So guess what everybody! We have the amazing, unfathomable Susan Aikens, star of the show National Geographic documentary series “Life Below Zero” with us here in Buenos Aires for a Tango Adventure! Sue is an outdoorswoman, adventurer, survivor, hunter, angler, businesswoman, loner, and now… a new tango dancer.
Sue lives in isolation 500 miles from Fairbanks and just a few miles from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at Kavik River Camp, an exploration camp she has created to enable people to explore nature in the area. You have to take a plane to get to Kavik. Sue built her own runway! (And many other things.) Sue has become a well-loved star (check out the passion of her fans’ reviews on this page) on “Life Below Zero,” which shows the daily battles to survive in a harsh climate. When chatting with Sue, she told me clients wanting to spend time during the deep dark winter are screened by asking questions like, How many fingers are you willing to lose? Apparently the temperatures are so cold you can lose fingers if you are not careful and don’t follow instructions. Fans of the show have followed Sue’s challenges with recovering from a bear attack (the bear had her head in its mouth but she escaped) and a snowmobiling accident.
You can read about the bear attack in this Men’s Journal profile. Sue told Men’s Journal, “I had to sew my own head together, and my arm, and before my hips popped out, I went across the river, found the bear, shot him, called the trooper, and there I lay for 10 days.” According to the story, she was “finally taken to Fairbanks for treatment, and later to the Lower 48 for hip and spinal surgery.”
So you can see how wild it is that Sue has come to Buenos Aires to go from snow queen to dancing queen with our Tango Adventure team to explore other sides of herself, including of course, following in tango. For a woman who is often battling bears to survive in the most remote parts of Alaska, the choice to explore the culture of tango in Buenos Aires is….well, in a word…remarkable! There are no words for this! Sue often talks about living outside the comfort zone. I love this quote she gave in an interview, “You’re never more alive than when you’re on the edge.”
What I’ve discovered about Sue is that she is very funny, caring and thoughtful–she is quite the woman. I must say, the more I get to know her, the more blown away I am. She shows us the possibility of transformation, for sure, and the many experiences we can live in one lifetime, as you can see in the photos below. Many online say Sue has more balls than a man, but I would say she has ovaries. Why is courage associated with balls? Come on, let’s find some more body parts to associate with bravery, ladies!
All of this will give you an appreciation for the contrast in the photos you are about to see…
Here are some snaps from Sue’s Tango Adventure with us so far. . .
With TFG (Tango Fairygodfather!) Kevin
Out dancing with Nico, one of our favorite taxi dancers, and TFG (Tango Fairygodmother) Wanda, both key member of our Tango Adventure team
Dancing with Gustavo, another key member of our Tango Adventure team, at Plaza Dorrego, one of the friendly milongas we take you to.
Testing out the new tango dress while shopping for tango shoes
The search for the dress…a far cry from the fashion in uppermost Alaska
Out dancing with TFG Wanda
Having merienda (afternoon snack) with Sasha, the head honcho 😉 and soul of the Tango Adventure and Solo Chica Tango Adventure Coordinator Julia who makes the magic happen
Our Adventure with Sue is just midway through because she is doing two weeks with us. If you’re going to come all this way to dive into tango, you might as well make the most of it. We are psyched to have Sue here with us for two weeks so we have more time to get to know each other!
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.
Have you ever dreamed of getting away from everyone you know and going on an adventure where you get to try on new sides of yourself and learn something new? The magic happens outside of the comfort zone. First you may need some support to step out of your comfort zone.
Solo Chica is designed to help you do just that–get on a plane, go somewhere new, and learn something new in a safe, contained way because you have our curated Itinerary and supportive program to guide you. You won’t be figuring this all out on your own.
We are super excited to officially launching the Solo Chica Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires with the stories of three women (American and British) who are soon to embark on an international growth adventure with our team.
We chose Kelly as our Grand Prize winner because she wants to help us show that tango can be for every body type, and racial/ethnic background. We think that message is so important.
We chose Cathy because she told us she wants to reimagine womanhood with a partner or not, and to heal regrets about not being a mother. And she is a priest! We needed to have her on board.
We chose Justyn because she is a two-time cancer survivor who uses all her life experiences and learnings to inspire others to use their own powers to heal themselves through the Brave Souls Project.
Two are total beginners. One is an advanced beginner. All three women are taking a leap outside their comfort zones to learn a dance in a city where they know no one–until now. Here are some of the people they are about to meet.
So who are these brave Solo Chicas?
Here are their stories.
Kelly Macias, Washington, DC, Grand Prize Winner of a coaching session with Sasha and a Tango Goddess Photo Shoot (value $500)
In Kelly’s words: “I’m a writer and a consultant and my consulting practice is focused on supporting organizations to increase their racial and gender equity so that they can do social justice work in the world. I would describe myself as a dreamer—I’m much more interested in possibilities, creating and building new things and developing what could be than by feeling limited by what actually is.”
Kelly’s Tango: “I would say that I’m an advanced beginner. I’ve been having a love affair with tango since 2004 but it is currently an unrequited love because I’ve been inconsistent. I’ve taken group lessons, privates, workshops over the last 15 years but sporadically. I enjoy salsa, bachata, merengue and hip hop. If money were not an issue, I’d have given up my work long ago and moved to Buenos Aires to pursue my dream of being a tango star!”
Why should we choose you for the launch contest to receive this extra free coaching support? “I’ve spent the last few years feeling very disconnected from my sexuality, sensuality and feminine energy, as a whole. I would the opportunity to get support in exploring it.
I would be an enthusiastic ambassador for the program and could imagine partnering with Sola Chica in some way to promote diversity (racial/ethnic, body type, career, etc). within the program. I’m already sold on what a great and transformative experience this could be and I’d want to spread the word so that folks know that tango really is for everybody and every body type!“
What would it mean for you to rediscover the Tango Goddess in you through the photo shoot? “Like many working women in their forties, I’ve been busy focusing on my career for the last several years. The stress of trying to be successful in a hectic society centered around class and patriarchy and white supremacy has taken its toll. I’m no longer as carefree or vulnerable as I used to be.
Add technology and social media to the mix, and it has meant that I spend most of my time in front of a computer screen than tending to my intimate relationships. I want to connect back to my vulnerability and sensuality and joy and think that the Tango Goddess photo shoot is a way to liberate myself from all that has been weighing me down.”
What else would you like to discover through this experience? “I want to have multiple tangasms and discover pleasure, intimacy, and connection through my lived experiences!”
Cathy Mark, London UK, winner of a coaching session with Sasha
Tell us more about you; “I am a menopausal priest on a journey of healing and rediscovery as I work towards accepting that I may never find ‘the one’ to settle down with and I will now never have biological children of my own. I want to rediscover love, light and laughter in a self-affirming way.”
Describe your tango experience: “Total beginner.”
What else would you like to discover through this experience: “Learn to love myself again. Learn to forgive myself. Learn to laugh again.”
Cathy will be coming from the UK. She loves traveling and her favorite destination to date is Sri Lanka. She also recently visited Finland and Morocco.
Cathy is coming in 2020. As we develop the Solo Chica program, we may develop an email list that lets people connect with other Solo Chicas who want to adventure together. We are excited to welcome Cathy and see how her adventure unfolds!
Justyn Livingston, Bend, Oregon, Winner of a coaching session with Sasha
Tell us about you: “I am an artist, painter, former professional ice-skater, and meditation teacher/coach. I am thriving after two cancer diagnoses, and have been doing deep inner work with Dr Joe Dispenza. It is time for me to ‘take it off the mat’ and live it. Tango in Paradise and Solo Chica seem like a great place to start. ;-)”
If you are chosen as a winner in the Launch Contest and you receive a free 1-hour coaching session with Sasha, what would you like to focus on? “Furthering my ‘feminine mojo’ (we need a new word! verve?). I have been single for a long time, and would like to shift my energy and draw a fitting partner in dance and in life. I want to integrate what many beautiful European women have and exude, which is a confident sensuality and style in all ages.”
“Our culture considers women my age to be invisible. It’s time to change that. Surgeries and cancer treatments have been difficult gifts and I intend to live beyond those perceived limitations.”
Why tango?: “I spent a few years in Eugene and Corvallis dancing Cuban Salsa with a little bit of DanzSon, and loved it. In my earlier years I studied ballet, flamenco, modern dance and jazz. I’ve taken one tango workshop and found it compelling on many levels. Specifically, the energetic lead that occurs when two people are tuned in to each other and in the present moment.”
Helping others: Justyn’s experiences on cancer’s healing path led her to create The Brave Souls Project, where she supports others on their healing journeys. BSP helps people transform their health by rewiring their responses to thoughts and emotions from fear and anxiety into healing and opportunity. She helps others in group and one-on-one sessions, using the power of guided meditation, epigenetics and neuroscience to help people shift their outlook.
Through her experience in Solo Chica, Justyn wants to “inspire other women to claim their lives, whole-heartedly. If not now, then when?”
PS Everyone who comes on a Solo Chica Tango Adventure gets a Tango Fairygodmother or father to accompany them in the milongas to dance, meet people, and discover the three transformational elements in the Solo Chica Tango program: the look, the embrace, and the walk. Justyn is so excited about meeting her Tango Fairygodfather Kevin she shouted it out on Instagram.
Have you thought about traveling alone for your next vacation, but you are afraid that solo travel could be a bit lonely? Not with Solo Chica! Today I am excited to announce our exciting new thing–designed to make it easy for you to get on a plane for an adventure on your own. Easy. Done. Itinerary in hand.
Solo Chica is all about helping women 35+ travel alone with carefully curated Itineraries for transformative learning experiences. With Solo Chica, you can travel to off-the-beaten-path worlds in a local culture without having to figure this all out alone. You’ll be immediately connected with local people when you land who will guide you on a course of personal transformation–through a dance, a photo shoot, or who knows what…Solo Chica-style!
Women who are under 35 can be Solo Chicas too–so can men! We designed Solo Chica for 35+ solo travelers in mind because we want to support women to travel alone. Younger women and men have more built-in support for traveling alone through hostels.
Doesn’t it seem more “normal” for younger people to travel solo? After a certain age, the message gets drummed into us that we are support to travel with a partner, family, or friends. At Solo Chica, we support you to travel solo or with whoever you want. There is something sublime about solo travel. Solo travel stretches you, showing you new parts of yourself as you meet more people and take risks in a place where no one knows you.
Give us your week of vacation. Solo Chica will turn your trip into a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
What’s a Solo Chica™ Adventure?
Solo Chica is a new kind of solo travel adventure designed by Quirkyalone author and life coach Sasha Cagen (moi!) to make it easy for you to get on the plane for a curated 7-day transformative vacation. Easy. Done. Itinerary in hand.
Solo Chica is designed for busy women who want adventure. With every Solo Chica Adventure, you get an Itinerary that has been created by local insiders to give you a travel experience that’s fulfilling, easy, authentic, and safe.
Every Solo Chica Itinerary includes contacts for the people to guide you on a transformative experience.
Because Solo Chica not a group tour, you will have the freedom to come when you want and to move according to your own choices and desires. You’ll be open for serendipity when you travel while also having structure and support. (Goodbye annoying prepackaged tours that schedule every moment tiring you out.)
The future is Solo Chica
Interest in female solo travel is skyrocketing. Not only aremore people single today than ever more married and partnered women want to go on soul-fulfilling trips on their own. My coaching clients want to talk about how to travel solo without feeling lonely. I’ve also heard from married women, I want to go on a Solo Chica Adventure! You can!
Hostelworld, an online hostel-booking platform released a 2018 study showing that bookings by solo female travelers increased by 45 percent from 2015 to 2017, compared with a 40 percent increase for men.
However, there are still a lot of questions and frustrations for older solo female travelers:
Where to stay if you want to meet people but don’t want to stay at a twentysomething party hostel?
How do you handle going out alone at night?
Where to go so you are not surrounded by couples and families, talking to no one, and feeling terribly lonely? (Been there, done that!)
What to do if you are concerned about safety or loneliness but you are not a group tour person?
Solo Chica was created as one answer to these questions.
You want to get off the tourist bus and deep into the culture wherever you go.
You like to travel with purpose and meet new people.
You want to get back in your body and reconnect with the parts of you that are fun, sensual and exude joie de vivre.
But you work a lot … You don’t have time to plan.
We have something for you!
Why are we focused on the chicas?
We call it Solo Chica because our focus is empowering women to travel alone for transformative learning experiences.
We are open to the cool, self-aware men too!
Solo Chica fits in with the overall mission here at sashacagen.com. Much of my work with Quirkyalone, my life coaching work, and online courses have been about helping you to reduce your fear being single so that you can hold out for the kind of relationship you really want. When you aren’t afraid of being alone, you won’t settle.
Traveling alone is part of this equation. You want to feel free to live your dreams whether you are single or in partnership.
If not now, when?
Don’ t waste your life hiding in comfort zones. Come on a Solo Chica Adventure!
Our First Solo Chica Itinerary is the Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires. Watch this video to see the Adventure that awaits Solo Chicas in Buenos Aires…
Every Solo Chica Itinerary will get you out of your head and back into your body.
Why the body focus? Because the tech industry got us good. We are all hopelessly addicted to our screens and thinking way too much! We need to reconnect with our flesh.
In the social media era, tango is the perfect first Solo Chica Adventure. Tango allows us to be in the present moment with another person we can see, touch, feel, and enjoy connecting with. Tango also helps us to reconnect with our masculinity, femininity, sensuality and confidence.
Solo Chica is not only a vacation. It’s a personal growth adventure designed to help you:
Reconnect to your sensuality.Rediscover parts of you that you that have been lost or suppressed when you reconnect your sensual self through tango.
Become more physically confident in ways you can draw on for dating, flirting, and work/leadership whether you are a woman or a man. For women, hello pussywalking!
Discover what tango has to teach you about yourself, life, and relationships…with a high probability of tangasms! Every person on our carefully curated Solo Chica Buenos Aires team was chosen for their warmth, excellence, and their ability to show you the tangasmic path of tango.
As we were developing Solo Chica, we ran a contest earlier this year asking the women and men who told us they wanted to come on a Tango Adventure why we should give them extra support in a free coaching session and with a free Tango Goddess Photo Shoot (one of the amazing things you can do as part of your Solo Chica Adventure as insider pricing.)
Later this week we will announce the winners of the Solo Chica Launch Contest. They are all brave, inspiring women who will soon arrive in Buenos Aires for their curated Solo Chica Adventures.
Our first group in 2014! Meeting at Poesia, a Bar Notable in San Telmo to talk about tango
With this blog post I show you ten of the Tango Adventure groups that have come together in Buenos Aires to learn tango and tango’s lessons for life and relationships.
These pictures don’t represent everyone either! There were more intrepid adventurers who came on their own — these are just the groups.
Since starting the Tango Adventure in 2014 I have worked with such great people on my teams and met such amazing women and men who have courageously joined us for a transformative travel experience through tango. I have watched many women’s (and men’s) faces light up with joy through dance and the profound revelations tango sparks. That was my own personal story — and it’s one I’m telling in my memoir. It’s been a joy to spread tango as a transformative path.
The Tango Adventure is without a doubt one of the best things I have done in my career (I don’t really see myself as having a career – more a series of creative projects). This project has had my heart.
We have one more group adventure scheduled for May 4-10 and then the group Tango Adventure will be on pause while I focus on my next book.
Meanwhile we will have the Solo Chica Tango Adventure which I will tell you more about soon … Solo Chica allows you to come for an immersion when it works for you and it’s without a doubt the best way to come to Buenos Aires for three, seven, or ten days to immerse yourself for a transformative tango experience – and to dance, dance, dance!
We have one spot open for the May adventure supergroup.
This group is going to be fantastic – we have a harpist, a single dad who has done development work in Brazil and Africa, a woman who married herself and is coming on her honeymoon, a Silicon Valley startup advisor, and an Australian writer.
If this unique learning international adventure is calling you go to this page to enter your email address. You’ll then get a questionnaire to fill out so we can learn more about you and see if this is a good fit for you.
If you can’t come those dates then check out the Solo Chica Tango Adventure which is a fabulous way to come to Buenos Aires for an authentic deep dive in the tango scene to rock your world – on the dates that work for you.
a self-marriage photo with my bridesmaids back in 2014
I married myself here in Buenos Aires in the Japanese Gardens as an act of self-love back in 2014. I wanted to marry the light and dark in me, the parts I like and the parts I don’t like as much. I can say though no marriage is ever completely smooth this self-marriage with myself has gone well. We are still together. Of course others have entered the relationship. Those who self-marry are generally bigamists who carry on relationships with others too!
I have been especially thrilled over the years when women who have come on the group Tango Adventure have also taken their trip to Buenos Aires as a chance to marry themselves or to celebrate their self-marriage with a honeymoon.
Two years ago I helped a coaching client marry herself by the Floralis Genérica sculpture, a giant metal flower that blooms daily in Buenos Aires. The sculpture was a gift to the city by the Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano. Catalano once said that the flower “is a synthesis of all the flowers and is both a hope that is reborn every day to open.” I couldn’t think of a more symbolically appropriate place to make vows to yourself every day to bloom anew.
See the giant metal flower here:
Now I am excited again because a woman who is coming on the May 4-10 Group Tango Adventure has already married herself and she has chosen to make coming on the Tango Adventure her honeymoon. I asked her to send me her thoughts on why she was choosing to do her honeymoon with us in Buenos Aires and she wrote this:
Basically, my decision to marry myself in May 2016 was a gentle and gradual one. A honeymoon didn’t cross my mind at that time, but I did start thinking about how I would celebrate. In self-marriage, there isn’t an economic boost from family and friends in the same way as there often is with marriage to another person. So, this trip is the culmination of my ability to rally my own resources and dedicate myself to a long-term plan to bring myself pleasure and relief. It’s a buoying feeling to come through for myself, to make good on a long promise, and to acknowledge that committing to one’s own vitality is a serious act worthy of celebration and travel.
How beautiful is that? I love the last line about committing to one’s vitality as an act worthy of celebration.
If the idea of marrying yourself or doing your own honeymoon in Buenos Aires appeals to you, feel free to join us for that May 4-10 Tango Adventure, which is shaping up to be a great group of people. If you want to marry yourself then you will certainly have the support of two other women who have already married themselves. We also have the Solo Chica Tango Adventure for those of you keen for a honeymoon or self-wedding who can’t make those dates. You can pair Solo Chica or the Group Adventure with coaching and I will help you create your vows and your self-wedding.
Goofing around with Katrin and her beautiful artisanal tango and non-tango shoes
There’s something you all should really know. Right now is an excellent time to travel to Buenos Aires.
The currency devaluation of the peso has made everything from food to cabs to clothing to milonga entrances as much as 30% cheaper for those of us who have dollars or Euros.
A big devaluation of the Argentine peso happened in September 2018 and I didn’t scream it from the rooftops to you then because quite frankly I feel for my Argentine friends and all those who work in the local economy. It’s not easy when the purchasing power of your salary suddenly decreases by 30%.
However it’s certainly beneficial for you to know about this change if you’re thinking about visiting–and it’s also beneficial for my tango team to have more people coming to learn tango in Buenos Aires. When you come, you are supporting a local economy of people who live and breathe the passion of tango: teaching tango, organizing milongas, providing taxi dancing services to help you gain confidence on the dance floor, and selling artisanal shoes and clothing.
Now is really a great time for you to come to Argentina!
This Bloomberg story gives you an overview of how tempting Argentina has become to tourists. The Bloomberg story tells you about tourists flocking to Argentina for excellent cuts of steak and wine at great prices. The deals are also good for tango shoes, lessons, massages, and my favorite plant-based meals in Buenos Aires. From an economic perspective, it’s a great time to enjoy the many delights the city has to offer.
We will do the last group Tango Adventure for a while May 4-10, 2019 (sniff, sniff) so that’s another reason to seize the moment. If you have been thinking about joining us now is the time.
And if those dates don’t work for you, the Solo Chica Tango Adventure is here for you. I’ve been working like crazy with my team over the last two months to create an exciting new way for you to have a self-guided adventure in my Buenos Aires with specially created transformative tango programs and exclusive pricing for you as my readers.
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.”
I just got back to Buenos Aires from (and Ireland, and the US!) in time for our next group Tango Adventure–starting this coming Saturday with a fantastic group from the US, Germany/Romania and Australia.
During my travels through the US and Europe, I of course visited tango scenes–especially in Paris. Learning tango has changed the way I travel. Tango came into my life around the same time I discovered I have celiac disease and both discovered changed me; being celiac pushes me to find gluten-free restaurants when I travel and dancing tango pushes me to find milongas! Tango also has given me a way to meet new people wherever I go and also to discover places off the beaten path that I would probably not find otherwise.
On this recent trip to Paris–the second in 9 months–I discovered even more beautiful outdoor milongas so at this point I thought, I just have to wrap all this beauty up in a blog post to share with you. I was inspired by this couple and many more and the creativity of Paris’ tango organizers in reclaiming public space for dance. Oh la la.
Where you dance tango or not, visiting the outdoor milongas of Paris is a treat because tango is mesmerizing to watch and the milongas takes you to these beautiful social scenes. Probably no city has a more beautiful or romantic backdrop for tango.
Here are a few photos to tell you the story of what you might find in Paris if you are as lucky as I was.
An outdoor “milonga illegale” on the Passarelle de Simone de Beauvoir in the summer months. A passarelle is a footbridge. This one was called an illegal milonga because the organizers didn’t have a permit. But there really was no illegal activity, only music, dancing, and a bit of wine.
Milonga on the Quai de Seine by Jardin Tino Rossi (metro: Jussieau). In the summer months people gather along the Seine to dance tango–and also salsa, kizomba, swing and folkloric dance. These dance circles happen every night when it’s nice out. Getting to know the Quai de Seine scene convinced me that Paris turns into an urban paradise in the summer. Again, it doesn’t even matter if you dance. You can just bring wine, cheese, bread, crackers, and sit by the Seine taking in the scene. Eventually you might get pulled into one of the dance cultures.
Similarly in the summer months, and starting in April when the first warm weather of spring begins, people gather to dance by Place Trocadéro by the Eiffel Tower to dance. There are also lots of break-dancing street performers, protests and tourists taking in the Eiffel Tower of course.
The creative milonga orgnanizers of Paris invited people to bring cardboard to this outdoor milonga by the Parc de Belleville. The milonga overlooks a park where you will find many Parisians doing “picnic”–“picnic” is the social activity of the warm months. Down below I also found a group practicing capoeira, the Brazilian martial art-dance. By the Parc de Belleville there are also lots of hipster-chic cafes and bars, including a restaurant that’s 100% gluten-free.
To give credit where credit is due, I knew about many of these beautiful gatherings because my dear Parisian tanguero friend Eric tipped me off. And so now I tip you off too!
I know about these places because my tanguero friends in Paris tip me off but you can also find out about many outdoor tango events on this website: the Argentine Tango Calendar of Paris. It’s not hard to catch one of these beautiful events when the weather is warm. For example, the milongas by the Quais de Seine (by the side of the Seine) happen every night in the summer months by Jardin Tino Rossi.
LIke many women in the U.S., when I was in my late thirties I started to get very tired. I worried that I might have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Sometimes when I took a walk for two miles I needed four hours on the couch to recover, and even taking a shower and getting dressed sometimes exhausted me. I visited all the Western medicine specialists and paid to see a naturopath. I already had been diagnosed with celiac disease so I already needed to eat gluten-free. My food options narrowed to a paleo diet. I ate a strict paleo diet for six months. Even then, nothing worked.
After nearly a year of spending all my energy on my health, and really not having anything to show for it in terms of improvement, I asked myself: what makes life worth living? What do I enjoy? The answer was tango in Buenos Aires.
My gut told me the cure would be tango in Buenos Aires. That intuition paid off. I moved to Buenos Aires for eight months in 2012 and my condition improved; my energy came back.
That’s my personal story of physical tango healing, and there are many. The untold story of tango is a story of tango healing. Many people get into tango because they are going through a break-up or divorce. Tango doesn’t only heal a broken heart. Tango has been shown heal or give relief to the effects of Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, loneliness and depression.
Tango doesn’t only help physical conditions. Tango can also help with complex body-mind somatization of past trauma.
When we experience trauma the trauma often gets left in our bodies as a kind of residue. If we don’t shake off the trauma the effects stay and our somatized as illness or even as stooping posture. It’s very hard to heal something so deeply ingrained as a style of interrelating with the world through your body. Posture, how you stand, how you carry yourself, and how you feel yourself in a relationship: these are all very profound habits and ways of relating to others and the world.
Tango can help you become more aware of how you relate to yourself and to the world–and give you a path of healing and transformation on the dance floor and off.
In this talk, I speak about the Healing Power of Tango and why and how tango heals. . . physically and psychologically. I talk about:
–tango as a mirror to see your patterns in relationships
–tango as a tool to build confidence and attitude and improve your posture
–tango as a tool for healing trauma
Do you have a story of healing through tango? I’d love to hear it. Please share as a comment or send an email.
Do you want to experience the healing power of tango? We teach you about the healing power of the tango embrace and the tango posture in our group Tango Adventures. You can also learn about these lessons of tango as a path of transformation working one-on-one with Sasha, pairing your coaching with a Tango Adventure or by working with Sasha and learning tango in your home city. Click HERE to learn more about the group Tango Adventure and Sasha’s tango for life coaching.
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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