Explore general life coaching with Sasha to work on confidence, reconnecting with your sensuality, and everything that is most important for you to prepare for your Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires. Learn more about life coaching with Sasha HERE.
For anyone who craves touch, Argentine tango is the ultimate dance. Tango teaches us how to hold another person in a close embrace and then move together in unison.
But now tango and touch are off limits, in Buenos Aires, where tango was born.
Worldwide billions of us are sequestered in our homes, unable to reach out to others in the physical world, even with a simple handshake. Zooming together is great. We’re all learning new technology tools that we might not have tried otherwise, but it’s awfully hard to hug someone from six feet away. Or through a screen. No amount of technology can substitute for physical human contact.
What are we going to do about our need for touch?
As tango lovers, we both prize touch and have organized our lives around it.
We both found that tango was an antidote to what ailed us. If hugs are essential medicine, we simply needed a higher dose.
Argentina today is entering its fourth week of a strict national quarantine. People are only allowed to go out for groceries and other essential items. Police and military, transport workers, those supplying food) are allowed to go to work. We have all been ordered to stay at home except when we shop for food or medicine. No mate. No besos (kisses). No abrazos (hugs).
And, certainly, no tango.
Tango, tragically, is the perfect way to spread coronavirus: dancers from around the world hold each other heart-to-heart, maximizing body contact. Tango dancers are always chasing the next, unknown embrace, holding each other as if it were the last time they would ever hold anyone again.
Clearly tango and social distancing do not mix.
To truly feel the dance of tango, you must feel the embrace, or the abrazo, as they call it in Argentina. Even though tango is usually associated with erotic love, the embrace is much more than that. Sometimes compared to a mother’s cradling of a baby, the tango embrace is a way that two strangers, friends, or relatives, can hold each other with delicacy and affection.
Tango ruled our social lives in Argentina. We danced many nights a week in milongas, the sacred gathering place to dance tango. To connect. To escape the worries of everyday life and feel the bliss of a tangasm, that moment of connection while dancing with another person as the rest of the world drops away.
We have no idea when tango will come back.
Tango may shine a light on what we are giving up and what we must strive to keep alive even as we keep distance.
So what can tango teach us to survive the coronavirus pandemic and all the loss, uncertainty, and isolation that we are going through?
Even though we can’t dance tango, we still like to write about tango. Here’s what we discovered tango can teach us during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have more ideas please tell us in the comments.
Use Words to Show Affection
Tango teaches us the power of a hug, but we can’t throw our arms around just anyone right now.
But that energy is still within us and we need to channel it and get it out to those who need it. In the absence of touch, we can still send meaningful if imaginary hugs with tender words.
Before coronavirus, Argentines (even men) began every encounter with a hug or a kiss. There’s another round of kisses when they part. Even phone conversations or whatsapp messages end with the sending of hugs or kisses — or both.As Americans living in Buenos Aires, we noticed our ways of communicating changed over the years. We have become more affectionate.
So if we can’t hug each other right now, we can be more affectionate in our emails or texts. Even in professional communication we might be feeling emotional and go all the way with an XOXOXOXOXO. Or an abrazo elbow-bump! Those virtual, verbal hugs feel good right now.
If you can’t reach out and touch someone else, you can give yourself a hug. Put your hands on your heart and your belly when feeling anxious to self-soothe and breathe.
Improvise + become more shock-resilient
Tango is an improvised dance. There are no memorized steps but rather a language of movement that allows two dancers to reinvent endlessly.
In Argentina people know things always change. Governments collapse sometimes in rapid succession. Electricity gets cut off for a few days. The currency gets devalued by a third yet again. Here people are so used to sudden change they shrug it off. Many Argentines have more than one job and will try something new to survive.
In the US, we are not used to big shocks to our system.
When things fall apart, people improvise. Just as we are all doing now.
Tango teaches us to listen to our partner when we dance. We must read our partner’s body in order to execute the dance. Thousands of subtle cues are passed back and forth in tango, as two people connect.
We are all reacting to this crisis differently. Some people are treating this as a quiet time for retreat or a chance to deepen into creative work. For others, getting out of bed is an accomplishment already.
Everyone is coping the best they can.
If someone you know is hurting, listen without distractions. Put aside the phone. The gift of your pure attention will probably help more than advice. Usually all we most want and need is to be heard.
Make eye contact
Tango dancers invite each other to dance with their eyes. They don’t use words. (It’s against the codes of the traditional milonga.)
Direct eye contact creates a connection between two people, so we can use our eyes to connect while we socially distance (or date digitally). Making eye contact while chatting on an online video platform can be tricky because we can’t both look at the camera and the other person’s eyes at the same time, but it’s the intention to connect that matters.
Eye contact in person works too. Eyes can say a lot. Your eyes can even transmit a hug if you soften your gaze with affection when you look at someone.
Lose your balance, find it again
In tango, your axis, or that central line of balance in your body, is that magic point in the embrace where you are standing on your own but also meeting your partner. You do not burden your partner, but nor do you hold back.
The more that we can find our own center the better we can relate to and support others.
It’s inevitable that we will lose balance.
Tango teaches us that we will lose balance and that we can find it again. It’s going to be a wild, uncertain ride for a while, so prepare to lose balance and find it again many times.
Find joy in spite of loss
Tango lyrics are often about loss — of love, of innocence, of a beloved neighborhood that’s gone. As they say, if it has a happy ending, it’s not a tango. (That is why we hold each other so tight.)
In the Argentine national psyche, the good times were always in the past and whatever plans you make for the future will likely be dashed. Welcome to our new world where everyone is living a different life than they imagined even a few weeks ago. In the US people generally believe that things will always get better. In many other cultures people know that loss is inevitable.
Accepting loss makes Argentines pessimistic but they are also always up for a party.
Plans are expected to change, and things don’t always work out, which brings us back to learning to improvise.
Remember the essential
Argentines value relationships more than business. They know that the only things that last are friendship, family, and love. If there is one lesson that will get us through the trying times ahead, it is remembering our connections in many forms are among the most important things we have.
A decade ago the United Nations recognized tango by honoring it as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. They may have been thinking of the dance or unforgettable songs by Carlos Gardel and Astor Piazzolla, but we think that the greatest contribution of tango to humanity is the countless embraces generated in its name over the past 130 years.
Tango knew in its origins and it knows now that the purpose of life is to hold each other in the broadest sense, but also in the narrow sense of throwing our arms around each other.
When we come through this dark time to the other side, we will all appreciate the gift of being in front of another human being again.
And we will all need a really good hug.
Sasha and Kevin …in one our beloved milonga Nuevo Chique
Explore general life coaching with Sasha to work on confidence, reconnecting with your sensuality, and everything that is most important for you to prepare for your Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires. Learn more about life coaching with Sasha HERE.
[During Sue’s Tango Adventure, I did an interview with Sue on what drew her from northern Alaska grizzly bear country to the wilds of tango here with us in Buenos Aires. Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you get word when the video is edited. It’s a chance to discover a totally different side of Sue Aikens, a most fascinating woman.]
So guess what everybody! We had 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 is a rare female star who gives women across the world an example of a woman who lives life on her own terms, way off the beaten path of modern life, with humor and a spark for life outside the comfort zone. Her native intelligence shines through on her show as Sue constructs everything she needs in the extremely remote location she lives in up in Northern Alaska. But Sue is also very sociable and curious about the world and people. You can see the hilarious parts of Sue here:
You can see the tough parts of Sue on display here:
So what’s the scoop? If you are like me, and never watched “Life Below Zero,” 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.) The show depicts the daily battles to survive in a harsh climate. Sue has become one of the favorites on the show (check out the passion of her fans’ reviews on this page) with many women and men fans who revere an independent woman. 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.
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.”
Clearly Sue is fierce. A survivor with a verve for life. But she is more than just an Alaskan survivalist. She also loves exploring cultures. She wanted to explore following in close-embrace tango and her own unique feminine side. Sue came to Buenos Aires with our Tango Adventure team to explore Argentine tango. She was very clear she did not want ballroom tango. She wanted the original: the energetic connection that is uniquely created in the tango embrace. For a woman who lives in isolation battling 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! All we do is hug people all day long. 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. 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!
Here are some snaps and one video clip of Sue dancing from Sue’s Tango Adventure with us . . .what’s truly remarkable is that Sue came to us a total beginner. After a two-week Tango Adventure she was dancing fluidly with our shining star taxi dancer Roberto. The amazing tango development was a credit to her innate capacity to learn and find balance in her body (she sure does take on physical challenges) and to the awesomeness of our Tango Adventure team, clearly!
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
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
Subscribe to my YouTube channel to see the interview with Sue on why she felt drawn to Argentine tango. We talked about lots of great stuff, like living outside the comfort zone and drawing boundaries without being an asshole. Sue’s capacity to be direct and assertive while also being really nice kind of blew me away. Role model alert.
(This video was filmed on Day 12 of the Challenge)
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. (In the end, I challenged myself by asking verbally because that was more direct than using the mirada [the look of desire].)
Now what’s the big deal with asking men to dance? We do live in the 21st century. I’m in my forties, not in seventh grade going to a junior high school dance! Wouldn’t I be over all these insecurities by now? Ummm, not totally.
Well, we teach what we need to learn. I have often struggled with the confidence to ask a man to dance–thus the Challenge.
Deep down for me, and I suspect for many of us women, we feel more attractive if we are chosen. It’s the same old Cinderella complex, waiting for a man to come, wake us from a passive slumber to validate us as worthy. But that’s the old way, or is it? Some 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 men say they didn’t want women to ask them to dance because that would be taking away the last clear domain of power that men had.
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.
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.
That’s an intense goal since I am also working to complete my memoir but I’m thinking all this dancing will be good for my writing because I need a balance of mental and physical activity to inspire my creativity.
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 1: January 1, 2020
Milonga: La Glorieta, an outdoor gazebo in Belgrano where people gather to dance nightly.
Results: 7 asks, 7 yesses
January 1, 2020: Night One of the Experiment at La Glorieta. Photo: fellow tanguera Geneviève Allard
The first night of the campaign was spectacular. Often new campaigns (like a diet) start on a high and the Asking Men to Dance campaign was no different. 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.
Me and one of my targets! He said yes. 😉
How did I ask the men to dance? 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 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 to be chosen.
I asked one man to dance whom I have often danced with. He seemed a bit taken aback that I asked him. He was used to inviting me, not the other way around. I had flipped the gender roles, but he got over it. We danced a lovely tanda (in tango we dance four songs [a tanda]).
All of the other guys seemed quite fine with invitation. “Dale,” or “Dale si” was the usual response.
Overall this experiment started off winning.
Day 2: January 2, 2020
I was planning to go to De Querusa but I was too tired. 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. I danced with the organizer, which I feared was a pity tanda because I had been sitting for over an hour. I was plancharing. Planchar is the Argentine verb meaning “to iron.” In tango language, to planchar means sitting for hours, not dancing.
So how did it go? I saw a familiar face, a sweet dancer Max from La Plata. La Plata is about an hour south of Buenos Aires. I greeted him with a kiss on the cheek which is probably not what I would have done if it were not for the Challenge. 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 friendlier with the kiss paved the way for the invitation.
My first dance. I didn’t ask him but I may have made it happen by being friendly.
Then my friend Jorge showed up. Jorge is part of my Solo Chica Tango Adventure team. If you come to Buenos Aires as part of our program you might dance with him too. I asked Jorge “Bailas?” just as he said “Bailamos.” It seems like “Bailamos” (“Let’s dance”) is a much more normal thing to say to a friend. “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).
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.
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. It can be kind of awkward to see someone that you don’t wind up dating at the milonga. 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 am getting more and better tandas than I would have been dancing otherwise. Going to 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 am quite pleased with the experiment so far.
Day 4: January 4, 2020
Practica: La Maria, an afternoon practica
Results: 7 asks, 4 yesses, 3 nos
La Maria is an afternoon practica on Saturdays.
On day four I received my first nos at La Maria. Three nos to be exact.
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. The Challenge is now real. Of course 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 chosen few.
The second “no” came from a guy who appeared to be a foreigner. I was surprised he said no, because usually foreigners, who don’t have automatic dance partners, are happy to be asked.
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.” The “nos” felt good because I survived them, and then went on to ask other men to dance who said yes. This Challenge is for sure about building resilience, just as men have to suffer nos, why shouldn’t I? Doesn’t that make me a stronger, less delicate flower?
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’m 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 afternoon or night. I identify men I want to dance with and scheme about how I will ask them rather than sitting in a chair, eyeing men, fruitfully or not.
I must admit after two “nos” I felt tired. 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 5: Another rest day!
Wow, this asking men to dance thing is intense! I’m taking another rest day.
Day 6: Tango in Tigre
I wasn’t able to go to a milonga because I went to 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. Tigre is a small city with a river community just outside Buenos Aires. It’s the easiest place to get a nature fix on a day trip.
On the way back 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.
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.
Day 7: January 7, 2020
Oh my god, what was I thinking? 31 days in a row? Over the last couple of years I usually only go out twice a week! It was a night of rest to prepare for Day 8.
Day 8: January 8, 2020
Milonga: Maldita Milonga with Orchestra Affronte, an afternoon practica 4-8
Results: 1 ask, 1 yes
A night out with Sue Aikens and Wanda Abramor, Tango Fairygodmother in the Tango Adventure buenos airs
I asked one man to dance, a total stranger, and he said yes. No drama whatsoever.
Day 9: January 9, 2020
Milonga: De Querusa
Results: 2 asks, 2 nos
Officially both of my verbal invitations were refused by 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 dancing queen.
I’m starting to feel 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 two nos 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 going out to dance regularly in the tango scene. Frequency is rewarded.
Day 24: De Querusa and Canning
Results: 4 asks, 4 yesses (3 at De Querusa, 1 at Canning)
Well, we can see there is a large gap here between Days 9 and 24.
I really must laugh at my ambition Day 1 of going out every night. What delusional New Year’s energy!
Actually I have gone out to dance six times in the last two weeks but I didn’t focus on asking men to dance. We had clients with us for Tango Adventures, so when I went out to meet them, my attention was more on supporting those women than on asking men to dance.
That said, at at least one time in one of those milongas I did invite a man to dance verbally. He said yes.
The other nights quite frankly I was tired. Since this is not a normal behavior for me, and I’m breaking gender codes, let’s face it: Asking men to dance requires a lot of energy. First, I have to pick out a man to invite, then I need to screw up my courage to break gender codes and face the risk of rejection–well, it’s a lot. I’ve learned that my energy needs to be good to ask men to dance! I expect and accept there will be plenty of milongas when I simply don’t feel the strength. I’m trying to not beat myself up when my shy nights happen. When I have energy, I invite!
Last night I went back to De Querusa, a moderately friendly milonga where I have some nice regular partners.
I invited two men heavy miradas with a slight dash of an head nod (slightly cabeceo-like toward two men, somewhat regular partners, or at least men I had danced with before). Both resulted in dances.
I made one verbal invitation to a French beginner. I asked him “Bailas?” and he didn’t know what that meant, which resulted in an awkward exchange in English, and then a lovely dance.
Then at Canning, I used a delicate tap on the back and a head nod toward the floor with a man where I know for sure we enjoy dancing with each other–our musical sensitivities and embrace are compatible.
The Challenge helped me to initiate the dance quickly because I knew I wanted to go to bed by 2 am. Tapping him on the back was much better than sitting there passively waiting for him to invite me. We might not have danced because I turn into a pumpkin before many other tangueros.
Day 25: January 25, 2020
Milongas: La Maria and La Carretta
Results: 4 asks, 3 yesses, 1 no
At the afternoon practica La Maria I asked two men to dance. Both said yes.
The second man was someone that I danced with many times in the past but we have not danced in about 9 months.
Well, I was sitting there bored, not dancing, and neither was he, so I decided to ask him to dance because of the Challenge. I had already been acting friendlier to him and kissed him on the cheek when I arrived. I sidled up to him at the bar and asked “Queres bailar?” He either didn’t understand me or possibly he needed to be the one to ask “Queres bailar?” Again, sometimes I get the feeling that the men need to feel they are the inviter, even if I already invited them. Or maybe I mumble?
Did he want to dance with me or was he saying yes out of obligation? A number of women have asked me this question since I started the Challenge. Many women fear dancing with someone who doesn’t really want to dance with them–as if that would be unpleasant or even humiliating. I say most men I invite are happy to dance with me when I ask.
With this particular guy… I’m not so sure. I didn’t feel him inject his full heart and soul in the dance, but I don’t think he’s my ideal dance parter anyway. He’s a little machista, at least in tango classes. I like the more sensitive, open-minded, kind and egalitarian men. But that’s OK. We can do a tanda together when I don’t have anyone else to dance with. Ha! See how I flipped that around? It’s about what I prefer, not him.
I went on to a late-night milonga La Carreta after dinner with a new tango friend.
I asked two men who were sitting next to me on the couch. A man of Asian origin dressed in elegant wide-legged dark pants and a white shirt seemed disoriented that I invited him. He said, “No,” and looked away confused.
The second was an Argentine sitting to my left, also elegantly dressed–a serious tanguero. I asked on the third song of the tanda. He said “dale.” (OK.) We danced a lovely two songs.
I left happy to go to bed at 1:15 am.
TOTALS from the 31-Day of Asking Men to Dance Challenge, Buenos Aires Tango, January 2020
Total Asks: 29. I asked 29 men to dance in a month!!!!
Total Nos: 6 men said NO!
Total Yesses 23 said YES!!!
Pretty good ratio, right? Over 79% said yes!
The data says it pays to ask men to dance.
Postscript: This Challenge was an experiment in new-habit-formation as well as building courage and resilience. During this month, the new habit of inviting men to dance becomes integrated and less dramatic to practice. Did it stick in February? Sort of. I would say inviting men to dance in February met with less resistance in me than December but it wasn’t as easy as in January when I was in full swing. I think this Challenge may become an annual thing.
Want to come away to Buenos Aires and learn how to invite men to dance, or to attract invitations to dance? Come away with Sasha’s Tango Adventure program for a 7-Day community-based, transformative dance immersion vacation in Buenos Aires and you will learn that and way more. Solo Chica means this program is designed to make it easy for you to come as a woman alone. Solo Chico Adventures for men are available.
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'm a life coach working with thoughtful, quirky types and the author of the cult hit book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics (HarperSF) and To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us (Simon & Schuster).
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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 sensitive, self-aware men) get clear on what they really want and then to achieve their goals while always helping her clients focus on core issues such as self-worth.