Sunday, August 05, 2007


Milongueras and milongeros are great character studies. After a few years of living here, getting to know some of them, and hearing stories from and about them, I've tried to distilled all the descriptions and stories into a few profiles for your reading pleasure.
WHY are there so many old fart milongueros and no old fart milongueras? Many of the old milongueros started dancing when they were little, in the patios and kitchens of their childhood homes. They grow up to meet THE gal of their dreams who is, at the time, young, beautiful, and a light on her feet. They frequent milongas together until they start having kids. The woman grows older. So does the man. The woman gains weight and grows a paunch. So does the man. One night, they go back to the milonga. He dances. She doesn't. Just a fluke, she thinks. She goes back, and it happens again. She sits there night after night until she decides not to go anymore. She's humiliated. Who wants to dance with a 70 or 80 year old woman?

No one. Who would want to when there are hot 30, 40, or 50 year old professional women in tight pants and stretchy tops?

The man starts going to the milonga alone, because, though he is old, wrinkly, balding, and slightly overweight, he is sought-after by these younger women for his dance, his 50-40 year history with it. He relives his younger days every night at the milonga. The thrill of the chase. And, if he dances well, he will score because a women will fall in love with his dance.

This woman, one of many in the milonga who hold advanced degrees or have their own practices or businesses, has her own source of income. She is independent, cultured, savvy, and, yet, she falls for the old milonguero or the younger dancer because of his dance, the way he holds her, what emotions he transmits to her.

In general (there are, of course, exceptions), there is a marked difference in the socio-economic levels between the men and women at the milonga. Local and foreign women tend to be more educated and more economically independent. The men...not so much. Many of them live off the women they sleep with. It's so very TANGO, so very MILONGUERO, and so very ugly and, unfortunately, acceptable. Living off a woman makes you "vivo" (smart, crafty, wiley). I've heard stories of smart women falling in love with a milongueros, only to be short a few thousand dollars and a boyfriend after a few months of wonderful tandas. Who is to blame? I have heard women say that it is the woman's fault. She should have never given a milonguero money, they say.

There exists, of course, the female counterpart to the old miloguero, except she is a bit younger and more than likely lives off the tango giving tango lessons. She puts "todo la carne en el asador" (all the meat on the grill) while she's dancing, seduces him, and ends up having her lifestyle subsidized by the man.

There are also milongueras, those hot women in their mid-40s or early 50's who dance well and financially independent, who are on the prowl for a young muffin o' studliness. Is she looking for love or a lay? Hell, why not both? Like the old milonguero lusting after the young woman, she, too, has a fantasy of "ponerse de novia con ese pibe" (to become the girlfriend of the young man), or to at least, "echarse un polvo" (to have an orgasm). Some women even frequent "pibe paradises" such as La Viruta, where the dance level seriously blows, but where she can seduce a younger man with her dancing and her readiness to throw down.

Then there are people like me, both foreigners and locals, who aren't really milongueras or milongueros because we don't get entangled in the tango intrigue, though our passion for the dance is the same. We enjoy and love the tango and the milonga for what it is: a hobby, a sublime diversion, a metaphor for life, but NOT a life.


La Tanguera said...

Dear Tango Goddess,

Thanks for the insight!!! Funny enough, just yesterday I was chatting about the reasons behind the lack of old milongueras at the BAs milongas...

In my humble view, it's all about the fact that the men usually have the upper hand, and can always go for younger dancers (of which are many), making it very hard for older women to compete, unless they are masters of the dance floor in technique, sensibility and/or musicality.

Whether we like it or not, the milongueras have more trouble aging gracefully, and I think they have just a shorter life, on average, at the milongas...

And at the same time, I do feel that there are a lot of older foreigners (not really milongueras) who do 'go for the kill' at hte BAs milongas, in the search of all the polvos of the world...

Tango Goddess said...

You know, the man is always the lead in the (traditional/milonguero) tango, although women play their part in the dance. He is in charge of el compass and maneuvering around the pista, so what are you going to do? Tango is machista. *sigh* I guess I'll enjoy dancing while my wrinkles are minimal and boobs haven't given into gravity 100%.

Interesting what you said about the older foreigners. Are you talking about male foreigners? No doubt they do. I know a couple of female foreigners, too, who take advantage of their relative anonymity here for their polvos.

Isn't "polvo" a funny word for orgasm? Echarme un polvo=literally to throw powder, or fig. to have an orgasm.