Thursday, April 8, 2010

Heck, a good Milonga is just a really fun party with music and dancing.... and not the tryouts for the Mundial! - March, 2010

Some extranjeros who have not grown up in tango culture have a tendency to put tango up on a pedestal. They reason: Tango is such a transformative, powerful experience... could it be anything other than "sacred"? These grim crusaders consider themselves the last bastion of the "authentic" and cast their travels to Buenos Aires in the light of a "pilgrimage". As for the so-called "codigos" - these are relevations of the "divine" and are therefore inviolate.

For the hard-core tango "authentistas" - the hallowed halls of the "milonga" are no less than the proving-grounds of the "faithful". May the most "authentic" win!

Such specimens of gringo tango can be found throughout the less "turista" milongas (god forbid that they should hang around in "Confiteria Ideal" or "Salon Canning"!) in Buenos Aires, sitting surly and sullen in their tasteful "tango" attire. As I have mentioned before in this blog, the way they frown and sigh and furrow their brow - "they look like someone has killed their goat". They must be extremely disappointed to find that the Portenos do not take tango quite as seriously as they do. In fact, they may be quite upset at the sheer amount of fun and glee that could be found at a Buenos Aires milonga!

Many Portenos - the ones that have grown up with tango as part of their lives - do not go to a milonga to prove their worthiness to the "Tango God up on High". That is just plain ridiculous. They go to the milonga to relax and chat with their friends, to enjoy a drink and a light meal. They go to catch the performance of a live orchestra or singer, to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary. They may even dance a little. And that little dance may not even be tango!

They may dance a little Chacarera:

Oscar and Ana dance a Chacarera at Glorias Argentinas, March 20, 2010

Oscar and Ana are two of the VIP regulars at Glorias Argentinas - they have been sitting at the same reserved table for decades. Oscar happens to be one of the most respected dancers of 40's style tango at Glorias - with such "lady-killing" energy and musicality that I have heard onlookers warn me while I am dancing with him that he is a real "peligro" (danger) on the dance floor. And yet here he is dancing with his wife Ana - one of the sweetest, least pretentious chacereras ever!

They may also dance a little cumbia:

Ruben and Elena dance cumbia at Caricias, March 16, 2010

Ruben and Elena are very close friends of Martha and Manolo and also padrinos (godparents) of the milonga Caricias (Tuesday nights, Ricardo Balbin 4699). Ruben has been involved in the tango scene for decades, both as a DJ (he has been a well-respected DJ at many milongas, had helped train DJ Dany Borelli, and in fact was the first DJ of Lo de Celia) as well as a milonga organizer. We're talking serious tango history here - and of course Ruben and Elena are also beautiful dancers of tango salon.

What is wonderful about Caricias and milongas like Caricias is the totally relaxed atmosphere you will find - as Ruben remarked to me, "This milonga is lindo (pretty) and familiar (could mean familiar, informal, or family)". The level of dancing at Caricias is very high - in fact, the highest we saw at any milonga we attended during our trip in 2010. Even though the floor could get crowded, there was no shoving or bumping, and everyone respected each other on the dance floor. And everyone was dancing for their own enjoyment and not at all to show-off to onlookers.

As you can see in this videoclip and in the videoclip we posted previously of Osvaldo and Coca, even the lighting at Caricias is nothing less than a warm inviting glow. The night we went we saw Ricardo Viqueira, Amanda Lucero, and even El Chino - we know that Ofelia and Adela Galeazzi also go there. We saw El Chino having a wonderful time sweet-talking to two gorgeous blonds (he was so cool, just like the James Bond of tango) and dancing salsa (too bad we couldn't video it). I have a feeling that El Chino would think all that fuss that the gringos were making about "Villa Urquiza world tango domination" was all hooey - why would he care, with two beautiful women on each arm and a bottle of champagne on ice? He was there to enjoy the milonga, and that was that.

I know you must be disappointed that we don't have footage of El Chino or Alberto and Paulina dancing salsa (which they did at Glorias Argentinas), but as a consolation, here's some more cumbia:

Osvaldo and Coca dancing cumbia at Confiteria Ideal, March 18, 2010

You may find this is insanely cute (we do) but don't be fooled - notice that Osvaldo and Coca stay completely in the compas. When Osvaldo and Coca were competing at the Mundial or whenever they are performing, they have the intense focus of top professional athletes. And when Osvaldo teaches, he is a fearsome Maestro. But when Osvaldo and Coca relax at a milonga, they relax and have fun!

This post cannot be complete without mentioning Adela Galeazzi. Whenever we saw her at a milonga, we saw her dance to everything - tango, vals, milonga, rock n' roll, cumbia, salsa, merengue, chacerera - beautifully. Tango is wonderful and the object of our passion, but it's just also another dance among dances - and dancing is to be enjoyed. We sometimes forget that the some of the best dancers of tango are also experts in other dances too - Tete, Facundo Posadas, Oscar Hector are also known as really great rock n' roll dancers. Here's a video of Adela with another such great dancer of rock n' roll and tango, Jorge Garcia:

Adela Galeazzi and Jorge Garcia dance Rock n' Roll at Fulgor

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