Saturday, December 11, 2010

Osvaldo and Coca at Salon Canning, October 22, 2010

We always go to Buenos Aires in February or March, so we were in for a pleasant surprise when we walked the streets of Buenos Aires in October... and found white jasmine for sale at every corner.   You could get the fragrant flowers even while traveling down Avenida 9 de Julio. Whenever traffic stopped, a dozen extraordinary brave (or perhaps foolhardy) street vendors would plunge into bristling traffic and walk between the rows of cars, selling notebooks, children's toys, ice cream, and of course, little bunches of jasmine.

Coca loves flowers, especially roses.  Once, a couple of enthusiastic fans ran out of the milonga after watching Osvaldo and Coca perform to buy roses for Coca.  They bought all the roses that they could find on Corrientes, and ended up with a huge bouquet.  Coca made a gesture with her arms like she was hugging Santa Claus. "It was SOOOOO big, the bouquet couldn't fit in my arms!"

We were on our way to Osvaldo and Coca's class at El Tacuari when we passed by a florist booth just on the corner of Callao and Santa Fe.  The florist - a big gruff guy with no neck in a lumberjack shirt - was delicately sorting and wrapping the jasmine.  The scent of white flowers and greenery filled the street.

"How much for a bunch?" we asked the florist, pointing at the jasmine in his basket.

"Five pesos for the small one.... Ten pesos for the large."

We got the large bouquet - which really wasn't that large, the blossoms all together were the size of a closed hand - and wondered whether Coca would like them.  It was just a small token... we hoped that she wouldn't mind, especially since she is used to getting enormous bouquets from her fans.

Coca was delighted when we presented her with the jasmine.  "For me?" she asked, eagerly taking the flowers from us with a wink and a smile.  Then we turned to greet Osvaldo - but when we turned back, Coca had disappeared.  Where did she go?  Class was starting!

After about two minutes, Coca emerged, balancing the loosened sprigs of jasmine in a small plastic container half filled with water.  "Water!  The flowers need water!"  she said.  She had dashed into the kitchenette at the back just to get the flowers a drink.  Our little jasmines were just as precious to Coca as a mountain of roses.

Osvaldo and Coca are always showing us how to appreciate the beauty of humble things.  Once, in class, Osvaldo and Coca demonstrated how to dance a tango simply - with only a salida, not even an ocho cortado or half a giro.  Tango does not have to be fancy to be rich and deep.  It was one of the most amazing, moving things that we had seen.

This is why Osvaldo and Coca are the once and forever champions.  But they won't be thinking of that when they dance.  Whether you find your tango under glittering chandeliers in the grandest hall of Buenos Aires, or in a cramped living room in slippers with the old sofa pushed to one side - at it's heart it is just two people, moving together to the music in the embrace.  And that's all it needs to be magic.

And here's Osvaldo and Coca, working their everyday magic in Salon Canning on October 22, 2010:

Osvaldo and Coca at Salon Canning, October 22, 2010.  
They dance to Di Sarli's "Todo", Orquesta Tipica Victor's "Carillon de la Merced", and Canaro's "Milonga Criolla".  
Includes all the speeches and shenanigans in between the songs!

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