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Why you need to know about 'Chamuyo'...

posted May 15, 2014, 3:07 PM by Sophia de Lautour   [ updated May 15, 2014, 3:08 PM ]
chamuyo tango


Chamuyo: short conversations 
between songs at a milonga.

This blog post on NarrativeTango Tours Blog is a good explanation of the practice of 'chamuyo' 

Knowledge of this practice is useful for any tango social dancer, especially if dancing in Buenos Aires:

"When I take people out on their first NTT Milonga Outing in Buenos Aires they are often surprised by many of the ordinary occurrences a milonguera/o experiences in a given night. These rituals may include the cabaceo, the cortinas, the assigned seating, or talking between tangos – the latter being what many Argentines refer to as: chamuyos. A milonga outsider never understands why people chit-chat between tangos – especially given that they don’t speak during the dance. I always explain that this pause between dances is when the two counterparts of the couple are trying to find out everything they want to know about each other. It is kind of like the tangueros version of speed dating. “How to get to know your partner in 30 seconds.” 

A tanda consists of three to four songs, meaning you have approximately three, thirty-second intervals between the tangos in which to get to know the other person (or rather, in many cases, for the man to ask you out). Generally the discourse goes as followed: Como te llamas? De donde sos? Por cuanto tiempo te quedas? Puedo invitarte a tomar un café? (What’s your name? Where are you from? How long will you be here for? Can I invite you to a coffee?). It always surprises me how swift the men are in their pursuit and subsequent success in getting a woman to accept their proposal. Is it their determination, or are the women simply swept off their feet by the tango experience?

Often there are people in the milonga who I have danced with for years. Men who I have spoken to in many of these thirty-second intervals, chamuyando, but I rarely get to know more than their names, where they are from and how they dance tango. It is incredible how tango dancers can share such an intimate space with another person and “fall in love” for the length of the three-minute dance, all the while not knowing anything about one another. 

Sometimes these intervals are used to update yourself on gossip that you will later share with your friends upon your return to the table. Typical banter can involve tid-bits of info on what they do, where they are working or dancing, and whom they are dating. Many tango dancers have this dialogue so familiarized, and it is executed in such a sly, nonchalant manner, that sometimes it is difficult to decipher if and when there is a specific intention behind the chamuyos."

Useful Spanish phases to know ...

Como te llamas?What’s your name?
De donde sos?Where are you from?
Por cuanto tiempo te quedas? - How long will you be here for?
Puedo invitarte a tomar un café? -  Can I invite you to a coffee?*

coffee in the chamuyo context means more than coffee!


upper image source: NarrativeTango Tours Blog
lower image source: Blog del Amasijo


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