Tag Archives: La Milonga de Juan

Pizza with friends

We were again at Milonga de Juan.  Viv was having a poor time of it due to the low numbers. She did manage some new dancers though, but I was on standby all the time. I would rather miss the odd track than face her wrath. There were not even that many women for me, I never missed out but had to dance with several ladies twice. We were saved from ourselves by Angel and Morgan who had asked us to come for a meal with them and left just after the sorteo.

Angel speaks almost no English and Morgan almost no Spanish, so we were invited as go betweens. Strangely they are a couple who do not live together, but also do not speak a common language. Still it gave Viv a break where she could relax and speak English and gave me some Spanish practice. They took us to a right seedy pizza place and assured us the food was great. Well the food was good, the quilmes was cold and we had a great time.

After all that food I was ready to walk the five blocks to Rivadavia to get our colectivo, but Angel was having none of it and insisted on driving us home. So we had a milonga, a good meal, and we were back by nine.

Another early night it is then.

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More post office madness

There were three girls serving today at the Coreo, so a good chance of me not meeting up with jobsworth then. I should have known better. She was locked down with one customer, while the other two were getting through them quite quickly then, when there was only one in front of me, she served him and suddenly became a vision of efficiency. The other two girls disappeared and I was left with her again. This time the problem was that the return address did not match my passport “WHAT!”

I am making a new rule “Never try to post on a Wednesday” that is the day she is there and there really is no point in even trying.

Milonga de Juan was quiet as usual when we arrived, but we both did well for dances. As time went on and new people came we danced with them and so we were kept dancing. Until about seven that is, then it just dried up. It was raining outside so we were in no hurry to leave, we had no coats or umbrella. Then came the sorteo first number out was 415, the guy next to me was pointing to my ticket. Perhaps he thought I did not understand, but I just said “no dieciseis” my number was 416. Close call a free entry next week would have been nice. No one claimed so it was re-drawn and low and behold it was Viv. So now we have that free entry next week anyway.

I did a last dance with Mercedes, Viv was already on here way. After my dance I changed my shoes and again Juan had saved his best tanda for when we leave, Carlos DiSarli. Viv was already out in the toilets changing, cursing as well when I got to her. That’s how it goes sometimes.

Our favourite new café on San Jose and Alsina was all shut up. It is supposed to be open so we went instead to the one on Alsina and Peña the coffee was not as good but I had a nice pastry (can’t answer for Viv ). We stayed until the rain stopped then set off for our colectivo home.

Viv managed to get a seat in the front but I stood. All the way home I got thrown around, far more than is usual. When we got off Viv said that the driver was texting all the way, even putting on emojis. She said he would be sacked at home, I said I think that he would probably go to prison for driving a PSV whilst texting. Here though, anything goes.

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After a really good night with Paloma and Hubert I woke feeling fragile. Viv gave me a shopping list and a letter to post. No coffee before I left as there was no milk, this, in hindsight, was an error.

I had about $1300 in bills to pay as well. My number was called and it was the jobsworth haredon. “Su document” she said “Porque” I asked “Es internacional” I gave my passport. Then she babbled something about Gato, no cats here, so what was she on about? Now, it seems, I need to provide her with a return address. This is obviously a woman who hates her job, she will do anything to avoid doing it. I left again in disgust. No bills paid either I was just not in the mood for further negotiations.

I crossed the road to the dietetica, Green Lentils, it said on Viv’s list. Well there was a plethora of lentils, non of them labled “Verde” so I went to the chino for some milk and returned for a coffee. Some days should be spent in bed.

We still managed to get to La Milonga de Juan, we expected it to be quiet after last weeks debacle, but although lacking in many great dancers, it was busy enough. Some of Viv’s old friends returned and we danced steadily until after seven.

We took our faithful 151 colectivo back to Corrientes and set off for Kentucky Pizza. Now we both had one of their offers, this meant we had pizza corn bread and beer for less than $100 each. Trouble was Viv wanted coffee as well and the chocolate moose was tempting, if she was having that then I was having the bread pudding. well that more than doubled the bill. I suppose I can’t complain for less than £18 we left stuffed.

This place has been here since 1942, I can’t believe it has taken us so long to find it.


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Money Day

Time to pick up my monthly money. Every time I go out and deal with any sort of officialdom I have a heavy heart. That said I have never had a problem with Argenper. I walked into the office and typical Wednesday, it was empty, so I never thought to take a number. A woman was picking up a pair of shoes at the front, then she went back to the cash desk. I don’t know what sort of transaction they were doing but the dialog was continuous. Then the guy behind the counter had a polo shirt he was holding up for her, it was starting to look more like a stall in El Once. After what seemed like an age someone came in and took a number, followed soon after by another five. This could cause a problem, as without a number, I was effectively last.  Eventually the second counter called “next” the guy who had taken the first number was quick, but not quick enough, had I missed my turn I would have been here all day.

As I said I have never had a problem here, with Argenpur, always easy and always the right money. Not today though, when I gave Viv her money there was a $50 in there with the 100s.  Not a great loss in the grand scheme of things and I am still up on the last lot of money, but bloody annoying. I have to check every note from now on, and when it is like monopoly money, that can take some time.

You just cannot beat the system here; I walked into the post office, two counters open, no one else waiting, but I took a number anyway. (you don’t get me twice in a day). The girl to my left finished, so I positioned myself ready. She was too busy on her terminal for customers. The girl to my right finished with her customer, so I shuffled right. No luck some one had come in behind me with a parcel. They have priority, it seems. Actually here, every one has priority, children, pregnant women, cripples, men with dogs, Fiat owners, everyone but me. Eventually I did post my letters, but this is getting annoying.

Off to Milonga de Juan again today and as always when we get down on the subte we had just missed a tube. So I decided to try and connect to the subte internet, just because I can. It was not going to happen though, two guys pushed past us to get to the subte map. They were trying to get to Tribunales. I told them to change at Callao onto the “H” line then onto the “D” line. I got an incredulous look from one guy as if to say “but he’s a foreigner” I asked where he wanted to go and he said “Nueve de Julio y Tucuman” so I told him to just stay on this train and get off at Peligrini. Aparently they were not happy with my advice and asked someone else, who told them to get off at Peligrini. Maybe I am not a local but I spend a lot of time down here. Anyway it seems the bigger of the two guys had been asked by the smaller one and he could not help, then we found out that he was a hawker on the train. You would think he would know his way around.

Milonga de Juan was quiet when we arrived but we managed well for dances although it dried up for Viv later. By the time we left it was getting quite busy, but the floor is good and the air conditioning is inbuilt, so we were a lot more comfortable than yesterday.

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More lessons for Bob

I finished that repair to the wall, and just as I was about to clear up Philippe called.  By the time he arrived everything was away and we were able to relax with a coffee. He is off to Paris at the weekend so we will not see him for a while, so he agreed to take me to the bank for another lesson in paying my expensas.

Even with the expert it crashed out the first time, which was good as it allowed me to do it on my own. Well they now have $2600 of my money and I should be ok until he comes back. We said goodbye on the corner of Mario Bravo and Tucuman I wished him well for his journey, we will miss his help while he is gone, but I now have some notes at least.

I have to write to the administrator to tell her I have paid money in. As of the end of the day she has not replied.

Off to milonga de Juan today. We get more dances here despite there being less people, it is just so much easier to cabeceo here. After about two hours Graciela arrived and I suspended my attempts to get ladies up until she had worked the room. There was just too much chaos around her, still in the grand scheme of things half a tanda is no big deal.

This is the only milonga here where they dance to Nefeli’s Tango. Goes with the mixed tandas I suppose. Viv seemed to enjoy it anyway. They also have a demo most weeks, but we managed to escape before it this week.

A number of men were missing from today and Tuesday at Chique seems they are all coming down with exhaustion. As I was in the toilets about to leave I was asked where are we going next? My answer is that when we are here long-term and dancing every day, one milonga a day is enough. We danced three and a half hours today, not bad for two sexagenarians. To try to do more is just going to burn us out and spoil the time we have left here.

When we first came here we danced four hours a day, took classes and visited numerous tourist sites. I was only fifty then and it was only two weeks and still we were exhausted.  Trouble is, I think, people do not realize their own limitations.

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No puedo soldero con gas

I decided to take a detour this morning, for some reason we are not seeing much of our barrio this time. I just took a big loop around to get to the post office. On the way I passed another garage, I looked in and again I could see no gas “Puedes soldero con gas?” I asked ” no” came the reply. I wonder how they manage here welding on cars with a stick welder and not able to heat things up or burn off. I want my chair braised (Bronze welded) not stick welded as I do not think that there is enough metal, but maybe I will just have to trust them.

At the post office I held the door open for a woman with a baby then took my number. She did not seem to know what to do so I thought rather than tell her in my broken Spanish she would see me and follow, which she did.  Then my number was called and the girl sent me away, because there was a woman with a baby. Why she did not just call her first I just don’t know.

Anyway I posted my letters again without my passport. I did have it carefully concealed about my person, but was not letting on.

Off to Milonga de Juan again today. Different crowd it seems, leaving Viv struggling. As always it is good for me, but I must keep Viv happy. I have suggested going back to Canning next week but she wants to stick it out. “You need to get Known”.  trooper that she is. She was crowded by a local woman who moaned all the time and then sat in front of her, I was pleased to see she hardly got a dance.

Well we were rewarded with some steak and Cream Stout after and a film on Youtube by Yann Arthus Bertrand. Well you get what you can here.

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Crazy country

Viv sent me out for my usual shopping trip. First stop the post. Non of the doors were open today and some guy started ranting at me, it seems there was a queue. So to the back of the queue and a triage at the entrance, “tomo numero” she said, well I knew that. I thought I would have a long wait but No5 was called and I was No7 so it did not take too long. I gave her my letters “Reino Unido, simple” I said “Su Documento” she said. Now I have been posting letters at this post office for at least ten years and never have I been asked for my passport before, but she would not post my letters without one. As I did not have it with me I just took them back and mission failed. Put some people in a uniform and they think suddenly they are Il president. Crazy country.

Off to Milonga de Juan today. It is at a different venue than last year, now at La Nacional. Things did not look good from the start, some said that the rain was keeping the men away, but the few women seemed unwilling to dance as well. There were one or two of my old favourites so I did get dances and the quality of the floor made up for some of the poorer ones. Isabel turned up while Viv was dancing and she too found it hard.

After an hour or so things started to pick up. Many of Vivs old friends came and even Isabel was getting dances. It never really picked up for me though. True I did not miss tandas, but I was down to a group of about five or six women. Not that they were complaining and I suppose good dances are good dances. I must say this though, of all the milongas in Buenos Aires, this is the only one where the organiser takes time to dance with as many of the ladies that he can. Brownie points for Juan.

Just before we left we had a demo. It was very good, no acrobatics, but some real crowd pleasing moves. A nice end to our evening. So despite my misgivings at the start we had a really good time.

At the door a helpful Argentine was guiding Isabel. Her google app and myself, were wrong apparently. She messaged me later complaining that she could not get rid of him and he took her the wrong way.

We stopped of at Vitoria Bar, we could not remember which was the best of the bunch here at Congresso. Made the wrong choice, Viv said the toilets did not work and there was no water. The coffee was foul and the croissants stale. The waitress short-changed Viv by a peso “That’s her tip” Viv said. Don’t think we will be back.

Stopped off again at Costumbres for some fresh croissants, we can have them after our tea, with some decent coffee.

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Union Benevolencia

We did not know weather to go to El Beso today, El Arranque or the new milonga at Union Benevolencia, the same building as the Monday and Wednesday Milonga de Juan. We opted for Juan although a better bet than Beso, I think Viv would have preferred El Arranque. Todays milonga  though is not downstairs in the air-conditioned basement but upstairs in the old magnificent ballroom. The parquet floor is in a poor state but still danceable, likewise the decor is tired. I was told that this place is 200 years old, not surprising it is in need of some TLC.

We were sat right at the front near the stage, a big mistake. If we return here next year we will have to sit somewhere else. I found it impossible to cabeceo from here, which meant that I had to get up and approach the women. This was not too bad for me but for Viv it was a disaster, she danced with only two men besides me. The little guy who sat close danced six tandas with her, you become property after three, so I will be leaving her here.

The music of Juan leaves something to be desired too. Some of it was not exactly inspiring and for some reason in the middle he always messes it up, leaving us mid floor wondering what is going on.

I told Graciela about the man and she went off, as she does. I never understood a word, but she did keep saying quilombo, which basically means disorder or chaos. She said Viv should say basta (enough). But as it was the only dancing Viv was getting, well she was not for refusing.

I tried to dance at least every third with her but she was not enjoying the place which was a shame. When we decided that enough is enough we were told to sit down because there was a brindis. Basically a toast to the new venue. Well Champagne was just the thing we needed at that time.

We wanted to go out with a bang, but it just seems we are leaving with a whimper.

On the way back we stopped off at a music shop, there were some CDs I wanted on offer, well get um cheap while you can I say.

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Killing the golden Goose

Now we are back in the land of the living, Viv is feeling better and although my foot still aches I am now up every tanda again. Still we are taking it easy as we only have a week left and don’t want to spend it laid up.

Saturday I went on my own to El Beso and was shocked to be charged 120$ar. This is UK pricing, the shoe shops are all failing and the milongas are starting to go the same way. It may be true that the tourists have more money, but we are not an unlimited resource, and without locals in the milongas, why travel this far just to dance with our own? I have read many who think another collapse is on the way, certainly this cannot be maintained without another currency devaluation.

So Monday we set off again for El Beso, we have become blasé of late knowing where we were going and not double checking. Today we were caught out, El Beso has been closed. It appears that there was some safety infringement or dare I say it, bribe not paid. I never checked before I left home, and Vivs big feet had caught the charging lead on my phone destroying it, so no means of checking from here. We had no up to date tango magazines, and the Tango Map has become useless as anything but a navigation tool.

We prefabricated, I was all for returning to the apartment and checking the internet, then Viv remembered that Milonga del Juan also runs on a Monday. We were halfway down the subte, but no point in going just one stop, so we just used it to cross the road.

The milonga was still quiet despite the closure of Beso, but from the announcements I understood not as quiet as usual. I find this strange as they only charge 70$ar, less even that Fulgor. The dancers, for me, were actually better here, although I did have one bad dance. The place was full of Viv’s “old men” so she was happy. Still with limited partners we had enough by seven.

We stopped at Peron y Uruguay for a coffee. Rubbish coffee and they charged us 140$ar for two coffees. That’s £7 now they really are trying to kill the Golden Goose. If there is not another devaluation, we will find it very difficult here next year.

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Ah! Coffee

Finally I have found someone here who knows how to do business. We have bought a number of items from Casa del Audio, but when I went in to have a look around, I was pounced on. “Solo Mirando” I said but the guy followed me around, never leaving more than two metres between us. It was too much for me and I left.

Further down Corrientes we found Casa Dupuy on the corner of Billinghurst. The guy at the counter pounced and I thought “Not again” but I said “Solo Mirando Gracias” he said “Buen” and retired behind his counter. Fed up with the cost of filters we really wanted a coffee machine. There was a glass cabinet full  of them, with the prices  on the door. Nowadays the prices of these things are comparable to UK so there is no point in bringing one from home. We asked if we could look at two, the guy brought them out and displayed them on the counter for us. So we now have a coffee  machine, next job try it out.

Off to Milonga de Juan again today and we saw the return of Graciela. I am convinced she is quite mad and told her so. Every time I led her in front of me she would go off into a little routine of her own, then we would fall about laughing. Well she may not be the best dancer in the world, but for me she is certainly the most entertaining.

We had another DJ mishap again today; There was a slim lady who I had seen dance milonga with her partner, she was sitting with the Spanish lady I always dance with. So I thought I had a chance, The DJ Played  Pugliese but only two tracks the milonga was due and I was lining up to dance. Then the DJ played another Puliese track after that it was straight into milonga. The Guy who had got my victim up for Pugliese carried on dancing then gave her up to her partner. My chance had gone and by now I had Viv up. We had one milonga track and Juan stopped the music to apologize. Again I have to ask, why did he not wait until the Cortina.

Viv again danced every tanda, but complained that only one or two were any good. Crap dances, crap DJ and a deathtrap floor. I think we have given this place more than a fair chance, it is time for a change.

One lady warned me to watch my pockets on the subte and I said that this time we have had no trouble with ladrones, some things fate just knows. The subte was packed and is uppose we stand out as foreigners. There were two of them a lad, the stool pigeon and a girl, the pick pocket. The lad was pushed up against me and I noticed the fingers, she was quick enough to get her hand  away before I broke her fingers, but not quick enough to get anything. wrong pocket anyway.  In the scramble I could not, at first, work out who was who, but they knew that they were rumbled and left at the next station.

Now about that coffee; Ah! genuine Brazilian Coffee courtesy of Mauricio brewed in our new machine. Heaven.


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