Tag Archives: cabeceo


It’s not all bad but then you would not expect it to be, if it was why would I keep coming back.

We stopped at the shoe repair shop on the corner. Viv wanted some holes in her straps. There is an alarm on the door it screams “Hola Bienvenido” when you enter and if you should go too near it. The woman in front wanted a zip repaired in her bag “ar$80” he said, well that is less than £4 everything here is repairable. He spent some time on Vivs shoes, it seems he did not want to use the punch on one pair and took them around the back to do them. When we got the shoes back he just waved his hand “sin cargo” he said. Viv felt a  bit guilty not paying, but perhaps he just remembers we have used him before.

Over to Corrientes and the perfumaria, and we are again introduced to the Kerry Blue who stands on constant guard. I never remember names must try harder his name is Bruno. No trip complete without meeting Bruno. Now stocked up with hand cream and shoes tightened, Viv is happy.

There were a lot of women today at Nuevo Chique, today was the sorteo for the shoes, but we would not be bothered to stop. What it did mean though was Viv struggled for dances.  Some of the women were still being fussy though, I was not for wasting time on them though. If I was not up at the beginning of the tanda then all chance of doing a cabeceo was gone across a  crowded floor. So any who chose to be fussy never got a second chance.

Philippe and Mariela arrived after an hour or so and sat with Viv. I was up dancing with her when they arrived so we went over to say hello after the tanda. As I was already there I got a dance with Mariela at the same time. We will not see them again for some time as they are off to France for Philippe’s mother’s birthday for three weeks.

We stayed longer tonight but still three and a half hours was enough. Don’t have our Buenos Aires fitness yet and we have lentils and bacon waiting at home.



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Why the dinosaurs died out

Well, it is that time of the month again?  The first time I must pay my expensas this year. I have marked on a previous bill what to enter, what could possibly go wrong? At the bank there was no queue so I was straight to the machine “Identificar sin Tarjeta” “Si” “ingreso tu numero” I put in the first number on my list. “Ingreso tu cuenta” second number. Then it said “ingreso tu numero identificar” now to me that means my passport number or DNI. Last year it gave me the option of a deposit or a bill. Must have done something wrong, so I crashed back to the beginning, I got a different result this time still no request for a deposit.  Third attempt still no luck. I am sure this is what happened to the dinosaurs, It was not a big meteor that killed them off, but stupid technology designed to finish off anyone not able to keep up.

Paid my electric bill OK, you see I was dealing with a person. Bought some steak, even though I know nothing about butchery, because, yes I was dealing with a person. Hopefully tonight there will be a concorcio meeting and I can pay my money direct to Mirtha. Whilst trying to pay for my meat, I was struggling with my bag. I could not hold it open and put my stuff in, then this dear old lady came  and held my bag open for me. The country may be crazy but the people are just the friendliest.

It was a funny day at El Beso today, everyone seemed to huddle in one spot. Viv, it has to be said, never missed a tanda, but from where I was sitting cabeceo was all but impossible. I had to go on the prowl to get dances, only one woman refused, her loss I think. Teresa commented that even though there were more men to dance with, she got few dances. She was right in my line of vision so she got a lot with me. I told her she could have no more or we would have to get married.

At six thirty we’d had enough and wet home for some food.

We enjoyed our steak and then I went down to check on the meeting downstairs. There is little point in me going early as mainly they are just rowing and I cannot follow what is happening. Anyway it was supposed to run from 8 until 9, I went down at 8:30 and there was no one there. Looks like they have all given up. Bugger, Viv just told me I was a week early.



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Back to El Beso

Another quiet morning, Viv sent me out shopping. I topped up my Argentine phone then bought some provisions and some mince.  AR$45 a pound scandalous. That’s £1.68 to you at home.

Then it was out to El Beso. Always a difficult floor this, not the best layout with a pillar in the middle, but at least the floor itself is in good condition. A few years ago they completely recovered it in wood, unlike Nuevo Chique where I literally stopped and replaced a section of parquet.

I had some good dances but cabeceo is near impossible here, I have to walk up to the ladies, or in the case of the ones in front of me, tap them on the shoulder. Viv was not getting a lot of dances, she just cannot compete with semi nude nymphets. It never ceases to amaze me that men will put up with an awful dance, just to dance with someone scantily clad. “Bobs getting old” I hear you say, but who has the best view, The man dancing with her or me from the side lines? and while I am dancing with a more experienced lady I am not getting my feet trodden on.

I danced again with Susanna she appears and disappears but never for long. She dropped a bombshell, she told me that she is Jewish. That did not surprise me, there is a very high percentage of Jewish people here and the Once district is almost exclusively. No the bombshell is that she is going to Israel  on Monday for two years, maybe permanently. I had a last dance with her later, A D’Sarli milonga. I wished her well for the future and told her I will miss her.

I noticed another lady having  problems getting dances and decided to dance with her, but Viv whisked me out before I had chance, she had enough. Before I left I called Zoraida a Buja, because, apparently she had seen a picture of us and the next day we appeared.

Made an error coming home, forgot about the rush hour. We should have walked, the subte was packed out. You keep your hands low near your wallet for security. but the pushing together means you come in contact with various body parts. From this close there is no telling what they are.

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It’s not in the eyes, it’s the shoes

I am not used to this living in a block. The people from the penthouse own the big garage and they have been knocking it about since we arrived. It has been getting on my nerves a bit. Then this morning they started knocking about the garage on the other side. Nine o’clock in the morning, is there no peace?

Viv’s red shoes have had quite a battering, so I bought some red polish and have been giving them a birthday. While sitting there polishing I thought, may as well polish my dance shoes as well.

Off to Nuevo Chique again today. Pauline and Geoff were there along with some new faces. Viv was enjoying some good dances and barely missed a tanda. Meanwhile I made a cabeceo to Pauline and three ladies got up. The lady from Columbia was out front and it was hard to ignore her, so Pauline had to sit down again. Next tanda I tried again and another lady got up. I had to apologise to her, I could not do that twice to Pauline. It got me thinking, usually I have trouble catching someone’s eye. Maybe I have been doing it all wrong, I should always polish my shoes. It’s not in the eyes, it’s the shoes that do it.

I’m getting a lot more information about Columbia now. Apparently they speak nice Castellano there, makes them popular for call centres. The cattle farming has now given way to arable, mainly palm oil. I am no expert in global politics but Columbia sounds like a disaster; drug barons, slash and burn deforestation, poison from the ore extraction and the only arable crop is palm oil. Their only hope is the call centres and this was from a woman trying to show the good side.

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The Shame of a purist

There are rules in Tango. I believe they are there for good reason. This I suppose makes me a purist, some have even said a fundamentalist, but I stick to my guns. The Cabeceo or nod, is there so that Jonny foreigner is not embarrassed by being refused a dance and then having to do the walk of shame back across the floor. We do not dance to Cancion, because the tempo changes to suit the singer, not the dancer. Most of all we do not dance tango to non tango music, because it does not speak to us in the same way, and anyway, it’s just not Tango. These are the rules I stick to and the things that make Tango unique for me.

Sunday night was the fortieth anniversary of the day Viv and I met. I had struggled to find some suitable way to celebrate. It seems everywhere that was around then is either shut for good or just on a Sunday night.
In the end I elected to hire the services of a great local artist johnnydevents.co.uk and arranged a bit of a do at the local, The Red Lion Marford. He would be performing hits from the 70s to celebrate the era in which we met and married. By eight there was no one there, but then suddenly they arrived in droves. I had asked John to start at eight but he decided he would delay for half an hour while everyone settled.
OK, it was a strictly not ballroom night, but we did get in a few jives and there was a great deal of “chair dancing” especially for the “Time Warp”. It was a truly great night and Jonny D never let us down.
For his last number he did a special request “Yesterday Once More” an old Carpenters number that has a bit of special significance to us.
At this point there was a demand for the organiser of this fine evening to get up and dance. Now I am always eager, but Viv got up somewhat reluctantly. The question is, what do you dance to Yesterday once more. It ain’t Cha cha, or Rumba, not waltz, so I decided I would just do social Foxtrot around the room.
When I got up, I could not feel the quick quicks, the tempo was all wrong, so I just defaulted. We danced Tango, Tango to pop, fortunately there was no one there who would notice.
Jonny D performed beautifully. I swear there was a tear in Bob’s eye. You may think he is just an old softy, but I say it was tears of shame of the tango purist.
That’s my story and I am sticking with it.


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Cucaracha man

The doorbell  was ringing very early, Viv said “you will have to answer it, I don’t speak Spanish” When I opened the door there was no one there. Down the corridor was Senor Matacucarachas with his killerspray. “Fumigacion” he said, “enterior?”  I said and he confirmed. So we hurriedly put on some clothes and I left the door ajar. After half an hour he had not called back and the corridor lights were out. I closed the door. We hung around for ages but he never returned, I guess our cucarachas are reprieved.

The CD hunt continues, so we thought we would give Euro records, as suggested by Jantango, a try. Viv wanted some more exercise after her day in yesterday so we elected to walk down Lavalle. The wholesale goods on this street always amuse, there is a shop just selling balloons another selling party hats and a whole block of just mannequins. The naked fat guy staring out of one window is a constant source of ribald humor.

Eventually we got to the right block. There was no shop here, just a doorway. The door was locked with an intercom and remote opener. (I knew this as someone had walked in as we approached). I did not like the look of this and we debated about what to do next. We had walked this far and I would not have been happy to go home empty handed so I pressed the buzzer, “Hola” “Quiremos unas CDs” The auto latch operated. We walked down a narrow corridor and up the stairs at the back.

A short guy with thinning grey hair met us at the top. He was very enthusiastic and wanted to know what we were looking for. In truth I still did not know. The room he showed us into looked more like a producer’s office than a shop, but here were racks of CDs on the wall. “Tango bailable?” he asked. “Si” I said. So he directed us further in to his inner sanctum. There were even more racks of CDs, but he wanted us to sit down. Then he gave us catalogues with all his music in them. There was just too much for us here, so he also directed us to his web site.

Now I have all my music here with me in my computer, so I asked if we could take them away and check them against what we have. He was surprised when we said we had come from Wales, he thought Tango now was becoming international. It certainly is, though I wonder how long it will be before the Europeans realize it is more about the music than the moves.

Time for some coffee again. We returned to Bocota on Sarmiento. Viv still thinks we should return here for food some day, but today coffee will have to suffice.

Back to Nuevo Chique again today. We are quite comfortable here separado and sat opposite sides of the room we get a good view of the dancers. I don’t think I missed a tanda and Viv certainly did well the first half. I think she gets tired and puts less effort into her cabeceos as time goes on, but she still did well.

There is a very nice lady from Chile who likes to dance with me, she was sitting by Viv today. She has often commented on my aftershave. I had saved the last drops for today, but Viv had thrown it out. So I told my Chilean friend “ella poner el Calvin Klein en la basura”. She thought that was funny.

Anyway it turns out that she is a masseuse and on hearing of Vivs troubles took her off to give her back a rub. Perhaps it was because of the language problems (or maybe the Calvin Klein) but Viv said the relief was only temporary.

We went back to Guarda la Vieja later for some food. When we find something good we stick to it. Viv said I should have something different so I had chicken in a mustard sauce, it was delicious. Viv went for a rice dish, it tasted great, but lacked a certain something “Meat” I said.

We left stuffed, I think I may have garlic breath by the morning.


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Jamais Vu or Janis Vu

Well the bad weather never arrived, although today it is a little colder. Sometimes I could even walk down the street without my sunglasses on. I suppose the fact that everywhere is designed to dissipate heat makes some of the buildings feel cool, but hey, for Wales this would be a heatwave.

We have not done much of a tourist nature yet, so this being Saturday we went to Palermo for the street markets. Our first stop was Tealosophy on Gorriti we needed to stock up for our practica. Then we thought it was time for coffee. There is only one place we know where you can actually sit in the sun and last time we were here they had no coffee. Viv said they would think I was mad but I was not going through all the rigmarole we had last time we were here (it’s all in last year’s blog somewhere) so as we walked in I said “hay café?” of course they said “si”.

We could have nothing else with it though, when we asked they said “solo pizza”. So we sat in the sun reading our kindles and occupying a table for an hour with just a coffee like true Argentines.

We walked down Gorriti and turned into Honduras, half way down the block Viv saw a Feria Americana (second hand shop). Now most of them here are just piled high with stuff and are generally more expensive than those at home, but this one looked different. I think it was because of the neighborhood but the stuff in here was real quality. In fact they had a whole rail of Italian coats that were all new. I saw a couple of suits, but they were far too small and likewise the jackets that Viv tried on. She did however find two very nice skirts. All the time we were there the woman who ran it left us alone unless we asked anything and Viv could take as much as she wanted into the changing room. It was a refreshing change; we took a card for next time, in the words of Arnie “I’ll be back”.

We found our way eventually to the street market and found one or two things for prizes, but held back from buying too much yet (makes it feel like we are getting ready to go home otherwise).

We were getting hungry as they could not feed us in the last place so we called into our favorite book shop on Costa Rica, Crack Up. They did not have their famous tarta manzana today but we were happy with an avena cookie with chocolate chips.   

I learned something today Jamais vu is the exact opposite to Déjà vu and I owe Jantango an apology.

We met in La Continental for Pizza and a couple of beers. We had missed the chance to go together to La Nacional last week so we thought we would make up for it this time. Janis kept insisting we went there together last year, but both Viv and I had no recollection, even after we had arrived.

I was not in the best place to practice my cabeceo and sitting with two women, I think did not help. I danced with my two ladies and did manage one cabeceo. The trouble is the strain of all the recent activities had got the better of Viv. Shortly after midnight she had had enough. So we left Janis there and I took Viv home.

Once back I simply had to check last year’s blog. There it was in front of me, The visit to La Nacional and even the return Journey on the 151 colectivo (which I had also forgotten) on our first Saturday. The day was so much like today we had even called into Tealosophy in the afternoon.

See  https://tangogales.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/worlds-apart/?preview=true&preview_id=2569&preview_nonce=e23aae8001

So there you are Jamais Vu “a feeling of seeing a situation for the first time, despite rationally knowing you have been there before”


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Wierdo Central

Our daily trip to the supermarket was tinged with a bit of excitement today. Crossing the roads here is always a bit challenging to say the least. There are a number of unmarked cross roads and the only way to get across is to use a car coming from our direction as a shield. This does not work, of course when the one way system means that they are all coming the opposite way. So you take the challenge, toss the dice, and sometimes just run for it. Just when you think you have it sussed they stick something new into the mix. They now have cycle lanes and the bikes do not respect the one way system. You think “now I am clear” and cross the road only to be attacked by cyclists coming from the wrong direction. You would think all this excitement enough, but today we had a motorcycle chase up one of our streets, and, yes, they were going the wrong way. Still at least we had some prior warning, the police bike was wailing and screaming, with blue lights flashing.

We never found out what the motorcyclist had done or if he was ever caught, but it enlivened our morning.

As usual in the supermarket, nothing was as usual. We came for avena (oats) they had none. Sultanas? Only with stones. This is a supermarket? Ibuprofen? “no” It was getting like the Monty Python cheese sketch. Still we found some massive medialunas to have with our morning coffee, so big we only needed one each.

After our coffee we set off for the headboard. Viv was a bit worried about how far we had to carry it, but we were only out twenty minutes in total and that included the time spent paying for it. We also had to wait for the man to carry it to the door; he was not going to allow us to carry it through his shop. We had plenty of rests at the road junctions, and had no trouble fitting it in the lift, so all in all a trouble free collection.

Confiteria Ideal is becoming one of my favourite haunts for a Friday now, but Viv has labeled it Weirdo Central. Because we were later than usual I was not given the best of seats, which meant I had to stand to cabeceo. I resisted the temptation to walk around the room for at least an hour, but from where I was, I had little option.  I could not even get a dance with my Mataderos lady until I went on walk about. I now know her name is Theresa, I told her my “wife says we are as good as married because we had three dances together”. She laughed and said “I am too old for you”. I had a tanda with the French lady that I did chacarera with last week and after she introduced me to her husband, we did chacarera again.

Now Viv meanwhile had a good seat where she could see the whole piso. But still she did not look happy; last week a tango singer was coming on very strong to her. We were sitting together and she introduced me to him, thinking that would be the end of it. She danced with him again today and he tried again she said “My husband is standing behind you” he feigned bad memory, then further on in the tanda said”I want to go for coffee with you”. Well we all know what coffee means here, don’t we?

Because of where I was sat, I had paid for my drink when the waiter brought it, but Viv still had to pay for hers. She had decided to go downstairs, but told me to stay. It took her another hour to attract the waiter again, but at least in the meantime she did get a few more dances.

She had looked so sad there, I knew the one thing that would cheer her up; lentejas at 1810 and some Quilmes, just what doctor Bob ordered.

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Have I lost the spark?

Have I lost the spark? For the second time in three weeks I have sat out and just watched the class in Chester. Viv worries that we are not getting the most from Mondays, me, I am happy with the situation. I never know what the evening holds, I could be leading, or I could be following, I could be just watching, or very occasionally there is someone who has just joined and is not able to follow the class. At these times I am able to take them to one side and help them to a level where they can join the rest, it is always very rewarding passing on your knowledge.

So on this Monday I am just watching, I still enjoy it, even though I am not dancing. The classes at the moment are more about musicality, until the new term starts, and Sharon has some interesting choices of music. I use the word interesting with care, this is not the “I am so clever I can find other music to dance to” sort of interesting, that I find elsewhere, but she has found some new takes on the classics that are really good. I will make note of the artists next time and relay them here, but for now my memory fails me.

The class were taken through a new step; a secada into a back cross, and I was asked to demonstrate with Sharon. So at least I did a little, but in the main I was happy just watching.

Of course after the class was over I was away, dancing with all the ladies and hopefully giving them some practice with the things that they had learned and of course the benefit of my vast experience.(bubble needs bursting).

On an entirely different subject, I regularly check on other blogers to see what they are up to and check out what they are thinking. In one of my regular explorations I came across this article about the lighting levels in milongas.


This got me thinking, not so much about the light levels, but why some people dance. Do we dance to be seen to show the world our fancy footwork, or do we dance to seduce our partner, or is it just for exercise?

In the Clubs de Barrio that I love, it is normal to dim the lights when they have a session of Cumbia, but they have the lights up when they tango. Why is this? It is certainly more atmospheric when they only have the lights on the mirror ball, but do they need so much light when they tango? I think it all comes down to the cabeceo, In clubs like Lo de Celia and El Beso they do it all the time, but in the clubs de barrio it is mostly couples, and you rarely see anyone practicing the cabeceo. So I wonder; why do we need the lights?

Here in the UK nobody does the cabeceo, few if any will dance with strangers, and most stay in their cliques. This again leaves me wondering, why not have a more intimate atmosphere.

This brings me back to why we dance. If you dance for the exercise, then lighting is unimportant to you. You will burn as many calories whatever the light level. Maybe it is better if no one sees you sweat, but hey do you care. Milongas are the music for you or any fast tango, perhaps some Pugliese would suit.

Now if dancing is pure seduction, the mood is enhanced with a little dimmed light. Candles are the thing here, dark corners and a crowded floor, so no one can pick you from the crowd.

Then we move to my least favourite group, for these bright lights are a must, as is modern music like Gotan or Otros Aires. They dance only to be seen. Every other move is a gancho or a boleo, the ladies heels are never on the ground, but flying around dangerously. The most obvious sign however is that the couple are not looking at each other, but instead stare around the room to see who is looking at them. There is no real connection, no intimacy, and often no musicality.

My own view on lighting is I really do not care that much, because much like the majority of tango dancers, I dance for the music and my partner. My partner is, I hope, enjoying the embrace in a totally non sexual way, and lost in the feeling. We look past each other only to see if it is clear, but the whole of our being is together. A three minute romance? Maybe, but I am returned to my wife at the end unblemished, and those who watch can enjoy our dance, criticise, or learn from us, that is for them alone to decide.

My wife prefers the lighting dim; she does not like being watched, and hates to be first on the floor, so if asked I would go for the lower light levels, if only because I would get more dances with my favourite partner.

So how about you; is it light, or is it dark?


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