Jeanie Tsui

Stay safe in Buenos Aires

Top 7 tips for tangueros to stay safe in Buenos Aires

 

One thing that often holds tangueros back from visiting Buenos Aires is the safety concern. Indeed, many people would hear stories of theft and someone losing their phone or wallet during their tango trips. However, many of these unfortunate events are avoidable by being watchful all the time and being in the knows. In this blog post we have compiled 7 tips for you to stay safe, plus some essential Spanish phrases that you would need.

 

1. Choose a safe neighborhood for your accommodation

First rule of thumb to ensure your safety is to choose a good neighborhood for your tango house/hotel/apartment. In general you should avoid San Telmo and La Boca areas. Many first-time tango tourists would choose to stay in Palermo area which is a middle-class and relatively safe area and close to 2 famous milongas: Salón Canning and La Viruta.  

 

2. Take a taxi when you are going/leaving a milonga late at night

Always take a taxi and avoid walking on quiet streets at night. You may call a uber or radio taxi before leaving your home. When you are leaving the milonga, go to a main avenue to get one, or you may ask the organizer to help you to call one.

 

“¿Pódes llamarme un taxi, por favor?”

Would you call a taxi for me, please?

 

5 tips for taking a taxi in Buenos Aires safely.

 

3. Put your tango shoes in your own bag

Many tango shoes would come with a shoe bag with the brand name, and some people may carry them on their shoulders after leaving a tango shoe shop or on the way to a milonga/class. Don’t do this when you are in Buenos Aires, as you would be seen as a rich tango tourist and would easily become a target for criminals. Putting your shoes inside your own bag would also help you not to leave it behind in places like cafes.

 

4. Take only the money that you need for the day

Before you go out each day, make an estimation of the money that you’d need to spend (e.g. for the tango class, milonga, taxi, etc.) and take just a bit more of that amount of money for covering your expenses, so that if you unfortunately lose it you’d still have the big part at home.

 

5. Be alert when using your cell phone on the street

Recently there have been incidents of people getting their cell phones robbed when using them on the street. When you are using your phone you are also less alert to the surroundings and become an easy target for criminals. To avoid this situation you should minimize the use of your phone on the street as much as possible. If you need to check your phone, do it near a cafe or a shop. You can also reduce the need of checking directions on your phone by copying the information onto a sheet of paper before going out.

 

6. Beware of pickpockets

Apart from the cell phone your wallet is a sure target for thieves! Always keep your wallet close to you. Some people use a secret wallet which can be hidden underneath clothes. Some locals do without a wallet and put the money in the pocket of their clothes. When you are in a milonga, it’s best to put your bag under the table or chair when you go out to dance. During your mealtime in a restaurant, keep your bag close to you and do not hang it on the chair. If  you are in a crowded place, carry your backpack at the front instead of at the back.

 

7. Buy a good travel insurance

Before getting on your flight to Buenos Aires, make sure you are covered by a travel insurance! If your valuables are being stolen or robbed, report to a police office (Comisaría) within 24 hours and get a report. Report to your insurance agency as soon as possible once you have returned to your home country or online.

 

Some spanish phrases you might need:

 

Me han robado mi cartera/móvil.

My wallet/cell phone is being stolen.

 

Me robaron.

I have been robbed.

 

Quiero hacer un denuncia.

I would like to make a (crime) report.

 

Necesito un informe de policía para reclamar el seguro.

I need a police report for claiming insurance.

 

Traveling to Buenos Aires soon? Book a class with our Argentine Spanish teachers who are tangueras to help you to learn more Spanish and get more insider tips for the Buenos Aires tango scene!

 

Also read our book “Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires tips”!

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

milonga

Survival Spanish for milonga

Zabara Alexander from Moscow, RussiaNew Year in El Corte

 

Going to a milonga for the first time in Buenos Aires? There are a lot of códigos (hidden rules) in a milonga porteña that you’d need to know before the visit. We have compiled the following tips and essential phrases that you would need for a successful first milonga. Also watch our Youtube video to learn the pronunciation of the essential Spanish phrases!

 

survial Spanish for milonga

 

On Hoy Milonga website you can find a listing of milongas and practicas in Buenos Aires, with the information of addresses and hours. You can also check if there’s a class before the milonga. For some milongas their entrance fees would include  the class fee, so you may want to take advantage of it to learn some tango steps as well as to meet some new friends. There’s also a Hoy Milonga App for download on smartphones.

 

For some popular milongas (such as Cachirulo) it would be a good idea to make a reservation beforehand, so that you can be guaranteed a better seat. Sometimes milongas can get crowded, if you drop-in without a reservation, you may risk being offered a seat at the back or corner, and it  will be hard for you to perform cabeceo (the use of eye contact for dance invitation).

 

Reservation, ticketing and seating

 

To make a reservation you’d need to call the organizer and say:

Me gustaría hacer una reserva para una persona o dos personas.

I would like to make a reservation for 1 person or 2 people.

 

Then you will need to tell them your name and also surname:

 

Me llamo Ana (y mi apellido es Peréz)

My name is Ana, (and my surname is Peréz).

 

At the venue you’d need to purchase your ticket from the reception. You can say to the receptionist:

 

Quiero una entrada/ dos entradas, por favor.

I would like to have 1/ 2 tickets, please.

 

To ask for the price, say:

¿Cuánto cuesta la entrada?

How much is the ticket?

 

You may want to keep the ticket as sometimes in the middle of a milonga there would be a lucky draw (sorteo).

 

After you have purchased your ticket, you’d need to wait for the host to sit you. Do not just go and grab your seat! When the host comes to you, you may greet him/her by giving a kiss on his/her right cheek. Then he/she will lead you to your seat.

 

If you don’t like the seat being offered, you may request politely for a change:

¿Puedo tomar otra silla/mesa?

Can I take another seat/table?

 

In traditional milongas there would be separate seatings for men, women and couples. People who sit at the couple area would (usually) dance with their partner only.

 

In the milonga

 

In Buenos Aires people would usually change their shoes in the washroom. If you are new to the milonga and want to know where the washroom is, you may ask:

 

¿Dónde puedo cambiarme?

Where can I change my clothes?

 

Or

 

¿Dónde está el baño?

Where is the washroom?

 

In milonga in Buenos Aires, people use cabeceo, the eye contact, to invite people for dance. At the beginning of a tanda, a man would fix the gaze on the lady he wants to invite. If the lady is interested she would maintain eye contact with the man. The man may slightly tilt his head or nod as a gesture of invitation. The lady would nod her head for confirmation. Then the man can walk over to the lady’s seat and escort her to the dance floor. If the lady is not interested, she may simply look away.

 

Sometimes if the light is too dim it would be hard to perform cabeceo, then you may invite a lady by saying:

 

¿Bailás?: You dance?

 

But still one should use cabeceo as much as possible, as it is a custom to avoid embarrassment of both parties if one doesn’t want to dance with the other.

 

If you have accepted the invitation you should dance with your partner for the whole tanda (a set of 4 tangos/3 vals/3 milongas).

 

After you have finished the tanda with your partner, remember to thanks your partner by saying:

 

Gracias: Thank you

or

Un placer :A pleasure

 

But be careful not to say “gracias” too early! If you say “gracias” in the middle of the tanda, your partner would take that as you don’t want to finish the tanda with him/her.

 

After the tanda the man should escort the lady back to her seat.

 

Be aware of the last tanda! The last tanda, especially the song “La cumparsita” is reserved for lovers and couples. If you accept an invitation from a local, you may be sending him a wrong signal that you would want to go for a “coffee” with him after the milonga.

Tango Spanish: Flirting and coffee in milonga

 

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

Going to Buenos Aires soon and need advice for planning your trip? Check out our book “Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips”! Also book a class with our Tango Spanish teachers, who are tangueras living in Buenos Aires, to learn more Spanish and insider tips!

Tango Class

Tango Spanish: Survival Spanish for tango class

If you are going to Buenos Aires, you would find most tango classes are in Spanish, so some basic knowledge of Spanish would be essential for your learning.

 

In this blog post we will be focusing on asking questions in the class. However, you may wonder what if after asking the question, you can’t understand the Spanish explanation from the teachers?

 

The good news is that tango is a corporal activity, and  very often steps and techniques can be explained in body language and movement. But if you can’t ask the right question, the teachers wouldn’t know about your doubt and help you to work on it. So asking the right question is important for your learning, and it’ll help you to make the most out of the class instead of taking the questions with you back home.

 

Don’t know how to say the questions in Spanish? Don’t worry! We have a Youtube video to help you with the pronunciation.

video

Youtube video: Survival Spanish for Tango Class

 

To begin there are a few essential words you’d need to learn:

El paso (The step)

La secuencia (The sequence)

Marcar (To lead)

La técnica (The technique)

 

How to ask essential questions in Spanish in a tango class:

 

In the class we may be unclear about how to do a step or sequence, so we can ask:

 

¿Cómo se hace este paso/esta secuencia?

(How to do this step/this sequence?)

 

For example:  “¿Cómo se hace un boleo?

(How to do a boleo?)

 

For the leader they may want to know more about the leading, so they can ask the question:

¿Cómo se marca este paso/esta secuencia?

(How to lead this step/sequence?)

 

For example: ¿Cómo se marca un sandwich?

(How to lead a sandwich?)

 

Usually when the teachers teach a new step or sequence they would demonstrate, but if you didn’t get it and want to see it again, you can ask:

 

¿Podés mostrarme el paso/la secuencia, por favor?

(Would you show me the step/sequence, please?)

 

Sometimes we may take a private class so to receive more personalized suggestions on improving our technique, and you may ask the teacher:

¿Cómo puedo mejorar mi técnica/el paso/la secuencia?”

(How can I improve on my technique/the step/the sequence?)

 

If you get lost in a class or don’t understand the teaching, you can say:

No entiendo.”

(I don’t understand)

 

You may also ask the teacher to repeat the explanation by saying:

“¿Podés repetir, por favor?”

(Would you please repeat?)

 

Are you going to Buenos Aires soon? Book a Spanish class with our Argentine Spanish teachers to prepare for your tango trip! Our teachers are tangueras from Buenos Aires and will understand your Spanish need for tango.

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

Also check out our book “Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips” which contains many useful advices on going milongas, accommodation and transportation, staying safe and saving money!

Youtube video: Survival Spanish for milonga

 

Milonga

Tango Spanish: 5 Things you should never say in a milonga

Photo credit: (Flickr) Gobierno de la ciudad de Buenos Aires.

When we’re going to a milonga we all want to get along and have a good time, but in a Buenos Aires milonga there are certain things you should avoid saying at all cost. Some of these are related to milonga etiquette; others are some Spanish words which carry a double meaning-usually with sexual connotation. You may at best make yourself look funny, or at worse offensing a fellow tanguero/a unintentionally!

 

1.Commenting on your partner’s techniques in a milonga

 

 

Milonga is a place for people to dance socially for pleasure, but not a place for giving or receiving feedback on techniques. Try to restrain your urge on making a negative comment or giving feedback on your partner’s dance technique, or you may ruin one’s night. Save the feedback for class/practica time!

 

There’s a saying that in Buenos Aires, if a woman wants to prevent a man from inviting her to dance again, the most effective way is to teach him while dancing with him in a milonga.

 

If you feel uncomfortable dancing with your partner because of problems in techniques (e.g. a painful embrace, twisting your wrist, etc.), you may say “Gracias” which signals to him/her that you want to end the dance and leave the dance floor.

 

However, it is OK to express your appreciation if you enjoy dancing with your partner. You may say:

 

Baliás lindo/linda (You dance beautifully).

 

Una linda tanda (It’s a beautiful tanda).

 

Un placer (A pleasure).

 

Bailás muy bien (You dance very well)

 

2.Concha

 

Imagine the follow scenario: you have just come back from a holiday, and you have picked up a beautiful seashell on the beach. You want to give it to a milonguero as a gift, so you say to him: “Tengo una concha para vos.” (I have a seashell for you). I bet he would probably be shocked.

You may wonder why “concha” (seashell), a seemingly innocent word, should never be said inside (and outside) a milonga ? The reason is that “concha” carries the double meaning of “pussy” in Latin America.

The most appropriate to say it to your friend so he’d get the right idea is “Tengo un caracole de mar para vos.”

There was an old tango song composed in 1884 called “concha sucia” (dirty cunt) by the violinista Casimiro Alcorta. The lyrics was about a prostitute called Enriqueta, who was teased for being dirty and unpresentable. Juan Andrés Caruso later rewrote the lyrics and created a “clean version” : “Cara sucia” (Dirty face). Francisco Canaro recorded the song and become the version you would hear in milonga nowadays.

 

Listen to “Cara sucia” by Francisco Canaro and Roberto Maida

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywGi1r8Po2U

 

3. Montar

This time you have just come back from another vacation in the countryside, and people ask what did you like most about the trip. You may want to say:

“Lo que me encantó fue montar a caballo” (What I loved the most was to ride the horse.)

Be aware of this expression as “montar” on one hand means “to ride”, but it also carries the meaning of “to mate”, for example:

El toro montó a la vaca. (The bull mounted the cow.)

So sometimes people with dirty mind may associate this to a sexual act…

 

4.  Acabar

In many Buenos Aires milongas it is common to have a tango class beforehand. Your friend may ask you: “¿Tomaste la clase antes de la milonga?” (Did you take the class before milonga?). And you may want to answer “Sí, no iba a ir pero acabé tomándola” (Yes, I wasn’t going but I ended up taking it).

Watch out for this expression! “Acabar” means “To complete, to finish”. However, it is also used as a slang for “having an orgasm” (el orgasmo). So for a dirty mind you would sound like having an orgasm while taking the class!

The better way to answer would be “Sí, la terminé.” (Yes, I completed it).

 

5. Coger

 

Taxi

 

At the end of the milonga other milongueros might asked how you are travelling back home, and if you answer “Voy a coger un taxi.” (I’m taking a taxi), they may look at you in a funny way.

 

Coger” in European Spanish means “take”. If you are saying “Cojo un taxi” in Spain it’s perfectly fine, and people will get what you mean in the correct way. But in Latin America “coger” is the slang word for “having sex”.

 

So the next time you are in Buenos Aires,  remember to use “tomar” instead of “coger”. Say “¡Voy a tomar un taxi”!

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

Want to learn more Spanish to prepare for your next trip to Buenos Aires? Book a Tango Spanish Skype class with our Argentine Spanish teachers, and check out our book “Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips”!

Tango Spanish

Tango Spanish: Flirting and coffee in milonga

There are all sorts of people in milonga. While many of us come only wanting to dance tango, there are indeed some looking for romance. In this blog post we will be covering some Tango Spanish on pick-up lines (piropos), some códigos (unspoken rules) about romance in milonga, and finally the “coffee invitation”, how to offer, accept or reject one.

 

This is something good to know even if you are not looking for a relationship, so that you won’t be shocked when you are being asked!

 

Note that here we are using “vos” instead of “” and the verbs are conjugated in “vos” form. (Refer to our blog post Speak Spanish like an Argentine for usage of “vos” in Argentina)

 

Some common pick-up lines or flirting phrase in an Argentine milonga

 

 

¡Qué lindo/linda que sos!

How handsome/pretty (are you)!

 

¡Sos una diosa!

You are a Goddess!

 

¡Qué facha que tenés!

What a good look you have!

(Be careful with this expression, a lady may look cheap if she says this).

 

¡Qué linda mirada/sonrisa que tenés!

What a good look/smile you have!

(Sounds a bit corny but could work)

 

Me encandilás con esos ojos.

I am dazzled by these (your) eyes.

 

After the initial flirting one might go further and ask:

¿Tenés novio/novia?

Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?

 

Coffee invitation in milonga

 

In an Argentine milonga, if someone invites you for dancing multiple times (or sometimes even several tandas in a row), this is an indication that he/she has an interest beyond dancing with you.

coffee after milonga
coffee after milonga

After dancing several tandas together, one might initiate a “coffee invitation”. Going for coffee together outside the milonga is in fact a subtle invitation to a love hotel (Hotel de alojamiento/ albergue transitorio/motel/telo).

 

¿Tomamos un café?

Shall we have a coffee?

 

¿Querés tomar algo después de la milonga?

Do you want to go for a drink after milonga?

 

¿Vamos a cenar después?

-Shall we go have dinner afterwards?

 

If you fancy your partner of course you can say “¡!” (Yes!). Then you should leave separately with your partner and meet outside the milonga.

 

How about those who want to say “No”? Apart from a straightforward “No, gracias.” (No, thanks), you may want to soften your rejection by adding some excuses (excusas), such as:

 

Tengo que irme.

I got to go.

 

-Estoy apurado/a.

I am in a hurry.

 

-No me gusta el café.

I don’t like coffee.

 

No tengo hambre/apetito.

I am not hungry/don’t have appetite.

 

Some ladies would wear a ring on their ring finger even if they are single to avoid facing awkward situations.

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

Enjoy this blog post! Want to learn more Tango Spanish? Check out or book “Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips”, or book a class with our Tango Spanish teachers!

Lunfardos Tango

7 essential Lunfardos for tango (Part 2)

After our last Lunfardos blog post (7 Lunfardos for Tango (Part 1)), we have received a lot of requests for more Lunfardo words. So here you go our second collection of 7 essential Lunfardo words for tango, enjoy!

 

 

1. Metejón

Metejón means a crush or a crazy love.

“Milonga sentimental”, a popular milonga song, tells a story of a man who went to a milonga and thought about his lover that had left him. The lyrics describe how he was mad in love and crushed by her betrayal:

 

“Pero no es fácil cortarse

(But it is not easy to cut off)

los tientos de un metejón

(tentacles of a crush)

cuando están bien amarrados

(when they are tightly attached)

al palo del corazón”

(to the carcass of the heart)

 

Listen to “Milonga sentimental” by Orquesta Canaro and singer Ernesto Fama here:

 

2. Bombón

The Spanish word “bombón”, as you can probably guess, refers to candy, especially those that are coated with chocolate. In Argentina the word carries the double meaning of an attractive man or woman or a sweetheart.

In this beautiful song “bomboncito”, the lyricist poured out his heart and expressed without hesitation how his “bomboncito”, his little sweetie has taken his heart totally, and how her love does wonder to his life.

 

Dejame

(Let me)

que te diga despacito

(let me tell you slowly)

bomboncito… bomboncito…

(my little sweetie… my little sweetie…)

dueña de mi corazón.

(owner of my heart.)

 

Una vez más mi emoción

(Once again my excitement)

repetirá la canción

(will repeat the song)

milagro de tu amor

(miracle of your love)

y de mi amor

(and of my love.)

 

Listen here the song Bomboncito interpreted by Orquestra Salamanca and singer Armando Guerrico here

3. Afilar

The standard meaning of the word you would find in the dictionary is to “sharpen”, for example, Juan afila sus lápices (Juan sharpen his pencils).

However, in Lunfardo, the word takes on another meaning: to be in love (enamorar), or to court someone (cortejar).

Example: Pablo afila con esa mina pero no es muy serio.

(Pablo is courting that woman but he isn’t that serious.)

 

4. Botón

Botón” in Lunfardo means police or guard. Legend has it that Lunfardo is a secret language invented by the street gangs in Buenos Aires so that the “botón” would not understand what they are saying.

 

5. ¡Aire!

Aire means air, but if someone at Buenos Aires says to you in a milonga “¡Aire!”, he may actually be telling you to get out from there immediately, as “¡Aire!” in Lunfardo carries the meaning of “¡Afuera!, márchate, vete” (Leave now!).

An interesting fact here to note is that the literal meaning of “Buenos Aires” is “Good air”.

 

6. Amarguear

As you would probably know, mate is a big part of Argentine culture, and the Lunfardo word “Amarguear” refers to the action of taking a mate (tomar mate), and more precisely, mate without sugar, as the word is very likely formed based on the adjective “amargo” (bitter).

 

7. Chorro

Chorro” (or “choro”) means thief, and “chorear” is the verb form of the act (to steal).

The tango song “chorra” is about a man who was tricked by the lie of his lover, and in 6 months he went bankrupt and lost everything he earned from his hard work, so in the song, the man called his past lover a “chorra”:

 

En seis meses me fundiste el mercadito,

(In six months you bankrupted my little market,)

la casilla de la feria, la ganchera, el mostrador…

(the stand at the fair, the hooks, the counter…)

 

¡Chorra!

(Thief!)

Me robaste hasta el amor…”

(You even stole my love…)

 

Listen to this song by the Orquesta Alfredo de Angelis here

 

Interested in learning Spanish for a deeper understanding of tango culture? Check out our Tango Spanish course by our Argentine Spanish teachers who are tangueras from Buenos Aires!

Tango books

8 tango books for devoted tangueros

8 tango books for devoted tangueros

 

Tango is a dance which embodies the rich culture and history of Argentina. After dancing for a while you may be curious about its origin and background. At times, you may need advice on tango techniques. You may also plan about visiting Buenos Aires, the mecca of tango and need travel tips. Here’s the time you need a good tango book covering the topic of your interest.

 

If the book is written in Spanish it can help us practicing the language, which is the foundation of a real understanding of the dance. Here we provide our top selection of 8 books covering different aspects of tango: from the music and the lyrics; the history; the dance techniques to traveling tips to Argentina, for you to sit back and enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee!

 

Book on Tango music and lyrics

 

1. Tango stories: musical secrets (Available in both Spanish and English versions)

A must-read for all tango music lovers. Written by Michael Lavocah, a tango teacher, and DJ, the book introduces tango orchestras of different periods of time while focusing on those important ones in the golden period, and highlights the characteristics of the music of different orchestras so to help you distinguish them in a milonga. It also comes with a playlist including the most representative songs from each orchestra so you can listen to while reading the book.

 

2. Tango para dummies (Tango for dummies) (Available in Spanish version only)

Tango para dummies is written by Diego S. Lerendegui who was one of the key violinists in the orchestra of Osvaldo Pugliese, and now director of la Orquesta Municipal de Tango de Avellaneda. It is a good book for people who want to learn about how to listen to tango. It includes a comprehensive history of tango music and explains about its development at different periods of time, introducing different tango orchestras and elements of tango music, and finally how one can compile his collection of tango music. The Spanish is straightforward and suitable for intermediate Spanish learners.

3. Tango words (Letras de tango) (Written in English and Spanish)

If you are looking for enriching your understanding of tango lyrics and advance your Spanish, “Tango words” is the book that you will love! The book comprises 20 classical tango songs whose lyrics are meticulously translated by Manuel Garber, an Argentine milonguero who grew up in Buenos Aires and is now living in Australia. You can listen to the 20 beautiful tango songs on his website.

 

Book on traveling to Buenos Aires

 

4. Happy Tango-SallyCat’s guide to dancing in Buenos Aires (Written in English and Spanish)

 

The book is written by a British artist and tanguera Sally Blake who follows her tango dream and travels all the way from Britain to Buenos Aires. It is an entertaining book yet filled with sage advice and useful tips. You will get advice from how to attract dances in milongas, to planning of a week of milongas and classes in Buenos Aires. Though the latest version was published in 2013 which means you will need to double check the information of milongas and tango schools in the book, still it offers timeless insights for tangueros who set foot on Argentina soil for the first time.

 

 

Book on Spanish learning and traveling Buenos Aires

 

5. Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires travel tips (Written in English and Spanish)

 

This book is for those of you who have been thinking about learning Spanish for tango. It is also a must-read for those who will be visiting Buenos Aires for a full tango experience. Instead of being an ordinary Spanish learning book, the authors Jeanie Tsui, a tanguera, and her Spanish teacher Micaella Digenio introduce a fresh approach for learning Spanish tailored for tangueros.

The book goes into details of explaining how Argentine Spanish is unique from European and Latin-American Spanish. It also filled with essential information and tips on how to save money during traveling, to strategies of tango class taking and unspoken rules in local milongas, which are essential for a successful tango trip.

 

Book on History and culture of tango

6. The meaning of tango (Only English version available)

If you would want to learn about the history of tango this is the book you should turn to. The author of the book, Christine Denniston, is the first non-Argentine tango teacher in Buenos Aires. It traces back to the origin of tango, and walk readers through the development of tango. From there you can learn about golden age, and the dark period of prohibition of tango from Argentine government. The book also talk about the success of Broadway show Tango Argentino that led to the renaissance of tango in the 1980s which eventually made the dance becomes a global phenomenon. Apart from the history part, the book also comprises of a section on tango techniques.

 

Tango Technique

 

7. Secrets of the embrace (Secretos del abrazo) (Available in both English and Spanish versions)

 

If you need insights on improving your posture and technique this is the book for you. The book author, Rubén Véliz is a world-renowned Argentine tango master.  He has been performing and teaching with his life partner Sabrina Véliz since 1998. He is passionate about tango teaching and has taught tangueros all over the world. The book is written to help tangueros to understand how their body works, and how to shape it into the best form for dancing via regular practices.

 

 

Tango sociology

 

8. Tango passion and the rules of the game (Available in both Spanish and English versions)

 

Tango is not purely a performance art, but also a social activity that involves complex human interactions. The author Margareta Westergård is a Swedish milonguera who has a sociology background. She offers her observation about the códigos (strict rules) and behaviors of tangueros in Buenos Aires milongas.  You may also gain some insight about the roller-coaster ride of tango life, and how to survive the change from being at the height of intense joy and delight, to the rock bottom of tango depression and feeling like a pariah.  Read the book for a fascinating glimpse of the happenings inside the tango world of Buenos Aires!

 

Looking for way to learn Spanish for tango? Check out our Skype Tango Spanish Course with Argentine teachers, and book a trial class for only USD7!

 

Spanish words for tango lyrics

7 essential Spanish words for understanding tango lyrics

7 essential Spanish words for understanding tango lyrics

 

When you are dancing in milongas, have you ever wonder what those tango lyrics you are listening to are about? While understanding the whole Spanish lyrics often requires a near-native level of Spanish, which we may not be there yet, knowing some words that frequently appear in the lyrics would definitely help us to get a feeling of what the song is about, and makes it easier for us to get into the mood while dancing to it.  

In this blog post we have compiled a list of 7 common Spanish words in tango songs, each with its explanation in English, and an example of a tango song in which the word appears.

 

1. Amor

Amor” means love, and perhaps the central theme of all tango.

One representing tango song that contains this word is “Hasta Siempre Amor” (Farewell, love) (Music by Donato Racciatti; lyrics by Federico Silva). The song has been interpreted by many different orchestras, such as D’Arienzo, Di Sarli, and Salamanca.

When we listen to the song, we will hear the phrase “hasta siempre amor” being repeated many times in the lyrics, for example:

 

“Hasta siempre, amor,

(Farewell, love,)

cuando sueñes conmigo

(when you dream about me)

en las noches de frío

(on cold nights)

ya no estaré…”

(I will no longer be there…)1

 

Click here to listen to the version by orchestra Juan D’Arienzo and singer Jorge Valdez.

 

2. Abrazo

Abrazo” means embrace, the essential element of tango. The verb form of the word is “abrazar” (to hug).

We can find the word “abrazar” in “Volvamos a empezar” (Let’s start over again) (Music by Daniel Álvarez; lyrics by Eduardo Maradei):

 

“Mirá…

(Look…)

Nuestro cachorros como ayer

(Our kids (puppies) are just as before (yesterday))

Mirá…

(Look..)

Como me abrazan otra vez…”

(How they hug me once again…)2

 

Click here to listen to version by orchestra Alfredo de Angelis and singer Óscar Larroca.

 

3. Despedida

“La despedida” (Farewell) is a recurring theme in tango.

The song “Fueron tres años” (3 years have passed) (Music and lyrics by Juan Pablo Marín) describes the heartbreak of a man separating from his lover:

 

Aún tengo fuego en los labios,

(I still have fire on my lips)

del beso de despedida.

(from the farewell kiss.)

¿Cómo pensar que mentías

(How could I think you were lying)

si tus negros ojos lloraban por mí?”

(if your dark eyes were crying for me?)2

 

Click this link to listen to the version by orchestra Jorge Dragone and singer Argentino Ledesma.

 

4. Mentira

Mentira” means lie, and “mentir” is the verb form (to lie).

The song “Y todavía te quiero” (And still I love you, music by Luciano Leocata; lyrics by Abel Aznar) tells the torture and pain of a man being repeatedly deceived by the one that he loved:

 

“Sin embargo… ¿Por qué yo no grito   

(But … Why I don’t cry)

que es toda mentira, mentira tu amor

(it’s all lies, your love is a lie)

y por qué de tu amor necesito,

(and why I need your love,)

si en él sólo encuentro martirio y dolor?”

(if in it I only find martyrdom and pain?)1

 

Click here to listen to how the song was interpreted by orchestra Di Sarli and singer Jorge Falcon.

 

5. Corazón

Corazón (heart) is an important word in tango. How can you dance without your corazón?

In the song “Corazón ”, the lyricist Hector Marcó told a story via the lyrics how a man talked himself (his heart) to get over from a girl who had betrayed him:

 

“Corazón,

(Heart,)

no la llames

(don’t call to her)

ni le implores—

(don’t beg her for anything—)

que de tus amores

(from the ones you love)

nunca has merecido

(you have never deserved)

tanta humillación.”

(so much humiliation.)3

 

The song was written by Carlos Di Sarli, let’s listen to how his orchestra and singer Roberto Rufino interpreted the song (Click here).

 

6. Adios

Adios” means goodbye, another frequently appear topic in tango lyrics.

In “El adios” (Music by Maruja Pacheco Huergo), the lyricist Virgilio San Clemente wrote about the sorrow of parting from a lover:

 

“El sueño más feliz,

(The happiest dream,)

moría en el adiós

(died in the goodbye)

y el cielo para mí se oscureció

(for me, the sky became dark…)1

 

We have selected “El Adios” (The Goodbye) by orchestra Pugliese and singer Jorge Maciel for you, a powerful and sorrowful interpretation of the song (Click here to listen to the song).

 

7. Dolor

Many songwriters expressed via tango lyrics their different kinds of “dolor” (pain) in life: the pain of losing a lover; parting from their family or being betrayed.

In this song “Lejos de Buenos Aires” (Far from Buenos Aires, music by Alberto Suárez Villanueva), the lyricist Oscar Rubens wrote about the pain of an old person recalling what he had abandoned: his family, his girlfriend and everything back in his native city Buenos Aires in order to chase after his dream, and at the end feeling lonely and regretful of staying on a foreign land where nobody cares about him:

 

“Lejos de la gran ciudad

(Far from the great city)

que me ha visto florecer,

(that witnessed my flourishing)

en las calles más extrañas

(in these strange streets)

siento el alma oscurecer.

(I feel the darkening of my soul)

 

Nadie observa mi final,

(No one notices my ending)

ni le importa mi dolor,

(nor care about my pain,)

nadie quiere mi amistad,

(nobody wants my friendship,)

sólo estoy con mi amargor…”

(I am just alone with my bitterness…)2

 

Click here to listen to the interpretation of the song by orchestra Miguel Caló, singer Raúl Berón.

 

Interested in learning Spanish for tango? Check out our Tango Spanish Course, or get a copy of our book Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips on Amazon!

 

 

References (Tango lyrics and translations)

The lyrics and translations of tango songs appear in this blog post were adapted from various online and published sources:

1. “Tango Lyrics page in Spanish with English translation” maintained by Alberto Paz: https://letrasdetango.wordpress.com/

2. “Tango words-a guide to tango lyrics with English translation Vol.1” by Manuel Garber: http://tangowords.com/

3. Poesía de gotán: The poetry of the tango”: https://poesiadegotan.com/2009/04/09/corazon-1939/

 

Spanish tips

6 tips for hacking Spanish in one week

 

6 tips for hacking Spanish in one week

 

So you are going to a Spanish-speaking country soon, and you need to pack as much Spanish learning as possible in one week! What should you do?

 

Fear not, follow below tips and you are guaranteed to learn the essential Spanish that you will need for the trip in no time!

 

1.Know the characteristics of the language

Before learning a new language it is always good to know the characteristics of the language, as it will help you understand how it works quicker. Spanish is a Romance language, so if you speak French, Portuguese or Italian, or you have learned Latin in school, you are off to a good start!

 

There are 2 genders in Spanish: masculine and feminine. The articles for masculine and feminine nouns are “el” and “la” (e.g. El niño (the boy); la niña (the girl)).

 

Spanish is a language pronounced phonetically which means you speak what you write! But be aware that the letter “h” is silent.

 

2. Learn the essential vocabulary first

Think about what are the words you can’t live without, and start learning them first. Those may be words like “baño” (restroom), “carta” (the menu of restaurant), “agua” (water) etc.

 

3. Learn the greetings

You will always need greeting words like “hola” (hello), “¿cómo estás?” (how are you?), “gracias” (thank you) and “adiós” (goodbye) wherever you go!

 

 

4. Learn more words quicker with cognates

Cognates are words from different languages that share an ancestor, so they look similar. Some examples are “televisión (television), “teléfono” (telephone), “fotos” (photos). Learning cognates would help to expand your vocabulary faster. But be careful with false cognates such as “embarazada” (looks like “embarrassed”, but it actually means pregnant!).

 

 

5. Use podcasts

Podcasts are a great tool for learning languages, especially when you are on the road. “Notes in Spanish” is a popular Spanish learning podcast which offers podcasts for beginner level. It is free for download to listen, but if you want to read the transcript, you will need to purchase their worksheet. Listening to podcasts will help you to practice Spanish listening, as well as learning the pronunciation of useful phrases!

 

 

6. Downloading an offline Spanish dictionary

Remember to download an offline Spanish dictionary on your phone before your trip! As you may not always have internet data on your phone or  access to WIFI, downloading a dictionary that works offline would allow you to find meanings of unknown word whenever you need it!

 

Spandict and Google translator are 2 great free apps.

 

Spandict ( iphone app/android app)  is Spanish-English dictionary which works even if you are offline, it also has a “word of the day” function, which shows a new word and its meaning for you every day- great for expanding your vocabulary!

 

Needless to say, Google translate ( iphone app/android app) is the most used online translator. But did you know that the App provides translation when you are offline? What makes it even more powerful is that it has a camera-translation function- when you open the camera function in the app and focus it to the foreign words, it will display the translation on  the screen. Download it and try!

 

If you need a quick boost of your Spanish, you can book a travel Spanish class with one of our tutors!

 

Tango Ronda

7 essential Spanish keywords you must know for tango

7 essential Spanish keywords you must know for tango

 

Tango is a dance which origin is Argentina, and therefore many keywords are in Spanish.

Learn the following 7 keywords which are often used, and improve your understanding of the dance!

 

1.    Cabeceo

In milonga people usually make an invitation for dance with cabeceo (eye signals) . A man or a lady can look at the person he/she wants to dance with. That person can accept it with a nod, or decline by looking away. This is a subtle form of invitation that avoids embarrassment from both sides if one doesn’t want to dance with the other.

 

2.    Cortina

“Cortina” means curtain. It refers to the non-tango music in between 2 tandas (sets of tango songs). It tells the dancers that they should stop dancing, and the men should escort the ladies back to their seats.

 

3.    Códigos

Códigos (codes) refer to a set of rules in milonga that everybody adheres to, such as performing cabeceo (use of eyes for invitation).

 

4.     Canyengue

Canyengue is an earlier style of dancing which was danced mainly in the early 1900s. It is still danced today but to a lesser extent.
You can view how canyengue is danced here.

 

5.   Tango Fantasía

 

In Spanish, “fantasía” means “fantasy”. But in tango, “Tango Fantasía” (or Tango Escenario) mean Stage Tango. It is usually danced in an open embrace with exaggerated movements like jumps, which are not usually done in milonga.

Watch here the performance of Mundial del Tango (World Championship of Tango) champion of tango escenario in 2016 here.

 

6.     Pista

“Pista” in Spanish means “floor”, and in Mundial del Tango it represents another category of the competition: Tango de Pista (salon tango). In contrast to tango escenario, participants need to compete as if they were dancing in milongas, and need to follow strict regulations, such as staying in the ronda (line of dance), and not lifting their legs higher than the knees.

Watch here the performance of champions of Tango de Pista of 2010: Sebastian Jimenez and María Ines Bogado here.

 

7.     Ronda

In Spanish, “ronda” means “round”. In tango, “ronda” refers to the line of dance, which are imaginary concentric lines on the dance floor. Couples should move in the counterclockwise direction in the ronda. Each couple should remain at a safe distance from the couple in front/behind them. The ronda ensures couples move on the dance floor in a predictable way, and prevent crashing into each other, especially in crowded milongas.

 

Want to learn more Spanish for tango? Take a Tango Spanish Skype class with our teachers who are tangueras from Buenos Aires!

Going to Buenos Aires soon? Check out our book Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips!

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips