between two women. One is foreign and desperate for attention. She is all over him. When she is dancing with someone else, he dances with a woman no one else is dancing with. He does everything he can to move near me and catch me. I look away. I have no desire to have contact with him. He had his opportunity and he blew it. Ahh yes, the high school games we play.
I leave to go to the bathroom and see "Amor Impossible" writing what is most likely his phone number and or email on a piece of paper. I wonder who it is for. Most likely not me. I go back into the salon to dance. A few more tandas and my ex-friend manages to finally catch my eye. He gives me his million dollar seduction smile. I give him my "Rubia Mireya gaze" and look away. With that he comes to the table of the woman who has not danced and in front of me asks for her phone number. Oh like I am soooo wounded. The poor woman who is less than attractive is so excited she can barely get the numbers out. She asks him 20 times to please call her and gives him a run down of her schedule. Pathetic. What is wrong with these women?
Then if that is not enough he goes back to his table and says something to the foreign woman. She grins from ear to ear. They get up and leave together. Like I am supposed to feel dissed? It doesn't matter what the woman looked like. He makes sure to look at me as he is leaving. Dude you just moved up the level from pelotudo to forro. At least in my book.
Soon it will be time to leave. Who is the phone number for? Amor Impossible comes to get me to dance. It is almost the last tanda. He showers me with piropos. The connection we have is undeniable. Yet the phone number is not for me. I know that.
As they play the last tanda, the French woman who has come with my friend's group does her reverse strip tease. She dances bare legged. But when she prepares to leave, she seats herself where everyone can see her. She rolls her dress up to her hips, spreads her legs, and puts on thigh high stockings. The whole routine is done nightly at whatever milonga. I want to go tell her we have bathrooms to dress in, but that would ruin her show. Who said French women are elegant? Not this one. Not many of them who come to dance here.
As she is ending her routine, Amor Impossible comes to talk to her. He hands her a little piece of paper. She smiles at him. She obviously is not un amor impossible. He walks away. I am reminded by something said to me by an Argentine woman years ago when I first started to dance in the milongas here. I was complaining about the men. She told me "The problem is not our men. It is your women." Puede ser.