Milonga review: La Cachila in Club Gricel


The milonga organizers are Juan Lencina and Daniel Rezk; they also run Derecho Viejo on Monday in Gricel.  I attended on December 4 with Ricardo Pol (milonguero and tango singer) and his friends who are learning tango.

Floor:  A suspended pine floor of 110 m2 that is painstakingly maintained and easy on the legs.

Sound system:  Two large speakers hang over both ends of the rectangular floor.  The music and sound were excellent.

Entrada:  60 pesos

Seating:  Capacity is 320, arranged more like a club de barrio than a city milonga where all seats face the floor.  Tables have groups of four or six without separate sections for men and women.  It works.

I called Daniel at his home phone at 6:30 to reserve a table.  When I identified myself, he inquired about Alito.  Daniel speaks English and is very cordial.  I arrived at 8:30, and Daniel took me to our reserved table in the back with a good view of the floor.  I know of no other organizer who designates the reserved tables with a name card.  Table 26 had my name on it.  Most organizers take reservations and deal with finding a table when you arrive.  Daniel impressed me on how he handled my reservation, because it’s uncommon in my experience.   The men arrived later, asked for me, and Daniel knew where to bring them.


12 Responses to “Milonga review: La Cachila in Club Gricel”

  1. paymentmatters Says:

    There is a discussion going on as to the use of cabaceo in our milongas where there are cultural differences from BsAs. Some promoters consider it is an important part of the dance culture whilst others are more relaxed. I’m interested in how the club de barrio seating arrangement works with cabaceo invitation. The mixed table is the typical seating arrangement in Australia, where friends seat themselves together. In our region, couples and singles are mixed, although it is not regarded as impolite to invite a lady to dance if she is with her husband / partner. Conversation during tandas amongst the seated patrons is common. An invitation to dance is often a combination of an approach to catch her eye, and a glance. If the lady is in conversation, a light touch on the arm is acceptable. This is not generally considered impolite and the lady may refuse if she wishes to continue the conversation. My question is, where the seating arrangement is more mixed, is the cabaceo modified in a similar way?

  2. jantango Says:


    It’s no surprise that a nod isn’t widely accepted and used in Australia. There are many Argentine men who haven’t figured out yet that it’s the tradition here in Buenos Aires. Those who can’t dance well must resort to verbal invitations at the table and suffer public embarrassment when ignored or refused. This goes on all the time in many milongas, and I was the target of invitations at the table in Nuevo Chique which I flatly refused.

    The table seating in Gricel has four-six women at a table, alternating with men at the next table.

    When a woman is seated with her partner, it is clear to all that she is there to dance only with him. No one invites the woman to dance out of respect. I know of only one exception — a regular couple in Lo de Celia who occasionally dance with other dancers. A man generally asks permission of a woman’s partner before inviting her to dance, and this is more common in clubes de barrio where couples share a table.

    It’s normal not to interrupt a conversation between two people unless there is something urgent to say. I don’t know why it’s considered proper to interrupt to invite someone who is engaged in conversation. It seems that if a woman wanted to dance, she would end the conversation to look around the room. Isn’t it rude to the other person to end it because their conversation was not as important enough to continue? The man must know there is always a chance that he will be refused after a verbal invitation.

    The invitation by head movement works just as well in a mixed seating arrangement. Salon Canning is another venue where men are seated close by but not at the same table as women. Argentines are patient and don’t have to dance every tanda. The cabeceo works. It’s difficult to imagine dozens of men rushing to get to women’s tables to invite them to dance when the tanda begins. A woman might be faced with more than one invitation in that case. A glance across the room isn’t foolproof, but it serves its purpose well.

  3. Chris, UK Says:

    If the lady is in conversation, a light touch on the arm is acceptable. This is not generally considered impolite and the lady may refuse if she wishes to continue the conversation.

    So this guy gives the lady only two options. Interrupting her conversation to dance, or interrupting her conversation to decline.

    I cannot see how that can be considered polite.

    May she take a third option — ignoring the guy’s touch on her arm?

    Or is that considered impolite behaviour by her?

  4. Ricardo Says:

    HI! I was last April in Berlin and visit 9 milongas in 9 days and in Viena for 2 nights and 2 milongas. Cabeceo works there very good. Ladies wait to the cortina, listen to the tanda and raise their eyes. Local men also come to the table to invite. As a tourist I never came to a table and got pleasant tandas with good dancers. I hope this trend will work in other cities in the next future.

  5. Felicity Says:

    I was talking to a woman (possibly English) not too long ago, older than me, probably at a milonga. The conversation must have been about invitations to dance generally. I think we agreed that sometimes we preferred not to dance, or we preferred to have dances we enjoyed and therefore that refusal was ok. She said something like how she nevertheless still struggled with refusal and she must have said something like how things had changed compared to Saturday night social dances in the UK that used to be popular decades ago, because I found myself saying “So didn’t women refuse dances then? Why?”
    She said without any hesitation, “Oh, because if you refused you wouldn’t be asked by anyone again”. I have heard this often before in Britain.

    I was speaking to another woman last week on the same topic about cabeceo and separate seating.
    – I think it would be difficult here, she said, because of Scottish culture.
    – Why’s that?
    – Because it’s seen as not done, to refuse invitations. And apart from that we have trouble just looking people in the eye.

    Perhaps the differences in invitation are cultural and also a difference between then and now.

  6. jantango Says:


    The excuse that we women have trouble with eye contact because of culture or tradition isn’t valid if they want to dance. When a man approaches with a verbal invitation, a woman makes eye contact to accept, or looks away to refuse.

    I don’t see much difference in customs around the world for social dancing. If a woman rejects a man’s invitation, why would a man try again?

  7. Felicity Says:


    Re: “If a woman rejects a man’s invitation, why would a man try again?”
    Perhaps because “No”, might mean “not now” for any unguessable number of reasons, including “not to this tanda” because say I’m not very keen on this kind of Di Sarli. I am glad when I sometimes “say” no that not all guys give up on me forever!

  8. jantango Says:


    This is where the cultural divide occurs. When a milonguero’s invitation is refused by a milonguera looking away, he doesn’t ask her again. He accepts it. That’s the way it is in Buenos Aires. No means no.

    I’ve ignored many men who have approached me to dance. They got the message and never return.

  9. Patricia Says:


    Your description of seating arrangements apply equally in Adelaide (South Australia). However, that has not prevented the cabeceo from catching on and being the most common form of invitation at our milongas. (Although, it’s not practised with the same strict codes of etiquette as in the traditional BsAs milongas.) I don’t think that our respective cultures are so different. People just need a little time and encouragement to feel confident with the cabeceo.

    In my view, interrupting conversations is definitely not OK. A person’s body language would indicate whether they are available to dance or are otherwise preoccupied.

    How lovely it is, for both men and women, to dance with someone who really wants to dance that tanda with you, rather than “going through the motions” out of a sense of obligation, or because one lacks the confidence to decline (albeit politely) a direct invitation.

  10. Chris, UK Says:

    Well said, Patricia.

  11. Felicity Says:


    Sorry, perhaps a misunderstanding . By invitation I meant by look. By asking I usually mean a direct verbal ask. But that is interesting to know. For clarity, do you mean if you refuse invitation by look they never ask again? Because if I want to dance with *that* guy I guess I’d better hope I’m in the right state of mind and that we like exactly the same kind of music at the same time else we’re stymied. Much lost opportunity.

    Anyway, the seating arrangements at that milonga as you describe them sound very civilized.

  12. jantango Says:

    We are talking about two forms of inviting a woman to dance:
    1 – a head movement (tilt or nod) or even movement of the lips
    2 – a verbal question at the table

    If a milonguero receives a refusal from either way, he doesn’t bother the woman again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s