Thursday, 30 October 2008

Updates on Buenos Aires

The economy - the word on everyone´s lips at the moment. Not only is our cost of living being affected by the vagaries of the world´s financial situation, but prices in Buenos Aires have also shot up since January. It´s getting expensive for us, and we marvel at how the locals might be coping.

Last night at a stunning show to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Sexteto Mayor, a tango group of international renown, the 50 peso tickets were within our reach, but most of the audience would have been locals! On a more positive note, the group did their original director and lead bandeonista - the late Jose Avellaneda - proud with brilliant renditions of many tangos, but most scintillating were the Piazzolla compositions. The two remaining original members, now elderly but sprightly violinists, brought the house down with their virtuosity. It was clear that the crowd in the intimate Teatro Maipo - a absolute jewel of an old-world theatre - did not want to let them go. Last year we were fortunate enough to catch the historic Mariano Mores show - one of the greats of the Golden Age - despite approaching 90 still playing piano and conducting like a young man!

After a week here, we´re getting the sense that the message about milonga etiquette is being understood amongst our fellow "tango tourists", or maybe it´s got something to do with the milongas we´re attending. Certainly, part of the fun of milongas is meeting up with friends and chatting, as well as watching and learning. Recently at an early milonga in Salon Canning, an older couple were an absolute treat to watch. At first glance, they didn't appear to be doing anything of great note, but then the timing, playfulness and skill quickly became obvious. They were utterly mesmerising.

And now for a word on the music played at milongas: the great DJs here never fail to surprise; not by pulling out obscure versions of tangos or lesser-known and perhaps inferior orchestras, but by their ability to mix & match great pieces into coherent tandas, played at the right time to suit the mood of the crowd and keep them dancing.

Tonight we're off to Sin Rumbo, one of the very traditional milongas in the suburbs with our teacher Aurora, and next week to Glorias Argentinas for a taste of tango of the Golden Age. Well as close as you can get to it in 2008. More to come later, but in the meantime, here's a video of the famous Dispari couple at Sin Rumbo.




Pat

Friday, 3 October 2008

Decisions, decisions ...

Heading off soon for the annual pilgrimage to Tango-Mecca and already I know that we'll be spoiled for choice with milongas. Some hard decisions will have to be made, especially around weekends. We love milongas where the traditional codes (codigos) are respected.

Should we head over to tried-and-true favourites like Club Sunderland each Saturday night? Mario Orlando, the DJ never disappoints, and the largely porteño crowd means that the floorcraft is good, despite the large number of dancers. It's primarily a milonga for couples and groups, although singles are usually seated in an area where the cabeceo is possible. Inevitably the evening will be punctuated with a couple performing - sometimes well-known hotshots, otherwise lesser-known emerging dancers.

Just a couple of streets from our "home" is Salon Canning which also hosts a nice milonga on Saturday night. The excellent parquet dance-floor is a treat and the couple who host it are delightful.

Niño Bien's lovely setting and great music are certainly attractive, but it has become so popular, it's hard to move on the dance-floor for most of the evening. El Beso on a Thursday evening is intimate - in sharp contrast to Niño Bien. Not only is it small, but it's very popular with good dancers. Ladies are seated separately to the men, unless you arrive as a couple, in which case you get seated at the back and are not considered part of the available pool of dance partners. Music and floorcraft are very good. The nice thing is that this milonga starts in the evening around 7pm. So after we've had our fill of dances for the night, we can head off to a nice restaurant for dinner before the witching hour and still have a good night's sleep!

Then there's Lo de Celia, where Dany Borelli's music is superb. It's an older crowd and the etiquette very traditional.


And the list goes on ....


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