5 big questions to consider before going Buenos Aires to learn tango

5 Big Questions To Consider Before Going Buenos Aires To Learn Tango

Finally you are taking one step further in your tango learning—visiting Buenos Aires, the mecca of tango. You want to learn with the top Argentine masters, get the most out of the trip and come back with shiny skills and techniques—but wait, have you made a plan for your tango classes? Unless you have the luxury of staying in Buenos Aires for months or even years, otherwise the shorter the time you stay, the better the planning you should have made beforehand.

I remember 4 years ago in my first visit to Buenos Aires, I didn’t make any plans and just went with the flow. I rushed to the first tango classes I saw. I ended up wasting precious time on classes of wrong level or wrong topics which made me more confused. If I had known better how the tango learning works in Buenos Aires and planned more thoroughly, I would have made a better progress.

In this blog post we will first throw you some big questions to consider so to help on your planning.

5 big questions to consider

1. What is your goal?

Goal-setting is crucial for achieving a satisfactory result for any learning. It’s also a question that you’d probably be asked the first time when you are taking a private class with any master, so it’s worthwhile to ponder upon this question. Are you trying to become a better milonguero/a so that more people will enjoy dancing with you? Or you are working towards becoming a stage dancer? Or maybe you will be competing in Mundial de Tango (World Tango Dance Tournament) soon? Having a clear goal will be helpful for you to set up a plan for learning, deciding on the master who you’d take classes with, and for your master to understand your needs and work out a suitable plan for training.

2. When will you go?

If you are going after the big names, the best time to visit will be July-August when the Mundial de Tango takes place, as many renowned teachers and past champions who are always on tours in foreign countries would come back  to be judges in the competition. Another good time would be December-traditional time for family reunion in Argentina when many masters would return from abroad.

For the rest of the years there will still be many Argentine teachers around, they may be fabulous dancers and dedicated teachers but less well-known internationally, and are waiting to be discovered in various group classes in the city.

3. How long are you staying?

The period of time of your stay is another critical factor for deciding the approach of your class-taking. If you are staying only 2-3 weeks, the most efficient way to learn is to take many private classes with one or two masters. However, if you are staying a month or longer, you can afford to spend the first one or two weeks exploring—taking group classes with different masters experiencing their teaching styles and skills, then in the later period focus on your favorite one or two.

4. Do you speak Spanish?

Many foreign tango students are shocked to find out almost all group classes in Buenos Aires are conducted in Spanish, even in tango festivals which are mostly attended by foreigners. In fact, it’s natural to expect Argentine teachers teaching in their mother tongue on their native land, and it may also be difficult to find an exact English translation for some Spanish expressions. Some teachers may offer some English explanation, but often less complete than the original Spanish teaching.

Before your Buenos Aires trip it’s always a good idea to know some basic Spanish, as it will be crucial for your tango learning, as well as for your daily life and getting along with the locals. However if you don’t have enough time to learn, taking private classes would be more effective for your learning.

5. Are you going solo? Or with a partner?

Those who have a dance partner have an edge over the singletons: they have a regular class and practice partner, and can share the cost of private classes as well as other travel costs such as transportation, studio fee, etc. It’s also good to have a company to adapt to a new routine in a foreign city, which can be both exciting and unnerving.

However don’t be disheartened if you go by yourself-you may still be able to team up with other singletons you would encounter in group classes, plus there are many solo techniques classes which don’t require a partner. You can also take advantage of the cheaper private class than your own country. Anyway, the trip will be a great occasion for polishing your skills.

In our next blog post we will be covering four common ways for people to take tango classes in Buenos Aires. Like our Facebook Page so you won’t miss that (plus you can find loads of FREE resources for learning Spanish for tango!

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)

Cover for book Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tip
Cover for Tango Spanish Essential Phrase Book for Tango Class

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

christmas

Trouble finding the perfect Christmas gift for your tango friends? Check these ideas!

You and your fellow tangueros share one truly special interest: tango. You may know their other likes and interests, but you’re certain they enjoy tango music and Argentine culture.

During the month of December there are tons of end-of-the-year celebrations, and surely, your tango school is having one. Some groups even play Secret Santa and you may need to buy a present for someone you don’t know well…but you do know their taste for tango!

Take a look at these recommendations to buy the perfect gift!

 

History of Tango – CD of tango music

Getting a cd with the greatest tango music in history is a nice and warm-hearted gift for a tanguero. This cd includes 102 tracks that trace the history of tango. The first cds include music from Astor Piazzola and the other two present the best of the Golden Age of Tango. You can buy it through Amazon. Check here.

 

Yerba mate and mate cup 

If you’ve met Argentine tango masters you’ve surely tried or been offered “mate”. If you haven’t, you can read more in this post (with a video explaining how to prepare it). It’s a typical Argentine gift, and your tango friends will love it! If they were hesitant last time they were offered, now with their own mate they will definitely try it! You can find many options on Amazon (like this one), but make sure it includes the herbs (yerba mate), the cup (mate) and the straw (bombilla) so that your friend has all he/she needs to prepare a true Argentine mate!

 

3. Martín Fierro – The most traditional Argentine book

This is the most well-known Argentine book, written by Argentine author José Hernández.

It’s a unique story about the life of gauchos in the Argentine pampas.

This is the review you can find on Amazon:

“The two poems which, together, are popularly known as the Martín Fierro form what is often regarded as the greatest single Spanish American work in creative literature. Appropriately, it draws from Spain the language and verse forms which have long been the vehicle of improvisation, the didactic folk wisdom of old Spanish proverbs, the Spanish interest in law whether formally codified in the fueros and the Siete Partidas or informally mocked by the pícaros in its practical application, and the Spanish emphasis upon individual worth and independence. Even more directly, the Martín Fierro is national in feeling, portraying the Argentine rural scene and the social aspirations, institutions and events of a great transition period of Argentine history. … Rooted in Spain, Argentine in content, universal in interest, the Martín Fierro is one of the world’s great books and should be more widely known abroad. … This edition is improved by the availability of original and translation on facing pages.” ― Madaline W. Nichols in Inter-American Review of Bibliography

We recommend this version as it includes the English translation, so you can give it to friends who speak Spanish, are learning or don’t speak Spanish at all!

 

Tango Spanish Books

These three Tango Spanish books, written by Jeanie Tsui, a tanguera, and her Spanish teacher Micaella Digenio cover tips and phrases for different situations a tanguero/a may need to face when taking tango classes, going to milongas or travelling to Buenos Aires. These are the best language guide books for tangueros, as they cover all the necessary tools to not only survive, but take full advantage, of a tango trip to Buenos Aires. Even if your friend is not traveling any sooner, he/she will be benefited from learning the essential Spanish phrases for tango classes and for appreciating the music at home.

  • Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips
  • Tango Spanish: Essential phrase book for tango class (and language guide for tango shoe shopping) Coming Soon (on Amazon)
  • Tango Spanish: Essential phrase book for understanding tango music and lyrics Coming Soon (on Amazon)

Tango Spanish Skype Lessons

If you’re thinking of getting a really original and valuable gift for your tanguero friends you can consider buying a package of Tango Spanish lessons via Skype with a native Argentine tutor who is also a tanguera. Master Spanish Now is specialized in providing these lessons to tangueros around the world who want to enhance their knowledge of tango culture and get ready for a tango trip to Argentina.

 

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.

 

gendernumber

Gender and Number in Spanish Grammar

Gender

Being an English speaker you’re probably not familiar with this classification of nouns into masculine and feminine forms.

When nouns refer to living creatures, it’s pretty easy to choose the correct masculine or feminine form of the noun, based on the gender of the creature. Usually, nouns ending in “o” are masculine and nouns ending in “a” are feminine. See below:

English word Spanish word (Masculine) Spanish word (Feminine)
The dog El perro (The male dog) La perra (The female dog)
The cousin El primo (The male cousin) La prima (The female cousin)
The teacher El maestro (The male teacher) La maestra (The female teacher)

However, other nouns referring to places, things, etc. are also feminine or masculine.

Below are some common Spanish nouns and their gender:

English word Spanish word (M=masculine / F=Feminine)
The shoe El zapato (M)
The guitar La guitarra (F)
The accordion El bandoneón (M)
The woman La mujer (F)
The man El hombre (M)
The CD El disco compacto (M)
The coffee El café (M)
The pizza La pizza (F)
The meal La comida (F)

As you can see, as a general rule words that end in “o” are masculine and words that end in “a” are feminine. There are many exceptions to this rule, but, to get started, taking this into account might help you a lot! Words ending in a consonant or in other vowels may be feminine or masculine (you’ll have to memorize them at first!)

Some exceptions to this rule:

English word Spanish word
The problem El problema
The language El idioma
The hand La mano
The libido La libido

Other exceptions are words that end in “a” and whose ending cannot be changed. As the noun does not change according to gender it is very important to pay attention to the preceding article to see if the noun is masculine or feminine.

English word Spanish form (masculine) Spanish form (feminine)
The gymnast El gimnasta La gimnasta
The journalist El periodista La periodista
The artist El artista La artista

 

Number

In our previous section we described how words change depending on their gender. In this section we will explain how to change a noun depending on whether the word is singular or plural.

As a general rule, when a word ends in a vowel, its plural form will have an “s” by the end.

English word Singular form Plural form
(Male) The dog(s) El perro Los perros
The artist(s) El artista Los artistas
The house(s) La casa Las casas
The coffee(s) El café Los cafés
The mum(s) La mamá Las mamás

There are exceptions to this rule. Nouns ending in “í” or “ú” usually have two accepted plural forms. One in which only the “s” is added, and another one that ends in “es”.

English word Singular form Plural forms
The scalpel(s) El bisturí Los bisturís / Los bisturíes
The hummingbird(s) El colibrí Los colibrís / Los colibríes
The hindu(s) El hindú Los hindús / Los hindúes
The rhea(s) El ñandú Los ñandús / Los ñandúes

When a word ends in a consonant, we need to add “es” to the noun to make it plural.

See the examples below:

English word Singular form Plural form
The city(s) La ciudad Las ciudades
The accordion(s) El bandoneón* Los bandoneones
The Paper(s) El papel Los papeles
The sun(s) El sol Los soles
The lemon(s) El limón* Los limones

As you can see in “bandoneón” and “limón”, the written accent marks are lost in the plural form. The reason is that by adding these letters and forming a new syllable, the stress of the word changes place.

If a word ends in “z”, the “z” is replaced by a “c” and then the ending “es” is added.

The pencil(s) → El lápiz → Los lápices

The partridge(s) → La perdiz → Las perdices

There are words that remain the same in the singular and plural form. The only way of knowing whether it’s singular or plural is by paying attention to the article that precedes it:

 

Nouns ending in “s” in the singular form

The analysis → El análisis → Los análisis

The ecstasy → El éxtasis → Los éxtasis

 

Compound nouns

The can-opener → El abrelatas → Los abrelatas

“Abre” comes from “abrir” (to open) and “latas” means cans.

The lavatory → El lavamanos → Los lavamanos

“Lava” comes from “lavar” (to wash) and “manos” means hands.

 

Foreign nouns

For many foreign nouns,  only an “s” is added after the last consonant in the plural forms.

English word Singular Spanish word Plural Spanish word
The ticket(s) El ticket Los tickets
The film(s) El film Los films
The surplus El superávit Los superávits

We hope this lesson has helped you to understand more about gender and number in Spanish. For more help, book a class with one of our private tutors

 

More Slangs to understand Argentines!

As you have probably realized from our recent posts Argentine Slangs you’ll never guess their real meaning and 6 phrases to communicate with locals in Argentina understanding Argentines is not an easy thing, if you consider the long list of lunfardo (slang from Argentina) words that people use everyday for conversation.

 

We have covered many so far, and in this new post we have compiled 6 more Argentine slang words or phrases for you to continue learning and becoming more familiar with the way true Argentines speak.

1. CHICANA

This word is used to refer to a trap, scheme or trick. It has nothing to do with the Mexican word “chicano”, as it comes from the French “chiqué”, which means trap.

In politics, it is used to refer to a speech that lacks content and whose goal is to attack the adversary.

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2. CANA

Although one meaning is “grey hair”, it is used to refer to the police. Nobody’s sure of the origin but it might be connected to the Italian word “incatenare” which means to imprison someone, or to the police from Verona called “canna” (referring to the color of their uniform). There’s another Italian expression called “mettere in canna” which means to put someone in prison.

Another lunfardo to refer to the police is “yuta” (sounding like “shoota”) that comes from a Spanish adaptation of the word “giusta”, which is an Italian word to refer to who applies justice.

Expressions with the word “cana”:

– ¡Ahí viene la cana! = There comes the police!
– Te van a meter en cana = They’re going to put you in jail
– Batir la cana / Mandar en cana = give away someone
– Araca la cana = Expression used to alert when the police is coming.

3. FLASHERO

This word “flashero/a” was at first used to describe people having hallucinations under the effect of drugs. Later, it started to refer to someone says something crazy, weird or that has nothing to do with what’s being said.

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4. LA PREVIA

When friends get together, usually at a house, to share some drinks before going clubbing, it is called “la previa”. So if a group of friends have arranged to go out together they may ask: “¿Dónde hacemos la previa?” (Where are we doing the “previa”? The teens may do it to save money on liquor as buying drinks at the supermarket and sharing them in a house is cheaper than buying all the drinks at the club, or they may do it because they are still minors and they wouldn’t be allowed to buy drinks inside the club. Others just do it to share more time with their friends, as clubs in Latin America usually start very late (some people may get inside after 2am)

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5. POSTA

The expression “¿Posta?” is used to mean “Really?” when you’re surprised about something you’ve heard, and you want to confirm if that’s true. You can reply to this question by saying: “¡Posta!” which means Really! To confirm that what you’re saying is indeed true.

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6. CUALQUIERA

When you want to reject what someone’s saying because it’s stupid or doesn’t make sense, or just because you want to dismissively tell someone is wrong, you can tell them that what they’re saying is “Cualquiera” (it literally means “anyone” but in this expression it is more similar to “nonsense” or “whatever”)

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We hope you’ve enjoyed this post! 

Want to learn more Argentine Spanish? Book a class with a professional Argentine tutor from our school. 

 

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

communicate with locals

6 phrases to communicate with locals in Argentina

Want to learn how to communicate with the locals on your next trip to Argentina?

If you’ve read our previous posts about Argentine Spanish and Tango Spanish you’re definitely aware of the importance of knowing some differences between Spanish from Spain and Spanish spoken in Argentina and South America. If you haven’t, this post will surely encourage you to learn how to sound like a true Argentine and to communicate with them!

I’ve compiled some easy-to-use expressions you can use on a daily basis while you’re travelling through Argentina.

Take a look:

 

1) ¿Cómo va?

This means “how’s everything going?” and it can be used any time you meet someone you already know, or you pass by an acquaintance, for example, a classmate at your tango school, your Spanish teacher or a friend from your hostel. Other phrases you can use are: “¿Todo bien?” (All good?); ¿Cómo andás*? (How are you?)

 

2) ¿Tenés* idea ….?

This is a very common informal phrase to introduce a question. Let’s say you need to find the nearest subway station. You can ask: “¿Tenés idea dónde está la estación de la línea C?” (Do you have a clue where the C Subway Station is?). After the beginning “¿Tenés idea…” you just add your question. It will make you sound more like a local. Other ways to say this could be: “¿Sabés*….?” (Do you know…?), “¿No me decís*…?” (Would you tell me…?).

 

3) Disculpá*…

The word “disculpá” means “I’m sorry” and we usually use it in these situations: before asking a question to someone, especially when you’re asking for a favor to a stranger, or to apologize for something (for example if you accidentally crash into a stranger, or if you’re a tango dancer, when you accidentally crash into another couple or when you step on your partner!).

 

4) ¿No me das…?

We use this when we need to ask for something, for example at a store. It means “Would you give me…?” and although it starts with “no”, it isn’t negative, it’s just a common way of asking that may sound a bit more polite than saying “¿Me das…?” but both would work, so don’ t worry if you forget the “no” at the beginning. An example of this could be: “¿No me das un paquete de galletitas Oreo?” (Would you give me a packet of Oreo cookies?). If you change the verb “das” for another, you can use this same expression when asking for different things: “¿No me ayudás?” (Would you help me?), “¿No me servís una copa de vino?” (Would you serve a glass of wine to me?)

 

5) Dale

The word “dale” in Argentina is used to say “ok”. So if someone asks you something and you want to say yes, just say “dale”. Especially if you’re being offered something or being invited to do something. Other options could be: “Bueno”, “Sí”. Sometimes after saying “dale” you may add another word to emphasize you’re happy with accepting. For example: “Dale, genial”, “Dale, bárbaro”, “Dale, buenísimo” (Ok, great). It’s the equivalent of the Spanish expression “Vale”.

 

6) Ni idea

What if someone asks you something and you don’t know? You can just tell them “Ni idea” (No idea). You can also say: “No sé” (I don’t know), or “No tengo idea” (I have no idea), and you start by saying: “Disculpá, pero…” (Sorry, but…).

Example:

A – ¿Sabés dónde está Café Martínez? (Do you know where Café Martínez is?)

B – Disculpá pero ni idea… (I’m sorry but no idea)

* All words marked with * are in the “voseo” form. Don’t know what “voseo” is? Check our previous post on the subject.

 

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. 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!