Homogenized and prepackaged tango

July 26, 2018

Today the dancing is all so homogenized and prepackaged for exhibition. You don’t see social dancers wearing dresses with high slits, but that’s standard for exhibition couples today. You don’t see social dancers standing six feet apart to begin a dance, but that’s how “salon” is marketed today. Most of what is done in today’s exhibitions is a far cry from actual social dancing in the milongas of BsAs. While the champions are doing their perfect choreographies, social tango is falling by the wayside. When the masses no longer dance socially, it will be the death of tango. Dance floors aren’t big enough for all the egos that want attention.

 

Originally posted to Dance Forum, Jan. 17, 2014

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Hugo Diaz

July 19, 2018

January 18, 1948 – July 18, 2018

Hugo started dancing tango late in life.  He was too busy working long hours as a bus driver.  Then he bought a service station on the highway and turned it over to his sons to manage. They live very well, thanks to Hugo’s hard work.

He loved tango so much that we went every evening to the milongas at Obelisco Tango, Lo de Celia, Club Gricel, Nuevo Chique and others.  Smoking was another habit of his.  He had a heart attack at home.

It is unfortunate that Hugo couldn’t realize his dream of organizing a milonga in the lower level of his historical landmark house on Chile in Montserrat.  The project was  started years ago with an architect, but his sons, who are joint owners of the house, didn’t have any interest in it.  Hugo rented rooms to foreign tango visitors.

 

Antonio Busto

July 15, 2018

September 29, 1936 — June 28, 2018

Antonio started dancing when he was 14 or 15 years old, practicing with other boys in the neighborhood. His favorite orchestras were Anibal Troilo (with Francisco Fiorentino) and Osvaldo Pugliese. It’s difficult to talk about the milongas without making comparisons about the way they were and the way they are today with so many foreigners. He said there is so much mediocrity in the milongas. He mentioned the places he went to dance in his younger years: Club Buenos Aires, Club Oeste, Club Premier, Club Social Rivadavia, and Palacio Rivadavia. Everyone danced well in Club Buenos Aires, his favorite place. He is sorry to see men wearing sneakers in the milongas. Although he says that many foreigners dance well, they are completely changing the milongas of Buenos Aires.  How true.

Antonio was one of only two milongueros who went to visit Alito in the hospital and the geriatrico.  He stopped dancing in the milongas six years ago after a stroke and dealing with Parkinson’s.  Video

His son Ruben wrote me through this blog to let me know of Antonio’s passing.

Buenos Aires is a great city for retirement

June 15, 2018

Retirement has its perks, and one of them is free time to talk with friends in the late afternoon over tea.  John Morton and I have done this regularly during his visits over the last few years.

Bar de Cao on Av. Independencia and only one block from my apartment, was our afternoon place for tea and long talks.  It’s more than 100 years old and is a preserved historical landmark.

This is tea service at the Eloisa Coffee Shop.

Tea time, known as merienda in Buenos Aires, is a tradition for late afternoon since portenos don’t eat their last meal of the day until after 21 hs.  Cafe con leche or te con medialunas is perfect.

John is a regular customer of the Eloisa Coffee Shop (corner of Riobamba & Peron) which has a casual atmosphere.

We sat on the sofa in the rear for more than two hours, and no one asked us to pay the bill and leave.  Most cafes have the daily newspapers for their customers.

Our next outing was to the historic corner of Cafe de Los Angelitos (Av. Rivadavia y Junin) where the Gardel/Razzano duo once performed for patrons.

The waiter easily convinced us pan dulce would go so well with our tea.  It was the best.  We could have ordered another serving, but we both resisted the temptation.

The service is excellent, and the atmosphere feels like you’ve gone back in time to the 1920s.  Photos of tango celebrities cover the walls, and there’s a dinner/tango show in the intimate theater.

We were walking in the Retiro neighborhood one afternoon, so we made a point of going to the French Embassy mansion so Claudine could see it for the first time.  When it started to rain, I suggested we stop at Cafe Bonjour Paris on Uruguay near Santa Fe.

There is seating inside and on this small patio.

Today, June 15, is John’s birthday, and his age is a closely guarded secret.

Claudine and John shared a decadent dessert, and I watched them devour it.

After seeing an exhibition of Latin-American art at MALBA in Palermo Chico, we had merienda at Ninina next to the museum.  Claudine and John ordered tea and French-style pastries, and I had a delicious juice blend of kale, green apple, lemon, mint, and ginger.

It was a beautiful day for having tea outdoors in nature.

Buenos Aires is a great city for retirement where there is always time for sharing beautiful afternoons for merienda and conversation with tango friends.

What would you miss most if you left Argentina?

May 9, 2018

That question was the title of a thread on BAexpats.org by a man from the UK.  Many reasons quickly popped into my head that resulted in my post:

I’d miss being greeted on the street by the neighbors
I’d miss being greeted by name at stores
I’d miss the blue sky and lovely warm days
I’d miss walking this beautiful city
I’d miss all the incredible free concerts the city offers in dozens of venues all year-long
I’d miss walking at the ecological reserve and Palermo park
I’d miss tango dancing with lifelong milongueros
I’d miss the magnificent architecture of the city
I’d miss connecting with friendly portenos in daily life
I’d miss all the hug and kisses I receive and give to friends and acquaintances in this grand city

I will never leave Argentina.

Then today I noticed that someone quoted and liked my post.  That person wrote the following:

I love your posts and your passion for this city. This forum is often used as an outlet for people to express their frustration with living in Argentina as an expat, which I completely understand, but your posts serve as a constant reminder of all the reasons to come in the first place, and reasons to continue living in Buenos Aires. Your free concerts thread is one of the best things on the forum!

I will admit that it touched me and caused immediate sniffling.

Six years of Cumbre de Tango

April 28, 2018

The first program was broadcast on April 29, 2012, in the studios of Mundo Sur on Avenida de Mayo.  Chino Fanel does the broadcast live every Saturday from 1:00-3:00 pm BA time.  Listen to Chino’s excellent selections of tango recordings on Facebook or MundoSurFM.

Ismael Heljalil

April 25, 2018

August 30, 1929 – April 22, 2018

Just as I was about to change my shoes to go home, Dany and Lucy made the announcement about Ismael.  He was dearly loved by all who knew him.  Everyone stood and applauded him.  He passed away at home.

Buenos Aires is a great city for retirement

April 22, 2018

I remember being excused early from school when I was in third grade with a few other students so we could go downtown to attend the Chicago Symphony Youth concerts at Orchestra Hall.  That was my first subscription to the symphony.  We sat at the very top of the hall in the gallery, looking straight down at the orchestra on stage.  Years later in my 20s, I had a subscription to the evening concerts.

I’ve attended concerts throughout my life, but never have I attended several each week as I do in Buenos Aires.  There are three symphonic orchestras in Buenos Aires: Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional, Orquesta Filarmonica de Buenos Aires, and Orquesta Estable del Teatro Colon.  All three offer free concerts in addition to the subscription concerts by the OFBA and OETC.

The first free concert of the season by the Orquesta Filarmonica de Buenos Aires was Friday night in Usina del Arte in La Boca.  I went to the Teatro Colon box office on Thursday morning for two free tickets.  Mi Primera Sinfonia (My First Symphony) is a series of six concerts.  The conductor explained those concerts will feature the first symphonies which aren’t performed as often as their later works.  Dvorak’s first symphony has glaring composition errors written when he was 24.  First symphonies programmed are Beethoven (May 11), Nielsen (May 24), Sibelius (Sept 24), Prokofiev (Oct 26), and Max Bruch (Nov 10).

I enjoy retirement with so many free concerts throughout the year in Buenos Aires.  It’s a concertgoers’ paradise.

Hector Giocci

April 21, 2018

April 21, 1936 —

What I wouldn’t give to dance one tanda with Hector, but that’s impossible because he dances exclusively with his lovely partner Sara Esposito.

Buenos Aires is a great city for retirement

April 20, 2018

You probably think this photo is in a bar or cafe in Buenos Aires.  Actually it is in the newest subway station at Las Heras on the H line along Jujuy/Puerreydon.  I discovered it for the first time this month as I was exiting the station after my first ride to Las Heras in Barrio Norte.  I heard the pianist playing a familiar tune that got me to stop and listen.  He was playing, What a Wonderful World, and I began singing along.  When he finished, I said, I know that tune by Ray Charles.  He corrected me — no, it’s Louis Armstrong.  Right!  I thanked him for his beautiful interpretation of a tune with inspiring lyrics.  With all that’s happening in the world today, we need a reminder that life is wonderful.

Music is everywhere in this city — you’ll hear musicians on the subway trains, too.  This is one of many reasons I am grateful to live in Buenos Aires.