Posts Tagged ‘Lo de Celia’

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.

Mario Papasaba

March 16, 2009

March 16, 1940 —

mario-papasabaMario doesn’t exactly live around the corner from the milongas, so there is no doubt that when he makes the long trip by bus from Quilmes to Lo de Celia he is there to dance.  He and Pedro Sanchez used to share a corner table every Sunday at Lo de Celia.

My favorite table at Celia’s is in the second row next to the bar where I am close enough to ask Dany Borelli about the music.  One evening Mario passed by my table and said, “Troilo con Fiorentino.”  Ever since then I know that Mario will invite me for his favorite tanda–Pichuco con Fiore.  He always says before we dance, “listen carefully.”   

It has been several months since I danced with Mario in Lo de Celia, but I remember the night.  First we danced a tanda of Anibal Troilo.  Dany followed that tanda with tangos of Carlos Di Sarli.  I rarely dance two tandas in a row and never with the same partner.  This was an exception.  I looked in Mario’s direction, and he was looking back at me.  We then danced another wonderful tanda together.  I love dancing in his embrace.

Six months of the year Mario lives in Mar del Plata and the other six months he is in Quilmes.  He goes to dance in both places although Mar del Plata is a far cry from the milongas in downtown Buenos Aires.  In a few more weeks Mario will be returning to dance at Lo de Celia.

Jose Alberto Scapafino

January 23, 2009

jose-alberto-scapafinoI searched the tango magazines for a photo since I don’t have one,  and I found this in El Tangauta.  He is another milonguero who has disappeared from the milongas.  I remember dancing with him in Italia Unita and Lo de Celia.  I have seconds of his dancing on video at Club Caribean where Laura Grinbank and Elisa Fardella ran their milonga Las Mireyas. 

Beto Ayala once told me that Jose Alberto was known as Pepino in the milongas.  He was short and plump, but how he danced to Troilo!

Jose Luis Aceto

January 12, 2009

January 12, 1935 —


We share the same nickname Pichi in the milongas (although I stopped using it four years ago).  We were introduced several years ago when Club Juvenil was the place where the milongueros danced on Saturday nights.  I danced with him in Lo de Celia where he went regularly.    

Pichi can be found on Sundays in Salon Canning with his friend Jorge Orellana, but he is no longer able to dance.  That has been the case for about two years.  We can’t imagine how painful it is for a milonguero to be listening to tango and unable to dance.

Jose Luis Aceto, Nestor Leon, Pedro Sanchez & Horacio in Club Caribean (July 2001)

Jose Luis Aceto, Nestor Leon, Pedro Sanchez & Horacio in Club Caribean (July 2001)

Catalina Feldberg

December 19, 2008


December 20, 1938 —

She was known in the milongas as Greta.  She went every Saturday night to Club Juvenil until it closed in 2001.  There hasn’t been another milonga like it.  I filmed Greta dancing with milongueros.

One night several years ago in Lo de Celia, Alito asked if I had Greta’s telephone number.  I told him that I did.  He introduced me to Jorge who said that he wanted to call her.  They had known each other during their teenage years.  I checked first with Greta about giving her telephone to Jorge.  She said it was fine.  Later I heard more of the story.  Greta and Jorge knew each other when they were 16 and 19 years old.  They went their separate ways.  Greta married and had a family. After fifty years, Jorge called Greta.  They were reunited.  I took this photo of them on August 17, 2003, when they were in Lo de Celia.  They have been together ever since.

Rodolfo Brizuela

December 9, 2008

rodolfo-brizuelaMay 15, 1932 — ?

Rodolfo is another milonguero who has disappeared from the milongas.  He went to dance every Saturday night in Club Juvenil on Corrientes until it closed.  Then he went regularly to dance in Lo de Celia where I snapped this photo of him five years ago.  He always had a folded handkerchief in his left hand when he danced.  He lived outside the capital federal which meant he traveled an hour or more to dance.

Eduardo Calo

December 6, 2008

eduardo-caloOctober 8, 1929 —

I mentioned Eduardo in a recent post and wanted to post his photo when I obtained his birthdate.  I went to have a chat this week with Tito Ortega and learned that he saw Eduardo the previous day.  I never had the opportunity to dance with Eduardo, but I recall that he danced regularly with Alicia “La Turca”.  He required an operation on his hip which resulted in an infection and then four more operations.  He has to use a cane to walk and his biggest frustration is that he is unable to dance anymore.  That has to be the worst pain imaginable for a milonguero.

Nilda Araceli

November 22, 2008
Adan and Nilda in Lo de Celia (June 2004)

Adan and Nilda in Lo de Celia (June 2004)

November 22, 1936 —

They are one couple who I enjoy watching on the floor.  Their tango is all feeling and being with the music.  I haven’t seen them in Lo de Celia since I took this photo of them.  Nilda told me today that knee problems are keeping her from dancing.  She wants to dance but suffers afterwards with pain.  I thought they might be going to Salon Canning tonight to celebrate her birthday, but instead they will be spending time with friends.

Rodolfo Outeda

October 23, 2008

October 23, 1940 —

Rodolfo and I have had conversations on how tango is changing in the milongas of Buenos Aires.  I have danced with him on only one occasion at Lo de Celia.  I know when he will be dancing by the orchestra that is played.  He, like many other milongueros, wants to dance to Anibal Troilo and Carlos Di Sarli.  He dances simply and with feeling.  I know the strength of his embrace–that’s one characteristic that the milongueros have in common.  They never separate and hold a woman very close.  Rodolfo dances on Saturday night in Lo de Celia.

Roberto Bonavato

October 12, 2008

October 12, 1938 —

Roberto and other milongueros hang out at a men’s club a block from my apartment, so we often see one another and have a brief chat about the milongas.  A few years ago, he danced regularly at Lo de Celia and goes to El Beso and Centro Region Leonesa.  One tanda of Carlos Di Sarli with Roberto is all I need to feel content.  One night a couple months ago at Lo de Celia, I had several tandas with Roberto.  One of them was a tanda of Miguel Calo.  After the first tango, he commented on the music of Osvaldo Pugliese.  I said, “Roberto, we’re dancing to Miguel Calo.  I don’t dance to Pugliese.  As you have pointed out to me several times, the music of Pugliese was rarely played in the milongas of the 1950s.”  Even milongueros who know the music so well can make a mistake.  Roberto is one who talks about the music and nothing else between dances.


Nelida Fernando
Roberto Angel Pujol, Nelida, Roberto Carreras
Roberto Angel Pujol, Nelida, Roberto Carreras (10/12/03)

October 12, 1935 —

Nely has danced tango since she was a teenager.  She traveled to Chicago in April 2008 to teach at the Chicago Mini Tango Festival at the University of Chicago with Pocho.  They danced tango together as teenagers, so there is a long history in their dancing.
I have attended birthday celebrations at Nely’s house when conversations about tango last into the wee hours of the morning.