January 1, 2020: Night One of the Experiment at La Glorieta. Photo: fellow tanguera Geneviève Allard
It’s the first day of 2020. I decided to start this year with a bang of new year’s energy. I am beginning a new Challenge: 31 Days of Asking Men to Dance. A new decade merits a new experiment!
In truth, my idea was a recycle of an idea from last year, but reduce, reuse, recycle, right? In January 2019 I decided to do a research project after another conversation with a fellow tanguera about my frustration with going out to dance, and often spending much of the night or afternoon waiting for a cabeceo (the nod of the head a man uses when he asks a woman to dance). My plan was to go out dancing tango 31 nights in a row with the express intention of asking men to dance. My rule for myself was: if you go to a milonga or practica, you must ask at least one man to dance with a mirada (the look of desire used by a woman in her eyes to show she wants to dance), a cabeceo (a head nod usually used by men to invite) or verbally (which would be OK to do in more casual milongas but not so much in formal, elegant milongas).
No matter how I needed to challenge myself to go outside my comfort zone to be the initiator of the dance.
Well, we teach what we need to learn. It’s still not easy for me to ask a man to dance in Buenos Aires if he isn’t already a friend or someone I have danced with many times. The codes in tango still send a strong message that men invite, and women wait to be invited.
Deep down for me, and I suspect for many women, there is a feeling that we are more attractive if we are invited rather than actively inviting the men. It’s the same old Cinderella complex, waiting for a man to come, wake you from a passive slumber to validate you. In fact, many men seem to like the idea of women asking them to dance to take the constant pressure of initiation off them. But I’ve also heard from a man that he didn’t want women to ask him to dance because he felt that would be taking away the last clear domain of power that men had. Whatever.
I would have shared last year’s results with you but I lost the phone, so I lost the data recorded in audio messages each time I left the milonga. I can tell you last year I got plenty of yesses and nos. The yesses made the nos worth it because the dances that came along with the yesses were often quite good–and I truly don’t think I would have danced with those men if I hadn’t invited them. There is also a power in knowing I can be rejected and survive the no. In a way, that’s freedom.
So my dears, if at first you do not succeed then try try again. This year we start fresh. I’m going to attempt to do 31 whole nights. Let’s see. That’s an intense goal since I am also working mightily to complete a memoir that I started in 2012 (!!!!) but I’m thinking all this dancing will be good for my writing-brain power because we need a balance of mental and physical activity to stay creative.
So I am going to try the experiment this year and live-blog it as I go along on this post, adding a new entry with data and emotional observations each night after I go out.
Here we go…
Day One: January 1, 2020
Milonga: La Glorieta, an outdoor gazebo in Belgrano where people gather to dance nightly.
Me and one of my targets! He said yes. 😉
Results: Spectacular. I asked 7 men to dance, verbally each time. All seven said yes. At least one was someone who I have danced with once before years ago, but I’m sure he thinks he is much higher level than me. Because he was standing alone looking rather glum I asked him anyway.
My language of choice for all the men was “Bailas?” (“Do you dance?”), “Quer bailar?” (“Do you want to dance?” or “Bailamos” (“Let’s dance.”) I used “Bailamos” only with someone I know socially. Using a verbal invitation works at La Glorieta and other more casual milongas. I don’t know if inviting verbally would work well at a formal milonga like Canning. I may have to lean more on a heavy mirada or cabeceo. We’ll see over the next 31 days.
My strategy was often to wait until one song had passed in the four-song tanda. Waiting gave me more confidence and made me feel less like I was attacking them. I realize it feels better to let go of this need to feel desired in my experiment because my stronger need is to dance and feel empowered. My mood was much better because I was asking the men and choosing who I wanted to dance with rather than standing around hoping someone I wanted to dance with would ask me. I felt like a bubblier version of myself than the passive me who stands around waiting.
I asked one man to dance whom I have often danced with. He seemed a bit taken aback that I was the one asking. At first I almost thought he wanted to play it hysterico (hot and cold) and decline my invitation because he was used to approaching me but then all was good and we danced a lovely tanda.
All of the other guys seemed quite fine with invitation. “Dale,” or “Dale si” is what most of them said.
There was one man that I tried to invite with my eyes using my mirada, who I thought met my eyes but then he walked past me. He seemed to have made eye contact with another woman standing behind me. That was OK because well, you win some and you lose some. Overall this experiment started off with winning way more than usual lately.
That was a wrap for night one!
Day Two: January 2, 2020
I was planning to go to De Querusa but with all the hubbub of the New Year and the grand start of this project I am feeling too tired. I need to rest! I’ll stay in tonight to watch Outlander. I’ll make up for it tomorrow by asking EXTRA men to dance.
The Friday afternoon practica Cheek to Cheek is not a traditional milonga where men and women sit on opposite sides of the dance floor but it’s definitely more of an elite milonga than La Glorieta so I was feeling nervous about taking my “31 Days of Asking Men to Dance” Challenge to Cheek to Cheek. La Glorieta is a “friendly milonga”–Cheek to Cheek not so much. The last time I went to Cheek to Cheek a few months ago there was poca gente (very few people) and they were all ridiculously high-level dancers. I danced with the organizer and I feared that it was a pity tanda because I had been sitting there in planchar mode for over an hour. Planchar is the Argentine verb meaning “to iron.” In tango language, to planchar means sitting for hours, frustrated, not dancing.
So how did it go? I entered the milonga and saw a familiar face of a sweet guy from La Plata. La Plata is about an hour south of Buenos Aires. The dancers from La Plata are often good (and passionate, they drive a long time to get to the milonga). I greeted him with a kiss on the cheek which is probably not what I would have done if it were not for the 31 Days of Asking Men to Dance Challenge. This whole challenge of asking men to dance is making me more outgoing and less timido in general. After I changed my shoes he invited me with a cabeceo, but I really believe that my being more friendly and warm with the kiss paved the way for the invitation. I can’t claim I invited him, but I do think I helped make the invitation happen by being friendlier than I often am. (Not because I don’t want to be friendly, but I can be kind of shy and inward! Especially if I am feeling insecure.)
My first dance. I didn’t ask him but I may have made it happen by being friendly.
What happened after? My friend Jorge showed up. Jorge is a taxi dancer in the Solo Chica Tango Adventure so he’s part of our team. If you come along on a Solo Chica Tango Adventure you might dance with him too. (You can read Jorge’s bio here.) I can’t claim to have gone out of my comfort zone to invite him either since we have danced many times, but I can say, I asked him “Bailas?” at exactly the same time he said to me, “Bailamos.” It seems like “Bailamos” (“Let’s dance”) is a much more normal thing to say to a friend and “Bailas?” (“Do you dance?”) makes more sense to say to someone new. I’m still working out this verbal invitation language since I have spent most of my tango career following the rules of showing my interest with a mirada (look of desire) and not words.
Jorge one of our taxi dancers for the Solo Chica Tango Adventure–and moi! It’s always nice to run into a friend at the milonga. He doesn’t count in the Challenge but his presence boosted my confidence.
After I am happy to say I invited two men! They both said yes. One was a Polish man living in Italy who seemed to be a beginnerish dancer. Very sweet. He seemed happy I invited him. The other was a wonderful dancer that I went on a date with once. We didn’t wind up dating. It can be kind of awkward to see someone that you don’t wind up dating at the milonga. I felt he ignored me for the last year when we saw each other at milongas. Maybe he thought I ignored him? Who knows? This time because I had my Challenge fueling me I forced myself to creep up behind him and tap him lightly on the shoulder. He turned his head around and said, “Quer bailar?” with a friendly smile. We danced a magical tanda. I missed dancing with him. We dance together so well.
I’m only on day three, which is technically day two. I am getting more and better tandas than I would have been dancing otherwise. Going into the milonga with the intention of asking at least one man to dance is definitely working. I’m feeling more present, less passive. No rejections so far, but I’m sure that will change when I ask more people. I have only asked 9 men so far! What’s going to happen at a traditional milonga when I ask a man? I don’t know.
I am quite pleased with the experiment so far. I am feeling less shy and more outgoing in general.
Day Four: January 4, 2020
Practica: La Maria, an afternoon practica
La Maria is an afternoon practica on Saturdays where I have been going to dance over the last month based on the recommendation from a tango friend who told me the level was better than the DNI practica, which I have had a love-hate relationship with for years. Overall I’ve had a good time at La Maria and have been happy with the switch in my Saturday afternoon tango routine but I’ve certainly faced frustrating moments of feeling ignored there too.
On day four I received my first nos at La Maria. Three nos to be exact, or 2.5, if you count the last guy who told me “No, not this tanda because it’s D’Arrienzo” (too fast) but we can do another tango tanda. I am not sure if that should be called a full no but he didn’t ask me to dance for the last one, and I wasn’t going to ask again because I felt that would be a little bit pathetic, so for the purposes of this study I will call his a no. (However I did chat with him about how and why we got into tango. I may have planted the seeds for a future tanda.)
I was glad about the first “no” because I didn’t want men to be saying yes to me out of obligation or pity. His no proved that a man could say no. Of course I knew that was true because I had gotten “no” many times in the past! I wasn’t surprised because this guy seemed to be one of the high-level dancers who barely danced at all–he only dances with a few chosen few. The second “no” came from a guy who appeared to be a foreigner. I was surprised he said no, because usually foreigners are happy to be asked–they don’t have automatic dance partners. He wound up standing a long time in a corner so maybe he also wasn’t in a dancing mood, who knows?
At first I felt energized and happy with the “nos,” because I knew this project really hadn’t gotten started until I got a “no.” There would be no reality to the challenge without “nos” because that would have meant I was only asking foreigners or men I already knew. In fact, I had asked total strangers but this time I asked high-level strangers. The “nos” felt good because I survived them, and then went on to ask other men to dance who said yes. I danced a milonga tanda with a Brazilian who ran a tango school in Porto Alegre, and a German man who had been dancing tango in Buenos Aires since the 80s. That’s really something. Tango was coming out of obscurity after the dictatorships in the 80s. I feel myself dancing better because I am dancing more. On average I have been dancing 7-10 tandas since I started this Challenge, compared to the 2-3 tandas per milonga I was dancing before. Going out with the intention of asking men to dance has definitely generated far more tandas. It’s also made me feel more in control of my destiny. I am more concerned with identifying men I want to dance with and scheming about how I will ask them rather than sitting in a chair, eyeing men, fruitfully or not, which had gotten awfully boring and depressing after a while.
I must admit after two “nos” I felt tired. I almost invited a man that I have danced with a couple times, but who is a bit inconsistent in his desire to dance with me, I didn’t have much left in the way of strength to take another no. Three “nos” may be the limit of what my ego can take.
Happily though I had four yesses, plus the three men who invited me without any work on my part.
I call Day Four a continued success.
Here’s a spontaneous little video I recorded sitting on a stoop on the street after leaving La Maria.
Day Five: Another rest day!
Wow, this asking men to dance thing is intense! I’m taking another rest day because I need a break, and because tomorrow morning I will get up early to go on a day trip to Tigre, a river community an hour outside of Buenos Aires. The excursion will include tango so I will be sure to ask a man to dance. Stay tuned for the pictures. These will be lovely and different: tango in nature is the best.
Day Six: Tango in Tigre
Tango in Tigre (a river community just 40 minutes outside of Buenos Aires, and the easiest place to go to get a nature fix from this megalopolis) has been a dream of mine for a long time. I used to have a vision of organizing my own Tango in Tigre events. Now I am just enjoying going to them as a guest since I am so busy with finishing my memoir, the Tango Adventure, and my clients. I came to this Tango in Tigre Day Trip to check it out as an option for Solo Chicas who come on our Tango Adventures. The day was marvellous: maravilloso! Beautiful people, home-made food by Hugo Satorre, a world-known bandoneonist, yoga, swimming, kayak, and a bit of tango to live music on the pier before we took the boat back to Tigre.
So did I ask any men to dance? Well, no, because the only man to ask was married and he was glued to the hip of his spouse so I didn’t want to rock the boat too hard. However, on the way back in the boat, Sole Viladrich, another woman who had come on the day trip, and I discovered that we had massive amounts in common. Sole just released her documentary “Esto No Es El Tango: El Abrazo Dissidente” all about women, queer people, trans people, and other rule-breakers challenging rigid notions of tango. I told her about my Challenge and how very happy I was to get my first NOs at La Maria on Day 4. In the end, this is all about building resilience and it wouldn’t be real if men only said yes. Of course men have the right to say no too! Anyone does.
We talked about the distinct challenge of asking men to dance in traditional milongas such as Cachirulo, which are run by a kind of ten commandments of tango. You can read more about the ultra-traditional Cachirulo in this New York Times piece “A Caricature of the Patriarchy: Argentine Feminists Remake Tango”. Sole said that she had seen a woman denunciado (denounced) in Cachirulo for asking men to dance. Wow. It will be a dare on a whole other level to break the codes in a traditional milonga. I know I will have to try it this month, and I’m scared! I might call Sole to come and film my attempts.
I asked one man to dance, a total stranger, and he said yes. No drama whatsoever.
Day Nine: January 9, 2020
Milonga: De Querusa
I went out on a whim because I craved the embrace. I often feel I will sleep better if I dance tango. Better sleep was my motivation on Day 9. It worked. I went to bed more pleasurably tired than if I had been watching Netflix all night.
Officially both of my verbal invitations were refused by awkward foreign dancers. That would be two nos. However, from the moment I arrived I interacted in friendly, easy ways with men I have been dancing with recently, which resulted in three rather magical rapid-fire tandas that left me feeling like a sweaty, popular dancing queen.
I’m starting to feel like verbally asking men to dance is not hard. The sting of the no is not bothering me as much. However, it still holds true that I can only tolerate two nos. Any more than that starts to feel like a downer.
I’m also reaping the benefits of going out more often. It’s definitely true that it’s easier to get dances when you are a regular in the tango scene.
I simply feel happier in the milonga now because I feel less powerless. Even if I get a no, I feel like I have more power to decide who I want to dance with. Let’s see if that feeling of power continues.
Last month was one of the more bizarre periods of my life. When I married myself five years ago it was an entirely private ritual that only two friends attended. Marrying myself had nothing to do with being single. Marrying myself was about a deep process of self-love and -acceptance. Really marrying myself was part of a healing process.
After TeleNoche aired an interview with me about self-marriage a month ago the Argentine (and Latin American) press got interested–as far away as Marie Claire Mexico.
I did three TV interviews, two radio, and two for the press, all in Spanish! Whoah!
Suddenly everyone knew me as “the first woman in Argentina who married herself.” People I interact with daily on my block (at the cafe, gym, kiosco, and health food store) congratulated me.
Weeks later my body pump teacher at the gym is still teasing me every time I slow down during the class. “Sasha, is marriage not treating you well?”
The latest surreal conversation on my block was with the Venelezuan at the local dietetica (health food shop) who came out from behind the counter when I was shopping to ask if was me. “Are you the woman who married herself?” I was there to buy almond milk and suddenly I was talking to him about what happens when women make vows to themselves.
If the people in my neighborhood are any indication, self-marriage had captured the attention of Argentina. Or Latin America. I didn’t even know it was possible anymore to achieve such media penetration now with so many different outlets. A woman in my weekly writing group told me she heard people talking about self-marriage everywhere from Twitter to Clarin to La Nación, Argentina’s leading conservative paper where a man wrote this little essay mocking self-marriage. He ended this with this typically Argentine poetic ending, “I point out that there is no love for oneself, above all, because there is no love for oneself without love for the other. and vice versa.”
Right. Exactly. That’s what I have been saying. We are in agreement buddy. My self-marriage was a private act. I never posted about marrying myself when I took that leap back in 2014 but I got a lot of benefit from marrying myself so when media wants to talk to me about it I oblige. My self-marriage was all about building my capacity to love myself–and others too. Then people get angry that women want to love themselves! “You’re such a narcissist.” “How sad you couldn’t find anyone to marry.” “Society is falling apart, etc.”
Maybe these people haven’t noticed that women have a tendency to give away so much of themselves in relationship (or in the pursuit of relationship) there is not enough left for themselves. When you love yourself you have more love to give. You’ll have better relationships! Why is making vows to love and care for yourself narcissistic? On the other hand, the Marie Claire Mexico got it just right in their writeup, pointing out that you can be in a relationship and marry yourself too.
How this “First Woman to Marry Herself in Argentina” madness started
This Latin American wave of self-marriage publicity started three weeks ago when Jason Mayne, a young reporter from TeleNoche was researching self-marriage because he was going to LA to do a story and wanted to do more. He discovered in a news story that I married myself here in 2014 in Buenos Aires’ Japanese Garden. He emailed me and two days later we taped an interview about self-marriage in the Japanese Garden, just where I had married myself with two friends in a very private, tiny ceremony five years before, witnessed by two close friends: one Colombian, one Estonian, both fellow tangueras.
I didn’t tell anyone on social media about my self-marriage when it happened. No one cared for five years. Where were all those self-wedding presents? Hahahahah evil laugh. After TeleNoche, all of a sudden all Argentine media wanted to talk to me.
In the last two weeks I have done three television interviews, two radio interviews, and one print interview (Infobae) for one of the biggest new sources. One Argentine friend emailed to say, “You’re busier than the president!” In fact, I lost myself in all the TV interviews. Neglecting my self-care meant that I needed to come back to the vows of my self-marriage to put my my health ahead of my work! I found the whole experience to be both scary (what do these people in Argentina think of me now? I must admit I do think about what people think of me) and extremely confidence-building. I had no idea I could do television interviews in Spanish. When I listened to this fifteen-minute radio interview with a station in Mendoza, I was in shock. I sounded like a porteña (a Buenos Aires person)!
Self-marriage does not equal “sologamia.” Please stop using that horrible word!
All the while I have been continually clearing up misconceptions. The media loves using “sologamia” in headlines and asking me how I am living the word “sologamia.” I don’t even know what that word means, and I never used the word to describe self-marriage, but let’s make it clear. The word “sologamia” clearly creates an impression in people’s mind that marrying yourself means you are committing to be alone. That might be the case for some women or men who marry themselves, but that has never been the case for me or even one of the women I have talked to who have married themselves. Self-marriage is a ritual that involves making vows to yourself, and it’s usually a ritual of self-love and self-acceptance.
I am currently single and want to be in a relationship. But that doesn’t mean I would divorce myself. This self-marriage is forever.
Would you marry yourself? Pollo, the host of Con Amigos Asi, would!
So with all of that, I present you the transcript from this truly hilarious segment of “Con Amigos Asi” where the first woman who married herself in Argentina explained how and why it’s done.
This interview was truly like nothing you have seen on American (or probably European) TV. It was like hanging out with a group of friends at an asado (BBQ). My friend Sharon said it was like an asado with great vibes.
I surprised the twentysomethings on the show because they assumed marrying myself meant I closed the door on marriage. No. There are no closed doors. These are two distinct things.
I explained that as I got older it becomes clear that the path of self-love is very important but it’s not recognized in society.
They were very open to listening as well as joking around.
We did some really hilarious spontaneous mini-coaching sessions on their contradictory feelings about relationships. “Sometimes I’m happy, Sometimes I cry. I’m confused Sasha.”
Also, one more thing: When I talked about this show with my Colombian friend (who also married herself and cares deeply that people get the deeper meaning of self-marriage) she worried people would get the wrong idea and think that marrying yourself is kind of like that joke on Seinfeld, when Jerry meets a woman played by Janeane Garafolo and says, “I found my soul mate, this woman is incredible, she is just like me!” That was a funny joke but no, that’s not what self-marriage is about! Self-marriage is about self-acceptance, not marrying your doppelganger.
Also facial treatments are great self-care but they are probably not the deepest expression of self-love. (During one of the spontaneous mini-coaching sessions on the show one of the women said she would express love for herself with facial treatments.)
But I will trust that you get that these are jokes.
Self-marriage is profound and funny, like the best things in life.
An asado (bbq) with really good vibes – watch it here with a transation
Note: We have an English translated transcript of this video below. For your best watching experience, you can click through to watch on YouTube and scroll down to read the transcript as you watch.
Sasha Cagen: The Woman who Married Herself, interview on “Con Amigos Asi” on the Argentine cable TV channel KZO
Pollo: I don’t have it clear.
Juan: What? What? Wait, wait.
Pollo: And now, the only woman who married herself… well, I do not know if she is the only one, but she is the only one in the program today. She married herself… she married herself!
Pablo: And she is not unfaithful with herself. I cannot believe it!
Pollo: She married herself and imagine how much less mess you have to go through. She has no problem living together with a partner, they do not fight over going to their parents´ houses.
Jani: For me, she was a visionary.
Pollo: This starts here and never ends!
Pablo: She separates from her husband and keeps everything!
Pollo Exactly, there is no contract to pronounce it…
Juan: If she doesn´t cook, nobody else will.
Yani: Phew! She should have been when the lawyer was here.
Pollo: Wait! What?
Juan: Wait and… Can I ask you a question?
Pollo: Yes, in fact you can ask her but I can help you.
Juan: Would you marry Pollo Alvarez?
Pollo: Yes, I would marry myself.
Pollo: I consider myself a good candidate.
Pablo: Would you marry Pablito Giménez?
Pablo: Yes, bolúdo (Argentine Spanish word to call someone an asshole in a friendly way). Yes. If I don´t love myself, who else will?
Juan: I won´t marry marry Juan. No way.
Pablo: That is true.
Yani: We all know that. Luckily it´s crystal clear.
Juan: You believe in my a lot, eh!
Pollo: I… Yes. The truth is that If I think about it, yes, yes, I would marry myself, yes.
Joshi: For me, the ideal partner.
Pollo: With whom?
Pollo: With yourself?
Joshi: Yes (nodding her head)
Pollo: Well, now I speak with her. Let’s welcome the dearest Sasha Cagen! Welcome, please come forward. Sasha Cagen (pronounced in English)? In English is it Cagen?
Joshi: (pronouncing her surname correctly): Cagen!
Sasha: Hi, how are you?
Pollo: Welcome! Come in, please!
[A lot of back and forth about how to pronounce “Cagen” in English and Spanish.]
Pollo: Really, because obviously, surely, to do what you did, has to do with a process and with something that you believe in, but for outsiders, perhaps the most orthodox ones, you got our attention. So tell us, what is it all about?
Sasha: Well, yes, it’s usually not that someone wakes up one day and decides to marry herself or himself. Self-marriage is usually part of a period of introspection. I think it’s something people who are working on these things to love themselves enter into this process of self-marriage. It is something you can do for recognition in your life, as an adult. Because we do not have many rituals for adults. We have marriage and, I do not know what else, a birthday, but it is not something very…
Yani: Fatherhood. Motherhood, too.
Sasha: Yes, and well you can even marry yourself if you are already married. I am a life coach and I have helped women who are married to marry themselves. Because… especially women have a tendency to get lost in the relationship with others. Whether you are single or you are with someone, self-marriage can be a ritual to make a commitment to yourself. It is very personal and it is very creative because we do not have magazines that tell you what to do when you marry yourself. That’s why it is very free.
Pollo: Now I ask you, I understand what you are saying to me, that to marry yourself is creative and that it is part of the process but what is the difference between marrying oneself and not marrying oneself. Because in general I do not understand.
Joshu: The change?
Yani: The difference?
Pollo: What is the difference? Forgive my ignorance.
Yani: Single or married with yourself–isn’t that the same?
Sasha: It’s a process, a ritual …it´s something that you want….
Yani: Ah! It´s a ritual.
Sasha: I believe people have to be….
Joshu: Something symbolic maybe….
Sasha: People want something to do for that ritual of self-love. It’s symbolic and for me it was something that happened some months before my 40th birthday, because I felt a lot of pressure and unhappy because I had not found a man to marry. I was also doing therapy and thinking about how to love myself after working through many internal things. And it was weird, of course, it was strange.
That’s why for me, to marry myself here in Argentina was so much more free. I was far from my family, my normal friends … [Laughter] I have also my not-so-normal friends … open-minded friends I met in tango and they supported me. My Colombian friend, she got married to herself too. And she was present in my day. [Note: It should be said I have plenty of open-minded friends in California too!]
Pollo: Did she marry herself?
Sasha: Yes, she was present and….
Joshu: And did she know about this because of you?
Yani: No, no she married herself.
Joshu: Yes, yes, but did she get to know about it from you … I think this self-marriage is a beautiful idea, did she hear it for the first time from you?
Sasha: No. It was ten years ago, when I published this book [holding the Quirkyalone book in her hand]. I interviewed two women in California who married themselves. When I was 30, for me it was also like, why do you need to do this? I also was judgmental but I also felt interested in it. But it was also like … hmm … good for you, but it’s not for me. After time as I got older I realized that it is so very important to love yourself. To learn to love yourself really is a very important path in life. And we don’t value this so much because we want to get married, because society gives importance to marriages. So it is a ritual of self-love…
Pollo: It´s okay. It´s right what she is saying.
Joshu: But Sasha, do you feel that marrying yourself shows even more self-love than not marrying oneself … no? Because one can have self-love without marrying oneself, I just say.
Sasha: Yes, totally. Yes, and it’s not necessary need to marry yourself.
Joshu: But you felt even greater self-love when you married yourself?
Sasha: Sorry? Oh, If I feel greater self-love? Yes! Well, because I have the reference of this ring, you see, it is a commitment and it is a symbol. That’s how I can remember it.
Joshu: Yes, you see it and you remember it.
Sasha: Exactly. It´s a symbol that I can remember.
Pollo: I have a question, sorry. Again, I am very very ignorant on the subject …
If one learns how to value yourself and that is why you can marry yourself isn’t it the same learning to say OK, society believes that you have to marry because the canons say that … Anyway, I can be single, alone if I am OK with myself, I do not think it is necessary to marry yourself. And yes, I understand that maybe it is something more from society than something that I really want. Do you understand the point?
Sasha: Yes, it’s not necessary and I’m thinking a lot about this now, at this moment because this idea captured society in Argentina and …
Pollo: Yes, because we have so many problems in our society so this is excellent… It´s like a break within such a big mess… that we say, OK, let´s talk about this!
Sasha: It is something different.
Pollo: Yes. It´s good.
Sasha: I have been thinking about this and I think maybe the people who have experienced abuse in their lives really need a ritual, and understand that can be valuable to do a ritual of self-love, there are people who understand exactly why … and there are people who say why you need to do this? And I think you need to have a calling for self-marriage, it needs to call you, otherwise it’s not right.
Pablo: And the paperwork is the same? You go to the registry office? It´s the same as if you marry someone?
Sasha: I didn’t do that. [I thought he was talking about a wedding registry for presents.] But I could say those are the presents I want, for me it was very quiet. It was more of an internal process, more than an external one.
Yani: And one question… I ask you a question….if you did a whole process of self-worth and self-love because of something in particular, why does it matter to you what society thinks of you because you can easily love yourself. And it´s like a little bit contradictory in the sense that if you love yourself and at some point you don´t care about what the rest thinks, why doing a ritual to show the rest? I don´t know if I’ve made myself clear.
Sasha: I think the point is to talk it out loud, to have witnesses and when I say this to you and you are my friend I promise that I want to follow this path, that I will say no to what is not good for me. I will love myself, I will consider myself beautiful. It’s a memory, the same as a wedding.
Yani: And if you fell in love with someone, for example…. ?
Sasha: It’s all good.
Yani: Can you be unfaithful to yourself?
Sasha: There are no closed doors.
Yani: Ah! Ok, yes.
Boy: In fact, in the end, it ends up being just as marrying with someone else… You are in a relationship right? And the wedding is more symbolic because… you… the love is the same, it wouldn´t change anything theoretically. So….no….
Sasha: It´s something….
Boy: If it changes, it changes, as the lawyer said. Papers change.
Pablo: Well, but…let´s say…. In terms of love… it´s the same.
Pollo: The thing is you shouldn´t marry thinking that you are going to divorce… it´s a great mistake.
Pollo: Because we should do nothing thinking, Oh, I get on the plane and I have…. And no…. You have to do things and then you…. Have to consider the consequences of what will happen… If you don´t move forward you are a coward I believe….
Yani: Sasha… and when you get to know a new person, right? Now do you tell him look, I am married to myself? No, you don´t tell him?
Juan: For me it’s OK to tell him/her anyway eh…
Sasha: No, it’s fine. When we know each other, but in the first date it would be very weird.
Yani: No, it’s not good.
Sasha: it has to be shared with time, yes, I believe.
Juan: Why did you choose to marry in Argentina?
Sasha: Because I felt freer here that I have a love for tango. I moved to Buenos Aires because of tango. I have several friends from tango and I feel like the freedom to follow this path here that for me in California, in California I was afraid of my self-marriage being seen as something from Burning Man, I don´t know if you know it.
Pollo: Yes, yes.
Sasha: But it was like I don´t want to be associated with Burning Man. I want to make it authentic, mine.
Juan: Burning Man is that festival that takes place in the desert.
Someone: And what´s the book about?
Sasha: The book is this, that is a word that I invented and it describes the people who want to be with someone and are patient, who can wait for the right person, so in that path, It’s very easy to feel social pressure because you’ve been single for many years so… that word means maybe, if you’ve been single for a long time it´s because you are selective and you are strong so it´s another perspective.
Yani: Did your parents want to kill you because of the self-wedding?
Sasha: (Laughs) No, no no!
Boy: No, no, if your parents…. Like… I don´t know, when you were thirty years old or when you were of a certain age that they made you feel…..
Yani: Pressure. That is why you decided to investigate about the subject or…?
Sasha: No, my parents were always very relaxed about marriage and they wanted me to be happy.
Yani: Ah! OK.
Sasha: I felt the pressure from society. Yes, because I think a girl feels it when she is 12, I felt like “If I have a boyfriend we are more.”
Someone: Yes, that´s true.
Sasha: Yes. It´s like you are pretty or you´re better because you have a boyfriend, why? Maybe you haven´t found the right person.
Pollo: And also, you should see, in connection with this, behind closed doors for both women and men … maybe on the outside it seems excellent and on the inside there’s a hell.
Joshi: Yes, anyway, beyond that also the society…
Juan: Both things, marriage and alone….
Boy: Now it´s not exactly like that
Pollo: Not anymore.
Yeni: Do you think that today is not exactly like that? At least… For me, to some extent it is.
Sasha: No, yes, yes, it´s still like that. (There is still social pressure to be in a relationship.) I work with those people. I am a coach and that’s one of my specialties.
Pollo: What type of coach are you?
Sasha: A life coach.
Pollo: And what does it mean?
Sasha: It´s kind of a therapist.
Sasha: But there is more action in it.
Pollo: But… is it for couples? Do you go with your partner?
Sasha: I also have couples because I have couples and they want to build a relationship where no one gets lost.
Pollo: Well, well, wait. Let´s imagine we are in the coach´s office. Can we?
Sasha: Yes! We can.
[Here’s where we start the spontaneous mini-coaching sessions….]
Pollo: Who wants to be treated by the coach? Joshi, Joshi…
Yani: The punishment because he was late.
Pollo: No, but he doesn´t want it… if he doesn´t want.
Yani: It doesn´t matter.
Pollo: We need that before…. Yani, good, perfect…. She´s decided it herself…. I didn´t decide it.
Pollo: Can you come here, Juancito? I haven´t decided it, I swear.
Juan: I liked it more the passive Jeni.
Pollo: A big round of applause to Yani.
Boy: Good Yani!
Pollo: Well, are you single, Juan? Well, deal with it yourself.
Pollo: Well, he will do a consultation.
Boy: Good Yani!
Pollo: Well, are you single, Juan? Well, deal with it yourself.
Pollo: Well, he will do a consultation.
Joshu: Will it be a performance or real life?
Pollo: No, no…. not real life.
Pablo: No, real life never.
Pollo: No, no because otherwise it´s confusing.
Sasha: Are you a client?
Sasha: Very good. I love it.
Juan (sad background music): Sasha… you know, something is happening to me lately and…. And I thought that given my age… I am already 35… I feel that many of my friends are having a family, they are finding their way in life and… I cannot manage to achieve that… I am standing to the other side of it.
Pollo: No, but he is 10 years less than what he said.
Juan: Six less years.
Yani: Don´t interrupt! Leave him…leave him!
Juan: And I feel all of them are finding their way in life… and I am staying sideway of it, but the truth is that I don’t want to force a situation to be in that train that today I feel I am not ready to get on.
Sasha: And… How do you feel about all this? What are your emotions?
Juan: Well, they are contradictory. Sometimes I feel good, I feel comfortable, I have my freedom… but other times, on a rainy Tuesday I feel I would like to have a boy by my side to watch TV.
Sasha: A boy? Or… a girl!
Someone: He is a chamuyero.
Pollo: A rainy Tuesday he goes out with an umbrella.
Sasha: Oh! A boy…. Ah….Do you want to be a father?
Pollo: He wants to be a dad to watch TV. But… he wants to be a dad for the rainy Tuesday, if it does not rain on Tuesday we are… No, no, sorry. Continue.
Sasha: And on Wednesday when it rains, you also want a child?
Juan: Yes, until Wednesday.
Sasha: I want to understand how how strong the desire is. If the desire if very strong.
Juan: It´s contradictory. There are days that it is strong, some days it´s not. There are days that are yes, the desire is strong and the days that are no.
Sasha: And when you feel it in your body, when you connect with yourself?
Juan: For me it´s hard. It´s very hard to connect with myself.
Sasha: Oh, well. Have you thought about marrying yourself?
Pollo: Ah… she is going toward that way.
Juan: Very good, very good, very good. Come Joshi, I tell you that with Joshi we have… here it´s the truth, now comes the truth… um
Sasha: Oh! Well!
Pollo: A kiss to Joshi´s mum that she always watches us.
Joshi: Ah… kisses!
Joshi: Hi Sasha
Sasha: Hi, how are you?
Sasha: What do you want to focus on today?
Joshi: Um… the truth is that I don’t have a partner and maybe I feel like something is failing. Am I make myself clear? Like I don´t know very well which way to follow. if keep on like this. Or not.
Sasha: Failing as a woman or failing as what?
Joshi: Life, in life maybe… in general.
Sasha: In life…
Sasha: And is it something you really want, the relationship?
Joshi: It happens to me that sometimes yes, too much. And sometimes no. I am in a dichotomy like… Sometimes I cry, sometimes I smile.
Sasha: And what do you feel most of the time?
Joshi: Most of the time? Um… I am confused, Sasha.
Sasha: And… have you thought about marrying yourself?
Pollo: It´s OK, it´s OK.
Sasha: That is the solution.
Someone: That is the solution.
Joshu: Mmm…. Yes, I have thought about that.
Sasha: Oh, yes? Do you have vows? Have you thought about vows with yourself? (In Spanish, this word sounds like Botox)
Someone: Not Botox, vows.
Sasha: No! Vows.
Someone: The granola won´t be shared if she marries herself.
Joshi: Vows… um… yes, yes. I thought… I feel that I would be a great partner for myself.
Sasha: What would you like to promise to yourself?
Joshi: Eternal loyalty. I mean, that to begin with. Um…. Love, love.
Sasha: Love to yourself.
Joshi: Yes, love to myself. It´s weird how it sounds but…
Someone: It´s OK, it´s OK.
Sasha: And how do you express that love? How would you like to?
Joshi: I take care of myself, I do skin treatments…
Someone(boy): Me too…
Joshi: And that is self-love… and I take care of myself a lot.
Sasha: What would you like to tell yourself so that you love yourself? What your internal dialogue would be? What would you say?
Joshi: Like… a mantra to myself?
Joshi: Uf… Maybe I would repeat it all the time like… “How pretty you are!”
Sasha: That´s good!
Pollo: It´s fine!
Juan: It´s fine.
Pollo: It´s fine!
Sasha: I like it, I like it… it´s very soft.
Pollo: Excellent, excellent!
Pablo: I am beginning to think that Joshi uses all specialists who come so in real life she doesn’t pay the real ones.
Pollo: The last thing I ask you, obviously. Is it in the bookstore this book (Quirkyalone)?
Sasha: Well, today I emailed my agent to say we have to sell the rights to an Argentine publisher because there is a lot of interest now.
Sasha: There is a translated book in Brasil (SoSingular), of this book but in version, but we don´t have it yet in Argentina.
Pollo: Well, but, look… there is it, there is your instagram so that they can ask you questions there.
Pollo: Two more things before we go. I would like that with this vision of a woman with a more open mind that at least, from the people we are here. You tell me who here you believe is closest to marry himself or herself… I mean… Who of all of us, from the little you have seen us… you say… which goes that way to marry him or herself… Who do you think?
Sasha: Oh. Him! (Pointing at Juan.)
Juan: Come on Juan! You have found the love of your life.
Pollo: He does not make good coffee.
Pollo: And the last thing I say… It has nothing to do with this but I would like you to answer this. If you had to … This is an intuition, it´s almost a prejudice… Who do you believe…. From all the people who are here, maybe nobody but…Who likes men and women? Who likes people … who does not care about gender?
Sasha: Ah…you mean bisexual?
Pollo: Bisexual… who? Who? Who do you think? I want to know.
Someone(boy): Come on Sasha! Say it! It´s just a question.
Sasha: Those two. (Pointing at Yani and the other boy, Pablo)
Pollo: Those two!
Pablo: It´s OK, yes, it might be… A big round of applause to Sasha!
photo by Julia Ribeiro / shot while filming a “nota” for the Argentine news program TeleNoche about self-marriage in the Japanese Gardens (where I married myself in 2014!)
What happens when a national news program in Argentina wants to know about the American woman who married herself in Buenos Aires? That happened this week. The interview was all in Spanish. Oh my god, it was amazing! We shot this very entertaining video in the Japanese Garden in Buenos Aires–exactly where I married myself five years ago!
This interview was a chance to spread the concept of self-marriage as a ritual of self-love and -acceptance in South America in Spanish on the biggest nightly news show in Argentina TeleNoche. Since then I have gotten lots of media requests from radio stations and newspapers in Argentina.
Just as a reminder, self-marriage does not at all imply or require being single. I’ve helped married and single women marry themselves in my coaching practice.
I see comments on social media arguing, “But constructing a beautiful relationship is so important.” I agree! Perhaps some who marry themselves don’t want a relationship but that’s not my approach in my own life or with my clients. In my view, self-marriage is not a rejection of intimate relationship but a foundation for it. Self-marriage is the foundation for everything.
I also want a loving committed, interdependent relationship with a man. That’s the vulnerable part of me that might not get seen in my advocacy for self-marriage or Quirkyalone. If that sounds contradictory, so be it–it’s really not not. Loving ourselves helps us love other people. Being kinder to yourself helps you look at a a loved one, a friend, or strangers, with a softer, more loving gaze. I can’t say that marrying myself made me a perfect person, but the ring is always a reference point to remember the way I want to treat myself and others.
That’s the deep side of self-marriage. There’s also a hilarious side because marrying yourself can be pretty fun. With Jason Mayne of TeleNoche I was able to be more myself than I am in most interviews.
When I talked about Quirkyalone with Anderson Cooper on CNN the interview felt like a battle. When you go to battle you’re tense. When you’re joking you can be more relaxed. Maybe it’s was Jason’s sympathetic genuine millenial vibe, that we were in a park, or that I was speaking in a foreign language. Anyway, he managed to bring out the best in me. We had so much fun!
Watch the video and let me know what you think.
For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, my team and I translated the interview.
Jason: And this ring, what does it mean?
Sasha: Well, it’s a commitment to myself, that I’ve taken that step of marrying myself.
Jason narration: There is a movement that grows in the world that is called sologamy or self-marriage, people who marry themselves. And one of the references is now in the city of Buenos Aires. Let’s go talk to her because I want to know what this is about. How is it that you marry yourself, is it a traditional party? No? Well, here we’ll see.
Sasha, what’s up?
Sasha: Hi, how are you?
Jason: Very good! I want to see this, what you have here. Is it a commitment ring?
Sasha: Oh well, yes, it’s my commitment ring with myself.
Jason: What does this ring mean?
Sasha: Well, it’s a symbol of the fact that I took this step to marry myself. As a symbol of self-love and self-acceptance.
Jason: And how long have you been married?
Sasha: It’s been five years. We’ve been together for 5 years!
Jason: Where did you get married?
Sasha: Here, in the Japanese Garden.
Jason: Where are you from?
Sasha: I’m from the United States, I fell in love with tango, I moved to Buenos Aires, I decided to marry myself and I did the ceremony here in the Japanese Garden.
Jason: And does it have something to do with not expecting the prince and going against all that societal pressure of marriage?
Sasha: Yes. I was going to be 40 years old and I had not married a man yet and I wanted to do something for myself, a ritual. About being an adult, being a woman, taking charge of my own happiness. And also my self-acceptance, that’s a very profound thing.
Jason: Did you tell your friends, your family that you were going to marry yourself? What did they say to you?
Sasha: Well, I told very few people, because I knew that most people would not understand. My mother told me, whatever is good for you is good for me, but I know she thought I was crazy. And that’s OK.
Jason: So it’s about not depending on sharing moments with another person, its about feeling feeling good being yourself?
Sasha: Yes, and I also like to be in a couple. Getting married to yourself doesn’t mean that I want to be single, it’s not like that. It’s that I want to take care of my happiness, when I’m single or when I’m with someone.
Sasha: For me, what is fundamental is to write the vows.
Jason: You wrote the vows?
Sasha: Yes, of course.
reading the vows from five years ago, translated to Spanish
Jason: These are the vows of your self-marriage?
Sasha: My self-marriage yes, because I can also marry a man. it’s not exclusive, it’s very polyamorous.
Jason: The polyamory, I like it, you already stole the concept.
Sasha: Yes, we are in everything.
Jason: Okay, for example, what does it say?
Sasha: I promise to follow what I love, my passions. I promise to fall in love with others’ imperfections as well as I fall in love with mine, because I’m not perfect.
Jason: There it is …
Sasha: I promise to see myself beautiful and accept my sexuality.
Jason: These were the vows of your self-marriage …
Jason: After, for example, was there a honeymoon?
Sasha: Well, there was a day to celebrate with friends, the honeymoon is still coming.
Jason: It’s pending.
Sasha: It’s pending.
Jason: And marrying oneself is only for women?
Sasha: No men can also marry themselves.
Making some very important point about self-marriage to the crew!
Jason: At what time did you say I want to marry myself?
Sasha: That was some months before my 40th birthday, I was very anxious.
Jason: How is the wedding ritual?
Sasha: Yes, there were many cases when women who wear the white dress and do the whole party. Everything.
Jason: You got gifts for self-marriage?
Sasha: There were gifts that were very sentimental, but not a lot of money. My self-marriage was very inexpensive, very economical.
Jason: Are there companies that offer self-marrying services?
Sasha: There are a few. There’s a box you can buy from the internet to help you with your process, and I see it as very economical, compared to the United States. Getting married in the US is very expensive, and we see what happens in many weddings and for me here is something very economical option that will help you a lot. And you’ll never divorce yourself.
Jason: So more economical, and you won’t get divorced if you marry yourself!
Sasha: Yes! And you’re free to do what you want.
Jason: Could it be that this is the key to happiness?
Sasha: It could be, yes!
Jason: Since you didn’t do something . . . as part of the production. (Takes out fake bouquet of flowers.)
Sasha: Oh no.
Jason: Here we throw the bouquet of flowers to the back.
Sasha: For the next. Let’s go. (Throws bouquet backwards to Jason)
Jason: Yes! I never thought this moment would arrive and it arrived.
Sasha: It arrived.
Jason: Thank you Sasha.
Sasha: I’m so happy for you.
Jason: Now the only thing that is missing is the ring and I’m all good. And the honeymoon.
Sasha: Let’s do it.
Jason: Thank you.
Pop music plays…
Analyzing the light and where to shoot – these guys were hilarious. The tattoed sound guy thanked me and said my story would help him get his mother off his back because he could tell her he was marrying himself.
Are you ready to come marry yourself in the Japanese Gardens in Buenos Aires? Or in some other beautiful spot in this city, or in your own city? It’s all possible! I do help women and men, single or already married, marry themselves through my coaching practice so if you want some support to take this step yourself, you know where to go. Check out my coaching page and request a consult.
My team and I have also welcomed women to marry themselves or do their own personal honeymoon with a Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires. If that gift to yourself appeals to you, check out the Solo Chica Tango Adventure. With Solo Chica you will not be solo long, just like when you marry yourself you might attract better offers after you take a stand for your own self-worth!
Let’s hang out from Kerry Lander in Melbourne, Australia, a writer and participant in the upcoming May 4-10 Tango Adventure
Love yourself first and foremost by married quirkytogether and original gangster Danielle Jatlow, now of Burlington, Vermont. Danielle was at the first Quirkyalone Day party in San Francisco back in 2003
Love by Marian Smith
Card by Sarah Lipuma, a climate change activist in New York. Words come from a song by Phoebe Blue of Phoebe Blue and the Make-Baleaves. Phoebe and Sarah are part of a quirkyalone/together crew on Staten Island, New York. Phoebe has been singing quirkyalone-together songs at concerts on February 14 for years! I got to meet Phoebe last year at a Quirkyalone Meetup in NYC and she’s awesome. She brought Sarah into quirkyalone/together.
Card by writer and artist Jenny Bitner of San Francisco, also an original gangster quirkyalone/together present at the first Quirkyalone Day party at Atlas Cafe in San Francisco, 2003
Wow, I feel blessed to have received these beautiful handdrawn cards and to be able to share them with you.
How are you celebrating Quirkyalone Day this year?
Here’s what I’m doing to celebrate.
Today is a workday that started with a great first session with a coaching client. We talked about expressing needs in relationships and preferences and boundaries in sexual intimacy–quirkyalone topics for sure. I shared the tools of Nonviolent Communication, a set of communication practices I have found to be transformative for myself and many clients.
After our call I did morning self-care practices for body and mind: a total-body deep stretch yoga video and my favorite calf- and foot-stretching video and the Milagrows practice of naming all the shit I am not grateful for–and saying I’m grateful for it. Later I plan to do a self-pleasure exercise too of pussy breathing in preparation for pussywalking! These are all self-care practices that make me feel more loose and limber throughout the day, physically, emotionally, creatively, and mentally. I might do them on any good self-care day. Quirkyalone Day is a chance to come back to all of them.
Later I will talk with more clients and hopefully fit in a bit of writing before I go to an appointment with my kinesiologist Maxi who is helping me to heal a hip injury (gluteal tendinopathy) I’ve had for 2.5 years. Working with Maxi on healing that injury–and doing the daily exercises that are most important according to the evidence–are definitely an act of quirkyalone self-love. I want to feel strong, free and fluid in my hips as I age. Later I will go out to dance tango, probably at De Querusa milonga. Perhaps there will be a tangasm or two on this Quirkyalone/Together Day 2019 if I am lucky.
As you can see celebrating Quirkyalone Day can be any act of self-care or enjoyment in your day, alone or together. It could be a massage, dancing naked to a sexy song in the mirror, or getting together with a friend or snuggling your quirkytogether partner. You can do any self-care practice that you like to do for yourself but have been neglecting doing.
How about you? How are you celebrating Quirkyalone Day in your everyday life this year? Let us know in the comments.
Maya and I had lunch in Buenos Aires and I filled in her on the history of pussywalking — how I discovered it myself on the way to a job interview in downtown San Francisco (that I subsequently nailed, rosy and glowing ;)!) and how I have been teaching it since 2014 in my Tango Adventure workshops and with my clients.
A number of you were kind enough to respond with your willingness to talk with Maya. She spoke with you about your experiences and uncovered a number of diverse benefits from pussywalking…from alleviating back pain to helping actors embody their stage presence…what a difference it makes to walk through life inhabiting our pussies!
One of my guy friends wrote me this week, “OMG, you really put yourself out there! Nicely produced I might add!” Well, he was right. This was a big week for me when I overcame a huge block of fear by releasing the pussywalking videos I’ve been working on for more than a year.
I wrote Jeff back, “Thanks for noticing that! It took me months to get up the courage to share this in Facebook!” He said, “Don’t blame you!” And I said, “Somewhere in this there was a point of no return feeling. Like I am just not a normal person anymore.”
Now I am that woman who launches online pussywalking campaigns, and believe me, that’s a far distance to come for the girl who grew up in Rhode Island, a state where most people never talked about sex out loud. Now I’m publicly associated with using the word “pussy” online and coining the term “pussywalking.”
But hey, if 45 can talk about pussygrabbing, I can talk about pussywalking, right?
So here I am sharing “pussywalking” with you and if we were together in the same room you would see both how uncomfortable and excited I would be to have this conversation.
My own discovery of pussywalking has changed how I walk in the world and now that I am sharing online I hear more diverse and amazing stories about how this helps many different women.
In fact, pussywalking has deep connections with mindfulness, and ancient practices such as yoga, tantra, Chinese medicine, and kundalini. People have long known that the womb region is a huge source of energetic power.
The #metoo movement has now been going on for over a year so this feels like the perfect time to release the pussywalking concept. Pussywalking is a modern way to reclaim your sexual power.
Where Did Pussywalking Come From?
The full story of my discovery of pussywalking is in my memoir-in-progress Wet (in fact there is currently a chapter called “Pussywalking”).
I started my own pussywalking practice back in 2012 and for a long time I used pussywalking in my everyday life when walking around my neighborhood for a mood lift. I started to share the idea here and there with individual women I met at entrepreneurship and storytelling conferences and then with my coaching clients. If I heard a woman’s story and felt she could use the confidence boost of pussywalking I would tell her, “I want to share something with you.”
In the following years I left the Bay Area tech world and transitioned to Buenos Aires to focus on writing my next book, coaching, and the Tango Adventure. Teaching pussywalking in the Tango Adventure felt like a no-brainer (pussywalking is definitely what the best female tango dancers do!) but it still took courage to teach.
In the Tango Goddess workshops, some of the women looked eager, some of them looked deeply uncomfortable as if I had brought up a word we are not supposed to say out loud. It’s not quite acceptable in middle-class culture to speak the word “vagina’–let alone “pussy”!
I took a deep breath and told them my story of discovering the power of the pussywalk on the way to a job interview, and how I found that putting attention on my pussy gave me a confident glow and helped me nail the negotiation and get the job.
“This pussywalk is something any woman can do,” I would explain. “It’s simple. You walk, and put your attention on your center point and see how that affects your walk. Men have their cocky walk. We say that cocky means confident, right? What do women have? We have our pussywalk. But no one tells you to walk with your attention on your vagina.”
Pussywalking–it’s like feminism but you feel it in your body! Every single woman who has learned pussywalking with me looks different to some extent when she does her pussywalk. Some walk slower. Some have better posture. Some of them look softer, a bit more present. They look more proud of being women.
From Bashful Teacher to Pussywalking-Evangelist
I was content to share pussywalking in a personal, one-on-one way with those who work with me as clients because hey, I was born in New England. I wasn’t that keen to get on the Internet to talk about pussy-anything. But then along came Cinthia Pacheco.
Cinthia organizes a Women in Business Buenos Aires Meetup and helps women entrepreneurs with marketing. Cinthia came to a Tango Goddess Workshop and she loved pussywalking. She started sending me audio messages on Facebook the next day about how she had shared it with her best friend who lives in Texas and the best friend asked for a YouTube video link, assuming there was one.
Cinthia encouraged me to make a few simple pussywalking videos talking to my iPhone. She really wanted me to spread the gospel of pussywalking to more women. Maybe I would have made the simple videos that but at the time I was getting to know Tan Kurttekin, a brilliant Turkish cinematographer. Tan told me he wanted to do a project with me and we set out to do something more ambitious together.
Tan and I made two pussywalking videos for you over the last year.
What’s the Reception So Far?
In a word, incredible.
I am loving the diversity of the responses so far.
Here’s what one woman Monica wrote me this week, “It’s really good timing Sasha. I have decided to get my breast implants removed hopefully in December. I got them when I was 31 because I felt so self-conscious and unfeminine. Now I am feeling strongly to go back to my small flat chest again.
It’s been a total mindshift and there is part of me that knows I may experience a feeling of loss in some way, however practicing pussywalking before/after surgery may help with this transition. I want to focus on my health and well-being this year. When I was walking by windows on my profile I was focusing on my breasts. Now I can shift that focus elsewhere.”
Almost two years ago I wrote a blog post called “Achieving Home” about the decision to move to Buenos Aires–at least for a while. At the time, I was asking myself, What am I devoted to? What matters most?
The answer: I wanted to focus on my memoir, and I didn’t find it possible to focus in the Bay Area because I was consulting to Silicon Valley CEOs while serving clients in my burgeoning coaching business and working on my book. It was too much to do at once.
I never really thought I would live in Buenos Aires forever, and so, over the last couple months I have been spending time in various places in the U.S. to consider whether I would want to move back.
For me decisions have become about feelings as much as thought. The pros and cons list can only take me so far–the feeling of “yes” at a certain point has to take over. So I was going to “feel” San Francisco and every place.
When I came back to the San Francisco Bay Area after spending 20 months away, I wasn’t surprised to see that new cafes had sprung up while other longtime businesses had disappeared. But wow, there was so much change! It’s a dizzying experience to come back to San Francisco because the area changes so quickly.
San Francisco is a very unique U.S. city. Republicans demonize San Francisco for being liberal. San Francisco is very progressive but actually people in the San Francisco Bay Area do many things are differently: sex, relationships, gender, food, work, drugs, and therapy. Trends start in California, then some go come nationwide–or worldwide.
San Francisco is a safe place to incubate new ideas because people are so open-minded and entrepreneurial. They’re willing to give new things a shot. Most big tech companies have their HQ there or nearby too: Google, Facebook, Apple. For better or worse, tech has changed the world. It’s no surprise to me that I birthed the quirkyalone concept in San Francisco, and that idea found an audience globally.
In the last 20 months, San Francisco seems even more intensely San Francisco. Maybe this is part of the polarization of the country as a whole post-Trump, each place becomes more intensely itself in reaction. The right gets righter, the left gets lefter.
In this post, I want to tell you about the trends that popped out to me with my new outsider eye: in San Francisco and other liberal enclaves around the U.S. When you’ve been away for a place you see it differently when you return.
Since many people say trends start in California these trends could be a preview of what comes next wherever you live.
Before talking about more fun and light-hearted trends, I can’t help but note the biggest trend in San Francisco: the absurdly high cost of housing in the wake of the ongoing tech and biotech boom. Which has led to a rather unfortunate urban dystopia.
The average cost for a 2-bedroom apartment in San Francisco in 2018 is $4,423, per rentjungle.com. In Oakland too the rents are nuts: an average rent for a 2-bedroom is $2,922. There are very few places to go if you lose your housing in Oakland or San Francisco.
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg donated $75 million to SF General Hospital to make it the Zuckerberg Hospital now but his company and all the other big tech companies have contributed to rent increases that have displaced so many people who made the city unique and great.
Before I left for the last 20 months, I was going on dates with engineer men who made the money to afford luxurious hotel-like apartments on destitute streets in San Francisco surrounded by homeless encampments. San Francisco has turned into a dystopia with too much luxury and destitute poverty right by its side.
Can the city wrest its soul back? The Bay Area always attracts dreamers who find a way through their social networks to survive but at the same time many people have left as a result of the tech boom. I assumed the prospects for a sustainable San Francisco were bleak—that the entire Bay Area would one day become like Manhattan, totally unlivable unless you are wealthy or working 70 hours a week for a tech company.
On this recent visit I was surprised to see that people are still fighting in San Francisco for affordable housing. A mayoral election is coming up after the sudden death of Ed Lee, a man many thought was too friendly to tech interests at the city’s expense. Can a new mayor take the city back to make it more humane? Is there still a sliver of hope for the Bay Area to remain a place with a diverse citizenry beyond the techies and their families?
Many of my friends hang on and the Bay Area will always have a big piece of my heart. Here’s to hoping for some real civic action on creating affordable housing and policies that work for the whole.
Here are just a few of my impressions on the changes that popped out at me after 20 months away.
— Kombucha is taking over the beverage section. Still don’t know what kombucha is? Have you visited the beverage section of your convenience store lately? Kombucha is a fermented beverage that many people love and many people think is gross. It’s a polarizing beverage, if you will. Kombucha is made by brewing cold tea, sugar with a slimy big mushroom called a “scoby.” With its probiotic content kombucha is good for the intestines. I love the effervescent kick of it.
Since I started drinking kombucha I’ve noticed the trend has gone mainstream. Pepsi Co. bought KeVita, “the leader in fermented probiotic beverages” and so now we have corporate kombucha.
Spotted in Beacon, NY. And here I really need a bang trim.
There are also lots of regional, artisanal local kombucha makers. In Beacon New York, an artsy town in the Hudson Valley I visited after San Francisco, I tried out this Calmbucha that looks just like beer in a mug. Yum.
All over the healthy cities of the U.S. you’ve got your local kombucha brands but on San Francisco Kombucha seems to really have taken over. Kombucha used to be a fringe thing but now there are just sooooooo many brands and flavors. You had mystic mango, tantric tumeric and gingerade for a long time but now you have watermelon basil. That somehow says it all for me: watermelon basil flavor kombucha is a crossover moment.
spotted in San Francisco
By the way, kombucha has not made its way to Buenos Aires. Instead, water-based kefir is taking off in the Paris of the South.
—Avocado toast is the hot new trend. I didn’t actually witness any avocado toast but my friends told me it’s the hot trend at many cafes.
—More 100% gluten-free restaurants. I have celiac disease so eating gluten-free isn’t negotiable. I was always surprised by how few 100% gluten-free restaurants there were in the San Francisco Bay Area–there seemed to be more in Buenos Aires (where no one eats gluten-free as a trend). This time I noticed far more totally gluten-free eating establishments, which is fantastic because that means we celiacs can let down our guard and not have to cross-examine the wait staff about cross-contamination. Relief! Here’s a list of 17 SF GF spots. I tried Kitava and As Quoted, and especially adored Kitava. Here’s hoping the 100% GF trend spreads nationwide to more restaurants.
—Recreational cannabis is very available. When I left Oakland, there was already a lot of pot in the Bay Area–the whiff of it could often be smelled from my apartment. If you had a medical card, you could order a delivery service (Uber for pot) to bring all varieties of “flower” to your door.
Last yearCalifornia voters legalized recreational cannabis and made it even more seamless to get pot. Now anyone can walk in off the street without a medical marijuana card to buy cannabis.
During my visit I took BART downtown to see a fortysomething Silicon Valley friend who now works at LinkedIn where the average age of employees is 27 (that’s another thing, SF feels so young!). On my walk from downtown BART to LinkedIn I noticed the Flower Power dispensary on the way.
Flower Power serves a daily menu of edibles such as cannabis chocolate, gummy bears, chocolate covered blueberries, flowers (of many indica and sativa varieties) as well as “extracts” and “pods” of cannabis. Don’t know what the extracts and pods are? I don’t either.
The location of Flower Power is wild: just steps from the BART train and in the middle of all the hot tech startups. It’s so convenient to get pot on the way to work or home. The woman working the counter told me she served employees from Lyft and Uber that morning.
When Trump was elected I wondered if more people would smoke more pot to check out of the pain of reading such horrible headlines. Maybe that’s happening.
—Microdosing LSD as the new coffee. OK, wait, what? So not only does everyone have easy access to cannabis gummy bears, a lot of tech types are microdosing LSD! I was having coffee with a techie friend he told me about the latest Silicon Valley trend for productivity and creativity.
Microdosing LSD means taking very small doses of the psychedelic. Back in the 60s, Timothy Leary days, people took 250-500 micrograms. Microdosing people now take 10 milligrams to be more effective at work. My friend described these users as quite square tech types: their goal is less mind expansion, more success.
There is no research on the long-term effects or whether LSD is addictive at a microdose. Are they also microdosing LSD in New York on Wall Street?
-Trans-pronoun awareness. There are a lot of linguistic trends that I’m not exposed to because I’m faraway in Buenos Aires. One of them is this new convention of using pronouns to identify your gender, or your refusal to identify with the gender binary of men and women.
While I was visiting I went with a friend to pick up her son at a San Francisco school. I was shocked to see all the teachers had their little pictures posted with their names and preferred pronoun: “she,” “he” or “they.” I thought if you look like a woman or a man it was assumed we call you “she” or “he” but it seems like the trans awareness is all about destabilizing assumptions about everyone’s gender.
Later I talked with two friends who are in law school and a PhD programs at CUNY (City University of New York). For them, it had become not-so-unusual in the classroom setting for people to announce their desired pronoun.
Is this level of trans sensitivity in schools a trend of just New York and San Francisco? I’m not quite seeing it in Texas or Montana.
–Feminist desk signs and other gift products. I was shopping for a friend’s birthday gift and couldn’t help but notice how many feminist products there were in gift shops: everything from memorial books from the Women’s March to “Boss Lady” signs to put on your desk.
spotted in San Francisco
Just five years ago it still seemed edgy to call yourself a feminist. Post-Trump and Harvey Weinstein, all of a sudden feminism seems downright trendy.
I bought a Boss Lady desk sign for myself and a friend because I thought, hey, that’s fun and inspiring. I wanna be a Boss Lady.
Later when I traveled on the East Coast in Beacon and Brooklyn, New York, I noticed even more feminist products now that my eye was attuned to them: a tote bag, a craft product for kids, and even more desk signs!
spotted in Brooklyn
spotted in Beacon, NY
Spotted in Beacon, NY
Commercializing feminism could result in watering down the movement — that’s what Jessa Crispin warns against in Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto but I have a hard time getting worked up over feminist tote bags. If girls are learning to make craft products to smash the patriarchy instead of playing with Barbie that’s probably a good thing.
Now that we have a pussy-grabber in the White House and the #metoo movement it’s not surprising that we have more Lady Boss signs for sale.
Here’s to hoping those lady boss signs take off as a trend everywhere. In Congress. In big companies, in auto plants, in academia. I fully support that lady boss trend.
What trends are you spotting? Let me know what you see in the comments.
While I was in Paris for three weeks this July and August, I found often that Parisians were not that aware of the beauty surrounding them. Of course I was on vacation; they were living real life. They deal with the everyday challenges of living in a big city–trains that stall mid-ride, long commutes, and high rents for tiny apartments.
But still the beauty of Paris is so pas mal. (So not bad.)
One night I joined some friends–new and old–by the river Seine at an outdoor milonga (a milonga is a place where people dance tango). As is the custom in Paris in the summer, we gathered for a picnic–wine, cheese, and also potato chips. At times I felt overwhelmed, flooded by beauty even, of the Seine, the boats floating by, the Haussman-era architecture, and the people dancing outside. The Parisians around me, as much as I enjoyed their company, seemed a bit eh about the scene.
My American friend Alexa who has been living in Paris for the last year had invited me. I turned to her and said something along the lines of, “These people don’t even see how beautiful Paris is!” She laughed, “It’s a metaphor for life, we’re all living in Paris but we don’t even see it.”
Isn’t that true?
The eye can become accustomed to beauty. The “hedonic treadmill” theory posits that human beings return to a set point of happiness no matter what positive or negative events happen to us. Would I be happier if I lived bathed in the beauty of Paris? Would I even see it if I lived there? I don’t know. I would be curious to find out.
Not everyone who comes to Paris finds the experience so blissful. Some people come to Paris and get Paris Syndrome. Paris Syndrome mainly afflicts Japanese people who come to Paris with larger-than-life romantic fantasies of artists wearing berets and high-fashion models. Tourists who suffer from Paris Syndrome get disappointed by the reality of a sprawling, chaotic, extremely multicultural city not matching their hopes–they may even enter a state of psychological turmoil of anxiety, depression, irritation and prejudice. There are doctors who treat patients for Paris Syndrome!
You need not suffer from Paris Syndrome, nor act like Paris is just blah. The difference, I believe, is the willingness to be a flaneur.
To be a flaneur is to wander the city streets, to see and be seen, and there is no city better for wandering than Paris. The concept of the “flanerie” (the wander) was itself created in Paris by Charles Baudelaire. You can certainly go to museums like the Louvre in Paris, but the city itself is a museum: all you have to do is walk at random. Parisians also call this a “balade” (a “stroll”) and “balader” is an important verb.
To discover the beauty of Paris it doesn’t hurt to meet Parisians. You can go on a solo balade (stroll), as a solitary flaneur, or you can balader with a friend or lover. You can also meet people for strolls through couchsurfing.org (join the Paris group and look for their events–the Paris couchsurfing organizers are quite nice and friendly) and look on meetup.com. I joined a Paris Shut Up and Write and went on a Hidden Places of Paris tour. If you’re online dating, go ahead and change your location to Paris! Who knows? You’ll either meet the love of your life or maybe you’ll find a tour guide, or at least someone who gives you a different perspective on the City of Light.
Speaking French helps but it’s by no means necessary. Most Parisians speak English. I found Parisians to be friendlier than their reputation and made new friends.
By the way I also had some really terrible things happen to me in Paris during those three weeks. On my very last night, I was a little too carefree with my purse at an outdoor milonga by the Seine and someone stole my purse–containing, my airbnb keys, my phone, my wallet (credit cards and driver’s license, and an amazing G-spot vibrator that I had just bought at a very cool sex shop Passage du Désir in Le Marais!) while I was dancing. The horror!
I will definitely have to get back to Paris soon to repurchase that stolen G-spot vibrator!
I also experienced seven instances of sexual harassment in one day in one of the edgier neighborhoods that I stayed in. Paris is cracking down on sexual harassment now and Parisian women are marching to call attention to the problem.
It was not all La Vie En Rose.
Still, though, I loved this time in Paris and I dream about returning. It is absolutely clear to me that Paris in summer is a kind of heaven. If I don’t live in Paris in this lifetime, I want to spend more summers in Paris.
Here are some hidden – or not so hidden – things I think are great in Paris. I found these off-the-radar spots by being a flaneur (wandering at random), checking out events I found online, and making new friends.
Paris in summer is exuberant with picnics! Picnicking might be a spring and fall activity too. Check the many parks.
In my first week I joined two picnics by the Seine and the park Buttes-Chaumont, and by the time I had left I had been part of at least seven picnics all over the city! When in my life have I picknicked so much?
The picnic phenom is great:
1) it’s a universal way of being social; everyone is outside, gathering with friends by the Seine, canals, or in parks
2) it’s cheap and easy, you just pick up food in a Franprix or another supermarket
3) Rosé (rosé seems to be the official wine of summer picnics).
I joined this tour of “Lieux Insolites” (“Hidden Places”) of Paris, which I found on Meetup.com group “Promenades et Randonees.” Every weekend the organizer Christophe gathers people by a metro stop in an arrondissement and shows them unexpected places in Paris. It costs 5 euros. We walked around and discovered a Russian Orthodox church, where we learned about Russian immigration to Paris after the Bolshevik Revolution; a Turkish bath; and the Cimetiere de Montparnasse (where we saw the graves of Serge Gainbourg, Sartre and de Beauvoir, and Charles Baudelaire).
Above is the grave of Sartre and de Beauvoir in Cimetiere de Montparnasse. Note the lipstick kisses on the grave. The grave was also covered with Paris metro tickets left as a memorial to the writers.
The tour was not only great for seeing hidden spots of the city, it was also great for meeting people–Parisians and visitors alike. The niceness level of the group was very high. I met a woman from Georgia (the country) studying political science in Paris and we have stayed in touch.
During the summer months (and I believe starting in the spring) you will find people dancing along the Seine every night of the week by the Jardin Tino Rossi (metro: Jussieau).
Every night of the week people gather in a series of circular areas lined by steps (like the above) to dance kizomba, tango, salsa, swing, lindy hop, folkloric dance, and more. It’s stunning.
If you wanted to you could go from circle to circle dancing different dances.
Most of the activity seems to be pure social dancing but I also saw a few dance classes. At the same time, people also gather nearby just to picnic, and the Paris Bla-Bla Language Exchange meets every Thursday (and in the summer in this general area) for their picnic language exchange. So you can also go just to enjoy some wine, socialize, and watch the dancing.
I stayed in Belleville for my first week in Paris and adored the neighborhood. It’s the perfect multicultural, friendly mix, so friendly I couldn’t believe that I thought Paris was not friendly before. Walking the Rue de Belleville is a fun urban flaneur experience as you move through ethnicities. If you make it to the Metro Jourdain area of Belleville (a very charming spot) you absolutely must visit this great bra store which I wrote an entire blog post about.
I found La Reciclerie completely “par hasard”–randomly. It’s really quite extraordinary. La Reciclerie is in the 18th arrondissement right by the metro and it’s quite possibly the most amazing establishment I have ever randomly stumbled on in my flaneries (wanders). Why?
The Reciclerie is a cafe, a restaurant, a workshop/atelier for repairing electronics and household goods, a garden where they grow the food they serve at the restaurant, and an urban farm and this all overlooks the old train tracks of the old train that circled Paris. It’s also a workshop space. While I was there, an “atelier de conversation” – conversation workshop – to help immigrants practice French was going on. Sunday was a sophrologie workshop – which I gather is about the art of relaxing the body. If I do the Quirkyalone Paris Adventure surely we will come here.
Whether you dance tango or not, it would be well worth your time to drop by the metro Trocadero by the Eiffel Tower to watch the tango. I don’t know that I ever saw a more romantic backdrop for watching people dance tango. The most romantic dance in the most romantic city. It’s well worth the trip.
The Trocadero milonga was happening nightly in the summer when I was in Paris last. You can find out about tango events including the nightly Trocadero milonga here.
The soldes are the sales, and the sales come at quite specific times in Paris in January and July. These are the times to shop! I got those gorgeous silver sandals during the summer sales at a great price.
Buttes-Aux-Cailles is a quiet hilltop neighborhood in the 13th, a kind of isolated village, that’s very charming and little known and very worth your while for the stroll. Here’s a walking tour itinerary.
The parks in Paris are the best of any city I know. Jardin Luxembourg and Buttes Chaumont are my favorite parks. Life is better when you can sit on one of these extremely comfortable publicly provided chairs. Such a zone of peace.
Joe Yang, a tango teacher from Madison, Wisconsin, recently interviewed me for Joe’s Tango Podcast. Joe’s podcast is for people who are who are starting to fall in love with the dance of tango and want to learn from different experts in the field. I share a bit of my own tango story and talked about my work combining tango and life coaching through the Tango Adventure and with my one-on-one coaching clients who take up tango. We talked about my tango writing too (right now, I’m deep at work on my memoir Wet, which is a journey of healing the effects of trauma through sensual experiences, so tango plays a big role in the story).
We literally talked about all things tango. Joe started off asking me the moment/s I knew I wanted tango would be a big part of my life, and we got to talking about advice I would give beginning dancers. I’ll give you a little teaser with an answer to that last question: RELAX! Relaxing and being in the moment is the most important piece of advice I would give. How do you relax? Many people want the answer to be a glass of wine. There is a better answer. Surrender to the hug.
Here’s some of the other stuff we talked about:
The transformative power of tango–tango has always been about way more than tango for me, and that’s how I teach it. Tango really is a mirror for our lives and how we operate in relationships
Advice for beginners to enjoy a milonga
The emotional roller coaster of being a beginning tango student (at least it was for me)
Tango teaching philosophies: when you let go of being perfect, learning tango can be fun and easy
The embrace! The essence of tango is the embrace; if you want to feel a true tango embrace, that’s a big reason to try tango in Buenos Aires
Tango communities–what makes them good and what makes them snobby (the dark side of tango)
Healing through tango! Tango’s healing power is really important to me. I’ve been exploring this topic for myself over the last seven years and using tango as a tool with my clients to heal the effects of sexual trauma in particular.
I shared a lot about the Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires too! If you’re interested in joining us and want to learn a bit more, definitely give this podcast a listen. I explain to Joe how I first got the idea to start the Tango Adventure from my own experience of healing through tango in many ways. I wanted to share the knowledge I’ve collected through a week-long immersion in Buenos Aires.
With us, you can learn the true essence of tango that goes beyond steps and in many ways you just can’t learn that anywhere else but Buenos Aires.
Here’s the podcast to give it a listen!
Listen on iTunes: http://apple.co/2eOGdlc
Or Soundcloud: http://bit.ly/2zYANMk
Or Stitcher: http://bit.ly/2xNrUWA
I'm the author of the cult hit book Quirkyalone and To-Do List and a life coach who helps quirky, creative women and self-aware men. I'm also the founder of the Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires.
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Sasha Cagen is the author of the cult favorite Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics and To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us. Her work as an author, life coach for women and entrepreneur has been featured everywhere from NPR and the New York Times to CNN and Vogue.
In her well-loved newsletter going to thousands of women and men who identify with "quirkyalone," Sasha is the voice for people who don't want to settle--in any area of life.
In her coaching practice, Sasha helps smart, successful women (and a few self-aware men) get clear on their goals and achieve them while always helping her clients focus on core issues such as self-worth.
Through Solo Chica, Sasha is creating a whole new way for women to travel solo with confidence and local contacts to support them for transformative cultural experiences.
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