I was slowly falling in love with tango, visiting milongas in Villa Malcolm, La Ideal, El Beso, but then I met La Glorieta -an outdoor milonga in Belgrano- and that was it.
The amazing Buenos Aires.
My awesome Patagonian journey came to an end and I was ready to discover Buenos Aires, not knowing my life was about to change drastically.
Both of my flights to Buenos Aires -from Caracas and Ushuaia– landed at night, so I didn’t fully understand how big -or how overwhelming- it was. What I did now is that I had to enjoy it as much as I could, because I had only a month before my “vacations” ended.
My first stop was the Casa Rosada, where the President spends most of its time and supporters gather to show their love and respect very often. Its original color, a guide explained, came from the paint used in its walls: it was prepared mixing lime and cattle blood, as it was common in the XIX century.
Another historical spot was the Plaza de Mayo, in which mothers and grandmothers of people disappeared during the military dictatorship have gathered every Thursday, for almost 40 years now. However, the real attraction there -and in most squares of the city- is the pigeons. Hundreds of them fly over people every day, looking for food or, as I learned that day, just to scare them. I was happily sitting in a bench and a couple stood in my right knee, but when I tried to shake them away an old man passing by told me not to:
Lesson #1: “You have to move slowly, so they fly away”, he said, and then he explained they’re very aggressive, maybe due to the meat they eat from dishes left in tables outside restaurants all over the city.
Lesson #2: never spend too much time eating outdoors, pigeons are hungry and love meat!
A few days later, I went to La Bombonera, home of Club Atlético Boca Juniors. It is a soccer stadium -one of many in the city- or a temple, depending on who you ask about it. For me it meant something special, as I grew up watching Maradona, Batistuta, Tévez and Riquelme play with the blue and gold uniform. They are only four of the many soccer legends that played in this worldwide famous team.
Walking the halls I could feel the excitement and joy of its supporters, while hearing the story of the Club, their stars and even the neighborhood: La Boca.
Around the stadium, people can find places to shop, eat, and even learn a bit of history. I picked a place for lunch and while waiting for my super tasty piece of meat, a guy took my hand, rushed me to the little stage and asked me to dance. That was my first Tango encounter, and it caught me completely off guard! Please, never try Tango in sneakers.
A few days after that shameful attempt to “dance”, I went to a Milonga, the temple of tango-lovers. They go each night to a different one to dance, dance, dance. No asking for phone numbers, no hitting on someone, no buying drinks to talk to you…People go to Milongas to honor the music and show respect to the dance that has enchanted locals and visitors for decades.
Old, young, fat, skinny, tall, short, porteños or foreigners, they dance in silence, doing circles around the dance floor, men putting arms around women so tight they almost become one -the embrace, I was told later, is the key to a perfect dance- and women resting their heads on their partner’s shoulder… It is so romantic one could believe they’re all lovers, but actually most of them are strangers brought together by the music.
Even those who have never danced, like me, can do it if they trust their partner and let go on their embrace.
I was slowly falling in love with tango, visiting milongas in Villa Malcolm, La Ideal, El Beso, but then I met La Glorieta -an outdoor milonga in Belgrano- and that was it. I found myself a teacher there and for about six months took tango lessons, so I could finally dance with Sebas.
Did I say six months? Well, I never left Buenos Aires…in the course of a month I found a job, a place to live, and an adorable “porteño” called Sebastián, who loved tango. I had to learn how to dance, among many other things, in this endless journey.