Las academias — ten cents a dance

There was a time during the 1940s when the boys learned tango by watching friends in the street or at a dance.  Everyone wanted to learn how to dance in those days.  Alito was fortunate that his mother was a ballet dancer and taught him social dancing from an early age even though she didn’t take tango very seriously.  Seventy years later, Alito is still dancing.

Alito was telling me about an academia on Cangallo (now Pte. Peron) in the 1200 block near Montevideo where boys went to practice tango with women who knew how to dance.  The cost was ten tickets for a peso.  They paid the women for each dance (two minutes) with a ticket.  The women didn’t wait for the boys to invite them; they initiated the invitation.  The more they danced, the more tickets they collected, and the more they earned.  In those days three pesos an hour was a lot of money.

Alito recalled that a friend took him to this academia where he didn’t have to pay for the women to dance with him — he was already a good dancer.  Boys could only dance with other boys at practicas, and the academia was a preparatory step for the milonga.

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