The ups and downs of newbie milongueros

I wrote this two days into our tour, but forgot to publish it!

Journal, December 6, 2016

Walking into a new milonga and getting dances is never easy at first. Even for me, with 20+ years of experience, a new venue means I may have to sit for a while until someone asks me to dance. Luckily, I come to Buenos Aires enough that my face is vaguely familiar, and I get to dance more often than most.

That is not the case for a newbie dancer, whether in Buenos Aires or elsewhere. Watching the folks from my tour get their "sea feet" has been an informative experience. In some cases, we are in the very same rooms I came to in 1999 on my first trip to Buenos Aires. I remember some of those agonizing days when it seemed I would never get to dance, ever.

The three dancers who are solid intermediate/advanced intermediate tango dancers, have done well. My husband settled into his first milonga here, and danced more than I've ever seen him dance. We were seated in a way where I couldn't catch his eye, but I needn't have worried! He has the cabeceo down and enjoys the challenge. My West Coast Swing dancer also has a lot of experience just getting out there and dancing. Now that he has adjusted to the cabeceo, he is doing well. I yelled at him for poking me in the back to get my attention at a milonga, and helped clarify some of the subtle cultural signals that are hard to see when you are new; and he's off and dancing at milongas without my help! My female tour member who leads and follows is having a lot of fun at the queer dances and the role-exchange practicas; but sitting more at traditional milongas where you don't switch roles. She also is being intrepid and going off to dance by herself. Bravo!!!!

My newer dancers are having less success. It is never easy to just get out there, cabeceo, and dance. However, as they are finding out, it's easiest at the traditional milongas where the women and men sit across from each other. When people sit in clusters of men and women, it's much harder to get eye contact if you are someone new.

Having said that, one of my newer dancers managed to get to the milonga on his on, on the subway, despite getting lost. He hasn't danced much, but I admire that fact that he has shown up. Getting on the dance floor takes a while sometimes.

My beginner dancer has largely abandoned dance for the moment, but I am not despairing. After all, he is exploring the city, learning Spanish, going running each day on his own, taking private lessons with a great tango dancer I know, and taking a break from parent care-giving. Adding on putting yourself in extrovert situations in the milonga and being very assertive to cabeceo, is just too much right now; and that is OK. It is way stressful.