2009, June 28

Argentine or not, not all the girls who attend the DNI practise are good. Or maybe there is just one who is not good. The one who invited me. Anticipating the lead, not much balance nor axis. Heavy, and heavier because of her inability to remain on her axis. I suffered silently for one tanda of vals. At the beginning of each song we were chatting a little bit. 

“There was an advanced class before this practise , did you attend it?” she asked. 


“And did you practise the sequence or any part of it while dancing with me?”


Oops. Answer wrong. Follower understands sequence too hard for her. Follower angry. Find something quick, wise guy. I browsed my mental collection of sequences and unearthed a simple one, without any out-of-axis nor double-time, just one sacada-de-la-mujer.

No, but here it is, look…


JK knows best

2009, June 25

The milonguera-formerly-known-as-Pichi stated in a comment that the Wednesday practica a cargo de El Indio in Palermo would be just fine for me. And a statement by JK is something that you may disagree with, or even criticize, but certainly not ignore.  So, despite my flu (hopefully the regular one), yesterday I walked my way to Palermo Soho (29 cuadras). After the huge disappointment with La Catedral my expectations were not too high and I did not even rehearse beforehand any sequence to practise.

Stupid me. The place is perfect to practise. First it is a normal place with normal tables and chairs, not the collapsing variety of La Catedral. There is heating too. Too much of it maybe. Same for the volume of the music. Much, much too powerful. Next time I will come with ear plugs.  The not-too-high entrance fee is a plus too, though I was irritated to see two teachers “paying” with just a hola and a smile, while I had to use a banknote. Also at this TangoLab practica I could watch a species that I thought was extinct,  the lone ladies.  I invited the nearest one for the last piece of a tanda, to check the floor, which when touching it with my hand seemed very slippery. But it wasn’t. I was concerned because almost all the leaders were wearing sport shoes instead of tango ones, and sometimes it does not mean that they are emulating the Chicho, sometimes it is really because of the floor.

A demo was announced but with the 29 cuadras  to walk back home I left without waiting for it. Sorin was here too, if the demo was worth  mentioning then he will, well, mention it in his blog.

Running gag

2009, June 18

Little me is trying to attend a class at 11:00 at Talcahuano 1052 where the Escuela Argentina de Tango has a dance studio.

Monday: the building is closed. June 15th is a special day here, granted, but the E.A.T schedule precisely states that a class was starting from this very day on.

Tuesday: “Oh, this class? Today it won’t take place but there is a probability that it actually opens one Tuesday, can’t tell you when though”, the girl at the desk explained to me.

Thursday: “This is a misprint in the schedule, there is no class at 11:00 with this teacher. But you can go to the other room, there a class will take place at 11:00 with Jorgelina & Cristian, they’ll be here in one minute, just enter and make yourself comfortable until they come.”, the same girl said. And twenty minutes later she added that the teachers would not come after all.

No problem, time is on my side. It’s like the story with the monkey hitting random keys on a typewriter, given some time it will write sensible sentences and even whole books.  Same here, given some time a tango class will necessarily happen at 11.00, Talcahuano 1052.


Escuela Argentina de Tango. Intermediate-advanced level. The teachers show a sequence, sacada, rebote, rulo, gancho, and walking steps in between. My follower  seems to be disturbed by something and after repeating the sequence several times she finally asks me if I don’t think that there is something wrong with the legs.

It’s fine as far as legs are concerned, I reply. Everything else is bad, I think in petto,  no balance whatsoever, not responding to the lead and her right arm  curved in a weird way that make her look like a teapot. 

Not being convinced she calls one of the teacher. “Look, at the third step, each time I feel his leg against mine. What is wrong?” 

This is what we call a sacada, the teacher replied.

Negative price

2009, June 13

Who said there was inflation in Buenos Aires? Two days ago I noticed a sign at the entrance of La Ideal:

coffee (or tea) with milk plus three medialunas, eight pesos.

I did not enter because of the offer, neither was I intending to dance.  I had brought a book about Gardel’s birth and wanted to read it in a tango atmosphere. Also, the entrance of the milonga was free.

One tea and three medialunas please.  The waiter came back quickly, and in a bilingual attempt he said:

Once. Eleven.

Eleven pesos. Not the eight that I had already prepared. My mistake. I figured that without milk the price would be the same. But in fact it was more expensive.

With the math you can’t argue. The only conclusion is that milk in BsAs has a negative value. Next time you go at La Ideal, order just a glass of milk, the waiter will bring it to you for free, and he will even give you three pesos.


2009, June 7


The DNI teacher explained the movement to  the class. Then he rushed to me.

– Hey I’ve not even embraced my partner yet, why are you coming here when I have not done anything wrong? 

–  You will. I trust you.


“Please close the door”, my boss asked.

I won’t pretend that I was feeling comfortable here. Was he going to lower his salary expenses by one unit ?

“Have a seat. As you know we’re having a hard time at the moment, there is simply no work and we can’t keep people here doing nothing…”

Uh oh.

“… and that’s why I wanted to see you. Why not taking a three-month or four-month holiday? Until September, when the situation improves. Hopefully.”

But we have an annual amount of vacation days and when it’s over, it’s over. I spent everything already, I replied, I was in Buenos-Aires on March.

“I know. Tango, isn’t it?”. He remained silent, considering the pictures of his boy and girl on his desk. Then he woke up. “How about unpaid vacations? No limits here.”

But all my savings are gone in my March trip. My salary being what it is, I never have much savings anyway…

“I know what your salary is. How about paid unpaid vacations then? Go. See you in September”.

And I spent the rest of the day googling for airplanes, accomodations, and tango classes. During my previous trip I did not bother sending him one postcard from BsAs. I think I will, this time.

You find yourself with

6 musicians

1 singer

4 (stage) dancers

1 guy for the sound and lights

and… 14 customers only. Such a big effort for such a small reward.

One hour later when the orchestra left, some customers did as well and the milonga switched from quite empty to very very empty. There remained an old couple, a younger one (tourists) and a local tanguero who duly stole the female tourist. With only two couples on the floor it was easy to notice the style differences. The older couple was doing short, rythmic steps, sometimes moving backwards, doing funny things when the music was funny, pauses etc. With a powerful comp it would have been possible to recalculate the partitura from their dancing. On the other side, and to remain in the world of comps, it was more like

While {there is music} do





move the woman around you

repeat loop

No pauses, no changes whatsoever, same length of the steps, same speed. Nice posture admittedly, walking perfectly on the beat, always staying on the outer edge of the floor. A teacher wouldn’t find anything to criticize. As on onlooker though I couldn’t help thinking that there was not much life here. Maybe a tango robot. Insert coin. Or maybe he was preparing for some Dance-on-DiSarli contest.

After one last dance, in cayengue style, the old couple left too. Sometimes your lead is confusing, she told him, with this new hip prosthesis that you have.

By the way this was my last milonga in BsAs, with a perfectly round and clean grand total of zero dances. The closest I ever came remains  Villa Malcolm, last year.


2009, March 24

The Dandi milonga’s hostess added a chair for me around a table where a gentleman was already seated. He was from New-York, and the second thing he told me was:

“It will be very hard for you to get invites here.”

Because we are so badly placed cabeceo-wise, I thought. Against the wall again. But no. It was going to be difficult for me because of him. As Jupiter intercepts the asteroids that otherwise may hit the Earth, he intercepted all the women´s glances coming from the other tables. When sitting he kept making some wind with a large fan, hiding me in the process. When no glance was coming then he stood up (right in front of me, just in case) and when it was not enough then he walked to some lady and nodded.  During the tandas he  lectured me about the ancient art of the cabeceo.

Stupid me, I used to think that the idea of the cabeceo was to make the invites unnoticeable to anyone around. How wrong I was. When this gentleman stands up, his point is precisely to get noticed. And when he puts himself right in front of a lady and nods, he does not give her  much choice, she has to nod back and dance, period.

Dancing queen

2009, March 22

Los Consagrados, a.k.a la mejor milonga de Buenos Aires. It’s what they said in their ad and surely you should not always believe ads but on the other end there is no other milonga in my El Tangauta magazine which also claimed to be the best, so maybe it was true, maybe Los Consagrados had the best floor, the best music, the best followers, the quickest waiters and the tastiest licuados.

But if I was here it was mainly to say “Hi” to Cherie and Ruben. That`s why I came only two hours before the end, at first sight this seemed technically more than enough for a “Hi, I am a bad leader, obscure blogger and sometimes you post a comment”.

Not so. Finding their table was easy, telling their name was like casting a magic spell on the girl at the entrance, it brought a broad smile on her face and soon a waiter guided me to a table behind theirs. They were dancing. I identified Ruben first.

Hey whazzup? What’s this abrazo? Is Cherie  leading him? Ten seconds later I can see them again and the abrazo is back to normal. I must have hallucinated.  They keep dancing. They dance the chacarera. They dance on New York, New York. Well if NY is the city that never sleeps, Cherie is the lady who never rests. Will there finally be one whole minute when she’s not dancing, chatting, getting invited, welcoming a friend?

There won’t. Now the speaker is calling her to receive a bouquet, she’s applauded by the whole milonga and after that they all line up to reach  Ruben & Cherie’s table for congratulations,  pictures etc.  Even one cameraman is there and seems to be filming only them. Probably Time Magazine and CNN are waiting in the stairs for an interview. Not my day then. No problem, maybe next year.

The “Hi” being postponed, my focus switched on the milonga itself. They don’t have licuados, so IMHO they cannot claim the title of “best milonga”  but maybe something like “Nino Bien, minus the crowd” or “best milonga except for licuados” would be appropriate. Men and women were on opposite sides, which made the cabeceo efficient (very few people were sitting during the tandas) and easy. That is, unless you’re just against the wall as I was, with two series of tables between you and the ladies. But I guess we can’t be all at the front row, someone has to be at the distant tables, out of cabeceo´s reach.