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Her embraces were the stuff of legend. They were of the full-on, milonguera-style variety: no empty space left between the bodies, no crevices ignored, nothing held back. I found myself gravitating towards her in spite of myself, inventing excuses to swing by.

When I walked into the milonga, she was at the entrance in conversation with someone else, leaning in close, her brows slightly furrowed. I made as if I were looking for something I couldn’t find, scavenging inside my backpack. Just as she was turning away from the other conversation I made a silent “Ah” of success – object found! – and looked up to meet her gaze which was slowly coming my way.

I smiled, ready to receive what I had come for, but her mind was still on the previous conversation and she did not see me even though she looked right at me. This was disconcerting and I started to scramble mentally for an exit. Then a broad if somewhat artificial smile spread across her face like a storm clearing across the Pampas and she approached, arms extended, ready to give. And to take.

“Welcome,” she slithered, enunciating all three syllables.

She wrapped her arms around me. I was now in familiar territory and knew how this would go down. First, there would be that luxurious embrace: five G’s of prime milonguera flesh pressed hard into mine. Then she’d breathe in deeply as if swallowing the air around me, replacing it with her own. Then she’d arch her back so she could put enough distance between us to look straight into my eyes while leaving her stomach and everything below that pressed against me.

“How ARE you?” she asked, lowering her voice several registers.

I muttered something completely forgettable and she, satisfied, squeezed me one more time with feeling and twirled away, turning her broad stream of energy on someone else who had just come through the door.

Part of me didn’t believe her for a second – but still I kept coming back, looking forward always to her welcomes, her goodbyes and best of all, the tandas when she would stand without warning before my table, expectant, one hip thrust forward, demanding a dance. I may be an experienced dancer with twenty-five years of tango under the soles of my feet but I’m not too proud to admit that I did get nervous with her, made rookie mistakes. But I can also say – and this is where those 25 years click in – that I really didn’t give a damn. With a milonguera like her, there is no hiding anyway. They will pitilessly disrobe you until you are standing naked in the middle of the now-empty dance floor, a thousand pairs of eyes contemplating you unmoved, all pretense out of reach, your little cock dangling between your legs, swaying in the artificial wind of the ceiling fans.

Those who call tango a macho sport have never come up against a milonguera.

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