Once upon a time . . .

Women didn’t undress at the table in a milonga.  Nor did they apply makeup, arrange their hair, or change their shoes for all to see.  They once entered a milonga as if they were going to the theater, where everyone made an entrance at the door. 

Two nights ago, I saw a young foreign woman escorted to her table during a tanda.  She carried a backpack and wore lots of clothing for the cooler weather.  She peeled off a jacket.  Then she removed a sweater over her head.  She was oblivious to those around her.  She was about fifteen steps from the ladies’ room where she could have gone to change, packed away her clothes, but instead she changed her clothes in a cramped space at the table.  She wore high black leather boots and then removed her socks.  Women on either side of her returned to the table while she was in the process of putting on her shoes while bending over.   I watched the whole process in amazement.  No one pointed her in the direction of the ladies’ room.  I wanted to ask her if she saved valuable time getting dressed at the table rather than in private. 

Those who play tennis or golf would never change their shoes on the court or course–they do that in the locker room.  Actors and performers change into costume in a dressing room. 

The milongas in Buenos Aires no longer have the atmosphere of elegance and formality they did ten years ago.  Once upon a time, there was respect for others who went to dance.  Everyone was well-dressed because they had respect for the tango.  The fantasy of the milonga has been washed away by the flood of tourism.


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