La Marshall: relaxed milonga and great performance!

  • Riobamba 416
  • Entrada: 80 pesos (including the lesson)
  • Bottle of water: 28 pesos

"Celebrating 12 years of the milonga. Dance performance by Augusto Balizano & Claudio González."

La Marshall is one of the gay milongas. There is a mix of young gay men, older women in couples, and people who like to switch lead and follow. Note to the Portlanders: the Lumbersexual style has hit Buenos Aires, but I only saw it at La Marshall: full beards, suspenders, work jeans and checked shirts!

The dance performance was FABULOUS! Two excellent dancers, good choreography, and very touching as a theatre piece. Two seemingly old guys, shuffle out on stage, take quite a while to adjust themselves, figure out who is leading, etc., and then dance a tango in the grotesque tradition: moves just slightly out of control or staggering, catching themselves at the last minute from falling, etc. I know how hard it is to dance like stiff old men when you are a good dancer, so this was impressive.

THEN, when I thought it was over, they played a romantic song that several of the guys (the lumbersexuals) next to me sang along to, with a chorus about remembering a year of love. While the music played, the dancers took most of their clothing off, wiped the old-guy makeup off, and put stretchy muscle tees on.

And THEN they danced an incredible, acrobatic duet. WOW. Lifts, boleos, lightening fast turns. WOW. As a dancer, I know how much work went into that choreography. It looked seamless, beautiful, and muscular at the same time. It didn't seem just sewn together like a lot of tango performances do to me. I'll just keep saying WOW.

 

Food, tango shoes and dancing: who needs more?

Life is GOOD gluten-free

Sintaxis

 

  • Nicaragua 4849
  • Totally gluten-free restaurant, with goodies and bread for carryout

I had scrambled eggs with sundried tomatoes. It came with two (small) slices of bread, and a selection of cheese: swiss, blue, and something else. The breakfast specials are served until noon, and come with a drink. I had a wonderful cafe con leche, my first coffee in over a year. Yum! It didn't look like much food, but I realized after I felt full, that comparing it to traveling in Texas last week was silly: Texas meals were MUCH too large.

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. I have the list of when they are open over the weekend and for the holidays (Monday and Tuesday are holidays), so that I can go back. It's a nice walk from where I am staying, 3-4 km., depending on how lost you get (I took the longer route because I became obsessed with documenting the new bike lanes).

The waiter seemed both surprised and pleased that I wanted his picture, so here he is:

 

El Ateneo

  • Av. Santa Fe 1860
  • Books, books, books!

I love bookstores, but this one takes the cake. You walk in, and you are in an old theatre, and it is FULL OF BOOKS. There are people drinking coffee on the old stage, and guys sipping tea in several of the old boxes near the stage. I love this place. I could have just moved in. Argentines seem to read a lot more than Americans. In seven visits to Buenos Aires, it took me until now to visit, but I plan to go back each visit after this!

 

Comme Il Faut shoes

  • Arenales 1239, staircase 3, Apt. M
  • translation: go all the way down this little street-like area, take the 3rd staircase on left, and go upstairs

I had never visited the store before, as I don't wear Comme Il Faut. However, a few friends asked for shoes, so I went to get shoes for them. It's a beautiful building.

 

 

I would say they were very friendly, but they were very business-like. I gave them my list, they found shoes in the right size, with the right height heel. They didn't have the colors that my friends wanted, but other shoes were suggested and bought. They ARE very Losshoes. If they came in wide enough styles for me, I might even get some; but my heart belongs to Neotango.

 

My feet hurt, but I'm happy

Milonga de los Consagrados

  • Centro Leonesa, Humberto Primo 1462
  • Saturdays at 4:30 PM
  • Entrada 60 pesos (does not include a drink)

I went to Los Consagrados because I agreed to meet people I knew for dinner afterwards. My hostess thought I was crazy to go there (pretty far, and most of the folks are older than I am). I had a great time: I danced for 5 1/2 hours without stopping. Each time I tried to stop, someone came up to my table to cabeceo me. In the end, I had to leave the room, put on my street shoes, and wait for my friends. I was just too tired to keep dancing.

I danced four tandas with a guy who finally confessed to 10 years of training and a certificate from the Dinzel's training school. Fabulous! We did tango, then milonga, then vals, then more milonga: heavenly! He made the entire evening for me. I wish I could remember his name. I hope his girlfriend isn't mad at me for hogging him.

I also got to dance chacarera with a good dancer. It was put in a tanda with paso doble, which I faked my way through. I did the tropical tanda (2 cumbias and a merengue) with a guy who openly told me he was faking it, but we had a blast.

What can I say? Life is good! I need to go to sleep, as it's 1:18 in the morning!

 

This flowerstand was just beautiful to look at on such a lovely day, so I took a picture of it.   

This flowerstand was just beautiful to look at on such a lovely day, so I took a picture of it.

 


Buenos Aires, Day 2: Todo cambia

The city feels different this visit. It seems cleaner: less dog poop on the sidewalks, less trash. There are BIKE LANES all over the city, not something I ever expected to see in Buenos Aires! However, the people seem more subdued than before.

A lot of people are nervous about the change of government next week. Whether they supported Macri, the winner, of Scioli, the loser, they are concerned about how things will change. Some are jubilant and sure that a change means good change. Others are downcast and predict change and doom.

Whether change is good or bad, here are some changes I saw today.

Dancing

Cheek to Cheek (practica)

  • El Juvenil, Av Corrientes 4534
  • Entrada: 30 pesos
  • 3-7 PM
cheek_to_cheek.jpg

 

This afternoon, I went to a practica that is new since I last visited Buenos Aires: Cheek to Cheek. There were a lot more tourists there than at De Querusa last night. I danced with and/or talked to people from the USA, Norway, Germany, France and Japan. Most of the dancers were in their 20s and 30s, but there were some of us middle-aged folks, and a smattering of older people. The level was mostly high, with a few advanced beginners (tourists).

I had been told that the practica was stopped at 5 PM for a short lesson. I was skeptical of the idea, but the organizers offered up a complex move, showed it a few times, and then let people dance. After a few minutes, they showed it again, with a few details that people needed to get in order to be successful. A while later, they showed it to the other side, and left people to their own devices.

I always try to lead at lessons because I remember the moves better if I have to lead them. I grabbed someone I knew (yay!). The combo was at a nice level for someone like me (if only I hadn't been in heels!), and several really good couples could do it by the end of the session. My partner wasn't at a high enough level to get the combo smoothly, but she cheerfully kept trying. I appreciated it, as I think I can remember it for Portland because of that.

Things started to wind down around 6:15 because of the intense humidity in the space: men were wiping their faces, heads, necks, and women were fanning themselves. When some Fresedo started, I decided to lead, and led a few dances before heading home to shop before dinner.

What I liked best: the high energy, slightly crazed lesson delivery (I think some of these guys may be actors too), the good music, and the general energy of the organizers.

 

Shopping

Sad changes

There are definitely changes in where to shop from three years ago until now.

Tango Imagen (Dr. Tomás Manuel de Anchorena 606) is still open. The space is much smaller, with fewer clothes and fewer sizes available. I just don't fit into a size 2; never have and never will.

Tango 8, which used to be next to Tango Imagen, is closed. The store across the street, whose name I can't remember, is also closed.

I tried to go to Susanna Villaroel's Artesanal store, but it was also gone. At NeoTango, they told me that they think you can call and get an appointment, but the store is gone; she has moved to an apartment/store. More on this as I keep looking.

Good news (somethings don't change)

Neotango (Sarmiento 1938) is still going strong. Ariel (the salesman) remembered me, and even managed to remember how long since I had been there. I must have bought more shoes than most people...

I have the widest feet on the planet. When barefoot, they almost look square. After trying shoes all over town, and every style Neotango has, I know what I need without much extra, "Oooh! Look at THOSE!" I bought my standard replacements for the shoes I have worn out: black and pewter. They were out of silver in the model I like, so I am the owner of a pair of platinum heels. I also bought a pair of black trainers, as I had forgotten to pack my leading shoes.

At this point, the blue dollar rate is so much better than the official rate, that it makes sense to exchange money and pay in cash. There is also a small cash discount for paying in cash.

 

 

Back in the saddle: Buenos Aires otra vez!

I just got back from a nice milonga that is new for me, De Querusa (Carlos Calvo 3745).

I almost didn't go dancing today. My body feels exhausted. The flight felt endless because I was not able to sleep. Luckily, the nice originally-from-Taiwan-now-from-Oklahoma man next to me couldn't sleep either, so we talked most of the way.

Then, there was the mother of all lines at the airport for customs. An hour and a half after landing, I was still waiting to get through customs. I have NEVER seen a line like that, ever, at any airport. It was crazy.

Luis and his son picked me up at the airport, so I got a nice long summary of good new milongas, what they think of Macri, family news and the economy. I am REALLY glad I don't drive here. The lines on the road seem to be merely a challenge, not even guidelines. After so many visits, I no longer panic in taxis. If you are going to die today, oh well...

I didn't think I would make it out dancing, but, after several hours of napping instead of getting anything done (blew off the class I wanted to take), I was in good enough shape to get showered, dressed, makeup on, and get out the door.

De Querusa had a nice mix of people. There were people from 20-something to at least 60-something; portenos, tourists, expats--a nice mix. I saw people I know from the USA, people I know from other years, and made new friends with a Romanian woman and her Argentine boyfriend who sat next to me. One poor French guy didn't speak Spanish, and my French was completed mixed up with my Spanish today. My Spanish is coming back quickly, as I am not speaking English.

Too tired to dance very much, but I am glad that I went. When in Buenos Aires, you need to just get in the saddle and keep moving.

De Querusa info: 50 pesos entrance; 25 pesos for a bottle of water; dancing Mondays and Thursday. I paid 80 pesos for the taxi back and forth (the sky opened up and soaked everything tonight). With the current exchange rate, the total for milonga, taxi and drink comes to $12-$16 (bank or blue rate exchange). Add in the (gluten-free!) food from the local Chinese buffet (about $3), and I had a pretty cheap evening.

I just found out that there are two days of holidays coming next week, so I need to figure out what will be open. Perhaps tomorrow just became a super shopping day! I am trying to figure out how to show video without having my camera stolen. Hasta manana!