Monday, August 27, 2007


My friend just got laid. My friend, a striking older woman with a laugh as loud and bawdy as a bunch of sailors after a 12 pack of cigarettes and a few bottles of Johnny Walker, got her grrrroove on with a milonguero. From her glow, I'd say he gave her a rockin' good time. I'm so proud of her.

But it took a while to get to this state of post-polvo (post-orgasm) bliss. Lemme 'splain old-school, milonguero-style courtin' by reviewing a little of the basics of the birds and the bees.

My BF has a courting theory based on genetics and evolution. He says that women are built to "hacer la luchita", or to play hard to get. It helps the propagation of the fittest species. Who wants to get laid by, or god-forbid, have offspring with someone too eager and desperate? Desperation is soooo NOT a turn-on. Eeeewwww. Go AWAY! We want men who are willing to work a little bit, and then know when they need to back off, and, if necessary, to have enough of a backbone to tell us to "andar a la reputa que nos repario" (literally: to go to the very slutty mother that gave us birth twice over" or to go fuck off), but in a nice, gentlemanly way, like Rhett Butler: Frankly, Graciela, a mi no me importa.

An avid Animal Planet and Discovery Channel watcher, he cites observations of crocodile courting behavior as proof that all animals have this little tango dance o' love before the van starts a-rockin'. The male crocodile follows the female around in the water, nudges her a little bit with his nose, swims little circles around her, splashes the water with his tail to show how big and bad he know, typical testosterone-driven behavior. The female of course, being female and proper and well-brought-up with good breeding, snubs him. This goes on for a week until, when he's pretty much ready to throw in the towel (my BF's assessment and wierd segway (sp?) into explaining human behavior), she finally gives in, has little crocodilos, and then, of course, suffers from the baby daddy's up and leaving her. But that's for another blog note. Let's focus on the romance, people!

Female homosapiens, it seems, are no different than the crocodilas. We, too, play hard-to-get...for the most part...except for that one time in Spain when...oh, and then, there's that guy I met at that club in college...oh, yeah, the guy at the airport. In general, we like feeling desired. That's part of the fun of the milonga, too, isn't it? It's gosh-darn primal. Feeling our power to attract los machos, getting dressed up to go out and play the field, even if it an imaginary field that only exists for 2 or 3 hours. It's fun, that frisky singleton feeling.

However, there is an art to the "luchita" (the little fight). There is only a certain period of time a guy or crocodile or ape (Hmmm...are these things synonymous?) will put up with a woman's flirtatious rejections. Sure, he'll make a pest of himself, teasing, cajoling, practically seducing you with his dance for a while, but, after a while, he'll suddenly turn to ice. I mean, once it gets to this point, he may very well ignore the woman at the milonga, so she can just forget about looking at him. Hmph! This has happened to many women I know at the milonga and yours truly, of course.

Now, if she only saw him as a pest, good riddance. BUT _IF_ she had been interested in him, it's time for her to stop the playing around, time for the cazada (hunted) to be the cazadora (hunter). If the woman works it, and I mean, WORKS it, pulls out all the stops, wears that outrageously expensive Victoria Secret push-up bra, and seduces him, the man will fall. They like to beat their chests and howl at the moon, but, for the most part, they're incredibly easy to get into bed, IF that's what you want to do. And this is, indeed, what my dear friend wanted to do and did.

Back to the story - After my friend turned down his various invitations to go out, he had HAD it. And yet, every time we went out together as a group, she would exhibit the tell-tale "I'm-so-ready-to-throw-down-let's-move-the-furniture" mating signs: leaning into him, laughing at his stupid jokes, etc. It was adorable, damn it. So, she was definitely into him, just letting the luchita get outta hand. How'd she get him back? Goddess-style: SHE invited HIM for coffee. How could he resist?

Now, who knows if this is going to last. Who knows if this is going to be one of those crazy milonga flings people get into. And who the hell cares. My friend was glowing, and we, her friends, basked in her happiness.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Chila-Buenos Aires Cuisine
Alicia Moreau de Justo 1160

Say, Buenos Aires Cuisine, and you may think about beef and chimichurri, chorizo, and dulce de leche. Or pasta and more pasta. This elegant restaurant in swank Puerto Madero serves up "suave" dishes, many of them based on seafood, for a not so "suave" price. This place is expensive, but is it worth it?

I've gotta say, "No." But that doesn't mean that I had a horrible time either.

First, the service is wonderful. The waiters are attentive and nice to look at. Second, it's located in pretty Puerto Madero, and on a nice day, it can't be beat, except maybe by Marcelo's next door. Third, the bread is outstanding. The waiter came around with a basket full of freshly-baked flavored breads and a generous slab o' butter sprinkled with salt. From a savory nut and cheese to a lovely malbec-touched slice, you're sure to find something to whet your appetite. Fourth, the coffee presentation was so elegant. A little silver tray of condiments (?) came with containers filled with brown sugar, dark chocolate powder spiked with cinnamon, and regular bleached sugar. The bite-sized morsels of creamy chocolate goodness and the half-a-thumbprint sized lemon tarts were enough to sate my dessert craving.


what about the food-food?

The BF wanted to try something different, expand our already expansive restaurant repertoire. As I studied the menu in front, my eyes glazed over in boredom. Now, I like food, and I was hungry, but I wasn't feeling the love. Still, in the name of culinary adventure, I followed the BF in.

It was already 1:00 in the afternoon on a holiday, and we were one of only 2 couples in the restaurant. Usually, other popular restaurants are bustling, but, strangely, this one was practically empty. We outnumbered the staff.

There were only a couple of things on the menu that appealed to me: a salad of hojas verdes with walnuts and a spaghetti dish with broccoli, cashew nuts, and dried tomatoe in a creamy mustard sauce. The BF ordered the besugo (fish-don't know what kind) in broth. Neither main course was "feo" (ugly), but my palate didn't do summersaults of joy either. It was just...OK. It was a case of being hungry and being fed in a beautiful and elegant setting. But was it worth the hefty price tag? Mmmmm...not so much.

Ambiance: Elegant and modern. Great date place, especially with the mellow music, low lighting, and scenery.

Service: Excellent.

Price: With drinks and coffee, about 130 pesos for two, maybe a little more. Can't remember what the receipt said.

Overall: If you're willing to skimp a little on the elegance and presentation, head on over to Marcelo's next door, where you'll be served twice as much for the same price.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON DANCE: Circulo de Trovador

This long weekend, I had the chance to catch the show "Bodies: The Exhibition" at the Abasto Shopping Mall which opened on August 15. These are real bodies--previous owners apparently signed an agreement donating their remains to science--preserved in formaldehyde and dissected. It sounds like a horror movie, but it's absolutely fascinating. Seeing the intricacies of the body--the seemingly cotton-candy lightness of the capillaries of a finger pad, slices of brain, a clogged artery, the tendons of a left foot, a liver with cirrhosis (eeeuuuwwwww!)--made me want to pledge myself to veganism and a life in the country.

After seeing a comparison between a healthy lung and one stained dark gray with nicotine-related cancer and emphysema, I thought smugly, "Well, thank god, I don't smoke. Then I remembered I had just spent 2 hours inhaling second-hand smoke at the Circulo Trovador, a dance hall (one of the few that were still operating in greater Buenos Aires shortly after Cromanon in December 2004) located in the provincia of Vicente Lopez at Libertador 1031, where we celebrated the birthday of a friend from the milonga.

This venue has not one, not two, but--count 'em--FOUR disco balls, 2 strobe/whirly light contraptions, black lights, and a fog machine. These people take their Saturday night seriously. The marble floor was extremely slippery, but these people were not dissuaded. The management placed a damp rag on the floor by the entrance for dancers to wet the soles of their shoes so they wouldn't slip.

When the "milonga" started, the DJ opened with a strange, rather depressingly slow tanda. It was going to be a very. long. night. A few couples showed off their moves on the floor, and it was clear, as one of my friends observed, "They dance differently here." I'm not quite sure how to describe the "provincial" style, except to say it is "provincial". They don't dance like tourists with legs flying and complicated choreography, nor do they dance like city slicker milongueros with elegance and technique. Perhaps what distinguishes them from these aforementioned groups is their non-descriptiveness. However, enthusiasm and their gusto in pursuit of a good time, especially during the salsa, compensate for their lack of "milongueroness".

Thankfully, after his apparent warm-up tanda, the DJ started spinning some traditional milongas, valses, and tangos. Interspersed were fun sets of salsa, merengue, cumbia, and swing. It had more of a discotheque feel than a milonga, which explains why organizer calls this a "baile" instead of a milonga.

To tell you the truth, except for the second-hand smoke, I enjoyed myself at the Circulo, burning off a few calories dancing salsa and swing, and replenishing what I had burned with some glasses of red wine and picadas. All in all, it was a nice break from our usual Saturday night routine.

Your best bet would be to reserve a table for you and a group of friends. I wouldn't go alone. First of all, it's too far. Second of all, the cabeceo is used here, but, since most people come with a mixed set of friends, they usually danced with people in their own group. It could make for a lonely night. However, with a group, you could have a fun time here. Make reservations by calling 4838-0546 or 4838-0472.

Friday, August 17, 2007

CHATTIN' UP: Oscar y Lucia of Lujos (El Beso)

Enter El Beso on a Thursday night, and you will be greeted with a kiss on the cheek by Lucia, the dark-tressed, and often cat-eyelinered milonguera, who bears a striking resemblance to both Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, and Morticia Addams. Don't let her warmth fool you, though. She has been known to incur the wrath of many women, foreign and local, for her apparent disregard of their comfort and seating preferences at the milonga. Thankfully, I had always felt cared for and respected by her, even as she ushered me to my seat in the "segundo fila" (second row) during my first two trips to BA.

So, last night, our usual tango night, I accosted Lucia for an interview while she was trying to strap on her heels. Catch her off guard, I thought, and she'll give me the goods. With the grace of a fine hostess, though, she obliged and sat me down for our tete-a-tete before she continued with her duties as "anfitriona" (hostess).

I had my usual query prepared: How do you score a good seat at this popular milonga?

Addressing the Tango Goddess by her mortal name, Lucia reminded me of how this milonga began 4-5 years ago in Lo de Celia--before the lamentable Cromagnon discoteca debacle, before foreigners began the mad rush to buy property, before one had to wear protective gear to dance in Salon Canning on Sunday nights. They gained a loyal following in those days, and these people, most of whom are excellent dancers, continued their patronage when they moved to El Beso. Obvio (obvious) that they should keep these people happy by reserving them the better seats. The rest of the good seats are given based on merit, on how you dance.

"I'm always watching," she said.

It may sound ominous, but Oscar, her snow-white coiffed business parter (and maybe ex-lover or present lover?), claimed to do the same. He studies people on the floor--their elegance (or lack thereof), their balance (ditto), the placement of their bodies--and seats the men according to his observations. He declared, "I'm a bailarin (a dancer), not a milonguero. I enjoy the dance. A milonguero is usually "buscando cosas" or "hac[iendo]travesuras" (something like-doing bad things, or being up to no good)." He added in sotto voce, "I like women, of course, but I'm always very respectful." In the end, the dancing is his love; it even gives him "placer" to just sit and watch. "I even got a divorce after more than 40 years of marriage because of the tango."

Lucia remarked that there are women--good dancers--who opt to hide in the back instead of being squished like a sardine in the primer fila with the rest of the women. However, these women don't lose any dance momentum; they dance just as much as the women who are easier to see because they dance well.

She may consider placing a woman she doesn't know in the front if she asks nicely and if there is an available seat, or if she comes recommended by a good dancer. But don't put it past her to take away that privilege if she ends up having two left feet.

If a group of tourists enter with a guide, she will ask the guide if they dance. If the guide is honest and says, "Mas or menos", she will allow the group to enter and to sit, but not dance. She explained, "The place is small, and we don't want this to turn into a place for only tourists."

I cited what happened at Cachirulo last Saturday. A group of friendly Northern Europeans (Germans, perhaps?) had descended upon the milonga, and, the men, in ignorance of or disregard of the codigos, began to invite women to dance "al lado" (literally, on the side or beside; in this case, inviting without using the cabeceo). It flustered Hector so much that that he begged someone make an announcement to them in English to please "cabecear". Asking non-dancers or so-so dancers to just sit and watch prevents all that embarrassment from occurring, she remarked.

Knowing the codes is part of the milonga experience, but, unfortunately, many people aren't familiar with them. It could save a lot of ego beating if people would just ask someone local (or better yet, read my blog!). Lucia, for example, will take away dance privileges if she notices that they don't know how to "manejar la pista" (navigate the floor), or if they look like they are competing for the tango escenario championships with voleos and ganchos, moves which are generally banned from tango milonguero clubs. I have seen Oscar approach people (usually foreigners) to tell them to leave the dance floor during the intermezzo (music between tandas) to remind them to please respect the establishment and the rules.

Snagging a good seat at Lujos, then, is just a simple matter of dancing well and following the rules. It's harder than it sounds, of course, because becoming a better dancer and learning the codigos is a long, frustrating process, but one that improves greatly one's experience of the milonga in the future.

Lujos functions on Thursday nights starting 6:45/7:00-ish p.m. at El Beso, on Riobamba, near Corrientes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I don't know many tango dancers who don't carry along a pack or two of Tic-Tacs in their suit pocket or their bag. If my BF manages to forget to bring along one of the hundreds of packs of those Listerine breath strips I always bring back from the US, he usually stops by the kiosko around the corner from El Beso to pick up a bit o' minty freshness.

The thing is, how do you kill off your early dinner of ajo con pasta with 2 tiny "1 and 1/2 calorie breath mints?"? Or how does someone with poor to non-existent dental hygiene cover up that odor of rotten eggs emanating from his mouth? This is no exaggeration, by the way. I had the unfortunate chance of dancing with someone who danced divinely, but who smelled like last year's Grand Slam breakfast deal at Denny's. This is a case of some hard-core, non-TicTac interventions. Skanky-breath-ed milongueros, please take note.

Check out this blog article I stumbled across from today about how to handle bad breath.

Wishing you many lovely tandas with partners with fresh breath. TG

Monday, 13 August 2007 (
Women Tips on How to Prevent Chronic Halitosis By Learning What Causes Your Bad Breath

I once took a class in Argentine Tango, which was set up so that men and women constantly exchanged partners while learning the stylized steps. That was okay, but there was one guy who had zero rhythm, and three minutes of trying to tango with him (counting to himself and still failing his steps miserably) was like a stumbling, cursing lifetime. But dancing with that poor klutz (I'm no Pavlova, by the way) was nothing compared to the man whose breath was so bad, I had to fight to hold my own breath or simply go mad. In the few steps where we turned away from each other, I had to gasp for a fresh breath of air, then turn for the next hellish step into the miasma. I felt bad for the man at first: clearly, taking a tango class wasn't going to make him popular with women as long as he could not get rid of his bad breath. But soon, I started to hate him: how could he not know the effect his breath had on others? Why wouldn't he chew a mint, for crying out loud?

It was so bad that I actually considered telling him, a total stranger, that he should chew gum so I could bear to dance with him. I didn't have to go that far, though, because in the end, I met a lovely, sexy, middle-aged psychologist who was not only a fine and graceful dancer, but who smelled nice and liked to dance with me. He managed to show up in front of me more and more often in the partner exchanges, and soon, I hardly danced with anyone else.

Preventing bad breath from occurring or at least affecting others

I brush my teeth about five times a day, and chew gum too. I good swish of mouthwash can be quite refreshing after a garlic filled dinner as well. But there have been times when forays into Vietnamese cooking or beer-and-pizza-with-the-guys has left my mouth less than fresh, which is why I carry gum in my purse for emergencies. This is a quick, temporary solution to curing lunchtime bad breath. While some people swear by breath mints, I've found that they don't do much for eliminating your breath once they're gone.

Natural Solution to Stop Bad Breath

If you don't want to get into any serious breath medications, there simpler more natural products available. For super-halitosis emergencies, you can use Breath Assure, which is nothing more than capsules of parsley oil. You don't chew them (I tried it once and was rewarded with a strong, sweet, oily taste that made me look like my friends' cat the day we tried to give him Benadryl to reduce the swelling from a spider bite. The vet didn't specify the type, just the dosage, and the liquid baby-dose Benadryl made him foam at the mouth for two hours. It was extremely unnerving.) The parsley oil works wonders, eliminating garlic breath and sweetening the breath for hours. Maybe that's why Greek, Turkish and Arabic cuisines combine parsley with lemon and garlic for relishes, salads and sauces.

If you are on a date and in a pinch with absolutely no breath prevention methods on hand, try eating the parley sprig most restaurants place of their plates as decoration. It's free, easily available, and it works! Just be discreet so your date doesn't catch on to your halitosis worries.
Causes of Bad Breath

Bad breath that comes from food is easily finished off by brushing your teeth, scraping your tongue, flossing, gum chewing or the aforementioned Breath Assure, but chronic bad breath can be a symptom of other problems health problems such as tooth decay, sinus infection, gum disease, or stomach problems. Eating disorders can also create halitosis from the stomach acids churned up by hunger or by vomiting. If you (or the guy in your tango class) experience chronic bad breath, the first thing to do is get to your dentist for a checkup. After ruling out possible dental care issues, your dentist may recommend a visit to the doctor to rule out other illnesses.

Home Treatment Remedy for Halitosis

Old mouthwashes contained alcohol and mint flavorings. New mouthwashes include zinc and chlorine dioxide. Zinc stops the process that creates the sulfur compounds in the mouth, which are largely responsible for causing bad breath. Chlorine dioxide kills the sulfur that's already present. You may decide to add mouthwash to your regular hygiene program whether or not you have other health issues that need to be resolved in order to stop chronic halitosis for good.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

MILONGUERA'S CHOW GUIDE: Special Breakfast Reportaje-August 9, 2007
Kentucky Bar and Pizzeria
Corner of Godoy Cruz and Santa Fe

My tango teacher, Roberto Canello, suggested that I sit down sometime to just listen to tango. Doing so, he said, will open up new possibilities for my dancing. I find listening to tango (studying or learning the differences b/t the orchestras) rather tedious, to tell you the truth. Don't get me wrong. I love the music when I'm sitting in a milonga or when I'm dancing, but I don't automatically search for tango music on my iPod to keep me company while I'm working. I'm a Gwen Stefani-Ella Fitzgerald-Beyonce-Prince-Cake-Broadway tunes kind of gal off la pista. I know I'm committing some kind of tango mortal sin by admitting all this, because what's tango without the music???

Ever multi-tasking, I decided to have breakfast the other day at Kentucky, a confiteria-restaurant-bar located on the frenetic corner of Godoy Cruz and Santa Fe, knowing that they'd be playing danceable tango hits for our desayunando pleasure, the same tangos you hear at your favorite milongas. Try to stop yourself from grabbing your partner and dancing!

This place boasts "La Mejor Pizza de Palermo since 1942". Their pizza has satisfied my cravings for take-out pizza on many occasions, since it's just down the street from our lair, but they also have a decent breakfast promo: $4.50 for cafe con leche and 3 medialunas; $3.50 for cafe and 1 medialuna.

I managed to pick the clunker of the 6 medialunas I was sharing with my macho that morning. A little on the hard side. The rest were doughy and rather dense. However, taking a cue from one of my wacky male psychology colleagues who says, "There are no bad breasts" (a nod to Melanie Klein), I declare that there are no bad medialunas. After all, how bad can buttery bread topped with sugar be? I used to like their medialunas a lot, but after eating the ones at Nucha, which are flaky and buttery and more expensive, Kentucky's come in at a very faaaaaar away second place.

Pizza, as I said, is pretty decent. I'm a fan of the napolitana with chunks of garlic, perfect for scaring off those pesky guys who invite you to dance by walking up to you and asking directly. They also serve the standard Argentine fast-food fare: minutas, empanadas, sandwiches.

Ambiance is noisy, but, if they decide to turn up the tango, it's a very pleasant breakfast experience. Plus, you can check out old black and white pictures of Argentine stars, immortalized with their sideburns and feathered hair on Kentucky's wall. For you smokers out there, they have a glass-enclosed room especially for you, one of the few confiterias out there that have managed to keep and add more nicotine-addict clients.

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.