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Dancing Argentine Tango: Save the Last Dance for Me

It's Wednesday. The day during the week when I go to dance. Sometimes if I have an easy week I can go on Friday as well. Between work, my apartment (the never ending remodeling job) and the gym, I don't have much free time.

Today I am going to meet my friend Alicia. We met almost 10 years ago at Canning. She lives in another province, but she has kids who live in the Capital Federal, so she is here quite a bit. I am always happy to see her. Tango is the least of what we have to share as friends.

 I told the organizer that I was coming with a friend and to save me my favorite table. I like to sit in the back towards the end, across from “Los Viejos Locos.” They are two guys that if I told you one was almost 90 and the other was almost 80, you would never believe it. They both look like they are in their early 70s. If you ask them how come they look so young, they will tell you it is because they are happy people, and because they dance tango. I cannot imagine this milonga without them.

There are few people when I enter. It is the end of month. Most people whether it is their retirement, or their salary do not get paid until the 8th, mas o menos. Between the entrance, something to drink, and for many, a taxi home, you are beyond 200 pesos. (Yes I know, 200 pesos is only $12, but we live in pesos, and this an expense that is not a necessity.) There is also a football game so this is another reason why there are few people.

 I never worry about how many people there are. I only need a few guys who can dance and if there isn't, no big deal. I can enjoy hanging out and listening to the music. Tango is a social dance and the milonga is a social event. I come to have a good time, not to compete, or count or whatever it is some people do.

I am sitting at my usual table. Alicia comes and sits with me. I am so happy to see her. It has been a couple of months or 3 since she was last here. We catch up on the news, her family, my apartment. Then it was time to turn our attention to the floor.

I know all the people in this milonga. We are more like a family than a bunch of people who decide to go dance. 17 years dancing in Buenos Aires, does that to you. You know almost everyone, and they know you.

 I go to dance. My friend Luis, the famous remise driver, comes to get me. “Che,” he says to me. No me miraste. (You didn't look at me.) It's a tanda of Pugliese. I don't like to dance to Pugliese, which is why I wasn't looking at him, or anyone. I tell him “I don't like to dance to Pugliese.” He looks surprised. “I know, I am probably the only foreign woman who doesn't die to dance to Pugliese. I prefer to listen to him.” Luis nods, he understands. He is the same. He is a dear sweet man. I realize that I have known him for probably 15 years. Long time.

I meet Alicia back at the table. She has also been dancing. Before we can start talking my friend Paco comes to get me. He is one of my favorite people to dance to Biagi. He has this great sense of rhythm for the staccato beat. “I am so happy to see you.” He says. “I thought that you had left us.” “Noo, never.” I tell him. “I am working a lot. I just don't have time.”

 After this tanda I go to sit. I need to pace myself so my dear foot doesn't get exhausted. Alicia is also at the table. We look at the floor. We both see the same guy at the same time. Alicia says “ That guy with the big mole thinks he is the best.” I laugh. I know exactly what she means. He has the “look.” Not only men get this “look,” women get it too. It is a look of smug satisfaction. A look that says “I am good,” when you aren't. It might be good for you, but you have no idea how the other person feels...kind of like sex.

Alicia goes to dance. I go to the bathroom. I say hello to Brian the DJ. I say hello to “Los Viejos Locos.” and then sit down. I don't feel like dancing. I do not like this tanda. I look up and Mr. “I am so good” mole and all is beckoning me to dance. I look at him “I don't dance with men who come to table.” He is angry. “You weren't looking at me.” “Because I don't want to dance.” I tell him, without adding “with you.” He is a little surprised that I speak Spanish. I look away.

 I am not in luck. He sits down next to me,where Alicia is sitting. “You danced with other men who came to the table.” What a menance. “My friends.” I tell him, and leave it at that. He can't. “You are a foreigner.” he says. So I see he going to pull this trick out of his pathetic bag of tricks. “Yes, I am.” I acknowlege. “So what?” I add. This guy just doesn't get IT.” He won't leave. “I am democratic,” he says, “just like your President Trump.” I look at his ugly face. “Trump is a Republican and he is not my president.” His eyes open wide as I add, “My president is Mauricio Macri.

I don't wait for this sleaze bag to respond. I go sit next to one of the Viejo Locos, the 89 year old. “Que pasa?” he asks. I fill him in on what this guy has been doing. My Viejo Loco puts his arm around me and calls out to the Sleaze Bag, “This is my wife. “ The Sleaze looks at him wide eyed. “What you don't believe me?” Sleaze hangs out a bit and then realizes he is not going to win this one and finally vacates Alicia's chair.

When Alicia comes back to her chair, Viejo Loco #2 is also returning. Viejo Loco #1 looks at me, “He's my husband.” I laugh. When Viejo Loco #2 returns, he looks at #1, “I leave you alone for a tanda, and look at what you do!!” he says. Viejo Loco #1 tells him “Don't worry, she's just an “amante pasajera” Alicia and I are cracking up. I think about how much I love my milonga family.

I go back to my seat. Alicia and I are cracking up over the Viejos Locos. They are such dear guys. Good dancers, and good people, and also very, very, funny. We decide to dance one more tanda and go. Alicia is invited by one of my favorite dancers. “Lucky girl, “ I tell her. I turn to see that Chiche is inviting me to dance. He is an amazing dancer, and it is a tanda of vals. Life could not be much better.

 We dance the first song of the tanda. I am smiling to myself as he leads me into a double giro, actually 3 of them in a row. It has been years since I danced with someone who knew how to lead and do this. I smile to myself as he goes “Eso.” Vals is my favorite of the 3 rhythms. To dance it with someone who can, is heaven.

In between songs I say to Chiche “Do you remember me?” He smiles “Of course, you were always at Lo de Celia's. We never danced much.” “Don't you remember?” I ask him, “You hated dancing with me. You once (I make the cutthroat motion across my neck, which is the kiss of death in tango cabaceos)did this. “ He looks panicked. I continue “You have were right. I was not a good dancer. I thought that I was, but I was not. I didn't realize that even if I liked dancing with a person, my partner might not feel the same.” He smiles. “Yes,” he said. “Yes, and then you learned.” We finished the tanda. One of the best I have had in years. He walked me back to my table. “Thank you,” he said. I smiled, “Thank you.”

Hear my 2 minute version of what happened on my YouTube Channel:



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