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Tuesday, 28 May 2019

The gift that keeps giving

Photo by Anne Rodgers

Eight Adelaide tango dancers won the privilege of attending Steve and Robyn's "Tuna Masterclass" held last Sunday.  When we bid for our places at the Milonga Solidaria, the description of the activity had suggested a relatively low-key event - a glass of bubbles on arrival, a demonstration of tuna preparation skills, and a dish of one of the recipes to illustrate just how good tuna can be.

What actually happened was far removed from this expectation: 15 courses of small delicacies, prepared creatively in a variety of styles - all simply exquisite (see photos).  While we all brought some wine to share, there were other treats supplied by Ray and Steve.  Joan, the very generous hostess, added her touch of elegance and warmth to the evening.  An event we thought would last a couple of hours, starting at 1o'clock in the afternoon, stretched to almost 8pm!

Bidding for this event had contributed significantly towards the US$3,000 for the student residence in northern Argentina.  However, the social activity that brought 12 people together was a memorable gift in itself.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

I remember when ...

Looking back on annual visits to Buenos Aires since 1999, it's clear that the city and tango have changed a lot - some things for the better, others not so.

I remember when ...

... milongas were held in the iconic Maipu 444, the magnificent Club Espanol and the gorgeous Confiteria Ideal (pictured)

... garbage littered the footpath each night, pedestrians constantly had to dodge dog droppings, and Avenida 9 de Julio median strip was a no-go zone resembling a rubbish tip

... AU$1 would only buy 50 centavos, and it cost 5 pesos to enter a milonga

... La Viruta milonga (then known as La Estrella) attracted hot-shot milongueros.  Men wore jackets and ties to milongas, the standard of dance was high, and the milonga codes were strictly adhered to

... the only coffee available, including in the grand old confiterias, was not good at all

... Flabella was the go-to place for tango shoes

Now ...

... a number of the dance venues have closed - some converted into office space or gyms - but at least efforts are being made to renovate Confiteria Ideal

... the City of Buenos Aires has made a big effort to clean up and beautify the streets, including a campaign to educate dog-owners.  9 de Julio is now more functional for traffic and pedestrians, and has been landscaped beautifully

... May 2019, AU$1 buys around 30 pesos and going up!  Entry to Lujos milonga is 200 pesos, and other milongas 140 - 180 pesos

... La Viruta/Estrella changed its persona some years ago and now appeals to dancers interested in dancing non-traditional tango.  The standard of dancing and respect for the codigos has declined.  Many of the old milongueros have passed away, taking their example and authority with them.  Many dancers now find they can afford to attend only one milonga each week, while others have stopped attending completely

... there are many small, specialty coffee shops in the city & suburbs serving coffee to satisfy even the most demanding coffee-snob

... tango shoes are everywhere, but it's hard to beat Katrinski cushioned, hand-made to order shoes that cost around AU$150


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