Milonga 101: save my seat

Roberto Angel Pujol told me how he had a reserved table at each confiteria no matter what time he arrived.  If he didn’t go to dance a particular night, no one else sat at his table.  That’s the way it was.  A milonguero had his table.

The milongueros had their table at one milonga on Friday night.  When the organizer changed last year, he didn’t want to reserve their table, and so the milongueros went elsewhere.  Then recently that milonga stopped reserving a table for them as well.  It is unfortunate that organizers don’t recognize that a milonga isn’t a milonga without milongueros.  Today they are more attentive to foreign visitors.  

A friend called the hostess that she would arrive late.  She expected to sit at her reserved table as usual.  When she arrived there were two men seated at her table.  The men refused to move, so she had to sit at another table.  This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is where you dance regularly and always sit at the same table.  Those with whom you dance look for you at your table.  If you’re not there, they may not bother to look elsewhere. 

I was away for two weeks with a cold.  Those with reserved tables call the hostess when they will not attend so she knows what tables are available.  Last Sunday I arrived before 7:00, when my table is still reserved for me.  Two women were already seated, so I sat at the next table.  I’m comfortable at my table, and my regular partners know where to find me.  I dance twice a week at this milonga and don’t want to play musical chairs.

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4 Responses to “Milonga 101: save my seat”

  1. Lili Khayatt Says:

    Janis,
    You said it. Milongas do not cater much to Tango, as we know it, anymore. The priority now is to make as much money as possible, and where most look to market their skills, their blogs, their egos or whatever they want to promote, all at the cost of the old “codigos”and customs and traditions that made Tango such an attraction in the first place.. But do not be surprised, Tango will always be a reflection of the times and society we live in.. You’re doing a great job of informing those who care to know, what it used to be like. As for me, I sit back and watch what is developing, with some sadness, but happy to know that when my milonguero partner, with all his traditions, holds me in his milonguero embrace, anytime, anywhere, I am, even after nine years, still transported to tango heaven.
    A tango embrace to you and keep up the good work!
    Lili

  2. jantango Says:

    We both knew the milongas when the milongueros were respected and given first-row tables. Today they have to take a back seat to foreigners. Organizers who cater to foreigners forget that they come to Buenos Aires to watch and dance with the milongueros. When the milongueros are gone, what will happen to the milongas?

    Tango as a business is booming. It won’t be long before foreigners are the only ones able to afford to dance in the milongas of Buenos Aires.

  3. b Says:

    The profit motive ruins everything, everywhere, in the end.

  4. jantango Says:

    I don’t mean to imply that the milonga organizers in Buenos Aires make lots of money today, because they don’t for the amount of work they put in. If the organizers don’t take care of the locals who attend regularly, they will be out of business. Foreigners come and go, but receive red-carpet treatment. Everyone should be welcomed by the hosts and given the same attention. We all pay in pesos.

    At least the milongueros enter without paying; many would be unable to dance if they had to pay. Some collect the minimum retirement of 1,250 pesos per month which doesn’t go very far.

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