Bummed in BsAs

Dear Tango Tia: I’ve been dancing tango about three years but am considering calling it quits unless you can give me a good reason not to. I recently returned from spending six weeks in Buenos Aires and being humiliated by not being able to get dances except with women in my group. I’m 54, average height and weight, well groomed but not very good looking. And I think this is the problem. If I were better looking I’d have more women wanting to dance with me, so it doesn’t matter how many lessons I take or how good I get, if they won’t look back at me, I’ll never get to dance much. Do you have any suggestions or should I just find something else to do?–Bummed in BsAs

Dear Bummed: Here’s a secret…women are not as concerned about how attractive their partner is as men are concerned about dancing with attractive women. Women are more interested in dancing with someone who holds them comfortably and leads a few nice moves with clarity, interesting rhythms and musicality. So forget about your looks and focus on your dance. A lot of great dancers, including those in BsAs, are not “attractive” but women love to dance with them because they know how to make a woman happy on the dance floor. Chalk your experience in BsAs up to that, experience, and start looking forward to your next trip. In the meantime, learn Spanish, if you do not speak it, and spend as much time as possible conquering the basics. Find a teacher who will spend time on the details that make the difference between being a dancer and being a great dancer. Three years often marks a turning point between “learning” and “understanding.” Give it another year and let me know how you’re doing.


  1. Jantango says

    Good advice, Tango Tia.

    Bill, lets refer to dancers as men and women. Argentine men love to dance because they love to hold a woman in their arms. And yes, it can be more difficult for foreign men to dance in the milongas simply because the local and foreign women want to dance with Argentine men. Foreign men are at a disadvantage for two reasons: they lack an embrace women want, and they are shy about inviting with a head movement. I helped an Englishman break into one of the best milongas in BsAs three years ago. Yes, he had me for his first tanda, so other invitations followed. Now he’s considered a regular.

    The other problem foreign men face in Buenos Aires is going to the “tourist friendly” milongas on the first visit when they don’t know them. Cachirulo and Lujos are not for first-timers, only for seasoned dancers. Women will be invited by excellent dancers at any milonga; men have to be patient.

  2. bill swan says

    I had the same experience in BA. No one in BA wants a tourist lead. While there are is whole society of local leads who prey on visiting follows, there is no equivalent group of local follows. And visiting tourist follows don’t want to dance other tourists. I did find afternoon milongas with local divorcees just taking up tango where experienced leads were welcomed. Local beginners know the music and how to embrace, so they are lovely partners right away. Meanwhile, after you return home and recover some confidence, you will be back in a world with “not enough leads,” and you can go back to being spoiled again. By the way, 3 years is perhaps just the beginning of “experienced” for a lead.

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