Posts Tagged ‘El Arranque’

Roberto Alvarez

February 20, 2009

February 20, 1933 —

Roberto and Mary

Roberto and Mary

Roberto is called El chueco because he is bow-legged.  He has been the M.C. at the milonga El Arranque of Juan Carlos Falce in Nuevo Salon La Argentina for many years. When I didn’t see him there a few months ago, I asked about him.  I decided to call him at home to find out how he was.  He was fine, but he wasn’t at the milonga because he was taking care of Mary.  She told me they have been together for 25 years when we spoke in October 2008.  Roberto has worked as a handyman doing general repairs and electrical work.  I danced with him years ago when I went regularly to El Arranque.  He usually shared a table with his friends Jorge Orellano and Julio Alé. 

This photograph is from the book A Los Amigos Milongueros (6th edition) by Angel Battelini published in 1998.  Angel (12/23/22 – 5/28/07) found inspiration for his poetry in the milongas and self-published them.  He gave me an autographed copy of his book in October 1998.  This is part of his poem about Roberto El Chueco and Mary (page 53):

El demuestra de salida…
que es milonguero de raza
en la milonga, se pasa
deja en el tango, la vida…
y eya, dulce, sencitiva
elegante pispireta
muestra qu para el gotán
le sobra clase y carpeta…

Julio, Victor, Roberto and Jorge in El Arranque

Julio, Victor, Roberto and Jorge in El Arranque

Ernesto Jorge De Gouvea

November 20, 2008
Irma and Jorge at Buenos Aires Tango (Milonguero) in Mundo Latino
Irma and Jorge at Buenos Aires Tango (Milonguero) in Mundo Latino (Nov 2001)

November 20, 1934 —

Jorge is a master of tiny steps. I’ll never forget my first experience dancing with him in Glamour in 1997. We were dancing milonga con traspie. I made a mistake, and Jorge asked me what happened. I was thinking what an amazing dancer he is instead of being in the moment and enjoying it.

Jorge and Irma have been dancing together for the past twelve years. They competed in the IV Campeonato Metropolitano de Tango finals (August 2006) in which they placed fifth in milonga. They are champions of milonga. No bouncing, no butt swinging, no shoulder movement whatsoever. Just pure feeling-the way Jorge has danced for decades. They are an equal partnership. I remember seeing Omar Vega one afternoon in El Arranque watching Jorge and Irma on the floor.

Jorge once told me that he danced in Club Atlético Huracán in Parque Patricios as a young man. That experience meant so much to him that he said, “I’d let someone cut off my right index finger in exchange for one day the way it used to be at Huracán.”

You’ll find Jorge and Irma in the milonga El Arranque in Nuevo Salon La Argentina. They truly become one when they dance.

Salon La Argentina

November 2, 2008
Salon La Argentina

Salon La Argentina

 The salon was designed by architect Juan Manzini and constructed in 1902, a time when it functioned as a place for social encounters for the members of the Argentine Philanthropic Society.  Given its excellent acoustics with oak floor from Slovenia, chamber music concerts were held there during the 1910s.  The association rented the salon to organizors, some of them orchestras who played every Saturday.  During the 1930s, the first tango dance was organized by alumnos of the College of Medicine.  The 1940s was an era of splendor for the salon when it had regular gatherings.   The orchestras of Juan D’Arienzo and Osvaldo Pugliese performed on stage, and Angel Vargas, Julio Sosa, Alberto Castillo and even Carlos Gardel among many others sang there.

The ladies wore long dresses, and the men gladly paid the entrada for the privilege of inviting someone to dance with the cabeceo.  Salon La Argentina was characterized by its hierarchy, differentiating itself from other tango venues with compadritos and lower class elements.  From the 1970s to the 1990s, the salon was rented out for dances and other social events.  It remained closed from 2001-2004 for a restoration project and transformed into a modern theater while preserving the original identity of the edifice.

The address is Rodriguez Pena 361 near Corrientes.  Nearby at  Bartolome Mitre 1759 is Nuevo Salon La Argentina, named after the original, where the milonga El Arranque is held four days a week.

It must have been crowded for dancing at Salon Argentina
It must have been crowded for dancing at Salon La Argentina

Photos and historic sketch from Palacio Rodriguez Pena