When I returned to Florida at the end of January, after another three months in Buenos Aires, I had promised to catch up with you on my newest Episodes in “Helaine’s Adventures in Tangoland”. Then I got so busy with coaching programs and creating video modules for Part 2 of my musicality program that my folder of already drafted episodes slipped out of my field of vision.
Some of you may remember that last November in Buenos Aires I devoted all month to training each day with my four coaching clients and going to milongas with them at night.
Then, in December and January, I continued building my experience in the more challenging milongas. I drafted a series of "episodes" I'm calling the "Cachirulo Chronicles", named for my trials and exploration with the toughest milonga in the city! For background to the “Cachirulo Chronicles”, see Episode #3 about my first visit to Cachirulo one Saturday night last April. Click Here. See also “Episode #5 - Tougher milongas: how I cracked the code!” Click Here. That one sounds promising, but I soon learned that what I had discovered didn’t work in Cachirulo.
I call it "the toughest milonga”, because it's got a very high-level of dancing and, unlike the many dozens of milongas in the city that have warm, welcoming environments, Cachirulo observes a hierarchy in which one has to EARN his or her way into the "inner circle". (It’s literally the "inner circle", because that's where you get to sit!) Being a very skilled dancer isn't enough to get you in; you must respect the hierarchy, and tolerate being ignored for a while, as you learn the rules. IF you stick around long enough to learn the rules. Not the nicest place for an "outsider" to hang out.
Note: I WAS being invited but I only accepted invitations from dancers whom I’d seen dance and who looked interesting to me. While in most milongas I can open my heart and have a good time, knowing that pretty soon I’ll be dancing with the best dancers in the room, in Cachirulo I feared I would be “penalized” for dancing with the “wrong” men. Because then I’d continue to be ignored by the dancers I preferred.
It all sounds terrible, doesn't it? "Why bother?”, I thought. “This place is just not for me." I hated the competitive atmosphere. It grated on my nerves. It was not as though the women were competing with each other for invitations, but rather it felt as though the men were competitive about with whom they were seen dancing.
So I crossed Cachirulo off my list. I decided to continue attending Lujos, where I could dance with some of the same excellent, passionate dancers who were regulars in Cachirulo, but who in Cachirulo were among the offending snobs. I posted comments about my frustration and my decision to abandon Cachirulo to both my Facebook page and an online forum I belong to about life in B.A.
I got three significant responses to my posts, which I’ll share with you in the next few episodes. As a result, I learned to understand and appreciate the rules of the hierarchy, and finally discovered that when you finally get "in", the experience of dancing in Cachirulo is wonderful! It’s exhilarating. And to me it was well worth having “paid my dues”.
I believe that anyone who loves tango and dances nicely can learn how to get “in”.
In the upcoming Episodes, I’ll share with you the progression of my story that led up to my finally breaking into the "Inner Circle" at Cachirulo. I won’t tell you the stories just to entertain you! Rather, I believe that my experience can help you in Buenos Aires milongas, as well as in “tougher” milongas anywhere in the world.
The “Cachirulo Chronicles” will be laced with advice for those of you who visit milongas that can feel unfriendly, milongas where you find it hard to get invited or have your invitations accepted, but that have really good dancing, and where you wish you were already an insider!
I want to deliver this series to you before I accumulate new adventures to report to you from my upcoming trip to Buenos Aires in just a couple of weeks! So watch my blog for the next episode of “The Cachirulo Chronicles”.