Conversation 1. . . .
"I just don't want you to have any
illusions when you go down there [to Buenos Aires.] People go to the
milongas to dance with their friends, the people they know - and people
who look good to them on the floor. You get danced a lot here - you may
sit a lot there. Don't take it personally."
I looked at the
concern in this visiting Argentinian teacher's face, and wondered how
many students he has told this to. How many complaints has heard from
visiting tangueros/as that they came down to dance, but just sat all
night? I told him I don't have any illusions or expectations about how
much or how little I will dance. Even if I sit on my ass, I said, I'll
be sitting on my ass in Buenos Aires - which is still pretty damned
exciting for me.
He smiled broadly. "Good, good. Okay, let's get started . . ."
Conversation 2 . . .
tanguera talking about her last trip to Buenos Aires: "I danced with
[so-and-so famous milonguero] and he told me I danced just like a
My Argentinian friend responded to his friends with a wink, "I'm sure he did."
Then, he said to me, "What milongueros say to you in a milonga honestly
matters very little. The milongas are full of illusion. Maybe they mean
it, mostly they don't. Maybe they meant it yesterday, but not today. Tango isn't about the words we say to each other. The
only think that really means anything is, did you enjoy dancing with him? If you did, great. That's what matters."
Conversation 3 . . .
The lesson was over and as we were packing up, my partner talked with
our visiting teacher, and the two host teachers. We were clustered in
the kitchen. Soon the smattering of English (for my benefit)
disappeared. I could understand a little, and I tried to keep up for a few
minutes. I'm not comfortable yet answering in Castellano - so I just
Soon the circle of Argentinians closes and I am on the
outside, even in this tiny kitchen. Yerba maté is made, offered and
passed - but not to me.
My partner, my teachers, were miles away. The illusion of belonging, replaced by the reality of our circumstances.