Tango and minimalism: the essentials

October 21, 2014

We women often carry more than we really need in our purses for those times when something might come in handy.  I recall a friend who carried a large, heavy purse around all the time that looked like a small suitcase on her shoulder.  She had trouble walking due to the weight and probably had a sore shoulder at the end of the day.  Minimalists get rid of the excess in their lives and focus on the essentials.

It’s best to take only what you need to the milongas in Buenos Aires and leave the rest in your room where it’s safe.  These are the items in my purse.  I carry my dance shoes in a draw-string bag.

Pesos — take enough to pay the entrada, for drinks, food, coat check and tips for the waiter and ladies’ room attendant.  These days you’ll need at least 100 pesos; another hundred if you travel by taxi to and from a milonga.

SUBE card — this is what you use to pay for rides on buses and the Subte.  If you don’t have the card, you have to pay more for a bus ride with coins.

Photo identification — a copy of your passport photo page, not your passport.

Tissues — for wiping your brow between tandas and/or a folding fan

Eyeglasses — if you need to see who is inviting you to dance from the other side of the room

Personal cards — to share your email or social network address with new friends.

Hand gel — to use between tandas

Breath mints — for obvious reasons

Earplugs — to cut city noise or when the music is too loud.

Pen — for when you want to make note of a tango you never heard before, etc.

Comb, lipstick, perfume — for touchups in the ladies’ room.

Apartment keys — the most important item you carry so you can rest well after dancing.

That’s my minimalist checklist for the milongas.  I recommend keeping your purse on top of the table where it’s in full view.  There are some milongas in Buenos Aires where it’s best to check your purse — Confiteria Ideal and El Beso; it’s not as convenient when you need it, but it’s safer that way.

Tango and minimalism: los milongueros viejos

October 20, 2014

Less is more.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Minimalism has been around for decades in art, design, and music.  Minimalism refers to anything that is spare or stripped down to its essentials.

The milongueros viejos are minimalists.  I thought about this recently while watching Ismael Heljalil dancing in Lo de Celia.  He walks and turns, focusing on the essentials —  the music and his partner.  His tango isn’t cluttered.  It’s simple and elegant.

Ismael with Felisa in Lo de Celia


Milonga review: El Arranque (revisited)

October 19, 2014

I went on Saturday to join a girlfriend from the USA.  There is no air-conditioning but that doesn’t put a damper on the attendance or the happiness level for the seniors who attend regularly. Erwin welcomed me, but I usually see him behind the bar at Lo de Celia programming excellent music on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  The entrada is 30 pesos for women, a few pesos more for the men.

Daniel Borelli and Vivi La Falce in El Arranque

I located my friend at the end of a tanda, and there was an empty chair at her table so I took it without bothering the waitress.  Vivi La Falce (the organizer’s daughter) was at the helm behind the bar programming the tandas.  I saw lots of familiar faces from earlier years.  I’ve been going to El Arranque since it opened in February 2000.

Roberto Tallarico

Roberto Tallarico and Oscar Steimez were there, and I went over to greet them at their table close by.  I’ve never seen either one at the milonga without a suit and tie.

Oscar Steinmetz at El Arranque

I saw Julio leaving as I arrived.  I was glad to see he is still dancing as well.

Julio Cesar Aloi

There were two women from Italy at the next table who left after many tandas to go to another milonga, I’m certain.  El Arranque is a place where any newcomer gets to dance.  I was lucky to have two invitations by a regular from Lo de Celia who was there for the second time.

Cumbre de tango

October 18, 2014
You can listen to the radio broadcast live from noon until 2:00 BA Time on Radio Lexia.  Tomorrow is Mother’s Day in Argentina, so Carlos starts the program with the vals “Poem for my mother.”  I’ll be at the studio today with Carlos and Tito.
1-   Poema para mi madre (vals)    Francisco Rotundo with Jorge Durán
Jorge Caldara
2-  No ves que nos queremos with Raul Ledesma
3-  El Guri
4-  De corte milonguero
Ricardo Tanturi with Alberto Castillo
5- Canción de rango
6-  El tango es el tango
7-  Que podrán decir
Horacio Salgan
8- Sentimental y canyengue
9- Don Goyo
Angel D’Agostino with Angel Vargas
10- A quien le puede importar
Carlos Di Sarli
11-  Siete palabras
12-  Hoy al recordarola with Jorge Duran
13-  Derrotado  with Roberto Florio
Miguel Calo with Raul Iriarte
14- Si yo pudiera comprender
15- Garras
16- Contratiempo
17- A la guardia vieja
18- El resero
Juan D’Arienzo
19-  El romántico
20-  Seguime si podés
21-   Estas cosas de la vida with Mario Bustos
22-   No no me la nombres with Bustos
Osvaldo Pugliese
23-   Negracha
24-   Arrabal
25-   Desde el alma (vals)
26-   Mas solo que nunca  with Alberto Moran
Francisco Rotundo
27-    Lo que me hablaron de vos with Enrique Campos
28-    Entre sueños

Rafael Mauricio Pites

October 15, 2014

October 15, 1944 –


My girlfriend danced with Rafael and told me that today was his birthday.  He celebrated with his milonga family at Lo de Celia.

Milonga review: Matinée de los Lunes

October 15, 2014


Monday was a holiday and the organizer’s birthday.  Obelisco Tango was full by the time I arrived at 19:30 hs. to meet a friend from the USA.  I decided to wait until the end of the tanda to get seated and quickly spotted her on the dance floor.  In the meantime, the organizer/deejay Gabriela Laddaga welcomed me to her milonga.  This was only the second time I’ve been to Obelisco Tango.  My first review was in July 2013.  During the cortina, we moved to an empty table at the edge of the dance floor.  My friend danced almost every tanda because so many of the men know her from other milongas.

The sound system was better than I remembered it.  I don’t know if there are new or more speakers or if our table location made a difference.  Gabriela’s tandas were excellent as always, and the volume wasn’t overwhelming.  She hosts the milonga and manages the deejay booth.  Each job is a lot to handle.  That’s why two previous tandas started to repeat after the Cortina; the music was quickly changed.  Dancers who paid attention to the music knew that they heard a few seconds of D’Arienzo and Troilo tangos they had just danced.


The biggest improvement in Obelisco Tango is the floor.  The photo shows the laminated flooring that still exists around the new dance area with parquet.  I rate it as one of the best floors in Buenos Aires.  It’s perfectly smooth and level without any seams.

We were dying of thirst and waited two hours for our waitress.  I mentioned this to Gabriela at the end of the milonga.  She has to know such things since management hires the wait staff for the milongas.  I’m used to having a bottle of water at my table when I finish the first tanda or sooner at Lo de Celia without having to order it.  This was the worst service I’ve had in any milonga.

The listing on Hoy Milonga has the hours from 16 hs to 2 hs, however, La Cumparsita announced the end of the milonga on Monday at 22:30 hs.

I didn’t see many familiar faces, so I didn’t expect to dance.  Then my friend told me who was there — Tito Ortega — and I knew he would invite me.  Lucky me, I had four tandas with not only the best dancer at this milonga, but one of the best milongueros viejos in Buenos Aires.  I could dance all night with Tito and enjoy every minute.  The frosting on the cake was seeing Nestor La Vitola dancing with Pina when the floor cleared during the last half hour.

Entrada: 50 pesos  Bottled water: 24

Mario Hector Camartino

October 10, 2014

October 10, 1928 –

Mario y Anabelle (de Munich, Alemania) en Lo de Celia Tango Club  12 enero 2014

Mario is another amazing milonguero who keeps going and going.  He’s an inspiration to all who dance tango in Buenos Aires.  He told me on Wednesday that he bought his first computer and plans to learn how to use it so he can read his own email.


He never fails to give me a kiss on the cheek when he passes by my table in Lo de Celia.

Toeless shoes need toeless hose

October 9, 2014
Silvana Dedos Less (Miel) - made in Argentina

Silvana brand hosiery – made in Argentina

When I started dancing tango in 1991, my dance shoes had closed toes.  I never knew that toeless hosiery existed until I saw Muma wearing it with open-toed shoes.  I recently bought my first pair for spring.  They’re called dedos less here;  known as peep toe, hose without toes, open toe, and toeless hosiery.  It’s perfect to wear with your open-toed dance shoes if you prefer  covered legs over a bare ones as I do.

I know that my legs need a second skin, and I add color to my toes during the spring and summer.  This hosiery takes care of showing painted toenails that normal ones cover up.


Designed by Lucila Iotti (Palermo)

Tita Maciel

October 7, 2014

October 7, 1934 –

Tita Maciel en Av. Belgrano

Tita came to Lo de Celia the Sunday I started recording a video for Julio.  It was perfect timing to record them dancing together.  Tita was married to the late Jorge Maciel, who sang with Orquesta Osvaldo Pugliese, among others.

I was walking along Av. Belgrano one day, and there was Tita on her way to catch the bus.  She had gone for a checkup on the corner.  We chatted briefly about tango, and I took this photo of her.

Her first pair of tango shoes

October 5, 2014

Tango shoes from Juan Perez Feria Americana in BA

Nisha wrote me weeks before her arrival in Buenos Aires.  She was coming for only a few days and wanted to learn tango.  I let her know she could find me at Lo de Celia on Wednesday.

I noticed a young woman dancing the salsa tanda with Roberto Segarra, but it didn’t occur to me she was Nisha from Mumbai.  A while later a milonguera who knows me as Pichi came to ask me about someone named Janis.  And that’s when Nisha and I finally met.  Nisha works for the Consulate of Spain in Mumbai, and she has no problem with the language.

Nisha wanted to take a class, but she didn’t have tango shoes.  I told her I’d take her the next day to buy a pair.  Nisha heard about Comme il faut shoes.  I suggested we meet first at a Feria Americana to see if they had shoes in her size.  I arrived early and decided to check the shoe rack for a pair in her size, and I found one pair.  When Nisha arrived, she tried them on and said they were perfect.  The price — 250 pesos.  We were only three blocks from Comme il faut, so we went for a visit.  Nisha tried several pairs and took her first steps in high heels.  The used pair was more comfortable than the Comme il faut shoes at 1,500 pesos a pair.  Mission accomplished.

We took the bus back to my apartment and bought some empanadas for lunch along the way.  We talked about the codes and customs of the milongas before the class.  Since Nisha has never worn high heels, I began with exercises to strengthen her feet for dancing.  She had only four tango classes in Mumbai without the essential equipment for tango.  Walking in high heels is different.  Her posture changed, and she started walking to the music.  Nisha knows she has to strengthen her feet and practice walking in high heels on her own before she can dance with a partner.

Two days later, we met at Milonga de los Consagrados to watch the dancing, listen to Dany’s great tandas, and talk more about the codes and customs.  It was her last day in Buenos Aires.


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