Monday, August 11, 2008

HOW THE LAWS OF THE TANGO JUNGLE BIT ME ON THE ASS

In the animal kingdom, male lions and wolves attack older, more podrido (rotten, or way past the expiration date) members of the pack to make room for the younger, more virile machos. It's nature's rather cruel way of cleansing the population and assuring the propagation of the species. It isn't just; there is no justice in the jungle, or the prairie or wherever wolves and lions call their home. It's just that darn circle of life Elton sang about.

Things weren't boding well for the TG when she spotted even more white hairs sprouting out of her head while fixing the coiff for the usual Saturday night at Cachirulo. I snipped off as many as I could find, an impossible task when the BF was yelling at me to finish up with the girl prep and get on the elevator. I sucked in the gut, lifted up the un-corraled girls (the chicas deserve a break now and then), did a final lipstick check, and shimmied into the elevator in a new dress I bought earlier that day from one of the Plaza Serrano vendors.

We arrived at Maipu, and Hector and Norma gave me the perfunctory kiss and "Todo bien?". Hector took me by the hand and led me toward the center, then swung left and pointed to my seat. WehehAAAIT a sec...Todo was most definitely NOT bien. This was the second time in a row he put me way down left of center, and I seemed to be moving farther down stage left.

As I sat out the first tanda, I took a surreptitious look around. There were some women to my right, near the corner, and some on the other side of the row. The 10-12 seats in the center--the sweet spot--was still conspicuously empty, but there were numerous, annoying little pink stickies taped to the wall with names on them above most of those chairs for some fortunate women.

I knew my dancing hadn't recently taken a nose-dive, and I dance most of the tandas during our short 2 hours at the milonga. Was I already being weeded out as an undesirable hembra? Dag, 40 is looming just over the horizon, but I still have 2 years and 2 1/2 months to go before I come face to face with it. What gives?

I knew the basic laws of the jungle, and had accepted that my relationship status was a liability. But, add my short, social relationship with Hector, and I am suddenly chopped livah? What about X? She's in a relationship, doesn't dance as much as I do, AND she's older. And what about Y? She's nearing 50, hardly ever dances, except with handsome, young Italians (and, OK, she has an enviable apple-shaped ass shaped by years of butt exercises), and she's smack dab in the middle?

Yes, I was whining.

The BF dared laugh at the Tango Goddess' plight. Lucky for him, I didn't strike him down with a thunder bolt (but he was taking me to exchange a purse at the mall, so I had mercy on him. He's so fantastico.). I wasn't anywhere near podrida, he explained gently, it's just that the other women are "worth more than you." Gee, obviously, he'd never heard of "a spoon full of sugar", but he added quickly that many of them have already a long history--meaning 10-20 years--with Hector and the milonga, and/or many of them are "available". He continued, "Why, X told me that Y has slept with half of the milongueros already and is always on the prowl for younger men. You know X. She's my reliable fuente of milonga gossip." As with most of the pantheon of jealous, insecure, and tempermental gods and goddess, this downlow was strangely soothing to the TG.

However, that didn't take the sting out of seeing the PTYs (as in "I want to love you/(PYT)/Pretty Young Thing") snagging dances easily with one of my favorite dancers. When they or any younger foreigners are in the house and wearing miniskirts, I just need to go home with my tail tucked between my legs to lick my wounds and have some chocolate. I become almost invisible, except to my most die-hard fans.

Then I remembered how it was when I was young(er), newer, and feeling, you know, very fresh in the miniskirt that I'm seriously considering retiring because of the cellulite situation. I was one of them once upon a time, and most women at the milonga looked at ME with suspicion and disdain. I had evolved into a permanent member of the milonga community. Hector can put me anywhere he wants, and, as long as they know I'm at the milonga, people will want to dance with me. They might not seek me out with as much testosterone-driven panting, but I still dance. So, I'm not on the marquee. Does it really matter?

Whether or not you get the best seat in the house is NOT irrelevant. In fact, it is still crucial to one's experience of the milonga, but there will always be someone coming from behind who is fitter, younger, and cuter than your tired, 37-going-on-40 or 50 or 60 year old ass. It's not just; there is no justice in the tango jungle. There are only machos and hembras simmering in a hot and sweaty soup of hormones and pheremones, embraces and meaningful looks, with each one vying to be king or queen of the jungle.

At the end of my night at the milonga, I left alone to catch a cab to go home, my BF having gone to dinner with some friends. As I stood at the corner, a middle aged man, who seemed to be missing a few jugadores (players, as in soccer), sidled up to me and noticed I was wearing tango shoes. "Would you dance with me if I came to the milonga?" he asked. "Of course!", I replied laughing. On the other side of me, an elderly woman supporting herself with her husband's help and her cane chimed in enthusiastically, "Oh, you dance tango? How wonderful! You're so pretty." She smiled so broadly at me and studied my face so intently that I could feel myself blush. I wished them a good evening before crossing, and, as I watched them still slowly making their way across Corrientes in my taxi, a tango began to play on the radio.

We are different from the animals. We can rise above the soup, even as we're stuck in our not-so-desirable seats. We can enjoy the dance whenever and how much we do so. We can offer ourselves to and embrace our favorite partners for those few precious minutes of pleasure. We can.

"Oh, you dance tango? How wonderful!"

How wonderful, indeed.

12 comments:

Caroline said...

That old lady had a way of putting things into perspective, eh? Makes you see the forest.

Tina said...

Oh, amiga, you are super-hot.
Of course, let's not forget all the beautiful European tourists in town for their August vacations (fresh meat!). I lost my seat the other week! :-( There were chicas I knew were not from here, sitting in MY spot, and I had to sit on the side and secretly pout. Thank goodness I got my seat back the very next week. I really like my spot. :-/

Still Life in Buenos Aires said...

Girl--you're a PYT! Though I'm a newbie, it appears to me that the mojo doesn't flow some nights.

Tango Goddess said...

It's so aggravating to think about all this because I know in the grand, universal scheme of things, a seat at the milonga is just a seat at the milonga. But we (collectively - I include men in this, too, because they get their boxers in a twist about this as well.) put a lot of stock in it because we are petty and want the status. Sigh! Sometimes I wonder if the tango as a dance can exist without the milonga, or if it can even be as fun without it.

Caroline-thank goodness that old lady set my head straight.

TinaTangos-I hear you on the Fresh Meat in August festival. Grrrr. But then again, there are the cute Italian boys that come in with the wave of foreign women, so it takes a little bit of the edge off. Not much because they don't want to dance with me anyway. Still, they're nice to look at.

StillLife-You back? The mojo most definitely gets stopped up sometimes. I have to figure out how to make my mojo more flojo :-)

Mike said...

I don't get it. You have had the best seat in the house for years, and now you are upset because why? Think of all those that will never have that chair that you got to spend so much time in.

stilllifeinbuenosaires said...

I got put in the farthest corner at La Viruta on Saturday night. It was definitely the worst seat in the house--closer to the bathroom than to the dance floor. To add insult to injury, people stood in front of our table.

I put on my best smile and luckily still got dances. :-)

Tina said...

@stillifeinbuenosaires - I actually like that side at La Viruta - for some reason a lot of good dancers are hiding back there :-)

Raúl y Pablo said...

me gusta t blog lo visito a diario visita tu el mio y si t gusta deja un comentario y nos enlazamos los blogs

Anonymous said...

Someone pointed you out to me the other night and said thats tango jungle. you are GORGEOUS! Truly gorgeous. i told my friend that i think youre nuts for thinking you are overweight (remebering that post you wrote) because you are anything but. i actually scrutinized you while you were dancing to see if perhaps im wrong and nope, im not. i wish i could have told you this in an email but couldnt find yours so leaving a comment instead.

Anonymous said...

Hi Goddess,your blog is absolutely fantastic.Brutally honest,entertaining and WITTY.I have just discovered it and I love the lot,please write moore.Would you have an advice for a man on how to survive a milonga, when only in BsAs for a short/6 weeks/visit.I feel confident in other parts of the world/after more then 10 years of tango/but in BsAs laws of the jungle apply to much moore than a seatting position.Fist in your back,pushing,comments from the sidlines seem like a fair game,esp. if you don't speak spanish.Should a tourist/like me/ever ask a lady from the front seat/cabeseo of course/?.I'm definitely! not a cute Italian boy.Looking forward to your next blog.

Tango Goddess said...

Dear Anonymous Non-Italian Man -

Thanks so much for the love. Some quick advice for your next trip:

1) Never, NEVER EVER, approach a woman to ask her to dance. I know this works in other places like the States, but not here.
2) Take a couple of private lessons while you're here for the first week, if you can swing it financially. After dancing 10 years, you should have the basics, so you might not get a lot out of the group classes. Now its time for tweaking for the crowd here.
3) During your first week, take the time to watch how the milongas work. Stick to the hardcore milonguero style milongas to get the rules down. This is a great education.
4) Learn how to navigate the floor. Again, check out traditional places like El Beso on Thurs and Cachirulo on Saturdays. They're sticklers for good navigating. There are probably other good places to watch.
5) Be clean, and smell nice. Always a good thing for the gals.

I'll try to write a post just for the guys (after I do some research), 'cause you guys need some love, too! All the best!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Godess for your tips.I hope that one Thurs.or Sat.I will cabeceo you and you will smile back/even, if as a result of temporary absent-mindness/and you will not regreted it at the and of the tanda.Oh well,life is made of dreams.Anonymous-non Italian.