Tango in LA
The first thing any self respecting tango dancer does when they decide to visit another city in the world is to open Google, and type in the name of the city, followed by the word “tango” to see what their options are. It is always exciting going to a new city with lots of people that you have never danced with before, but it is also sometimes a little confronting as you don’t know anyone, and you don’t know the subset of the protocols used within that scene. Basic things like do they play tanda’s, do they use the cabaceo to invite etc…. Of course when I typed in the words “Anaheim Tango” into Google, I really didn’t get much joy. It was then I decided that I may just have to spend the weekend before the conference in Los Angeles. Typing in “Los Angeles tango” got better results, but it wasn’t until I typed in “Los Angeles milongas” that I eventually found a blog that aggregated all of the tango in Los Angeles. I also managed to make contact with the blogs author so that I felt like I actually knew someone there. As it turned out I never actually met up with the blogs author, however his advice on tango and other matters proved invaluable.
When you only have 2 days in a city, it tends to focus your efforts, so after getting off the plane at 6:30am, the first chance to go out for a tango was later that same night at El Encuentro in Sherman Oaks. I arrived about an hour after the milonga had officially started, and dropped the blog authors name and that I was from Melbourne, Australia to get me a warm welcome from the organizer. I watched the floor for a while, and noted the good dancers. There seemed to be a reasonably good level, and I knew that if I could just get over the nervousness about asking for a first dance, I should be in for a pretty good night. As it happened, I accidently stared at one of the girls who I had picked as being a good dancer for a bit too long, and she took it as a cabaceo, and promptly agreed to dance with me. Aside from a few refusals later that night, I barely sat down all night. I think it was about 2:30am when I finally and dragged myself away. I had some wonderful dances, and was overall very impressed with the level of dancing in LA. I also had a few not so fabulous dances, but that' happens from time to time, especially if you are not known in the scene, and if you ask women you’ve never seen dance. I met a table of people who drove down from Santa Barbara, and told them that I had been toying with the idea of driving up to Santa Barbara after the conference. I was quickly offered a couch by one of the girls I had connected with particularly well, and we danced about 6 tandas together that night. My trip was starting to come together, and it was only my first night in LA. The music was reasonably good, although there was an extraneous vals inserted in the middle of a tango tanda, and some of the the tandas didn’t flow that well together, but I managed to have a thoroughly enjoyable night, and made a few new friends.
The next night was The Argentine Association. I got there about 8ish and the class was still going, so I got talking to the Argentinian man at the door, it was good to get a bit of Spanish practice. There weren’t as many good dancers at this milonga as there was at El Encuentro, however, my friend from Santa Barbara made a special effort to come down, so I still had a good night.
I was pretty sure that the conference would take up most of my time during the week, but my friend from Santa Barbara turned out to be very persuasive, and got me to drive up to LA on Tuesday night after the conference had devolved into lots of drinking and playing computer games which didn’t really interest me. It was a quite night at Leonardo’s Night Club, and mainly danced with my friend.
My final tango in LA was a flash 45 minute visit (due partly to traffic, and partly to my fear of missing my flight to Buenos Aires) to The Argentine Association, where I managed to squeeze in 5 tandas before diving into the car and racing to the airport.
All in all, I really enjoyed the Los Angeles tango scene, and would love to go back there sometime.