Milonga #1: El Arranque
Some of you know that this Buenos Aires trip is in order to set up a tour next year for my students and other tango folk. Instead of going to my favorite milongas where I get lots of dances, I have been venturing further afield, looking for a good mix of places that might be less intimidating to the intermediate/advanced intermediate dancer.
I hadn't been to El Arranque since about 2000, so I thought I would check it out. It used to be a place where friendly, elderly dancers hung out in the afternoons (this was when there were fewer early evening milongas).
The first time I went to El Arranque, the hostess, Delicia, seated me at a table with a stately older woman. I don't know her age, but I was guessing somewhere in her 70s. Her hair was perfect. Her nails were perfect. Her outfit was awesome. Wow, I thought: I want to be like that when I am older! I was a bit intimidated, but after I placed my Altoids on the table with my fan, she pounced on them. "American candy!" she exclaimed, and from that moment we were friends.
That woman pimped me out to various acquaintances the first day, and after that, I didn't need any help getting partners. She was invaluable as a source of advice ("Don't look at the guy in yellow! He is awful! Look at the guy next to him in the suit!" Etc.).
So...I arrived about 4 PM AND IT WAS CLOSED FOR THE DAY! The presidential change-of-power has caused a lot of closures because of huge crowds in the Avenida de Mayo. Since El Arranque is very close to the Congress building, perhaps that's way it was closed. The guy at the kiosk next door just shrugged when I asked.
- Bartolome Mitre 1759
- Entrada: who knows?
Milonga #2: Lujos en El Beso
- Riobamba 416
- Entrada: 70 pesos
- Bottle of water: 28 pesos? (I have already forgotten)
OK, so I'll go dancing somewhere else! El Beso is only a few stops away by subway from where I am staying, so I thought I would go early and go home in time for dinner and bed.
I didn't have a reservation, and El Beso can be a difficult venue to get dances if you get stuck in the back row, so I showed up about 7 PM, half an hour after it opened, but still very early. I got a good seat, settled myself, and danced the tanda after I arrived. The place was still pretty empty, but I recognized some of the older guys who have been going there since I first went in 1999, as far as I can tell :-)
For the next tanda, the music kept crackling, and they would go back to playing the cortina, and then try again. One man was trying to cabeceo me from behind someone else (always acrobatic!), when the lights when out. Poof!
For the next half hour, they gradually opened the huge curtains across the windows so that we had some light to see by. Some guy played his phone and one couple danced a song.
The woman sitting with me told me that she had gotten a ride from one of the guys who I remembered as an excellent milonga dancer, and wandered off to talk to him. After about 15 minutes, she came over and told me they were going to Gricel: did I want to go too? Sure!
Milonga #3: Gricel
- La Rioja 1180 (one block in from San Juan)
- Entrada: 70 pesos
- Bottle of soda: 26 pesos
We got to Gricel just as it was opening, so we got good seats even without reservations. That was partly due to my new friend, Miriam, flirting with the guys who organize the dance.
I got lots of dances, as did Miriam, but we struggled with the level of dancers. Neither of us knew most of the people there, so we ended up with a few dances each with difficult leaders. It was the first time I seriously thought of telling a guy, "I am NOT a truck, so could you please not lead me as if I were a truck?!" Geez.
I had two great tandas in the evening, both the the man who drove us to Gricel. We did a kick-ass milonga traspie set as my first tanda; and a kick-ass Pugliese set as my last tanda. You can really tell the guys who know the music and really FEEL the music. A bunch of the others were just dancing in time to the music, which just isn't the same. Starting and ending with a musical set, made up for getting dragged around by a few guys who had no clue about the music and were trying to do moves. Thank God for old, short, fat, milongueros!!!!!!