Tag Archives: Cumbia

Two days of Gripe

Yesterday was not so good. We passed a couple of good hours in Sullivan’s Bar with the Hudson’s for company, but Wales got a trouncing. Although they did manage to pull back towards the end. Still that puts England well at the top of the six nations. Unusually there was one other Wales supporter in there. Next time though I will be an England supporter, and should definitely hammer the French.

As I said, I felt fine while I was in the bar, but as soon as I left, this rotten cold returned. I coughed and snotted all the way home. No milonga today for me.

This morning though I had work to do. The Fan I had Failed to fix in Philippe’s needed doing. I took my own tools this time and allowed plenty of daylight time. I resolved to take it down and start from scratch. Everything down and I could see where I had not put enough tape on the joint. Schoolboy error, but as I was not feeling well and no light, I expect forgiveness. I took the back plate down as well. The old Wire in the ceiling was not good enough and I had a new roll in my box. After that it all went well and soon it was working.

I was still coughing, the cold has moved to my chest. It seems to have progressed quickly here, hopefully it will soon be gone. Philippe has made some sort of chocolate and Dulche de leche tort, “with a Cuban twist ” he said. Seems he does not have a steady hand when pouring Cuban rum. It nearly took my head off, but boy did it numb the cold. By the second piece I no longer cared.

I am sure Viv noticed my happy mood when I returned.

Off to Club Fulgor again tonight, the first time dancing in three days. We had all the usual kisses, but I was reluctant to dance with the old dears. A quick peck on the cheek is one thing, but that very close embrace runs the risk of passing on my germs. So we just danced with each other and left early.

Three days of no dancing and already were loosing our fitness. Still for a first night two and a half hours of almost solid dancing was enough. Tango, folklore, cumbia, and merengue, we had a good mix, and we have a bout an hours walking in total as well. Time for bed I think.

 

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Quiet day, great night.

We did very little outside of the flat today. I put a final coat of paint on the bedroom and Viv started on the curtains. So we just rested up ready for the night out.

Fulgor on a Thursday was quiet, whether it is because people need to work or because the music was not quite as good, I don’t know.

Sunday however is a whole different animal. Almost all the old crowd are here and they are determined to have a good time. Nobody poses or tries to take over the floor and there is an infectious happiness that grabs you as you enter.

As I have said before “Puro Tango this ain’t” half the night is dedicated to Cumbia, paso doble,  and merengue, but even when we are not dancing the shear joy of the place keeps me smiling.

Our chacarera seems much admired by the locals. They still seem surprised that we do it. We still have not mastered the Cumbia though, Viv is a bit too self conscious to just get up and gigygig.

It is a holiday tomorrow apparently, so the everyone is out on the streets when we walk home. For us though it means a lie in, no 7:30 rush hour traffic to wake us up, luxury.

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Principe de Gales

We walked to Parque Centenario today. Not a particularly long walk as this city goes, but we covered some streets we have not passed this trip. We stopped at a confiteria on Palestini y Sarmiento, again not a particularly good, or big one but handy on our route. We bought a quiche and some bread, and Viv was quite taken with some chocolate covered churros, so we bought some for afters.

We had not picked the best day to visit the park; it is starting to get cooler, although we understand still ten degrees warmer than the UK. The wind can whip up here as well, now we are clear of the buildings. Still we enjoyed a lovely quiche, which the girl in the shop had cut up for us. We sat drinking our juice as the pigeons tried to clear up all the crumbs. Then we started on the churros, well they were just like chewy chocolate bars, quite nice really, but very different.

We passed the building at the edge of the park that had a notice displayed that read something like this: It is illegal to take animal here. ley1453. (I definitely made the law number up; the rest is to the best of my memory the word “take” was definitely used). I still have no idea whether it is illegal to steal the cats that sit there, or to leave more. I also have no idea why the notice is in pidgin English and not Spanish.  

We returned again to Fulgor, this being Thursday. It was very quiet tonight although Bob and Elsa were there as always. She wore something beautiful and different with matching shoes, as always, and just as always they greeted us as old friends. (One day I am going to ask her what she does with her old clothes). The rest of the crowd also greeted us as old friends and I get more kisses here than at a new year’s party at home. (From the men and the women)

Viv still not at one hundred percent told me to go and dance with the old ladies, as there were more than usual tonight it took me some time to get through them all. Susanna from Sin Rumbo was here as well and I grabbed her for the milonga. I also asked her again for a second milonga, she said “you create and I do not always know what to do” we laughed and said we don’t care and just carried on having fun. (Her boyfriend does not seem to object, but if I am found stabbed in an alley you know where to start looking).

Meanwhile, it seems that others not realizing that Viv was less than one hundred percent were asking her up to dance. She had more different dance partners that ever, when all she wanted to do was sit and drink beer. We were up for the cumbia though, and as this seemed not to bother her I said “why not try holding your head up” as she seemed to be pushing slightly with her head. She seemed to get through the night OK, but maybe it was the extra beer.

There was no bingo tonight, thankfully. The sorteo was back though and I seem to be lucky with this. I won again. As I waved my ticket in the air Roberto said “El Principe de Gales”.

Viv had to finish the beer while I had the wicky, still when we got back Viv said I was out like a light by the time she got to bed.

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Just like Fulgor

Our little group is growing nicely, we do not get great numbers, but there are now enough that even when many of our regulars cannot be here we are still quorate.

It has become so much of a social now that I am having to badger people to dance, rather than sit eating drinking and talking, still they all seem to enjoy it and at least they are getting immersed in the music.

Viv thought it would be a good idea to have some chacarera in the middle and of course it fell upon me to teach everyone what to do. The two or three times a year we do it is nowhere near enough to qualify me to teach, and of course, the inevitable happened, it collapsed into chaos. OH, but what joyful chaos it was, everyone stamping and flouncing, spinning and clapping, so nobody complained.

I have made a mental note to myself to get it properly in my head this time when I am in Buenos Aires. I am expected to show them properly when I return.

To keep the party atmosphere going we had a bit of cumbia as well. As we had one more man than woman I was driven off the floor, but as I stood in the doorway watching I had a smile like a Cheshire cat on my face and I thought to myself “I could be in Villa Crespo, this is just like Club Fulgor”

It was a fitting last dance before we head off to Buenos Aires again, my next post should be from the city of tango.

Having been up since five and halfway through a sixty hour working block, I should have been tired, but the atmosphere, people and music enlivened me. At times like this my normal torpor leaves me and I can take on the world, I will not feel this good in the morning when my alarm clock goes off again.

I try not to mention people by name here, but I must thank Mary for the quiche’s there was quite a plateful, too many for our small number. Proof indeed of how good they were was the fact that the plate was empty at the end of the night.

Our artists of the night were D’Sarli and D’Angelis, but of course, not for the Cumbia or The Chacarera.

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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.

http://londontango.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/ask-arlene-who-turned-out-the-lights/

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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Something new every day

Today we were up early for once, but still we did not get out until after twelve. Philippe rang to say he would be calling, so we waited in until he joined us for coffee.

He had been unable to contact the administrators, but he had printed out a form to allow him to act on my behalf at the consorcios for the next two years, I think he is trying to ensure we do not kick him out, but failing a big lottery win, I will have to stay in work. Even then we probably would not be here full time. He still wants to turn the place into a bachelor pad, with a bar and mirror ball.

When he had left we took a different route, we decided to walk behind the Abasto centre, along Lavalle. Only five blocks from our apartment and already we found something new. There on the corner of Aguero were two tango shops, full of clothing and shoes at incredible prices. The temptation was to further hammer my credit card, but instead I hatched my cunning plan; “we must come back here next time” now October looks much more of a possibility.

Just down the street and we find second hand clothes shops, Viv was in shopping heaven, now it is my turn to be reluctant to return, suddenly October is her idea. (We men are not so dumb as you think).

We passed all the party shops, what we really wanted was a small mirror ball, our present to Philippe, but non appeared. It is a funny thing about this place; at home you look for a niche, a hole in the market, something that no one else is offering in that area, here all the shops cluster. Around Pasteur are all the wig shops, all the material and haberdashery around Pueyrredon, followed by the party shops. If you do not know the area to look you can find nothing.

Anyway we turned back at Pasteur and walked back up Tucuman, and started to notice men with big hats, or scull caps and on every corner a Synagogue, and kosher food stalls, we were in a very Jewish quarter. It was time for another coffee, and so we sat in another corner cafe, drinking coffee and eating medialunes. People watching is a great pass time at corner cafes, and Viv was thrilled when she saw a woman walk passed with a white poodle, dressed up with a pink scarf and pink boots. Questions start to come into ones head at these times, like, why on earth would you put boots on a dog? and how do you make him keep them on? Another thing that crossed our minds (you must remember that as a cosmopolitan city Wrexham is some way behind the world) was how do the Jewish men keep that skull cap on? and is there a difference between the men who wear big hats and those who wear the scull caps? 

Eventually after a very round about route we arrived at Cordoba and Scalabrini, the whole point of our expedition today, was to buy me some shirts. I now have some more shirts for my wardrobe and my credit card is even more sick. It was time to head back for more coffee and some nice lemon pie from our favourite panaderia.

Something we could not help but notice, on the walk back, was the amount of pavement (sidewalk) repairs going on, it would be  nice to think we can walk the streets next time we are here without falling into a hole. Who knows maybe next they will tackle the dogshit?

Back again to Club Fulgor, the last time this visit. As we walked over I noticed again, the cartoneros seem to have got themselves a uniform. I wonder if the city has provided them with reflective gear to keep them safer or whether there is some sort of take over, no doubt someone will tell me.

In Fulgor as usual we had a great time, tangoing with the locals, bopping with the cumbia, and dancing the merengue. This is not pure tango, but it is where you see how the locals really live. Some of the tandas would make Janis’s teeth curl, one tanda had DiSarli, D’Arienzo, and Pugliese all in the same tanda, unthinkable, but the locals loved it, and Roberto announced each tune so you knew what was coming.

Towards the end of the night as people drifted off, word had got around we were leaving Saturday, so as each couple left, they came over to say goodbye and ask when we would return. Here we are not touristas, but locals. One couple even hoped we would have a good time in Inglatera.

When we finally left we kissed Marianne and Roberto and promissed to return in October (the plan worked HA).

Next posts may be slightly delayed as we prepare for home but I will do a last day, and journey home, followed by Chester on Monday.

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A quiet day

After last nights revelries, the eight o’clock alarm was most unwelcome, only three hours sleep, and we were already suffering. I was determined not to miss any Grand Prix, so I must get up.

Tomato was a good walk and the projection screen was difficult to see clearly, so I had looked for somewhere else. Punto Cuere is a cafe bar about four blocks away (has the cutest little waitress you’ve ever seen). The boss of the estate agents we bought from, always has his lunch there, so if it is good enough for him.

I called in yesterday when I took the washing, to ask if they would put it on their telly, and they agreed. It is a national holiday tomorrow, so like at home, bank holiday weekends are quiet for these places. So we arrived and there was football. Nobody was watching, I asked if they could put on the Grand Prix, in typical Argentine I was told, the girl who has the remote is in the toilet, but she would change it for us. We ordered the DesayunarAmericana (scrambled egg and bacon with all the usual toast juice and coffee). Horror the fruit had banana in it, I have an intolerance to banana that means after about an hour I will be violently sick, fortunately there were only a couple of pieces so Viv safely removed them and then ate them.

We of course had to have extra coffee, though typically here, nobody pressed us to leave or order more as we sat for nearly two hours. Another Brawn one two, a good result. So I paid and left happy. There was yesterdays blog to write, forgive any mistakes, its hard to type when you cannot see. Then it was back to bed, where I slept until nearly five. I really needed that sleep.

I have been unable to actually read my posts here, the unreliability of the Argentine internet. Today I managed to actually read it and find how often I have said Janis complained, it really does make her sound like one of the whinging expats, can I take this opportunityto say nothing could be further from the truth, it is just my way of saying how she made her point. She enjoys it here and is happy, I have never heard her complain apart from about the complainers, it is just my poor choice of words.

Much as I enjoy the traditional milongas, they are generally quite crowded and often difficult to dance, in Club Fulgorwe dance almost continually, and because I am known, I often dance with the locals. That said last night the crowd was different from usual, tomorrow being 25th May, the anniversary of Argentina’s independance. We still had a great time and danced almost every dance, but because some of the usual men were not there, some of our old dears left early as they were not getting any dances.

Around midnight the dancing stopped as it was now 25thMay, we all had to stand up and sing the Argentine anthem (we just stood up, with no idea of the words , a bit like when they play the Welsh anthem). I am no expert on anthems, so would not like to comment whether it is a good one or not, it is however possibly the longest anthem in the world. The intro into the singing was as long as God Save The Queen then there was a verse followed by another musical intro then a more upbeat verse, I was quite ready to sit down again when it was over.
So after a few more tanda we closed the night off, on a day when we had done very little, we at least managed to dance the night away, and put in some cumbia, meregue, and I even managed to get Viv to do the Chacarera with me.

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Pollo entero

Pollo: chicken pronounced posho or near enough.

Philippe has asked if we  can have lunch, it will be a chance to catch up and answer a few questions about the flat. We expected Luba as well but she could not make it, no matter we will catch up again before we return home.

When he arrives the usual banter starts, about us killing foxes and the french eating anything disgusting.I think he enjoys our sessions, no entente cordial here, just good fun. One question that needed answering was the electric bill which had arrived, technically it is his bill, but I would like to pay it just for experience, two months electric $14ar less than three pounds. I did not understand the figures, it appears that if it is not paid on time then there is an increase, for those who have fallen foul of UK parking charges that double, be prepared for a shock, the extra for late payment is 20 centivos that is about 4p in sterling or less than a shilling in real money. I said I may just not pay it and give Philippe the 20centivos.

After we have discussed all the bills etc the new portero, and the presidents wife, we head off to a local parilla. Normally we do not do lunch, either we have some coffee and medilunes or just a sandwich. At the parilla Philippe says why not have a whole chicken, so we order beer a bowl of salad and a bowl of papas espanol and pollo entero.

As has been said often they know their meat here and the chicken was cooked beautifully and quartered, this was where we needed Luba, the last quarter was watching us, who would crack, Philippe said he was full so I ripped it in half, half for me half for Viv. another beer was needed just to help us finish.

Unusually we could not have coffee so when we had finished we trotted off down the street to another cafe for coffee. All too soon Philippe had to go so we bid him farewell and retreated for a siesta.

As is normal on a Thursday we return to Club Fulgor. The numbers even here now seem down, despite temperatures of 25degrees it looks like winter is taking hold. Still for a UK dance this would be a good crowd, and there are some new faces. One old guy who must have been in his eighties was up bopping to the cumbia, still going in the merengue, and swinging to rock and roll. I was surprised to see him dance the tango, after all that exertion I would have needed a rest.

Oddly very few got up for tango vals, I enjoy the vals, so with the floor almost to ourselves I could really step out. I love this club but sometimes there is crashing from the back and people coming the wrong way around the room, so just for one tanda I could strut my stuff and not worry about the others on the floor. Luckily we had arrived early because before midnight it just sort of ended, there was no one left and there was little point in staying.

We paid Marianne for the drinks and took a slow stoll home in the warm night air.

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Pericles

It was a nice sunny day and as usual we were up late, so distant parts of the city were out. As they have a lot of street markets at the weekend, I thought we could walk over to Palermo.

Pericles had just left a post on BAexpats about walking, so I responded that we were about to walk over to Palermo. As we walked over he got in contact via my cell and we arranged to meet in about an hour. More than enough shopping time for me.

Pericles for those who do not know was the driving force that got me an apartment in Buenos Aires. This started as a purely business arrangement, but like some many here, he remains a friend.

In the centre Viv found a scarf that she liked, it was not expensive, but I am starting to think Argentine and $50ar seemed too much to me. Viv won the day as she always does.

We found the bar where we were to meet and there was no sign of Pericles, so we searched around for a good table, and decided on a spot on the roof terrace. We watched the street but missed him entering. He sent me a text saying he was here, so did I.

After a further walk around I found him and he joined us on the roof. As I have said before, life is a bit more hardy in Wales, so we were quite comfortable up here, I’m not so sure Pericles was.

We talked for hours, it was such a pleasant change, usually time is of the essence and he is rushing off to an appointment somewhere. Eventually we had to go, we had overstayed our welcome (we only drank coffee). Pericles walked with us as far as his place and we walked on to do some more shopping.

At night we returned to Club Fulgor again. The numbers were down considerably, but we still had great time. As I type this out I am listening to the CD we won in the raffle. Suddenly we are getting all sorts of freebies. We did almost every tanda, the chacarera and even joined in for the cumbia.

From one of my commentators I have had some great info on the buses (colectivos) and I used this to get there. Unfortunately we panicked and got off the bus too soon, but it still saved us some footwork. I had the route planned for our return but Viv decided she wanted something nice to eat so we walked. Even in Buenos Aires there is not much open at one in the morning, but Viv’s mood was considerably lifted after Fulgor so I let her enjoy the walk. About two blocks into Guardia Vieja we did find a kiosco open and walked the rest of the way eating a Mega. Dancing till one $10ar drinks for two $22ar walking home on a warm night eating icecream priceless.

(appologies to mastercard)

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The First Gresford Milonga

As I said in my previous post, this has been a particularly good tango week for me.

First there was Chester on Monday(see previous post) then I was able to attend Shrewsbury on Thursday. We arrived later than usual again, but we were there in good time for the mid class practica. Mischka was taking the class again and we did some interesting things with the Giro.

It seems now to be the highlight of the night when we all reconvene at The Coracle. We were determined not to stay too late as we had a lot to do the following day, but as these things go we did not leave until ten to twelve.

As we pulled out of the car park the local police just happened to be passing in the opposite direction. Suprise, suprise they turned around and followed me. Obviously I was stopped and breathalysed, when they asked if I had ever been breathalysed before, their eyes lit up when I said that I had been done three times. They now thought that they had a serial drink driver on their hands whereas it was obvious to me, that I meant that I had been breathalysed three times.Anyway I have a complaint for the landlord of The Coracle, the meter actually read ZERO. I know I only had mild shandy, but I would have thought that there would have been some alcohol in it.

Finally this week, we have had the first Gresford Milonga, I will not say too much about it. I will let the pictures speak for themselves. I would however like to give a big thank you to those that came and made it a huge success and overcame their superstitions. It was after all Friday 13th and when Sharon arrived there were thirteen people here.

We ended the evening with some Cumbia. With the music and the disco ball, I thought for just  a moment that I was in Club Fulgor, Ecstasy. Finally we did some Chacarera, somehow it never fitted the music, but there was so much flouncing by the women and stamping by the men, who cared? it was enjoyable mayhem.

Sign on the door courtesy of : Alfredo F Martinez, filete Porteno. Feria de San Telmo, Buenos Aires. E-Mail martinezalfredo@yahoo. com

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