Open the milongas of Buenos Aires

March 13, 2021

I found this announcement posted on Facebook today.  I wish I had seen it days ago so I could have been there to support it.

The Association of Milonga Organizers went to the Minister of Culture of the City of Buenos Aires to solicit approval of protocols for the milongas and economic assistance.  Dancers were invited to participate wearing black clothing, a mask, and holding a white sign with black lettering with one of the following statements:

  • TANGO IS AN INVISIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
  • ONE YEAR WITHOUT WORK WITH TANGO
  • ECONOMIC SUPPORT FOR TANGO
  • TANGO WANTS TO RETURN TO WALK
  • TANGO IS THE ONLY CULTURAL ACTIVITY PROHIBITED IN THE CITY

Maintain social distancing during the protest.

I had no doubt that the organizers were planning something to draw attention to the plight of the milongas.  Let’s hope that they achieved the desired results that day with the Minister of Culture.

It’s been one year since the milongas closed in Buenos Aires

March 11, 2021

A “new normal” has emerged in downtown Buenos Aires so everyone can enjoy the outdoors during the summer months. . . with masks, of course.  I walked along Avenida Corrientes and was stunned by all the new establishments.  All the theaters are open with live shows, and movie theaters are open as well.  I saw new restaurants that are booming with business on Saturday night.  They have tables and chairs on the sidewalks, so there is less room for walkers.

Teatro Colon reopened this week for the 100th anniversary celebration of Astor Piazzolla’s birth with concerts every night that are streamed live on YouTube.  Central Cultural Kirchner has been open for concerts on Saturday and Sunday since January.  Children returned to school on February 17.

The one noticeable exception is the milongas.  I am certain that the association of milonga organizers is working diligently to obtain permission from the city after one year.  Everyone working in the milongas has been without income for the past year. The only tango dancing in the city happens at a few clandestine locations in plazas.  Of course, the fate of the milongas reopening in their previous venues depends on meeting protocols.

This is the entrance of the former cabaret Marabu, later known as Club Maracaibo at Maipu 365.  Every Thursday night there is a live orchestra for dancing.  It’s a very special place where Anibal Troilo debuted his orquesta in 1937, and Carlos Di Sarli’s orquesta performed regularly.

 

Romeo Ferramosca

March 10, 2021

March 10, 1946 —

I retired from the milongas about two years ago.  I would happily return to any venue just to dance a tanda of Carlos Di Sarli with Chiche.  I am certain that Pocha and Chiche are eagerly awaiting the opening of the milongas after one year since closure.

Humberto Morales

March 7, 2021

March 7, 1935 —

This is my favorite photo of Humberto with Claudia Sanese.  They found the perfect embrace.

A case of nostalgia

February 19, 2021

There was a concert last night by the Orquesta Filarmonica de Buenos Aires in the amphitheater in Parque Centenario in the neighborhood of Caballito.  It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to Caballito, so I didn’t remember immediately which bus I needed to take.  I got off the 103 bus at Parque Rivadavia, where I decided to walk along Campichuelo instead of taking another bus to Parque Centenario.  I was walking down memory lane.

A case of nostalgia hit me as the bus passed by Club Italiano (founded in 1898) at Rivadavia 4731, where I briefly attended Alicia’s matinee milonga in the club’s magnificent ballroom.  In a few blocks I passed the street where I visited Alito at the geriatric home.  I couldn’t even look down the block where I walked many times.  Then as I continued down Campichuelo, I arrived at Club Premier.  The front has completely changed.  I knew it was Premier only by the number on the door – 472 and the street name.  As I reached Av. Diaz Velez that borders the park, I remembered going regularly in 1999 to Viejo Correo at Diaz Velez 4820.

My case of nostalgia continued today because I preferred walking to taking a bus on a beautiful day.  I walked along Riobamba and when I was close to Av. Corrientes, I turned around to look at the door of El Beso.  A man noticed my observation and commented something about it to me.  I knew it as Regin in 1997, where I had my first tanda with Alito.  We all have tango moments that stay with us forever.  On the next block, I looked across the street at the shuttered Club Castel, where I occasionally attended the milonga Porteno y Bailarin.

I have been living in Buenos Aires for twenty-two years.  I am grateful I have had so many years to dance in so many venues that no longer exist.  My hope is that there will be an active community of dancers in the milongas very soon.  Buenos Aires has lost its soul without milongas.  Dancers thrive on tango.

Juan Carlos Copes

February 19, 2021
May 31, 1931–January 16, 2021
 

Stanford Tango Week 1993

 
I first met Juan Carlos when I attended Stanford Tango Week, July 1993. I wanted to take of photo of him, but he handed my camera to someone else who took this photo of us. Stanford is the grandfather of tango festivals in the USA, and it wouldn’t have been complete without the Maestro. Shortly after Stanford, I approached Northwestern University’s dance department about holding the first international tango congress. Juan Carlos and Maria Nieves were both invited to teach at Northwestern in June 1995. It was a privilege to know and study with them. I went to O’Hare Airport to meet their flight and got down on my hands and knees when I saw them walk off the plane. They started dancing as teenagers in the milongas and danced in New York City in the 1950s.
Juan Carlos invited me to dance during the final milonga/reception of the tango congress. It was the finishing touch after two years to turn my dream into a reality.
 
 

 

Carlos Biccai

February 15, 2021

February 15, 1939 —

If you would like to send greetings to Carlos, you can post on https://www.facebook.com/carlos.biccai

Jorge Slaiman

January 30, 2021

January 29, 1939 —

People who use cellphones have their home phones disconnected.  I found that was the case for Jorge when I tried to reach him yesterday.  I had to call one of his friends for his cell number.

We had a pleasant conversation about maintaining connections with family and friends during the pandemic.  I told him that Obelisco Tango is for sale since he danced there regularly.  Jorge is well and staying active.  Of course, he misses going to the milongas.

Obelisco Tango

January 23, 2021

If you’ve visited Buenos Aires over the last seven years, you probably attended a milonga in Obelisco Tango, which opened its doors on April 19, 2013.  All the milongas of the city have been closed since early March 2020 when the pandemic began, and no one has any idea when they will be allowed to safely reopen.

I heard the news about the sale of Obelisco Tango.  Two milonga organizers posted on Facebook.  Since I live only nine blocks away, I went to check out the building with the for sale sign.  The photo shows the facade of Obelisco Tango which was removed.  The previous business was a children’s indoor playground El Patio.  The owner of the building died last year, and his family is selling the property.  The land has value for new construction, so the sale price is US$1.1M.

Dancers are losing yet another milonga venue, but we will always have our memories of friends, the music, and the tandas we danced in Obelisco Tango.

 

Luis Abulafia

January 23, 2021

January 21, 1941 —

I thought I had a home phone for Luis, but it was not in service.  I remembered sending his son some videos of his father dancing in the milongas, so I sent him an email about talking with Luis.  Horacio passed on my message. The next morning Luis called me.  He’s doing well at home in Villa Soldati.  Luis was a regular at Lo de Celia, Obelisco Tango, and Centro Region Leonesa.