Thursday, June 30, 2011


Tonight, after class, we had our second planned excursion with one of the teachers.  Tonight's outing was a tango lesson followed by a milonga, which is essentially just a dance where everyone dances tango.  I have only a few pictures to post-- I was busy dancing, or trying to-- but several videos of the lesson and of the milonga, where talented dancers danced.

We had decided to meet outside our classroom building at 8:00 so we could meet up with the Bibiana (one of the teachers from our course) and whatever Argentine students were going to come with us.  As it turned out, only one student came.  As we approached the corner where we were supposed to meet Bibiana, I saw someone familiar.  I turned to Maria and asked if she recognized him, too.  She did.  Germán, the USAL student that did an exchange at Loyola and lived with my friend Mark last semester, had come to our tango outing.  It really shouldn't have been such a surprise: he is from Buenos Aires and goes to the same university, after all, but it was still oddly comforting to see someone I recognized, despite the fact that we had only met a few times.

We took the colectivo (public bus--I can't remember if I've used the word here before, or defined it) to the destination and, all of us giggling nervously, entered.  It was a grand hall with high ceilings and enormous mirrors on the walls.  The wood floor was worn in the center, in the open space that was surrounded by small tables and chairs.  We were shown to our table, where we put down our bags and proceeded to change our shoes.  We had all come in boots or sneakers but brought heels in our bags, because they are a necessity when dancing tango.  We sat for a few moments, watching a few of the instructors informally demonstrate before two instructors came to our table and told us our lesson would soon begin. 

Tango is surprisingly simple.  They taught us very basic steps, and all the while I had in my head what Viviana (another teacher from our course) had told us earlier that day: that in tango, the man generally leads and the woman just has to follow his steps.  Under these circumstances, I was glad that that was the case.  The instructors danced with each of us individually after showing us the steps several times as a group.  Once we got a bit more comfortable, the male instructor and Germán both rotated through, dancing with each of us.  I had a lot of trouble with the steps for the turn, but I think I got it pretty much down by the time the lesson ended.  And when that time came, we returned to our table and ordered some food and wine, settling in to watch people really dance the tango.  It's incredibly beautiful and impressive to watch, and I hope I can post my videos on either Flickr or Facebook very soon.  I was nervous going into the whole thing, but it turned out to be loads of fun and it was great to see all the girls outside of class and hang out with them as well as Germán.

We left the milonga around midnight (it would continue until four) and Katie invited us to a party with some other exchange students.  For this last week of classes, they have apparently been having country-specific parties and tonight was U.S.-themed.  Germán guided us from the tango hall to the address Katie gave him, which didn't exist.  After an international call and some Facebook research, Katie found the correct address and Germán led us back to the apartment of her friend, where he said good night.  Katie, Maria, Brittany and I went upstairs to the party, but it was very small, there wasn't much to drink, and we didn't know anyone, so Maria and I left fairly quickly and grabbed a taxi back to our Residencia.  It wasn't very far and we really wanted to walk rather than having to take a cab, but it was almost 2:00 a.m., which made our decision for us.  I'm actually glad we did, because the cab driver was such a hilarious character.  We got into the taxi and it smelled like soap, and the driver was a gentlemanly old fellow who was listening to this very tranquil jazz sort of music and humming to himself.  It was a very pleasant ride.  Tomorrow we have a welcome lunch with some Argentine students, and then after class we're going to a nearby barrio where there is apparently very good shopping.  And this weekend, Maria and I are going to San Telmo Saturday morning and we're each going out to boliches with different groups Saturday night.  Make sure you tune in.  It's going to be exciting stuff.

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