Finland is not Buenos Aires

The table next to mine at Lo de Celia is usually occupied by foreign visitors on Sunday.  A few weeks ago there were two Argentine women.  I overheard one of them telling the woman at my table they hadn’t been invited to dance and didn’t know the reason.

I started to talk with the woman and tell her the reality of the situation.  This is your first time here, and the men don’t know you or how you dance.  She replied, we danced in Finland without any problemWell, I said, this is Buenos Aires.  We paid $100 an hour for private lessons in New York and have danced tango for twelve years.  We’re here doing research for a travel article for The New York Times, and I’m giving this place a low rating.

The woman said they both danced constantly at El Arranque and Confiteria Ideal, the two places I would have recommended to them.  They are new faces in the crowd and want to dance.  They asked the woman at my table for her recommendation for a Monday milonga.  I told them they won’t dance there either and should return to El Arranque where they will dance.

Our conversation turned into a discussion.  The woman pointed out that there were at least thirty men sitting during a tanda.  I said, this isn’t a gymnasium, it’s a milonga.

The woman said she was born in Argentina and has lived in New York city for 40 years.  She wouldn’t tell me her name, but I’ll know it when her article appears.  I suggested she read this blog and learn more about the codes and customs.

She danced only one milonga the entire night before leaving at 11:30.  Both women changed shoes at the table.  I leaned over to let her know that women change their shoes in the ladies’ room, not at the tables.

One week later, two women from Lithuania occupied the same table and danced all night long.


7 Responses to “Finland is not Buenos Aires”

  1. Susy Says:

    Great story, Janis. I can just picture this, and it left me smiling! Keep us posted on the article!

  2. suerteloca Says:

    Why did the Lithuanians dance all night long? They are regulars there and so all the men know them?

  3. jantango Says:

    They arrived in Buenos Aires two days earlier. It was their first time dancing at Lo de Celia after a year. They came with good energy and positive attitude.

  4. suerteloca Says:

    Okay, but then it’s a strange story since your example of people getting dances all night long because of good energy contradicts your whole original point that the men won’t dance with women with whom they aren’t familiar.

  5. Anna Says:

    Attitude is most important when you come to a milonga. Attitude “Everyone MUST dance with me” is as bad as “No one will want to dance with ME”. Dignity, respect to others and self-contentment are generally those things that make people around you want to connect.

  6. jantango Says:

    I added the photo of the two women who danced all night for a purpose. They sat for a few seconds and were up dancing.

    I used the excuse that men won´t dance with women they don´t know to pacify the Argentine women. The one I spoke with had a bad attitude from the start. It didn´t change, so she wasn´t invited.

  7. jantango Says:

    Exactly, Anna. A bad attitude shows and doesn´t attract anyone.

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