Scenes from the milonga

I never know who I’ll find at my corner table in Lo de Celia, but it’s usually a foreign newcomer.  Last Sunday was no exception.  She asked how long I’ve danced at Lo de Celia and lived in Buenos Aires.  I knew it was her first time, and it was so obvious that she was desperately trying to get any man’s invitation.  Her first dance was with a foreigner whom I’d noticed a week earlier.  He was hard to miss with green sneakers (which, by the way, aren’t allowed in Lo de Celia).  Her second tanda was another foreigner.  Her third tanda was with an Argentine, an awful dancer who thinks he dances well.  I encouraged her to have patience and stay around when the working crowd went home at 22 hs.

She told me that she is from Colombia and started taking tango classes only 18 months ago.  I felt her frustration not being invited to dance.  Her body language — no smile and arms across her chest — needed improvement.  I offered some suggestions, and she was receptive.

I know how lucky I am.  I’ve danced with so many wonderful dancers for so many years in the milongas.  I’d rather dance a few tandas with my favorite partners than be dancing constantly for exercise.  Anibal Serena, Jorge De Gouvea, Hector Giocci, and Carlos Sanchez embraced me during six lovely tandas on Sunday.  My night was complete.

DSCN8195 Milonga de Dany & Lucy - El Maipu temporarily at Obelisco Tango

I prefer sitting in this section where I can watch the show in Obelisco Tango.  The show on Monday did not disappoint.  First, it’s a fashion show put on by the foreign female visitors.  If you’re dressed to impress, you may get a front row seat, and that means you may have a tanda advantage. I couldn’t help notice a particular woman, who danced constantly on Sunday at Celia’s, was doing the same on Monday.  She reminds me of an ostrich because she buries her face in the man’s shoulder.

The ladies’ room is at the far end, and that’s my first stop before going to the table.  I change my shoes, remove my jacket, comb my hair, check my makeup, and wash my hands.  Women around me did the same at their tables, as if no one is watching.  One of these days I’m going to take photos and show them to the women.

I’m not desperate to dance.  I know that a man who wants to dance with me will find me.  An American friend on my list of favorite partners was there.  He dances like a porteno and feels the music.  I didn’t know where he was, but came around to invite me for the Di Sarli tanda, my favorite.

The milonga was more crowded later in the evening.  Ismael Heljalil got my attention when he raised his arm as he has since we first danced in 1999.  I always want to dance the Juan D’Arienzo/Hector Maure tanda, and it was so special with Ismael.  He said to me, no se puede bailar, referring to the poor navigation on the floor.  Ismael called it a night, and I did the same.

Ismael Heljalil


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