amigo + novio = amigovio

Ladies, when you come for the first time to dance in Buenos Aires, it’s a good idea to have some information about what to expect from the men.  You may feel anonymous and invisible in the crowd, but rest assured that they scrutinize everything: if you enter alone, how you dress, how you dance, with whom you dance, if you engage in conversation with portenos, etc.

Don’t be surprised if you receive piropos between dances.  Compliments are a normal part of the milonga scene.  If you stay around for a few months, there is a good chance you’ll meet someone in the milongas  who wants to see you elsewhere.   As a foreigner,  you’re unfamiliar with the culture, so I’d like give you the benefit of my years of experience.

There are fewer words in the Spanish language than English, and some Spanish words have several meanings. When it comes to relationships in the milongas , here are a few key words that you should know.

The word amiga has several meanings in Spanish.  It means friend, girlfriend, sweetheart or lover, depending on the situation.  Friend has a different meaning in American and European cultures, but I’ve learned that it includes acquaintances for portenos.  They refer to a person as a friend without knowing their name.  Everyone is a friend in the milongas, even if they are not.

If he calls you his pareja, he introduces you as such to his friends,  the family, and you’ll sit together at a milonga, especially on Saturday night when you go as a couple.  This means that you don’t get to dance with anyone else because he has declared you off-limits to other men.  It’s rare to find a porteno who will be in a couple and allow you to dance with other men.

If he calls you his novia, you may or may not sit together at a milonga; he decides that issue.  This means that you will dance with him when he wants to dance with you, and you may dance with other men while he is there watching you.  He retains the right to go to milongas alone, but you do not.

Mi mujer means wife to the Argentines.  A woman gets the title after marriage when she is property.  There is no chance he will call you mi mujerMilongueros are not interested in marriage, because they already have a wife at home.

Amigovio means amigo con derecho.  It’s a friendship with intimacy and no strings attached.  It’s like having an informal boyfriend.  I heard the word amigovio for the first time more than ten years ago.  I figured out that amigovio = amigo + novio.  In this situation, you may find yourself going to the milongas alone and never dancing with your amigovio. That way no one knows you exist in his life, which in fact you don’t.  He has his freedom, and you have yours.  You met in the milonga, and he is your amigo con derecho — friend with benefits.

amiga: friend, girlfriend, sweetheart, lover
enamorados: lovers
amante: person who loves someone or loved by someone; lover, mistress.
novio: boyfriend, sweetheart, fiancé, bridegroom.
novia: girlfriend, sweetheart, fiancée, bride.
amigovio: male friend with benefits (amigo con derecho)
noviazgo: a stable affectionate relationship (courtship) without living together, with or without intention to marry; engagement.


8 Responses to “amigo + novio = amigovio”

  1. lina Says:

    my first time in buenos aires, i was not aware of the tanda rule. dont dance more than two tandas with the same man. it means you accept that you will be having sex with him. also the invitation to ‘ have coffee’. also, to have sex. this happened to me twice before a portena at my table explained it to me. the men who did this to me i am sure were fully aware of my ignorance. i call these men ‘bottom feeders’. i am no longer a milonga innocent. i tell the men who make advances now that i am here to dance nothing more. and i never dance more than two tandas with the same man.

  2. jantango Says:

    Lina, Social dancing has served its purpose for many decades. It brings men and women together. In life today, people connect through the internet which isn’t the same at all.

    You learned the rules thanks to a portena who explained them. If you show interest in a man by accepting his invitations, that sends a message. He may or may not act on it. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re leaving the milonga to go to a hotel for an hour. He may invite you for dinner and mean just that.

    I, too, go to the milonga to dance, but I doubt I’ll ever get tired of hearing all the piropos from the portenos with whom I dance.

  3. lina Says:

    i too love the pirpos, now, it does take awhile to understand the rules of another culture. so different from mine. i love the men of the milongas now that i understand how to give and recieve all the little customs.

  4. Chris Says:

    Lina wrote: “more than two tandas with the same man. it means you accept that you will be having sex with him. … the men who did this to me i am sure were fully aware of my ignorance.

    By definition, the man fully aware of a girl’s ignorance of “two tandas means yes to sex” does not mistake her dancing two tandas as her meaning yes to sex.

    Which is not to say he won’t take this chance to impress the onlooking guys that are unware of her ignorance… 🙂

  5. bird Says:

    So best thing for a female tourist will be to wear a t-shirt whit:

    What ever you think, I only want to dance … big smile

  6. Matías Says:

    Hello, i’m Argentinian and i follow your blog. Im 37 years old and been dancing for 3 years now. I dont share at all the spirit of this post of yours, it rather surprises me coming from an otherwise so knowleadgeable milonguera as you. You just depicted an over exagerated version of machismo in our society, i’d even say i found it offensively simplistic and inacurate. I’m aware you dance in traditional milongas, i know Cachirulo and Niño bien for instance and still cant understand why you depicted Argentines that way. My dad might have the age of the men you usually meet, he doenst dance but i assure you neither him or me are at all remotely similar to what you wrote. And saying things like Spanish not having as many words as English?? My god, you were true about the slang but just bear in mind you are limiting yourself to slang. Amante means lover, conocido means acquaintance, chica means girl, and all of them also change with context. Amigo and conocido are not the same, differentiate relationships and we do care about it, at least the people i sorround myself with. And there are many milongueros’ couples, wife and husband going out together. Please dont carry on such clichés, stereotypes and prejudices about our culture.

  7. jantango Says:


    I appreciate you have taken the time to comment so there is an Argentine point of view.

    The milongas are machista. It’s taken me a long time to understand the place of women in society in Buenos Aires. I write from personal experience and 14 years in the milongas.

    It’s true that the English language has more words than Spanish; actually I thought at one time the reverse was true. I studied Spanish in high school. I copied those definitions directly from a Spanish dictionary. Definitions change with context. Amigo and conocido are not the same for me, either. In the milonga, everyone is called amigo.

    Yes, there are married couples who go dancing together. But there are also lots of married men who go to the milongas while their wives stay home and don’t know their husbands are out dancing.

    I recall one occasion during a milonga on Corrientes in December 2000. Alberto Castillo sang with an orchestra. Miguel Angel Balbi approached Castillo to say hello, and said to me, “he is my friend.” I doubt Castillo knew Miguel Angel, but I was impressed and never forgot the encounter, especially because Miguel Angel didn’t like Tanturi!

  8. Chris Says:

    Mathias wrote of Janis “You just depicted an over exaggerated version of machismo in our society

    I think Janis depicted a version of machismo in milongas. We should not be surprised at machismo in milongas seeming exaggerated by comparison to machismo in society as a whole.

    My dad might have the age of the men you usually meet, he doenst dance but i assure you neither him or me are at all remotely similar to what you wrote.

    Nor should we be surprised at variation from the norm. It takes all sorts!

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