I have changed my milonga routines. I had to. I get so bored going to the same milongas and seeing the same people. Here is the same as everywhere, only we have more choices. I am back in Niño Bien on Thursdays.
I usually go around midnight. Oksana and I catch the #60 bus and walk the two blocks to Niño Bien. We are a little crazy to do this. The neighborhood is less than nice. Tonight I have a guest with me. She wants to go earlier. She comes out dressed in a way that there is no way we can take the bus. I explain to her that we are going into a bad neighborhood. If she wants to take the bus she must dress down. She doesn't want to. I tell her we should take a taxi then.
Taxis kill me. Inflation is out of control. The cost of everything is going through the sky. It is still cheap for foreigners. For us it is a nightmare. Food is getting to be impossible. Meat was up 30% last month. Good thing that I don't eat it. When the cost of gas went up, so did the cost of taxis. 21%. The ride to Niño Bien is now 24 pesos if the driver goes the way I tell him. A year ago the cost was 16 pesos.
Oksana is going to meet us there. Jonny gives us a great table right in front. I feel the emptiness of no Tete. Flaco Dany is not here. I look around the room. There are many people who are no longer here. I remember when I first came to Niño Bien it was full of locals, milongueros, and mostly men. There were few tourists. It has changed dramatically. Now the milongueros mostly do not come here. There are lots of tourists.
I want to dance. But with who? I look around the room. The men I want to dance with are working the room. They are seeking the foreign women. Some are taxi dancers looking for future work. Some are attorantes looking for an easy way out. Others just want some fun.
I see a young man standing by the bar. I smile at him. I continue to look at him. Soon he nods at me. I smile and nod back. He comes for me and we go to the floor. I am happy to be dancing. We finish the tanda and I go back to my table.
A woman I know from the milongas is seated at our table. Jonny tells me not to worry. He will find a chair for Oksana when she comes. The woman asks if she can sit with me, is it OK. I tell her not to worry. It is fine. It is funny sometimes how the milonga works.
I am watching the floor. It looks mildly dangerous. Foreign women insisting on looking like they are trying out for a show. High boleos and fancy kicks. Most badly executed and dangerous. It is almost humorous to watch the faces of the Argentine men who have invited them to dance. They need to navigate a runaway ship.
You would think that common sense would prevail. The dance floors are crowded and the dancers here do not do show moves. These women do not seem to understand the nicest thing a man can say to them is "Me encanta con tu abrazo" or "Tienes un abrazo muy dulce," not "I loved that boleo you just did, especially when you kicked that French guy in the ass." Last week I lost part of a toe nail and got stab wounds on my left foot.
My guest is complaining about not dancing. I don't know what to say. I have told her several times it takes time. You have to look around and cabeceo. Sometimes you don't get your first choice dancers. You have to dance with your second and third choices. The men want to see you dance. I am dancing alot because I know many people here.
I watch a taxi dancer. Really I am not sure what to call him. He is universal..taxi dancer, attorante, teacher. He has his sites set on a plain looking young woman. He asks her to dance. She is thrilled of course. He is good looking, Argentine, and he tells her he teaches. I am sure that is his line.
All taxi dancers have a "type." They specialize in certain types of women. Some like older women. Some go for the plain janes on their first trip here. Others like Asians. It gives them an opportunity to hone their skills.
My guest is dancing. I hope she enjoys her dance. She prefers to dance with younger dancers. The problem is, the younger dancers prefer to dance with younger women. If you are 25 and beautiful everyone wants to dance with you. If you are older it might not be as easy. There is a surplus of women for the men to choose from. The taxi dancer is moving in on Plain Jane. She has smile on her face like she has just seen the light.
I notice a man on the floor. He is a morochito canoso. He is dressed well. What I really notice is how he moves. He is light on his feet. I have never seen him before. I would like to dance with him. He is smooth in his movements.
They play a milonga. I am not one for dancing milonga. Most men cannot dance it. I prefer milonga liso over traspie. To me liso is more elegant, more musical, and I like my footwork better. Traspie is just shorter steps. For some reasons people think they have to jump around doing traspie. I look around to see who is here. I like this tanda of milongas.
I look to the table where the Morochito is sitting. He is avidly talking to the woman at the next table. The man he is with looks at me. I have not seen him dance, but I am adventuresome tonight. He comes to get me. A gentleman. Actually tonight the men have been caballeros with me. Maybe it is the table.
I go into his embrace. Nice. There is only a few bars left of the song. I smile at him "Cortita pero linda." I say to him. Ah the flirting compliments one must give to stay dancing. He smiles back, "Hay una otra." he says to me. The next song in the tanda starts. He dances well. This is a nice surprise. These two men I have never seen dance well. I wonder where they are from and where they go to dance.
When the tanda ends I want him to understand how much I enjoyed dancing with him. "Un placer." I say to him. He nods, "Igualmente. Muchas gracias." he says to me. I smile at him. He leads me off the floor. I hope to dance with him again.
I look at the Morochito. I want him to dance with me. He looks, but then goes to dance with someone else. Maddening. I dance with a friend of mine. We are in a war zone. My partner must spend time trying not to get us kicked or stepped on. Unfortunately I get stabbed by a plastic stiletto heel. I want to smack the woman, but instead I just glare at her. She tosses her head and ignores me. The floor is brutal.
Out of the corner of my eye I see Oksana. She is scanning the floor looking for me. It would be rude of me to do anything. I hope she sees me. When the tanda ends I thank the man and then take off for where I saw Oksana.
"Didn't you get my messages?" she asks me. I tell her I have been busy dancing and not checking my phone. She wanted to know if her Ex was here before she came. "He's here, I tell her, with the 12 year old." She is trying to avoid him. We go to the table. Jonny brings a chair for her.
"How is it?" she asks me. "I am dancing a lot." I tell her. I am still trying to get the eye of the Morochito. He looks at me, but once again goes to dance with someone else. This is frustrating. My frustration doesn't last long. Jorge Garcia, Flaco Dany's brother comes for me. I love dancing with Jorge. A tanda with him makes everything alright.
When the tanda ends, Jorge walks me back to my table. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the taxi dancer has moved to the table of the plain Jane. They are drinking champagne. I wonder who is paying. Everything is so predictable.
Finally the Morochito sees me and nods his head. He comes to get me and we walk to the dance floor. I go into his embrace. Lovely. He has a wonderful sense of the music. He dances as well as he looks. Between songs he says to me "You know there are certain codes and I am never sure if someone understands them." I nod my head. I tell him "I have been dancing here since 2000."
My guest is upset. The other woman at our table told her to hire a taxi dancer. I asked her why she thought she said that. She doesn't know. I tell them my dance was wonderful. Oksana asks me who I danced with. I point to where he is sitting. "Actually," I tell her, both he and his friend are good dancers. I think she is shocked. I hardly ever comment so positively.
It is nearing 3 am. I look at the floor. At least it is clearing. It is easier to dance. The woman with the taxi dancer gets up. He has a dazed expression on his face. Plain Jane is saying good night. As she turns to leave his expression turns to anger. He wasted a whole night on her. He starts to case the room again. Maybe he can salvage the night.
He spies her on the other side of the room. A very thin woman in a too tight of red dress. She is looking desperately for someone to ask her to dance. He makes his way over to her and smiles as he asks her to dance. On the floor her look is still in amazement. Prince Azul came out of the dark like magic.
I dance again with the Morochito. Why have I not seen this guy before? I ask him his name. "Roberto." he says to me. I am close to horrified. Why do I always have to meet Robertos? I say to him "Every man here seems to be a Roberto." I think I was a little strong. He looks shocked. I recover and say "I guess it is a generation thing. Like Deby. That is my name. There were lots of Debys in my year." He smiles and agrees. "How beautiful your abrazo." he says to me as we walk off the floor. I thank him.
My guest wants to leave. Oksana and I still want to dance a bit more. We agree to stay another half hour. Both of us continue to dance. The dances are all good. This is so unusual, but nice. Oksana is going back to the US. I am going to miss her. We joke about it. I guess this is our grand farewell.
It is time to leave. As I change my shoes, I notice the taxi dancer is now sitting with the red dress. He has his arm around her. All is not lost. Some things never change. A night at Niño Bien.