I’d intended to start the dance day with another visit to El Abrazo, but in the end tiredness won out, so I spent the afternoon relaxing and napping.
That left De Querusa, a milonga Steph had loved before and Diego said would also be suitable for the rest of us …
Milonga 21: De Querusa
It was a venue I recalled from a different milonga back in 2019. The dance floor is long and thin, with seating either side, making it easy to cabeceo across the floor – then a large seating area at the back, used by a mix of dancers and pizza fans.
The table we were given was the front row of the back section. At the 2019 milonga, this would have been prime territory, as most people head that way at the end of a tanda, and a lot of leaders in particular hang out there. But this time it wasn’t, mostly because it was super-crowded (it was the milonga’s birthday). That meant a bunch of leaders hung out in the area just in front of our table, looking the other way and blocking us from view.
I found last time that hanging out at the corner entrance to the floor was a great place to cabeceo, but again not so this time. There were a lot of date-night couples, dancing only with each other, and the floor didn’t properly clear, blocking sight-lines across it. I think I danced three or four tandas before hitting my curfew.
My mild facial aphasia caused more entertainment. I spotted an alert-looking woman close to the DJ, and cabeceod her. She accepted and greeted me with “I knew we’d run into each other sometime.” I quickly worked out that she must be a friend of Steph’s with whom I’d been messaging, as she’d arrived a few days ago. But was then convinced I’d danced with her before, at one of the embassy milongas. Steph, however, said she hadn’t attended any of those …
Anyway, we mostly had a very nice tanda in crowded conditions, with the usual ‘turn evasive manoeuvres into dance’ approach. That did fail at one moment: as I lead a step to the left, a leader’s elbow came flying at me from the right as he led a fast giro! I tried to lengthen the step to avoid being elbowed in the face, but it was too late, so almost did a bit of flying myself! Fortunately no tangeuras were harmed during this stunt.
We did make a well-timed visit to the bar, so got a very nice pizza and the worst alleged Malbec I have ever tasted. How you make a wine that tastes way worse than a 90p one, I have no idea! I was also greeted at the bar by a tanguero whose face I did manage to recognise: my tailor.
Maria had been delayed by a late-running class followed by an extended taxi hunt, and the milonga’s birthday cake presentation went on for a long time, so my curfew hit before we got the chance to dance. But the crowded conditions and variable floor meant that I wasn’t too sad; there would be better places.
Speaking of taxi hunts, Antonio had managed to decipher the BA Taxi app, which lets you call radio taxis, Uber-style. He’d been somewhat concerned when this demanded his passport number (Argentine residents have to enter their ID card number), but he’d decided to do it, and the app did make taxi hunting easier. He helped me set it up, but the booked taxi cancelled on me shortly before it arrived – making the app feel even more like Uber. I requested another, and simultaneously requested an Uber, and let the two apps battle it out. Uber won.
Technically, Uber is illegal in Argentina, but appears to work in exactly the same way as any other country. There had been some concerns expressed about dodgy types driving for it, but since all the safety features worked as usual (PIN, tracking, etc), I decided it was fine, and have used it without issues when no taxis were available.
Sleep deprivation caught up with me big-time the next day, Friday. The others went to the theatre, and I figured that, surprisingly effective as my Spanglish is in practical terms, it was unlikely to help me follow a play. They headed on to a late milonga at 11.30pm while I was in still in bed from my afternoon nap. I woke at 1am, and did intend to join them, but fell asleep again before summoning up the energy for a shower. I felt much more human by Saturday morning.