Day of the virgin

Argentina, the only country where they have a public holiday to put up the Christmas decorations. They call it The Day of The Virgin Mary and they have the usual parades and celebrations, but we know what it’s about. Morning was just like any other day but by evening there were decorations and trees everywhere.
The bad news is that El Aranque is no longer running on a Monday so we had to decide where we would go tonight. I was all set to go to Maipu, but was put off as it apparently gets too crowded especially as it is a holiday. Janis advised us to go to Obalisco and, even though it runs later than Aranque would have, we were just not ready in time.
Our choices were getting slimmer by the minute. Then Viv found a new place, it was in The Tango Map and Hoy Milonga so it must be worth a try. It is on Gorriti y Salguero only five blocks from us so it suits our present needs as well.
That said we were not expecting a lot. Called Café Vinilo it sounded like just a small bar who were trying to attract some custom. Still free entrada and no need for transport, not to be sniffed at.
When we arrived, (early as usual) it was just as I expected, a small bar. We walked in, there seemed to be nobody to either help or impede our way, so we just sauntered through. At the back we could hear tango music, so we passed the toilets and pushed our way through a black curtain.
We entered a room about 15 metres square. There was a bar to our left and a double row of tables each side. Right in front was a stage, almost as big as the room we were now in, with a Grand piano, a double bass and various mike stands. In the centre of the room a tango class was going on. Two rather tall girls were taking the class and the students looked like first timers.
The taller of the teachers came over and said we were too late for the class, but that there would be practice dancing from ten until eleven then the band would play until twelve. After this there would be a milonga.
So we sat at a table had a drink and waited, while taking careful note of how the argentines teach. I picked up some good pointers, although I still think that it is a mistake to start students in open hold. It is a lot easier to start them in close embrace than to correct faults later. Still I don’t suppose that most of these will be coming back when their vacations are over.
We had half an hour of good dancing before the main event. With the tables and chairs, this place was as small as our living room. There were about seven couples up now, all moving well and using every inch of the space. When some of the beginners joined us, everyone just danced around them. It was a great example of using the space available.
When the band came on (I would have described it as an orquesta) there were twelve of them; Piano, bass, cello, bass saxophone, three violinists, two bandoneonistas, and three others that I cannot recall at the moment. They played a non danceable tango with real flair. Then the singer came on, a dark haired girl with a beautiful voice, who blew us away with her cancion.
I wondered how they managed to pay for this band from the bar takings, then the first bandonista announced that they would come round with the hat. Fair enough, so far this excellent entertainment had cost me only the price of two drinks.
After the encore we were back to the milonga. It was a bit of a zoo and Viv and I were never going to dance with others, but it was good that we were used to such a small floor.
I thoroughly enjoyed my evening and would recommend visiting, but this will never be one of the great milongas. It will not be a regular haunt of ours. Just maybe though, it will be a useful bolt hole on nights like these.

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1 Comment

Filed under Argentina, Tango

One response to “Day of the virgin

  1. jantango

    I agree that the embrace is the first thing to teach in a tango class. That’s where I begin when I teach. It wasn’t mentioned when I began to learn tango many years ago.

    But we have to recognize how counterproductive the embrace is to the big business of tango. Dancing separated keeps people thinking about what to do with their feet and wanting more and more steps to keep it interesting. After years of classes and a huge repertoire of step sequences, they are dumbfounded as to why they can’t dance on the crowded social dance floor.

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