Currently there's a tango buzz about taxi dancers/milongueros for hire. It seems to be a favorite topic because it comes up regularly in milonga conversations and on the internet. Now we all have a game we play in the milongas: pick out the taxi dancers.
The other night in Gricel there was a large tour group of Americans from the east coast, mostly older women. Soon after they settled in in front of the bar, a horde of young men, many barely out of their teens, came in and joined the group. We watched the action with interest from our table nearby. The boys were badly dressed and didn't know how to dance; they looked uncomfortable, but no doubt were very glad to be earning a few pesos. The women seemed happy to be dancing tango in Buenos Aires. So what's the problem? It's certainly none of my business, plus it afforded those at our table a chance to gossip and stare at the unlikely couples on the floor.
What would have been more appropriate for this group would be hiring older dancers and milongueros. But they cost more--$50 US instead of perhaps $7 that the boys earned. Obviously a lot of money was being made by the organizers. They're not bringing tourists to Argentina for their health, of course; they're trying to run a business. It's just a shame that the tourists pay so much for so little. Sure, without taxi dancers they might not have danced that night, but if the tour organizers really wanted to give them a good time and value for their money, they would have contracted with older men who dance well to partner with the ladies. You know, like they do on cruise ships.
Because Ruben sometimes does milonga accompaniment, people have asked me if he and the other milongueros are ashamed to be doing it. Heck no, is my reply. It's honest work, they need the money, furthermore it helps the ladies who hire them to know what good tango is all about. Ruben wants to show the best about tango; this gives him pleasure, and really is his mission in life.
For more on this topic, check out an earlier post: http://tangocherie.blogspot.com/2007/03/taxi-anyone-which-taxi-would-you-hire.html
(The beautiful painting above is by Dvora Kanegis.)