Tag Archives: Mataderos

Mataderos Lady

So today we decided to go to the early milonga at Confiteria Ideal and yet again we come across Argentine ish time.

The guide said it opened at two, now we already know there is no point in being early, so we arrived at quarter past. (I know this is still early by Argentine standards).  We thought it was fine, there were quite a few people already there and dancing. We settled down on separate tables Viv changed her shoes and I ordered drinks. All the while the music played on and on. There seemed to be no order, milongas mixed with vals and tango. Very modern mixed with Canyengue and no sign of a Cortina.

I decided to have a dance with Viv as all the dancers looked like they were learning. This is what was happening, this was still a class not a milonga. At about quarter to three Mario Orlando arrived with all his gear. The computer generated play list played on.

I asked my Mataderos lady (See Tango Passion) for a dance and off we went. Two tangos followed by a milonga, then at last La cumparsita at three o’clock. Still Mataderos lady was happy she got three free dances before the tanda. (I must find out her name).

From here on it all went quite well, both Viv and I got plenty of dances although we did dance together a few times, especially if it was milonga.

Viv says I am now practically married to mataderos lady as we had three dances, but hey she was the best there. I made the mistake of asking one of the pretty things for a dance and it just did not compare, the older ladies just have what it takes. They know how to wait.

We watched one guy just throwing the women around. I made careful note of the ones who were readily thrown and avoided them. I am just not in to tossing la mujer in the air.

We saw some faces from a past life as well. People we have seen in Maipu 444 and other long gone milongas. There was without doubt a tourist contingent here but neither Viv nor I danced with them, all we got were locals. I am not sure whether that says anything about us or the tourists, but in the main I think they were dancing in couples and for some reason they were all grouped together.

Why the organizers did not group us with them I don’t know.

I promise to scream next time I have this conversation “de donde son?”  “Gales” “Ah! I know Wales I have just come back from Londres” Or this one “de donde son” “Gales” “Ah! Inglatera”. All these I had today. There was one saving grace, a guy was sat at my table and the conversation went more like this “De donde son” “Gales” “ Ah! El Pais de Anthony Hopkins” at last somebody knew where we come from.

Off home for some pasta and an early night.  Well it would be just the time for Edisur to decide we should have a power cut. Now where did Philippe put those candles.


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Filed under Argentina, milonga, Tango

Todo un poco caro

We wanted to rest today as tonight will be a late one. The weather is gorgeous, the sun is shining and it is just too nice to stay in. So after a late breakfast and some domestic chores, we set off for Villa Crespo.

On our regular walks to Fulgor we pass many new buildings, shop fronts that look very modern and hip. They are, of course, closed when we pass, so Viv wanted to see what they were like when they were open.

Mostly they are outlet shops selling everything from jeans to handbags. We raised the pulse of many dependientes, but it was all a bit caro for these extranjeros. Prices here have risen exponentially since we have been coming, and they seem to have doubled in the last year. Far from being the rich tourists we are watching our purse strings very carefully.

Still it was a wonderful day to just wander and when we had our fill of the outlet village we walked down to Palermo, hoping to get a coffee somewhere in the sun. The Argentines don’t seem to like sun so sunny spots are somewhat of a premium, so when we found one we were sticking to it.

“Dos cafe con leche, por favor” “la machina no funciona, hay una confiteria alli” and with that she started to walk off “Ok dos chop” “no puedo la….” ok I got the message, but we could have a can of beer. She started to rush off again, “senora!” “si” “y cuatro empanadas picante, por favor” now she was not moving until she was certain we had finished.

It was all very pleasant and the empanadas were tasty, but as we saw several customers going down the road to the confiteria I couldn’t help wondering “is it beyond the ken of everyone here to make coffee without an industrial machine”. If it were my restaurant I would have brewed some up in a pan, or at worst gone to the supermarket for some nescafe, especially when it is not possible to sit down without spending a tenner.

It seems a nice day is also the time for house sales, we passed a few and entered two of them. Again though everything was far too expensive. Even though prices here have risen there is not reason for second-hand stuff to be so expensive, often it is cheaper to source new items than buy second-hand things that often need repair. “Bike for sale, no peddles, one brake (no funciona) no seat and a bit scratched only $650”

We did treat ourselves to some very nice browny from our favourite confiteria for after tea though. Well we are on holiday.

So as I said tonight is going to be a late one we are off on the 92 to Matederos and Glorias Argentinas. Now I don’t know if it’s because fewer people are using the taxis now or we are just unlucky, but the numbers on this bus have grown. In fact it was Flores before we could get a seat and we were on Directorio before we could sit together. Normally this bus at this time of night would be almost empty.

The walk up to Glorias was not uneventful either, some drunk guy sent us down the wrong road. I had been counting the blocks but it’s easy to get distracted. Still it just meant we arrived from the other side so it was no big deal. I never asked for his help but he saw me looking for the street sign and obviously that was enough.

Janis was waiting when we arrived, Carlos Anzuate was there with many friends and all of Chiche’s family was there as well. (that is Chiche Carlos’s friend and dance partner, not to be confused with Chiche the milonguero). So we were relegated to the next table.

From here though we had an excellent view of the floor and an amazing folklore show that was put on. I have it on video, and will post it after I return home.

All good nights must come to an end and we had to speed off into the night. After being delayed first by Carlos who didn’t want us to go then the waitress who didn’t want us to pay then the cashier who didn’t want to do our bill.

So as we left we had less than ten minutes for Janis to catch her bus. We almost made it, I ran in the road waving my arms like a dervish, but he was not for stopping. Janis told us she would be ok so we walked to our stop.

We know that there is one here but we can never find it so we walked two blocks to where we know there is one. It was twenty minutes later our bus arrived. So at least now we know the time. We got on and round the corner was Janis still waiting but waving at us joyfully.

The bus stopped right by her and we waved back. I felt guilty leaving her there, but at least I know next time we can stand with her. Our bus shares the same stop.

Being this far out we were one of the first on so we had a seat, but again the bus was packed by the time it got to flores. Different crowd this time, all youngsters, drunk and swigging out of bottles. You know, we felt perfectly safe here, if this had been the last bus in Chester or Wrexham (four hours earlier) we would have been extremely nervous and I would be keeping my hands at a height where I could use them quickly.

A crowd of twenty or more drunken youths and not a sign of trouble, oh! to have such a thing at home.


Filed under Argentina, Tango

More Rain

After another late night we woke to the sound of yet more rain. This time it is more like the constant annoying rain we get at home than the raging torrent that normally hits Buenos Aires. It was though still enough to put a dampener on our day.  We had hoped to walk over to Palermo and meet with another UK blogger but we were too late arising and the thought of walking that far in this weather was not a pleasant prospect, so we stayed in and did very little.

There was still one or two repairs to do and the local supermarket is only across the street, so I had a foray to get in some supplies.

Tonight Janis and Adolfo are taking us to Glorias Agentinas in Mataderos. We went last year with Janis on the number 92 collectivo, but tonight we had the luxury of  a car. The rain was making the journey difficult, windows were steaming up, visibility across the roads was poor, but somehow we managed to find the way. Janis had a pre arranged plan of the route , following her knowledge of the collectivo routes, I spent my time wiping the glass and peering out to see street signs. Adolfo meanwhile patiently stopping and changing direction without complaint.

Carlos Anzuate met Adolfo and I at the door while the women were changing shoes, there was much kissing and hugging before Viv and I were seated at the same place we were last year (apparently these are now our seats).

We had a live orquesta playing, they were very good, but unfortunately the sound system was not. There was a booming distorted bass and the high frequencies were cut. It was shame as the music was brilliant. At one stage we had a singer as well, I do not know if he had come with the band or if he was just a local star, but he too was brilliant.

This is a very large floor, yet it was always packed, people come here to dance and there were whole families sat around large tables. Children were there as well, right up until three in the morning, but they were never trouble, as they would be at home and even took to the floor occasionally. I saw one guy dancing with his wife with his daughter on his shoulders.

We had a demo as well; a sort of end of term show by a local dance school. The levels and quality of the dancing varied, but one couple we saw did nothing spectacular, they just moved, cat-like, to the music, in time and elegantly. All on our table agreed, they were the best there, and Janis even commented that they were better than the teacher.

One of the things we see in these Club de Barrio are old couples who have danced together for years, they are not big names, they have no fame and they dance for themselves and no one else, these for us are the real stars of Buenos Aires, you can keep the flash dinner shows and acrobatic demos, if you want to see real tango go out and hunt the stars of the barrios. It is unfortunate that many of the youth who now come to dance only want to imitate the stars and throw their partners around like manic dervishes instead of following the calm soulful dancing of their elders.

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Filed under Argentina, Tango

The Lost Tangos

For those who remember the 70s, just about the worst thing to come out of this era were the stark concrete  buildings, most of which have now thankfully been demolished. Which brings me to The Biblioteca Nacional, firstly I do not know when it was built, (1971) but they have brought stark concrete to a new level. There is non of the huge flat areas normally associated with this type of construction, instead it floats on pillars above a walkway littered with quotes from letters to and from Juan Peron. Honestly if architects in the UK had had this much vision, many of the buildings that came and went at such costs may still be around, and revered instead of hated.

Curtesy of BA gov

Curtesy of BA gov

The Biblioteca Nacional I am told houses over three hundred thousand scores of unpublished and un played tango, something they are working hard to remedy, by publishing as much as they can. This was not why we were here however, we came to listen to the Orquesta Escuela Del Tango Emilio Balcarce.

We arrived a good half hour early yet the queue was huge, and when we finally got into the auditorium there was not enough room for us to sit, so we sat on the floor. All the time we had a running commentary from Janis, who was a priceless font of knowledge. Unfortunately my brain ( tired from too many late nights) was unable to hold all she told us.

The orchestra was led by Nestor Marconi who also gave us renditions of several tangos. After he had given a short speech he introduced us to Leopoldo Federico  another famous bandonista who regaled us with some fantastic music. The sheer joy of listening and the enthusiasm of the audience was unbelivable. I felt so privilaged to be there at times the emotion was so great I was close to tears.

At the end, which had to come they were given a rousing ovation.

After wards we were brought back quickly to Buenos Aires reality, in the street we heard a huge bang, two buses had crashed. The one at the front was disgorging all its coolant, while the one at the rear sported an interesting truncated front and left it’s windscreen all over the road.

The bus at the rear would have been ours, a 92, so that all the passengers who were on it now waited with us at the next stop for the next bus. A young Japanese looking girl stood waiting and we recognised her as one of the violinistas. We found that she was from here but of japanese descent and it was here second year with the Orquesta, she complained that her neck had been jarred in the bus crash. Nobody here has yet heard of whiplash and where there is blame there is a claim. That day will come no doubt.

We returned to our place for a meal. Viv as usual managed to create something in next to no time, then while we changed Janis fell asleap on the couch, it looks like we are not the only ones for whome the hectic life here is too much.

We caught another 92, our third of the day, now to go to Mataderos, where we were to go to Glorias Argentinas. We have not been before, because although it is a local club of the type we love, it is an hour door to door. Believe me, even if you have a seat, you do not want to spend forty minutes on a colectivo.

We were greeted as if we were family, Janis had been invited to the birthday of Carlos Anzuate http://jantango.wordpress.com/2009/05/21/carlos-anzuate/  And were honored to be seated at the great mans table, Viv not used to celebrity, was embarrassed when some locals were asked to leave our table as it was reserved for his party. We enjoyed some good dancing here including another round of the campeonata, but the highlight of the evening was when Carlito (see freinds already, not Carlos any more) did a demonstration of jazz dancing with Janis. It was without doubt the most entertaining dancing we have seen (and I am not just saying this because I know Janis will read it) if you were not there you missed something great. I have to add, coming from a country where you are written off at fifty, and some miseries use their age as an excuse to do nothing but moan, the combined age of the two demonstrators was 140, they put on a show of so much fun and energy it would put many youngsters to shame.

Now Janis I know hates me saying she complained, but she did again (only pulling my leg, or was she?) this time that I had not danced with her, only with my love, she said. Well there were so many milogueros for her to dance with, surely she did not need a frustrated miloguero from Wales. Ah but we did do the chacarera, and it was gooood. Those mataderenos will be talking about the galesa chacerera for years.

Mataderos at night feels dark and frobidding, the two ladies felt nervous, not that I am some sort of hero, but I never feel threatened here, not as I have done in some other cities, even though we are in a very poor area. There were however some homeless people behind the bus shelters, so we jumped on the first bus. This one went to Janis’s place ( was there a plan I wonder?) anyway we had to jump off some distance from our place and walk a few blocks untill we could get a taxi. Janis very thoughtfully phone to make sure we got home ok, but we were fine, though it was after four and I wanted to get up at eight for the Monaco Grand Prix, more of that later.


Filed under Argentina, Dance Venues and Schools, milonga, Uncategorized