Numbers are up everywhere, but this is not too great a problem at Milonga de Juan. This has to have been one of our best days yet. We left early, not because we were fed up or bored, but because we could not keep it up. Viv got dances with men she has been after since we arrived as well as some she has been after for years.
We arrived early as always, the early birds, and all that. Still as it got crowded we were still doing well. We danced right through without a break, even doing the chacarera. What did not go so well was the floorcraft. I managed most of the time to avoid crashes but could not completely avoid the side impacts and shunts.
I think it came home to me most in Nuevo Chique yesterday. The ability to dance with the room has been lost. Too many moves learned and too much about showing off. No longer can the room just dance as one. I remember many years ago when I first experienced this; The room was packed, yet we all moved as one, there was no shunting or barging, it was like everyone was in the zone.
Now even the locals complain that there is not “room” to dance. They dance up the middle then crash into people who are in line of dance. Others crash into your back or just stop to do their set pieces without a care for the chaos behind them. I do not know what the answer is, but I suspect there is not one. Respect for others and the ability to move as one is lost never to return. Some day there will be no one left who can remember that special feeling of when the room dances as one.
Today is a day for entertaining and saying goodbye. We had Philippe and Walter around, Walter will look after our flat for another year. We then went out to El Rey for some lunch. It was raining when we left so I had to rush back up to get some umbrellas, Vivs was hidden behind the bedroom door so we managed with three.
I thought that we were going to have a whole chicken between us, but Walter wanted Sea Food. This caused us a problem, firstly it was late arriving and then it was not so good. On top of this we could not finish the whole chicken, very un English. Still we blamed the Frenchman. You can still do food cheap here, bottle of Malbec, litre of stout and four meals for less than forty quid including a good tip.
As you would expect the conversation gravitated to brexit. It was nice to actually have a reasoned debate and Walter brought up some good points. Seems it is not just the British who don’t like Merkel’s policies. I liked his thoughts, that we should remain to disentangle Europe rather than abandon it, I never though of it that way before. On the way back we met Sebastian outside the building, it was a good opportunity to introduce him to Walter.
After coffee everyone left and we set off for some last minute shopping.
Club Fulgor is getting lower in numbers, every year we think that it cannot survive yet every year we come back and it is still here, let’s hope it continues. Everyone was especially welcoming tonight, I think that they were not sure we would still be here. When a German couple came in I was, again, called over to translate for them. The problem was that their English was not good, that combined with my complete lack of German and poor Spanish made things difficult. That said my lack of language skills is more than made up for by my local knowledge and I managed to sort them out.
We still were not one hundred percent, but we danced and I danced with Bebe and Norma, but by sorteo time we were ready for off. Then it was time for the big goodbyes. Explaining that we fly Tuesday and will be back in January with every kiss. Quite an exhausting and emotional time. The walk back seemed not so bad tonight after that, even dog shit corner did not smell as foul. Maybe it was the extra beer we drank today or maybe we are just too tired to notice.
We did not know weather to go to El Beso today, El Arranque or the new milonga at Union Benevolencia, the same building as the Monday and Wednesday Milonga de Juan. We opted for Juan although a better bet than Beso, I think Viv would have preferred El Arranque. Todays milonga though is not downstairs in the air-conditioned basement but upstairs in the old magnificent ballroom. The parquet floor is in a poor state but still danceable, likewise the decor is tired. I was told that this place is 200 years old, not surprising it is in need of some TLC.
We were sat right at the front near the stage, a big mistake. If we return here next year we will have to sit somewhere else. I found it impossible to cabeceo from here, which meant that I had to get up and approach the women. This was not too bad for me but for Viv it was a disaster, she danced with only two men besides me. The little guy who sat close danced six tandas with her, you become property after three, so I will be leaving her here.
The music of Juan leaves something to be desired too. Some of it was not exactly inspiring and for some reason in the middle he always messes it up, leaving us mid floor wondering what is going on.
I told Graciela about the man and she went off, as she does. I never understood a word, but she did keep saying quilombo, which basically means disorder or chaos. She said Viv should say basta (enough). But as it was the only dancing Viv was getting, well she was not for refusing.
I tried to dance at least every third with her but she was not enjoying the place which was a shame. When we decided that enough is enough we were told to sit down because there was a brindis. Basically a toast to the new venue. Well Champagne was just the thing we needed at that time.
We wanted to go out with a bang, but it just seems we are leaving with a whimper.
On the way back we stopped off at a music shop, there were some CDs I wanted on offer, well get um cheap while you can I say.
I watched Hoy Milonga all morning, there was no sign that El Beso would be closed and several people on Facebook said it was re opened, so off we went. As we approached there was a crowd outside and I could still see the red notice on the door. We stood by Paloma and Hubert and asked if they knew what was going on. They said that everyone was in the cultural centre next door, which did not actually answer my question. It was not unpleasant to stand there but I wondered why we were. I asked Diago (the organizer) he said we were waiting for an official to remove the notice, the official had apparently left the office at two. It was now gone four. At a quarter past a woman came and removed the notice and everyone clapped. Only in Argentina do the applaud officials doing their job.
There were a lot of ladies so Viv had a hard time, but for me it meant I had a chance to dance with some I have never danced with including Julia the organizer at Sueño Porteño. I enjoyed that until a guy took back steps as I was turning, fortunately Julia was not the recipient of a four inch heel. She was not happy though so I maneuvered Diago between us.
As I said it was not the best for Viv and she had enough by seven. Pity I was hoping to dance both Cumparsitas. While she was changing I had many ladies to say goodbye to, I’m afraid I may not have reached them all.
On the way home we stopped off at the new bread shop on Corrientes for some bread and medialunas to keep us going. Then, of course, it was the chino for some Quilmes Stout.
On my way out shopping today I bumped into the guy from the fruit shop around the corner. He greeted me like an old friend, made me feel quite guilty. You see I now buy my fruit from the chino opposite. It is close and he always picks out the best fruit for us and will often reject something I have picked out as not good enough. This morning though Viv wanted some chop suey, which he did not have. He watched me as I shopped in the chino so I had to buy my fruit off him. Then I had to conceal my fruit as I went to the next fruit shop, which had chop suey. Life is never this difficult when you just go to Tesco.
It started to rain as we set off for Nuevo Chique so we decided to get a bit closer on the subte. Viv was not too keen on the two changes needed if we used the H line, so we headed into town and used the C line. This would have been Ok if it were not for the crowds, we were all but locked down by them. The change at Pelerini took an age and when we got off at Plaza de Mayo it was packed. I did not know how to get to Lima station and we emerged in the middle of 5 Mayo. The bodies were just a mass, we were in the middle of a demonstration and I just could not navigate. By the time I had worked my way out of it, then consulted the map, Viv rightly said we could have walked from home.
It was a time for last dances and saying goodbye. We actually stayed longer than ever and I even got a glass of Champagne from Dora, but we are happy in the knowledge that we will be back next year. We had a funny conversation with Marcella before we left; She asked why we were all leaving at the same time, I told her it was Macri’s fault, he will only let us stay 90 days. “Macri Gato” she jokingly said. I told her that that was the contraseña for El Revolucionario WiFi.
Then it was off to El Revolucionario for some beer and hamburgers. The place was crowded out due to the demonstration and the service was somewhat lacking. Again I have to say great food and beer for less than £15. Just one problem today, for the first time, they overcharged me by 100$ar. I don’t know if it was deliberate or not, but now I have a better grasp, I challenged it and my money was soon returned.
We will not be back this year, but I live in hope it was a genuine mistake, because we have enjoyed this place and would hate for it to be tainted.
A sad note today, our last week begins. So every where we go will be our last time although we do go to Nuevo Chique twice a week. This will not actually be our last visit but our last Tuesday. Many who go on Tuesday do not go Thursday so already the goodbyes have started.
Nuevo Chique was not so good for Viv today. There were very few men but just as many women. At six she had enough and told me she was off to El Revolucionario. As instructed, I danced on. It became more and more difficult for me to leave as the women wanted me to dance, but by seven I had changed my shoes. This was not enough though to win my freedom, Paloma grabbed me, and it was after all a Biagi vals. So I danced it in my Hotters, not the best dancing shoes, but very comfortable. Glad I stopped as I saw Juan our old dance teacher on the floor dancing with Dora, nice to say “Hello” again.
On the way out I bumped into Marriane, seems she too was having problems and decided to head for Obalisco.
When I arrived at El Revolucionario Viv was still drinking coffee. I fully expected her to be on her third cup, but she had been across the road watching the dogs at play, so had not been there long. Beer was now in order, no Quilmes but they did have Imperial Stout, that’ll do nicely. The food was good too, but I still cannot get used to the idea that pies and pastry are starters and salad is the main course.
Still the cheapest place for food though and good service. Pudding, as always supplied by our local Ice cream gal, tasty.
Now we are back in the land of the living, Viv is feeling better and although my foot still aches I am now up every tanda again. Still we are taking it easy as we only have a week left and don’t want to spend it laid up.
Saturday I went on my own to El Beso and was shocked to be charged 120$ar. This is UK pricing, the shoe shops are all failing and the milongas are starting to go the same way. It may be true that the tourists have more money, but we are not an unlimited resource, and without locals in the milongas, why travel this far just to dance with our own? I have read many who think another collapse is on the way, certainly this cannot be maintained without another currency devaluation.
So Monday we set off again for El Beso, we have become blasé of late knowing where we were going and not double checking. Today we were caught out, El Beso has been closed. It appears that there was some safety infringement or dare I say it, bribe not paid. I never checked before I left home, and Vivs big feet had caught the charging lead on my phone destroying it, so no means of checking from here. We had no up to date tango magazines, and the Tango Map has become useless as anything but a navigation tool.
We prefabricated, I was all for returning to the apartment and checking the internet, then Viv remembered that Milonga del Juan also runs on a Monday. We were halfway down the subte, but no point in going just one stop, so we just used it to cross the road.
The milonga was still quiet despite the closure of Beso, but from the announcements I understood not as quiet as usual. I find this strange as they only charge 70$ar, less even that Fulgor. The dancers, for me, were actually better here, although I did have one bad dance. The place was full of Viv’s “old men” so she was happy. Still with limited partners we had enough by seven.
We stopped at Peron y Uruguay for a coffee. Rubbish coffee and they charged us 140$ar for two coffees. That’s £7 now they really are trying to kill the Golden Goose. If there is not another devaluation, we will find it very difficult here next year.