Encounter with a machista

January 4, 2019

It’s a man’s world, but times are changing.  Women around the world are demanding change in the things as they are in a male-dominated society.  We have power and have to own it.

I had an interesting situation today while walking to the bank.  Buenos Aires is a walking city.  It’s normal for men to move aside for women, young to change their path for seniors.  There is courtesy on the street.

I was walking next to the buildings on a wide sidewalk when I was suddenly confronted by a man from the other direction.  He decided that I should move for him because he wanted to enter an apartment building a few feet away.  In all of my twenty years in Buenos Aires, this was the first time I met someone who didn’t behave as a gentleman.

We were standing there for a few minutes.  I smiled and asked if he knows how to dance.  It felt like I was meeting someone on the dance floor.  No, I don’t dance, he said.  I was speaking in a normal tone of voice while smiling at him.  I said, gentlemen move for ladies.  You’re aggressive, he said, and I’m no gentleman.

If I had to deal with this situation regularly, I might have left the country years ago.  The milongueros viejos I’ve known over the years are gentlemen.

When I entered and left the bank, gentlemen held the door for me.  That’s the way it is.  Courtesy hasn’t gone out of style.


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.

Confiteria del Molino

December 30, 2018

Only one block from the demolished Nuevo Salon La Argentina is the Confiteria del Molino.  This building, which opened in 1916, is a protected landmark under restoration and now owned by the state.  It’s never coming down!

I had my first visit to Buenos Aires in March 1996, when a milonga opened on the first floor of Confiteria del Molino (windmill).  This article from La Nacion has a photo of the dance salon where Madonna danced in the movie “Evita.”  The milonga closed after only six months, and then the building closed and was abandoned in 1997.  The confiteria on the ground floor is where politicians went to talk business. The national congress is just across the street.

This photo shows the windows and doors facing Avenida Callao of the salon de baile where the milonga was held in 1996.  I recall going out on the balcony through the doors on the far right. I may have danced only one tanda that night, but it was a very special place for tango, even if only for a brief period.  Perhaps tango dancing will return to the famous salon de baile in Confiteria del Molino in the not too distant future.  The city is losing venues for milongas, which are crucial to tango’s survival as a social dance and cultural interest.

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.

Francisco Gysel

December 18, 2018

September 26, 1940 – December 17, 2018

I have only one video of Francisco dancing with Elba in Lo de Celia.  He was one of very few milongueros who taught tango.

Roberto Segarra

November 23, 2018

September 16, 1920 – November 21, 2018

Roberto con su novia Olga Gomez en Club Fulgor de Villa Crespo

Roberto con su novia Olga Gomez

Carlos Herrera

October 12, 2018

October 12, 1934 —

I almost didn’t recognize Carlos when I saw him on Wednesday at El Beso, but I did recognize his embrace.  I didn’t know if he recognized me since we have not danced together in more than two years.  I was happy to see him, and he invited me for two tandas.

Mario Hector Camartino

October 10, 2018

October 10, 1928 —

It’s been two months since I went to a milonga.  Mario invited me to celebrate his birthday at El Beso, and I didn’t want to miss seeing him.

There are two chandeliers hanging over the dance floor adding an elegant touch to the salon.

Viviana with Mario in El Beso for the 90th birthday party

Dora with Mario in El Beso for his 90th birthday party

I was so happy to see Mario for the first time since his birthday party in 2017.

Mario with his friend Carlos who always wears a suit and tie for the milonga. My wish came true when Carlos invited me to dance. It was so comfortable dancing with him. Later he invited me again for the Troilo tanda. Lucky me!


Milongas are no longer on my agenda

August 20, 2018

I used to go to a milonga three or four times a week.  I’ve gone only five times this year to a milonga.  It’s not that I don’t love the music and dance as always.  My incentive was knowing that I would dance tandas with two or three milongueros.  They are gone from the milongas for various reasons.  The milongas aren’t the same without them.

Roberto was one of my favorites.  We danced at El Arranque and Lo de Celia.  I haven’t seen him for a long time and don’t know if he is still dancing. What I wouldn’t give for another tanda with him!  I feel his embrace just thinking about him. We shared tango.

I had a weekly meltdown with Hector Giocci in Lo de Celia Tango Club.  But he dances all night long with Sarah.  How lucky she is.  I would love to dance all night with him.

It was a privilege dancing with Ismael Heljalil.  Every woman who had the pleasure of a tanda with him knows tango is all about feeling and sharing the moment.

I loved dancing Anibal Serena (who turned 86 on August 3).  He was a regular on Sunday at Lo de Celia, but now…

Carlos Herrera was another one of my favorite partners in Lo de Celia.  I knew his kind heart from his embrace.

Tito Aquino is gone, but not from my heart.  Every tango by Carlos Di Sarli evokes the memory of his embrace in the many tangos we shared for years.

Clodomiro (Tito) Ortega is another man with whom I would love dancing all night long.

Certain tangos always bring Alito to my thought.  I miss him so much.

Roberto danced differently to each orchestra, and proved to me tango is a feeling.  We taught together for several years.  I share what I learned from him in free private classes to anyone who is interested.  I danced all night in Lo de Celia with Roberto.  Lucky me.

A free concert agenda at the Centro Cultural Kirchner, Usina del Arte, Congreso de la Nacion Argentina, and other venues now replaces my milonga agenda.