Cuban Night

Thursdays seem to have become our late nights, I don’t know why that should be particularly, it just happens that way.

Nuevo Chique today and we expect it to be a long one. Paloma has asked us to come to a club later for some musica Cubana, and it starts at nine.

The subte was packed, but the streets had little (motor) traffic. People were everywhere though, with banners and drums. It is 40 years since the Junta, so everyone who can make a noise is out celebrating, demonstrating or just making a row. Avenida de Mayo was completely blocked, I did not think we could get through, but in the end I just followed Viv as she charged. I tell you, all those cavalry charges that failed, they did not have Viv at the front, we just never broke step.

The crowd today is almost completely different. While I struggled not to be a “Bad Man” again, Viv was getting few dances. I asked Paloma about eating tonight and understood not a word. We asked her husband for help. Franglish, Espanglish, Franish, and I was still no wiser. She told me we were getting picked up in a Mercedes at quarter to nine, then it turned out we were meeting Mercedes at quarter to nine, but we were no wiser about food.

Meanwhile the noise outside was constantly intruding into the milonga. At times I did not know which rhythm I was dancing to. Every time I got to the end of the room I would say “qual compas?” It amused the ladies, anyway.

At seven Viv had enough, so we said we would meet them there and left. We took a left then another straight into Moreno. We walked down through crowds of banner carriers across a traffic free 9 de Julio but there were no bars or restaurants open. Eventually we found our place with a very smart foodie place next door, too rich for us, so we wandered on.

We found a place on Defensa and Independencia but we could not get the door open it was full of people, but when someone came to our aid she said “Es cerrado” so we carried on.

When we got to Mexico, we decided we had gone far enough and turned right. Then on the corner of Bolivar there was a group of police talking to a lady in a doorway. They broke apart and all but corralled us in. “Hay comida?” I asked “Si empanadas” she said. Well that will do for us. So we went in and ordered stout and empanadas.

The place looked new and freshly painted so we asked about it. She was particularly proud of the mural around the walls. She said she did not like the demonstrators as last year they broke her windows and she had not even opened yet. Then she told us of her life; She was from Tucaman, so the empanadas were the same as we get in 1810, then she married a Dutchman. “Ik prat een klien betje nederlands” never thought I would be in a bar in San Telmo talking Dutch to an Argentine.

Looks like we have found a friend here, she brought us other Tucaman delicacies to sample and gave us constant attention. Her able assistant did not seem to be doing much to help except changing the music all the time. Getting towards leaving time he put some salsa on, so there we were, me (Half Dutch) and a naturalised Dutch woman dancing Salsa DJed by a Columbian in a San telmo bar. The night had not yet got interesting.

We walked back along Bolivar crossed Independencia and soon found Moreno again. As I turned into Moreno I heard my name called. There were our dates for the night. If you had tried to arrange a meeting on the street it just would not have happened, yet here we were all met up a block away frome where we were going.

I should have known who Mercedes was, I have danced with her many times, a lovely dancer and now I meet her Husband. A multi talented man Jorge sings, speaks French and English, unfortunately he does not dance tango.  Still he leaves me his wife to dance with. Good man.

So there we were on the street walking towards this club, but we did not get there. Remember the smart foodie place next door, too expensive for me? Well we walked in. Everyone, it seems knows Mercedes and Jorge. After we had been greeted and kissed everyone (all the waiters, staff cashiers) we passed through. It seems the club is attached to the restaurant.

Seems it is called The Bebop club. We passed down the stairs; at the bottom was a desk to pay your entrada. All they got from us was a kiss though. It was all getting a bit strange for me.

It was a small cabaret room, with tables arranged in semi circles to get a view of the stage; the staff were at great pains to arrange the tables to give us the best view. To then we got the menus it was more like tapas to me than meals. Then the wine came, obviously as the only guy in VOS to get it right, it was down to me to taste it. (If only they knew).

A small band arrived on stage, drummer, flautist and pianist, and they began to play. After one number the Big Cuban singer arrived. It was a brilliant show, he even sang a Tango number (to a Cuban beat). It is now driving me crazy trying to recall what it was.

We were not allowed to pay for anything, even money I tried to leave for a tip was deemed too much, so we simply accepted and went upstairs to the restaurant for postres.

The night was incredible, good food, great music and brilliant company, and all so unexpected. I must give Mercedes extra dances next time I see her.

We caught our first taxi of this trip, it sounds churlish to complain about the price, but really it is more of an observation. The driver was very good, he took the route that the bus would take, straight up Rivadavia and into Salguero, but I was watching the meter $130 a few years ago would have got us a taxi for the night, now just a trip from San Telmo. In time the taxis will just price themselves out, but then I have been saying that for years.

Bebop2

He dropped us off right on the corner middle of the road. Viv walked through the workings where they are lowering the pavement. Like a fool I rushed after her. The orange netting they use to fence off was on the floor, it lifted as I walked over it, caught my back foot and left me sprawled over the workings. Nothing hurt but my pride, but even at two in the morning there is always a sage leaning on the fence, “you should have gone around” he said.  No kidding Einstein.

 

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