Archive for the ‘Clubes de barrio’ Category

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.

An unforgettable night of tango

April 7, 2015

With 50+ years of experience, Oscar Hector knows how to organize special tango events that are worth attending.  I’ll travel an hour by bus to one of his events.

I arrived before 21 hs., and there was already a line formed at the door to enter.  The entrada was 70 pesos — the first time I paid that much.

I had my first glimpse of the remodeled salon of El Pial in Flores, and it’s more elegant than ever.


Large poster-sized photos of tango and folklore celebrities adorn the walls.  Here is Juan D’Arienzo and his orquesta tipica.


Alberto Castillo and his orquesta tipica.


And Roberto Goyeneche with Anibal Troilo.


This is a large poster-sized photo of the dance floor at El Pial before the remodeling.


I had the pleasure of sharing a table with milonguera Nilda Garcia, who began dancing tango at 13.  She was dancing all night with a friend.


Since it was A Night of Di Sarli, the first 90 minutes of music was exclusively Carlos Di Sarli recordings.  There was a time decades ago when the confiterias bailables featured the recordings of one orquesta.   Oscar Hector is the only organizer in Buenos Aires who continues the tradition.  He welcomed each couple as they arrived and brought them to their table — a perfect host.  When he spoke about the singers of Di Sarli’s orquesta, there was total silence in the salon.  He featured them with clips of their best recordings.  The dancers were there to honor El Señor del Tango.

The lower ceiling over the tables allows for recessed lighting.  The tile dance floor is the largest in the city.


Oh, no.  Could it be?  Yes, that’s Tonino dancing.  I hadn’t seen Antonio Pisano for years.  I haven’t called him on his birthday since he has a girlfriend at home.  He turned 84 on March 12.  He noticed I was filming, but he made a point of not acknowledging me.  Seeing Tonino dance again was another reason I was happy to be there.


I went mainly to hear Orquesta Gente de Tango, which has new blood with several younger musicians replacing the original ones who have finally retired from playing.


Orquesta Gente de Tango performed transcribed Di Sarli arrangements on stage for the audience of 300+.  Hector Morano sings with great passion.


Guillermo Durante plays the Di Sarli style. Unfortunately, he discovered too late that the piano wasn’t tuned.


Mary and Maru were the belles of the ball.


I patiently waited for one milonguero viejo to arrive.  Finally, one came.  Jorge Uzunian lives about three blocks from Salon El Pial.  We’ve danced at Lo de Celia and other milongas.  One tanda with him would have been enough for me for the night, but he didn’t stay around for long after calculating the shortage of potential dance partners.  I was ready with my dance shoes, but I didn’t dance.

All in all, it was a wonderful night of music.  I stayed until 2:30am and patiently waited one hour for the bus to take me home.  That’s the sacrifice I’ll make for a Night of Carlos Di Sarli.

7 years of Tango Chamuyo


A night at Club Premier

December 8, 2011

I attended the “one-night only” milonga at Club Premier in the barrio of Caballito on December 8, 2001.  The outdoor sports area became a dance salon with lights, tables, chairs, and music for a night of tango.  December weather is usually warm, but this night was unseasonably cool, which kept many of the advance ticket holders (ten pesos) away.  Elisa Fardella and her partner Antonio Barone had planned this night for months.

In the 1950s, this club de barrio held dances on Saturday nights where young ladies went escorted by a female relative or family friend.  They sat at tables along the walls while all the young milongueros stood in the middle waiting for the opportunity to invite a young lady to dance.

A few of the men who danced at Club Premier in the 1950s returned for this special night.  There was an aire of nostalgia for them as they remembered their younger years.  Pedro Sanchez, Roberto Alvarez, Guillermo Mourinio, Juan Topalian, Alito Candamil, Jose Luis Aceto, Osvaldo Centeno, Eduardo Naldi, Hector Delgado, Ernesto Delgado, and Miguel Angel Balbi all took a step back in time to recall those days while they danced under the stars on this cool night.  Pedro told me how beautifully polished the surface had been in those days.  Eduardo said, “it’s cold tonight, but it’s beautiful.”  Then the deejay selected Recuerdos by Osvaldo Pugliese to begin the next tanda.

Miguel Angel Balbi recalled when he was dancing at Club Premier on Saturday nights almost fifty years ago.  He said, “words don’t exist to express the feeling of happiness I had here.  I have so many memories.  Premier was one of the best places to dance on Saturday night.  All the men stood in the middle, while the women sat at tables along the wall.  There were nights with more than 500 people.”

I could see how much this club meant to Ernesto Delgado when he told me that this was where he had met the woman he eventually married and who gave him three wonderful sons.

Club Premier was and still is a neighborhood sports club on Campichuelo.  Mothers would not have permitted their young daughters to go alone to dance at a milonga the city.  Women went to the city milongas unescorted.  This is an important difference between the milongas in the city and the neighborhood clubs of the 1940s and 50s.

This post was revised as previously published December 17, 2001, on Tango-L.  I knew how special the occasion was and brought along my camcorder to film it.  I made a video cassette for the organizers and thought I had recorded over the master.  Early this year I discovered that I had the 16-minute video master.  It’s my tango documentary and one of my most important videos.

P.S.  I decided to go to Club Gricel tonight.  Among the hundreds of dancers there was Antonio Barone who hosted the night at Club Premier!  I went to tell him about this post and the video master.  He recalled that cold night when dozens with prepaid entradas stayed home.

Club Oeste

December 2, 2010

The tango magazine ad for La Yumba de Dorita says the milonga runs from 6:00-1:00, so I arrived at 7:00.  A tango class for beginners was in progress on the main floor; the milonga is held upstairs.  Club Oeste is a neighborhood sports club in Caballito.

I was warmly welcomed by Dorita.  I asked her permission to take photos and film during the milonga.  A woman whom I never met before approached my table to express her sadness about the passing of Roberto Angel Pujol.  Needless to say, I was surprised.  She had no idea that Roberto and I danced and taught together.  It was comforting to know that others miss him as much as I do.  Roberto went everywhere to dance during more than fifty years in the milongas.

I went to Club Oeste for the first time after a milonguera told me she dances there on Sunday, but I forgot to ask her what time to go.  Lala finally arrived at 9:30 and invited me to sit at her table.  We were joined much later by José María and Daniel, two milonguero friends of Lala.  The music was very good, and the floor was never crowded.  I expected La Cumparsita at 1:00, but the dancing continued until 2:00. 

Clubes de barrio

March 6, 2009

club-social-y-deportivo-juventud-de-belgranoClub Social y Deportivo Juventud de Belgrano — Virrey Aviles 3153 in Belgrano R

This was one of many neighborhood clubs where orchestras performed on Saturday nights in the 1940s. Miguel Angel Balbi went there regularly in the 1950s.

club-atletico-velez-sarsfield-versallesClub Atlético Veléz Sarsfield — Rivadavia 7867

My first tango teacher was Danel who taught in New York City and now is enjoying his retirement in Phoenix, Arizona.  This is one of the clubs where he danced as a teenager before moving to the USA.  The photo isn’t the actual club where he danced in the 1940s, but the new existing stadium.

club-atletico-defensores-de-chacaritaClub Atlético Defensores de Chacarita — Elcano 3831 — Chacarita

Amanda Lucero and Rodolfo Cesar Indegno mentioned this club as one of their favorite places to dance.  The club no longer holds dances.


Gaona 1327 (1996)Club Social y Deportivo Buenos Aires — Avenida Gaona 1327 and Av. San Martin in Caballito

This is a photo from 1996 before the building was demolished.  Miguel Angel Balbi told me that he went regularly on Sunday nights in the 1950s when dances were held in the outdoor soccer court.  My friend Diana sighed when I mentioned Club Buenos Aires where she danced in the 1990s.

Dante Cespi was the organizer at Club Social y Deportivo Buenos Aires.  He was introduced one night by Oscar Hector Malagrino at Club Glorias Argentinas in July 2003, so I took the opportunity to ask him about how dances used to be.  He was 83 years old then and recalled when 78rpm records were all they had for dances.

club-telegrafo-y-crisol-unidos-parque-chacabucoClub Telegrafo y Crisol Unidos –Saraza 951 — Parque Chacabuco

This is the club where Osvaldo Centeno attended a practica with other boys in the neighborhood.

Milongas are held at this club.

Clubes de barrio

March 5, 2009

circulo-social-y-deportivo-sin-rumbo-villa-urquizaCirculo Social y Deportivo Sin Rumbo — Tamborini 6157 – Villa Urquiza

The entrance wall is full of photographs of tango personalities who have been to the club.  For almost 90 years it has been a traditional place to dance, known as La Catedral del Tango.  The only occasion I went there was in July  2002, for a special event organized by Oscar Hector Malagrino.  Julio Dupláa and his wife organize Friday nights where they provide traditional tango music.


Club América del Sud
Francisco Bilbao 3760
Parque Avellaneda

They have a salon with a wood floor for their regular Saturday night dances that have been held for many years.






Club Atlético Huracán Av. Caseros 3159 Parque Patricios

This club’s history dates back to 1903.  During the 1940s dances were held on Saturdays.  Ernesto Jorge De Gouvea once told me that he would give his right index finger to have one night the way it was at Club Huracán.  It must have been very special for him.  Dances were held ten years ago in the confiteria of the club.




Asociación de Fomento y Biblioteca Popular Mariano Acosta
Mariano Acosta 1544
Parque Avellaneda

Saturday night dances






Club Social y Deportivo  Estudiantes del Norte
Holmberg 4070

Dances haven’t been held in this club since March 2000. Saavedra was the neighborhood of tango singer Roberto Goyaneche.

Clubes de barrio

March 3, 2009

club-fulgor-de-villa-crespoClub Social y Deportivo Fulgor de Villa Crespo – Loyola 828 — Villa Crespo

With so many immigrants moving into the neighborhood, there was a need for a club to get the kids off the street.  In 1933, Osvaldo Pugliese and the other founding members decided to organize the club which currently has dances on Thursday and Sunday. 




club-social-cultural-y-deportivo-bohemios-la-bocaClub Social, Cultural y Deportivo Bohemios  — Necochea 948 in La Boca

This club was founded July 9, 1938, to create a place in the neighborhood for social dancing which was so popular.  Club Bohemios still has dancing every Saturday night.


club-bristol-parque-patriciosClub Bristol — La Rioja 1869 in Parque Patricios

I went to Luis “Pirucho” Ferrari’s birthday asados every April in Club Bristol when he invited all his friends from the milonga.  Cacho and Raquel helped Pirucho and his wife prepare a feast for us.  He had hopes of organizing a milonga in the club, but it never happened.  In the 1980s the club hosted weekend dances when teachers Antonio Todaro and Mingo Pugliese were  among those in attendance.


Club Oeste - Caballito

Club Oeste
Alberdi 436

Where Miguel Angel Balbi danced Thursdays during the 1950s.

Clubes de barrio

March 1, 2009


sunderland-club-villa-urquizaSunderland Club – Lugones 3161 in Villa Urquiza

I have been there only once to film El Flaco Dany performing with Muma on June 24, 2001.  It’s too far for me to travel alone to dance.  Dances are held in the basketball court with the music of Mario Orlando, who uses Milonga Triste for the cortina.  It’s a social gathering of locals, foreigners and dance professionals, Saturday nights hosted by Graciela and Carlos Matera.

photo: Man Yung (2009)

photo: Man Yung (2009)

Club Social y Deportivo Glorias Argentinas – Bragado 6875 in Mataderos

There is a large salon with a family atmosphere where Oscar Hector Malagrino hosts Saturday nights.  He pays tribute to dancers and musicians every week because he knows just about everyone in tango.  Oscar Hector opened his first milonga in 1963.  Most dancers arrive early for dinner before dancing. There is a mixture of ages with traditional tango with cumbia, salsa and jazz.

My first visit to Glorias Argentinas was in July 2003, the night that milonguero Juan Topalian was being honored.  He spoke about the way dances were organized there when he was a young man.  He said there were no tables, only chairs along the wall where the girls were seated with their older sisters and friends.  All the boys stood in the middle of the room, from where they invited a girl to dance with a head gesture.  If the girls didn’t accept a boy’s invitation, he had to remain standing all night long.  Juan said that even during the hot summer months, all the young men wore suits and ties, and the girls wore a different dress each week.

club-premier-caballitoClub Premier – Campichuelo 472 in Caballito

The club has an outdoor soccer court in the rear where dances with an orchestra were held in the 1950s.  I went to Premier on December 8, 2001, when Elisa Fardella and her partner Antonio organized a special night for milongueros to recall the summer nights they danced at Club Premier.  I filmed Pedro Sanchez, Jose Luis Aceto, Roberto Alvarez, Mario Alan Candamil, Osvaldo Centeno, Juan Topalian, Ernesto Delgado, Miguel Angel Balbi, and Eduardo Naldi dancing and recalling the nights they had at Club Premier.  It’s where Ernesto Delgado met the woman he married.

Clubes de barrio

February 28, 2009

This is the first in a series about the clubes de barrio.  They were built to provide a place for cultural, social, and sports activities in the neighborhoods, including tango dances on the weekend. 



Club Social y Deportivo Pinocho – Manuela Pedraza 5139 — Villa Urquiza


Sandra Cameron Studio, NYC (Nov 1997)

I went to Club Pinocho in March 1996, during my first visit to Buenos Aires.  Carlos Copello, who performed with Alicia Monti in Una noche de tango,  recommended this club de barrio to our group.  It was a long taxi ride from our hotel.  None of us danced with any of the locals since it was a Saturday night attended by couples.  I remembered seeing this couple at Club Pinocho, and a year later Miguel Zotto hired them to tour with his show Una noche de tango in New York City.  Alfredo and Nora Leguizamón along with El Pibe Palermo and his partner Norma never imagined in their wildest dreams they would be dancing on stage in the Big Apple.  The show was named “best dance show” in 1998 by Clarin.




Club Atlético Atlanta  – Humboldt 374 in Villa Crespo

This is the club where Maria Nieves went at the age of 12 to watch the dancing with her sister Naty.  Two years later she started learning to dance with the boys at the club.  She eventually met Juan Carlos Copes, and the rest is history.  They brought tango to New York City in the 1950s, where they struggled to get any work they could as dancers.  Years later, they traveled the world with the show Tango Argentino, which premiered in Paris in 1983.


club-pedro-echague-parque-avellanedaClub Cultural y Deportivo Pedro Echagüe – Portela 836 in Parque Avellaneda

The club has been hosting a peña de tango every Saturday night since 1974.  It’s not a milonga since singles are not allowed.  Couples have dinner and then dance tango and salsa.  It is one of my favorite places to go with a partner.

This is the club where Miguel Angel Balbi, Ernesto Delgado, and Hector Delgado took their wives for dinner and dancing on Saturday nights.

Circulo Apolo Machain - Saavedra


Círculo Apolo Machain – Machain 3517 – Saavedra

Founded March 15, 1936 – Dances held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Villa Malcolm

January 25, 2009


This is Club Social y Deportivo Villa Malcolm founded in 1928 and located at Avenida Cordoba 5064 in Palermo Viejo.  The large salon with stage was a venue for tango during many decades past.  In 1998, Jose Hernandez organized a milonga there with Carlos Lafflito, deejay.  I celebrated my 50th birthday with them.   Today Villa Malcolm  is the temple of the tango nuevo movement.


Lafflito & Hernandez

Lafflito & Hernandez