Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Buenos Aires 2008 - Part 9


Something to make you more jealous‏
From: Irene (
Sent: March 5, 2008 12:44:43 AM
To: V (

Dear V,

I know that all these updates are making you feel bad about not getting a second mortgage and joining us on this trip, now I have more news to make you feel even worse, hee hee!

Today was not supposed to be too exciting, we woke up really late, almost at noon, went out to La Madeleine to have lunch (it's a restaurant close to the hotel which is open 24 hours - the speciality is pizzas from wood burning oven but we haven't tried it, but the pasta, empanadas, salads and beef are good, we´ve been there for lunch and past midnight dinner for several days now) because we missed the free breakfast. We then headed out to the festival at La Nacional.

So it was the same classes - Canyengue, followed by movies of milongueros, and then a break while we skipped Candombe class, and then Milonga with M&M. Osvaldo by the way is in really bad shape and couldn't come to teach his class today - perhaps he won´t be returning to the festival. In fact he is the hospital, he had a fever after yesterday´s class and the doctor decided his condition needed to be monitored. We asked Martha whether we should go and visit him in the hospital, but she didn´t know where he was. We have cancelled private classes with him, it would kill him to have to teach now. I hope he gets better soon, Man Yung and I both feel very sad and anxious about him.

The movies of the milongueros was really exciting. There was video of exhibitions by Portalea, Miguela and Nelly Balmaceda, about two or three milongueros we recognized from "Tango, baile nuestro" the documentary that was made in 1989. The milongueros of today can´t hold a candle to these dancers - they were really inventive, and most of all, they danced because they enjoyed it and really didn't care about what they should or should not do and what was orthodox or unorthodox. Everyone had their distinctive style and were respected for it. Nowdays you see everyone in cookie cutter styles - "Villa Urquiza", "Milonguero Style", "Tango Nuevo", or whatever happens to be the newest label, the newest fad. Everyone does the same steps, all the women do the same adornments they have copied from youtube. It was really an eye opener, watching these videos and really how great these dancers were without having to be anything other than themselves. All of them were good without having to conform to any of the "standard styles" that seem to restrict us today.

We went out for a walk in the surrounding area while Candombe class was on - the streets look a lot like the streets in Paris. There is a leafy canopy over the street, there are many cafes - looks very similar to Paris except there's a lot more traffic belching black smoke. The weather today was quite nice too, no rain, a little sun but some breeze and lower humidity.

We went to have a light meal at La Continental (it´s a chain restaurant that also specializes in pizzas) and our waiter was called Manolo! When we got back to class we told M&M that we had a waiter called Manolo and that we gave him extra tips because of that and M&M thought that was really funny.

When we went back to the festival, in fact, Alberto was there! He was waiting for the Camicando Candombe instructor, Yuyu Herrera. Apparently Alberto needed to find a partner for a job but his regular partner's mother just died, so he was going to ask Yuyu if she can find a friend to take his partner's place. He was wondering why we weren't at the festival. Anyway, so he knew M&M, I guess the tango community is really small. Manolo made it a point to comment to us in front of Alberto that he liked Alberto's style of dancing and that he is a very good dancer.

We made plans to meet with Alberto at El Beso that night. Our european friends (Ms. K and her parents) came along with us, and we all got to sit with Alberto. Before they came, however, El Beso was pleasantly empty, only a few couples were dancing. Some big names were there - we saw Pocho at the door, and Tete was there also, already dancing. Yes, like Maipu, there was a wall of milongueros, but Alberto had to sit with us on the wall right opposite, the wall of tango siberia, I guess, because we were behind like two rows of tables and chairs.

So with a nice wooden floor, nice music (the best music we have heard at a milonga so far this trip - but still, I´m hearing Troilo everywhere, why?) and not really caring about Tete and Pocho or whatever watching, actually why not compete with Tete while he is dancing vals, said Man Yung :) we danced about three tandas before any of our party showed up. Pocho was staring at us but it didn't look like Tete was looking, but then Tete waved to us to come over to his table and I asked him, are you Tete? and he replied yes, and we exchanged pleasantries and he said something to me that sounded like "we are going to dance together later" and I thought, sure right, he is just being polite.

So the others arrived and Alberto and Paulina were really gracious to our european friends. Our friends thought Alberto was AN AMERICAN (And I already told them who they were going to meet before we went to El Beso, but they weren't paying attention), until I had to explain to them (AGAIN) at great length who he was, how long he had been dancing for and that he was also our teacher. Man Yung danced a lot with Ms. K (what a relief for my feet!) and Alberto asked her to dance too, and so did two other men, one a milonguero. She had not danced so much in all the milongas she had been since she arrived in Bs As (I mean the aggregate!) She had no idea who Tete or Pocho was, can you believe it?

So, while I was making plans to see Alberto again for class on Friday, guess what (and this is the part where you get to be insanely jealous) TETE walked over from all the way across the room to ask me to dance. I wasn´t even paying attention, Man Yung had to distract me from my conversation with Alberto and Paulina. I thought he wasn´t going to ask me after all, because he had spent the entire evening dancing with flaquitas - all very skinny, very young (or looked like it) with very high comme il fauts and very skimpy outfits with very pronounced adornments.

What was it like dancing with Tete? We danced a tanda of Di Sarli with Rufino singing, and I can tell you it was like a very terrifying ride on a roller coaster, but kind of fun too. I've watched many videos of Tete dancing, and it looks so simple usually - lots of molinetes and direction changes - but dancing with him was completely another matter. Tete was competing with Man Yung for the "most steps crammed into 10 minutes" trophy today. Man Yung was watching us dance and he said that he had never seen Tete do so many steps - and unusual ones too, I have never danced or experienced the lead for some of the steps that he was leading. His lead was very clear and precise, and he used a lot of explosive force (centrifugal and otherwise) and every bit of his body to communicate the different leads he needed for all his steps. But to dance with Tete, you cannot anticipate moves or go faster than him, or be too involved with your adornments, because you will miss the lead, and he won't dance seriously with you. I saw him clowning around with some of the flaquitas - dropping his hands, for example - but he was really serious with me for some strange reason. It was a really challenging dance, but he was very musical because all his moves connected with the music in a percussive way (I don't know how else to describe it).

Dancing with Tete: Not just like any ol' rollercoaster, but a rollercoaster that also suspends you in mid-air like a dangling rag-doll while accelerating and twisting at super-sonic speeds!

After he danced with me he left the milonga! Man Yung has got new respect for him. Previously he thought he only did the same ten steps over and over again, and that he didn't navigate the dance floor as well as people said he did (because he was kind of getting in the way dancing with the flaquitas) but in fact he was very skilled at navigating (and at high speeds too, with lots of stops and sudden turns to avoid other people), but he needed a partner who could keep up with all those hairpin turns and surprise stops. And he kept his word - he said he was going to dance with me, and he did.

Ha! I know all this is making you horribly jealous ;-) I wish that you came with us because at El Beso you would definitely be asked to dance by Tete, Pocho and all the others.

Alberto was very proud of me, and Paulina agreed, dancing with Tete is "muy dificil".

Ok, hope my exciting account at what happened at El Beso will at least give you sweet dreams tonight of dancing with Tete. For me, alas, it was such an experience my brain is going to explode with excitement and I'm probably going to have a nightmare about riding on a rollercoaster with a bunch of milongueros!

Hasta pronto,



Unknown said...

Wow, I just noticed that this stuff is almost two years old! I'm glad you had a great time!

Hope to get a chance to meet both of you someday Tango really is a small world!

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Tangoleader,

I was so exhausted after dancing with Tete I regain get enough energy to post about our experiences in Buenos Aires 2008 until 2009! (Just kidding)

Thanks for your comment!

Irene and Man Yung

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