Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Taxi Dancer for the Taxi Dancer

Last year when we were in Buenos Aires, we kept on bumping into an strange looking couple at the milongas – a very short matronly Chinese Tanguera and her tall skinny, dour-looking Argentine Taxi Dancer.   

We saw them for the first time at Porteño y Bailarin.  Man Yung was amazed that the lady's Taxi Dancer was able to make it look like they were dancing Tango (kind of).  It was probably easier to lead a truck with square wheels in a tutu than the "Boss" of this duo.  “That’s why I like looking at Taxi Dancers on the dance floor, just to see what tricks and methods they use in leading some of their more difficult clients,” Man Yung said. 

I’m ambivalent about Taxi Dancers.  I guess it’s a way for some people to make a living.  Man Yung says that if he was a lady with money in Buenos Aires without a partner and not young and/or beautiful enough to attract the cabeceo of the tangueros at the milonga (I'm sorry, but that's sometimes the ugly reality), he’d hire a stable of Taxi Dancers and dance with them all night.  “I wouldn’t want to be in Buenos Aires and have to wait and wait all night and NOT DANCE – why shouldn’t I get me some Taxi Dancers?” he said.

Just dancing would be ok…Unfortunately, I have this horrible image in my head from one time we were at a very popular milonga in Buenos Aires. A group of women had hired young Taxi Dancers to dance with them and every time they went on the floor some of the women would try to grope their Taxi Dancer.  One lady had her mouth painted a bright greasy smear of red and was trying to “accidentally” kiss her Taxi Dancer’s face as they danced.  He had his head leaned back at an awkward angle trying to being devoured by that maw but it seemed like at any second he was going to lose the battle.   Yuck.

Back to our odd duo – the night following Porteño y Bailarin, they were at Salon Canning the night we did our performance.  Again, she danced with nobody but her Taxi Dancer all night - and her dancing still looked painful.  

We saw them getting up and leaving (hee!) seconds into our first number. I think she was disappointed that we didn't try harder to entertain her.  Maybe she would have stayed if we were being shot out of a cannon with dynamite strapped to our bodies over an angry flame and lava spewing volcano while wearing revealing Tango costumes and gasp - no knickers?  Oh well, can't please everyone...

So it was very weird to have the “Boss” come up to us the very next day at another milonga to say, “Wow, you guys did a very nice performance last night!”

Huh? We thought you left before you even saw us dance.  

We answered politely,  “Uh…thanks!”

“Who are you?  Where are you from?  Who’s that you were sitting with last night?”  she asked.  Before we could answer she interrupted us and told us all about herself, who she was, where she was born, where she lived now, what she did back home, how long she had been in Buenos Aires, where she was staying, when she would be leaving, where she had gone since she arrived, what was her favourite colour, what chums we have become now AND (turning abruptly to me, she said) - 

"My friend F___________ (she said, indicating her Taxi Dancer) told me he would really love an opportunity to dance with you!  Would you mind dancing with him?"

I looked at her Taxi Dancer and he looked blankly back.  Nope, I don't think he was dying to have a dance with me, not really!  WHAT I THINK IS: I think YOU want a dance with Man Yung now you know he has performed at Salon Canning and you are just using your Taxi Dancer as a swop since Man Yung wasn't likely to ask you out of his own volition!

It was a surprise ambush.  I felt bad saying no, and couldn't think quickly enough of a way to get out of it.  So off she went to dance with Man Yung - and I was stuck being a Taxi Dancer to the Taxi Dancer.  Neither of us wanted to dance with each other but we had been shamelessly manipulated so that she could get what she wanted.  He had horrible cigarette breath and reeked of smoke (so he couldn't smell his partners through the smoke, perhaps?) and he danced like his only teacher was the Zotto and Godoy "Asi Se Baila el Tango" instruction video, lucky me.  No musicality, no embrace, very little lead - ALL choreography.  In between the music, we stood completely silent.  In the corner of my eye, I noticed that Man Yung dancing with the lady was, as the ancient Chinese saying goes: "Like dragging a cow up a tree". 

After this, one of the longest twelve minutes of my life, I fled to the washroom.  Fortunately, I had a bottle of liquid soap and plenty of tissues, because I really had to rinse off that disgusting cigarette smell out of my skin and hair.  The good thing is that every time something like this happens, my resolve just gets stronger.  If I haven't accepted your cabeceo, I'm not going to dance with you!  

When I came out of the washroom, the Taxi Dancer in the corridor.  His Boss let him have a little break.  He was chain smoking more cigarettes.  We didn't even acknowledge each other as I passed by back into the milonga.  At least I won't have to dance with him (or anyone else I don't want to dance with) ever again - but what about him?  He will have to dance with anyone who pays him to dance.  That's how it is with Taxi Dancing.  What a way to make a living.

* You will have to basically hold my entire extended family and all my cats hostage in order to get me to Taxi Dance ever again HOWEVER, to find out Man Yung's rates for Taxi Dancing services, please click here.


jessiechung said...

Dear Irene and Man Yung,

We wish there was a category in Nobel prizes for the most hilarious and insightful tango blog writer. There are similar manipulative ladies and gentlemen in our Tango experiences. We never feel good afterward even if the persons are not bad dancers...because it all starts wrong. "Dragging a cow up a tree" is a fabulous expression and is perfectly accurate used in this context. We had a hearty laugh reading this article and we also had to wash our faces from the cigarette smell we got from your description.

Jessie and Dorian

AlanJonesj said...

Hi,Irene and Man Yung,I hope you are well.Sorry to be off-thread,but can I use the list on your post about show-dancers for a thread here in England,please? From Alan Jones.

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Alan Jones,

Not sure which post about show-dancers you are referring to, but we don't have a problem, please go ahead!

Irene and Man Yung

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Jessie and Dorian,

Thanks for your kind comments and for enjoying this post! Unfortunately it was a hideous scenario that gave birth to the post - maybe after writing therapy we would stop having recurring nightmares and smell heavy lingering smoke smell even when there are no Taxi Dancers smoking in the vicinity?

Good to hear from you (no doubt back home again), talk to you soon!

Irene and Man Yung

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