How to spot tourists in a milonga

2008, February 4

I have some friends who look like argentines, they pay only two pesos to enter a milonga and are even sometimes hired as taxi dancers. This can never happen to me, I’m too pale and fat. But even with UV sessions and a diet I would not make it, because Pichi de Buenos-Aires, the female Sherlock Holmes, is here to spot me in no time.

Here is how she recognizes people like me.

They arrive wearing a backpack. The coatcheck is a good place to leave it.
In my bag I have my 3 or 4 shirts and my towel and the people at the coatcheck would not like seeing me after each tanda, asking for my towel and a clean shirt.

They change their shoes at the table instead of stopping in the ladies’ room.
The ladies would not be too welcoming if I ventured into the ladies’s room.

They wear black t-shirts, cargo pants and sneakers.
True. So are the argentines under 70.

They arrive after a class wearing the same clothes and no deodorant.
This is what happens when classes take place in (and just before) a milonga. Argentines, build dance studios.

They don’t make eye contact in order to dance and can’t figure out why they spent so much time at the table.
We’d be happy if we even could make eye contact with a waiter to get our drinks.

They cross the floor to meet their partner instead of waiting for him to arrive.
Hmmm if I’m waiting and she’s waiting too then the sunrise will come before we ever meet.

They cross the floor during the cortina to talk to a friend on the other side of the room. It’s a shortcut and that way they can draw attention.
How clever we are.

They accept verbal invitations at their table because that’s the way it’s done at home.
If not at our table, where is the right place to accept verbal invitations? The toilets?

They ask men to dance because they haven’t learned that men do the asking in BsAs.
What if the men haven’t learned that either?

They don’t observe the dancing before they dance.
Yeah, for some reason there is this proviso that the argentines are good at tango, no need to check.

They begin dancing as soon as the music starts. They are in a hurry to dance every second of a tanda.
With huge, heavy chandeliers falling from the ceiling without notice, each second could be our last.

They expect or try to dance every tanda.
Yeah, for some some reason there is this proviso that BsAs DJs are good.

They dance consecutive tandas with the same man.
Actually it’s the argentine guy who won’t let them go.

They add embellishments to excess.
Jennifer Bratt was there.

They prefer quantity over quality of partners.
Aaargh-must-resist-the-temptation-to-say-something-smart.

They will suffer through a tanda just to be dancing. Yes, there are horrible dancers in BsAs.
Now you tell me?

They dance with their eyes closed. Tango isn’t like foxtrot or swing where you keep your eyes open.
Hmmm there might be a typo here.

They don’t observe the line of dance.
Because it’s not easy to see it. Some white line should be painted on the floor.

They don’t carry a handkerchief to use between dances when they sweat.
In modern countries we have these things named anti-perspirant.

They share the table with their partner and wonder why locals won’t look at them.
Lies. It’s a well known game among argentine leaders to keep the lady dancing with them while the husband can just sit and watch. Providing the wife is attractive of course.

They attract the worst dancers in the place because they are new faces.
And old faces should be thankful for that.
They hire a taxi dancer without knowing if he can dance.
Yeah, for some reason there is this proviso…

They know they are beginners and believe the milonga is for practicing what they learned in class.
Oh, you mean they’ve actually been taught hip-hop in their class? Refund! Refund!

They are hustled for classes by men who can’t dance.
Maybe they can’t dance but they can speak english.

They arrive early and leave within a short time if they haven’t danced.
This is named milonga-hopping, try it you will like it.

They are the only ones doing the 8-step basic.
Someone should teach this step to the locals. But maybe there are trademark issues.

They can’t find the beat.
Here the blame is on A.T orchestras, which thought they could do without a drum.

They believe they have the right to videotape and photograph dancers in the milongas.
This is included with the extra fee that all tourists pay to enter milongas.

They think that every man in the milongas is a milonguero.
Well if it looks like a duck…

They don’t learn the codes of the milonga because Americans don’t need them.
Obviously we don’t, when you see how eager the argentines are to dance with us.

They attend CITA and go to the milongas to show off their new moves which can’t be done on a crowded floor.
And this way the locals can learn the new moves for free. This is not fair, Fabian should not allow locals in.

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7 Responses to “How to spot tourists in a milonga”

  1. patadura said

    Damm long list but funny comments šŸ˜‰

    On a scientific point of view a tourist should applied to all of them or only one is necessary to be classified as a tourist ?

    Anyway, no chance I’ll change my shoes in the lady or even men toilets !

  2. tangobeginner said

    A true milonguero, to paraphrase Mrs Pichi’s every other sentence, would never do anything like this. Therefore breaking even one rule makes you a non-true milonguero, a.k.a a tourist.

  3. Cherie said

    Dios mio, you are funny!!
    Thanks for the witty repartee–and refreshing point of view.
    Nobody died and made her Tango Queen, so
    let’s have fun and dance!
    Anyway, she’s already told me that Ruben isn’t a milonguero because he often brings a backpack, nor am I because I usually change my shoes at the table if I’m not wearing them. So if I don’t change my shoes, does that make me a tourist?
    Saludos!

  4. jantango said

    This is “Sherlock Holmes” of the milongas. I no longer use the nickname Pichi de Buenos Aires. I enjoyed reading your comments on my “How to Spot a tourist in the milongas” which drew fire when posted to Tango-L. It’s a compilation of all the comments I’ve heard from milongueros about foreigners over the years. They don’t use the Internet, so I did it for them.

    No, Cherie, your Ruben isn’t a milonguero and you certainly aren’t one; milongueros are men. You should have learned that by now.

    Janis Kenyon
    Buenos Aires

  5. Cherie said

    Janis Kenyon, the self-appointed judge of people who dance in the milongas of Buenos Aires is a foreign woman herself who hardly ever even attends milongas!

    She hurls around the term, “milonguero,” like she invented it. She just wrote to me privately to say that although Ruben has been dancing in the milongas of BsAs for more than 25 years, he is not a milonguero because he doesn’t wear a suit!

    And the really best part of her rant to me was that if she hadn’t wanted us to place in the final 15 of the IV Campeonato Metropolitano, we wouldn’t have because the panel of judges all listen to HER!!

  6. Tina said

    That’s an interesting list, and your comments under each listing gave me a chuckle.

    My question is, who cares if someone looks like a foreigner or not? It’s almost a waste of time to have even bothered writing such a list. It makes foreigners sound like a bad thing. Which is silly.

    I can try all I want but I’ll never be Argentinean. I live here and I try my best to respect the codigos because I actually love the codigos but at the same time I can only do so much.

    And for the record, I do close my eyes when I dance – I can’t help it sometimes!

  7. n a n c y said

    So…we know a REAL milonguero because he has no more than eight teeth, smells slightly musty, gets in free to the milongas and limits himself to three tandas a night with women who must be at least thirty years younger.? Those seem to be the defining characteristics of the fifteen men Janis once designated as the “Last Living Milongueros”. Now, that list has changed as her boyfriends have come and gone, but I guess she can do that with her list. And her name changed, too, after she finally found out what Pichi means in Lunfardo.

    For anyone intimidated by her ‘rules’, be aware that no Argentine would ever reprimand anyone for real or perceived gaffes in the milongas. They are much too accepting and forgiving and way too grateful for our appreciation of their culture and their tango to make us feel uncomfortable in the milongas.

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