Live from Luna Park

August 21, 2017

The finals of the Tango World Cup in Buenos Aires will be broadcast live on public television.  Tune in a 19 hs BA time for the tango de la pista finals on Tuesday, August 22 and the stage finals on Wednesday, August 23.

Martha Garcia

August 7, 2017

August 7, 19–

Martha is always elegantly dressed for the milonga.  She and Giovanna (right) are the glamour girls of any milonga.

Isn’t that my photo?

August 3, 2017

This is the photo I took in Centro Region Leonesa in December 2011, of milonguero Chino Perico (aka Ricardo Ponce).  I’m not a professional photographer, but I don’t like my photos or blog posts being used without permission or credit.

Today I was browsing the city’s cultural agenda and found the Tango Festival and World Cup schedule.  Chino Perico is giving a class during the festival, and my photo appears in the site.

I have a photographic memory.

Nonstop dancing

August 2, 2017

They were sitting right behind me in Obelisco Tango.  I heard the woman speaking in English with another friend at the table.  When she got up to dance with the taxi dancer, I went to talk with the friend.  She said that Anita is from NYC and was there for two hours of dancing.

Later I introduced myself to Anita, and we got to know one another in a matter of an hour.  She mentioned several times that “I’m paying him to dance with me,” and she didn’t want to sit out a tanda.  She was in Buenos Aires for a conference until Saturday, and she decided to make a point of dancing tango, too.

There are so many milongas in NYC, though I know things are different there.  She was curious about why all the men were on one side of the floor and the women on the opposite side.  She asked if there were any couples at the milonga.  She didn’t know much Spanish, and her taxi dancer didn’t speak much English.  She was happy anyway.

“In New York, we do lots of fancy steps in tango.  Why is everyone just walking to the music?”  Well, I explained, in Buenos Aires it’s what you feel in the music that matters, not the steps.

Why don’t you give close embrace a try with your dance partner?  You may even like it.  After all, you’re in Buenos Aires and have an Argentine partner.  He was willing to try, and so was she.  I took out my camera to record a short video of them.  The smile on her face as she returned to the table was confirmation that she liked it. That was her last tanda.

I tried convincing her to stay at the milonga after her taxi dancer’s time had expired, but he escorted her to the hotel in a taxi.  We were so engaged in conversation that she forgot to pay the drink bill.  The waitress spoke with me about it, and I paid it.

I gave Anita my card so I could send her the photo and the video of her night at Obelisco when she writes.  She’s back in NYC now.  I hope I’ll still be dancing tango when I reach her age.

Ariel Romero

August 1, 2017

August 1, 1934 —

Ariel and Liliana are living in Mar del Plata for the last ten years, and their visits to Buenos Aires milongas are infrequent.  They came over the independence day weekend.  I was glad to see them after more than a year.  I have a good memory for milongueros’ birthdays and asked him if I could take photos for the blog.  Then a vals tanda began, and I wasn’t surprised that Ariel was almost dashing to the dance floor with Liliana.  I captured part of the vals here.

Miguel Antonio Figueroa

July 31, 2017

July 31, 1937 —

Miguel danced with an American friend during her once-in-a-lifetime visit to Buenos Aires several years ago.  Dancing with him was special for her during her three-week stay with many happy memories.

Miguel likes to hug after every dance, and they feel wonderful.

Name that tune

July 30, 2017

I hadn’t been to Club Gricel since October and was pleasantly surprised to see a projection screen on the wall on Thursday night at La Cachilla.  There’s no more guessing which orquesta or tune you’re dancing to — the information is on the screen.  What a great idea for those who wants to learn more about tango.  The deejay uses a special software program that automatically displays the name of the orquesta, the title of the tune, and its composer.

An interception from left field

July 25, 2017

I wasn’t wearing my glasses yesterday in El Maipu de Lucy y Dany, yet I didn’t have a problem seeing that Carmelo was looking directly at me for the next tanda.  I accepted with a smile.  He was right next to the bar at the first table, no more than twelve feet from me.  I was at my usual table in the second row. I got up to join him and saw another woman arrived to dance with him.  I returned to my table.

A man saw what happened and invited me for the tanda.  I accepted.  As we entered the floor, Carmelo apologized to me for the interception, although it wasn’t clear to me.  I let him know it wasn’t a problem.

Later Carmelo invited me for a tanda.  There was no doubt in my mind that he invited me, since there were no other women near me.  He explained that he invited me to dance earlier, not the other woman.  She entered the milonga after smoking a cigarette outside and took advantage of the moment for a very convenient interception while walking by.  She made no apology for it.  I refer to them as piranhas.  Her table was on the opposite end of the room.  We laughed about it.

Name that tune

July 20, 2017

I began dancing with Enrique Rocenza this year in El Maipu.  He is interested in talking about the music, and nothing else, although he admitted he has danced tango since he was 15 years old.  Deejays learn the music when they build a collection and then program tandas for milongas.  I learned most of what I know about the tango recordings between dances from the milongueros viejos.

Enrique invited me for the Troilo tanda yesterday.  After the first tune, he said, I can’t tell if this is Milongueando en el cuarenta, Cachirulo, or Guapeando.  They all sound alike to me.  I can relate to how Enrique feels; there was a time when I confused El Choclo with La Cumparsita!  I confidently told Enrique that we danced to Milongueando, and that the next tune was Cachirulo.  When we finished dancing the second tune, we were close to the DJ booth to ask Brian.  Was that Milongueando followed by Cachirulo?  He confirmed so.

Later in the evening, Enrique and I danced Juan D’Arienzo.  He told me the name of the first tune, and then when the second one began, he asked if I could name it.  La Bruja, I said.  “Correct, he replied in my ear while we danced.  Most women I dance with don’t know anything about the music.”

The way it was

July 20, 2017

I had a strong feeling that my days at this milonga were numbered after 16 years, so I wanted to remember things as they were in the end with photos.  The family members know me with a camera in hand.

I wanted to capture the way it was in my second home before I was no longer welcome.  Dancers talk about the milongas and word gets around.  New management was making changes, and dancers were not happy.  I listened to the complaints, but I am the only who writes about them. Several years ago I wrote on an open forum about a milonga organizer who was dancing at her milonga and kept me waiting ten minutes for a table.  Most organizers know their job is taking care of dancers, but she didn’t.  She heard about my post and told me I wasn’t welcome.  I was banned from one milonga, and I was ready for number two.

I know that there are many who are willing to remain silent, grit their teeth, and continue attending–all for tango.  That wasn’t the case for me.  I wrote about what was happening to my milonga home.  My comments reached the eyes of the new owners, as I knew they would.  One day I was personally escorted out the door after my entrada was returned. I went around the corner to Obelisco Tango which hosts milongas every day of the week, with many familiar faces from this milonga.

We all had our regular tables where we were comfortable.  These men sat together every Sunday.  There are no reserved seats anymore.

This milonga was different; it was like family when Celia was here. Everyone who went on Sundays felt the same.  You can see it in the photos.

Celia created a place for dancing.  She didn’t hire orquestas or professionals to perform, because she knew that her people came to dance.  When attendance was low, she offered free or reduced admission the first hour to fill the salon — and it worked.  She always charged less than other milongas.  It made sense to charge less than to close the doors.

The employees were there to do their jobs and take care of us.  And they always did it with a smile and courtesy.  They enjoyed working for Celia.

The staff worked together like a happy family.

It was nice being greeted by name at the door as you welcome a friend to your home.  That’s why this milonga was a home for so many of us.  It has changed over the past year now that Celia is gone.

Now there is only one milonga hosted by the owners.  Wednesday closed months ago.  Saturday has another organizer for almost a year.  Sunday is holding on for its life.  Alberto Frezza and Edit Lopez arranged to rent the salon on Friday nights. After eight weeks, they had built a regular following and had a viable milonga.  Then the owners demanded 25% more rent for the salon which they refused to pay.  They are looking for another venue.  The Friday milonga is now a pena folklorico starting July 21.

These are other stories I heard just this week through the tango grapevine.  If you want a tiny bucket of ice for your drink, you have to pay for it.  Ice!  The man who asked why was told if he didn’t like it, he could go elsewhere by the owner.  What’s next? Paying for napkins?  The raffle for a bottle of champagne is now only a glass of champagne.  I laughed hysterically when a friend told me this one yesterday.

I saw a neighbor the other day who still goes there on Sunday.  He said there are very few attending, but “it’s my home, so I go.”  The owners don’t get it.  You don’t just open the doors, expect people to show up, hand you their money and go home happy.  Celia took care of her dancers.  How long can a milonga survive with 40 in a salon that holds 150?