Friday afternoon milonga at Confiteria Ideal
Man Yung looked happy. I asked him what put him in such a good mood.
"I was just thinking about the time we went to Confiteria Ideal on our trip. I had a great time."
"I totally agree. I was always thinking about going back before we returned to Toronto, but we ended up being too busy to make it there again," I said.
Turned out that we both considered our visit to Ideal to be the best part of our trip!
We had been to milongas at the famous Confiteria Ideal in 2007 and 2009 but hated it both times. The milongas were packed with people. Tables and chairs were squeezed into every possible inch of space - you had to clamber over them to get to the floor, which was too sticky to dance on. That, however, didn't stop the crowd of tourists having a jolly old time...dancing extremely badly to blaring music.
After those two negative experiences, we vowed never to go back to Ideal again.
We found ourselves really full after eating an enormous Fugazzetta pizza at El Cuartito on Friday afternoon. If you have never had a Fugazzetta before, this is what it is like: it is a doughy pizza crust filled with an inch of mozzarella and covered by another inch of mozzarella, some caramelized onions and olives, and I suspect they doused it in olive oil as well. We ordered ours with ham and extra anchovies on top, because we were afraid it wouldn't be filling enough.*
* Which shows that we know nothing about pizza. We will let you know all about El Cuartito (with photos!) in another post.
"I really want to take a nap!" I said after we ate the whole greasy, scary, calorie-laden thing. "But I might die (or gain 10 pounds!) if I take a nap after eating this. I think we have to go out to dance!"
Man Yung was delighted. We consulted the milonga schedule for the afternoon. El Arranque wasn't open until much later, which left us with Ideal as our only choice.
After a short taxi trip (in which our taxi driver told us "all about" the exciting tango shows we could catch at the Confiteria Ideal - we let him talk on, he was just being helpful and friendly) we ended up at Ideal.
Surprises were in store: Firstly, the entrada was only 40 pesos, which was the same as El Arranque. We expected it to be like, at least 70 pesos because we had the impression that Ideal was a tourist trap, but we were wrong. Secondly - the milonga was filled with locals! It was the El Arranque crowd with some other additional locals. They were dancing close embrace with good floorcraft.
We ordered beer and water and before they came we were off dancing. Third surprise: the floor was smooth and not at all sticky.
We danced every tanda for one and a half hours, and we only danced with our favourite dancers - that is, with each other! We didn't have to say hello or socialize with anyone except our friend Roberto Segarra - who was having a grand old, very busy time dancing with all the ladies. It was wonderful to see him healthy and happy and still dancing several times a week at the age of...is it 93, 94 or 95? We have lost count. We told Roberto, "Buenos Aires isn't the same unless we see you somewhere, dancing!" Bumping into him and seeing him dancing makes us feel that things are still ok.
Man Yung and I looked at each other after every tanda with big smiles on our faces. We didn't stay long, because we had another event to rush to afterwards, but it was good to spend time just with each other.
We didn't talk about our time at Ideal until we got back to Toronto - and it is the fourth surprise, that we both agree that it was the best time we had on our trip. It is terrific for us to spend time with our teachers and friends Martha and Manolo, Osvaldo and Coca, Paulina, Susy Tilbe etc., and spending time with the people we love and whom haven't seen for a long time is the main goal of our trip - but with our friends there and the obligations we have when they are with us distracts us from enjoying our dancing!
Man Yung says that we can end this post with the Chinese saying, "If the Heart is pure, the Land is pure." Confiteria Ideal happened to be "ideal" for us because we had no burdens and felt so free.