After putting in two years of long hours, Jamie managed a month off from work in Hong Kong to dance in the milongas and study bandoneon.
Warmer weather has finally arrived in Buenos Aires after a long winter. I couldn’t help noticing that my friend Eduardo Ereson was the only man wearing a suit at Obelisco Tango.
Eduardo always makes a point of dressing well. He lives in Berazategui, south of the capital in the province of Buenos Aires. On Wednesday, his travel time was two hours on the bus!
Eduardo proves how easy it is to dress well on a budget. He buys at street fairs. His suit, shirt, tie, and leather shoes cost a total of fifty-six pesos. He would rather save his retirement income for a worthier cause — feeding the dogs and cats in his animal refuge.
We danced four or five tandas, and he never removed his jacket.
December 8, 1924 —
Blanca attends the milonga of Lola and Dorita on Sunday in Obelisco Tango. I recorded her dancing jazz with Carlos.
Yes, she’s 92 years young!
I’d been having internet connection problems for months every time I tried to open a new window. I finally arrived at the point that I was without internet at home on November 21. Calls for technical service with the local phone company didn’t get results. The only one I could turn to for help was my friend John Morton, who just happened to be in Buenos Aires. He came over on November 25 to have a look. The Ethernet connection didn’t work, nor did the disk drive. A computer shop person said the cable was good, but the old router was the problem. Believe it or not, I still haven’t gone from broadband to WIFI.
I brought my notebook over to John’s apartment so he could try everything out there. He had to reinstall programs and got everything in working order after laboring many hours on the weekend. I stopped by this afternoon when John showed me how things work with a new system. I have to upload some programs I had before, and I’m so grateful to John for making my notebook work again. I went to a public internet space several times last week.
I was without my notebook for two weeks. It was nice to unwind and relax. I have a backlog of emails and posts to write for the blog. I’ll get to them.
December 4, 1928 —
I called Pocho about a month ago to see how he was since I hadn’t seen him for some time. He promised he would come to Obelisco Tango on a Sunday soon.
The waiter told me that a gentleman several tables down paid for my drink. I had arrived only minutes earlier and hadn’t noticed Pocho was there. He invited me for the Calo tanda and then reminded me it was his birthday. He went to the milonga on the corner and then came to Lola and Dorita’s in Obelisco to dance with me.
Once upon a time…
There were no tourists in the milongas, only portenos. All the men wore suits and ties. Women wore dresses. There was respect for the codes, and men did the inviting. You were given a front row table for your excellent dance skills. Men and women wore street shoes for tango.
Today, foreigners are present in most of the milongas, but that wasn’t the case twenty years ago. Men aren’t the only ones wearing pants or doing the inviting. Anything goes these days in the milongas — shorts, sneakers, jeans. Casual dress is more common for men and women. Women change clothing and shoes, pack a bag, comb their hair, touch up their makeup at the table as if no one is watching. All the women wear shoes made for tango. First-time visitors get a front row table on the dance floor and then dance tandas with milongueros without knowing how to dance well or anything about the milonga codes.
A friend and I were discussing change and the evolution of tango. We agree that change is inevitable in life. A dance originates from the music. We listen to the same music from the 1930s and 40s. Personal styles don’t change. Tango is a feeling danced by two. The embrace is basic. The dance is different, and so is the embrace. Today we have “thinking tango” and “feeling tango.” It’s not difficult to tell them apart.
I danced recently with a man from Europe. He moved well with the music, but he lacked the firm embrace I’m used to with portenos. Although he has visited Buenos Aires many times to dance in the milongas and has taken classes with portenos, his embrace was typical for foreigners. He dances tango, but hasn’t integrated the feeling of tango with an embrace. He prefers to use the embrace from his country even when dancing in Buenos Aires. I believe the main reason tango is changing is lack of cultural understanding and commercialism.
An example of tango’s evolution gone awry appeared on the cover of a tango magazine. Two shirtless men with bare legs in high heels was the most shocking cover photo I had ever seen. This style is sold as tango in Buenos Aires and around the world. If men want to dance with men, and women with women, that’s fine; but they show respect for tango as a social dance with codes.