Archive for the ‘Clubes de barrio’ Category

A night at Club Premier

December 8, 2011

I attended the “one-night only” milonga at Club Premier in the barrio of Caballito on December 8, 2001.  The outdoor sports area became a dance salon with lights, tables, chairs, and music for a night of tango.  December weather is usually warm, but this night was unseasonably cool, which kept many of the advance ticket holders (ten pesos) away.  Elisa Fardella and her partner Antonio Barone had planned this night for months.

In the 1950s, this club de barrio held dances on Saturday nights where young ladies went escorted by a female relative or family friend.  They sat at tables along the walls while all the young milongueros stood in the middle waiting for the opportunity to invite a young lady to dance.

A few of the men who danced at Club Premier in the 1950s returned for this special night.  There was an aire of nostalgia for them as they remembered their younger years.  Pedro Sanchez, Roberto Alvarez, Guillermo Mourinio, Juan Topalian, Alito Candamil, Jose Luis Aceto, Osvaldo Centeno, Eduardo Naldi, Hector Delgado, Ernesto Delgado, and Miguel Angel Balbi all took a step back in time to recall those days while they danced under the stars on this cool night.  Pedro told me how beautifully polished the surface had been in those days.  Eduardo said, “it’s cold tonight, but it’s beautiful.”  Then the deejay selected Recuerdos by Osvaldo Pugliese to begin the next tanda.

Miguel Angel Balbi recalled when he was dancing at Club Premier on Saturday nights almost fifty years ago.  He said, “words don’t exist to express the feeling of happiness I had here.  I have so many memories.  Premier was one of the best places to dance on Saturday night.  All the men stood in the middle, while the women sat at tables along the wall.  There were nights with more than 500 people.”

I could see how much this club meant to Ernesto Delgado when he told me that this was where he had met the woman he eventually married and who gave him three wonderful sons.

Club Premier was and still is a neighborhood sports club on Campichuelo.  Mothers would not have permitted their young daughters to go alone to dance at a milonga the city.  Women went to the city milongas unescorted.  This is an important difference between the milongas in the city and the neighborhood clubs of the 1940s and 50s.

This post was revised as previously published December 17, 2001, on Tango-L.  I knew how special the occasion was and brought along my camcorder to film it.  I made a video cassette for the organizers and thought I had recorded over the master.  Early this year I discovered that I had the 16-minute video master.  It’s my tango documentary and one of my most important videos.

P.S.  I decided to go to Club Gricel tonight.  Among the hundreds of dancers there was Antonio Barone who hosted the night at Club Premier!  I went to tell him about this post and the video master.  He recalled that cold night when dozens with prepaid entradas stayed home.

Club Oeste

December 2, 2010

The tango magazine ad for La Yumba de Dorita says the milonga runs from 6:00-1:00, so I arrived at 7:00.  A tango class for beginners was in progress on the main floor; the milonga is held upstairs.  Club Oeste is a neighborhood sports club in Caballito.

I was warmly welcomed by Dorita.  I asked her permission to take photos and film during the milonga.  A woman whom I never met before approached my table to express her sadness about the passing of Roberto Angel Pujol.  Needless to say, I was surprised.  She had no idea that Roberto and I danced and taught together.  It was comforting to know that others miss him as much as I do.  Roberto went everywhere to dance during more than fifty years in the milongas.

I went to Club Oeste for the first time after a milonguera told me she dances there on Sunday, but I forgot to ask her what time to go.  Lala finally arrived at 9:30 and invited me to sit at her table.  We were joined much later by José María and Daniel, two milonguero friends of Lala.  The music was very good, and the floor was never crowded.  I expected La Cumparsita at 1:00, but the dancing continued until 2:00. 

Clubes de barrio

March 6, 2009

club-social-y-deportivo-juventud-de-belgranoClub Social y Deportivo Juventud de Belgrano — Virrey Aviles 3153 in Belgrano R

This was one of many neighborhood clubs where orchestras performed on Saturday nights in the 1940s. Miguel Angel Balbi went there regularly in the 1950s.


club-atletico-velez-sarsfield-versallesClub Atlético Veléz Sarsfield — Juan B. Justo 9200 — Versalles

My first tango teacher was Danel who taught in New York City and now is enjoying his retirement in Phoenix, Arizona.  This is one of the clubs where he danced as a teenager before moving to the USA.  The photo isn’t the actual club where he danced in the 1940s, but the new existing stadium.


club-atletico-defensores-de-chacaritaClub Atlético Defensores de Chacarita — Elcano 3831 — Chacarita

Amanda Lucero and Rodolfo Cesar Indegno mentioned this club as one of their favorite places to dance.  There is no dancing there anymore.


Club Social y Deportivo Buenos Aires — Gaona Avenida and Av. San Martin in Caballito

There is no photograph to show of this club since it was demolished several years ago to construct an apartment building.  Miguel Angel Balbi told me that he went regularly on Sunday nights in the 1950s when dances were held in the outdoor soccer court.  My friend Diana sighed when I mentioned Club Buenos Aires where she danced in the 1990s.

Dante Cespi was the organizer at Club Social y Deportivo Buenos Aires.  He was introduced one night by Oscar Hector Malagrino at Club Glorias Argentinas in July 2003, so I took the opportunity to ask him about how dances used to be.  He was 83 years old then and recalled when 78rpm records were all they had for dances.

club-telegrafo-y-crisol-unidos-parque-chacabucoClub Telegrafo y Crisol Unidos –Saraza 951 — Parque Chacabuco

This is the club where Osvaldo Centeno attended a practica with other neighborhood boys.  

Milongas are being held at this club.

Clubes de barrio

March 5, 2009

circulo-social-y-deportivo-sin-rumbo-villa-urquizaCirculo Social y Deportivo Sin Rumbo — Tamborini 6157 – Villa Urquiza

The entrance wall is full of photographs of tango personalities who have been to the club.  For almost 90 years it has been a traditional place to dance, known as La Catedral del Tango.  The only occasion I went there was in July  2002, for a special event organized by Oscar Hector Malagrino.  Julio Dupláa and his wife organize Friday nights where they provide traditional tango music.


Club América del Sud
Francisco Bilbao 3760
Parque Avellaneda

They have a salon with a wood floor for their regular Saturday night dances that have been held for many years.






Club Atlético Huracán Av. Caseros 3159 Parque Patricios

This club’s history dates back to 1903.  During the 1940s dances were held on Saturdays.  Ernesto Jorge De Gouvea once told me that he would give his right index finger to have one night the way it was at Club Huracán.  It must have been very special for him.  Dances were held ten years ago in the confiteria of the club.




Asociación de Fomento y Biblioteca Popular Mariano Acosta
Mariano Acosta 1544
Parque Avellaneda

Saturday night dances






Club Social y Deportivo  Estudiantes del Norte
Holmberg 4070

Dances haven’t been held in this club since March 2000. Saavedra was the neighborhood of tango singer Roberto Goyaneche.

Clubes de barrio

March 3, 2009

club-fulgor-de-villa-crespoClub Social y Deportivo Fulgor de Villa Crespo – Loyola 828 — Villa Crespo

With so many immigrants moving into the neighborhood, there was a need for a club to get the kids off the street.  In 1933, Osvaldo Pugliese and the other founding members decided to organize the club which currently has dances on Thursday and Sunday. 




club-social-cultural-y-deportivo-bohemios-la-bocaClub Social, Cultural y Deportivo Bohemios  — Necochea 948 in La Boca

This club was founded July 9, 1938, to create a place in the neighborhood for social dancing which was so popular.  Club Bohemios still has dancing every Saturday night.


club-bristol-parque-patriciosClub Bristol — La Rioja 1869 in Parque Patricios

I went to Luis “Pirucho” Ferrari’s birthday asados every April in Club Bristol when he invited all his friends from the milonga.  Cacho and Raquel helped Pirucho and his wife prepare a feast for us.  He had hopes of organizing a milonga in the club, but it never happened.  In the 1980s the club hosted weekend dances when teachers Antonio Todaro and Mingo Pugliese were  among those in attendance.


Club Oeste - Caballito

Club Oeste
Alberdi 436

Where Miguel Angel Balbi danced Thursdays during the 1950s.

Clubes de barrio

March 1, 2009


sunderland-club-villa-urquizaSunderland Club – Lugones 3161 in Villa Urquiza

I have been there only once to film El Flaco Dany performing with Muma on June 24, 2001.  It’s too far for me to travel alone to dance.  Dances are held in the basketball court with the music of Mario Orlando, who uses Milonga Triste for the cortina.  It’s a social gathering of locals, foreigners and dance professionals, Saturday nights hosted by Graciela and Carlos Matera.

photo: Man Yung (2009)

photo: Man Yung (2009)

Club Social y Deportivo Glorias Argentinas – Bragado 6875 in Mataderos

There is a large salon with a family atmosphere where Oscar Hector Malagrino hosts Saturday nights.  He pays tribute to dancers and musicians every week because he knows just about everyone in tango.  Oscar Hector opened his first milonga in 1963.  Most dancers arrive early for dinner before dancing. There is a mixture of ages with traditional tango with cumbia, salsa and jazz.

My first visit to Glorias Argentinas was in July 2003, the night that milonguero Juan Topalian was being honored.  He spoke about the way dances were organized there when he was a young man.  He said there were no tables, only chairs along the wall where the girls were seated with their older sisters and friends.  All the boys stood in the middle of the room, from where they invited a girl to dance with a head gesture.  If the girls didn’t accept a boy’s invitation, he had to remain standing all night long.  Juan said that even during the hot summer months, all the young men wore suits and ties, and the girls wore a different dress each week.

club-premier-caballitoClub Premier – Campichuelo 472 in Caballito

The club has an outdoor soccer court in the rear where dances with an orchestra were held in the 1950s.  I went to Premier on December 8, 2001, when Elisa Fardella and her partner Antonio organized a special night for milongueros to recall the summer nights they danced at Club Premier.  I filmed Pedro Sanchez, Jose Luis Aceto, Roberto Alvarez, Mario Alan Candamil, Osvaldo Centeno, Juan Topalian, Ernesto Delgado, Miguel Angel Balbi, and Eduardo Naldi dancing and recalling the nights they had at Club Premier.  It’s where Ernesto Delgado met the woman he married.

Clubes de barrio

February 28, 2009

This is the first in a series about the clubes de barrio.  They were built to provide a place for cultural, social, and sports activities in the neighborhoods, including tango dances on the weekend. 



Club Social y Deportivo Pinocho – Manuela Pedraza 5139 — Villa Urquiza


Sandra Cameron Studio, NYC (Nov 1997)

I went to Club Pinocho in March 1996, during my first visit to Buenos Aires.  Carlos Copello, who performed with Alicia Monti in Una noche de tango,  recommended this club de barrio to our group.  It was a long taxi ride from our hotel.  None of us danced with any of the locals since it was a Saturday night attended by couples.  I remembered seeing this couple at Club Pinocho, and a year later Miguel Zotto hired them to tour with his show Una noche de tango in New York City.  Alfredo and Nora Leguizamón along with El Pibe Palermo and his partner Norma never imagined in their wildest dreams they would be dancing on stage in the Big Apple.  The show was named “best dance show” in 1998 by Clarin.




Club Atlético Atlanta  – Humboldt 374 in Villa Crespo

This is the club where Maria Nieves went at the age of 12 to watch the dancing with her sister Naty.  Two years later she started learning to dance with the boys at the club.  She eventually met Juan Carlos Copes, and the rest is history.  They brought tango to New York City in the 1950s, where they struggled to get any work they could as dancers.  Years later, they traveled the world with the show Tango Argentino, which premiered in Paris in 1983.


club-pedro-echague-parque-avellanedaClub Cultural y Deportivo Pedro Echagüe – Portela 836 in Parque Avellaneda

The club has been hosting a peña de tango every Saturday night since 1974.  It’s not a milonga since singles are not allowed.  Couples have dinner and then dance tango and salsa.  It is one of my favorite places to go with a partner.

This is the club where Miguel Angel Balbi, Ernesto Delgado, and Hector Delgado took their wives for dinner and dancing on Saturday nights.

Circulo Apolo Machain - Saavedra


Círculo Apolo Machain – Machain 3517 – Saavedra

Founded March 15, 1936 – Dances held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Villa Malcolm

January 25, 2009


This is Club Social y Deportivo Villa Malcolm founded in 1928 and located at Avenida Cordoba 5064 in Palermo Viejo.  The large salon with stage was a venue for tango during many decades past.  In 1998, Jose Hernandez organized a milonga there with Carlos Lafflito, deejay.  I celebrated my 50th birthday with them.   Today Villa Malcolm  is the temple of the tango nuevo movement.


Lafflito & Hernandez

Lafflito & Hernandez

Eduardo Naldi

November 9, 2008



November 9, 1932 — September 23, 2004

I haven’t seen Eduardo for many years since the photo of him was taken at Lo de Celia. He loved dancing to jazz as well as tango. I called the telephone number he gave me years ago and was surprised when I reached his wife Ilda Chirino at their home in Caballito. She informed me that he had passed four years ago.

Club Premier is a sports club at Campichuelo 472 in the neighborhood of Caballito where Eduardo lived. Elisa and Antonio held a one-night-only milonga on the outdoor soccer court on December 8, 2001. Eduardo was there. I remember asking him how it felt to return to the club where he danced on Saturday nights as a young man. He smiled and said it brought back lots of memories. He and many other milongueros returned to dance under the stars on an unseasonably cool night where they had danced as young men. I captured that special night on film for Elisa “La Tana.”

Tandas at the milonga

July 22, 2008

A tanda is a set of four dances followed by a change of music (called the “cortina”) for dancers to return to their tables. The deejay selects four pieces of music by the same orchestra with the same singer that were recorded around the same time in order to provide continuity in style and rhythm. The orchestras that played specifically for dancing recorded enough tangos for an entire night of tandas. Those who liked the recordings of Troilo would go to dance where the night was dedicated to his music. However, some orchestras have very few recordings of valses and milongas, so a deejay often has to blend different singers of the same orchestra to form a tanda.

The music of the milonga today is programmed differently from the way it was in the 1950s during the “golden age of the milongas,” (1948-1960) even though mostly the same recordings are used. The format of tandas was changed in the 1970s. Today, the common format is two tandas of tangos (alternating rhythmic and melodic), four valses, two tandas of tango, a tanda of milongas, etc., with only one tanda of latin (salsa, cumbia, merengue) and one tanda of jazz in the course of six hours. About three years ago, the city government restricted the milongas to playing only tango, vals, and milonga, but that law was changed to allow once again for other music to be played for dancing as it had been during the late 1940s and 1950s.

By questioning milongueros, I learned that there was a wide variety of dance music played in the milongas during the 1950s. The milongas of Buenos Aires originally included other dance music, including foxtrot, rumba, bolero, salsa, and jazz. In the 1940s, recordings were made on 78rpm vinyl discs that had to be carefully turned or changed for each dance. In the confiterias bailables, the deejay announced the orchestra, singer and titles for each tanda. For example, “vamos a bailar a Anibal Troilo con Francisco Fiorentino–Yo Soy El Tango, Toda Mi Vida, Cachirulo, Milongeando en El Cuarenta—two vocals with the same singer and then two instrumentals. The first three tangos I’ve mentioned were recorded on the same date—March 4, 1941—an example of how deejays carefully programmed a tanda for consistency of style and rhythm thereby providing a high quality of music for the discriminating tastes of the milongueros. They selected their partners according to the tanda.

Young milongueros went to the confiterias bailables in downtown where they could hear the recordings of their favorite orchestras. In the 1950s, there was competition among the milongas. The milongueros wanted to hear different music each night of the week. The deejay’s knowledge and music collection was key to a milonga’s success.

The cortina music was played very low while dancers were returning to their tables, and it continued for five minutes in order to allow dancers to rest, smoke, retire to the ladies’ or men’s rooms, or have a drink. The atmosphere of the milonga was certainly more relaxed than it is today. People dressed elegantly. Men always wore suits and ties, even in the summer months when there was no air-conditioning, so they needed time to rest. It’s common today for deejays to play 30-45 seconds of different music for each cortina at a high volume like nightclubs. There is no thought of resting after a tanda these days where the milonga is more like a gymnasium for a workout. Sweat on the brow and the perspiration-soaked clothing proves it.

There is tango for the milonga (i.e., Troilo), tango for dancing (i.e., Osvaldo Pugliese), and tango for listening (i.e., Carlos Gardel). A deejay has to know the difference in order to provide quality tandas for a milonga. The orchestras of the milongueros are Anibal Troilo, Ricardo Tanturi, Miguel Calo, Carlos Di Sarli, Angel D’Agostino, Pedro Laurenz and Enrique Francini/Armando Pontier. The orchestra of Osvaldo Pugliese performed for large dances every Friday night at Salon La Argentina on Rodriguez Pena. The orchestras of Osvaldo Fresedo, Lucio Demare, and Julio De Caro performed regularly in the downtown cabarets where there were two orchestras alternating half hour sets between tango and jazz. The orchestras of Rodolfo Biaggi, Juan D’Arienzo, and Roberto Firpo were popular in the neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. Of course today, the music of these orchestras and others are included in tandas at the milonga.


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