Tag Archives: Jantango

Preparing for the off

So another year has passed, and I am finally putting out luggage together. There are many things on our list from last year, that are hard to come by in Buenos Aires, or that we have in abundance here. Tools are one case in point; over the years I have accumulated so many that it would be pure madness to buy more. we will have to watch the weight though.

I wonder what will lie ahead for us now; There is a new government in Argentina and already the currency has devalued to the old “Blue Rate”. To give you some idea, last year the official rate gave us $12.5 to the pound. As of now it stands at just below 20. This sounds good until you consider that most of our money is already over here.

We expect everything to have gone up again. No doubt our first shock will be the drive from the airport. The next shock will no doubt be the entradas. I see from Jantango that some are up to $100, although this is only about £5 it represents a ten fold increase in the time we have been going.

I worry about the cost, not just for myself, but because it drives away the locals and those on fixed incomes. That said the same is happening here at home and while inflation here is virtually zero the price of a milonga here has gone up steadily from the £5 it was just a few years ago.

Home and away, tango must not become a cash cow and drive away the very people who give it its soul.

Enough of my worries, it is time to go and pack, next time you hear from me will be from Buenos Aires.

 

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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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Lunch with Janis

We woke up late again. I seem to spend most of my holidays sleeping, still if that is what my body needs, so be it.

We caught the 168 again and got off at Alsina to walk through to Jantango’s.  The food she had promised us she kept and so we arranged to arrive early (one in the afternoon is very early by Buenos Aires standards).

We pressed her buzzer, no answer. One of her neighbours’ wanted to let us into the building, but then we would have been trapped, so we declined. We were inside the iron gate though and another neighbor asked how we got in. She seemed happy enough with my answer. Yet another came through, it must have been rush hour at Janis’s.

At about ten past Janis arrived, seems I had forgotten about ish time again. She had been to the supermarket and Ice-cream store.

So we got in and sat down and just talked, while she put the food on. She asked if we wanted coffee, this time however she let me make it. Janis is that rare thing, an American who does not drink coffee.

We ate her hake and mash drank more coffee and just talked. Her cat meanwhile was getting very agitated; the smell of fish is something guaranteed to get cats going.

Had we been here four hours? Well it was time to catch our favourite 168 again. As we approached Moreno y Alberti the bus was at the stop. We ran but no amount of hand waving was going to stop him, the driver had his cuppa waiting at the end of his journey. Fortunately this time we did not have too long a wait for the next one.

Now this 168 follows a different route (two busses with the same number? This is Argentina) so we are not used to the stops. I am afraid I jumped too soon, still they stop every four blocks so it was not too far and I quite enjoy approaching from different directions.

Fulgor again tonight, as it is Sunday. There is not a lot I can say, great music, and wonderful people just a great time. We were getting hungry again though, so we tried the pizza again “buen cocido” I tried but still it was not cooked well enough for Viv, I guess they just do not understand how we like our pizza .

We danced Pugliese again, normally I prefer to listen, but they started with La Yumba, it just had to be done. I don’t know whether it is special for Los Galeses, but they played an awful lot of milonga and vals last night. We were truly exhausted by the end.

One thing that I think is definitely for us was the new signs on the doors “El Bano” now had “Bathroom” “Caballero” now had “Gentlemen” and “Damas” now had “Ladie” (sic).

At the end of the night we left with our usual kisses and a promise to return Jueves.

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Pobre Bob

Work commitments mean I can only attend one tango event this week, so in order to make the most of it we arrive early at the Groves.

As usual people arrive at the class in dribs and drabs, so one minute I am leading the next I am following, but as the numbers settle there is an even number of men and women, so I am cast aside like an old tissue. ( As Luba would say “pobre Bob”)

I sit watching the class with my glass of water, occasionally asked into the centre to demonstrate a move. It works well for Sharon and one time when she needs a follower there is a call from the class for Roberta.

It really is not my week because in the improvers’ class the same situation occurs. Viv often has to sit out and never complains so I suppose there is no room for me to complain either. After all I get my regular dose of tango every week one way or another. I learned a new saying off Jantango “basta la plancha” it is usually said by women who sit out waiting for a man to ask them to dance, often frustrated that some men are sitting down and they cannot get a dance. This is not my case by any means but I get the idea.

There is a couple who were in the beginners who watch the class and I join them to give some tips. Like a growing number here, they have been watching videos, and believe themselves to be at a higher level, I try to explain that you simply cannot learn to tango from videos. I have been to dances (even in Buenos Aires) where there are people who have learned from videos, and it is obvious the minute they step on the floor that they have not been taught.

When Sharon again asks me to demonstrate, I was not paying attention so first she had to explain the move to me, doubling her teaching. And when the call came for Roberta the same thing happened, still it kept us on our toes.

Then I was back to our beginners again, the idea that you can somehow lead by turning your head, is often taken from these videos, and while not the best practice, I advised looking at the woman. This way at least he would not turn his head and leave his body behind.

Soon enough it was practica time again, and I was in my element once more. I tried to restrict myself to three dances with each woman, and I think I managed to get around most of them in the hour we had. As always seems to happen  though I missed doing the milongas with Viv, not  I may hasten to add that there was anything wrong with the women I did dance with, it is just that for me there is something special about doing the milonga with my wife.

So while Viv will be attending the workshops at the weekend I must work nights, so that is my lot on the tango scene for another week. Hopefully I will be back to it next Monday.

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Lunch at Balvanera

I’ve finally done it, caught one of the local buses across town. I did a lot of research first but even so when I saw my first 168 it was going the wrong way. I am getting savvy enough to realise now that often there is more than one route operated by the same bus number, so all we had to do was make sure the bus we caught was heading down Corrientes. This meant we had to walk an extra couple of blocks, but this was a first foray, a bit of a mini adventure.

We were off to Balvanera to the home of Jantango, and we had plenty of time. I expected the bus to go straight down Jujuy but it turned off, so I counted the blocks and when I thought we were as near as possible we alighted. As it turned out we were about eight blocks away, not a bad score for the first time.

At casa del Jan we were welcomed in and treated to a long talk about tango, we got some useful info on what to buy (tango music) and some insight into milongueros some of whom are still around, but many sadly who have passed on.  

Janis treated us to a delicious lentil stew, Viv’s favourite, which she had unfortunately laced with garlic. I think it was an attempt to keep me to herself that night. Fortunately the garlic did not seem to smell, whether it is some new type or the way she cooked it I do not know, but nobody fell over from my breath later.

Janis does not drink coffee, but made a brave attempt at making us a cup. Not wishing to be a bad guest I will say no more, other than when I mixed Viv’s cup and mine we got an excellent cup each. We also enjoyed some tasty Argentine treats, and now Janis is offering to take Viv on  shopping trip, so much for my budget this trip.

We walked to Centro Region Leonesa, often mistakenly called Nino Buen,tonight’s milonga is actually Los Consegrados. On the way Janis described the various bus route we could use, which would save us some taxi fare. It would not be possible to walk here from our place.

At the top of the large stone stairway that leads to the dance hall, people sat smoking and talking. This is the only place that they can smoke here. Janis’s arrival was greeted warmly and she introduced us to various old milongueros. I am afraid my recall is poor and I will probably forget all of them, though I suspect,knowing the warmth of these people, they will all remember me. 

We were also introduced to the guy who runs BA Tango a monthly glossy, we were honoured to be photographed for the magazine, fame at last.

Janis left us inside so that she could sit at the back, she would get her dances by doing the cabeceo, we joined the table of  Tangocherie. A couple of Americans sat at the next table to Janis and the lady immediately stared changing. To see her views on this read http://jantango.wordpress.com/2009/05/15/once-upon-a-time/  anyway she requested that this lady used the ladies room, and she was met with a tirade of abuse, calling her old and ugly. It is bad enough when people ignore the etiquette worse still when they leave their manners at home.

We joined Tangocherie where we were introduced to those present, including our new freind Sally. Unfortunately the table consisted almost exclusively of women. I was not about to leave Viv sitting on her own all night while I entertained all these women (tempting though it was) so I arranged to do every other tanda with Viv. The night passed all too quickly and I am afraid I did not get round many, I missed Cherie, but I am glad to say Viv did get some other dances.

We won the raffle, a bottle of cider. Viv likes a bit of cider now and then, but as the place closed we were left with half a bottle of beer and half a bottle of cider. Sign of a good night I think, when you did not have time to drink.

We went back to sit with Janis and pour some cider down her neck while she told us more stories. we thought the tango was all over as they were clearing up but then the DJ decided on a bit of karaoki he sang along to DiSarli, we can now say we have heard Carlitos Laffito singing Carlos DiSarli, and I have to say he was very good.

Afterwards Janis escorted us to the bus, and left us with instructions when to get off. Now I will have to collect all the change I can, so that we can continue using the collectivos.

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New friends

 

Looks like in Buenos Aires they have found a new way to stop people spending my money: As we walked back from Plaza Almagro, where we had sat eating lunch, we passed another furniture shop where they make thier own stuff. There was no way however we were going to get in, the owner (I assume) had placed all his tools in the shop doorway and was busy staining a table. There was no access for anyone, god forbid somebody wanting to go in and purchase one of his master pieces.

As the day was now getting short we decided to spend some time looking for a new lamp for our mesas de luzes, tables of light as bedside tables are known here.Walking down Corrientes I saw some lamps in one shop, now to me a lamp is a stick with a lamp holder on top, you decorate it with the shade. I guess I am wrong again, I do not know what is required but it ain’t here. Eventually we end up in The Abasto Centre, now I am comatose, just too many clothes shops.

As is the way with these things, you never find what you want, but when you are not looking something turns up. So we did not get a lamp but at least we now have a door mat.

Unusually tonight we are returning to Plaza Bohemia, we do not go to the same place twice. It is worth noting that because it is the same building the venue is different, the host is different as is th DJ even the staff tend to follow a particular host.

We come here at the invite of Jantango, never having been here on a Tuesday and having no idea about Janis apart from her blog, Viv was non too keen. The thing was Tuesday is often a bit flat, we usually end up at Porteno y Bailarin, but even there it is quiet.

When we walked in we were suprised, there was a good crowd, not crowded as is often the case here, but enough to make a good night. We are not known here so we were given a table right at the back out of the way.

As we sat waiting for some service I scanned the room hoping to see Janis. I am pretty hopeless at remembering faces I have met, so to identify one I have only seen in a photo was a lost cause. I need not have worried she found us.

I have to say that my worries about meeting a lone American woman were unfounded, she was sweet and very friendly and got on well with Viv.

We did not get much dancing done, two women together never stop talking, but we enjoyed the company.

I did dance a couple of times with Janis, I felt akward and clumsy but she was so comlimentary. This is something the women at home need to understand, we men have very fragile egos, tell us we are doing something wrong and you are a lousy dancer, tell us we are great and you are the best dancer in the world.

While we danced she helped me out with a few things (not that I was doing anything wrong oh no not me) and we joked about teaching on the dance floor, but as I have said, there is a world of difference between correcting the embrace or stance and standing still while you explain a step you are unable to lead.

We left the club together Viv and Janis arm in arm, and when we got to Tucuman Janis bundled us into a taxi. I am afraid ungentlemanly I should have seen her safely off first, but she has lived in this city for ten years and is without doubt more capable of looking after herself here than we are.

I think we have made yet another friend here, and for those who think I am anti American, she is from Chicargo.

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