Archive for the ‘Milongas’ Category

Lots to smile about

April 10, 2022

If you could see me right now in front of the computer writing this post, you would see me smiling.  Every morning while I walk around the plaza, I’m smiling.  People can see me smiling because I don’t cover my face.  I prefer to inhale oxygen that I need to stay alive.

I attended an oboe and piano recital at Teatro Colon on Thursday. I didn’t cover my face and no one insisted that I do so.  I saw there were many members of the audience without a mask as well.  I enjoyed seeing the face of Stefania from Colombia who shared the third tier box with me.  She also studied oboe, so we connected.

I enjoy watching the videos that Jonatan Rojas posts on Facebook during his milongas in Lo de Celia Tango Club.  While watching a recent video, I finally noticed that no one on the dance floor had their faces covered.

Then Saturday evening I attended a concert in Recoleta.  I entered smiling as usual and saw others didn’t have their faces covered, including the musicians of the Camarata de la Ciudad. That’s a personal decision now.  People who don’t wear masks smile more.

It’s nice breathing naturally whether dancing tango or listening to a live concert.  The shift is happening in the city of Buenos Aires.  The mask mandate is no more.  We are free to make our own choice after two years.  I feel sorry for those who are so accustomed to wearing a mask outdoors that it may take time for them to break the habit that served no purpose.

Cheek to cheek

January 26, 2022

Years had passed since I danced at the Wednesday milonga in Lo de Celia.  Finally, on December 1, I attended Barajando, organized by Jonatan Rojas and Norma Avalos.  One tanda that evening was especially memorable.  The orquesta was Carlos Di Sarli.  My partner was Raymond Fonk from Holland.  We know each other through tango chats on Zoom, but we had never danced together even though Lo de Celia is our favorite milonga.

After his invitation, I got up quickly from the table and hurried to the the floor.  I realized I had forgotten to put on my mask and didn’t want to return for it.  Raymond then decided he would remove his mask.  No problem. We danced the beautiful selection of Di Sarli tangos selected by Daniel Borelli. I surrendered to his embrace.  Wearing masks while dancing completely changes one important element of tango.  It’s danced cheek to cheek.  Other tandas did not have the same intimacy for me with a barrier by the masks.  It was more sensual with his smooth cheek against mine and feeling his breath pass my ear.  Dancing cheek to cheek with Raymond was the only way I want and know to dance tango.  The masks interfere with the intimacy of tango.  Anyone who has danced tango cheek to cheek knows that wearing masks is not the same.  Dancers will be happier when the protocol to wear masks in the milongas is over. All they do is deprive dancers of the oxygen they need.

An old song comes to mind, and I want to share some of the lyrics.

“Cheek to Cheek” was composed by Irving Berlin in 1934-35 for his new musical “Top Hat” starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Heaven, I’m in heaven
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak
And I seem to find the happiness I seek
When we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek
Heaven, I’m in heaven
And the cares that hung around me through the week
Seem to vanish like a gambler’s lucky streak
When we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek
Oh I’d love to climb a mountain
And reach the highest peak
But it doesn’t thrill me half as much
As dancing cheek to cheek
I’d love to go out fishing
In a river or a creek
But I don’t enjoy it half as much
As dancing cheek to cheek

What’s happening in Buenos Aires?

December 31, 2021

I can’t think of a better way to update the tango world on the latest situation in the milongas than by sharing a recent interview by Lucas Antonisse with Srini Vishnubhotla.

A visit to my second home

October 28, 2021

Yesterday I visited the place I’ve referred to as my second home in Buenos Aires for many years.  It is located only ten blocks from where I live.  My plan wasn’t to enter my second home, but to stay outside.  It was a pleasant surprise when someone else changed my plan for me.  The last time I entered my second home was September 18, 2016.  My second home was Lo de Celia.

I climbed these stairs to the salon on the first floor two or three times a week for 16 years.  I noticed that a few dancers were taking the steps more slowly.  It’s a challenge for those in their 70s and 80s, but they manage.  The descent is easier.

 

The first man who entered as I was stationed at the door was Jose Marcos, with whom I danced regularly.  I remember his soft embrace.  I recognized him with his mask on.

 

Then Eduardo Ereson (84) came down the stairs, as if he heard I was there.  After a brief chat, he went back upstairs to get Graciela Cano (82).  Both of them have a very long bus ride to the milonga. Eduardo travels 90 minutes by bus from Berezategui.  Graciela lives in Sarandi, both in the provincia of Buenos Aires.

 

Graciela came downstairs to the entrance to greet me.  She said she can only afford one milonga each week, so she comes on Wednesday to Lo de Celia.  The entrada is 400 pesos, which is less than three dollars for tourists.

Hector was the next milonguero who arrived.  Please note the suit and tie he’s wearing on a day when the afternoon temperature was 85F.  No sweat.

I’ve never seen this photo of Celia before, but I was pleased to see it prominently displayed with framed certificates for her milonga.

Jonatan Rojas invited me from the top of the stairs to come inside for a visit.  I accepted and once again climbed the stairway I knew so well.  He welcomed me back home!

Graciela and Eduardo finished the tanda and came by for another photo.

I was so happy seeing Dany Borelli after five years.  I’ve only seen him virtually during seminars.  He is a wealth of knowledge about tango music, and he has always been my absolute favorite DJ in the milongas.

I stood in the corner near the bar where I had a perfect view of the salon.  I couldn’t believe that I was actually in Lo de Celia after five years.  I enjoyed every moment. 

Dany asked Anna to join us for a photo.  Her previous job was in the kitchen, and now is one of two waitresses.

Then Dany got Jony to join us for a photo.  I couldn’t believe how my plans had changed into a big surprise.  It was more than I could have imagined.

This is the corner table by the bar that I occupied in my second home on Wednesdays and Sundays for at least ten years.  My chair was on the aisle, a perfect position for greeting those passing by. Jonatan always had a bottle of agua sin gas natural on the table when I returned from the first tanda.

Felisa and I hugged and kissed when she arrived.  She usually sat at the table in front of mine and often joined me later in the evening. It was so nice seeing her after many years.

I had to take a peek at the ladies room and was delighted to see the improvements.

Some faces were familiar, but I didn’t know their names.  It felt like I was going back in time.

The dancers removed their masks at the table, but wore them while dancing.  It won’t be long before the milongas will be mask-free!

These are the two women who cheerfully take care of the dancers with food and drinks.  I can tell they are smiling under the masks.

I felt even more at home when I saw all the dancers I could recognize even wearing masks.

Dany must have detected a problem with one of the speakers, so he and Jony took care of it while the dancing continued.

As I was leaving, Elba Estay, la madrina de Lo de Celia, arrived.  She didn’t recognize me with white hair.  I was glad I didn’t miss seeing her.

Nestor Perez Vidal was the next one to arrive.  He hasn’t changed a bit.

Then outside I saw Carlos Lombisano finishing his cigarette.  He recognized me, and we had a nice conversation.

I didn’t stop smiling for the entire hour I was in my second home, visiting with the family.  And my smile continued the rest of the night.

Clandestine milongas

August 11, 2021

I’m probably not writing news that many of you haven’t already heard through the tango grapevine. But I wanted to share the big secret with those who may not know.

If it wasn’t for a Zoom chat with those who have a direct line to important people in the BA milonga scene, I would have no idea about what is quietly taking place here.

As a regular follower of this blog, you know that I live only ten blocks from the venue that I considered my second home for many years. Well, the organizer of Barajando opened the doors recently, after months of online music to keep his customers happy at home.  It has been 17 months since there were official milongas.

You won’t be seeing any announcements about these milongas until they get permission from the city.  Hoy Milonga.com will not have any information.  You have to contact the organizers privately.

The other venue on La Rioja is quietly hosting a limited number of dancers.  The organizer has waited patiently for the city to include milongas along with movie theaters, concert venues, and other cultural events.  He has done what any milonguero and milonga organizer would do — take charge and provide a space for his friends to embrace one another and socialize.

These clandestine dances are helping people physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically.  Tango dancing makes us healthy and happy.  Nothing is more important right now.  The outdoor milongas at plazas and parks around the city are another option for those who are desperate to dance and don’t mind the cold.

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.

 

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.

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.

 

Who are these masked men at the milonga?

November 23, 2020

Last week a tango friend called to tell me about an outdoor milonga in the Palermo neighborhood on the weekend. I decided to check is out on Saturday night. I went mainly to see who was there, who was playing the music, and take photos to share on my blog and Facebook.

It’s been more than two years since I went to a milonga. I was curious to see if there were more young dancers or old dancers. Saturday night at 9:00pm was the perfect night for dancing outdoors in a park.

It doesn’t look like much, but things were just getting started. The deejay is on the left behind his portable boom box.  There is some seating on risers on the right.

I don’t know if the milonga is announced on social media or how people learned about it.   There was music, and people were dancing.  That was enough after eight months of no tango whatsoever in Buenos Aires.

These milongueros came to dance and didn’t waste any time.

This is Carlitos who is the organizer and programs the music.  I’ve known him for years in the milongas.  Thanks to him, dancers were back to doing what they love.

This area where the milonga began has circles painted on concrete.  It’s where children run through the fountain on hot summer days. 

Lights.  Music.  Tango.

When the roller skaters went home, the milonga moved to a larger area of smooth concrete.

You get the picture.  Dancers embraced.  Excellent music.  Perfect night.  I danced a lovely tanda of vals with Ruben for the first time. We both wore masks.