There are people that have this need to discuss every move they make in regards to tango. Where they are dancing, who they danced with, the trials and tribulations of who dances well and who doesn't, the major disappointments, the major highs, the trips to Buenos Aires, the 9 million classes, the 400 pair of tango shoes, and how many Argentines they know. This era ended for me a long time ago.
I do not feel the need to tell the world when I am dancing and really, how I feel about it. The few times I do blog I get incredible emails from people who have probably been dancing for less time than I have lived in Buenos Aires. My favorite is the person who told me "you don't deserve to have an opinion, because you don't dance anymore." Does this person have a spy camera that follows my every move? Besides, who decides who can have an opinion and who can't? Aren't we all entitled to our opinions?
My friend Sarah is here from NYC. She is one of my oldest tango friends. We are having fun, just being friends, hanging out. The two musketeers. The third one is in New Orleans. I wish she was here too. I reminded Sarah of some of her famous sayings to me when I just started to dance. She is surprised at the things that I remembered. My brain is like that. Full of useless trivia, which is what an old boyfriend once said to me, until that "useless trivia" had something of value for him.
I looked up to her. She had been dancing, teaching, and performing longer than anyone I knew at the time, and she was and still is a nice person. I still look up to her, but maybe not for tango. She is an amazing person. She hosts the most popular milonga in NYC (The All Night Milonga) she goes to nursing school, she rescues cats, and she is a champion of all animal rights. How can you not love a friend like that?
Finally after her being here a couple of weeks, we decide to go to a milonga. I make sure she knows I go to milongas where the people are very traditional. Most likely we may be the youngest people there. Or look like the youngest. I don't like tourist milongas. I don't care about Argentines who look like they rolled off the poster of some horrible tango show, I like milongas where the people know how to dance. Sarah likes old people, plus she wants to see lots of different types of milongas.
Friday night. There are lots of options. For me, the best option is Gricel. Gricel, along with Lo de Celia, are like dancing in my living room. For other people this may not be true. Clely Rugone and Oscar Hector have the milonga on this night. You can call them milongueros, you can call them veterans. You can call them anything you like, but for me, they are people who have always been kind to me. Both of them are wonderful dancers and attract the same at their milongas. Oscar used to have the milonga in Mataderos, La Glorias - until a tornado blew down the social club where the milonga had been held. Oscar has had many milongas. Clely too. She still does.
After having a fight with my clothes, (amazing how I can be the same size, but things have sort of moved around) Sarah and I are off. We enter Gricel after arriving on the bus. I told Sarah that this being the end of the month, it is possible that there may not be many people. Things are a little difficult these days. My water bill went from 65 pesos to 700, so maybe this will give you an idea. Going to the milonga is not as high a priority for lots of people.
I am surprised that there are many people, and it is still early. I see a few familiar faces. There are also lots of faces missing. There are people who always came to Gricel on a Friday night, regardless of who was hosting the milonga. Very few of them are here tonight.
Sarah and I sit down. The men are looking at us. Sarah has not changed her shoes. I will not dance with anyone until I see how they dance. That is me. I would rather not dance, than to dance with someone who cannot. I do not know the DJ. He is good. A man keeps staring at me. I stare at the table. I know him, but I don't remember if he dances well. I would prefer to wait. I do not have this option. Clely comes to tell me to dance with him. OK.
He takes me out to the floor. "Rubia," he says. "Where have you been?" This is a question I will hear all night and in every tanda except one. My friend Dany Pererya the DJ at La Viruta and other milongas, knows where I have been. Most people figure I moved back to the US. I explain my foot, my job, life in general. Although my foot is not perfect, good dancers and Leo's Shoes help lots. I cannot dance without Leo's shoes, she has been making my shoes for 18 years.
Oscar Hector comes to get me for a tanda. This is special. Amanda (Amanda Lucero, the great milonguera) says he is one of the best dancers of his generation. I love watching him. He takes me to the floor. I am surprised that he remembers me. The hair. It is always the hair that does it. He is surprised that I have remembered not only his milongas, but his shows, and how I loved to watch him dance with his sister, Haydee, not just tango, but jazz as well. This dance with Oscar reminds me why I love to dance tango.
Sarah has her Gancia and I have my champagne. We are having fun. Everyone is having fun. No one is doing boleos. No one is taking up half the floor, and no one is bumping into anyone. I think of all the times I have been in this club. My first milonga in Buenos Aires, back in 2000 was in Gricel on a Sunday. I spent many Fridays here with Mimi and Sandra. Mondays were special with Patricio (who has since passed over to that great milonga in the sky) and Adriana. There were others who have floated into and out of my life. I had many good dances and times here. Lots of things have changed, but some things never do.