Lots to smile about

April 10, 2022

If you could see me right now in front of the computer writing this post, you would see me smiling.  Every morning while I walk around the plaza, I’m smiling.  People can see me smiling because I don’t cover my face.  I prefer to inhale oxygen that I need to stay alive.

I attended an oboe and piano recital at Teatro Colon on Thursday. I didn’t cover my face and no one insisted that I do so.  I saw there were many members of the audience without a mask as well.  I enjoyed seeing the face of Stefania from Colombia who shared the third tier box with me.  She also studied oboe, so we connected.

I enjoy watching the videos that Jonatan Rojas posts on Facebook during his milongas in Lo de Celia Tango Club.  While watching a recent video, I finally noticed that no one on the dance floor had their faces covered.

Then Saturday evening I attended a concert in Recoleta.  I entered smiling as usual and saw others didn’t have their faces covered, including the musicians of the Camarata de la Ciudad. That’s a personal decision now.  People who don’t wear masks smile more.

It’s nice breathing naturally whether dancing tango or listening to a live concert.  The shift is happening in the city of Buenos Aires.  The mask mandate is no more.  We are free to make our own choice after two years.  I feel sorry for those who are so accustomed to wearing a mask outdoors that it may take time for them to break the habit that served no purpose.

Sara Esposito

February 4, 2022

February 4, 1943 —

One of the best couples dancing in the milongas.  It’s all about feeling the music for them.

Cheek to cheek

January 26, 2022

Years had passed since I danced at the Wednesday milonga in Lo de Celia.  Finally, on December 1, I attended Barajando, organized by Jonatan Rojas and Norma Avalos.  One tanda that evening was especially memorable.  The orquesta was Carlos Di Sarli.  My partner was Raymond Fonk from Holland.  We know each other through tango chats on Zoom, but we had never danced together even though Lo de Celia is our favorite milonga.

After his invitation, I got up quickly from the table and hurried to the the floor.  I realized I had forgotten to put on my mask and didn’t want to return for it.  Raymond then decided he would remove his mask.  No problem. We danced the beautiful selection of Di Sarli tangos selected by Daniel Borelli. I surrendered to his embrace.  Wearing masks while dancing completely changes one important element of tango.  It’s danced cheek to cheek.  Other tandas did not have the same intimacy for me with a barrier by the masks.  It was more sensual with his smooth cheek against mine and feeling his breath pass my ear.  Dancing cheek to cheek with Raymond was the only way I want and know to dance tango.  The masks interfere with the intimacy of tango.  Anyone who has danced tango cheek to cheek knows that wearing masks is not the same.  Dancers will be happier when the protocol to wear masks in the milongas is over. All they do is deprive dancers of the oxygen they need.

An old song comes to mind, and I want to share some of the lyrics.

“Cheek to Cheek” was composed by Irving Berlin in 1934-35 for his new musical “Top Hat” starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Heaven, I’m in heaven
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak
And I seem to find the happiness I seek
When we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek
Heaven, I’m in heaven
And the cares that hung around me through the week
Seem to vanish like a gambler’s lucky streak
When we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek
Oh I’d love to climb a mountain
And reach the highest peak
But it doesn’t thrill me half as much
As dancing cheek to cheek
I’d love to go out fishing
In a river or a creek
But I don’t enjoy it half as much
As dancing cheek to cheek

Eduardo Ereson

January 13, 2022

January 13, 1937 —

November 24, 2021, was my first time dancing in Lo de Celia after more than five years.  The orquesta of Carlos Di Sarli is at the top of my list.  When a tanda of Di Sarli began, there was only one milonguero in the salon with whom I wanted to dance.  That was Eduardo Ereson. We’ve danced many times in many venues since July 2010.  I closed my eyes and surrendered to the embrace. It was divine.  I had forgotten to put on a mask to dance, but it didn’t matter to me or Eduardo.  In fact, I never used a mask during four hours in Lo de Celia without comment.  Eduardo was panting after each tango because of the mask.

I returned a week later to Lo de Celia and danced three more tandas with Eduardo.  He lives south of the city in Berezatequi, which is a two-hour bus ride for him on Wednesday and Sunday to dance a few hours in Lo de Celia before taking the last bus home. This is proof of how much this milonguero loves to dance.  I asked Eduardo if he would allow me to film him talking about the milongas, and he consented.

Moises Mauas

January 7, 2022

December 4, 1928 — February 17, 2021

Today I came across Pocho’s phone number and decided to try once again to reach him after several unsuccessful attempts last year.  A man answered, but he wasn’t Pocho.  He told me that Pocho had passed about a year ago and gave me his daughter’s phone number.  I called her and left a message.  Minutes later she called me.  I gave her my email and asked her to write so I could send her the links to blog posts I wrote about her father.  This is one of the posts I wrote about Pocho from 2010.

Pocho and I talked by phone one day.  Like most boys of his era, he began learning tango at the age of 14.  Pocho claims he is “enfermo de tango” (ill from tango, in a good sense).  He went to hear Osvaldo Pugliese and his orchestra with Alberto Moran and Roberto Chanel in 1944.  He was going to the cabarets in the city when he was 18.  Pocho prefers the recordings from 1946 and later years.

Tango es la sensualidad de dos almas en un ritmo.  Tango is sensuality between two souls in one rhythm, says Pocho.  The woman dances, not the man.  She puts her hand on his right shoulder while dancing.  She caresses the floor with her feet to express the music for both of them.

Pocho has his table in front of the bar at Lo de Celia Tango Club every Sunday.  He eagerly awaits dancing a tanda of Pugliese.  This is a clip of Pocho dancing vals.  I gave him a DVD so he could see himself dancing for the first time and since then he pays for my drink.

What’s happening in Buenos Aires?

December 31, 2021

I can’t think of a better way to update the tango world on the latest situation in the milongas than by sharing a recent interview by Lucas Antonisse with Srini Vishnubhotla.

Olga Gómez

December 16, 2021

December 16, 1937 —

Last week I received a phone call from Olga.  We have been out of touch since before Roberto passed on three years ago at 98.  She said, do you know who this is? I recognized her voice immediately but needed a few seconds to remember her name.  She and Roberto were together for 15 years.  I met them at Salon El Pial, where Olga still goes dancing.  I am going to join her on a Sunday soon.  She also dances at Oscar Hector’s milonga at Salon Sur in Pompeya.  We talked about how great it is that the milongas have reopened.  Olga lives with her son in Parque Patricios.  He will search for all the photos posted of them on this blog and videos on YouTube that he can enjoy with his mother.

A visit to my second home

October 28, 2021

Yesterday I visited the place I’ve referred to as my second home in Buenos Aires for many years.  It is located only ten blocks from where I live.  My plan wasn’t to enter my second home, but to stay outside.  It was a pleasant surprise when someone else changed my plan for me.  The last time I entered my second home was September 18, 2016.  My second home was Lo de Celia.

I climbed these stairs to the salon on the first floor two or three times a week for 16 years.  I noticed that a few dancers were taking the steps more slowly.  It’s a challenge for those in their 70s and 80s, but they manage.  The descent is easier.

 

The first man who entered as I was stationed at the door was Jose Marcos, with whom I danced regularly.  I remember his soft embrace.  I recognized him with his mask on.

 

Then Eduardo Ereson (84) came down the stairs, as if he heard I was there.  After a brief chat, he went back upstairs to get Graciela Cano (82).  Both of them have a very long bus ride to the milonga. Eduardo travels 90 minutes by bus from Berezategui.  Graciela lives in Sarandi, both in the provincia of Buenos Aires.

 

Graciela came downstairs to the entrance to greet me.  She said she can only afford one milonga each week, so she comes on Wednesday to Lo de Celia.  The entrada is 400 pesos, which is less than three dollars for tourists.

Hector was the next milonguero who arrived.  Please note the suit and tie he’s wearing on a day when the afternoon temperature was 85F.  No sweat.

I’ve never seen this photo of Celia before, but I was pleased to see it prominently displayed with framed certificates for her milonga.

Jonatan Rojas invited me from the top of the stairs to come inside for a visit.  I accepted and once again climbed the stairway I knew so well.  He welcomed me back home!

Graciela and Eduardo finished the tanda and came by for another photo.

I was so happy seeing Dany Borelli after five years.  I’ve only seen him virtually during seminars.  He is a wealth of knowledge about tango music, and he has always been my absolute favorite DJ in the milongas.

I stood in the corner near the bar where I had a perfect view of the salon.  I couldn’t believe that I was actually in Lo de Celia after five years.  I enjoyed every moment. 

Dany asked Anna to join us for a photo.  Her previous job was in the kitchen, and now is one of two waitresses.

Then Dany got Jony to join us for a photo.  I couldn’t believe how my plans had changed into a big surprise.  It was more than I could have imagined.

This is the corner table by the bar that I occupied in my second home on Wednesdays and Sundays for at least ten years.  My chair was on the aisle, a perfect position for greeting those passing by. Jonatan always had a bottle of agua sin gas natural on the table when I returned from the first tanda.

Felisa and I hugged and kissed when she arrived.  She usually sat at the table in front of mine and often joined me later in the evening. It was so nice seeing her after many years.

I had to take a peek at the ladies room and was delighted to see the improvements.

Some faces were familiar, but I didn’t know their names.  It felt like I was going back in time.

The dancers removed their masks at the table, but wore them while dancing.  It won’t be long before the milongas will be mask-free!

These are the two women who cheerfully take care of the dancers with food and drinks.  I can tell they are smiling under the masks.

I felt even more at home when I saw all the dancers I could recognize even wearing masks.

Dany must have detected a problem with one of the speakers, so he and Jony took care of it while the dancing continued.

As I was leaving, Elba Estay, la madrina de Lo de Celia, arrived.  She didn’t recognize me with white hair.  I was glad I didn’t miss seeing her.

Nestor Perez Vidal was the next one to arrive.  He hasn’t changed a bit.

Then outside I saw Carlos Lombisano finishing his cigarette.  He recognized me, and we had a nice conversation.

I didn’t stop smiling for the entire hour I was in my second home, visiting with the family.  And my smile continued the rest of the night.

Rodolfo Outeda

October 23, 2021

October 23, 1940 —

                                     Salon Canning – October 15, 2000

Happy birthday, Rodolfo!

 

Juana Novau

October 22, 2021

October 21, 1932 —

I’ve been acquainted with Juanita and her family for 20 years, but this week I had my first opportunity to hear about her life in tango.  We spent five hours together in her apartment in Vicente Lopez talking about tango. I met her son Miguel Angel in the local tango scene when I lived in the US.  Juanita’s grandson Marcelo wanted to learn tango, so he came to Buenos Aires when he was only 12 to take lessons and dance with his grandmother.  When Miguel Angel saw  Marcelo dancing tango for the first time, that was the moment he decided he wanted to learn to dance tango.

Juanita’s son Miguel Angel De Biasi

Juanita began dancing at home when she was 9 years old and went to the neighborhood social club by 15.  She continued going to El Arranque in Nuevo Salon La Argentina until five years ago.  She made the hour-long trip by bus from Vicente Lopez in the province to downtown for a very good reason–Juanita loved dancing tango.

Juanita spent the winter months in Termas Rio Hondo, a town in the northern province of Santiago del Estero when she enjoyed dancing on the weekends for 26 years.  She was crowned Queen/Reina of the ball.

I couldn’t resist taking this photo of Juanita at the table showing her dancers’ legs.  She had the heels of her tango shoes modified.  Doesn’t she look as though she just nodded to a milonguero for the next tanda?

Juanita plans on visiting her family in Miami next year including a visit to Spain where she will get to meet some relatives for the first time.