Archive for the ‘Milongas’ Category

Retiring from the milonga

December 31, 2018

I often meet people on the street that I know from the tango community.  I’m finding that I’m not the only one who has retired from the milonga.

Carlos and Lila live two blocks from me.  They were passing by one day recently on their way to the vet with their dog.  I asked how things are at Lo de Celia.  Carlos said they haven’t danced all year and don’t plan on returning.  I saw them every Sunday at Lo de Celia.

I was out walking along Av. Callao on Saturday when I saw a familiar face.  She was sitting on a bench with her dog.  I asked, don’t I know you from Lo de Celia?  Susana recognized me and remembered my name.  I asked if she was still dancing at Lo de Celia.  She replied, I haven’t danced all year.  Lo de Celia isn’t the same without Celia.  It was like family then.  Things have changed.  So many feel the same way.

The same day I saw Eduardo on the street.  He lives a block from me.  He, too, said he no longer dances at Lo de Celia.  He had his reserved seat at the front table near the bar.

Celia was the glue that kept her milonga family together.  She worked hard to build and keep the milonga going for many years.  The people who took over her business have no idea what it takes to run a milonga, so organizers are in charge.  Jonatan Rojas has Wednesday and Sunday; Alberto and Edit have Friday, Adriana has Saturday, and Bibiana Ahmad opens on Monday, January 7.

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Ringing in the new year

December 29, 2018

Holidays are a family occasion, when so many milongas close.  A friend told me about one milonga venue that is open for those who want to dance and party with friends on New Year’s Eve — Obelisco Tango.  The announcement says: You’re invited to celebrate something different for New Year’s Eve.  Reserve your space with your advance payment.  Bring your own dinner.  The only condition is that you buy your drinks from us.  Air-conditioned venue.  The admission is only 300 pesos!  Buying five or more admissions for a 20% discount.

Foreigners who are in Buenos Aires for the holidays may choose this option on Monday night.  There will be excellent music provided by Pier Aldo from Italy, that is, if you can hear it.  There won’t be any milongueros viejos because they’ll be at be at home with family.  There will be groups of friends dancing together.  Single women expecting a regular milonga environment will be disappointed.  It’s a party into the wee hours of the morning.  Trying to find a taxi to take you home could be a challenge.

 

A tango landmark has bitten the dust

December 27, 2018

I was out for an evening walk with no destination or route in mind. When I found myself close to the site of El Arranque (2000-2017), I thought it was a perfect time to check on the status of the building Nuevo Salon La Argentina.  I walked by it and had to take a step back.  The entire entrance had been boarded up, but I peeked inside just as workers were finishing for the day.  My jaw dropped.  The interior of the enormous dance salon with bar and stage had been completely gutted in one month.  There was nothing left except the steel support beams and roof.  The owners had a For Rent sign on the building in early 2017, but who could afford to rent the dance hall.  Nobody.  However, someone bought it.  Construction began on what will be a gymnasium.  There is a building permit displayed indicating that the new owner is Asian and lives in my neighborhood.

Just what the city needed — one less dance venue and one more gymnasium.  I remember many wonderful tandas at El Arranque with Alito, Hector, Osvaldo, Roberto and many others.  Maybe the plans include a dance studio?

This was the last night of dancing at El Arranque.

Before and after photos of Nuevo Salon La Argentina with a for rent sign on the building in 2017 and how it is today.

Homogenized and prepackaged tango

July 26, 2018

Today the dancing is all so homogenized and prepackaged for exhibition. You don’t see social dancers wearing dresses with high slits, but that’s standard for exhibition couples today. You don’t see social dancers standing six feet apart to begin a dance, but that’s how “salon” is marketed today. Most of what is done in today’s exhibitions is a far cry from actual social dancing in the milongas of BsAs. While the champions are doing their perfect choreographies, social tango is falling by the wayside. When the masses no longer dance socially, it will be the death of tango. Dance floors aren’t big enough for all the egos that want attention.

 

Originally posted to Dance Forum, Jan. 17, 2014

Keeping up with milonga changes

January 26, 2018

Twenty years ago, we consulted the one bi-monthly guide for the milonga schedule:  B.A. Tango – Buenos Aires Tango.  Tito Palumbo  discontinued publication in 2016 and changed to social media.  That’s the best and only way to keep up with the constant changes.

For example, I planned to meet two visitors at my regular place on Wednesday.  Then I learned that El Maipu wasn’t scheduled in Obelisco Tango as usual at 18 hs; it was temporarily relocated to La Nacional at 20 hs. I cancelled our plans.  If I hadn’t checked their page on Facebook, I wouldn’t have known.  The other source is Hoy-Milonga.com

And then Milonga de Los Consagrados in Centro Region Leonesa was mysteriously cancelled a few weeks ago.  The club’s board may have decided not to rent the salon out for milongas; the Friday milonga moved to La Nacional.  Los Consagrados also relocated to La Nacional one week and then to Casa de Galicia. Both places seat fewer than the 350 capacity at Salon Leonesa.  Tomorrow it’s scheduled in La Nacional, where there was a problem with the air-conditioning a couple of weeks ago.

I feel sorry for all the dancers who don’t have access to the internet.  They show up at their regular milonga, many after an hour of travel by bus, only to find the doors closed.

This week is the craziest month ever in terms of venue changes.  I’ve been on FB for a little more than a year.  I relied on Hoy-Milonga for the schedule, but didn’t always bother to check it before walking out the door.  Power outages are common during the summer months.

Tonight, Milonga de Buenos Aires, usually held in Obelisco Tango is taking place in Lo de Celia, a half a block away.  Repairs and painting are being done in Obelisco Tango (which I hope include the ladies room).  Obelisco seats 350, and Lo de Celia 150.  That means seven organizers scramble to find another place so they don’t have to cancel their milongas and lose money and patrons.  The entrance door was just painted.

The milonga organizers are not only fighting with the city government to stay alive, they have to deal with situations beyond their control to stay open.  It’s not easy running a milonga these days in Buenos Aires.

Do yourself a favor when visiting the milongas: always check the milonga’s Facebook page and Hoy-Milonga.com for confirmation it will be open when you arrive at the door.

Milonga shuffling

January 22, 2018

Barajando is the perfect name for the newest milonga in Buenos Aires.  I think it’s about time Jonatan Rojas organized a milonga.  He’s a familiar face in the milongas and a fine dancer.  There’s no better venue for Jony to start than where he was a waiter for so many years.

Barajando means shuffling a deck of cards.   The tango Barajando was recorded by Juan D’Arienzo with Alberto Echague.

Jony is the right person to revive Sundays at the corner of Humberto Primo and Entre Rios.  He’s had a full house so far and already has plans for a Wednesday milonga.  When an organizer knows how to take care of the dancers, they come.  He’s worked in the salon almost since Celia’s opening, so it’s only natural for him to hold his first milonga there.

I wish Jony much success as organizer.  He takes care of his customers.

What is a silent milonga?

January 20, 2018

There were silent milongas in Maui, Hawaii.  They are the idea of Murat Erdemsel

“We dance to the Music. Nobody speaks between tangos, tandas and around the dance floor.”

Here’s what Ingeborg Mussche wrote:

For more than a year now a friend and I have danced silently, no talking between songs, well 90% of the time. Yes, it was awkward at first and sometimes still feels a bit awkward, but now mostly it seems normal and more comfortable.

Tonight, for the first time I especially realized how lovely this. I became distinctly aware of relaxing into the music, our embrace, my/our breathing, and the enjoyment of our moving together and listening together. Also, the dance felt more relaxed and not rushed. My mind was not thinking what I might say between songs. I was just enjoying, just present in the moment. We chatted briefly afterwards and both felt it had been a lovelier tanda than we typically experience.

I hope many more have the opportunity to enjoy this during their tandas, but be aware it may take a long time before you realize that sensation. Will it happen again? I hope so.

Of course.  People don’t know what they’re missing without silence.  The music of a tanda continues for about 12 minutes.  The few seconds from the end of one tango to start of another doesn’t allow for conversation.  What is so important that it can’t wait until after the milonga?

I wrote about this topic here and here.

There is no comparison

January 10, 2018

I danced for the first time with Jose Mario about two months ago in El Maipu.  I remember how much I enjoyed a tanda with him.  I was hoping to catch his attention yesterday in Nuevo Chique.  There were only a few dancers left at 22 hs.  I was about to call it a night and change my shoes.  Then Jose Mario caught my eye and invited me for the Pugliese tanda that began with Recuerdos.  I accepted even though I don’t usually dance the Pugliese tanda.

From the second I entered his embrace, I surrendered to the music and closed my eyes.  There were no more than five couples on the floor.  I rarely close my eyes while dancing, but I let it happen naturally.  It was magical.  It was feeling, not steps.  We moved together in harmony like we’ve danced together for years.

I had danced earlier with men from Germany, Australia, and England, including a very young Argentine who has learned for two years.

The German tried to get my attention from the other side of the room, but I ignored him because he is too tall for me.  He approached my table, and I accepted.  It was the Biaggi tanda.  He started like a racehorse out of the gate with long steps.  I said, slow down.  He was dancing for himself, not for me. Later he commented, “the music has energy so you have to put energy into the dance.”  This wasn’t his first visit to Buenos Aires.  I couldn’t feel the lead from his upper body.  I had to concentrate on his steps and try to follow.  A few times I didn’t follow along because there was no lead.  He didn’t notice.  He was dancing for himself.

The Australian and I danced together at the same milonga a day after his arrival.  He invited me for the Rodriguez tanda yesterday.  [I haven’t heard this orquesta in a very long time. Thanks to Daniel Borelli, who I consider the best DJ in Buenos Aires, for including it yesterday.]  He’s here for a month to dance and take classes — two privates and eight group classes each week.  He said he’s here to learn the milonguero style.  I offered free private sessions, but he has a full agenda. It’s no wonder that he’s still thinking tango, not feeling it.

Foreigners are in a hurry; the milongueros take their time.  Foreigners focus on the steps; the milongueros focus on the woman in their embrace.  There is no comparison.  One is exercise, the other is a feeling.  If I need exercise, I go for a walk or practice Pilates.  When a man shares what he feels in the music, I melt.  And I did last night with Jose Mario.

Overcharging tourists is nothing new

September 21, 2017

The cost of admission to milongas increases once or twice a year without fail.  About twelve years ago, there was one milonga charging a higher entrada to foreign visitors than local dancers.  That policy didn’t help the bottom line and word got around.  It’s widely known that teachers don’t pay an entrada, supposedly because they bring their students, which most do not.  It’s only logical that the milongueros viejos who are the best dancers in Buenos Aires gain entrance without charge wherever they go.  Foreign female visitors come to Buenos Aires specifically to dance with the milongueros.

I thought that this policy of overcharging tourists at the milongas wasn’t around anymore until a friend mentioned that she was told the entrada was 235 pesos.  She had been away from the city for several weeks, and knew that 100 to 235 was an outrageous increase.  The cashier knows who the locals are and who the foreign visitors are.  My friend is a foreigner, living many years Buenos Aires.  She wasn’t about to pay 235 pesos, and ended up paying the general entrada of 120 pesos when she questioned the cashier.

What can you do if you are a newcomer or a returning visitor to the milongas in Buenos Aires?

  • write the organizer asking the price of the entrada when you make a reservation.  All milongas have FB.
  • ask me or your friends about the entrada at various milongas
  • wait to see how much others in line pay, and then pay the same.
  • have bills for the exact amount ready to pay the entrada (like a regular) without asking the cashier.  Very few milongas put a sign on the desk announcing the general entrada.

This same cashier, who was unsuccessful in overcharging my friend, quietly avoided giving me change one night when others distracted my attention.  We don’t know if the organizers are aware of the situation.  It’s not about the money, when the entradas are less in Buenos Aires than in many countries.  It’s the discriminatory policy charging unaware foreigners more than the local dancers and then pocketing the extra cash.

Name that tune

July 30, 2017

I hadn’t been to Club Gricel since October and was pleasantly surprised to see a projection screen on the wall on Thursday night at La Cachilla.  There’s no more guessing which orquesta or tune you’re dancing to — the information is on the screen.  What a great idea for those who wants to learn more about tango.  The deejay uses a special software program that automatically displays the name of the orquesta, the title of the tune, and its composer.