The one caveat of Couchsurfing is that, oftentimes, you can’t just arrive to a city and show up at their door. People have work, things to do, places to see, etc. and they might not be home to receive you until a certain time. It happened in Montevideo, and it happened again in Buenos Aires. So, tired as I was, I was forced to walk around the area at Puerto Madero until my host came back home from work and could tell me how to get to his apartment. I put my bag in luggage storage, step outside the terminal and see: tango.
The young, hip argentinos I’ve met so far insist that nobody really dances tango anymore, but clearly the Kirchner Cultural Center begs to differ. Sure, most of the attendees were over the age of 50, but it was entertaining nonetheless! (and some of them dance really well). My first encounter with the argentino accent (which is the same as the Uruguayan one) was from a man who was at least 65-years old who asked me to dance with him. (I had the face of the dancer, he said. What a charmer! But I said no.) The CCK, as it’s called, also had a cool exhibition inside about the indigenous people of the Salta and Jujuy regions of Argentina. Definitely piqued my interest enough to plan a visit there one day.
But that wasn’t the last of my dancing for the evening. When I finally got to my host’s house in the Recoleta neighborhood at 9pm (thanks to free Burger King WiFi and the nice man who swiped his card for me on the bus), my host, D, told me we were going out to a party. I was tired as hell, but I didn’t want to disappoint–so off we went.
First thoughts: I can’t dance as well as I thought I could.
The party was full of people from all over — Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, France — and they were all dancing to various Latin rhythms that I was unfamiliar with. Hip hop? Suuuure. Pop? You betchya! Hell, I can even get down to reggaeton. But before this night, I had no clue about merengue, bachata, or salsa, which according to D, are danced all over Latin America, even though they originate in the Caribbean. After being made fun of immensely (miran a la gringa!!), a Colombian boy and a Venezuelan boy kindly took it upon themselves to teach me how to actually move instead of just bouncing around on my toes like a boxer.
As it turns out, it’s all in the hips.
After a couple of quick lessons, I finally found my groove and was able to dance decently (I’ll thank my Arab blood for that). My friends changed their tune (pues no eres totalmente gringa) and my new friends and I danced the night away under the Buenos Aires stars.
(Well, you can’t see the stars in Buenos Aires. But you know what I mean.)