What makes us happy? A hard thing to define. We set out today just to wander around the shops and do very little. Most people, on holiday sit around, by a pool or on a beach and do nothing. We however rush around a big, noisy, dirty city, just to keep a place going that allows us to tango every night. So today we got some keys cut, then wandered off down Lavalle.
Towards the very end, nearest to us, Lavalle is a bit run down, broken pavements, derelict buildings and rubbish in the streets. It is three or four blocks before you get to any shops, yet here I was walking arm in arm with Viv with a giant smile on my face. I have often said “I do not know what makes me love this place” yet I do. It would be a foolish man who denied it’s faults, there are many and for those who live and work here they are magnified. Yet from the many who escape and earn good money outside, there are few who will not return. I could spend all my life wondering, but instead I will just enjoy. If I do not know why I am happy it does not make my happiness less.
We passed the ferrias americanos (second-hand shops) Viv giving them barely a second look, quite unlike her, but she was ecstatic about all the shops selling manaquins. I am not quite sure what she enjoyed about them, perhaps it was the naked men with no equipment, or the children with pony tails, but she was happy. We walked then along Pueyrredon passed all the street sellers and hawkers. It can at times be quite intimidating, but often just the inability to communicate is enough to put them off. Viv found a shoe shop and managed to replace her old trainers, now this one I understand, woman plus shoes equals happiness. When I can get this for a hundred pesos (less than twenty pounds) then I also am happy.
I am not a great fan of Salon Canning, but getting lazy, we can walk there. On the way we pass Tomato, a cafe bar we used to frequent often in the early days. Now though it is somewhat off our route, so on our last visit we only went once and that was over a year ago now. As we walked past the great expanse of glass that forms the front our favourite waiter waved to us from inside. I was totally gobsmacked from right inside the ber he had seen two strangers from long ago, recognised them and took a moment out to wave. It was too much for me we turned back and went in for coffee, I just could not ignore him and pass.
We were still early for Canning it was only quarter past eleven, and they do not open untill eleven. The music was good, but as usual the dancing was a mix of good milonguero, nuevo posuers, total beginners and still the odd tourista. Viv said I am turning into Victor Meldrew as I complained about people crossing lanes or taking half the floor for one move. Having spent much time now in these milongas I have got the knack of ensuring that charging bulls get a heel from Viv rather that one of us getting a heel or just knocked off the floor. These people have not yet learned the first priority in a miloga is to protect your woman, or how to dance in a limited space.
All this said, we thoroughly enjoyed our night, even the demo which owed more to the circus than tango, it afterall gave us time for rest and another coffee. When Viv asked the time and I said quarter past two, she could hardly believe we had been here three hours, time flies when you are enjoying yourselves. We danced a last milonga and headed home to bed.
Time then to reflect on why I am suddenly so happy, I see Viv come out of the shower and think how lucky I am to be with a woman so awesomely beautiful, still after thirty eight years together. I have come to Buenos Aires, learned Tango, learned to hug people I have only just met and even kiss men. And more importantly I think I finally understand “Lo pasa nada” Not to forget of course; all the friends that I have now in this great city, who email me all the time when I am in The UK to beg me to return.
I nearly forgot to add I would not have these feelings had I just stuck with the European Tango Festivals, even though many of my friends here are French or German, the tango feeling that permeates everything here breaks down stereo types, so that,in the end, we all become Portenos by adoption.