CHATTIN' UP: Chiche...just a chiche
Madonna, Prince, and Charo (that mammary-endowed, guitar-wielding songstress from Spain). What do they all have common? They're so well-known that they rate going by their first name only. Chiche--unofficial lord of the (tango) dance, the one, singular sensation--deserves to be among these famous one-namers.
So, what's in a name? After dancing with him for three years, I still haven't learned his real name. And do I care? No. Because chiche just says it all. Dancing with him is like playing with your favorite toy. It's a blast! He explains that when he was born, he was so darn adorable that they called him chiche, meaning a cute thing, a toy. Awww.
OK, so times have changed, and he's not so cute anymore with his pot belly, nicotine habit, smoker's cough, and a slight musty aroma. His dancing, though, is consistently fresh, innovative, musical, and exciting. You never know what you're going to be doing with your feet when you follow him. A few staccatos here. A lovely long line there. It's not that his dance is complicated or flashy, his moves are spare, economized. However, there's an energy that, literally and figuratively, keeps one on ones toes.
Tango, he says, saved his life, pulling him out of a deep depression after a painful end of a romance 10 years ago. Now, dancing tango is part of his weekly routine, along with his nightly 3 cigarettes, a glass of moscato, and a slice or two of pizza. But, like most older milongueros, his tango history begins long before the break-up. It's in his bloodline, his abuelos, padres, and tios taking turns dancing in his large home.
Surprisingly, his great love isn't the tango. It's jazz, which was, synchronistically, created around the same time as tango. "Sale mas cosas" (more things come out) with rock 'n' roll (boogie, swing, etc.) than with tango. He can't explain why this is, though. He could've fooled me, especially when dancing the milonga. Miriam Pincen, a well-known figure in the tango community, says he is one of the few, real milongueros who remain today. These guys, like Ricardo, whom I wrote about in April, have history, experience, a love for the dance, and a dance style that is utterly unique.
However, it takes two to tango, so I asked him what does he looks for in a partner. He says, "No tengo bailarines. Tengo buenas acompañantes (I don't have dance partners. I have good dance companions.). These acompanantes put everything into the dance, releasing themselves "physically and mentally". It bothers him when he doesn't feel this while he's dancing with a woman.
He looks for the same thing when watching couples dance. He spurns flashiness for simplicity. He enjoys especially couples who dance por adentro, roughly "from the inside", when they dancing for themselves and for the dance instead of for an audience. You get the same feeling when you dance with him. The rest of the milonga does disappear, and you find yourself surprised and challenged with every step.
So, what other dance would this milonguero, rock y roller love to conquer? "El flamenco," he replies without missing a beat.
For Chiche, flamenco would just be child's play.