by Valorie Hart
Copyright (c) 2000, Planet Tango. All Rights Reserved
As the new year starts many tangueros and those curious about the birthplace of the Argentine Tango, start making travel plans to go to Buenos Aires. There are two popular times of the year for the Tango traveler. Great groups of foreigners make the pilgrimage to the Paris of South America either from September to November or from February to April. One enterprising tour operator took a group at Christmas time, and another planned a February group trip. It bodes well for the future that with the ever increasing popularity of Argentine Tango, that the Tango touring season will keep extending until it encompasses the entire year. For the Tango dancer, there is no bad time to be in Buenos Aires (albeit Summers can be very uncomfortable).
Tours and groups seem to be the popular way for tangueros to travel. Couples like to go with a group or travel alone together. Most singles who brave it alone come back from the experience with mixed feelings.
No matter which way you choose to go, a myriad of questions comes to mind as you ready yourself for the most exciting of Tango experiences.
Whether you are part of a tour group or truly on your own, if your are a single woman in Buenos Aires there are a few things you can expect. “Esta solita?” is a question a woman might be asked. What exactly does it mean when someone asks if you are alone? (especially when you’re sitting with a group of Tango tourists). Mostly it’s an invitation to get involved, and not only for three minutes at a time on the dance floor. "Vamos a tomar un cafe," being invited for a cup of coffee, can also have other connotations, leading to a serious come on.
American woman are very casual and open in the touchy feely department. Off the dance floor, an arm draped around a man’s shoulder or a little innocent off handed touch can mislead the man to thinking that overtures are being made.
And what about the actual dancing? How close is too close when you dance Argentine Tango with a native? Let’s just say that there are front ochos and then there are front ochos. Ditto for the way a hand is placed on the back. If it’s not acceptable to you, finish the dance and then excuse yourself by saying “Gracias,” thank you, as you walk away. Don’t feel obliged to dance with any or everyone who asks you. Be selective. Dance with who you feel comfortable with.
At the milonga, the concept of women and men being friends like we are friends with men here in the States, is not customary in Buenos Aires. So a certain amount of behavior adjustment on a single woman’s part might be applied. It mainly has to do with acting a little more formal. Even though "Argentinos" often meet and greet with a kiss (this usually happens after several introductions when you are known to each other)¸ that is the extent of touchy feely between the sexes. Flirty and coy and silly little girl word games can be tricky too (unless your Spanish is perfect and his English is equally perfect). Leave the fringe, low cut and slit dresses at home. Clothing here does send a message.
Argentine men can be great dancers, can have impeccable manners as only South Americans can have, be charming, intelligent, attentive, romantic and sexy. They also can easily assume more of a message than you intend. Traditional role playing runs deep here.
Of course, if you’re taking the kind of recreational holiday that includes more than just dancing and socializing, by all means disregard all of the above advice.You might wonder how I come by this completely subjective information. Girl Talk! Girl talk and observation. As an experienced attached woman (meaning "no estoy solita") I watch and I listen and in these pages I report the most printable information I have casually gathered from the women who have made The Trip. It’s given with the affectation of a sister. Since it has no scientific or scholarly bearing, and is offered in the broadest and perhaps stereotypical strokes, it is meant to be taken lightheartedly.