There's always a party going on at Glorias Argentinas. When we arrived, friends and family were gathering at their accustomed tables again, laughing, talking and eating merrily. The lady who receives the entrada was so excited to see us and talk to us she forgot to say hello to the other people in line who just received their entradas from her. "Everyone has been talking about the two of you since last Saturday!" she said. We scratched our heads, what could "Everyone" have been talking about?
Carlos Anzuate insisted that we sit at his table - he was quite annoyed that we sat with Martha and Manolo the last time! Hey, we have other friends too! It's hard to say no or sneak by, his table occupies an important position right between the bar and the entrance. One good thing though - Carlos has found love again since the sad death of his wife Porota last year - which meant that he was occupied most of the evening talking and dancing with his lovely new paramour. We were afraid that he would feel lonely since Porota died, but now we were overjoyed to see how happy he was with his new girlfriend. Carlos is in his eighties - more the reason to seize the day!
Oscar Hector prepared something special for the milonga. His energy in organizing Glorias, other milongas and other events is inexhaustible. On this night, he had a live guitar trio up on stage - playing music that was quite challenging to dance to! The band encouraged everyone to get up and dance to their music.
Guitar trio to the people of Glorias Argentinas:
Please dance to our music! If you stay seated we will look like a bunch of asses up here on the stage.Sorry we couldn't show you photos of the dance floor - we were too busy dancing there with the locals to the music! It was more difficult to dance to the live music (not that Man Yung has any problems - I can play five minutes of bird calls from Naturespace and Man Yung could dance perfectly "to the music" with that), but everyone had a blast. The couples all around us were smiling and laughing after every song. In the middle of the set the trio asked whether people wanted to dance another tango, milonga or vals. Some yelled out "Tango!", some yelled out "Milonga!", some yelled out "Vals!".... so the band played them all.
It was not a matter of looking slick on the dance floor, following the codes, or even being "Ambassadors of Tango", whatever that is - the band invited the dancers to dance, and the people happily obliged. That's how you get a party going. In Buenos Aires, milongas are not the "Proving Grounds of the Tango Overlords". They are just a big parties with music and dancing and food and friends and fun. We (and the regulars of Glorias Argentinas) wouldn't have it any other way.
Here you can see Bob and Viv in the foreground looking quite exasperated in the presence of locals engaging in "non-traditional music dancing". We understand that they also frequently try to run away when the DJ plays Pugliese. [Dear Bob and Viv: See, we haven't forgotten that you were there at Glorias on that night!]
You may be completely mesmerized by the expression on Bob and Viv's faces but let us draw your attention to the framed photograph to the left of the stage.... it's Carlos Anzuate performing with El Cachafaz's partner, the legendary Carmencita Calderon.
Apart from the live band, announcements, lucky draw, frequent tandas of rock 'n roll, salsa, folklore, swing etc., we also squeezed in a few tandas of tango, milonga and vals with friends new and old. Here I am dancing milonga (candombe-style) with Carlos:
Carlos Anzuate dancing candombe to a set of D'Arienzo milongas with Irene at Glorias Argentinas, October 23, 2010
Chiche's brother Hector "Coco" Guaraldi arrived late but lost no time - I don't think he sat through any tanda! This is a man who had major surgery just a few months back. It proves that the solution to life's pains is not to let people treat you like an invalid and dance less... you have to dance more! Every time we were at Glorias Argentinas in 2007, 2008 and 2009, we would see Carlos Anzuate and his wife Porota. Porota's disease had robbed her of much of her mobility and memory, but that didn't stop her from taking to the dance floor with either Carlos or several of her friends supporting her on either side. It was quite a sight to see Porota dancing with the assistance of her friends and husband when she could hardly walk - and all the regulars at Glorias were kind and supportive, and treated Porota with respect and care. Carlos's love and attentiveness and the joy of being with friends at the milonga every week and dancing kept Porota going and out and about for longer than would have been possible normally under the circumstances.
You've seen Hector "Coco" Guaraldi's milonga traspie - here he is dancing vals:
Hector "Coco" Guaraldi dancing to valses by D'Arienzo with Irene, October 23, 2010
I returned to the table after dancing with Hector Guaraldi. A tall skinny gentleman in a red shirt - his name is Aldo, and he also knows our friend Susy Tilbe - came over and started to complain. "Why are you dancing like that with the short guy? You are ruining your posture! You should stand up straight and look elegant!" And then he "proposed" to show me how "elegant" dancing was danced.
How annoying. Yes, of course I could stand up as straight as a rod when dancing with someone a head shorter - but then, do I really want to have Hector's face lodged in my chest? I could get Hector to accommodate me rather than have me accommodating him - but then do I want to pull him into an awkward position and aggravate his existing injuries?
This reminds me of a conversation we had with Alberto back in March. Alberto stressed how difficult it is to find a partner that is 100% compatible - and he was just talking about height. Half an inch shorter could mean that his partner would be "hanging" on his neck... half an inch taller and the centre of gravity was off. Alberto envied that Man Yung and I were just perfect for each other... height-wise. But he doesn't know about all the times we have tried to kill each other arguing about tango!
The conclusion is: there is no "perfect match", physically or otherwise, in tango. Or conversely, all matches are "perfect". You just have to make do with whatever you have and try to make the best dance possible between the two of you, tall or short, fat or thin. Dance like your partner is your first love, or don't dance at all (in Toronto, I frequently prefer the company of my iPhone). Social tango should not just be about how you look, but how well you move with your partner to the music, and how you create tango between the two of you. I'm not tall but in Buenos Aires there are plenty of milongueros shorter than me, many of whom are in their seventies, eighties and nineties, some of them quite frail. They take care of me on the dance floor - and I take care not to injure them with my movements and embrace. That means I have to be light, I have to refrain from hanging or strangling, and ... crouch awkwardly if necessary.
And despite dancing so much with short men, I could dance perfectly fine with taller men. You can see by the end of the tango by Aldo's big smile that any fears that Aldo may have had had dissipated:
The cabeceo exists at Glorias but it's such a family atmosphere people just ask each other to dance. Friends of Oscar and Ana asked us to dance cumbia (we couldn't but we just went along), and at the end of the evening, Marta and Alfredo, friends of Oscar Hector and the teachers of tango at Salon Sur came over to ask us to dance too:
We dance with Marta and Alfredo, Glorias Argentinas October 23, 2010
Apart from teaching tango, Marta and Alfredo also dance a wonderful zamba - which they did as the night drew to a close. It was another exciting evening at Glorias Argentinas. Wished that you were there with us!