Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A LadyLeader in Buenos Aires

I came to Buenos Aires seeing forward to get only a few dances as a female leader. My role would be the one of an observer. I wanted to see the venues, how the milongas were and and to see what people's attitudes were. To my surprise the atmosphere was more open than I expected but with a lot of variation.

I wouldn't try to lead at Lo de Celia or Catchirulo because I felt that those two were the most traditional ones I visited and IMO they should stay so - When it is the clear opinion of the organizer and regular visitors, let it be so. I am gladly just audience there!

In many other places the space for me was the milonga tanda! That tanda is glad, playful and not so loaded so it was ok for the female leaders to enter the dance floor. Many times I could see one or two other couples at pista. But there was still difficulties to get a dance because followers are not used to monitor a cabeceo from a female leader.

It was fun to see the crowds reactions. During my milonga tandas there was very few negative expressions on the faces around the pista. On the contrary many onlookers were active giving us cheerful smiles, encouraging nods, thumbs up or positive shouts. At several occasions I could be sure about the persons being portenas and even many times portenos during this tourist season.

I think the tourists are driving this change, Europeans especially I think. They are used to see women leading and they are monitoring woman leaders even in Buenos Aires. The local rules are not so forcing for them so a female invitation for a dance is just an invitation as any.

I did not lead much during my month in BA but I was mainly experiencing the milieu. My biggest success was however at a newly opened milonga where I got a strong and clear cabeceo from a traveling milonguera. During our dance I expressed my worries about the organizer's opinion but she told me they were friends. When I catched his eye later he smiled to me, I relaxed and continued dancing. In the same milonga one of the portenas shouted to me her appreciation and asked for a dance. One other came to my table to talk and asked for a dance too. The pistas are little by little opening up for female leaders!

I consider this change to be historical. It is the first time ever when same sex couples are entering the pista. Earlier men were training at the practicas and women at home but no one has pointed out for me occasions where the same sex couples freely danced in ordinary milongas during earlier decades. If you know about it please tell me!

(but still I am mostly behind the bars today)


Janis said...

Leena, I recognized you immediately as you arrived at Lo de Celia Tango Club, my regular place every Wednesday and Sunday. Celia has a rule for her place -- no same sex couples. It's the same for Cachirulo. You didn't mention attending La Marshall in El Beso where anything goes. I hope you didn't miss it. That's THE place for women who want to lead.

LeadingLady said...

Yes you did! And it was very kind of you to come and chat with me until I needed to go.

I respect Celia's opinion, which was obvious and I do not lead in her milongas. I will stay seated and look around in the venue, enjoy to look the dancers and listen to the music.