Jorge Uzunian

August 28, 2015

August 28, 1930 —

Jorge Uzunian


Festival and Mundial 2015

August 26, 2015

What a great show!  I could view the entire three-hour live broadcast with only a few short breaks in transmission. They recorded the program for viewing on the site, so don’t worry if you missed it.

The new tango de pista champions are #229 Jonathan Saavedra and Clarisa Aragon from Cordoba, Argentina.  The four rounds concluded after 90 minutes, followed by a half hour show by Raul Garello and his orchestra, followed by a composite of video clips from earlier festivals.

The Maestros Milongueros were a hit.  Watch the video. First to take the stage were Ana Maria Schapira and my milonguero friend of many years Osvaldo Vicente Centeno. Others were Julio Duplaa and his wife Elsa (in white skirt), Maria Cieri (blue dress) (Rodolfo Cieri’s widow) and partner, Los Alonsos, El Gallego Manolo (missing his wife Martha Anton), Eduardo Pareja and Laura Grandi, Carlos Perez and his wife Rosa, Chiche and Martha, Nely Fernando (without Pocho) and Jose Luis Ferraro, Eduardo Masci and Claudia Codega (red dress), Blanca Biscochea and El Puchu, dancing to La Yumba by Osvaldo Pugliese.

Then all the 41 couples returned to the stage for the announcement of the top five couples.  Fifth place: #275 Jakarta, Indonesia; Fourth place: #475 St. Petersburg, Russia (and not my favorites from Moscow #368); Third place: #193 from Buenos Aires; Second place: #11 who won the Milongueros of the World title earlier in the year.

All the ladies wore lovely dresses by Mimi Pinzon (that women everywhere will be buying after the fashion show and never seen in the milongas) with their hair securely tied and pinned for stage (unlike the big hairdos worn in the milongas and played with between dances).  Splayed left hands were common, as was stage makeup.  The music was strictly for the milonga, but some couples danced the same to D’Arienzo and Di Sarli or Tanturi and Pugliese.  There is a different in musical style from each orchestra requiring a different dance style.

Each round had one Russian couple in the group, and they all had something special.  The St. Petersburg couple (2nd in the semifinals) placed 4th over the three couples from Moscow.

Everyone watching the show on live broadcast had the best seat in the house.   The site was live a half hour before the show started, so you could see Luna Park gradually filling up.

I’m sorry to say that the two seniors couples didn’t have a chance against all the young ones, but they won the right to be there.  What a thrill to dance on stage in Luna Park!

The music: round 1 – D’Agostino/D’Arienzo/Di Sarli; round 2 – D’Arienzo/Di Sarli/Pugliese; round 3 – Fresedo/D’Arienzo/Di Sarli; round 4 –  Tanturi/Troilo/Pugliese.  Rhythmic and lyrical contrasts in each one.

The stage competition is tomorrow night.  Don’t miss it.  Figure out your local time when it’s 19 hs in Buenos Aires.

He said, she said

August 25, 2015

He:  Why haven’t you been dancing?

She:  I don’t want to suffer.

He:  There are good dancers here today.

She:  That’s what you think.  The three tandas with you are worth the price of the entrada.

Festival and World Cup 2015

August 24, 2015

If I wanted to see the semifinal rounds of the tango de pista competition, I would be standing in line now at La Usina del Arte in La Boca to get one of 1,700 tickets when they are handed out at 17 hs

The complete list of names for the qualifying rounds in the stage and dance floor categories were published with the list of semifinalists.

The stage category had 128 entries, of which only 25 made the cut to the semifinals.  The largest number of entries are from the provincias of Argentina (58) and the capital federal (27).  Other countries represented are Russia, Colombia, Italy, Japan, Brazil, France, Mexico, Holland, Bolivia, Chile, Switzerland, United States, Turkey, South Korea, Uruguay, and Spain.

The tango de pista had 286 entries, of which only 65 made the cut to the semifinals which includes 13 others from the city and regional competitions.  Again, the largest group of participants are from the provincias of Argentina (140).  The tango de pista category has many more countries represented: Russia, Italy, Indonesia, Colombia, Singapore, Greece, Venezuela, South Korea, Hong Kong, Mexico, Italia, Uruguay, Canada, and Brazil with semifinalists; in addition, Peru, Turkey, Japan, Germany, United States, Slovenia, England, Switzerland, Philippines, Austria, Spain, Bolivia, Czech Republic, Chile, Belgium, Ecuador, France and Holland, making it a truly international competition.

Two couples from Detroit, Michigan and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had the guts to enter both categories.  The United States also had entries from Austin, Texas; Berkeley, California; and New York, New York, none of whom made the cut to the semifinals.

The festival includes free classes for the public.  Under the heading of “tango for exhibitions at dance clubs,” you can learn the styles of Milena Plebs, Juan Carlos Copes and Carlos Gavito that were taken from the dance floor to the stage.  In “new trends” you can learn to stretch the boundaries with freedom from roles.  And under “dance-floor tango,” in the days of the first milongueros, every step was a personal creation.  This legacy is passed on today by dancers following in their footsteps (therefore, no more personal creation, only copying).  Another class offers useful tips not to be intimidated by lack of space, even at the most crowded milonga (taught by someone who doesn’t go to the milongas).  A class on embrace and connection, empowered by a favorite orchestra among dancers, Carlos Di Sarli.  The “tango for stage” classes offer achieving a natural look in choreography; from improvisation to composition to find a personal style for stage; breaking the mold and finding new elements for choreography; guidelines for an inside-out creation process; blending tango dance with theater; the ABCs of stage tango; a guided choreographic laboratory; strategies for turning choreographic composition into a personal reflection; understanding the relationship of musical styles and choreographic styles.

See the finals live from Luna Park on August 26 (tango de pista) and August 27 (tango stage) at 19 hs.

Milonga review: Milonga de Buenos Aires

August 24, 2015

Obelisco Tango

Milonga de Buenos Aires was the first to open on April19, 2013, in the new venue Obelisco Tango on Entre Rios 1056.  The organizers are Carlos Gallego and Lorena Bouzas.  I attended their milonga for the first time on August 21, 2015.

Before being seated, I went to change my shoes in the ladies’ room in the rear of the salon.  Lorena was nearby and asked if I had a regular place to sit.  This was the first time I saw Lorena, but she didn’t know that it was my first visit to her milonga.  I sat at the end of the long row of tables on the right side of the dance floor, close to the deejay booth.  I was in the corner where couples entered the floor.  The metal tube chairs are uncomfortable as always for me.

Hours: 18 to 3 hs.  Dancers arrive and depart in shifts every few hours.  I’m certain that no one stays for a marathon of 9 hours.


Floor:  It was replaced after six months of use.  The metal edge holding the plastic and wood portions together is hazardous.  I almost tripped as I returned to my table from the ladies’ room.  Dancers feel the irregularities in construction.  The venue hosts dance classes every day and milongas almost every night of the week, so it gets hard wear.

Sound System:  Better than I’ve heard from other deejays in Obelisco.

Lighting:  Red lights around the perimeter of the floor are new on the suspended ceiling.  This milonga uses bright lighting over the floor which I prefer to dimmed lighting like El Beso with a seductive atmosphere.

Deejay:  The best in Buenos Aires — Daniel Borelli.

Entrada:  Women 70 pesos – men pay 80 pesos

Seating:  Men have the left side of the floor, and women are on the right, both with aisle space behind the rows.  Small square tables seat as many as five uncomfortably.  The large section at the entrance has mixed tables.  These chairs take up less space and accommodate more dancers.

Dancers:  A mix of milongueros and foreigners.  The fancy footwork by female dancers who dance to impress was entertaining.  This is the milonga where you want to dress to impress as well.  A beautiful blond with gold lame stilettos provided most of my entertainment for the night with her constant adornments.  She worked so hard at dancing and had the perspiration to show for it.  A milonguera I know many years kept her feet quiet as always and focused on the music with her partners.  I’m sorry to say that minimalist dancing is falling by the wayside.  Teachers are making a living teaching another kind of tango.

Waitstaff:  Almost invisible.  I had to grab the waiter when he came close.  Bottled water is 27 pesos.  They serve a fixed-price dinner for 90 pesos.

Does tango make you sick?

August 23, 2015

I came down with a cold last night.  A partner was coughing while we danced on Wednesday.  That was a big clue to sanitize my hands after the tanda with him.  He coughed into his left hand and then took mine to dance.  I never touch my eyes or nose during the milonga for the simple reason I can contaminate myself with a virus.

I stayed away two weeks from the milonga with a severe cough and cold.  I had four days without any coughing.  I heard others coughing constantly around me when I returned on Wednesday.  I went home early to get out of the contaminated environment from all the coughing.

Then last night the symptoms started again.  Three days passed since exposure to the coughing partner, who I know gets sick with a cold very often.  He didn’t stay home and rest.  The virus gets passed on by having close contact and conversation.  I sneezed last night and had to use a tissue on my nose.  That which I feared came upon me by morning.  I awoke today with nasal congestion.

I wish that everyone would stay home from the milongas when they have a virus, but they don’t realize they are passing it on to others.  After all, we are in close proximity when a virus spreads.

Why Do We Get Colds?

Colds enter the body through the nose or mouth. The virus can become airborne when a sick person coughs, talks, or sneezes. The virus can also be spread by contact with a sick person.

“Most colds stem from viruses that spread from person to person through close contact,” said William Schaffner, MD, professor and chair of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn. “We inhale the virus-laden air that others have exhaled.” Aside from airborne causes, we can “catch a cold” when we have the virus on our hands and touch our face, mouth, or nose.

Some older adults still believe that they catch a cold by exposure to cold weather or air-conditioning.  Hence, they have contact with others and pass on the virus.

They don’t do a check at the door when you enter a milonga.  If you are well enough to get dressed and travel, they assume you are well enough to dance.  Those who are sick seek refuge in the milonga to feel better.

I’ve asked, do you have a cold? and gotten the answer, a little one.  That’s reason to step back and keep my distance.  Then I use hand gel at the table.

The milonga is so intoxicating that people don’t want to stay away when they are sick.  I am the rare exception.  I’ll be calling in sick again today to Lo de Celia.

Juan Carlos Godoy

August 21, 2015

August 21, 1922 —

Juan Carlos Godoy (singer) & Jorge Dragone (pianist) in Café Gardel

Juan Carlos Godoy (singer) & Jorge Dragone (pianist) in Café Gardel

Guillermo Thorp, editor of Diostango magazine, arranged for this special performance two days before Godoy’s 93rd birthday with accompaniment by Jorge Dragone (88).  These tango professionals aren’t about to stop performing because tango is their life. We entered just in time to hear Quien tiene tu amor.

Were there milongas in 1943?

August 19, 2015


I received this page of a Buenos Aires newspaper April 17, 1943, with the comment — the word “milonga” is not mentioned — from a reader in India.

First, I tried imagining what it was like in those days when one opened the newspaper and read the list of tango orquestas appearing that Saturday night in the clubs.  Miguel Angel Balbi showed me newspapers from the 1940s years ago, so I am familiar with the advertising.  Was it a difficult deciding where to go?  How did people choose one among the list of orquestas in the Golden Age of tango? The page features the top nine orquestas of the Golden Age, missing only Pugliese to complete the top ten.

Based on my conversations with several milongueros viejos, the reason that “milonga” isn’t mentioned in the advertisements is because these dances with orquestas were held in neighborhood clubs on Saturday.  The “milongas” started around 1948 in nine confiterias bailables downtown with recorded music every day of the week.  The milongueros didn’t like the competition from the singers on stage who distracted the women from dancing.  The women focused on dancing with the milongueros when Raul Beron or Roberto Chanel weren’t around.  Hence the dances in the downtown confiterias were known as milongas where milongueros went to milonguear.  The confiterias bailables were small venues where the dancing changed.

With computer assistance, I enlarged the page to read the details in the ads.

Miguel Calo played in Asoc. S. F. Apolo at Boulogne sur Mer 547 (El Once).  The location is now the IFT Theater, a venue for alternative theater productions.

Juan D’Arienzo was announced to play on Sunday with L’Orchestre Lewis Varona (mambo) at Club Atletico Independiente, Av. Mitre 450, Avellaneda, from 19-23,30 hs. Entrada was 2 pesos.

Angel D’Agostino played at Racing Club, Av. Mitre 934, Avellaneda from 22-4 hs.  Male members paid 1.50, women paid 50 centavos; male nonmembers 5 pesos, female nonmembers 1 peso.

Anibal Troilo with singers Francisco Fiorentino and Alberto Marino, plus a jazz orchestra, were at Club Atletico Velez Sarsfield, Rivadavia 7855-67, in Liniers.  There were limited streetcar lines in those days and few buses, so people had to rely on a friend with a car for transportation. Ladies paid 50 centavos to enter.  Liniers is near the city limit.

Pedro Laurenz with Alberto Podesta performed downtown at Ocean Dancing at 25 de Mayo 279 that had another entrance on L. H. Alem, from 22-1 hs.

Ricardo Tanturi kept two groups of musicians working.  One played at Tribu Social Club at Sarmiento 1374 and another with Alberto Castillo plus a jazz orchestra in Circulo General Urquiza, F. D. Roosevelt 5345, a neighborhood sports club.

Lucio Demare was the headliner at Palermo Palace, Godoy Cruz and Santa Fe in Palermo, where men paid one peso and women entered free.

Carlos Di Sarli with Roberto Rufino appeared at Club Boca Juniors, Brandsen 805, Boca, from 22-4 hs.  This would have been my choice, even if I had to walk there.

Rodolfo Biaggi and two singers were at Club Miraflores at Boyacá 652, Flores, alternating sets with a jazz band from 22 hs.  Entrada was 2 pesos for men, 50 centavos for women.

Milonga review: El Abrazo Tango Club

August 18, 2015

DSCN7338 - the milonga in Confiteria Ideal

Confiteria Ideal, open since 1912, was one of the venues I attended during my first trip to Buenos Aires in March 1996.  Our tour group went to the class/practica by Zoraida Fontclara and Diego Alvaro, followed by a milonga.

Currently, the milongas are held on the main floor while the first floor is undergoing renovation.  It’s probably more convenient for the seniors to use the main floor and not have to walk the stairs to the first floor.  Both floors are the same size.

El Abrazo Tango Club is held on Friday from 15-21 hs. at Suipacha 384 near Avenida Corrientes in the heart of the theater and business district of the city.  I attended on July 24 for my friend Jean’s birthday celebration.

Floor: seamless, polished stone


Sound system: Excellent.

Deejay:  Mario Orlando, a veteran deejay in the tango scene.

DSCN7339 - Mario Orlando who provides great music for dancing

Entrada: 50 pesos

Seating:  Men and women’s tables alternate throughout the large salon, facilitating cabeceo use.  The bent wood chairs are originals.

Dancers: It’s mainly a retired senior crowd who enjoy an afternoon of socializing and tango.

There is no air-conditioning or ceiling fans unless they are an addition during the renovation.  Check first before attending on a hot, summer afternoon.

A champagne toast to Jean for her birthday celebration with friends.

DSCN7333 - champagne toast to Jean in Confiteria Ideal

Roll out the red carpet at your milonga?

August 14, 2015
A dancer and deejay from Canada visited the Buenos Aires milongas earlier this year.  He sent questions that his local milonga is discussing, and I offered my thoughts.
How to behave with new female dancers attending a milonga for the first time?
We can’t control how people behave in any situation.  Are we only concerned with women having a good time at a milonga?  What about new male dancers?
Let’s use Lo de Celia as an example.  New visitors come all the time.  No one introduces them or announces their presence.  They take a seat like everyone else and have to fend for themselves.  Lo de Celia is one of dozens of milongas in Buenos Aires that runs as a business of providing social dancing to the public.  The organizers are not responsible for making certain that everyone dances and has a great time.  That is left to the person.
Should the organizers of the milonga inform the attendees of their presence (weird question)?
Why?  Men are observant.  They notice a new woman in the crowd without anyone pointing her out.  It might seem like an organizer asking for “charity” if a newcomer (novice dancer or visitor) was singled out in the crowd.  Hey guys, dance with her, please, so she will return.
The continuous stream of foreign female dancers to the BA milongas has improved a woman’s chances of being invited on her first visit by a milonguero viejo.  I’ve seen it happen after years of patient waiting.  The women don’t know how lucky they are and have come to expect it without proving themselves on the floor.  I had to dance with many bad dancers before I realized that it’s worth waiting for a milonguero viejo.  That is the reason I dance very few tandas.  If I’m busy with bad dancers, the good ones can’t and won’t invite me.  I’d rather be sitting out a tanda than looking forward getting off the floor.
Is there an obligation to the milongueros to invite them to dance?
Never.  There is freedom of choice in the milongas, too.  Men choose with whom they want to dance and when.  A milonguero might wait hours for the tanda he wants to dance with a particular woman.  It’s not about dancing to build a community, as may be the case where tango is a new dance.  In Buenos Aires, tango is a way of life for the milongueros viejos.
What should these women do to get invited by local dancers?
Be patient, not desperate.  Show interest in the dancing and music by watching.  Smile.  A positive attitude does wonders.


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