Oh, how we can learn from the milongueros….

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

 › entry 1 of 2 › view all entries

            We learned this past Friday that traditionally, when dancing tango or milonga, men have a special way of asking women to dance.  Our professor informed us that when the man spots a woman who he wishes to dance with he looks at her until he gets eye contact.  Once eye contact is achieved, he gives a cabeceo, a slight nod of the head, and the woman returns a similar gesture if she accepts or simply looks away if she refuses.  This style of asking for a dance has its advantages.  For one the man can be rejected without anyone noticing, retaining his pride and it also does not hinder his ability to ask another woman who if he had asked the normal way would feel like a second choice and might also have said no.  I thought this was a tradition that was no longer followed so I was surprised when I went to tango lessons that night and before they began the normal lesson we were told of this. 

I began practicing my nodding/asking on an elderly lady and I guess I must have nodded at too much of an angle for she approached me and said, “Sorry, I’m already married, but I will dance with you if you’d like.”  So after adjusting the angle of my nod so that I would ask women if they’d like dance instead of proposing I began to like the system.  That night I danced the night away and met some pretty fantastic people and I felt I had this tango etiquette to thank.  The next morning I woke up wondering why we didn’t have a similar system up in the north.  I always felt that when you got rejected by one girl and others saw you were automatically done in their eyes and they became unapproachable also.  This system would be a great idea to infuse into our system so I have decided to take on the task of introducing and popularizing it once I get back home.

This thought brings me to the next thing I found interesting.  Our professor told us about how the men dance to impress the other men here.  As I looked around at the Tango club I realized that the men were in fact checking out the other men more than they were the women.  After observing a man dancing another man would go and compliment him and not the women he danced with.  So I wasn’t surprised when one of the teachers came up to me after a salsa tanda and told me “eres una bestia del baile”.  I felt a great sense of pride swell in my chest then… even more than when a girl compliments me so I began to understand why the men danced for men.  I don’t feel I will ever dance to impress men as my prime objective though.  I still feel like dancing with a pretty girl really well is a way to have a chance at dancing with an even more gorgeous one later.  You can bet on the way I’ll ask the girl to dance though!

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!

Over the past two weeks I’ve had two conversations that paired together have made me come to some interesting ideas.  The first conversation took place in Rio last week whilst at dinner with one of my friend’s Uncle who lives in there.  He sparked and interesting conversation by asking us how American we truly felt.  With the exception of one of the 5 people there, we all said we didn’t feel “American” at all. It was funny how those of us at the end of the table all said we felt more pride when we see our parent’s national flags than when we see that red white and blue. 

The second conversation occurred last night at dinner with four other friends.  The topic was about how we feel we are getting treated here in Buenos Aires.  To my surprise some of my friends said they felt they weren’t being treated with the respect they deserved here because of the language barrier.  They stated that no matter how much they tried, instead of being more helpful, people tended to seem annoyed and became rude.

These conversations and a few smaller ones led me to ask myself how I feel here. What do I say when people ask me where I’m from? Does my answer change depending on where I am? The answers were particularly interesting.  Ironically the only place where I really ever felt “American” is Nicaragua.  My less than perfect Spanish and clothing automatically labeled me as that and I could feel the anti-Americanism right away.  In Georgia, I’m looked on as Nicaraguan or Latin and many times can feel an anti-Latin sentiment amongst the students.  Here in Buenos Aires I can be either American or Nicaraguan and it does not matter which one I am; I receive no foul feeling.  It’s odd how I feel more welcome in Buenos Aires than I do anywhere in the US that isn’t Miami or in Nicaragua, both of which I have shared “blood”.  Yet I still feel more pride when I see that light blue and white flag of Nicaragua than when I look at the US flag. 

The one place I feel most comfortable in is by far Miami.  In fact, I find myself answering the question of where I am from more and more with “Miami”.  Miami is after all, know by many as the northern most Latin American country.  Its orange, white and green flag is by far the one that gives me the most pride.  I am Miamian.

The time was 6:35 am on May 12 when the captain of flight 4M4521 came over the loud speaker and announced we would soon be landing on the runway at Ezeiza.  As he continued his usual spiel about expected sunrise time and current weather conditions I peered out my window overlooking the still well lit Buenos Aires.  As we zoomed over the streets at 240 miles an hour I tried picturing what I was in store for me.  The amount of lights shining bright surprised me because I thought the city was going to be much smaller.  There seemed to be a wider spread of lights here than in Miami where I had just left at night 8 hours ago. 

Once we landed I was once again shocked a bit by the airport.  It was not the grand airport I had pictured before touching down but one so similar to that of Managua, Nicaragua’s.  The long, well lit terminals that webbed towards one central point with a food court that had restaurants begging you to enter them so that they may feed your appetite for the amazing steak the Argentines are known for had suddenly disappeared the moment I stepped off the plane.  Instead, two small terminals, with a coffee shop in each were the sole welcome party. 

As I sat and waited for the rest group to arrive I began to wonder if my ideas of grandeur I held for this city were just misdirected interpretations of friends’ and family’s stories.  Sure enough I found that my expectations were off by quite a bit.  As we drove towards the Residencia I kept asking myself when were going to get to the nicer part of town.  I had heard from a friend and read in a guide book that Palermo Viejo was one of the nicer, newly renovated areas of the city so it surprised me when we pulled to the side of the street in front of an old looking building with all too familiar characteristics shared with Managua.  It was actually not until we visited Puerto Madero that I saw the Buenos Aires I was expecting to find.  The older buildings were all refurbished to their old glory and there was an eruption of modern buildings sprouting all throughout.

Another thing that surprised me was the people here.  Living in Miami all my life I have dealt with many Argentineans, of which most are rude and think too highly of themselves.  In fact there is a general stereotype in Miami that Argentines are very snobby people.  The people I have met and dealt with here in my first week could not be any less snobby which is surprising since most of them are city dwellers which tend to be feistier than suburbians.  Most are kind and will take their time helping you out with anything you might need.  All in all this is a much more dynamic city than I would have thought. Only real complaint is I have yet to taste a real “amazing” Argentine steak.

1,109 km (689 miles) traveled
Sponsored Links