Category Archives: Tango

Gran Hotel Victoria

For my second article I have chosen this tune, that almost every orquesta seems to have recorded. I shall be doing some unashamed plagiarizing here. It just means that if you have any problems with the facts, you can blame someone else.

For those who do not know the tune, here is my favourite version by Francisco Canaro (without the Gran); and here we have D’Arienzo (with the gran)

You can spend hours on Youtube looking into this tune, I am sure you will find your favourite does not agree with mine.

There is an Hotel Victoria in Buenos Aires, on the corner of Alsina and San Jose, but this is not it, as you will see. That one also is also not very Grand.

The historian from Córdoba, Efraín Bischoff, says a different thing. He affirms it is a tango from Córdoba which was composed by Feliciano Latasa for the opening on January 4, 1906 of the enlargement of the Gran Hotel Victoria which was run by Pascual Andruet on 133 San Martín Street in the city of Córdoba».

We shall present a short biography of the composer or, maybe rather, alleged composer of the piece. Pianist and violinist, Latasa was born in San Sebastián —Guipúzcoa, Spain— on September 25, 1870 and settled in the city of Rosario, province of Santa Fe, at the dawn of the twentieth century. At that city he led the orchestra of the Sociedad España and the Orfeón Gallego.

When in Córdoba he appeared at the Club Democrático España and at the Roma and Victoria hotels leading his orchestra lined up by José Ferreras and Cristóbal Boday (violins), José Aguilar (flute), José Guisado (clarinet), Ernesto Di Blasi (trombone) and J. Macia Granja (bass). He composed the tango “Gran Hotel Victoria” (Hotel Victoria), the chotis “Carmencita”, the zarzuelas “Risas y lágrimas” and “Celeste”, and, according to Vicente Gesualdo, numerous dancehall pieces, chotis, mazurcas, polkas, waltzes, pas de quatre, etc. He died in Córdoba on September 18, 1906 when he was nearing age 36.

This is taken from an article in Look it up if you have time, there is a lot more interesting stuff in there.

The Hotel itself has had many refurbishments. It is built in a conventillo arrangement and now has a roof over the central courtyard with a lift to the upper floors standing in the corner. We visited in 2014 but only managed this one picture.

It had just completed another refurbishment when we there and the staff were more than happy for us to look around.

As I always say, if you have any issues with what I have said here, please comment, I am always happy to hear other views.



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Milonga Sentimental

I have been asked to write about a weekly tango tune, to help us through these hard times. I will research as much as I can, but please forgive any errors or omissions. Any you spot you can post in the comments and I will try to correct my mistakes.

People often ask “Why milonga” and why is the event the same as the dance. I will try to answer that here.

Long long ago in the days before Rap music even in the days before Tango people met up to create music. Now in old Buenos Aires it started with people creating songs to the same tune. Where they met was called a milonga and so the tune was also a milonga. Milonga is an old African word for words. So we think this was started by African immigrants or possibly slaves. Slavery was not completely abolished here until 1861.

This carried on for a time span that is largely unknown. Then along came a guy called Carlos Gardel. He may be French born or not, but we know for certain his mother was and he spent his formative years in a house behind the Abasto Centre around Almagro.

Now Homero Manzi wrote the words for Milonga Sentimental and needed it putting to music. He asked a guy called Sebastian Piana to do this for him. Now Sebastian was a bit of a rebel and did not want to simply copy everyone else. So he went across the Rio De la Plata to Uruguay and listened to their candombe rhythms. He wrote a tune with the same catchy beat and fitted it to the words. So here was born the milonga, but it would probably would have gone no further without Carlos Gardel.

Now Carlos Gardel was the most famous tango singer of the time, he heard this new tune and rhythm and made a record of it. The rest, they say, is history.

The song has gone down through the years having many iterations. I do not intend to list them all here (It would take a book ) My favourite recent one is Miguel Di Genova’ s Otros Aires. If you listen there is a cameo from the Carlos himself at the end.

Much of my knowledge on this comes from Christine Dennison, other references are Wikipedia and much I have absorbed through osmosis.

As I say if you have any issues with what is written here. please comment. I don’t profess to be the font of all knowledge and am always open to corrections.

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8th March Salvador Bahia

We woke to the sight of the Brazilian coast again. We went for breakfast ready for the day ahead. I have now discovered Fruits of the forest Yogurt. A couple of pastries and coffees and I was good to go.

We could see into the town from the top deck, so we decided to just go for it. There is a shuttle bus to the terminus so we took the bus and walked through the terminus. Inside there were a few shops, In one of them they were selling Havianas (flip flops) and they had some on sale half price. The pattern is out of date apparently, but as Viv says it only wears off and you cannot see it when you are wearing them.

We walked towards the town, but there was no way through. There is a lift you must take and a huge queue. We were left with little choice in the end. Turns out that there were two queues, one for people who had money and one for those without. We now had some change so took the queue to the turnstile. This turned out to be a mistake, the people not paying got through a lot faster.  The cost was minimal about 3p I think but had I known I would have joined the stupid foreigner queue and not the even more stupid those who can pay queue.

At the top there were some spectacular views and we could see the ship from a view point. Into the town we finally found a cafe with internet, Even though the WiFi connection was good there was no internet. I managed a couple of whatsapp messages but nothing else. While there drinking coffee we saw Dave (from our table) standing outside a shop, with that lost look that men have when they are out shopping with their wives. He never saw us though.

It was all very pretty, but poor. They had drafted in hundreds of local police to protect the cruisers, but it all looked quite tranquil to me. In the end there was nothing to spend our money on, so we left for the boat.

It was then back to getting ready for the evening ahead. More dancing in Rhapsody bar and Round the Clock. As we go from one to the other every time the group changes, we have to pass through the casino and Amarillo. Always there in Amarillo is Rs always cheerful and smiling. So we finish our evening with him and a hot chocolate.

A reminder that this is all written after the event. We are home now, so do not be surprised if you see us.

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7th March Another day at sea

We are already getting into a shipboard routine. Viv is up early to do her stretch class and we meet in buffet for breakfast.

We explored the ship and came back onto deck 9.  They serve a lunch of sorts on the open area, you can still use the buffet, but this is just fast food. So I had a bag of chips and a hot dog and we sat in the sun reading.

After our afternoon dance class we went for a sleep, all this enjoying ourselves is hard work. Then it is showers and down to deck 4 for our evening meal. We are joined tonight by Dave and Julia from Cardiff, looks like they have put the Welsh table here. There is another Welsh couple on board but maybe they do not have the Brindiamo Package. The Brindiamo package means we get Wine at our meal so they can just leave bottles on our table. If there was someone without, then obviously they can not join a table with free wine.

More dancing in Rhapsody tonight, and we can also practice a bit of Bachata and Cha Cha we have learned in the day.

A reminder that this is all written after the event. We are home now, so do not be surprised if you see us.

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Last Tango

So we start our last full day here. Packing, cleaning, just getting ready, but nothing stops the tango. I spend the morning folding shirts, it’s nice that I can take my time. Leaning over the bed gives me backache so I can do a few and rest.

Supplies are running low, we have no prunes left, but we do have a bag of fruit and nuts. Another job for me, sort out the fruit for the porridge. I have already said my goodbyes in the Chino, but I am afraid I will have to return as we are short of milk.

El Beso was as manic as ever. It is not as if it was that crowded, but the tourists were here and their guide was encouraging them onto the dance floor. I am all for encouraging new dancers, but these would never be and had not had a lesson in their lives. The floor at Beso is difficult because of its shape, the situation is only made worse by people blundering around the floor.

It was also difficult to cabeceo with people wandering around. There were at least three ladies who I usually dance with who I could not reach. Viv was also having a difficult time. Still we stayed until the sorteo and Paris Anna won a free entrada with my ticket. It would,of course be no use to me. On that note Julia Doynel announced the Channel 4 would be filming a documentary here on Saturday.  Somehow we manage to miss everything.

We retired to The Coffee Store hoping to contact our daughter on Whatsapp and get some food. Well our daughter never answered and we had all sorts of trouble with the food. Everything we asked for was off, salads, pasta, you name it. In the end we settled for a toasty for me and a wrap for Viv. It took so long to come, when the waiter asked if we wanted a drink we said no. I was thirsty but we had a smuggled bottle of water. Viv said “why did you not order a drink” I said “We have a boat to catch tomorrow”

We had to buy some milk on the way home, I knew there was a reason not to give all the change as a tip. We are getting seriously short now, but with Viv stressing over the packing, we do have enough for beer. So to HB we go for a final quilmes stout.

On a final note; do not expect a blog tomorrow, I was too late and they will not now let me have internet on the boat.

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Local Knowledge

I have one small job today, to take Les’s sube card. Normally I would walk, but after last nights excesses I am too tired. I already have 5,000 steps in for the day before I get up. Outside of our building there is a 151, it has passed the stop but is stopped at the lights. I raise my hand, more in hope than expectation, but he opens the door for me anyway. I have pre explored this area, but I still get it wrong and have to backtrack twice until I find the hotel.  The girl was very helpful ( she never replied in English, although I suspect she could) even gave me a note to leave.

Mission accomplished it was time to return. I had not checked the colectivos, getting a bit over confident here. I knew that they ran back along Colonel Niceto Vega so I crossed the road looking for a stop. Passed the railway and there was a 168 coming. There was a lady at the stop so no panic. I jumped on and said “a Medrano”. Now the driver said nothing just charged me $20. I realized my mistake when the bus turned up Pringles. I had quite forgotten that there are two 168. They may look the same but follow different routes. Years ago I had caught the wrong one and ended up at the depot. At least I knew where I was here. I pressed the buzzer as we left Rocomorra. It was not too bad in the end, I got off at Pringles y Guardia Vieja which was five blocks away instead of two. Then I remembered Viv had asked me to get something to eat, so I diverted another two blocks to Augustus for some Medialunas.

Friday is El Beso again. Same old with the seats, but at least with Zoraida here she found a decent seat for Viv. I have my usual seat under the mirror, but even here, two tables are reserved and I am not exactly where I like to be. I was, of course off like a shot once I had my shoes on. Although I am tired after yesterday, and missing any tanda I did not like the sound of. At least for a while, then a couple of  missed cabeceo meant I would promise the next dance to someone, and I even danced Pugliese.

It was hard dancing, too many on the floor and no floor craft, so I was soon tired. Then Viv was getting bored, so it was time to leave. We had our usual promo at The Coffee Store, and soon we saw everyone was leaving. I wonder sometimes if we should stay, maybe the dancing gets better later.

We had a list of things to buy for the trip home so we stopped at Farmacity. Got most of what we wanted except for soap dishes. Well we stopped at Petish and got just the thing, then La Riena for some scones and we were still in time for El Bosque. With good local knowledge now we get things done quickly, but Viv was in a hurry. She rushed out and I never got a chance to say goodbye to our shoe man

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Otra noche Viruta

Not a lot to do this morning just a bit of shopping. I do have to plan carefully though, you can’t take a bag full of stuff into the supermarket. Then I do not want a load of heavy veg to carry up and down. So I went to the dietetica then back to the confiteria and finally back to the verduria. Job done and I managed to get rid of all he change as well.

Nuevo Chique was busy for a Thursday, this was not good for Viv. She started well but by seven she was struggling. I, on the other hand, was struggling for a different reason. I wanted to dance with all those ladies that I would not see again, but there were just too many of them. When I had one refusal because the lady does not valz, I never got back to her, she now probably believes I was annoyed. There is nothing I can do, I am only one man.

We intended to go home for food, but time was getting short. We would still have to go home but we stopped off at Congreso Plaza for a promotion; ham and cheese toasty and coffee. At $180 it fills the gap and does not tell on the wallet.

After another coffee we head out to La Viruta. Miguel DeGenova is on tonight with Carlos Lididinsky. Not the full otras Aires but we expcted some of the old favourites. We were not disappointed with the music, the numbers though were badly down. This did mean when we wanted to dance we were not trying to avoid flying heals all the time and we had space to move. Later a French lady arrived who I have danced with in Canning and Nuevo Chique. I had a dance with her, but her partner seemed disinclined to dance. I could see her watching us dance and I think she was surprised as here I could let fly. She did not stay long. She had missed the show anyway.

Miguel remembered us again and we took another selfie with him. I know I do this every year, but how many international artists would remember one of their fans by name? Sorry for interrupting your Pizza Miguel.

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Too many goodbyes.

You gotta love this place. We went to Comme Il Faut this morning, but I gave strict instructions to Viv not to let me forget my trousers. The trip was successful, Viv even managed a sale pair.

We headed back all the time I was making sure I remembered my trousers. We arrived there just after one, the guy has a lunch “hour” 12:30 until 3:00.  I thought I would check El Bosque to see if it was open, it too has a long lunch time. Makes you wonder how anyone does business here.

I managed to get out again before we left for the milonga. El bosque was open and he could get the shoes done this week. He did a really good repair on the other strap, you can hardly tell it was broken. Now he will do this one as well, and he will do it by Friday so we will have the shoes ready for next time we are here. All for 0nly$150. I picked up my trousers as well, and he threw in a hanger. One pair repaired and one pair shortened $300. That is a good deal of repairs for less than a fiver.

It’s Wednesday so it is Salon Canning. This will be our last visit this trip so I make a resolution to dance with at least one of the women that have avoided me. Well I failed with one, she left before I could get to her. Thee second I was failing every time I tried to cabeceo, then as the evening wore on she was left sitting. She was still not looking my way, but faint heart never won fair lady I walked over and said ” I know it is breaking all the rules, but will you dance with me?” Well it worked and she seemed quite pleased. I think that I now have another lady to dance with.

On those lines, there was another lady who, it seems, has been trying to get a dance with me. Numbers being so low, she was the only woman left. I know that sounds bad, but sometimes that is what it takes. Viv has been in the same situation. Anyway, this lady also comes to Chique, so I may see her again Thursday.

We said goodbye to Erwin, and thanked him for the music, we will not see him again before we go. Then we said goodbye to Montenegro, our waitress here.

We had our regular trip to The Taco Box again. We don’t even get the menu any more, we just ask for the usual, that includes the beer. Our waitress was showing another the ropes and teaching her the English words for things. When we left we said Goodbye to her as well, Everyone seems surprised when we say we are going home, we seem to have been here forever. That, I suppose, is the advantage of  becoming regulars.

Afterwards we walked back along Gascon and crossing the road at Honduras was the guy from Sullivan’s bar. He was really pleased to see us, but gutted that we are going home. He told us that he lives near to us, but he was having trouble because he was the worse for drink. We had to promise him we would come and see him Sunday. My appointments diary is getting very full. I love the fact that we meet people as we walk around here, and everyone is so glad to see us.

We stopped at Chioco to find out what time it closed. We intended to have an ice cream there tomorrow. But, what the hell, you only live once, so we stopped for one now. It was a nice end to the night.

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Catching up

After a little shopping, I went to have my hair cut. Different Girl this time, and she wanted to put a part in. My father tried for years to get me to have a part in my hair, you can put it in, but my hair will always have its way. So I told her no.

I remembered my trousers, I was supposed to pick them up Friday, but I forgot. Saturday was another possibility, but again I forgot. Today though was ferria, so it was closed.

We got an invite to Philippe’s, so after much thought today’s milonga visit was cancelled. It was not such a hard decision as we are not enjoying El Beso at the moment anyway. It was nice to catch up with Philippe, Mariella and Walter for a few hours.

Later I went walkabout as my step count was down for the second day on the run. I walked up Bartolome Mitre and Diez Valez crossing and re crossing the railway. There are some interesting bridges here with plants growing on a high level framework. Around this time of day the automatic watering is on, making it even more interesting. Around Medrano the road curves across the railway so that it becomes more of a tunnel. There is a large childrens play area here as well.

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Crazy foreigners.

This morning I dragged kicking and screaming to the Nike outlet store. We had to take the subte and there was train just coming in. there are only two turnstiles here and there was a very fat woman with kids and pushchairs not making a great effort to get out of the way. Viv tried the other turnstile until I pointed out that there was a belt fastened across it. So I crashed the emergency exit and dragged her through. Using the subte without paying is something of a custom here. It is not something I do, but a few times I have paid and not got a journey, so I have a clear conscience.

Viv bought herself some shoes, then dragged me over to the men’s section. It seems it was only a ploy to get me there. So now I have new trainers as well as new dance shoes for the cruise.

El Abrazo was as crowded as ever today. There was the usual bunch of tourists who have been brought just to ogle. You would think that the tour guides would explain just a little to them, before they come crashing onto the floor.  All in all I had a good time, but when the crashing starts it is impossible for me to protect the lady I am dancing with. I feel it is my fault when the lady I am dancing with gets speared by another set of heels. The afternoon is spoiled by the bad dancers and reverse movers, but at least, non of my ladies blamed me.

Viv left early again as she still has this cough. I told her to just order one coffee. When I arrived at The Coffee Store she had only just got her coffee again. The girl there thinks it is quite funny, Viv always orders a cafe con leche, then as soon as it arrives so do I and order another and some medialunas.  Viv had been talking in the toilets and heard the sorteo. I said that she must have known then I would soon be out.

We walked back and ate at Imaginario bar again. The staff here are getting to know us now and we get good service. Crazy foreigners who eat early, drink black beer and leave.

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