Rank Xerox

2007, October 26

When there is a performance my mind usually wanders along the lines of “I wish I could do it” or “I wish I could do it that well” or “nice underpants”.

However when I saw Pablo Villaraza and Dana Fregoli performing at Sitges, the only thought who came was “Chicho and Eugenia should get royalties”.
It’s like lab rats, there are the ones who swim to reach the food at the other side
of the glass cage and the ones who just do nothing and rob the swimmers when they come back.


2007, October 19

With the group having a free afternoon before our scheduled trip to Colonia (Uruguay), the Confiteria La Ideal was the default option, being (first) open and (second) near to our hotel. We all sat around three tables near the edge of the dance floor and after a while all the guys were having their fun at me because they had all cabeceoed successfully and not me. The truth is they all had cheated, inviting the one and same argentine, a lady who was mainly interested (as my fellows reported) by honing her mastery of foreign languages and therefore was accepting any invite by any tourist.
After two hours or so we had exhausted all the possibilities we had within our group, almost each woman dancing with almost each leader, and all the cabeceo-able portenas being cabeceoed.

What now, we thought, nothing more will happen here, the afternoon is ending, maybe we go back and prepare for the evening. We more or less began to search our street shoes in our bags. This is when the mate at the other side of the table, who was facing the milonga entrance, froze. His hand, head and all body stopped moving except the lips. And still, no actual sound even came out of his mouth but I was able to read.


What he had seen was a most uncommon species in Milongas. A lone woman, more elegantly dressed than any other lady here (ok, not too difficult for a tourist in Bs-As), and younger too (ok, not too difficult at La Ideal). A pretty, thin creature with a job good enough to buy nice clothes and with a body good enough to wear them. Red hair, green dress.

My fellow’s city shoes went immediately back in their bag of course and he started to arrange his shirt and hair and tie and everything.

I had a quick glance and knew that my revenge for the cabeceo episode was there. The creature approached our group, came in my back, put her hands on my eyes. “Guess who?“. I gently took her wrists, we kissed and she promised she would come back to dance with me once she’ll have her tanda with a local teacher she had recognized while coming to us. This gave me the time to explain to the baffled group that she was one of my regular partners, from another class given by another teacher, not the one who was in charge of our group. I have a regular partner for this teacher too but she wasn’t with us in Buenos-Aires. This one is not rich. But young yes, and thin too, and definitely playful too. “You sure know to choose’em“, a lady added, as if reading my thoughts.

When the group finally left I went to my partner for a goodbye. She was staying a little more at La Ideal as she had been invited by each and every porteno and had hardly completed half of the task.

“- By the way“, I asked her, “why did you come at this Milonga?

“- It’s a place for older people, I knew I would find you here!

Gender imbalance, a theory

2007, October 16

 The theory goes: “when women outnumber men in a class, it’s because they hope to dance with the teacher.”

So I tried yet  another class yesterday, given by an argentine emigrate. He teaches without a partner, picking  a random follower to demonstrate the patterns. Not always the same follower. One point for him by the way. I bet it’s flattering but still unpleasant as a leader to see your partner kidnapped by the teacher. Also when the pupils exercize he partners the lone follower, if any.

 Well there were no less than three more ladies in this class. And when the  “change partners!” was yelled I could see the women swiftly getting away from their current leader and moving one step backwards, to the wall, pretending they’re some invisible ninja, manoeuvring to avoid the leaders, trying to remain alone.  And once the couples were set, the three followers would move one step forward in the direction of the teacher.

Ok I did not attend this class only to check my theory. I did not know the teacher but I did know the dance studio beforehand, and especially I remembered that years ago  they used to keep a box full of free candies.

The box was still there.

Tango über alles

2007, October 8

This Friday practise is not a well-known one. It’s organized by our Thursday teachers and nobody outside their pupils
ever comes here. Maybe because it starts and ends early. Maybe because there are other places in town with better dancers.

I had come with the hope to maybe find my partner but she wasn’t there, so I just sat on the first chair I saw, waiting for the predictable assault of undesirable followers, the ones who know that if you’re not inviting them then you’re probably not wanting to dance with them but who still come to you because it’s either that or not dancing at all. Three of them came so I had my three bad tandas.
It’s not only the lack of balance or dissociation, it’s also the unability to process the data flow. Like connecting the comp to a printer without enough buffer. You want to lead something but they’re not receptive because they’re still trying to figure out what was the #n-1 thing you led.

The practise was a two-hour one, I had come late, all in all after dancing with the three ladies and having a few drinks at the bar the end was already near. I had a look at the people. There is a discovery class just before, so unsurprisingly one half of the attendance are beginners, the other half being people like me – and like the three ladies who had invited me – from the Thursday intermediate class.

And I saw two unknown girls. Assuming that they were from the beginner
class I decided to bring my evening of bad tandas to completion by inviting one of them. Her embrace was cautious but not tense. I began with a square box. Fine. A pause. Ok. Let’s try a cross then. Can do. Barrida, amague, nice. Linear back boleo? Sure. The heel did not venture too high, not trying to hit the moon but she acknowledged the lead. Ok, this one is not a beginner, the perspicacious me thought. Obviously she wasn’t summoning all her skills to follow. Keeping her energy for one milonga or two after this practise.

The tanda ended, the practise too and the mystery as well when I heard the girl chatting with her friend. Two german Frauleins.

This is one big difference with our town and Buenos-aires. when a foreigner comes here we can safely assume that his/her tango is better than ours.

Gender balance stats

2007, October 3

Autumn is here, and my followers have chosen the classes that I will attend. But the respective teachers are still on holiday/tour so I took advantage of the free time to explore the classes given by the other teachers in town, or at least by the ones who were still unknown to me.

This included discovery classes. Clapping my hands on the beat, walking alone, being skipped by the ladies when the teacher asked to trade partners, it all felt exactly like when I actually started.
While I was there I took note of the gender balance, to check whether my theory (leaders vastly outnumber followers in classes) was any better than the mainstream theory (followers vastly outnumber leaders in classes). So in roughly 15 days I attended as many classes with as many teachers, except one day when I thought there would be a class because it was organized by an A.T teacher and some people were dancing but it turned out that it was just a warm-up before an orchestra made a live performance.

Here are the figures:

Monday: four lone followers
Tuesday: balanced
Wednesday: three lone leaders
Friday: balanced
Saturday: balanced (but well, it was a couple-only class)
Sunday: one lone leader
Monday: my mistake, I thought it was an A.T class but a live concert (two guitars, one bass) took place instead
Tuesday: seven lone followers
Wednesday: balanced
Thursday: two lone followers
Friday: four lone leaders
Saturday: one lone follower
Sunday: balanced (but it was a couple-only workshop)
Tuesday: balanced (but it was a couple-only class)

The grand total shows a lack of leaders, but it’s mainly because of the tuesday class with seven more girls, and a teacher who recruits in milongas. “You liked dancing with me? You will love my classes!”