Back to business

2009, August 13

Thanks to (or maybe despite of) pills, various creams, a splint (the fun part with the device was the inner iron blade, which could be shifted out a little, reaching a “Wolverine” configuration),  and thanks to two weeks resting on my bed  reading comics, my wrist has recovered somehow, not yet enough to lead but enough to type.


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.

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.

La Catedral quizz

2009, June 24


“You have to go to the milongas, it is part of the game”, the teacher said to the group after the class.  Why not La Catedral then? Well, now I know why not.

A. At La Catedral the signs “no photo” or “no video” or “no fumar” mean

1. that you cannot film, smoke…

2. nothing, they are here for decorative purposes only.


B. Beer can be found

1. in large bottles

2. in various brands

3. spilled all over the dance floor


C. I disliked the way people were dancing because

1. They were not on the beat

2. They were trying moves beyond their capacities

3. Even simple moves were beyond their capacities

4. They danced as if alone on the floor.


D. Compared to La viruta, la Catedral is (entrance plus guardaropa)

1. cheaper

2. more expensive


E. During a tanda one tall and drunk guy with geek glasses started an extravagant dance, hybrid between (bad) jive and (bad) polka, kicking all around and using one half of the dance floor. What happened next?

1. An old milonguero killed him with a knife.

2. Four leaders joined their efforts to corral him.

3. The host went and spoke to him.

4. Nothing happened and he continued his kicking until he finally got tired.


2009, June 12

Mora Godoy escuela. The lesson was about linear boleos.  The girl who was my partner at this point of the class suggested that after the boleo, instead of a back step I take a side step. It made no sense to me, linear boleos being, well, linear, continuing with a side step would only disturb the linearity introduced by the boleo.  But I’ve been knowing for long that there is no need to argue with your follower.

– Ok, sure.

– Wait a minute, I’m calling the teacher. Teacher! Look what he is leading to me. See? He’s completely wrong, isn’t he?

And the teacher corrected me, explaining that at this point I was supposed to lead a back step, which he then demonstrated several times to me.

Dating a partner

2009, April 24

Bad idea, usually. But here she is the partner and I am the date. Up to now it never lasted long between her and a guy, and it’s the same for me with partners, I can’t keep them, each year I bar three names on my list and I add as many new ones. As a follower she’s more or less ok, certainly not advanced but light, thin, ten years younger than myself (then, who isn’t) and working on her technique. She even made her first trip to BsAs this year.

Tonight she wants to dance, and has e-mailed me the milonga’s name. I know this place. It’s not a large square room with mall-like ceiling lights like in many milongas here. It used to be a movie theater. One half of the red velvet armchairs have not been removed. And apart from the emergency exit signs there isn’t much light.


Video test

2008, September 17

(This is not a post not a post not a post)


It happened years ago,  December 30th, an accident linked with a life-long illness. All the friends and relatives with whom we had just celebrated Christmas, we had to phone them again, not for New Year wishes but for the funerals. His death was very painful, he remained four hours lying down on the ground, trying to make it despite fourteen fractures, before an ambulance finally came. Later in the night after the surgery his heart stopped beating and someone came with a defibrillator. One more hour, the heart stopped again but this time nobody came and at 5:00 in the morning a neighbour rang at the door, saying we had to call the hospital. Daddy is dead, my brother told me. He was 57. Somehow he knew he would leave at this age, because his own father had the same illness and died after the same time.

Without any doubt he was by far the person I loved the most. Physically I inherited very little from him. Unlike me he was very athletic and strong, we did some arm-wrestling once and it lasted only half a second. As a junior he broke many records in long jump. He was able to walk on the hands, while I, as tango has proven, sometimes can’t even walk on my feet. Also he was very seductive, in his younger days looking like James Dean and later like Mel Gibson. A grand-aunt told me that when a student he came one day at noon at her office to say hello, by then there were tens of secretaries there in one big room, frantically hammering their typewriters. When he entered my aunt -a secretary herself- remembers there was a moment of complete silence, all the girls had frozen.

He never wasted anything, and especially not time. Out of neccessity first, because being poor he could not afford much and had to do many things by himself. He made half of the furniture in the house. Another feature that I did not inherit at all by the way, at best I can replace a bulb. But more important he did not like to waste because he acknowledged the value of every thing or person or being. I remember a tired and lost bee, carried by the wind above the ocean, landing on our sailboat. He considered the little fellow for a while, then entered the cabin and soon came back with a drop of honey. A bee does not need much, he said.

With people he never wanted to be intrusive, and in practise it means he talked very little. I remember a certain exam, the kind of exam that does make a difference in your career, in his twenties he had failed, and following his path I made an attempt too when my turn came. After the exam I did not phone and they had to wait until the next Saturday when my dad would bring me home. So he was driving and the trip to the house was a 30-minute one, and I was remaining silent. He did not ask either, not even an eyebrow or anything, he just kept driving the car through the traffic. There were not many people in the class this morning, I finally muttered after ten minutes, the ones who failed yesterday did not bother to come. And you?  I was in the class, I replied. Good. And that was it.

Cartesian-minded, he was sometimes able of certainly non-reasonable things, such as taking care of two orphan hares, bottle-feeding them, later giving them green beans and finally releasing them, to the great despair of his mother who had hoped that a good rabbit-stew would compensate for her now bean-less garden. Gifted for music, he was fond of jazz and used to play the clarinet in a band, until he got a child (yours truly) and had to sell the intrument to pay the bills.

And tango? Well as a matter of fact he could dance it. Tango, paso, nothing else. That’s how he met my mom. I saw him only one time on a dance-floor, it was during a holiday, there was a big party in the hotel, the DJ was playing any kind of music, one set of disco, one set of slow numbers… I was invited by a cute blonde on “Angie” and had to decline despite her insistence, because I had not learned the steps. With hindsight this evening may have been influential on my decision to take dance classes, years later. When some ballroom music was played my dad duly invited my mom and I was stunned to see how sync they were, stepping at the same time and moving with ease. Walks, amagues, open embrace, neither big stuff nor dramatic pauses but definitely some dynamic sensuality.

Darker sides… well he was a bad loser. he liked to play with us, table tennis, chess, whatever, but after losing once he would never play again. Not that he was easy to beat. Like anybody I had my bridge period, and attended bridge tournaments organized by world champions but only when playing against him did I get this feeling of unavoidable doom, however strong my cards were he would find a way to make me play them in the wrong order.

He did not wish to leave anything. After his death my brother moved to another town, my mom bought an appartment and I found a new job. Memories, that’s all what remains. The picture shows him walking along the sea shore of the island that he liked from his childhood, and where his ashes have been scattered.

Tag game

2008, January 9

As it happened I was harpooned. It’s all explained here

So here goes my contribution.

1. All my tango shoes are too large for me.

2. I like the posts by Pichi de Buenos-Aires

3. When in a hotel in Bs-As, there are always 50 TV channels but the tango one never works.

4. Same goes for the 2×4 tango radio (92.7), I can never catch it with an actual radio.

5. I did not read the Da Vinci code.

6. Among the 23 teachers who will be at the CITA 2008 there are 5 with whom I never took any class.

7. I usually grow a beard in Winter.

Now for my seven victims.

obscure tango
tango DJ
tango nero
moje tango

Aha, seven dead links, or dust bunnies at best, no need (and no way) to let them know that they’ve been tagged.