Why fix what isn’t broken?

Lo de Celia was one of the best (if not the best) milongas in Buenos Aires for 16 years.  It was perfect the way it was, especially when Celia Blanco was with us. I say was, since many changes took place in the last month.  We pay 33% more to enter.  Ouch!  Attendance is always down during the winter months, so this wasn’t the best time to increase the entrada or prices on the menu.  This was the coldest (and longest) winter in Buenos Aires in 30 years.

If you check FB (which Erwin maintained for years), you’ll see the announcement of classes by a well-known professional couple for Thursdays which were promptly cancelled. My guess is no one showed up.  Next came a new milonga scheduled on Thursday evening.  Everyone (except the owners) knows that dancers don’t go to the same venue two days in a row. A Thursday milonga in Lo de Celia wasn’t going to draw people from Wednesday.  There was no entrada for the opening, yet only fifty people showed. I know because I was there, watching the owners making no attempt to greet dancers all night.  Thursdays was off the schedule after the second week.  The owners don’t know how to manage a milonga, only a business. They haven’t figured out that what has worked for 16 years doesn’t need fixing.  Celia ran two matinée and two night milongas at one location.

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Last Sunday, one of the owners was present for about two hours, handing out numbers for the raffle.  Then he left for his real job in El Abasto.  The other owner was ill.  Celia’s staff takes care of everyone and every detail as they’ve always done.  The inspectors arrived, and Erwin gave them what they needed to certify that everything was in order.

The Friday night milonga includes exhibitions for the first time.  The new owners might think that it will attract more dancers, but I doubt it.  They’re trying to make our Lo de Celia like all the other milongas.  We attend Lo de Celia for one reason, and that is to dance and listen to great music.  The Friday attendance is abysmal, even with free entrada.

The Saturday night milonga has another milonga organizer since late August.  She has a loyal following after many years.  Unfortunately, the Saturday night regulars of Lo de Celia weren’t given their preferred seating, and many have gone elsewhere.

Lo de Celia Tango Club was a milonga for 16 years, with a high level of dancing and excellent music.  Now, Lo de Celia Tango has a practica, tango classes, yoga classes and exhibitions on the schedule for a new and younger audience.  No more dress code.  A new menu is on the table to sell more food and drink.  Dancers don’t come to eat, they come to dance.

A foreign visitor who knows and loves Lo de Celia as much as I do understands what our milonga family and home means to us.  It was therapeutic talking with someone who clearly sees the path of destruction.  It’s not easy to sit back and watch the family home being ruined right before our eyes.  It is sabotage, plain and simple.  Putting my thoughts in writing is part of my therapy while the destruction continues.  Sunday evening is still intact.

Celia took care of us.  She knew everybody by name.  Even when she wasn’t well, she came to see the family.  She was dearly loved.  She’d call out our names on the microphone every Sunday during chacarera.

Someone should write a handbook entitled, How To Run A Successful Milonga in Buenos Aires.  Until then, common sense and personal attention are basics.  If it works, don’t fix it.  Standing in a corner, having no one-to-one contact doesn’t support a successful milonga.

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2 Responses to “Why fix what isn’t broken?”

  1. Lina Says:

    How very sad.

  2. Patricia Müller Says:

    What terrible news!!! Lo de Celia was the only reason to go to Buenos Aires. It was the old magic milonga!!

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