We set off for Plaza Bohemia in good spirits, we have not seen Gloria this trip, and expected the usual welcome, although we did not expect there to be a crowd we did expect a milonga.
Our first problem was leaving the subte, the escalator was out of action, but we wandered around and eventually found another way out. We set off down Corrientes and the first thing that occurred to me was, we could take a taxi home straight up Corrientes. This was, of course, absolute rubbish, Corrientes runs into town not out. It was at this point I realised we were going the wrong way, all that turning underground had disoriented me, so we turned again and set off once more for Maipu.
When we arrived at 444 there was a crowd outside and they were shutting the door. “you are too late” they said. We said “but we have come for La Susheta, it starts at ten” We were then informed that Gloria had stopped about two months ago, so much for the tango guide.
Monday night is pretty flat, that is why normally we go to an early dance, and now we are left with little choice. We could go to Gricel, but we do not know the bus to take from here. There are then only two choices, La Catedral or Canning. Canning tonight is Parakultural, they mess about too much, have demos films announcements and we never enjoy it. So thinking we have nothing to loose, and that it is very close to home, we decided on La Catedral. Even though we had been told it was all nuevo here we thought at least we could have a dance.
It started well enough just ten pesos entrada, although the entrance looked more like Strangeways prison than a dance hall. We had to climb stairs to get to the dance, there was a lift but it was out of action and the stairs were half concrete and half steel, as if the building had started to be demolished and they had changed their minds.
At the top of the stairs I realised that they had not, they just never got around to finishing the job. You could see right up to the roof structure, any sign of finish had been totally removed and the place was filled with rubbish. Cable drums for tables, milk crates for seats and planks for benches. Nobody came to give us a seat so we chose our own, bought a beer and sat down. The dance floor was an utter disgrace, I kept my street shoes on, but Viv who had brought Comme il Faut shoes with her had real difficulty as they got stuck in all the cracks and ridges.
The music was not constructed in any sort of tanda, if you can imagine Canaro and Pugliese played back to back. It was hard to know when to dance and when to sit down. Strangely though we were quite enjoying it up to this point. The floor was abysmal but there were few dancing and mostly they were trying new things or teaching on the floor. But because there was room we just danced past.
Someone came and started arranging chairs at the back of the dance floor and left a guitar there. We thought we would have live tango but the chairs were moved to the front and everyone got off the floor. The guitarists were good to be fair and if they had allowed it we would have enjoyed dancing to their milongas, but they did not allow us room and never said we could dance.
So we sat there getting hungry. There was food on so I went for a menu, there was quite a choice, so when we decided I went to order. The guy at the kitchen said we could not have this food, it was the delivery menu and took me back to the bar and gave me the menu from the bar. Now I know I am just a stupid extranjero, but apart from the prices which were slightly dearer but did not include the delivery charge, I could see no difference. So we sat with the new menu but no one came to take our order, but we did notice that it said at the top that non of our food contains meat. After last nights vegetarian meal we thought better of it and just went hungry.
At this point the guitarists had stopped and the folk singers had taken over, suddenly we were transported back to 1975 and the Mucky Duck folk club. Viv was now in fits of laughter, she would have been able to contain herself but then they started reading poetry, in spanish, of course. Now Viv was close to wetting herself, tears were running down her face and her nose was running. Everyone else in the room looked deadly serious.
Already we had offended looks from locals, some had left in disgust. It was time to leave before we were thrown out and possibly acosted in some dark alley for failing to show respect for something we did not understand.
So if you want to dance tango whatever your style, I suggest you try somewhere else. I do not know what you would call La Catedral but whatever you call it, don’t call it a milonga.