I’ve heard a few men say how bored they are with the milongas. They always see the same faces. Some of them are their friends. I wonder why they don’t want to see familiar faces and feel at home in the milonga.
It takes time for foreigners to feel comfortable because they don’t know anyone in the milongas. Every milonga presents a new challenge for them.
When I heard this comment coming from a woman friend, I started to consider the advantages and disadvantages. Am I bored seeing the same faces, week after week at Lo de Celia? Not at all. Are there new faces? Yes, every night. It’s a different group week after week. There are always a few newcomers but mainly regulars who have reserved seats.
Imagine this scenario. You go to your favorite milonga that you’ve attended for years. You enter and find a new host, a new waiter, and dozens of men and women you’ve never seen before. You share a table with a stranger. You hear music that inspires you to dance, but your favorite partner for Miguel Calo or Carlos Di Sarli is not there. If you want to dance, you dance with a stranger for the first time. Maybe it was pleasant, perhaps not. You start to wish that a familiar face would enter so you could dance as usual — like wearing comfortable shoes.
As of today, I’ve logged 16 years in the milongas of Buenos Aires. I like to see familiar faces each week, and especially those who return after a long absence. I make note of who among the regulars is absent, like Ismael Heljalil. I attend Lo de Celia practically every Wednesday and Sunday. There is never the same crowd on Wednesday and Sunday, nor week to week. There are always new faces. I’m never bored listening to the music and watching the dancers from the same corner table for 9 years.
I fondly remember so many milongueros who are no longer with us. I wish I could see them enter the milonga once again.