Tango Spanish

6 Tips on enjoying the first Buenos Aires milonga and getting more dances

Buenos Aires El beso

I always remember my first Buenos Aires milonga at El Beso 4 years ago. I sat in the third row of the lady section like a wallflower for hours, watching my neighbors being invited over and over. I never succeed in catching the eyes of any gentleman. Every time after my neighbors were out on the dance floor, I felt very exposed with only empty seats surrounding me. I left disheartened. Walking on the busy Avenida Corrientes, I kept thinking what was wrong with me.

Fast forward to 2 months ago, I went to the same milonga and things changed. I was still sitting on the third row, but I became the few tangueras who always got onto the dance floor first every time a tanda (a set of tango music) start. I left the milonga early not because I didn’t get invited, but because my feet were sore and the floor’s got too crowded to move. 

What has led to this transform? ​I have many hard-learned lessons over these years. I wish someone would have given me the following 6 tips earlier so I’d get a head start in milongas and saved many disappointed nights. 

So here I’m sharing these tips for having fun and getting more dances in Buenos Aires milongas, which some of them also apply for milongas, festivals and marathons in other places where you are new and don’t know a soul.

1. Go early/make reservation

I can’t stress enough the importance of the location of your seat. It affects how much you are seen and the ease of cabeceo (the use of sight for dance invitation) with others, especially for ladies. (For men, in Buenos Aires milonga you are allowed to stand up and walk around the room to widen your search for partner ). So try to make a reservation before the milonga, or go early.

2. Attend the class before the milonga

In Buenos Aires there’s often a tango class which the fee is included in the ticket of the milonga. Taking part in the class before the milonga is a good way to make friends, so at the start of the milonga it will be a cinch to get dances. The class will also help you warm up and know the place better and reduce the anxiety of dancing at a venue for the first time. 

3. Don’t take the first invitation

This may sound counter-intuitive, but what I am suggesting is not to take the invitation when you’ve just arrived the milonga and got an invitation from an unknown person. I often got the worse tanda of the night because I was rushing to the floor and didn’t observe the dance of my partner before taking the invitation. This might impact the invitation you get later on as milongueros would observe the dance of a new face before deciding to dance with him/her. If your first tanda is unappealing, and you are seen dancing in bad posture, you may end up getting fewer dances that night. 

 

4. Interact with your neighbors

In Buenos Aires milongas you’d often need to share a table with other milongueros/as. Be friendly and say “Hola! Cómo estás?”  (Hi, how are you?) or “Todo bien?” (Everything’s good?). Engage in small talks with them when they are not busy for cabeceo. Their friendliness and the advice offered to you would often surprise you. I have got many suggestions of the best milongas in town from my neighbors. They would be more likely to dance with you too- I have once danced with my neighbor who was a female leader, and that was the best tanda of the night. 

5. Dress for success

In Buenos Aires milongas people would usually dress classy to milonga. Even in an afternoon milonga such as Nuevo Chique, you would see old ladies wearing their satin or velvet dress and hair arranged in elegant updos, and old gentlemen dressing neatly in their suits. Keep your jeans and T-shirt in wardrobe and match into the dance hall in your best attire! However, it may not be a good occasion to show off your newly bought Comme il faut, as ​people might see you as a nouveau and rich tango tourist. It’s best to wear shoes that have been worn for some time, as they are more comfortable for your feet and would show to the others you are a seasoned dancer. 

6. Thanks the organizers before you leave

This is a point which many people may overlook. Organizing a milongas requires a lot of planning and coordination. By thanking the organizers you show your appreciation for their hard work. It’s also a good way to establish connection, so that when you return the next time, they may offer you a better seat.

Like our blog post and want to read more? Like our Facebook Page so you won’t miss our posts (plus you can find load of FREE resources for learning Spanish for tango!)

Want more Spanish practice? You can book a class with our Tango Spanish teachers who are tangueras living in Buenos Aires!

Going to Buenos Aires soon? Check out our books Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips and Tango Spanish: Essential Phrase Book For Tango Class (And Language Guide for Tango Shoe Shopping).

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

 

Tango Spanish Essential Phrase Book for Tango Class

Taking tango class in Buenos Aires

4 ways for taking tango classes in Buenos Aires

Planning to go Buenos Aires to learn tango? In this blog post we will walk you through 4 common ways for taking tango classes in Buenos Aires. Finally we will offer a few tips on getting the best result of your learning in the mecca of tango!

4 ways for taking tango classes in Buenos Aires

1. Before milonga

Many milongas in the city would offer a free group class included in the ticket. This provides a great opportunity for learning. In August during the Mundial season you will find many of these classes taught by world renowned masters- a great bargain as it would be more expensive to take their classes elsewhere.

You can look for milongas with group classes on Hoy Milonga. For more accurate and updated information of the class, check the Facebook page of the milonga you are planning to visit.

2. Tango school

There are many tango schools in the city which offer tango classes back to back everyday. The 2 most well-known are DNI and Escuela Mundial de tango. It would be a more expensive option than the one before a milonga, but the classes are more commonly attended by tango tourists so the teachers are more prepared to teach in English.

3. Tango festival

If you fancy taking classes with big names, tango festivals would be a convenient choice. There are many festivals held in different period of time in the year, offering an intensive schedule of multiple classes everyday within one or two weeks by a variety of masters of different styles, so that you can take all your classes in one place without the need of traveling around the city.

Two regular Tango festivals that are held every year are: Cita (March) and Tango Salon Extremo (August).

4. Private classes

If you are very keen to learn with a particular master/couple, and have a bigger budget, taking private classes would be very beneficial for your learning—you will have full attention of the teachers, and they will be giving more specific advice on improving your tango.

One way to contact the teachers for private classes is to look for them on Facebook and send them private messages. However, some very popular teachers may have their inbox overflowed with messages . Another way would be approaching them after their group class or in milonga after their performance.

Final tips for the best result of your tango learning

1. Ask your “home teacher” for advice

Before your trip it may be a good idea to discuss with your teacher(s) in your city for recommendation of Argentine masters. Many tango teachers would have the experience of learning tango in Buenos Aires so they are good resources for advice.

2. Follow your favorite master(s) on Facebook

Many Argentine teacher would have a Facebook account dedicated for publicity where they would post information about their group classes and milongas in which they are performing, making it easier for you to approach and learn with them.

3. Try a group class before booking a private class

Many times a fabulous dancer might not necessarily be a good teacher, and vice versa. Before committing to a private class with a new teacher, it’s always good to take at least one group class with him/her so to experience the teaching and see if it suits you.

4. Don’t take too many classes from different masters

Very often foreign tangueros would find it difficult to resist the temptation of taking many classes with different masters, as the class fee is always a big bargain compared to that back home. However, taking too many classes with different masters often results in confusion, as each master has a different technique. It is not unusual for one master teaching one technique and another master teaching the exact opposite. It’s usually good to focus on learning with one or two master(s)/couple(s) at a time.

5. Set a realistic goal

Many people would go to Buenos Aires thinking the trip would help them to become advance dancers. While intensive learning would definitely be helpful, it will be unrealistic to expect the change to happen overnight. It takes time for your body to adapt to a new technique. The best approach would be taking notes (or videos, if the teacher allows) of the classes, and take time to practice the skills regularly so that they are incorporated into your body and become habitual.

Like our blog post and want to read more? Like our Facebook Page so you won’t miss any new post (plus you can find loads of FREE resources for learning Spanish for tango!)

Want more Spanish practice? You can book a class with our Tango Spanish teachers who are tangueras living in Buenos Aires

Going to Buenos Aires soon? Check out our books Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips and Tango Spanish: Essential Phrase Book For Tango Class (And Language Guide for Tango Shoe Shopping).

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

 

Tango Spanish Essential Phrase Book for Tango Class

 

tango

A choosy lover

Tango doesn’t choose everyone.

 

Every year I walk into the master workshop, I see a new crowd of beginners with bright eyes and full of wonders about the dance. They are eager to try every new step. Girls are fascinated by the feeling of their leg whipping high up in the air; men beam with a satisfactory smile when they succeed at leading a new sequence. In the milonga they dance every song with everyone and they are never exhausted. The next year, the crowd disappears and is replaced by another. The beginners come and go like waves progress to the shore, then recede to the middle of the sea, vanish. I approach my Argentine masters, their eyes brim with joy. They open their arms and throw me a hug: “So good to see you again.”

 

Tango is a demanding art. Once you get hooked it devours all your time and energy. In the beginning every milonga is pure joy- you dance to every song, feeling your body carried by your partner and the music, until your feet are swollen. But soon you would realize your lack of technique- your legs wobble in the heels; your body arches back when you are doing the back ocho; your partner complains about you pulling and pushing his/her arm…you sign up for every workshop, take private classes with all masters, and sky’s the limit for the money you would spend on  improving your skill.

 

You see your progress starts leveling off and this is the moment your self-doubt kicks in: Do I lack talent in dancing? Why would I still repeat the error after practicing for so long? Should I continue if I see no improvement? In the milonga you watch others dance with elegance and ease with envy and self-pity in your eyes. You always feel you are not good enough.

 

You would likely have experienced some rejections too-maybe someone who always turns the face away every time your glance meet; or another person who is eager to dance with everyone in the milonga – except you. Your cheeks burn and you feel like a pariah. You hide at the dark corner until you can’t take it anymore and slip away from the door.

 

All the demand of money and time, emotional strain and insecurity about oneself push people away which make tango a choosy and hard-to-please lover. Only a handful of people with a wealth of patience and love can stay.

 

It might take you years to realize learning tango is a lengthy process, and accept bottleneck a stage which every dancer would have gone through. You would start to accept and respect the limits of your body, or you may invest in sports such as yoga and pilates to train the flexibility of your body, the strength of your core and muscles, and your body will thank you later.

 

You might start to see tango beyond purely aesthetic movements – an art that embodies the history, the thoughts, the sorrow and the dreams of Argentinians. If you don’t speak Spanish, you may start learning the language so to understand the poetry of the lyrics and to reach the essence of tango.

 

You may also realize the beauty of movements can sometimes be an illusion- a lady may have been on her autopilot and her partner might in fact, be confused about the dazzling embellishments she adds on her own; the man might have done all the fancy sequences at the expense of the lady racing around him. These dances are merely a showing off of techniques, a set of superficial movements void of connection, emotion and musicality.

 

The longer you stay in the community, the more respect you would gain from the others. People would see your persistence, the effort that you have invested on honing your skill. People who have been giving you cold shoulders may start to fancy dancing with you when your technique is more mature and your balance has improved.

 

Then you, with this newly gained confidence and understanding about the dance and yourself, become a real tanguero, the one chosen by tango.

 

Argentine tango

An essential element for becoming an advanced tango dancer

We all want to become an advanced tango dancer. Who doesn’t want to dance like the Argentine masters we watch in the festivals and on Youtube? Many of us would spend lots of effort and time in honing our technique and skill, but there’s one element that we often overlook which is crucial for us to become a real tanguero- Spanish.

 

Tango is a dance originated in Argentina, and with all the expressions, technical terms and lyrics in Spanish, it is impossible for anyone who doesn’t speak the language to fully understand the art.

 

In this video, Stella Missé, an Argentine tango master, will tell you why it is important to learn Spanish for tango:

 

There are at least 4 reasons for why learning Spanish is essential during your tango journey:

 

1. Jump-start your tango learning

 

 

I always remember how speaking Spanish helped in my earlier stage of tango: in the first month the teacher taught us how to do “ocho” and “lápiz“. Knowing the 2 Spanish words helped to form vivid images that sticked to my mind-“ocho” is the tracing of a “8” on the floor, and “lápiz” is drawing circles with your free leg imaging it is a pencil.

 

Later we were taught more complicated terms like enrosque and ocho cortado, and I saw that many other students had great difficulty memorizing them and they would stumble over the pronunciation even after years of dancing.

 

2. Essential for visiting Buenos Aires

 

Many devoted dancers would visit Buenos Aires-the mecca of tango, so to experience the tango culture and perfecting their skill. If you are one of them, then you should make sure you have learnt some basic Spanish before going.

 

Dancers who don’t speak Spanish often experience a lot of daily inconveniences traveling in the city: you would find everything – from directions in public transport to the menus in restaurants- are in Spanish. Most of the group tango classes would also be in Spanish. Even though some teachers may offer some English translation, it would usually be brief and not cover the whole teaching. Many times I would see  some fellow students coming to the class eager to learn, but left disappointed because they couldn’t follow the teaching.

 

3. Connecting to the mood of music

 

Many non Spanish-speaking dancers would find it easier to dance to instrumental tango because they have difficulty connecting to the emotion of a vocal tango. In fact, dancing to a song which you can’t understand the lyrics can be confusing. Some people may guess the mood of the song from the rhythm, but many times a rhythmical, seemingly lighthearted song may come with sad lyrics. So listening to the music without knowing the meaning of the lyrics may not always give the right judgement.

 

4. Crucial for interpreting of tango

 

What makes a performance by a couple of Argentine masters stands out from the others is often not only the technique, but the way how they interpret the song. In order to understand the sentiment of the song, you have to be able to understand the Spanish lyrics and sometimes the history and story behind the song.

 

This video shows Alejandra Mantinan and Aoniken Quiroga dancing to the song “Tormenta” (Storm). What makes their performance powerful and moving is that they have expressed the emotion of the song wholeheartedly through their movement and facial expression.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOfMquXfwy4

 

*“¡Aullando entre relámpagos,

(Howling between the lightnings,)

 

perdido en la tormenta

(lost in the storm)

 

de mi noche interminable,

(of my endless night,)

 

¡Dios! busco tu nombre…

(God! I seek your name …)

 

No quiero que tu rayo

(I don’t want your lightning)

 

me enceguezca entre el horror,

(blinding me in the horror,)

 

porque preciso luz para seguir…

because I need light to go on …

 

So how could we begin learning Spanish for tango?

 

One way to start is by taking Tango Spanish Skype classes  with Argentine teachers who are tangueras from Buenos Aires. They are experienced in teaching foreign students at all levels and would understand the special needs of tango dancers in learning the language.

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

Also check out the book “Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel tips” in which you can find a method tailored for tangueros to learn Spanish, as well as tips and useful Spanish phrases for your next tango trip!

 

*Lyrics and English translation adapted from https://letrasdetango.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/tormenta/

 

Tangueros

Top 5 money and shopping tips for tangueros in Buenos Aires

 
Going to Buenos Aires soon and wonder where to exchange for Argentine pesos? Want to know how to bargain for discounts for tango shoes and clothes? And how to save on groceries? Read the following 5 tips about money and shopping from my recent tango trip just a few months ago!

1. Cash is king

Most travelers would bring foreign currency to exchange for pesos in Argentina. The most commonly accepted currency is USD, while some places may also take euros and pounds. If you are bringing USD, USD 100 notes would give you a better exchange rate than smaller notes.

Where to change your money for pesos? Changing at the airport would give you an inferior rate so we don’t recommend it. The best would be going to casa de cambio (changing house) in the city. When you arrive at your accommodation, ask your host for recommendations of changing houses near your place.

While it might be possible to use your bank card to cash out at ATM machines, there might be a pricey service charge so we don’t recommend this unless you are really run out of cash.

2. Can I use my credit cards?

A good news is that credit cards are now accepted in many shops and restaurants, even in some kiosks at the corner of the street. You would see some shops posting a notice explaining their obligation to accept credit card payment. There’s no minimum amount for payment with credit card if you see the notice, so this would be a good alternative if you are low in cash, or simply don’t want to go out carrying a large amount of cash.

Most shops would ask you to show documento (identity document) when you are using your credit card to prove your identity. While you can show your passport, they would also accept your ID card from your own country. They would also ask you to write down your document number while you are signing your receipt.

Spanish phrases you would need to know for using your credit card:

¿Puedo pagar con tarjeta?

Can I pay with credit card?

Su documento, por favor. (Usually by the shopkeeper)

Your document, please.

Firme (ud) /Firmá (vos) acá, por favor.

Sign here, please.

Escriba (ud) su/ Escribí (vos) tu número de documento, por favor.

Write (down) your document number, please.

Many shops would offer the option of cuotas (instalments) by credit cards. Unfortunately it’s limited to credit cards issued by Argentine banks.

3. Bargaining and discount

If you are shopping at street markets (e.g. The San Telmo Sunday market), or making an expensive purchase at a shop you may try to bargain for a discount.

When you are buying tango clothes and shoes, there is usually a difference in price between paying in cash and credit card (for example, a pair of tango shoes may cost 2500 pesos by credit card and 2100 pesos by cash).

Make sure to ask for the prices for credit card and cash before deciding on a purchase. Bring enough cash with you if you want the cash discount. If you are really low in cash, many owners would be willing to take a deposit for keeping your purchase, and you can pick it up later when you have enough cash.

Spanish phrases you would need for bargaining:

¿Podés hacerme un descuento, por favor?

Can you give me a discount, please?

(The literal translation of “hacerme” is “make me”)

¿Cúal es la diferencia en precio pagando con tarjeta y efectivo?

What is the difference in price paying by card and cash?

Depósito

Deposit

4. Where can I get cheap groceries?

Throughout the city you can find many chained supermarkets such as Disco, Carrefour and Dia. If you are new in town and speak little/no Spanish, you may feel most comfortable shopping in these supermarkets as you can find everything in one place, and you don’t need to speak much Spanish for the purchase, but it would be the most expensive option.

Another option that would give you a better price would be supermarkets run by Argentine Chinese. You’d easily find them on the street. They are usually well stocked and have more or less the same variety of goods of major supermarkets, and the price would be clearly displayed.

The Chinese shopkeepers usually speak some Spanish (and Mandarin, of course), but you don’t usually need to speak much to finish the purchase.

If you speak some Spanish you may venture into grocery stores on the street, where you would usually find fresher products at better prices than chained supermarkets, but you would need to know how to ask for the goods and the price.

Spanish phrases you would need for shopping:

“¿Cuánto cuesta/sale …?”

How much…

Darme (the product), por favor.

Give me…, please.

¿Algo más? (Usually from the shopkeeper)

Anything else?

Nada más.

Nothing more.

5. Where is the line?

Ticket dispenser Argentina
Ticket dispenser in Argentina

Sometimes when you enter a shop you would see many locals waiting for service, but there is no line. In Argentina many shops would have a ticket dispenser by the door from which you can get a ticket with a number. The shopkeeper would call out the number of people who are waiting to be served.

Finally, it’s best for you to do all your shopping from Monday to Saturday, as most shops would close on Sunday in Buenos Aires! You may also want to avoid peak hours when the shops are crowded, which are evenings in weekdays, when people are off from work; and midday and nights on Saturday when people shop for family gatherings and asados (barbecues) etc.

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

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. 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?

Here we include a video for you to learn some useful expressions for taking a taxi in Buenos Aires:

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 your expensive tango shoes 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 are incidents of people getting their cell phones snatched off by a motorcyclist 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.

Like our blog post and want to read more? Like our Facebook Page so you won’t miss our posts (plus you can find load of FREE resources for learning Spanish for tango!)

Want more Spanish practice? You can book a class with our Tango Spanish teachers who are tangueras living in Buenos Aires!

Going to Buenos Aires soon? Check out our books Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips and Tango Spanish: Essential Phrase Book For Tango Class (And Language Guide for Tango Shoe Shopping)!

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

Tango Spanish Essential Phrase Book for Tango Class
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!

taking a taxi in buenos aires

5 Tips for taking a taxi in Buenos Aires Safely!

One of the things we all worry about when arriving to a foreign country, and especially when we don’t speak the local language, is how to move around the city without being an easy prey for scammers. Today we’re focusing on moving around by taxi. When getting to Buenos Aires, you’ll see taxis everywhere. We recommend you read this post first, and learn some tips on how to take taxis safely and to beware of possible threats.

 

  1. Radio taxi companies

There are some taxi companies and drivers that are not the official ones, but look like them and might offer to take you from the bus station to the hotel or so. When trying to take a taxi, always look for the ones that say “Radio Taxi” on the side doors or on the top. Preferrably, try to call a taxi instead of taking them in the streets, so that you can make sure you’re taking a real one

2. Check the price beforehand

Before you take a taxi, for example when leaving a milonga, check with someone you know (your teacher, a friend, etc.) how much they think a trip like the one you’re taking may cost. This way, if when arriving to destination you see that the driver wants to charge much more than that, you can realize if you’re being scammed. What to do in this situation? Never argue with a taxi driver. You may tell him that you don’t have enough, and offer what you have (a similar amount to what your friend suggested) or if you feel threatened, you may ask the driver to wait for you to get some more money inside. If you’re staying at a hotel, you may ask the receptionist or a hotel employee to help you handle the situation.

3. Try to have change on you to avoid giving 200 or 500 notes.

When we are abroad, many times we get confused by the different currency. As you won’t be familiar with Argentine peso notes, try to keep your wallet organized and try to get change of 20, 50 and 100 notes. If possible, try to avoid 200 and 500 notes when taking a taxi. Why? Taxi drivers many times complain of not having change, and this is a way for them not to give your change back (or not to give it all back).

4. Check your change before descending.

Many times, as we want to get off the taxi, we just accept the change given and get out. Be careful, many times they may give the change quickly, and may be giving a lower value note without you realizing. If you can’t see properly as the light is sometimes dim, ask the driver to turn on the light (Say: ¿Puede prender la luz, por favor? = Can you turn on the light, please?). This way you can check your money before getting out of the taxi.

It’s very important for you to remember that $5 an $500 notes are very similar (they are both green). There are many stories of people that got confused, and gave a $500 note instead of a $5. There might be honest people that will let you know, but others may take advantage.

5. Be confident

If you show the driver you’re not sure of where you’re going and you hesitate on the destination or how to get there, they will take advantage of that and tour around the city before taking you to your place. A good idea is to ask a friend the names of the streets you will be crossing, or the way to go to your destination, so that you can tell the driver, for example, “Agarre Avenida 9 de julio” (Take 9 de Julio Avenue) and show them you know where you’re going.

If you’re still hesitant about taking taxis in Buenos Aires, remember Uber is available, and you may feel more familiar with their system. But it’s important to know how to take a taxi, especially as you might not always have internet access to call Uber.

 

Check out our video on how to take a taxi in Buenos Aires, and practice how to say the most useful expressions:

 

If you want to know more, book a a class with one of our Argentine tutors.
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”!