Subject: Monday, Tuesday and off to Toronto
Date: Fri, 14 Mar 2008 17:00:58 -0400
Already back in Toronto! We’ve been back a few days and already it feels like that it was just a dream.
The last email I sent you about our trip it was Monday and we were off to see Osvaldo at the Sanitorio –it was his birthday. By the way I got an email from Martha today telling me that he is much better, and although he is still in the hospital, some tests have come back and they are "all good nothing bad". I am very relieved to hear that. He's been in the hospital for almost two weeks now!
When we were at the hospital Osvaldo and Coca showed us a photo of all his forty grandchildren (that's what it seemed like), who had come to give him a big basket of breakfast on his birthday before we came to see him. They have a huge, loving family. We saw a video once of the Mundial that they won – when Osvaldo and Coca were announced the winners, their grandchildren all rushed onto the stage to hug them. Their tango comes from all that love that they give and receive in all aspects of their lives. Who could beat that?
It was pretty difficult getting out of Avellaneda - we didn't ask the taxi to wait for us this time, so we tried our luck trying to flag down a taxi on the street. Man Yung suggested that we walk down Belgrano, see the "sights" (not many, because it is like, the Oshawa of Buenos Aires, all concrete and asphalt and nothing going on - except we saw four big homeless dogs lying down in front of a store, all asleep) We tried several times to flag a taxi, but no one would stop for us.
Luckily we found a lady wearing an "Avellaneda TAXI" t-shirt outside the hospital. We asked her and she radioed an Avellaneda taxi to come and pick us up. The driver was kind of pissed off that he had to drive to Buenos Aires, but he had no choice because he worked for the taxi company - at the next taxi stand he stopped the taxi, got out - and went asking all his friends whether they can take us instead. Finally there was one willing to do it - and we had to change taxis. The driver had to call his friend to tell him that he would be late for his appointment because he had to head into town. We caused a lot of inconvenience to the taxi community of Avellaneda that day!
We headed to Zival's on Callao, bought lots of CDs, then had empanadas at La Americana, and back to the hotel.
After resting, we went to Martha and Manolo's class at 2211 Las Heras. It is the Recoleta location for La Escuela de Tango Argentino - but it is also a music school and a gym, and studios for hire. There were plenty of children and young adults running up and down the stairs to and fro from all the different studios (I think that if you survive walking up the ten flights of stairs to the studio, you have had enough exercise already and you shouldn't have to take any classes!) but strangely, we were the only ones who showed up for the first Martha and Manolo’s class! It was supposed to be a milonga class, we were trying to get Martha and Manolo (remember, they had to walk up all those stairs too - if it was Osvaldo he would have been killed by the stairs) to sit down and relax but they didn't, instead they decided to teach us tango salon.
It was a really good class, Martha and Manolo started with the salida of the 50's that was the very first thing they taught us in Toronto. We have forgotten how to do some of their basics. It was an easy class for me because all I had to do was follow - no need to remember any steps! Man Yung had to do all the work, but he got it really quickly so he covered a lot of ground. Now, taking a class with Alberto and Martha and Manolo really highlights a dilemma that Man Yung has. Alberto's style involves a completely different embrace than Martha and Manolo’s style, not only in the closeness but also the position - I am to Man Yung's right for Alberto's and dead centre for Martha and Manolo’s style. There is also different ways of walking and doing the parada. The musicality for Alberto, Martha and Manolo and Osvaldo and Coca are totally different - with Man Yung's natural steps and musicality closest to Osvaldo and Coca. As I told you, Man Yung's problem is not Canyengue - it's all the different styles of dancing that he is doing at the same time! It is not natural to do Alberto's steps in Martha and Manolo’s embrace, or Martha and Manolo’s steps in Alberto's embrace, or Osvaldo and Coca's steps to Martha and Manolo’s musicality, etc. etc. - but Man Yung doesn't mind, he is going to learn everything and then dance his own style.
We really enjoyed that class. We were going to leave together to have coffee after the class but then a woman showed up for the Canyengue class – a lady with the poppy pink lipstick, deep tan and shellacked short blond hair whom we saw last year taking Martha and Manolo’s classes. She had taken classes with Luis (Martha’s old partner) and Mirta (Luis’s wife) and had a huge attitude problem last year. She was always challenging Manolo when he was trying to teach her – but Manolo as always had phenomenal patience (Man Yung would have blown a gasket). She had not improved at all, and she couldn't even do the most basic stuff. This year it was such a pleasure - showing her how much we had improved in Canyengue!
After the class we didn't go out for coffee after all, we suggested to Martha and Manolo that they should take time to go home and relax, and besides they weren't wearing sweaters and jackets and we were afraid they would catch a cold. Martha said that Manolo wanted to go to Salon Canning on Tuesday night and we were to call them at 6 on Tuesday to find out whether they were still going and we could meet up there.
We walked all the way back to the hotel from the studio. The weather was nice and cool, the area around the hotel was sedate and relatively safe – and it was nice just experiencing the city at night for once without tango.
Tuesday morning we went CD and luggage hunting. Our large suitcase is starting to fall apart, and we wanted to find a nice cheap and reliable suitcase to replace it - but everything was kind of expensive and the quality was just so-so. We looked on Santa Fe as well as Florida. We looked for the tango shop that was run by Martha and Manolo's friend Ariel on Florida, but it was not there anymore - something else is replacing it but the renovations had not been completed.
We continued to walk on Florida until the Diagonal Norte or Sur, I'm not sure. We tried to get luggage at the department store on Florida but we can't find anything reasonably priced (and their Lacoste polos were more expensive than at the Lacoste store on Santa Fe). We tried to buy some Tango T-Shirts at one of the t-shirt stores but they didn't have anything in large or x-tra large - but they had a lot of Simpsons' t-shirts for whatever reason.
Our whole day was free so we decided to be tourists and we hopped on a cab to go to Cafe Tortoni - hee hee, the taxi went like 200 metres on the street and we were there! The taxi driver was kind of embarrassed but we said it didn't matter, we didn't know the directions and so the taxi was our option. We went into the cafe, walked an entire circle inside (and looked at all the tourists there), no one said anything to us or tried to ask us if we wanted a table so we walked right out again. We weren't impressed, by the way, the café was just a café. We kept on expecting something more interesting or stunning, but we were disappointed – especially the complete lack of service.
We walked to 9 de Julio, on the way we stopped by a small music store, got more CDs. We walked on 9 de Julio for many many blocks, past the government building with the stands in the front selling law books (!?!) We stopped by a Tourist information booth on Corrientes, saw an ad for a tango shop on Suipacha nearby, and headed there.
The "Tango Shop" is on a part of Suipacha which screams "Tango Tourist Trap", where every restaurant has asado and a tango show and people stand outside handing out flyers for "Tango Extravaganzas". The Tango Shop is really good though - very thorough collection of Tango CDs, better selection than anywhere else we'd been, but more expensive. We didn't get anything though, because I had bought everything that I had wanted to buy at the other places. We passed by a little restaurant – and saw Toronto people! We said hello. I think that it may be quite easy to find Toronto people on Suipacha. Or in La Boca. Or in San Telmo
After lunch, resting at the hotel, we called Martha and Manolo at 6 p.m. If we didn't have plans with Martha and Manolo we would go to Viejo Correo again to hide from the tourists, neither Man Yung nor I particularly wanted to look at face dancers at El Beso or Maipu 444 again. But Martha already booked a table at Salon Canning, so we were going to meet them at 11!
We were taking a nap when Alberto called us, he was in the hotel lobby. A surprise visit! So we rushed down to see him. Alberto came to give us the CDs of the music I was talking to Paulina about - it was so kind of him to come to the hotel and see us on our last evening.
We had a coffee and a chat in the hotel lobby/café. Alberto is funny, he keeps on hinting to Man Yung, "I only have one wish this lifetime and that is to see someone dance MY style", and "Next time you are here, you have to see less of Manolo and more of ME!". And he is trying to bribe us and keep us away from Manolo by making us promise to spend a entire day with him "IN THE COUNTRY" - he says it will be asado and fishing and gaucho fun but it is probably an Alberto style tango boot camp. ;)
We arrived at Salon Canning before 11. Martha and Manolo were already there! Jorge Dispari and Maria Carmen were to be performing that night, so of course they also came over to say hello to Martha and Manolo. Martha and Manolo only had a chance to introduce us to Maria Carmen, who remembered us from Sin Rumbo the previous Friday. After saying hello she talked to Martha and Manolo - almost screeching, with lots of large violent hand gestures and table slapping and eye rolling – very dramatic. Wish I could have understood what she was saying, it sounded kind of exciting and scandalous!
We didn't dance much at Canning. The place is full of tourists, and although it wasn't as unpleasant as Nino Bien (the music was better, but there was still face dancing and people bumping around) it was pretty crowded on the dance floor. We danced three tandas, but we didn't feel like dancing - we spent the whole evening talking to Martha and Manolo, drinking beer (or water) and holding Martha's hand.
Martha and Manolo asked us why we didn’t dance more. We replied: “We aren’t here to dance. We just want to spend more time with you!”
And Martha and Manolo replied, “Us too!”
And we left before the Dispari's performed - the evening was really all about spending time with Martha and Manolo.
So, I think I have given to you the day by day breakdown of all that happened on our trip. A dream that went by like a flash. When will we see our friends in Buenos Aires again?
- Our teachers can create the best tango feeling in their embrace - and Manolo do this in OPEN EMBRACE. And some dancers can transmit the intensity of tango with just a hug - not even dancing!
- The best follower we've seen on this trip - Elba Biscay. Although the way that Adrian's girlfriend dances should be the way we should all aspire to dance - as Manolo says, "to be embraced by her is like falling in love".
- The best dance I had - with Julio Duplaa. People also call him a "milonguero", but he does not dance in "Milonguero" style apilado close embrace! But he gave me such a big hug afterwards that my glasses got crushed to my face.
- The best fashion choice for March in Buenos Aires - Lululemon!
Hablamos mas esta noche,