Updated 10/19/00

El Firulete 
The Argentine Tango Magazine 
October 2000


Sweet and Sour Tangos

It's been five years since the "Year of the Milonguero" was "declared" by the head of the dance department at Stanford University to herald the inclusion of real milongueros for the first time in its memorable Tango Weeks. A new generation of dancers was born during the trendy summer breezes of the Palo Alto campus in Northern California.

It wouldn't be far fetched to state that the face of Tango in North America forever changed. Although much of what the milongueros had to say at Stanford fell through the cracks of inept translations, the impact of their humble demeanor and their unassuming dancing captured the imagination of those who witnessed and lived the fortnight of Tango during the summer of 1995.

We get a kick out of running into Stanford Tango Week '95 graduates all over the country. There is an unspoken emotional bond that binds us together, and a secretly shared enjoyment when dancing and relishing the way we were initiated back then, when the newly found embrace was a way to help each other not to trip and fall down. The following year, Pablo Veron stated that he had no teachers and all he knew he had learned by himself, infuriating Esther Pugliese who had witnessed Pablo's numerous visits to Mingo's "laboratory" in Parque Patricios. Pity those who are born dancers, never had a teacher and can't enjoy the sweet taste of humble pie.

This year there has been an outbreak of sour grapes from a vocal few who after five years are still looking from outside the window of the great Tango feast. They are physicians, lawyers, engineers, and other allegedly educated professionals who dissect everything wrong about Argentina; Argentine men and women; Argentine food. They do it publicly exercising the anonymity and unacountability that the Internet provides.

It used to be that sitting alone in front of a computer screen shielded selfishness, mediocrity and lack of social skills from peer scrutiny, but a funny thing happened on the way to the milonga. People travel, not only across town, but around the country and into Buenos Aires proper. Males who complain that nobody is friendly to them in Buenos Aires, declare that the people over there are cold and unfriendly, and proceed to demonize Argentine men and women, their eating habits and the way they dress or undress. Until they reveal themselves as the maniacs who recklessly run into people, stomping on the floor, dragging around helpless (sometimes hopeless) women in a frantic mockery of a Tango dancer. Or they show up at a milonga with less appeal than a door knob.

After countless unescorted trips to Buenos Aires, some grumpy females suddenly felt the need to publicly confess that they can't get no satisfaction. It seems that their bad habits, manners and selfish attitudes have become the target of critique and suggestions for change from experienced milongueros, so Buenos Aires is no longer the Mecca it once was.
Just as the proverbial fox complained about the sour grapes, some complain sourly about their Tangos for the same reason: they just can't get the sweet ones.

Alberto Paz
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