Archive for the ‘Cafés’ Category

Tango and pizza don’t mix

March 19, 2015

The city’s cultural agenda offered tango at one of the notable bars tonight.  I decided to walk over to Bar 36 Billares on Avenida de Mayo and enjoy the duo of Christian Zarate and Pablo Agri, two outstanding musicians who are dedicated to tango.

It’s been years since I last entered the bar where I last met Osvaldo Bottino for a drink and conversation.  The place was given a well needed face lift.  I went to the back of the main floor to see where the music would take place and found a tiny room with some standing in the doorway.  I found a spot behind a steel beam while those around me were seated at tables.

As I arrived, the city’s Minister of Culture Hernán Lombardi was giving an introduction on stage.  Then pianist Christian Zarate and violinist Pablo Agri began playing for the intimate crowd of about 75.  The audience of 2,500 on Sunday at Teatro Colon showed more respect than this one.  A group of twelve adults, old enough to know better, thought they were in just another pizzeria.  They never stopped talking.  After the first piece, Pablo requested that the audience hold their conversation until later.  The group in the back corner ignored him.  I even pointed out to one woman that there was a camera microphone within two feet recording all their conversation.  They still never shut up.  People were shushing them during the concert, but they never got the message.

The fabulous duo served up the best meal tonight of Piazzolla, traditional tangos, and their own compositions.  What a feast!

When the lights went back on after the program and the cameras were off, I decided to say something to the rude group.  You are incredible.  You win the prize for the most lack of respect at any concert.  You could eat pizza and drink beer at dozens of places in the city.  Why did you choose this one tonight?  You didn’t come for the concert.  This was a total lack of respect for the other people in the audience and especially Zarate and Agri.  They are what everyone else came for, not pizza and beer!

Then one woman said, we’re Argentines, as if to say they can do as they wish.  Then I took out my DNI and said, I’m Argentine, too.  But you don’t speak like us.  Then I’ll speak in English.  You are rude.  And I walked out.

A waitress asked if there was a problem, and I told her about the Dirty Dozen who couldn’t control themselves, even when eating.  Pablo asked us to hold our conversation during the concert, and they ignored him.  I told her I wish I could speak to Lombardi.  She told me he was downstairs in the billiard room.

So I went downstairs and found Minister Lombardi having pizza with his two daughters.  I excused myself for the interruption, but I had to tell him about the rudeness during the concert.  He detected my accent and asked where I’m from.  Then we continued our conversation in English.  I thanked him for all the wonderful concerts that are free to the public all the time in Buenos Aires.  He shook my hand and kissed it.

The Dirty Dozen stuffed their bellies with pizza, empanadas and beer, but they missed the real meal — tango for the soul.


Café de Hansen

May 5, 2009

A group of archaeologists found remains of the Café de Hansen, that was located in Palermo during the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, and which has been included in stories as well as tango lyrics.  Last year, the Minister of Culture of Buenos Aires announced that scientists found part of the brick floor of the café some 50 centimeters underground.  It was located at what is now the intersection of Figueroa Alcorta and Avenida Sarmiento, where the Planetarium stands today.

02-lo_de_hansenThe café was named after the owner, Juán Hansen, that opened in 1877.  From 1890, tango orchestras went to play at Café de Hansen.  The place closed its doors in 1912, when major changes were being made in the park where it was located.

One of the main discussions about Hansen was whether or not tango was danced there.  The director and composer Roberto Firpo said once in an interview that “it was a very old building, where they served food on the porch outside.   I played in Hansen in 1908.  They hired me for two pesos. Some say they danced.  It’s a lie. I played tango for them to listen.”  Others say with certainty that tango was danced in this historic café.

Whether or not there was dancing in Lo de Hansen will remain an eternal discussion of porteños.  The truth is that musicians played tangos there, and it was one place that gave them a setting during the early years.

Café de los Angelitos

May 2, 2009


The original café at the corner of Av. Rivadavia and Rincón was built in 1890 and became one of the most famous in Buenos Aires.  Carlos Gardel, who lived nearby on Rincón, was a regular customer.  It got its name Café de los Angelitos in 1917 when the duo of Gardel-Razzano performed.   The history of the café including a photo of the old façade was published in Oscar Himschoot’s magazine Club de Tango in 1997.  Cafés were among the many venues where tango musicians performed during the 1920s and 1930s.

Today,  Café de los Angelitos is one of the many restaurants featuring a tango show.