April 21, 1936 —
Hector is en pareja for the last several months, so there is no chance I’ll dance with him. He reserves his embrace for his sweetheart. I can’t wait to see them dancing together. Hector’s embrace defines tango.
June 15, 1937 — March 30, 2017
I received a message last night from Italy asking me about Osvaldo. I saw him three weeks ago in the hospital after surgery. He called to let me know where he was. I spent two hours with him. I wrote another friend last night for confirmation.
This great milonguero is gone. I lost a dear friend.
March 12, 1931 – February 2017
On Friday I went to visit my friend Osvaldo Centeno in the hospital. He shared the news that Tonino passed on recently. I’m grateful I saw Tonino two years ago when I videoed him dancing in Salon El Pial.
March 10, 1946 –
I see two become one when Chiche and Pocha dance to the music of Carlos Di Sarli.
Recently, I commented to a visitor that she has the option of 120 milongas each week. That’s the total that remained constant for many years. Today I reviewed hoy-milonga.com and found only 78 milongas now listed. That number excludes practicas, free dances which don’t pay licensing fees, outdoor places with no seating, places allowing jeans and sneakers, gay, and underground venues.
Today I came across a list of milongas that I compiled in March 2000, according to the magazines. There are 135 milongas on that list. I noted with a marker those that were still open in April 2009 and 2011. Those that are crossed off are closed.
Saturday, I attended the last day of El Arranque, which opened on February 14, 2000. The owners sold Nuevo Salon La Argentina to a developer. This is an important salon with a capacity for 700 that will leave a gaping hole in the tango scene for many seniors. Video
The venues listed that still host milongas today are: Salon Canning, Gricel Tango Club, Club Maracaibo, Club Sin Rumbo, Salon Rodriguez, Salon Sur, Salon El Pial, Centro Region Leonesa, Club Social Rivadavia, Club Bohemios, Club Pedro Echague, and Club Fulgor de Villa Crespo.
The famous Confiteria Ideal closed its doors one year ago for major renovation. We are hopeful that it will return as a venue for milongas and classes every day of the week.
Are the milongas declining in Buenos Aires? The fact is they are.
September 18, 1936 – December 20, 2016
A year ago I found out that Hugo was renting an apartment just one block from mine. I visited him several times a week so he would do simple exercises. He was gaining strength, and I was hopeful that he’d return to the milonga.
That never happened. His health continued to decline. I called him for the last time in mid-December when he told me he was preparing to move into a geriatric home.
On Monday, a milonguero who checked up on Hugo regularly was at El Maipu, so I asked how he was. I wasn’t prepared for the news that he died just before Christmas.
In 1996, I joined a tour group from Los Angeles for my first visit to the Buenos Aires milongas. The tour organizers knew the milonga codes and customs, including changing shoes in the restroom, not at the table. Most women go wearing shoes for dancing. I remember attending the milonga at Club Almagro on Medrano and going directly to the restroom to change into my dance shoes. It’s one thing changing shoes for dance classes at your local studio, but the custom is different in the milongas of Buenos Aires. You won’t see the milongueros changing their shoes . . . ever. Even soccer players get dressed in a locker room, not on the field.
Oh, how things have changed in the milongas.
I don’t understand why so many women today change shoes at the table. Where do they wash their hands before the first tanda? Do they think no one is watching them? Is it such a long walk to the restroom to change one’s shoes and attend to other personal matters? It’s such a big time saver to do these things at the table in full view of everyone.
There are two techniques of shoe changing at the table. The photo above shows the “bend over” technique. First, she removes her street shoes and leaves them under the table or packs them away in a bag. How elegant is it to see bare feet? The milonga isn’t on the beach. She may even take a moment to shake foot powder into her dance shoes or on her feet. Buckling the straps takes a few minutes with the knees together. Why waste time going to the restroom when the “bend over” is accomplished in full view of everyone? Men get to size up your butt.
The second is the “leg lift” technique which has two variations: one is a knee lift to the chest; the other is placing a foot on the leg. The latter allows the woman seated next to you to get a whiff of your smelly feet if she is unlucky enough sitting out the tanda.
If you’re on the edge of the dance floor or near an aisle, you offer a private show for the men. I couldn’t believe the scene yesterday in Obelisco Tango. It was so outrageous that I stood up and stared at the woman changing her shoes with her skirt completely open as if there was no one else in the room. Two men seated in front of me didn’t miss the show, and she got a tanda very soon with one of them. I pointed out the scene to the other women at the table who both replied they always change shoes at the table. A few minutes later, one of them asked me for directions to the ladies room and was wearing her dance shoes.
The two women next to me are culprits. The woman with her back to the camera asked me for directions to the ladies’ room and has no problem with changing shoes at the table.