Monday, July 25, 2011

Buenos Aires 2009 Part 6 - Friday, February 27, 2009

Dear V,

After everything was wrapped at at the Escuela, M&M went with us to the café across the street where they always go to, and where Manolo never leaves any tips (but always tell the waiters to take the clean tablecloth away and not waste it since we won't be eating) ;-) The waiters love Manolo anyway! We had something to drink ("not cold" water for Manolo, Coke for me, Beer for Martha and Man Yung) and had a little chat.  We told them about our visit to Osvaldo and Coca’s house.  We showed them our little mp3/video player, and warned them that we have learned a lot of O&C’s steps and that there is a video of us dancing that shows this.  They wanted to watch it - Martha said “Don’t worry, I won’t be mad” (Man Yung says that people who say that they don’t mind or that they won’t get mad are actually the ones who really mind and who will really get mad ;-) )  They were quiet when they watched it, and after they said we danced well - however, Martha was not very happy because I did not do “a single adornment”!!!!  I assured her that we had videos of us dancing at home where I was doing plenty of adornments, don’t worry (in fact, Man Yung thought the prolific adornments I was doing were very ugly, so I stopped doing them - but I wasn't going to say anything to Martha about that).

We also showed them a video of their performance at Lori Burton's studio in Detroit back in 2008.  They liked watching themselves.  It seems like that this mp3/video player is a big hit with everyone - both M&M and O&C were very intrigued by the machine. We told M&M we would get them one.  It may be handy for them to play music, as well as show people videos of their performances.

M&M went home - we went for a little walk on Florida.  We watched the “street tango show” - I was watching my handbag all the time in case there were pickpockets.  Man Yung likes watching even street tango shows, he might learn something from what the dancers are doing (that is, if we also want to do a street tango show and put it on our resume)!  We bumped into a Chilean couple who has attended Camicando every year that we have.  They will see us on Monday.

Street Tango on the Calle Florida, where you can find (almost) every Tango cliche in existence.  It is actually a very good "show" - these dancers are more professional and dancing much better than some of the visiting "maestros" that come to Toronto!  Maybe someone should invite them too -  I'm sure in some pockets of Toronto Tango they will be a huge hit.

We walked a little bit towards Plaza San Martin, really looking for a taxi and a street that went the direction of the hotel.  We passed by a toy shop.  Man Yung has an idea - he wants to buy some toys for Osvaldo and Coca’s grandkids.  We are going to keep our eye out for something suitable (and not too expensive).

After a short taxi ride with the most disgruntled taxi driver we have encountered so far (most are very professional and proud of their job, this one would rather be doing something else and it showed) - we went back to the hotel, changed and showered and then had a huge dinner at La Madeleine.  My appetite was finally back - I actually ordered and ate a Parisienne pasta, while Man Yung had a steak with mushroom sauce and fried potatoes the size and shape of marbles.  Man Yung’s steak and the sauce that came with it was totally delicious - I kept stealing bites from his plate.  We are getting into the habit of eating really heavy - and I have to be careful, because this is usually my downfall whenever I’m traveling!

Even though Sin Rumbo doesn’t start until 11 p.m. there really wasn’t that much time to relax and take a nap before we had to head out again.  Taking a radio taxi to these places is a must - the driver had to call in for directions, and it took 45 minutes to get there.  Sin Rumbo is 3 blocks away from the very edge of Buenos Aires, almost in "La Provincia", as they say - so it was far.  You have to cross many railroad tracks and really bumpy roads to get there - it’s a residential street in Villa Urquiza that happens to have a barrio club.

Hee hee! Julio Duplaa didn’t quite recognize us but he had a puzzled expression on his face that told us we may have looked a little familiar.  Anyway, he is always a gracious and welcoming host.  The milonga had not yet started - they rarely start on time, so arriving “late” is never really “late”.  There was a huge party at the end of the room, celebrating someone’s birthday.  We were seated on one of the side tables that lined the length of the room - black and white tiles again.  We had to share with another couple.  The woman’s name was Julia and she had a wrinkly face with sparkly lively eyes.  Her husband seemed kind of dour and grey and untalkative.  This was, as we later found out, because he just had a throat operation and can’t talk.  Julia encouraged us to get out and dance because we looked so naive - and Man Yung said he was “scared!!” and she reassured him that we should not be scared, we are only dancing for “fun!”  Sneaky Man Yung! 

We watched the dancers.  We thought we would see quite a few high quality dancers, but there was only one leader dressed in a black shirt and pants worth watching - and he danced open embrace with a lady in red with lots of figures.  The rest were very ordinary.  And they can’t navigate.  This was the first place we have gone to this year where a bit bumper car phenomena was apparent.  What was nice was that there were mainly locals, very few tourists.  The tourists that came provided lots of entertainment for the locals.  The table seated behind us had the big tall guys with the untucked shirts and the girls who look “pretty” - well, they had made a big effort - one wore a sarong that showed her midriff, with a delicate flower behind one ear, but her ripped abs, hard face and amazon stature made her look like as odd as a body-builder in a tutu. They did lots of voleos and stayed squarely in the centre of the floor because they couldn’t do their figures while in the line of dance. 

There was one young man in a suit that looked like a taxi dancer, because he was dancing with all these tourist girls who weren’t very good dancers. There was another more distinguished gentleman that Man Yung thought was a taxi dancer too (actually, he wasn’t - we saw him at Sunderland the next day and he knew Martha - he was a pharmaceutical scientist and spoke many different languages, yikes!) And again, we bump into the "Villa Urquiza" maestros ______ and _______.  We see them every single time on our trips, and they always bring an entourage of slender, handsome young foreigners who have been processed through their "dance factory" - and who look and dance exactly the same in order to gain maximum points in the big "competition".  They have a winning formula!  Maybe we should sign up!  But they'll reject us for sure, we are too fat and too old and we can't stop wearing Crocs.

One of the couples they brought with them actually did win some kind of competition (but not the "big" one). The man was young, with a little beard, very grave, and the woman with long dark hair and protruding butt.  They must have been pretty hot - she wore long sleeves and long pants and he was wearing a suit.  The way they danced was joyless and soulless - calculated.  Maybe they deduct points during competitions if you look like you enjoy dancing tango.  With them was an asian guy with a ponytail and a goatee, another trainee - he had no sense of music, and the same dour, “you’ve killed my goat” expression.

The floor was so sticky that even powder didn’t help.  Still, we enjoyed ourselves dancing.  As it has been at other places too, the locals liked our dancing and watched us approvingly as we danced past their tables.  The very good dancer in black we had admired came over early on to tell us we were dancing very well.  However, when the lady at our table Julia remarked that the taxi dancer was dancing brilliantly with one of his girls who was doing little “preschool” adornments - I thought “Oh, please" and completely abandoned all my years of Zen training.

I asked Man Yung to dance the rest of the vals tanda while they were still on the floor.  Man Yung had no idea what I had in mind, but I knew he wouldn't let me down.  We were really just doing our thing, and not really trying to get attention - while we passed by the big birthday party of people at the end of the room, the taxi dancer started doing big spinning figures and so we followed with big spinning figures of our own - because that's what the music told Man Yung to do.  And when the music stopped, the four rows of tables at the birthday party erupted in applause - clapping and whistling and the whole lot!  It was kind of embarrassing, everyone was looking over at us to see what was the big fuss about - I didn't expect that kind of reaction.  The Zen Masters were right - don't draw attention to yourself on the dance floor!   But... it was kind of fun pummeling the competition too (Bad Irene!)  When we got back to the table Julia congratulated us - she hadn't been watching us dance before (was she distracted by our jokes?) and didn't realize that we had mastered the high velocity whirligig too. 

The birthday girl danced an exhibition which had been choreographed, and every few tandas there would be salsa or rock or swing.  It was good to clear the floor a bit so it would not be so sticky. Julia was very nice, she suggested that we meet again at Viejo Correo on Sunday but I knew that we had other plans.  

When we left, we asked Julio Duplaa to call a remise for us.  He was about to give us a business card, but we told him we already had it.  He was still trying to place where he had seen us.  As we were getting into the remise, I asked him “did you receive our x’mas card?” and Man Yung said “Canada” - and then he remembered.  Yes! The Chinos from Canada wearing Crocs! We are doing our bit for the glorification of Chinos, Canada...and Crocs.

It was pretty late by the time we got to the hotel - another round of instant noodles and then off to bed.

Saturday to follow….


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