Tag Archives: La Milonga de Juan

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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Subte Chaos

Not the best start to the day today. We lay in bed far too long and we are out of milk. So the shopping had to be done before anything. Went to the Almacen for some beef for tea. We thought we would have a thicker piece today but that did not quite work out right. I pointed out the piece we would like but he cut it differently than I expected, then when I told him a bit thicker, he sort of went off at an angle. It is a very nice piece of meat for about £2.50 but it looks now more like a roasting joint.

Even at the chino I did not do so well; Viv wanted some face pads but all I could find were baby wipes. Too small so I left them. So I just got eggs and milk.

On our trip out today we had to recharge the SUBE cards, but there was a queue at the office and a train was in, so it was plan B again, charge them at Uruguay. For once when there was someone taking too long at the window, they opened the other one, so we were done in no time.

At milonga de Juan the DJ was doing no better than usual. In our first five tandas he played two Biagi  not that this is a problem for me, I love Biagi but not every one does. And not every one likes Tanturi, many are not good for dancing, so when the third tanda came on Dora tapped me on the shoulder “The third Tanturi” she said.

The dancing is not the best here either, men moving to their blind side and taking multiple back steps. I think I received more injuries than if I had been in the 6Nations. The DJ does not do it all on his own either, Juan stopped the vals to announce that someone had left some shoes in the ladies toilets, no idea why he could not wait for the Cortina.

I knew it was going to be one of those days; I am very careful when passing the joint in the floor, the ladies cannot see it and they have fine heels, but there was a crowd at this point. I just managed to manouvre her into the gap and had to use all my strength to catch her. Still I have not lost a lady.

Then I forgot that the joint is also at the back of the room. I tripped over it and almost fell into the lap of Dora. I managed to stay upright and my dignity in tact, but will have to repair my shoes tonight.

When we got down to the subte the time for the next train was half an hour ago. Then it jumped on quarter of an hour before finally settling on 4 minutes. By this time the platform was getting very crowded and more people were pouring down the stairs. When the train finally arrived it was all but full, I put my shoulder to it and managed to get us on. At each stop there were more people trying to get on than off, it was utter chaos. When we got off at Medrano there were police there and we speculated there might have been an incident, but it is the way here, we will never know.

Anyway the beef steak was good, nicely cooked by my resident Chef, who has the day off tomorrow.



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Cumple de Graciela

Off to Milonga de Juan again, with a difference today, it is Gracielas Birthday. We start with the entrada though, they have put it up to 70$ar not a great deal in the grand scheme of things, but we have been telling everyone how cheap it is. Why they have to put up the price by 40% in one go is beyond me. The whole place started off slowly, apparently there had been a lot of complaints on Monday.

There was confusion at the door when we asked for the reserva de Gabriela. Then when we sat down the waiter again tried to move us on, nobody, it seems, thinks extranjeros get invites. Still it was all ok when the party girl arrived.

From this far back in the room Viv was not getting many dances, so she moved forward. Soon she was off in full swing, although the men at this end were, shall we say, past their prime.

There is a lot of talk about cabeceo here. In places like this you can forget it, most of the women cannot see and that now seems to go for the men as well. One guy Viv wanted to dance with, but was getting nowhere. She finished one tanda right by him and asked “I cannot see” he said. So she did the next tanda with him.

I soon learned that the only way I was going to get dances was to walk around the room. Sat there just looking, I was getting nowhere.

Graciela was doing a grand job of getting us all drunk. She had jugs of some sort of sangria, tasted like cough medicine to me. I asked her what was in it “Champagne, gin, wine,” then I sort of lost count as she poured me another. Then she brought some champagne, birthday cake and biscuits. Viv had disappeared so I saved her some cake and drank some more.

It was gone eight by the time we had the cake. Four hours of solid dancing and drinking time to go home. The waiter was worried to death about our two waters, I did think about hiding in the toilets and scaring him to death but it would not go down well next week so I paid him by the door.

Then it was home to another fine piece of steak from our butcher. I paid 60$ar for this one, but there is enough for two days.

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Las Borrachas

Off to Milonga de Juan again today.

On the subte someone tried to get into Vivs bag. She keeps nothing valuable accesible but as she left the train her Sube card fell out, just as well I was behind her. Another lady was telling her, her bag was open as I picked it up. Nothing lost but it was a reminder of the petty theft here, and to watch out when travelling.

We arrived later than last week but still got our usual place. While Viv went off to change her shoes I danced a milonga with the slim dark haired lady. Things started off slowly for both of us, and one lady commented to me that the cabeceo does not work, you have to wander around. I stuck at it for a while, but in the end I had to go walkabout.

All the rules are broken here, including the one where you are allocated a seat. I got back after one dance and someone was in my seat. I though that there was going to be trouble, but when I pointed out my towel was over the back of the seat, my shoe bag was hanging on it and my shoes underneath, and on top of that my drink, he accepted what I said and moved. Viv was not happy though, the guy sometimes dances with her, now she was not going to get that dance.

Maria, Graciela and her sister arrived. They ordered beer as always, they now call themselves las borrachas. The standard of floorcraft is not the best here, I am getting used to being barged kicked and trodden on, but at least, it is good natured. I have not seen anyone get angry, yet.

Gloria was here as well. I got two dances with her. She also led Viv in a milonga, they both seemed to enjoy that. I am not sure how she manages it, she is so short, her boobs stick in my groin. So leading Viv must be particularly difficult.

They had a live band at seven, but Viv was not for doing the Chacrera. I thought she was in a strop about that first milonga, so we left shortly afterwards, still we stayed three quarters of an hour longer than last week. Things are on the up.

We bought some bread from the chino on the way home.  They have a little oven and cook it fresh, it was very tasty to eat along with Viv’s Stew.



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