After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Milonguero Holiday

Background reading for this post is
The Dark Side, and Of Milongueros y Milongueras on The Tango Jungle.

Tango pastel by Vera Berv

When dancers contact us about planning their tango time in Buenos Aires, I often ask them about their goals for this particular trip. Is it to improve their tango, work on something special such as milonga con traspie or leading skills, dance as much as possible, or just have fun dancing?

I'm quite often surprised that the person doesn't know or has to think about it for a while. Or sometimes they don't want to say.

For serious tango students, working with a teaching couple such as Ruben and myself is a huge advantage for lots of reasons, but also because it's all professional and a safe environment for learning. There are no dreams of hanky panky or cases of misunderstanding the intimate embrace or hope for a vacation romance on either side, and the tango classes go forward "strickly dancing."

Other types of students, perhaps unbeknownst even to themselves, prefer to take private lessons with one person of the opposite sex (preferably "attractive.") Whether or not the teacher gives good instruction is less important than being in their arms alone in a studio where fantasy can flourish. I know of many teachers who take advantage of the student-teacher relationship for their own reasons: sex, money, nights on the town, a trip. Male and female instructors can be guilty of this hidden agenda. If these extras are also what the student is looking to pay for, then everyone is happy.

Such relationships can occur in any country with any discipline from tennis to physical training to piano to ballet. But the tango is particularly vulnerable because of the embrace. For those of us not used to it, it can knock our socks off. Our fantasies flow freely. We can even imagine we are in love.

Sometimes our students talk to us about men and women they've met in the milongas, and all we ever say is, just have fun but don't make any long-range plans.


Nancy said...

It is not just the embrace that is so seductive. The piropos, the chamuyo - the 'sweet talking' is something that is lacking in many cultures. But to me, the most knee-weakening aspect is the eye contact. I had to practice not looking away when some man looked into my eyes. Even the physical space when chatting is different in the latin cultures - they stand much closer when they speak. It all contributes to an air of intimacy that may have more import for the visitor than is intended by the porteno/a.

Vera Berv said...

Cherie, what a kick to see my art up there for all (tangueras and tangueros) to see! Thanks so much for posting it.

You chose one of my favorites, because of the delight I see in the woman's face and even in her body...which is what I feel when I dance MILONGA!

The other day, I told my leader after the first milonga, when he led me into a move that made me smile:"Me gusta mucho las sorpresas." Of course I was translating literally. I just love creative dancers who really hear the music and will "conduct" me like a maestro, and I respond like one of the instruments of the orchestra. He looked at me and said: En la calle, hay sorpresas! En la pista, puede ser pasos "inesperados".

So, not only was I delighted with the milonga, I learned my new word for the day! and I await the unexpected in my next milonga!

See you tonight! Besitos, Vera

Jacky said...

You know, Cherie, we came only once to BsAs ( in couple) and the only thing we decided to do was : not to take any tango lessons and just have fun... I really think that was the best decision we made...
But if I come again, I'llprobably take once in a while a private class with someone very special to me.
Thank you again for your blog.And for sure I'll come to see you and Ruben the next time we come over.