The milongas are at risk of extinction

August 7, 2020

Translation of today’s article by Andres Valenzuela for Pagina12

“They have already closed spaces where milongas worked and others are about to do so; the quintessential cultural event in our city is at risk of extinction and if this situation is not reversed, the damage will be irreversible, ”the A.O.M. (Association of Milongas Organizers) and Mi.Se.So (Association of Milongas with Social Sense). Both groups call “for reflection and dialogue to the corresponding officials to reach solutions.”

The situation in the sector is, as in other cultural spheres, dramatic. But with the addition that the milongas anticipated quarantine by several days (they suspended their activities on March 11) and that, with devastating realism, they understand that they will be “the last of the last” to reopen: that of dancing embraced and in close contact with strangers, sometimes with foreign tourists, sounds like a chimera today. Specifically, they regret the closure of three spaces and warn for the future of many others, and for their workers. The complexity of the situation is aggravated because many milongas operate in other people’s spaces and their continuity also depends on the articulation of measures for those spaces. They also claim this year’s BA Milonga grant, which “has not yet issued the Administrative Resolutions” and say that their request for extraordinary help was rejected by the Buenos Aires Ministry of Culture led by Enrique Avogadro.

Furthermore, from the AOM they denounce that they were contacted by Festivals to join without payment “for lack of budget” for the online “celebration” of the Tango Festival. “If they who are the government, who can defend and protect culture, exploit it, what they do is bring job insecurity to an increasingly worse stage,” criticizes Julio Bassan, from the AOM. Valeria Buyatti, from the Milongas with Social Sense, points out that the extraordinary help could come precisely from the budget originally assigned to the Festival and the Tango World Cup, which should have been carried out by this time. “The budgets were already allocated since last year, they were not applied and they are not using that money for extraordinary aid,” he says.

So far La Aurora (Abasto), Estudio Mario Morales (San Telmo) and DNI Tango (Almagro) have closed. In the latter, for example, more than a dozen teachers and dancers worked and there were dozens of classes per week, in addition to a very popular afternoon practice on Saturdays. All three are from the AOM. Of MiSeSo, they say, none has yet closed, but there are “more than half a dozen spaces at specific risk, seeing how to negotiate rentals to continue when activities are reopened,” says Buyatti.

As for BA Milonga, it is a support program of the Buenos Aires government that has existed for three years and that was created after long demands from the sector, which included street milongas in front of the legislature with international media repercussions. This year there were two novelties: the expansion of the designated budget to 16 million pesos (which will not be definitively incorporated into the budget and which, the milongueros warn, did not acknowledge receipt of inflation either), and the advancement of its call, which excited to the organizers. But although the call closed at the beginning of May, there are still no results. “We are in August and the approved projects, the money or anything like that has not yet been determined,” denounces Buyatti. “In addition, the Advisory Council completed its task more than a month ago, so it is already a decision of the Ministry to approve or not the projects,” says the MiSeSo representative.

A few days after completing five months closed, from the associations the balance is dire. For Bassan, the paralysis in BA Milonga is “a shame”. “We closed when there were no protocols for anything anywhere and we continued without a protocol with which to work in different phases, something to incorporate some activities of the sector when changing phases,” he says.

“Larreta has already borrowed 150,000 million. They say that all the money goes to Health, but it is a lie. In the budget there is an item that we are reviewing with lawyers and that is called Artistic Disclosure — it is 1,856 million pesos. Tell me what artistic disclosure did. What percentage does tango have? It seems that we need help from Unesco, because here the Buenos Aires government neither helps us nor listens to us.”

Miguel Antonio Figueroa

July 31, 2020

July 31, 1937 —

Miguel is devastated by the loss of his friend Lito.  I doubt he will feel like celebrating today.


Evangelista Felipe Menna

July 28, 2020

November 13, 1928 — July 26, 2020

We have lost another kind soul who danced from the heart with a warm embrace.  This is Lito, as he was known in the milongas, with his daughter on his birthday in Lo de Celia Tango Club.

What I know for certain is that Miguel Antonio Figueroa feels deeply the loss of his friend.  They always shared a table in Lo de Celia.  They liked to joke about being a couple.

Lito lived across the hallway from Jorge DeGouvea, so I called him today.  Lito lived alone and was in good health.  He was found near the elevator door on Sunday by neighbors.  He lived a full life and was always smiling.  I’ll remember him singing in my ear when we danced.

Lito dancing in Lo de Celia.

Ricardo Franquelo

July 14, 2020

July 14, 1944 —

His interview is subtitled and very interesting.

Seeing a friend during the quarantine

July 12, 2020

We were walking in different directions at the same corner when I saw my old friend Joe Petrisko crossing the street.  I called his name and got his attention.  We chatted at a social distance for fifteen minutes or more.  It’s been five months since we talked over tea for hours at Cafe de los Angelitos.

Joe attended the first tango festival I organized in 1995, and also attended the second one in 1996.  I needed a new business partner for 1997, and Joe accepted. The venue was arranged at the University of Maryland at College Park, in the area where he lived.  Unfortunately, it didn’t take place.

One day I said to Joe, why don’t you move to Buenos Aires?  There’s nothing keeping you in Maryland.  Eventually, he came down for another visit when I took him house-hunting.  He found a house he liked that day and moved in a few months later.  That was 14 years ago.  Everything fell into place for Joe.  He lives six blocks from me.

Both of us agreed that we are glad to be living in Buenos Aires today and not in the USA.

Dia de La Independencia

July 9, 2020

Jorge Rubén Orellana

July 8, 2020

July 8, 1931 —

His daughter Silvia lives with him.  When she answered the phone today, I asked if she has seen the recordings I made of her father.  She hasn’t so I got her email address to send her the links.  It’s about time she views the interview and exhibition in Lo de Celia.  Then I had a nice visit with Jorge who is doing well.

This is the moment to reach out to people we know in tango because it’s the only way we can stay connected.  The milongas won’t be opening in Buenos Aires for a very long time.   If you know Jorge or danced with him, why not call him at home 4866 2313 or send him birthday greetings with your photos through Silvia’s email:

My neighbor loves tango

July 5, 2020

A neighbor in my building loves tango music.  Thanks to him, I hear the recordings of Carlos Di Sarli, Juan D’Arienzo, Miguel Calo, etc. almost every afternoon.  I heard my favorite tunes of Di Sarli today while sweeping the patio. There was a time when Gabriel, in his early 40s, listened only to Argentine rock music at high volume that was so irritating.  His music changed when his girlfriend moved in.  Then it was only tango music coming from their apartment two floors above mine.

One year ago I offered dance lessons at no charge to Gabriel and his partner.  He had lost his job and had time on his hands while she worked to pay their bills.  He stayed home with their two-year-old boy.  I knew for certain that Gabriel would enjoy dancing because he knows the music.  He thanked me for my offer, and said it wasn’t a good time.  I knew that focusing on tango would give him inner peace as well as a needed distraction.

After I finished on the patio, I met Gabriel in the hallway of the building.  I told him I enjoyed the Di Sarli album very much.  Those were my favorite tunes when I danced with Tito Aquino in Lo de Celia.  During the pandemic, Gabriel, his partner Adriana, and their son Felipe are together all the time.  Dancing tango is something they can enjoy together.  Felipe certainly would enjoy dancing with his daddy and mommy as all children do.

You know, tango is a meditation, I said to Gabriel.  You love the music, so you will love dancing with Adriana and Felipe.  When Felipe is ready for a nap, hold him in your arms and dance tango with him.  You both will love the feeling.

Tango can help anyone in these stressful times.

Omar Ruberto

July 2, 2020

July 14, 1940 — February 3, 2020

They will be remembered

July 1, 2020

I have known this milonguera for ten years as Dorita de la Yumba.  Always smiling and the perfect hostess, she welcomed me for the first time at her milonga in Club Oeste.  I couldn’t help but notice we were dressed so similarly that night as if we had planned it, so I handed someone my camera to take this photo of us.

Alberto Frezza also left us recently.  He was the organizer of the milonga on Friday nights in Lo de Celia Tango Club.