2009, July 31

So the little me was perfectly healthy last week, then disabled, and today I was in the cemetary of Chac…

Hmmm this sounds like the end has come. No, I mean, having free time since I cannot do any tango, I went to the Chacarita cemetary for a temporary visit. 

Unlike in most cemetaries in the rest of the world, there is not map of the celebrities at the entrance, but as large as the place may be, its dimensions are finite, so having all the time in the world and walking methodically (type-writing monkey method) I was bound to find. The other method, like for the milongas, is to phone first. Hi Carlos, are you still there, and in  which section…

I found Francisco Lomuto first, but finally arrived to the place. The statue is smaller than I thought, and the cigarette in his fingers was not lit, but the flowers are fresh and there are tons of messages.

Before getting there I had read a book (another thing I can do now that I have vast amounts of free time) about his birth and life. The author was not from Uruguay, but as he says, “if I stick to the documented version then there is no material for a book”. Here is the summary:

The 14 or 15-year-old teen Berthe Gardes decides one day to leave everything (family, home) she has in Toulouse, France to start a career abroad. Lawyer? President of the United States? Nope. She wants to wash clothes in Tacuarembo (Uruguay).

In Tacuarembo there is a colonel  too. His first name is Carlos and he likes to have children with every female he can see. In his whole life he’ll have 50 of them, all (well, the boys) named Carlos, like him.

One of the female who gave birth to a Carlos is a bit under-aged and the baby is given to Berthe, as well as 3000 pesos. Not much to take care of someone for his whole lifetime, I’d say, after all 3000 pesos is more or less what I am currently spending here in BsAs each month.

And Berthe comes back to her home town. With the baby? No. She gives him to a couple of friends, as well as 150 pesos, saying that she will be back. In Toulouse she does nothing special, except, some years later, giving birth to her own baby (father unknown). For his name she chooses, among all the possibilities, Charles. Oh and she registers the baby three years after his birth.

Then she remembers that she is supposed to look after Carlos too, and she embarks again in a ship to Uruguay. But this ship stops first in Buenos-Aires and Berthe, now aged 22, mistakenly thinking that she’s in Montevideo, stops here too with her little 3-year-old Charles, whose name will soon become Carlos. 

Then Carlos walks all the way from Tacuarembo to Buenos-Aires and they all live there together, Berthe, Carlos-Carlos and Charles-Carlos, the two boys going to different schools. Private schools, owned by monks. Berthe can afford it easily with the remainings of the 3000 pesos, plus her clothe-washer wages.

Somewhere between the age of 16 and 20, Charles-Carlos is kidnapped by aliens from outer space, who also hypnotize Berthe so that she completely forgets the child.  Carlos-Carlos takes all his belongings, but as he’s older the clothes are too small for him and he just keeps the birth certificate.

A few years later,  The world War is taking place in the old Eur0pe, every german or french male who is not dead yet is given a rifle and sent to the battlefront. Carlos-Carlos decides to get an uruguayan passport.

Once he is a famous singer, Carlos-Carlos realizes that the artists usually die young (see Mickael Jackson) and that Berthe will probably outlive him.  On the other side his father the colonel, now dead, has no need for this fortune. That’s why he writes a testament where he kindly pretends that he is french, deliberately lying, just to be sure that Berthe won’t remain pennyless.

Every part of the story makes much sense and is highly credible. The author goes even further, ensuring that following some oral witnesses, the dead body found in the burnt plane ( June 24th, 1935) was not El Zorzal, and that he’s still living, hidden in the jungle.  Wow. That will make another marvellous book.

Math impaired

2009, July 30

Yep, my math level is not what it used to be… 😦

Not being able to dance any more (nor, even worse, to take classes) because of two tendinites  – wrist, elbow-  that appeared this week on the same arm (I put the blame on the local followers. It’s not only that they don’t follow the lead, they resist it.), I went to La Ideal again, to at least hear some music.

And of course I ordered a tea and medialunas. Four of them. When the waiter came back for the payment, I had already prepared 13 pesos, an amount based on smart calculations after having paid 11 pesos for one medialuna less, some weeks ago.

– Nueve.

I thought that I had heard it wrong. How much did you say?

– Nueve pesos.

Now that’s higher mathematics, with imaginary numbers or something. Everything else (same place, same day, same hour) being equal, and if one tea plus three medialunas is 11 pesos, and one tea plus four medialunas is 9, then my elementary knowledge of maths brings me to the conclusion that the price of one tea is 17 pesos while the price of one medialuna is minus two. Weird, even by argentine standards.


2009, July 23

Practica Me rio de la plata, Monday 22:30, end of the first session of Raul’s seminario.  Untypically it was balanced (Typically it can be 7 guys for 1 girl  – Tango Brujo –  or 15 guys for 4 girls -DNI), the followers were girls  – not ladies -, they  were dancing in estilo salón, with two exceptions they were familiar with nuevo steps, and as we were changing partners very regularly (except for the last three songs where my then partner asked to stay with me),  I could see that all of them were good dancers.  Young? Good? Open style? Dedicated? Of course there is a trick: with two exceptions they were all foreigners.

The fee of the afterwards practica was included in the amount paid for the class, my last partner asked me whether I was staying, walking back home very late ( even with the North Pole and rainy climate we’re enjoying here)  was not a concern because we were very near from my place, and talking about my place I knew that it would be very noisy until 2:00 because the local students who live here were just starting  a party when I was preparing to go to the class.

I left. My routine with unknown tango places is as follows: first time is for a brief look, if I like it then the second time I  sit and watch, the third time I’m more or less familiar with the place and I may invite someone (or not, because I also have a routine for this). Now in this particular case there won’t be a third time because there are only two sessions in this seminario.

Which, incidentally, is about improvisation.

What next?

2009, July 10

Besides the cheeky mood of the teachers  (we are now in Montreal, Canada, for 2 weeks. We received a last minute invitation to take part in a Tango Festival here. We canceled everything in BA until july 27.
Saludos, see you in two weeks)
, besides the influenza panic, argentine history now joined the conspiracy to prevent me from attending classes. Everything was closed yesterday because of the independency. The same way as everything was closed  on June 21st because of the nation. The same way as everything was closed  on June 15th, also  because of the nation. What comes next? Evita’s birthday? Astiz-Videla’s 1000th “asado” at the Navy school?

At least, December 11th is on December.

A bigger fish

2009, July 8

In the July magazine “La Milonga Argentina” I noticed a big  (half-page) ad about classes given by famous teachers at the  Zarasa escuela., managed by the also very famous Julio & Corina.

It’s not too far, I thought, less than 20 cuadras, let’s go to the 19:30 class (beginners).  Independencia 2845, here I am. Let’s enter.

“Hey, where do you think you’re going?”

“To the tango class.” (How ignorant these locals are, I thought, how can they ignore that the great Julio & Corina have a school just here?)

“There is nobody. Nobody. Julio and Corina are abroad. There is nobody here.”

“There are classes by invited masters.”

“No, no, nobody is here. You saw the ad in the tango review but this is just that – an ad. Corina might be back next week.”

“So, this ad is a lie?”

“Yes.” With a big smile, though I don’t see what is funny here.

So the list of virtual, on-paper-only classes grows by one unit.  And the guilty teachers belong to the big fish category, this time.

Thirty minutes later I was back home. I calculated that I could afford a ten-minute rest before walking now to Canning, where there was a class at 21:00. No risk of being deceived again, the Parakultural website had a special mention telling that there would be classes on Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th.  My calculations were right, I arrived there exactly at 21 :00. Ah, Canning, this big cube with its famous floor. Soft music. Tables ready for the milonga at23:00 .

And no class.  45 more minutes (yes Canning is further than Zarasa) and I was at home again, trying to read a book about tango in the 80’s (the 1880’s) but I fell asleep before page #3. Too much energy gone walking the dirty pavement.

All these announced and non-existent classes. Let’s hope that this portena 2009 fashion remains in BsAs and does not spread worldwide.


2009, July 4

Mora Godoy escuela: half of the classes cancelled.

DNI: closed

Tango Flores: closed

Carlos Copello escuela: not closed yet but you have to wash your hands with alcohol before each class.

G and G

2009, July 2


Escuela Argentina de Tango, afternoon class (certainly not a 11:00 one!), several couples of students are here already and I take the last available seat. And we start waiting. And waiting. And… until  the  lady at the desk comes in.

– The teachers are not coming, I do not know why, they’re not calling either. There will be no class.

Some students try to switch to the class taking place in the other room, most just leave.

And Gustavo Rosas & Gisela Natoli join the list (los Barrientos, Alejandro Suaya, Georjelina & Cristian, LunaPalacios) of  the teachers who announce classes in the E.A.T schedule and then don’t bother coming.