Mario Calarota

January 16, 2021

March 16, 1936 —

Last night I decided to start calling the milongueros again on their birthdays as I had done for so many years.   Today I called Mario.  First, I had a long chat with his wife Carlota about their family in the USA and about videos I recorded over the years that they need to see.  I also mentioned the last time I saw Mario was at the final milonga of El Arranque on February 25, 2017, before Nuevo Salon La Argentina closed for conversion to a health club.  This is the photo I took of Mario at El Arranque.

Mario Papasaba

January 15, 2021

March 16, 1940 – November 3, 2020

During a Zoom tango chat this afternoon, I learned about the passing of Mario from his dearest friend Pedro Sanchez.  Pedro’s name came up in the discussion, so I offered to call him and invite him to join us. Our Friday afternoon chats are usually four hours long, and it was a pleasure for us having Pedro join us.  He told us how good it was to talk about tango with us.

Before writing this one, I read the eight posts I wrote about Mario from 2009 – 2016.  Pedro called Mario around the holidays because he hadn’t heard from him.  That was how he got the news of Mario’s passing.  I was saddened by the news. 

I’m glad that I recorded this video of Mario dancing in Lo de Celia.  It brings to mind how much I enjoyed dancing with Mario.

Antonio Ignacio Cejas

January 1, 2021

July 11, 1934 — December 2020


Always impeccably dressed for the milonga in a suit and tie, Antonio’s drink of choice was whiskey in Lo de Celia.

After many years in Buenos Aires, I’ve known many men in the milongas who use their middle name, not their first name.  For example, Carlos Gavito’s first name was Eduardo.  Jorge DeGouvea’s first name is Ernesto.  After many years dancing with Antonio, he told me his first name is Ignacio. I figured that he preferred using his middle name in the milongas. I wrote so many posts with Antonio as his first name, that I decided not to change it.  His name is Ignacio Antonio Cejas, but we all knew him as Antonio.

Who are these masked men at the milonga?

November 23, 2020

Last week a tango friend called to tell me about an outdoor milonga in the Palermo neighborhood on the weekend. I decided to check is out on Saturday night. I went mainly to see who was there, who was playing the music, and take photos to share on my blog and Facebook.

It’s been more than two years since I went to a milonga. I was curious to see if there were more young dancers or old dancers. Saturday night at 9:00pm was the perfect night for dancing outdoors in a park.

It doesn’t look like much, but things were just getting started. The deejay is on the left behind his portable boom box.  There is some seating on risers on the right.

I don’t know if the milonga is announced on social media or how people learned about it.   There was music, and people were dancing.  That was enough after eight months of no tango whatsoever in Buenos Aires.

These milongueros came to dance and didn’t waste any time.

This is Carlitos who is the organizer and programs the music.  I’ve known him for years in the milongas.  Thanks to him, dancers were back to doing what they love.

This area where the milonga began has circles painted on concrete.  It’s where children run through the fountain on hot summer days. 

Lights.  Music.  Tango.

When the roller skaters went home, the milonga moved to a larger area of smooth concrete.

You get the picture.  Dancers embraced.  Excellent music.  Perfect night.  I danced a lovely tanda of vals with Ruben for the first time. We both wore masks.

Roberto Bonavato

October 12, 2020

October 12, 1937 —

Roberto hasn’t gone to the milongas for several years, but I knew where to find him on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.  He and a few friends met regularly at a restaurant located two blocks from my apartment.  I was on my way home after a visit with tango friends from New Zealand when I happened to see Roberto chatting with friends at the corner restaurant.  I had my camera with me, and he smiled.  We share the same admiration for the music of Carlos Di Sarli.  I still remember dancing a tanda of Di Sarli with Roberto in Lo de Celia.

I walk past the restaurant, but I haven’t found Roberto and Carlos Greco talking with friends.  I know that their regular encounters with friends were suspended with the quarantine.

When he takes me in his arms, my body melts

October 11, 2020

I started reading a favorite book for the second time. The sentence above is from Henry and June by Anaïs Nin. It grabbed my attention when I read those words because they resonated in my body. Nin wrote those words in her diary of 1931, and I knew exactly what she meant when I read them. I was familiar with the feeling, because of the milongueros viejos.

I described it as melting when I danced with Alito in Regin during my November 1998 visit. I wrote about the profound experience in my travel diary.

Words can’t describe the feeling. You never know who will induce a melting experience while dancing tango. It’s as difficult as predicting the weather. You never anticipate it. It just happens, and you bask in the pleasure of it. If you are listening to the mental chatter in your head, you will never melt in his arms. Melting requires being in the moment.

I am grateful that my first melting experience came with my dear Alito. It confirmed that tango is not just another social dance. It is a feeling that is danced.

Mario Hector Camartino

October 10, 2020

October 10, 1928 —

I had a wonderful time at Mario’s 2018 birthday party in El Beso, which was my farewell to the milongas.

If you’d like to talk with Mario on his birthday, call him at home: (54-11) 4683-8469.



Jorge Uzunian

August 28, 2020

August 28, 1930 —

Jorge began dancing at the age of 15.  He is resigned to a wheelchair for several years.

If you know Jorge and would like to give him a call on his birthday, he would be delighted to hear from you.  His phone number is (54-11) 4637 3936.

Pedro Sanchez

August 27, 2020

August 27, 1935 —

                  Pedro and Janis in Club Gricel (October 1998)

Send Pedro birthday greetings on Facebook or call him 4520-7093

Virtual Tango Festival & Mundial

August 22, 2020

Published by Pagina12 on August 18.

Syncopations and counterpoints are not limited to scores or dance in tango, they can also serve to understand the intense moments that the sector is going through these days, in which virtual meetings, claims on social networks and official announcements. After a long wait, the Buenos Aires City Festival offices announced at the last minute the holding of the BA Tango Festival, which surprisingly will include a competitive instance as a copy of the World Cup. Less than 24 hours later, a virtual convocation of the Federal Assembly of Tango Workers brought together 18 groups from different branches of the discipline. Some of these, such as the AFTT itself or the ACT (Assembly of Tangueros Collectives) already bring together many other associations. In addition, Página / 12 was able to obtain a response from the Ministry to some of the complaints that the sector raised in the note of August 12 in this newspaper.

The new edition of Tango BA will be held from August 26 to 30 and, as this newspaper anticipated, as in previous years it will also be directed by Gabriel Soria. The activities of the Festival can be followed from the website and the social networks of Festivals of the City (Youtube: FestivalesGCBA, Facebook: @FestivalesGCBA and Instagram: @festivalesgcba). There will be recitals, classes for all ages, virtual milongas, tutorials and tributes. The organization promises a program “focused on the presence and role of women in tango.” And the participation of the competitive instance, that is, the World Cup, will be done from the home of the participants. One of the claims of the sector was that Festivals would not pay all the participations in the programming. From the Ministry of Culture they went to the crossing and clarified that only the “testimonial” participations will not be remunerative, but that all the others will be paid.

In the same sense, the statements of Minister Enrique Avogadro in the announcement of the Festival also seem a response to the demands of the sector and the accusations of “abandonment” by the Buenos Aires authorities. “With our festival we seek to make the work of all our talents visible and strengthen our cultural identity in the world. Tango is an essential development platform for the City (…), we continue to bet on the growth of our artists ”. Among the confirmed names are Amelita Baltar, Sonia Possetti, Karina Beorlegui, Claudia Levyy, Noelia Sinkunas, Ana Fontán, Juan Carlos and Johana Copes, Eric Dinzel, María Nieves, José Colángelo, Nicolás Ledesa, Gabriel Mores, Pipi Piazzolla, Natacha Poberaj, Demián García and others. To the usual open microphone call “Cantá en el Festival” will be added another of tango video clips, an attention to part of the circuit in which the orchestras emphasize, both those of new tangos and those that cover classics.

As for the World Cup, this year’s modality will be notably different. The categories will be maintained (tango track and tango stage), but solo dancers or cohabitating couples may participate in the call, who must send a video through the web and, after passing a pre-selection jury, submit to the public vote to achieve the title.

On the other hand, a great virtual and federal tango meeting called by the AFTT joined positions and will request an audience from the Buenos Aires Ministry of Culture, as well as the allocation of an extraordinary item to support the sector, and calls for “rethinking and unfolding” Festival and Mundial of Tango. Both events, originally separate, were mimicked a few years ago and the date was brought to August, to coincide with the winter holidays in the northern hemisphere. The Assembly also asks “to incorporate the gender perspective in all spaces related to tango”.

The meeting is a notable leap in quality for the sector. The amount of groupings present shows the degree of atomization of the circuit (or its various circuits), but the coincidence and the establishment of work tables strengthens the grouping path that has been taking place for some years. The difficulties of the pandemic and what is interpreted as “deafness” on the part of the Buenos Aires authorities did nothing more than strengthen the collective work. This is not the first time that this has happened: years ago the closing line brought different groups of milongas organizers to the same table, who suddenly gained strength and mobilization capacity, which became a promotion law and the creation of the program BA Milonga.

For this program, in fact, there were also complaints in recent days, since several months after the call closed there is still no news on which projects will be benefited or how the procedure to render accounts will be. Although this information is not yet available from the Ministry, they assured Página/12 that the subsidies will be paid between the end of this month and the beginning of September. “As a result of the very difficult situation that we have to go through, a reinforcement of extra money was made for all the regimes, in the case of BaMilonga the reinforcement was $5,400,000,” ministerial sources pointed out. While that arrives, the tango actors wait for the next measure.