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.
What is sensuality and why does it matter? Our culture is obsessed with sex. Sex matters of course. But we rarely talk about sensuality. I want to talk about reviving sensuality in the digital age when we are all too often burying our heads in screens.
In this video with Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan on her new Internet talk show Kaamna Live I made sensuality a priority in my life by leaving Silicon Valley for Brazil back in 2010. In this interview I explain why I made sensuality so important for me at a time when my life was going downhill in many ways.
That move led me to Buenos Aires and tango. The search for sensuality continues because as I see it I need sensual fulfillment to be happy, healthy, and in touch with what I want and don’t want. Being in touch with my sensuality actually helps me make decisions and feel more worthy and whole. We get a lot of valuable information from our bodies but we can only feel those pulses of information if we are in touch with our senses.
In this interview we talk about why reviving your sensuality matters for your health and well-being, which celebrities are sensual and which are not, and how you can make playing golf a more sensual experience. Ha. And we should not miss the obvious point: giving focus to sensuality will make you a better lover. As Kaamna so wisely points out in the video: Men, take note!
Does sensuality matter for you? How do you trigger yourself to get out of your head, off the computer or your phone and back into your body? Where do you find sensual delight?
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.
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.
[end of the night at the qa/qt meetup nyc at Ten Bells]
During my travels in the U.S. I made a quick stop in New York City.
In New York I hosted a quirkyalone/together meetup at Ten Bells, a wine bar on the Lower East Side (Thanks to Melissa Banigan for the suggestion–it was the perfect place.) I’ve been doing these meetups in California, New York and New England because I want to seize the opportunity to meet more of you and also share in person some ideas that I have percolating to serve the QA community.
I’m more convinced than ever that you quirkyalone/together readers are just fantastic. I’ve always felt that when I get to know you in online courses, by working one-on-one with you and in the Tango Adventure. Now with these stateside meetups I’ve seen how great it is to meet you and have you meet each other.
I thought I would tell you about who came because it was such a creative group with everyone working on interesting projects.
Caren Lissner came out from Hoboken. She is working on various writing projects – and her funny first novel, Carrie Pilby, has a quirkyalone protagonist. The novel has a movie version that is currently on Netflix. Her websitehas writing projects, funny and serious. She’s also @carenlissner on Twitter
Phoebe Blue is in a band with her partner (the’yre both very independent so quirkyalone/together fits them well!) The band is Phoebe Blue and the Make Baleaves. Check out their latest album Wordz of Wizdumb. Phoebe is part of the antifolk scene in New York and every February 14 she plays a show and gives a shoutout to Quirkyalone Day. She convinced us all that Staten Island is the place to be in New York City and a future quirkyalone/together meetup might take place there. See Phoebe rap here in the song Baby Talk.
Maggie Buford is the Education Director at Staten Island MakerSpace, “a non-profit workshop that helps artists, craftspeople, engineers, inventors, and entrepreneurs make their ideas come to life.” You can like SI MakerSpace on Facebook. Maggie lives on Staten Island too. Phoebe turned Maggie on to Quirkyalone at a key moment in her life and they have been sharing the book with people in their Staten Island community.
Petra Hanson is a two-time Quirkyalone/together Meetuper because she was able to attend both meetups in SF and NY. Petra is a former pop star in Japan (yup!), a blogger and a fashion designer, and she’s up to something important and needed with the B-Sider, a blog and storytelling series (and a podcast to come) about reinventing yourself past 40 for the B-Side of your life. Check out the B-Sider and be sure to sign up to for the podcast to hear the inspiring stories she’s curating in the storytelling series.
While I was in Paris for three weeks this July and August, I found often that Parisians were not that aware of the beauty surrounding them. Of course I was on vacation; they were living real life. They deal with the everyday challenges of living in a big city–trains that stall mid-ride, long commutes, and high rents for tiny apartments.
But still the beauty of Paris is so pas mal. (So not bad.)
One night I joined some friends–new and old–by the river Seine at an outdoor milonga (a milonga is a place where people dance tango). As is the custom in Paris in the summer, we gathered for a picnic–wine, cheese, and also potato chips. At times I felt overwhelmed, flooded by beauty even, of the Seine, the boats floating by, the Haussman-era architecture, and the people dancing outside. The Parisians around me, as much as I enjoyed their company, seemed a bit eh about the scene.
My American friend Alexa who has been living in Paris for the last year had invited me. I turned to her and said something along the lines of, “These people don’t even see how beautiful Paris is!” She laughed, “It’s a metaphor for life, we’re all living in Paris but we don’t even see it.”
Isn’t that true?
The eye can become accustomed to beauty. The “hedonic treadmill” theory posits that human beings return to a set point of happiness no matter what positive or negative events happen to us. Would I be happier if I lived bathed in the beauty of Paris? Would I even see it if I lived there? I don’t know. I would be curious to find out.
Not everyone who comes to Paris finds the experience so blissful. Some people come to Paris and get Paris Syndrome. Paris Syndrome mainly afflicts Japanese people who come to Paris with larger-than-life romantic fantasies of artists wearing berets and high-fashion models. Tourists who suffer from Paris Syndrome get disappointed by the reality of a sprawling, chaotic, extremely multicultural city not matching their hopes–they may even enter a state of psychological turmoil of anxiety, depression, irritation and prejudice. There are doctors who treat patients for Paris Syndrome!
You need not suffer from Paris Syndrome, nor act like Paris is just blah. The difference, I believe, is the willingness to be a flaneur.
To be a flaneur is to wander the city streets, to see and be seen, and there is no city better for wandering than Paris. The concept of the “flanerie” (the wander) was itself created in Paris by Charles Baudelaire. You can certainly go to museums like the Louvre in Paris, but the city itself is a museum: all you have to do is walk at random. Parisians also call this a “balade” (a “stroll”) and “balader” is an important verb.
To discover the beauty of Paris it doesn’t hurt to meet Parisians. You can go on a solo balade (stroll), as a solitary flaneur, or you can balader with a friend or lover. You can also meet people for strolls through couchsurfing.org (join the Paris group and look for their events–the Paris couchsurfing organizers are quite nice and friendly) and look on meetup.com. I joined a Paris Shut Up and Write and went on a Hidden Places of Paris tour. If you’re online dating, go ahead and change your location to Paris! Who knows? You’ll either meet the love of your life or maybe you’ll find a tour guide, or at least someone who gives you a different perspective on the City of Light.
Speaking French helps but it’s by no means necessary. Most Parisians speak English. I found Parisians to be friendlier than their reputation and made new friends.
By the way I also had some really terrible things happen to me in Paris during those three weeks. On my very last night, I was a little too carefree with my purse at an outdoor milonga by the Seine and someone stole my purse–containing, my airbnb keys, my phone, my wallet (credit cards and driver’s license, and an amazing G-spot vibrator that I had just bought at a very cool sex shop Passage du Désir in Le Marais!) while I was dancing. The horror!
I will definitely have to get back to Paris soon to repurchase that stolen G-spot vibrator!
I also experienced seven instances of sexual harassment in one day in one of the edgier neighborhoods that I stayed in. Paris is cracking down on sexual harassment now and Parisian women are marching to call attention to the problem.
It was not all La Vie En Rose.
Still, though, I loved this time in Paris and I dream about returning. It is absolutely clear to me that Paris in summer is a kind of heaven. If I don’t live in Paris in this lifetime, I want to spend more summers in Paris.
Here are some hidden – or not so hidden – things I think are great in Paris. I found these off-the-radar spots by being a flaneur (wandering at random), checking out events I found online, and making new friends.
Paris in summer is exuberant with picnics! Picnicking might be a spring and fall activity too. Check the many parks.
In my first week I joined two picnics by the Seine and the park Buttes-Chaumont, and by the time I had left I had been part of at least seven picnics all over the city! When in my life have I picknicked so much?
The picnic phenom is great:
1) it’s a universal way of being social; everyone is outside, gathering with friends by the Seine, canals, or in parks
2) it’s cheap and easy, you just pick up food in a Franprix or another supermarket
3) Rosé (rosé seems to be the official wine of summer picnics).
I joined this tour of “Lieux Insolites” (“Hidden Places”) of Paris, which I found on Meetup.com group “Promenades et Randonees.” Every weekend the organizer Christophe gathers people by a metro stop in an arrondissement and shows them unexpected places in Paris. It costs 5 euros. We walked around and discovered a Russian Orthodox church, where we learned about Russian immigration to Paris after the Bolshevik Revolution; a Turkish bath; and the Cimetiere de Montparnasse (where we saw the graves of Serge Gainbourg, Sartre and de Beauvoir, and Charles Baudelaire).
Above is the grave of Sartre and de Beauvoir in Cimetiere de Montparnasse. Note the lipstick kisses on the grave. The grave was also covered with Paris metro tickets left as a memorial to the writers.
The tour was not only great for seeing hidden spots of the city, it was also great for meeting people–Parisians and visitors alike. The niceness level of the group was very high. I met a woman from Georgia (the country) studying political science in Paris and we have stayed in touch.
During the summer months (and I believe starting in the spring) you will find people dancing along the Seine every night of the week by the Jardin Tino Rossi (metro: Jussieau).
Every night of the week people gather in a series of circular areas lined by steps (like the above) to dance kizomba, tango, salsa, swing, lindy hop, folkloric dance, and more. It’s stunning.
If you wanted to you could go from circle to circle dancing different dances.
Most of the activity seems to be pure social dancing but I also saw a few dance classes. At the same time, people also gather nearby just to picnic, and the Paris Bla-Bla Language Exchange meets every Thursday (and in the summer in this general area) for their picnic language exchange. So you can also go just to enjoy some wine, socialize, and watch the dancing.
I stayed in Belleville for my first week in Paris and adored the neighborhood. It’s the perfect multicultural, friendly mix, so friendly I couldn’t believe that I thought Paris was not friendly before. Walking the Rue de Belleville is a fun urban flaneur experience as you move through ethnicities. If you make it to the Metro Jourdain area of Belleville (a very charming spot) you absolutely must visit this great bra store which I wrote an entire blog post about.
I found La Reciclerie completely “par hasard”–randomly. It’s really quite extraordinary. La Reciclerie is in the 18th arrondissement right by the metro and it’s quite possibly the most amazing establishment I have ever randomly stumbled on in my flaneries (wanders). Why?
The Reciclerie is a cafe, a restaurant, a workshop/atelier for repairing electronics and household goods, a garden where they grow the food they serve at the restaurant, and an urban farm and this all overlooks the old train tracks of the old train that circled Paris. It’s also a workshop space. While I was there, an “atelier de conversation” – conversation workshop – to help immigrants practice French was going on. Sunday was a sophrologie workshop – which I gather is about the art of relaxing the body. If I do the Quirkyalone Paris Adventure surely we will come here.
Whether you dance tango or not, it would be well worth your time to drop by the metro Trocadero by the Eiffel Tower to watch the tango. I don’t know that I ever saw a more romantic backdrop for watching people dance tango. The most romantic dance in the most romantic city. It’s well worth the trip.
The Trocadero milonga was happening nightly in the summer when I was in Paris last. You can find out about tango events including the nightly Trocadero milonga here.
The soldes are the sales, and the sales come at quite specific times in Paris in January and July. These are the times to shop! I got those gorgeous silver sandals during the summer sales at a great price.
Buttes-Aux-Cailles is a quiet hilltop neighborhood in the 13th, a kind of isolated village, that’s very charming and little known and very worth your while for the stroll. Here’s a walking tour itinerary.
The parks in Paris are the best of any city I know. Jardin Luxembourg and Buttes Chaumont are my favorite parks. Life is better when you can sit on one of these extremely comfortable publicly provided chairs. Such a zone of peace.
caption: Buenos Aires amantes (lovers) can be passionate. Hernan hung this sign up in the street for Flor, “I love you with all my life. Never will we be far apart again.” The phone number on the right: call it if you want to make a sign!
Argentines are very expressive, and their Spanish is distinct from, for example, Mexican Spanish. There are plenty of books and websites out there that explain Buenos Aires slang, or lunfardo–slang words you will never learn in a high school Spanish class.
Over the last four years of living in Buenos Aires I have learned there is a particular modern lunfardo, or slang, when it comes to dating, sex, love and relationships. Certain words would come up again and again. Once I understood the words I understood the culture and what was happening in my own life.
So I have put together this dating glossary for you. I thought it would be a service to the many women (and men) who come to Argentina looking for love. (Or who simply find themselves here, dating). Dating can be bewildering in another culture, and language can help guide you. Knowledge is power. When you are able to name a behavior, or a way of being, you are able to say: I want this, and I don’t want that. You can say you want a chongo, or not. You’ll know what it means to put someone “in the freezer” and why so many men and women call the opposite sex “hysterical.”
Whether you come here on vacation or you live here, here are some words to help you date in Buenos Aires.
Chamuyero: Once I was at an Internations expat event at a bar talking to two Porteños (Porteño means Buenos Aires resident), and I asked them, what is the essence of Buenos Aires? They said, with impish glee, chamuyo.
Chamuyo is bullshit. Sometimes poetic bullshit, but bullshit nonetheless. A chamuyero is a bullshitter, par excellence. Chamuyero is truly the ultimate porteño word. While Rio de Janeiro has its malandros (charming tricksters who do anything to avoid work), Buenos Aires has its chamuyeros.
A chamuyero talks in circles but really they are talking about nothing. You can’t pin them down. Everything they say is airy and unreliable.
In dating, chamuyo is flattery. Chamuyo is quite related to the piropo, a flattering or romantic compliment to seduce a woman. Piropos can be a sport; there are plenty of websites listing piropos to use with a woman or a girlfriend or wife: For example, here’s an Argentine piropo submitted on a user-generated piropo website: “Con un mate y tu compania ya es resuelta la vida!” (With mate and your company, life is already resolved!) That’s a sweet one, and not too over the top. I could believe that piropo or get off on believing it.
The difference between a piropo and chamuyo is chamuyo is clearly bullshit–and totally generic. My chamuyo red flag goes up when a guy starts using the word “princesa,” for example. You can filter out the chamuyo or you can just get off the chamuyo, knowing it’s only that. See also: Lie to me, I love it when you lie to me.
A chamuyero milonguero (tango dancer and frequenter of the milongas, events where we dance tango) may flatter you by telling you what a wonderful dancer you are. In this case, I’m all for the chamuyo. Bring it on! I love it when a guy tells me I dance well–or even better, when he talks about our dance connection (if it feels true). Argentine men are much more likely to give flattery during a dance than American men. A little flattery is actually great technique–it helps me relax and dance better.
Translation: Ah, you left. I thought you kept partying and you had found yourself a chongo for a touch and go Hahahaha Rest! LOLLLLLL Could be! But today no
Chongo: I learned about “chongo” in the best way, from one of my favorite Argentine tanguera friends. A “chongo” is a “touch and go”—usually a man (they don’t talk so much about chongas, though it’s possible to be one) who wants sex and nothing else. As she explained to me, if you’re bored, alone, and you don’t have anyone else in your life, maybe you want to send a message to your “chongo.” As if on cue, just after she told me about the “chongo,” another woman walked behind us at a table on the milonga and said a guy was “re chongo” (really chongo). This word strikes me as powerful! A lot of men (and perhaps women) want to move really fast in Buenos Aires and have sex quickly. A good percentage of them equally move on. Chongos are into seduction, quick sex, y nada mas (nothing more). These people would be chongos, or chongas, and you can decide whether you want that or not. Knowledge is power, ladies and gentlemen.
Histérico: I don’t think it’s possible to date in Buenos Aires for longer than a few months without learning the word “histérico.” It’s really a must that you learn about this word.
What is “histérico”? In English, hysterical means, among other things, “feeling or showing extreme and unrestrained emotion.” In Buenos Aires, “histérico” is mostly about drama and game-playing. A histérico is insanely seductive and passionate until you start reciprocating, then he or she disappears, and then begins the endless-hot-cold behavior. Histéricos are inconsistent. Not stable or trusted. In essence,histéricos enjoy the chase—not just once, but over and over again. So don’t take it personally if they disappear. A histérico is like a serial chongo but with more drama. Love is a battlefield. Buenos Aires is like anywhere else, there are also men and women who want relationships, so you can look for the signs of histérico or chongo and make choices accordingly.
Once you have a name for the condition of histérico, it’s quite helpful. I’ve helped two women realize they were involved with histéricos, and as soon as they have a name for the condition they seemed relieved and were better able to let go and move on.
“In the Freezer”: A guy who probably wanted to be my chongo taught me the expression “in the freezer.” He was talking about a past relationship and said that he had dated a woman for a few months, but then the relationship went “in the freeezer.” “What does that mean?” I asked. “We stopped talking for a while, then we started talking again.” I found this expression to be hilarious. I tried hard to stifle my laughter. I don’t want anyone to put me in the freezer. “Please baby, don’t put me in the freezer! I am not a chicken breast or a bag of peas!”
When talking about this expression with my friend Alexandra, she suggested an additional interpretation: If you’re going out with someone but there’s someone else you want to save for later, you might put the second person “in the freezer” to possibly take out later to thaw.
Mimosa: People in Buenos Aires are affectionate and they kiss to greet (just one kiss, as opposed to the French, who do two kisses on either cheeks.) Men too kiss each other. It’s quite a contrast to the American handshake or back-slap. I see a therapist in Buenos Aires–a very Porteno thing to do, self-knowledge is valued here. When I see my (female) therapist, we kiss each other on the cheeks hello and goodbye. A hello or goodbye kiss with a therapist would never happen in the States.
Mimosa is a word that expresses affection–but in the context of being lovers. Many Argentines have talked to me about the importance of “mimos”–mimos are like love pats and cuddles. I think of a cat as being mimosa. A snuggly person is mimosa. This might be my favorite word in the Buenos AIres dating dictionary because I am mimosa.
Mujeron: A very sexy, va-va-voom Sophia Loren kind of woman, in full possession of her sexuality and sensuality. Buenos Aires is full of mujerones.
Pedazo de pelotudo: Piece of shit more or less. You might throw these words at a histérico, if you felt like it.
Pasional: Passionate. Argentines are very passionate, whether we are talking about love, or football. See the above message from Hernan to Flor.
Pendeviejo/a: Pendejo means young person. A pendeviejo is an older person who dresses like a young person. (Viejo means old.) Imagine, a woman in her 70s. From behind you see her shapely body in tight jeans or a sparkly sequined dress and you think she is 30 then she turns around and you see she is rocking 70.
The pendevieja’s lack of shame in rocking the forever 21 look after retirement is rather spectacular. There are many pendeviejas in certain milongas. Pendeviejo/as don’t pay attention to the rules. They wear tight, flashy clothing that I never felt comfortable wearing, even when I was in my 20s. Buenos Aires is the place to be a pendevieja. You can be a pendeviejo too, an older guy in a youthful t-shirt, jeans and sneakers.
Telo: Telos are hotel rooms that you rent by the hour to have sex if you don’t have a private place at home, or you are on a date.
A few more tips on dating in Buenos Aires:
Confirming dates: Whereas in the US or Europe when you make a date with someone you can generally expect they will show up. It’s not really like that in Buenos Aires. People confirm with texts that the date is happening.
Lateness: Being late is more normal, and sometimes people think that is acceptable even on a first date (we are talking 20-30 minutes late). Sometimes the histericos will use lateness as a way to show you that you’re not that important or to play power games. I would steer clear of anyone who is not respectful with your time. (That can rule out some people.)
Online dating and apps: People in Buenos Aires are using Tinder, Happn, Bumble, and OKCupid. Your results will vary. I can say based on experience that you can meet good people on these apps—over four years, I’ve met a boyfriend, a lover, and a long-term friend. I can also say most people don’t put much effort into their profiles (the profiles are shorter, fewer words, than the States and Europe) and the swiping can be extremely depressing. Overall I would say OKCupid is the best bet because people are more likely to fill out and read a profile. The mobile apps are so geared for superficiality, which means chongos. If you want a chongo though, go for it!
Have any words to add to the Buenos Aires Dating Dictionary? I am sure there are more. Please add them in the comments. I’d love to see how tong this list can go.
Listen to the 1938 tango Song “El Chamuyo” before you go . . .
Author of Quirkyalone and To-Do List, a life coach living in Buenos Aires working with women and men worldwide who identify with my quirkyalone concept of not settling in life or love. Representing the quirkyalones since 2000!
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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.
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