Monthly Archives: June 2010

Apologies

The problem with writing anything on the web is once it is said there is no turning back. It seems that I have said something to offend, nobody will tell me exactly what, but drawing from what has been said to me, I think it is this:

But apart from a bigger better scene I would like it to be more authentic; this is not to say there is a problem with the teachers we have, but only someone who regularly visits Buenos Aires can claim the label “authentic” and I know of only two other places in The UK where this is true.

If I appear to have said that there is anything wrong with the teaching here, or in any way offended anyone, then I sincerely apologize. I owe a lot to both Sharon and Atilla and would not want to suggest that either there is anything wrong with their teaching or that I could do a better job.

What I do want to do is to supply a bit of Buenos Aires feeling, I had hoped I could continue doing that in the present classes as well, my bridges now unfortunately are burned so that will not happen, I just hope that we can continue to be friends.

We are none of us perfect and I know my writing can at times be misunderstood, that is my problem, I know. But what I always ask is, if anything offends, or is in any way inaccurate please comment or email me (address in contact) and I will try to redress the problem.

I will of course continue to write in my own way, some will enjoy it, others hate it, and most will probably ignore it. But one thing I want to emphasize, I never mean to cause offence and I have been known to pull a whole post just to keep the peace.

So I say to any of my readers “don’t get angry, get even” OK not even just tell me what bothers you and I will try to put it right.

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Too Close?

How close is too close? One of the complaints I get when I am in Buenos Aires is that my embrace is not firm enough. During my time there it gets better you could say, at least that is what I thought. Imagine then my surprise when I come back and I get not less than three complaints that I am holding too tight. Viv wondered if perhaps I was trying to prove a point, but in truth I never thought about it here. I was not trying to hold any different or making any special effort.

We came across another guy who spends a lot of time in Buenos Aires, so we compared our holds on a “neutral” woman. She could feel no real difference, so I wonder: Do both of us hold too tight? Or was I being pedantic that night? Or is it as I always believed, that the preference here is for more distance and our long standing inhibitions hold us all back from a full tango embrace?

Janis gave us an amusing description of the various embraces; we can have one tit embrace, or two tit embrace. The two tit embrace is fully on so that the whole body is pressed together; the man gets two breasts pressed against him. This to me is how the tango embrace should be. If you cannot feel the woman’s right breast against you, well then you are too far apart, this then becomes a one tit embrace and something is lost. There is less contact, less connection, and much less of a hug.

I attended a Kizomba class this week. It is sold as an African dance similar to Tango, fairly simple with a very close hold; in this way I suppose it does have some similarities to Tango. The thing that struck me most was the embrace, just as in tango the man’s right arm is wrapped right around the woman’s back. This seemed to cause all sorts of problems; nobody wanted to get that close. Of course as tango veterans Viv and I were well used to being this close, but when we changed, men would not hold Viv close enough and the women all resisted my desire to get in close. Again it is the cultural thing. English people do not get this close, simple.

It takes time to change, it is happening slowly in the tango scene, although I doubt we will ever reach the level of closeness achieved in Argentina. As for the Kizomba, well it was the first lesson.

On the Kizomba; I was told it is from Angola and derived from the tango. I did wonder however, which really came first? The roots of tango are lost in time and it is widely believed that parts of the dance derived from African dancing. Africa has a long history of dance that again is largely unchronicled. Could this dance have arrived on the shores of the New World and been adapted to the music that was being played on the newly imported bandoneons? I am only speculating of course, but if anyone has any theories or facts I would be interested to hear them.

I am glad to see that Tango in this area is now starting to take off, but for me it is still not enough. I work shifts and that means that when there is a tango event more often than not I cannot attend so for me there can never be too much going on. We (I) need more tango here and I believe that a connection to Buenos Aires should be maintained. So after many years I have decided to start offering private lessons.

Absolutely the last thing I want to do is cause another rift or factionalize the scene here, so I am taking care to advertise away from others and operate at other times to any existing classes. My aim is to expand the scene, not cream off existing dancers, although I, will of course, offer help to any that want it. I will continue to advertise the existing classes and hopefully bring new people in. The money will be nice, but that is not, or ever will be my motivation, I want to expand the scene, and hopefully throw in some practicas as well.

I believe that if the scene expands then those who are trying to make money from tango will have a bigger pool on which to draw and will have a larger more reliable source of income. For those, like me, who just want more venues, of course a bigger scene will fit the bill. But apart from a bigger better scene I would like it to be more authentic; this is not to say there is a problem with the teachers we have, but only someone who regularly visits Buenos Aires can claim the label “authentic” and I know of only two other places in The UK where this is true, Tango De los Amigos in Sheffield, and of course Carol from Leeds, who regularly brings us new dancers from Argentina.(I would love to hear of any others there are).

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Croft Milonga 11th June

It seems that people are listening. I was unable to go to the Milonga on 11th June, as I was working, although after the disappointment of last time I wonder whether I would have bothered. Viv however wanted to meet some people about shoes, so when James offered to take her most of the way she went without me (thanks James).

I can only recall what she has told me, there has been a transformation. The music is now all tango, mainly traditional with just one or two electronica. There was a good selection of milongas and enough Vals to keep Viv very happy. 

The main thing is that the music is actually tango and at last people are starting to realise that to dance tango you must have tango music. There is a good atmosphere here with friendly people, just what this great venue needs. It also has a good sprung dance floor so now that the music is sorted there is no reason not to dance all night.

So I look forward to 23rd July when the next Milonga takes place, and hope to be there.

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Me and Buenos Aires (The reply)

Having read Mshedghogs me and Buenos Aires http://mshedgehog.blogspot.com/2010/05/me-and-buenos-aires.html I was driven to write a reply, but of course my regular readers will know that my trip there got in the way, still it gave me time to think about all the things I love about this great city.

It would be wrong of me to just go on about how great it is without first letting you know the downside.

I studied Spanish for years, I am not saying I was the greatest student, I did always find it difficult. When I first arrived in Buenos Aires however I had to throw away the grammar book along with how to pronounce Spanish. They talk very funny here, large numbers of Italian immigrants coloured the language with their own style and accents, throw into this mix the indigenous Indians, Jewish settlers and eastern Europeans and you begin to see why this could never be pure Spanish.

The condition of the city roads is appalling, though this is nothing compared to the pavements, which are regularly dug up by the utility companies who seem to have no obligation to repair them. So while you dodge the holes and broken flags mind you do not put your foot in the Buenos Aires dog dirt mountain. Dogs here are regularly walked in large groups by professional dog walkers, who have neither the time nor desire to clean up after their charges.

Another thing I do not like is Americans who come here just to teach tango, OK forget I said Americans, just tango teachers, if you look foreign and dance everyone wants to offer private classes at upwards of fifty dollars an hour and they are not averse to offering you advice from the minute you start dancing.

It does not rain here often but when it does, it does it like it means it. The streets get flooded and getting about is difficult, taxis become non existent and the power often fails.

There are just too many tourists, and on every corner (in the centre anyway) there is some one trying to sell you leather or paintings or just general tat like any major city. Also like any other major city beware ladrones. There are a million scams to separate the unwary from their wallets, so beware.

So now I have put you all off let me try and redress the balance and show you what, despite its faults, makes me love this great city.I have to start with what brought me here first, The Tango. There are over one hundred and thirty different milongas each week. (A milonga is a dance event in this case) Don’t mix up venues with milongas, the same place on a different night could have up to three different milongas starting at different times, they are different also on different nights. They have different hosts and DJs, different staff, sometimes and the whole feel is like another place. The classic example is Sociedad Leonesa, everyone calls it Niño Buen this is the name of the milonga on a Thursday not the venue, it has other names on other nights.

Your choice is about the crowd that goes (young-old, couples-singles, Nuevo-traditional and on) the DJ and the Host but never are two the same. The DJ and host can make the place; some DJs play exceptional music others so-so. Some hosts treat you like a long lost friend from your first visit, to others you are just another source of dollars. In my favourite milonga every one kisses me when I arrive, the host (male) the waitress and most of the punters who are regular (male and female).

So when you first go be sure to get someone who knows what you want and knows the milongas to show you the way. On most days you can dance from about two in the afternoon until four the next morning, but there are sometimes even twenty four hour milongas. Dancing is not the end or even the beginning, you can of course see any one of the dozens of dinner shows around, most of the “tourista” milongas have exhibitions and on the main streets you can see busking dancers on almost every corner. Still it does not end, why not catch a concert, there are even free ones where artists, conductors and bandonistas of world renown perform in public buildings, if you can get there early enough to beat the locals to a seat. Make no mistake these are great performances and locals will queue for three hours for a chance of a good seat. They know what they are listening to, it is in their blood, so when you see them giving a standing ovation to a youth orchestra, you know they are not just good but great. Every street in the centre is infused with the sound of tango as you walk the streets the sounds will change from Pugliese to Canaro from Otras Aires to Gotan. Tango culture is everywhere; you cannot compare this city to any other. I could bang on forever about it, but in all honesty, words are not enough, if you have not been then you simply cannot understand. I have said it before and will go on repeating the words of Carlos Copes “to know Tango you must know Buenos Aires”

You cannot visit a foreign land without sampling local cuisine, and if you are adventurous enough to try, Buenos Aires will not disappoint. Steak obviously is a staple, do not leave without having tasted at least one Biefe de Lomo it will melt in your mouth and leave you feeling very full indeed. Then of course there is the great Argentine barbeque Asado, go to a genuine family asado and you will see meat piled to the sky sizzling with flavour and dripping with juices.

Don’t miss out on other local dishes like locro (a type of stew), or carbonada (slightly sweeter). Lentejas (lentils) and not forgetting the ever present empanadas (a type of pasty). For breakfast there are medialunas (croissants) and facturas (pastries) with crème de pastel or chocolate and of course the ubiquitous dulche de leche which they will eat with any thing and often make cakes almost entirely of the stuff.

With all the Italian immigrants you would expect ice cream, pizza and pasta and you would not be disappointed they are everywhere. Enter one of the many family owned iced cream parlours and you may think you have died and gone to heaven.

Then there is the drink, they have a great beer here, the brand name is Quilmes, try their stout or “Negra” lighter and sweeter than Guiness perfect to sup while enjoying the dancing. For celebrations here they drink Cidra a sparkling cider that they serve like champagne, but you do not have to be celebrating to enjoy this, it is so light and refreshing that even a non cider drinker like myself will enjoy it, but even though it is relatively cheap the locals will be surprised if you quaff a whole bottle yourself.

You do not have to miss out on fresh fruit and vegetables, after all this temptation, there is a verduraria on almost every corner, but make sure you pick your own, as some are not averse to off loading their old stock on unwary foregners.

The people here are very friendly, but you need to make some effort. They will often talk to exranjeros, but unless you meet in a business arrangement, it is best to be formally introduced. Once you have one or two friends however you rapidly accrue more as they will all want to introduce you to their friends as well.

Talking of business, keep away from tourist shops and find small local vendors or artisans, give them five minutes of your time and try your castillano and they will move mountains for you. You can get anything made here by skilled craftsmen happy to help you out and not yet on the bandwagon of bleed the tourista dry.

The thing is to get out of the centre, in my barrio (Almagro) I can get almost everything I could want or need within two blocks. Walk five blocks and I have the massive (and expensive) Abasto Centre a bit like the Trafford Centre but bigger and without the themed areas. Shopping heaven here for the real shopaholic, but of course you have come here for shoes. Behind the Abasto is Tango ocho famous for Traspie shoes and on the other side is Susanna Artesenal. Whereas five blocks in the other direction is Tango por Vos, a company established for over twenty five years.

Take the subte into town and you can go to Comme il Faut or Flabella or Darcos all within a few blocks. I am informed that there are now more than thirty shoe makers in Buenos Aires, and I know that Tango Ocho will make to your spec if you have the time to wait (three weeks they told me).

While you are now travelling it is worth noting the cost of travel here; you can travel anywhere on one subte ticket $1.10 about 20p, maximum fare on the bus (collectivo) is $1.25 at present. Of course for the inexperienced you could take one of the ubiquitous black and yellow cabs starting a $4.60, be careful though, they do not like giving change from big notes and the one way system sometimes give them the ability to run you a dance. Beware also the fake note scam, they hand you back a fake note and say that you have given them a fake. It is best to keep smaller notes for the taxis and coins (metalico) for the monedas on the busses. (collectivos only have monedas (coin machines) and do not take notes of any size)

Visit at least one of the cemeteries not for morbid fascination but to view some of the marvellous statues, angels and edifices.   

There are literally hundreds of Fairs around the city, one not to be missed is Ferria Mataderos on a Sunday, you can browse all the usual rubbish that is sold or eat from one of the many stalls serving hot food, but you must watch the manic horse riders as they race up the street trying to hook a ring from a scaffold with their knives. Closer to the centre there is Palermo every weekend, lots of souvenirs and antiques to be bought here but much more touristy. And even more touristy is Plaza Dorrego at San Telmo, but hang around and later in the day is a free outdoor milonga, you just cannot beat this for atmosphere.

There are acres of open parkland here that you simply must visit to sit and enjoy the normally glorious weather. Some of the best are the Rosedal, The Japanese Garden (best of the many national gardens) and Parque Centenario.

Walk the streets and view the many impressive buildings, look up and view the cupolas. Visit Teatro Colon, one of the greatest Opera houses in the world. El Obalisco, a giant needle that has come to be the symbol of Buenos Aires. Biblioteca Nacional, a giant flying saucer of a building that redeems the stark and unimpressive architecture of the seventies. And do not miss El Ateneo, formally Teatro Splendid, not just a book shop that was voted second best in the world by The Daily Express, but the building is second to non, I promise.

Finally although some parts of the city can appear dark and threatening, I have never felt personally threatened anywhere and the kids here show some respect, something that they do not in the UK. Respect is something different here, it is not false, driven by rules or some worry about causing offence, it is a genuine understanding of feelings. Political correctness does not exist here; people say it how it is, if you take offence it is because there is a problem with you not them. One famous tango dancer is called Flaco Dany, (Skinny Dany) it describes him, not insults him. Get used to hearing Che Gordo (fatty) or Guapa (pretty girl) or even Che Negro. No one should be insulted they are merely saying what they see.

If you can walk the pretty streets of Palemo in spring or stand in the foyer of El Ateneo or even the Rosedal gardens without a smile on your face, then there is no hope for you, because you must be truly world weary. This city can bring a smile to even the dourest of faces.

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Back to Frustration

I hate leaving it is so final, everything is packed; we finished off the croissants and biscuits from yesterday, then nothing left but to wait for the taxi. Calling the taxi this time had been a doddle, the girl at the other end understood everything I said, either she was good or I was getting better, I like to think the latter but no doubt someone will put me down again on my next trip.

It was a glorious Buenos Aires morning; I have come to expect rain on my departure, because that is what we have had on every trip up until now. I like to believe that “Buenos Aires llorar por salir de los Galeses” or Buenos Aires cries for the leaving Welsh. Maybe this time she knows we will be back, I take it as a good sign.

We had a very nice Renault taxi not painted the usual black and yellow, we also discovered another advantage of stretching my time here, that leaving on a Sunday meant we were not snarled up in traffic for an hour on the way to the airport. Air France has been so efficient on our travels that I had decided to leave on Sunday, meaning I would arrive home Monday afternoon, tight when I am at work Six in the morning Tuesday, but the savings on air fare coupled with the extra day (and night) in Buenos Aires made the risk worthwhile.

Everything went smoothly again, but again I could not sleep on the plane. How could I? When you consider we left Buenos Aires at half past five in the afternoon and arrived in Paris at eight the next day. Taking into account the three hours difference to Europe our breakfast was served at the Buenos Aires equivalent of three in the morning, about when we should have been going to bed, had I been to a Milonga. I watched four films that I probably would have turned off at home, so much so that I cannot remember even their titles.

This of course meant we fell asleep on the tarmac of Paris airport waiting to take off again. Woken with a jolt as the aircraft went into full thrust for take off, I was now incapable of any more sleep or even rational thought. When the stewardess came round with drinks I elbowed Viv from her slumber, the stewardess saying “non non” (She was French of course). Viv, fortunately was not annoyed as she was thirsty, but I did feel a tinge of guilt.

The journey after that was a blur, when I awoke in Gresford, I apologised to our taxi driver for our lack of company. He gets my recommendation as the smoothest driver out there, and the best hours sleep I had in almost over twenty four hours.

So now I am back to work and the frustration of having to work nights when I should be tangoing. I did make the Monday class in Chester though, and because of my long absence, I got some surprised looks from people wondering who this newcomer was.

Sharon can appear abrupt, but I know her heart is in the right place when she stood pointing to the door and ordering me to “Go home to bed” at half past ten.

I slept the sleep of the innocent and actually awoke before my five o’clock alarm. Workday today, I am not looking forward to this.

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Last tango (for now) in Buenos Aires

Viv likes to spend the last day cleaning and tidying the apartment, personally I don’t want to waste a day. So we agree to spend some time doing different things. She does not want me around being grumpy and, she would say, “in the way”.

Those who have followed my earlier adventures will know I tend to spend my last day with another woman, I don’t know why this happens, it is always innocent, but maybe it is some secret desire to cheat without the guts to do it for real.

Anyway, I had promised to get Janis onto Skype so that we could stay in touch better, I think Janis enjoys the sound of Viv’s voice, so it will be nice to be able to talk when we are home.

I took the collective again to Balvenera, getting to be a dab hand at this now, I don’t need to count the streets anymore as I know the stop. We meet at the door and greet in the traditional way, and then straight to the bedroom. I really is just as well I do not try to hide anything from Viv, this could be easily misconstrued. The bedroom, of course is where she keeps the computer.

Loading Skype takes some time, as the Argentine internet is not the fastest, then we have all sorts of problems with accepting Jantango as a name. Eventually when we are finally on line, we do all the tests. It is then we hit the biggest problem, Janis’s computer does not have a microphone.

Unperturbed we ring my computer anyway and Viv answers quite quickly, seems she was getting bored. Viv was not happy with a one way conversation, so I typed “pretend you are a newsreader”

Viv had, had enough time on her own and was desperate for me to come back, so we agreed to go to the early milonga at Los Consegrados.

Another bus journey back, with Janis this time, expecting Viv to be ready to go out, when we arrived. She was not, it seems she could not refit the blind in the bathroom, and so was waiting for me first.

So after refitting the blind we had coffee and talked for a while, then Pericles rang to say he was in the area, and could we meet. As this was now inconvenient I said “why not come up here for a coffee”.

We have found a new panadaria just one block away, so I rushed our for some biscuits, and I got some croissants for tomorrow as well. As I returned Pericles was waiting by the door. In another of those comic moments, he had rang up and Viv had said “come on up” but of course here you must unlock the door every time, then Viv did not know where her keys were. So by the time she was down we met her in the lift.

Janis had never met Pericles, but they seemed to get on famously and we all sat talking and eating the nice biscuits for hours. When Pericles finally left, we realized we had not eaten all day, and I felt again guilty as I had not offered food.

A quick trip to the supermercado and Viv whipped up some pasta for the three of us.

It was now getting late, too late for Los Consegrados. Janis said she was not dressed for a late milonga, but she was happy to stay and chat while we got ready. She now feels very much part of the inner circle, having seen Viv in her smalls. (now she know how lucky I am as well).

As we left the building it got quite emotional, saying goodbye first to Pericles then Janis is getting all too much for the two of us. Janis left to take the collective from Corrientes the opposite direction we were to go. I am sure she could have caught it at Medrano and we could have walked there together, but I suppose they would not have held the bus for our emotional scene, it was far better to leave each other outside my apartment block.

Our timing was all out tonight, we arrived at Canning at ten past ten, and it does not open until eleven. They let us in however and as the host was not there we even chose our own table. As we sat watching a milonga class, I though, well as it’s our last night, lets have some stout. I called over the waitress and said “quilmes negra”

She looked puzzled “no entiendes” she said. It must be my accent again, so I tried “Cervesa” that she clearly understood, later when the menus were put on the tables I saw negra there so I was not asking for something they did not have, there must be something missing in the way I talk but I cannot figure it out, perhaps I just need a voice coach.

The dancing, as always here was mixed, some good some bad some who you dared not dance behind and some you could easily follow. One guy who danced beautifully was in the wrong place he was a Nuevo dancer and it was nice to watch, but he hogged the outside causing chaos and I made a point of trying not to get behind him.

Some tourists arrived and sat taking photos all night, I often say if you want to see real tango come to a Milonga, not one of the many shows. I wanted to give them a card, so that they knew who they were photographing, but Viv said we should keep some mystery. I just thought it would be amusing for them to realize that they had been taking pictures of a couple from Wales and not Argentines.

When the “tropical” came on again it was time to leave and say goodbye to the milongas of Buenos Aires as well.

So that was it, another three weeks of tango over again. Here’s  to the next time.

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The Old Post Office

There was still some shoes to buy, we have an order from a non tango dancer; sparkly, not too high, red or black, closed toe. The closed toe was giving us problems, Flabella could not (or would not) help, Comme il Faut said only non dance shoes, so today we tried Tango 8.

Tango 8 is behind the Abasto Centre not far from us, we had been in before on our last visit and I was surprised that Viv had waited so long to return. They had a range of shoes second to none and the guy there was more than helpful, even though we were buying for someone else.

Pretty soon the floor was covered in shoes of every description. I do not know if we got exactly to specification, but he assured us if we came again he could make what we wanted within three weeks. We left happy, I think he was hoping we would buy more than one pair, but we need to keep some space in our cases for our clothes.

Being so near home means we can return for coffee saving us some money, and we can drop off the shoes before we head out to Jumbo for some supplies.

Milongas here come and go and also they seem to vary in how popular they are. At one time Viejo Correo was one of out favourites, but it started to loose its lustre, and by the time we were here last time, it was sad and almost empty. The Tuesday night has ceased altogether and we wondered if it would continue at all. Well it is still going although the Tuesday never got restarted, they have spent some money inside and have altered the seating again since  we arrived this time.

Short of some where special tonight we thought we would try The Old Post Office again as it is within walking distance and always a good stand by. It seems to have undergone a renaissance, for tonight it was packed, unusually for here there were many singles and there was a lot of cabeceo going on, but also there was a huge party at the top end. We are still on holiday so we celebrated in our own way with a Stout (quilmes negra) without doubt one of the best things here. We were sat right up at the bar and the way they had arranged the floor, it meant a long walk every time we wanted to dance. So when they played Canaro’s Poema (one of my favourites) we missed half the track walking to the floor.

Dancing here as always is variable, one guy danced so well I tried to always get behind him, it is so much easier to navigate when the person in front is predictable. When we got up for milonga, however, there was one guy who thought  that he owned the floor and would charge backwards down the floor crashing through anyone in his way. I have developed a technique of staying close, to stop them building up momentum and turning so my back is to the line of dance, it protects Viv and stops them seeing how annoyed I am. We he realised he was not getting the space he wanted to show off in, thankfully he left the floor.

The milonguero life is getting to us, so when they had two birthday dances, followed by “tropical” we decided we had had enough and took the slow walk home.

Next post may be delayed, due to the inconvenience of haveing to fly home, it sort of cramps my style.

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Shuesday

This place is full of contradictions, I had service second to non from my glass man, but today was going to be totally different.

We took the subte down to el centro and walked to Suipacha, a friend wanted particularly Flabella shoes. We found it easily enough we have had enough forays down this way so we know all the best shoe shops in town. The style we were looking for was in the window and I showed the woman, something in this style I said, red or black, and no it was not for my wife, we needed size eight. She seemed to take the huff that we were buying for some one else, offered us very little choice and would not show us other heal sizes or colours. Fortunately one pair would do, but we would have liked more choice we bought those shoes because that was what was asked of us, but I think if anyone else wants Flabella shoes, they will have to either buy them on-line or get someone else. That woman was awful, I do not think we will ever go in there again. We come here almost twice a year and buy a lot of shoes, business must be truly great if they can afford so easily to piss off their customers.

Viv was upset, this was her shoe buying day and it was supposed to be enjoyable for her, nothing for it but to go for a coffee.

Next stop was Comme il Faut about seven blocks from where we were. Not a shop in the conventional sense at all. Off Arenales you enter what is called a passage of artisans and at the third door go upstairs and ring a doorbell where you are examined through a spy-glass before being let in. you do not look at the shoes they are brought to you. First they check your size (we have been before so there is no need) then they just keep bringing more shoes until you can take no more. Some of what we wanted they simply did not have, they do not do any dance shoes with a closed toe, and they seemed almost as reluctant as Flabella when we were trying to get shoes that were not in Vivs size. I find this attitude very strange, surely if they sell shoes, does it matter to whom? Though in the end they were much more helpful, we left with fewer shoes than we had hoped, I guess tomorrow we will have to try elsewhere.

We just had to have more coffee before heading back. Last year we found a bar called La Tekla on the way back from Comme il Faut and I thought it would be good to go in  again.  I described it here https://tangogales.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/expensive-day/ but as it was great fun I thought a few more observations were in order. The sign above the urinals is still there (Beware of the dog) but also in the toilets is a sign saying that breathing apparatus is mandatory. A few observations from Argentine poets are also on the walls. Upstairs still among the Monet’s are various engine parts and sewing machines along with all the stuff I described earlier.

Tonight being Thursday is another Fulgor night we made an effort to arrive a bit earlier this time. While having my shower I heard a fire engine pass and commented that there must be a fire near by. Then Viv said “there is a funny smell in the bathroom” (No not that, behave yourselves) we could smell the fire. When we left the apartment the traffic outside was more than just the usual chaos and when we got to Medrano the road was closed. Curiosity is a terrible thing, but we walked up Medrano anyway, the police were just pushing back the remains of a burnt out car. It was a bit of an anti climax just the front end burnt and the owner being comforted with a coffee from the corner cafe.

Fulgor was very quiet tonight, the fact that we were early meant we got a good seat but it never got really busy. Maybe everyone had too much after the anniversary celebrations. When we first arrived we had the floor almost to ourselves, but sometimes you can get blase and we ended up crashing quite spectacularly when there were only three couples on the floor. The other was crossing the room and I was moving backwards (with the line of dance) we all apologised, no real harm done, but it just shows, even when there is loads of space we still need to follow the rules.I used the word quiet but the crowd tonight was particularly rowdy, for so few people they made a lot of noise it was, at times, difficult to hear the music. We stayed right to the finish and got many a “Buen viaje” before we left.

I thought I would finish with a picture of Roberto Orlando who has made us so welcome here.

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A quiet day

Still things to do around here, I went to our glass man first to pick up our mirror. He just could not stop being helpful. When I had asked for holes in the glass I wanted mirror screws and had asked if he sold screws, he had said I should go to a ferreteria. Now when we picked it up he had screws and plugs for me, not understanding that I was only asking for special screws, I thanked him, then he told me what size to drill the holes and even offered to lend me his drill, even though yesterday we had not even met.

When I hung the mirror I was not happy so we decided to get some sticky pads later to make it more secure. The curtain hooks went up without problems and everything is now looking grand again before we leave.

Another trip to Easy for some hooks and sticky pads for the mirror, life is one big adventure. They take security to a new level here, Viv’s bag has to be sealed inside another while in the shop, we have got used to this, but they were not happy with my tape measure, that needed a sticker to prove it was mine as well.

We have arranged for Phillippe to come around tonight, and we have found a vegetarian chinese take away that has opened across the road, so they will be supplying the food.

The guy in the chinese was very chatty, but it was difficult, his Castilian was no better than mine, and my Cantonese is non existant. He still has no idea what State Gales or Inglatera is in, his son said something about Europe from the back and he just looked puzzled. They were very friendly and offered me free, very fancy, chop sticks.

Phillippe had brought wine, so we polished off the whole bottle (he IS French) plus a litre of beer. No body would use the chop sticks so we ate with forks fortunately there was enough food, because we took so long I think that the chinese was closed.

Of all the things I had to tell him, I have forgotten the most important, I had made a list but never refered to it. Still a good time was had and Phillippe left quite merry. We were too tired and it was too late to think about going out so we watched Lesbian Vampire Killers instead and then caught up on some sleep.

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You can get a mirror made quicker than a meal.

A day for wandering the streets, we had a huge shopping list and wanted finally to meet up with Walk Jive Fly Mark.

So we set off for Palermo texting as I went. We arranged to meet up at two thirty, so had all day to shop. We were looking for some alfajores for a friend, but Havana was too expensive although we did have a medialuna there.

We wandered down Scalabrini and eventually came upon a fereteria that had some nice hooks for our curtain tiebacks and I learnt a new spanish word “tarugo” it means wall plug, very useful to know. Down all the way to Santa Fe and no luck, we even went to a shop we knew well but we got nothing we needed.

We walked back up Armenia, nothing really grabbed us so we settled for a meeting and coffee. We were, as always early but it meant I could tell Mark the cafe was called Crack Up (very spanish) 4771 Costa Rica. We had apple pie there a couple of days ago and it so “rico” but today they had non, so we had to make do with escones (scones). We spent nearly three hours there talking, at home they would throw you out, taking that long over coffee, but here they don’t seem to mind. Now I know a bit more than there is in his blog, I envy people who can just leave everything and travel, I am too hooked on security. He passed all my tests and I can tell he really does read this (must be careful what I say then). As we left I noticed a new crumble de manzana just out of the oven, just our luck.

After we left it was getting late, so we headed towards Estado de Isreal meaning to cut down Guardia Vieja to the glass man. Unfortunately Jumbo got in the way(no not elephant, the supermarket) and Viv saw an oportunity to make up for the lost day. We did not get a shower curtain there as she had intended. But we did find some bowls that we were short of (not on our list) and the alfajores and dulche de leche (which were) some bread for tea and sultanas for my breakfast. So all in all the day was not lost, but gone six it was too late for the glass man.

We walked down Guardia Vieja and when we came to Acuna de Figueroa behold the glass man was still open. We walked in and measured and deliberated,  but the man said all these mirrors were for display we should tell him what we wanted. I told him our sizes and he gave me a price $178 but he was not happy about the holes. After him showing me some other fixings we decided against the holes and even with the brackets it was only $145 (less than£30) he had said manana but now he said less than two hours, Viv said a meal takes longer than that here. I don’t want it today so will pick it up tomorrow. While all this went on a crowd had appeared either to buy glass or to hear the locos extranjeros trying to buy an espejo, I don’t know which, but I do know the service I got was exceptional, and the entertainment they got was pretty good too.

This being Tuesday we are off again to Porteno y Bailarin. Janis has said she will meet us there tonight. So as well as the excellent music we had some company as well, and we now get a friendly greeting from the organiser. As always here there is some dancing that falls short of great, I used to think it was just touristas but they are in short supply this time of year. This seems to be the place for teachers to show off to their students, so we get some big dancing that does not fit a small floor, but my defensive dancing is improving. Never the less when one guy decided he was travelling backwards about three yards there was little I could do, still that was my only serious collision of the night.

El Flaco Dani was here tonight, they are all friends of Janis and she introduced us, I told him how much I enjoyed his brothers dancing and his. Again though he did not dance, doctors orders for a milonguero can be a real burden. I do hope he is dancing again soon.

Janis was trying to establish what was our criteria for a good milonga, in truth, I don’t think we have one. Sometimes when you try to put something into words the right words don’t come. But I will try: The music is absolutely essential, play rubbish and there is no desire to dance. That said there are not many poor DJ’s here though some are truly great. A friendly atmosphere, at some of our favourites we are greeted as old friends when we walk in, just knowing you are welcome and not just another punter can make the night. Room to dance, and this does not necessarily mean a big or uncrowded floor, in Fulgor the floor is small and crowded, but you are not hastled by people trying to push you out-of-the-way, people respect your space and generally will only move if there is room to do so. Then sometimes it is just a great night for which I have no explanation, when I know I will probably do my own milonga, because few really know the secret of happiness.

When it was time to leave, we walked Janis to her bus stop, and she seemed concerned that we would walk, we actually enjoy the walk now and every time we learn more about this city. Tonight, for instance we found a bar we had never seen before across the road from us. Obviously only open at night had we taken a taxi we would have missed it.

On the subject of taxis our route up Lavalle would have cost us about $12 so my savings were wiped out when Viv got her chocolate urge and that cost me $14 that is seriously expensive chocolate even for home, had they not been price marked I would have though it was tourist pricing. It was nice though!

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