Posts Tagged ‘Amanda Lucero’

Exhibitions in the milongas

April 26, 2009

A milonguero goes to a milonga to dance.  He is not interested in watching exhibitions.  They are the nightly entertainment at most milongas these days in Buenos Aires.

I don’t remember exhibitions at milongas when I visited Buenos Aires in 1996, except for Club Almagro.  That milonga was organized from 1993 until it closed in 2000 by Juan Fabbri and Dolores de Amo who were interested in tango shows.  Today they produce the shows at Esquina Carlos Gardel and Tango Porteño.  It was a total change from the way the milonga at Almagro had been since 1960.  Not only were there nightly exhibitions, but announcements and raffles.  The entire milonga environment changed and others followed suit.  Famous personalities began coming to Buenos Aires to see tango, and they went to Club Almagro: Madonna, Julio Iglesias, and The Rolling Stones.  I was there when Wynton Marsalis and his band showed up the night before their concert at the Gran Rex on Corrientes.  They say that Almagro was no longer Almagro, and that was the beginning of its demise.

Couples are invited by organizers months in advance to perform in milongas so that advance promotion can be done on the internet and in tango magazines.  Organizers pay well for top performing couples because they bring more people to the milonga. 

The problem I have with exhibitions is that they interrupt the evening for those who came to dance, and the performances usually don’t demonstrate good social tango.  It’s all about fancy steps to gain applause and be videotaped for YouTube promotion.  If everyone danced like those who performed, we would kill one another on the social floor. 

There is one refreshing example of an exhibition that is simple and elegant.  When Beto Ayala dances an exhibition in Salon Canning with Amanda Lucero, he doesn’t change anything about his dancing.  He dances as he normally does in a milonga.  He follows the line of dance around the floor.  He keeps his feet on the floor.  And he dances for his partner and with the music.  Beto doesn’t dance for applause.  Here is their recent exhibition in Salon Canning dancing to El Tigre Viejo by Fresedo.  It’s pure tango.  Beto is a milonguero who feels tango and doesn’t have anything to prove.

I’m glad that there is at least one milonga where people can go to dance tango without interruptions for raffles, announcements or exhibitions. The owner welcomes everyone and mentions the times for her other milongas.  Then it’s back to dancing at Lo de Celia.  There is too much talking these days, another big change from the way things used to be only a few years ago when everyone wanted to listen to the music.

Bailarina de tango

November 16, 2008

This tango is probably best known for the 1951 recording by Rodolfo Biaggi’s orchestra with singer Hugo Duval. The music was composed by Oscar de la Fuente with lyrics by Horacio Sanguinetti. The Todo Tango site includes the 1973 recording by Hugo Duval. My English translation is written below the original lyrics. When I listen or dance to this tango, I can think of only one milonguera — Amanda Lucero.

De satén y color negro, la pollera.
De charol y tacos altos, los zapatos.
Dibujando garabatos,
del ritmo que se adueña
tu estampa de porteña.

Tu conoces el secreto de los tangos
y es por eso que los bailas como nadie.
Y en los brazos que te abrazas,
que mística que pasas,
danzando en el salón.

Sacerdotisa del tango,
sacerdotisa sentida.
Rito es la danza en tu vida
y el tango que tu amas
te quema en su llama.

Sacerdotisa del tango,
que en los salones de rango,
bailas en brazos de un hombre
que luce el renombre
de gran bailarín.

Of satin and color black, the skirt.
Of patent leather and high heels, the shoes.
Drawing scribbles,
to the rhythm which you take possession
your stamp as a port city woman.

You know the secret of the tangos
and that’s why you dance as no one else.
And in the arms that you embrace,
what mystical things happen,
dancing in the ballroom.

Priestess of the tango,
Priestess sense.
Ceremony is the dance in your life
and the tango that you love
that burns you in its flame.

Priestess of the tango,
that in the ballroom of status,
you dance in the arms of a man
who shows the fame
of a great dancer.

Alberto Luis Ayala

July 2, 2008
(July 2, 1941–)
Beto grew up in the San Cristobal neighborhood at Humberto Primo and Matheu, four blocks from where I live. He took his first steps learning the woman’s role in tango because he was the smallest among the group of boys. Since a man had to wear a suit to enter a downtown confiteria, Beto rented a different one every weekend from the neighborhood dry cleaners for only a peso. Others thought he had owned many suits when he actually had none.
Beto met his wife Teresa dancing, and they’ve been married for 37 years. Three years ago I coaxed Beto into teaching tango. He has not only enjoyed the experience, but has proven to every student that he knows how to teach.
 We have spent many hours together at milongas over the past six years, and I always look forward to dancing with Beto. We danced a couple weeks ago in Salon Sur in Pompeya to tangos of Carlos Di Sarli. The only way I can describe the feeling is that I was flying.
I hope that someday Beto will teach in the United States. He has been dancing in the milongas for more than fifty years. The time has come for a milonguero to show American women how tango is supposed to feel.