Tag Archives: Confiteria Ideal

Just a bird in a gilded cage

I am sitting waiting for Viv to get ready, and as often in these situations I look out of our window.

Across the street are also windows (as you would expect) It is a shame I cannot post photos (except those passed on to me by Jantango) because across the street they have a bird in a cage. It sits in the window looking out forlornly.

Meanwhile the local pigeons perch on the sill, or peck at the plants. They coo away and I think that they are goading the poor bird. “look at us, we can fly off at any time”

The pigeons tango along the wires, they bill and coo, and they neck on the roof. They have no sympathy for our poor caged friend.

Well we are flying off now, more like a mole than a pigeon as we take the subte to Confiteria Ideal.

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Tango Passion?

We got up late today; the 127 collectivo from Villa Urquiza took it out of us last night. Still it was another bright sunny day and we could go for a walk.

Well a walk with a purpose, we went down Santa Fe to find another Avon Shop. At last we found one that was open, but this was the least of my problems. I am a mere man what on earth do I know about cosmetic products? Trouble is Viv speaks no Spanish, the girl in the shop speaks no English and I no speaky cosmetics in any language. How we succeeded in getting what we wanted is nothing short of miraculous. Still it was done and we carried on towards Suipacha and Confiteria Ideal.

It was very quiet when we first arrived but it gave me room to spread out for a while. Ivana was on the decks, I have not seen her since the demise of Maipu 444. I said hola she sort of recognized me but I don’t suppose she remembers where from.

We did not mix yet with the other dancers, we were still getting our feet, but it was interesting to watch the antics of others. You will often hear that ladies prefer a dance where the man just tries to make it enjoyable for her and not over complicated and things here today proved the point.

Here today was a guy who was very good, his legs were everywhere and he moved well indeed. I saw his flying legs still going with a woman I knew to be a beginner. Due respect, she actually followed him, his lead was exceptional. The only problem was it was not salon tango, we called him Tango Passion and he held the centre ground keeping away from line of dance.

Later in the afternoon I managed to prize myself away from Viv and dance with a few other ladies. Never have I claimed to be the best but I held my own. I danced with one lady of mature years, who although she followed well, did so at her own speed. There was a joy to her dancing that overcame any problems that age brings. We did a whole tanda and she tried to get me to dance again later, so I guess I was in favour. She said “soy portena” and I managed to find out she was from Mataderos.

After I had danced with her Tango Passion took her on the floor, he lasted two tunes. I don’t know what happened but to leave the floor halfway through a tanda is bad manners and usually indicates some real problem. Now as I said I think he was a better tango dancer than me but he should be on stage, not the floor of a local milonga. He did well with the touristas, but with a local milonguera? Well the actions speak for themselves.

 Next time you think you are boring the ladies and try to liven it up a bit just think of the Lady from Mataderos and Tango Passion.


Soy Portena     I am a portena, or I come from Buenos Aires.

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Distant Tanguera

Unusually this week we started the dance in full sun. It was nice for a change to have all the doors and windows open.

Numbers were a bit disappointing, but I suppose everyone was out with their barbeques. Still the numbers were boosted at about half eight when Candi arrived with her partner Yanis (is that the right spelling?). We had some Comme Il Faut shoes for her and she was just itching to try them out. The best thing for me about Viv bringing shoes over is I get the virgin dance almost every time. There really is something special for the ladies when they dance for the first time in their Comm Il Faut’s, so it is a real honour for me to lead these shoes into their first dance.

Candi has travelled all the way from Stoke to be with us tonight, so I am more than glad to pass on a few moves, we have to be careful though as we don’t want this to turn into a class. Another benefit of her coming is that now she realises just how far it is. I get frequent invites to Stokies and much as I would love to go, the distance makes it impractical. When I work nights, obviously it is impossible, but when I am on days I would have to leave about nine in order to get a decent sleep. I would be just too tired after work, so that leaves about one day in eight. Oh well maybe someday soon.

 Tonight we had Angel D’Agostino and Francisco Canaro as our artists. Candi quizzed me about Canaro and I am afraid my knowledge is not as good as it should have been. Part of the problem, of course, is that no one has ever quizzed me before on the artists, from now on I must swat up before the dance. It really is good to have someone who is interested, and it makes me learn as well.

Just for Candi; Canaro played Violin and made recordings from 1915-1973. (despite dying in 1964) I hope I am forgiven my lack of knowledge.

Arriving a bit later meant that she missed my favourite D’Agostino track “Café Dominguez” but I danced it with Viv and for three minutes was transported back to Confiteria Ideal in Buenos Aires.

Our practicas look less like dances with every passing one, when Candi arrived she commented that she was sorry to have arrived in the middle of our supper. I suppose the sight of everyone sat around the table eating, and no one dancing must have confused somewhat. Still we were soon up dancing again, although the draw of that fabulous Stilton was proving too hard to resist. (There was little left at the end of the night).

I must have had some sort of premonition that it would be a long night, normally I time La Cumparsita to come on at eleven, tonight though it was almost twenty to twelve and there were still four of us, eating, dancing, and talking rubbish, fuelled by Argentine wine, Ginger beer, and the last of my Gin.

I did not take much rocking when I finally hit the sack at after one o’clock, I will get these people into the Buenos Aires way, one day.


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Di Sarli, The missing years

Our trip to Ideal yesterday made me realise that there is a gap in my Di Sarli collection, so as I am in Buenos Aires there could be no better time to fill it.

We took the subte down to Callao where we surfaced right outside Zivals. The collection of music in here is colossal, and I suspect that if you cannot get it here you will get it no where. We trawled through all the Di Sarli albums, but try as we might, could find nothing for the years 31-40 and 48-51. Still I had a hand full of CDs and a way of using some of the dollars I had bought with our money from tango.

There was still Musimundo across the road. This proved fruitless, there was far less choice here and the arrangement was somewhat chaotic. So we left deciding to try El Ateneo. This also was fruitless, the shelves here were even more chaotic. Di sarli was spread about all over the place amongst D’Arienzo, Canaro even Queen. This was pointless.

As we walked back along Callao there was another small music shop and Viv said we should at least try. Well in here there was at least some order, but the collection of old tango was minute. We did however find that Juan Carlos Caceres track we have been looking for, for so long Tango Negro.

At the back of the shop was the most wonderful restaurant you have ever seen. With a patio out the back with trees and umbrellas, wonderful modern artwork on the walls. So we had to stop for a coffee.

When we set off again it felt damp, the sky was overcast and gloomy. I had intended to take the D line and go into Palermo to buy some tea for our practica, but we were not dressed for rain. We took our normal B line back to Medrano and rushed home.

Come time to head out again to Fulgor and it has not yet rained. God it seems does favour the brave, ah well there is always tomorrow.

We wonder whether the DJ has changed here, something is different about the music. I am not sure exactly what but something is different. It just goes to show that there is more to this than simply putting on a few tunes. It is knowing the audience as well as the music. We never see the DJ here as he is hidden away in a box, so we will never really know.

A lot of the old crowd were not here tonight and there was a big party of strangers, still we had a good time and all the locals came and wished us well as always.

On the walk home the rain finally came, not heavy but it would have been enough to get us wet, good job I thought to bring the umbrella.

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Afternoon Delight

We were due to meet Philippe for dinner, so a late milonga was out. Scanning the guides we had two choices Canning or Ideal because we would be walking over that way again we decided against Canning and the subte was more tempting than walking.

We have not been here for some time and a lot has changed, the seating for a start. Though I suspect that they rearrange the seats for the matinée differently to the night-time milongas. The place looks cleaner, better maintained. What truly surprised me was the toilets they have been re tiled, new sinks and there were even paper towels in the dispenser.

Easily the best thing though was the music. This guy did not play anything avant garde, he did not try to be clever, he just played the stuff that we all know and love. That said he did play the odd track that I did not know, but bear in mind, tango is in these people’s blood, so as far as the music goes, I am very much a beginner.

He must have got fed up with this extranjero coming up and asking what the last track from Di Sarli was and other such questions, but he never let on. Before we left I went back and thanked him for the music and asked his name, he just said “Victor” at least that is what I thought he said. Viv thought he said “Hector”. No doubt someone can tell me his name so I can watch out for him again.

We adopted a new strategy here. We did not know the place or the people here, so when we came in we sat together and danced together. We set Pugliese as our marker, when the first track came on we ordered a coffee and then split up. Viv went over to the other side of the room and we tried our hands at dancing with others.

Admittedly it was difficult at first and generally I would miss most of the first tracks. Dancers would be looking for their favourites so we got what was left, but apart from very few we did not have to sit out.

I think we have to leave our sensitivities at home here. There is nothing personal in this. Dancers will always have their favourites and will always choose them first, so as the interlopers we just have to accept it, smile and wait. If we do this long enough, in time we will get known and then perhaps get dances more easily.

At about seven-thirty people started drifting off and it was getting hard to find people to dance with so I grabbed my monerdera card and we set off for home.

The lady gets too hungry for dinner at eight and we would be much later. So we stopped at a confiteria and stocked up with croissants on our way back. While we sat in the flat munching our prizes Philippe rang. He had stopped at our place just before we had arrived. Had he said eight not nine we would have been here, still we would now meet at 1810 at nine thirty.

When we got there the queue was out of the door. It is always busy here but today is another of their national holidays. I phoned Philippe and asked if he had a reserva, but it seems not. When they arrived Luba said “Philippe had a problem with his phone and I am an idiot” so we went to Oporto instead.

So instead of locro and empanadas we had four grand sandwiches and copious amounts of beer. (The Grand Sandwich is another Oporto speciality, beef steak, ham, cheese,egg, lettuce and tomato all on a pita bread). So after a good meal and good company it was off to another early night. (early for Buenos Aires, just after midnight).


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New friends

Funny start to the day, I went over to the supermarket to get some beer and eggs (not to be taken together you understand). Beer comes in deposit bottles here so I returned three and bought three more. Now almost all the super markets here are run by the chinese,so this is how it went (more or less) The guy pointed at one of my bottles and said something in chinese lunfardo castillano. I said “no intiendo” so he said it louder “no no intiendo” he shouted, still not understanding I then saw that this was not a deposit bottle, “Puedo cambio” I said he nodded resignedly. obviously the stupid engrishman was deaf that is why he had to shout. Still we got there in the end.

We were due to meet Maggie in a cafe called Moncloa at Constitution and we had decided afterwards to head for Ideal as it is an early milonga and not too far. We had met Maggie at Shrewsbury many moons ago and frankly I could not remember and unusually neither could Viv. So we walked in having no idea who we were looking for and I suspected she would not know us either. As it was we stood out when we entered not only as foreigners but also not knowing where we were going. So Maggie identified herself and we settled down to some coffee and croissants, just for a change.

It’s a funny thing but when you have used little of your own language for weeks you can talk for hours and remember little of what was said, but we seemed to get on very well. So well in fact that it soon got too late to go to Ideal, so instead we set off towards Humberto Primero and Leonesa. As we have never been there before on a Friday we decided to sit together. After a few dances we noticed the guy who had sat by me in El Aranque sitting opposite. See comments https://tangogales.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/all-portenos-are-good-dancers/and I just had to find out if it was actually him.

So after establishing it was him we made another friend and he went off to dance with Viv. This gave me a chance to dance with one of the local women and it surprised me how easy it was to get a dance, especially as I was in couples corner. She told me there are more women than men here so it is easy for the men but difficult for the women. Sorry ladies, such is life.

The lady who sat with Viv in El Aranque arrived later and would not let us go without a dance so being the sort of guy I am, I simply had to oblige, before we set off into the night.

Now I know that our trusty 168 passes near here but we walked around and could not find a parada, so I said “sod this we will take the subte” of course at that point a 168 came charging by. When we got down to the subte there was no sign of a train and as we needed three trains I started to doubt we would get back before the subte closed. We got on the first train and the time was five past closing, still we were at the point of no return. We changed at Independentia ran for the next train and got in just as the doors closed. Not looking good for the next one, still we ran through the labyrinth of tunnels past the waiting D line train. I said “if we miss ours we will be sorry we did not take this one”, then we got to the platform and there was huge queue. I guessed that the locals knew what they were doing and soon we were on our way home.

Thought we would stop at Gratto again, but it was not to be. The place was packed and a waiter was on the door letting people out but no one in, so we bought some empanadas and returned home to a bottle of chilled stout and some warm empanadas.

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Buenos Aires The Photos

I thought I would take an oportunity to publish a few photos and videos that were kindly taken by Jantango in Buenos Aires, that she gave me to bring home.       

The first two were on a Saturday night when we went to Confiteria Ideal and danced to Orquesta Gente de Tango.  The full story of our day is here The company makes it  You can also see Roger and Mirta dancing at the same time as us, but unfortunately not Janis, as she had the camera.     

The second two are us dancing at Club Fulgor, our favourite Club de Barrio. It was a stormy night and very wet, so very few people turned out, except a group of five mad extanjeros (Viv and I, Jantango Roger and Mirta, OK Mirta is not an extanjera, but she was with us). Roberto Orlando did not like us being filmed in the club and stopped Jantango on the first video but later relented and allowed her to film the second time. The full story of the day is here Lluvia       

The next video is really Carlos Anzuate and Chiche but if you watch carefully you can see we muscled in there.  It was the day after his birthday this time, but he was great company all the same. Again you can read the full story here More Rain I have included a photo of us from that night that Janis took.     


This is us at Glorias Argentinas, guests of Carlos Anzuate.

We had a sort of impromptu lesson in Jantangos apartment, and she filmed us dancing on her wooden floor. I have to mention again the wonderful food that Adolfo cooked for us. If we look sluggish it is because we ate far too much.  Again full story is here Aniversario     

We met up with Janis and went to my favourite local cafe for a coffee. Janis ordered a Submarino, something I had never heard of, it is just hot milk and chocolate that you submerge in the milk and it melts. At our local cafe they do it a bit special, the chocolate is in the shape of spoons as you can see in the photo. Full story of the day is at Catching Up       

This is us in the cafe near our apartment, With the chocolate spoons





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The company makes it

The bicentennial celebrations are in full swing as we pop our heads out of the subte. Overhead is the chop chop chop of a helicopter and there are litterally thousands of people. We are not altogether sure what is happening but we are yards from the obalisk and it cannot be seen for the crowds. We are able to stand right in the centre of 9de julio as the traffic has been excluded, normally if you tarry here you will quickly be flattened by the traffic, which stops for nothing. The cars are usually ten deep although there are only eight lanes and if you are caught in the middle they will flash their lights or blast their horn, what they do not do is stop. This is macho land and, my car is harder than your body, so get out of the way.

But not today, I would like to say it is peaceful without traffic, but it has just become the worlds biggest bizzar, “want a torch?” flags, maps, lights on sticks, they will sell you anything, also because of the crowds, they will also gladly empty your pockets.

Roger and Mirta are in town, and in the hope that I can see them the first time since  I phone them from my mobile. The noise from the chopper makes life difficult but Roger says “I am in front of the Obalisk and Macdonald’s is on my right” so I tell him Macdonald’s is on my left and then my phone dies. When I try to ring again I get the “no tiene credito” message. We wandered around for maybe half an hour, in a space half the size of a football pitch, unable to locate each other. After the cavalry, came the mounted band and the crowd all started singing, patriotic songs are much loved in the southern hemisphere. Still we could not find Roger. In the end he phoned me and we arranged to meet outside Macdonald’s, but even then it was not that easy, another ten minutes of searching before I heard Mirtas argentine version of “Bob” over the noise. There followed much kissing and hugging and we all headed off for food.

As we probably spend more time in Buenos Aires than Mirta, I assumed I knew the way, which I did, unfortunately I did not know where I was before we started. When we come out of the subte, we gauge where we are by the direction of traffic, but as there was non I was now headed in the wrong direction. We never travel too far though before finding we were wrong, and in fact were much closer than we thought.

We spent over two hours over a leisurely lunch and caught up on two missing years, by the time we left them it was a rush to get back as we needed a sleep before the nights festivities.

It was a rush but we managed it even getting an hours kip, at least we needed no food as we were well stocked up, again we came up out of the subte at Pellegrini, but this time experience showed me the right way to go.

Viv has never been fond of Ideal and in a symbiotic way her dislike is reflected in me, so when we arrived and they did not know of our reservation and men busied themselves trying to arrange tables we were not surprised. Thinking that we must have been first we sat there changing our shoes, when I suddenly noticed Mirta sat opposite. It appears that she had the correct table, my accent again must have given them trouble.

The company makes all the difference, from somewhere we do not normally enjoy we had a great time. Adrianna was doing the music, I always enjoy her selections and the way she puts tandas together, but I am a little confused though as she is supposed to be organising Club Independencia tonight, great music and the ability to be in two places at once, wow.

We had a live band, wonderful music, we danced a little but it was nice to just sit and listen a while. Janis said I would remember the name, people of tango or something like that, She obviously does not know how bad my memory is. Just as all night she kept a running “name that band” and I never could. Funny thing I can often name the tune, but I have a blank for the bands, except Pugliese, of course, who they love here.

While I was dancing with Viv and Roger with Janis, some guy got Mirta up and I watched amazed as he tried all sorts of crowd pleasing moves, non of which he seemed to be able to lead properly. I had fully intended to say something but at the end of the dance they went over to his table to talk to his wife. Assuming they were friends I still said nothing when he asked Viv to dance, but when I asked Mirta who her friend was she said she did not know him. Viv returned like a wet lettuce saying “now I know what you mean when you say your job is to protect the woman and make her comfortable”. Just shows you can learn even from idiots. 

When it was time to go Janis would not let us go up Levalle, she said it was closed, and took us instead to Tucaman. The trouble was that Tucaman was also closed at 9de Julio but it was worth the detour when Janis asked the taxista to drop her off for a collectivo “los collectivos no andar” he said. I think he was just trying to get another fare but he still insisted even though we had seen several busses, they never give up. The running argument gave us plenty of ammusment, and when Janis left he carried on at us until our destination even though I said “viven aca hace mucho anos”.


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The teacher is not always right two

I get comments these days that are more like posts than comments. I am not complaining all comments are welcomed, good and bad, but I like to reply to them all. So for the second time I must do a post in reply to a comment.

I received a comment from Jantango in Buenos Aires Teacher is not always right and feel again that this deserves more than a quick answer.

I remember the first time I was at a milonga in Buenos Aires it was at Confiteria Ideal in the afternoon. We had been taken there by our guide for the trip, who educated us about the codigos where to dance and how to cope with what was a totally alien environment to us.

We fell out some time later, which was a shame, as I think she gave us invaluable information for times to come, and although we are no longer in contact I would gladly recommend her to anyone visiting for the first time.

She had the sense to bring us early, when the place was less crowded. This allowed us to get a feel for the room and to get up and dance in the time when people were still coming in.

So how does this relate to the comment? Well no teacher I had been too had ever been to Argentina, none of them knew the codigos, none could tell me how to cope.

As more people came to the milonga, we found it more and more difficult to move, and for some reason, I had yet to learn, and we were always in the middle of the floor.

We had couple of days of this before our first dance lesson. We had been signed up with a guy called Roberto Canelo. He was not milonguero in the true sense of the word, more a stage dancer. In his early days he had been embarrassed at his local club, Club Almagro by being asked to leave the floor and watch how the true milongueros did it. He soon learned how to navigate the floor and move to the music not just doing steps, so now he passes his knowledge on at his tango school. Nothing of this was known to me, of course, I was just passed to an Argentine who taught tango, and of course to me the fact that he was argentine was all that mattered to me at the time.

With him we learned to dance milonga, how to cope with a crowd how to navigate the floor, and importantly to me, why I always ended up in the middle. He told me that old milongueros will dance to the outside of the room, taking any space left to the right, forcing any principiantes into the middle. So now I must learn that as well as protecting my partner I must defend my right hand side, I do not let anyone into this space, it is mine alone. With this knowledge I can gloat at the show dancers, principiantes and yanquis who populate the middle of the floor. He learned all this by going to the milongas, he already was a great dancer, but could not cope with the milonga floor, not until he had experienced it himself and had the coaching of other milongueros.

So when I learn that a great show dancer with years of experience could not cope at a milonga, you should not be surprised that I greet with horror the thought that people who have less than two years tango experience want to teach. You should also not be surprised that I will not go to any teacher who has never visited a Buenos Aires milonga.

Too many spend their time learning steps. In the UK we learn boleos, ganchos , baridas, but rarely do we learn about the music. What we need to do is listen to the music, as it changes cadence, we need to be aware and change with it.

Often in beginner’s classes, we are so intent on learning that our movement’s bare little relationship to the music, this is Ok for beginners, but as we get more proficient we should be dancing to the music not just doing moves in spite of it. Go to almost any milonga in Europe and you will see them; they do all the moves, awesome routines, fancy footwork, but no musicality.

In the northern hemisphere we need to learn that dancing is not about moves, this is not Strictly, it is social dancing. Tango is the music as much as it is the dance, if you do not feel the music then you are not dancing tango. The music needs to be in your mind and in your soul. If you spend all your time learning more and more moves, you miss the point, your time would be better spent listening to the music, and trying to get to know the artists.

And don’t even think about getting me back on the subject of DJs playing non tango music.

Again all comments are welcome, good or bad. If you disagree tell me why, wealth of experience comes from exchanges of ideas not monologue.


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