Tag Archives: tanda

I’m back

Well after days of rebooting my computer, deleting files and old programs, I think we are up and running again. I don’t know how many days it has been, but I will try to catch up.

We had our usual trip to Nuevo Chique on Tuesday. Wednesday we went to Siranush again, and again while I managed to dance almost every tanda, Viv spent most of the time sitting out. I think we have given it a fair trial and doubt we will be going back. It is the most expensive milonga we go to and it is too much to pay for Viv to dance with just me and John and maybe one other.

We left early and went to the bar on Julian Alverez again. Somebody had decided to change the music. Now instead of a mix of eighties music that we could sing along to and play “Name the Artist” There was a more eclectic mix of more modern stuff. It looks like our Wednesdays are due for a change.

Thursdays saw a return to Fulgor. We arrived early, thinking we would get the most out of the quiet floor. We danced every tanda even getting up for the tropical. It was also a good chance to practice dancing some Pugliese tracks without people in the way. By eleven we were worn out and ready to leave, but suddenly a whole new crowd arrived. We would have liked to stay, but we had used all our energy and we still had the walk home to do.

Mauricio has visited the flat and he likes it. He will be at the university at Faculda de Medecino, so he walked back and found it an easy trek. He is coming back on Monday to finalise the arrangements. There is also a hope that he will take the flat on next year as well. It is unlikely he will be another Philippe, but with luck we have the next two years sorted.

Friday and we returned to the school again for the Asado in the afternoon. There was no yoga for Viv so she joined us from the start. We now have a small group going, there is we two Mauricio and Jayden, a boy of 12 years old from Canada who is bigger than any of us and looks much older. He seems to have nothing in common with people his own age, he even likes eighties music. He has a lady who looks after him called Viviana, we call her his baby sitter.

You can only eat so much asado in the afternoon, so we still needed to go out later. Anyway Friday is our night for eating out so we had decided to go to the bar on the opposite corner of our block.  It was early, we knew, but perhaps we could have a drink while we waited. Two girls were behind the bar looking quite busy, ” Es abierto?” I asked. “No” was the curt reply.

We walked around the block until it was past eight, but I had by now decided I did not like the attitude. The girls were now eating outside with no sign of opening.

“Sod this” I said there is a very nice bar on Bulnes y Guardia Vieja that we had been to before, I said lets go there.  We had a big bottle of Quilmes Negra, ambrosia for us and the gave us peanuts as well. Viv had an omlete and I had hamburgesa casada and we had a big bowl of chipped potatoes in olive oil with skins. There was so much stuff we had to leave some (Something for which the Finches are famous for not doing). The whole bill came to $200 or a tenner to those at home. We sat on the street enjoying the café life and seeing the world go slowly by. (It is still rush hour until about ten and the walkers move faster than the traffic). We left sated and happy and decided that the miserable girls in the other bar had done us a favour.

If my story is a bit disjointed, please forgive me. I have spent four days with my head in computer files and have had no time for blogging. If there are any gaps you do not understand please comment or mail me and I will try and put right any inconsistencies.

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Filed under Argentina, Tango

Curtains to you

Here in the UK, tango is taught as a series of moves. The music takes second place. There is also the assumption that Nuevo Tango means you can dance to pop music. This leaves me with a few things to get off my chest.
We were in a milonga the other day,DJ’ed by one of the best around here. Viv was dancing, as she does with a man she had asked. At the end of the Tanda the man said that he did not want to leave the floor, as he would decide when to stop, he did not like the DJ dictating to him.
At another milonga, DJ’ed by yours truly, I asked a lady to dance. “This is one of my favourite tracks” I said. To which she replied “how do you know? they all sound the same to me”.
So, I may be preaching to the converted, but I will say it just the same. The cortina is there to divide up tandas of music of the same style and by the same orchestra. So that when we hear an orchestra we like we can choose to dance it, or if we do not particularly like dancing to this tanda we can have a rest.
Each orchestra has a unique style, although sometimes (because they had such long careers) it changed over time. The cortina is not a dictate, it is what it says, a curtain between tandas that should be quite different.
When we take the time to get to know the music, it brings its own rewards. We know when it will change, we know the tempo and we can feel the difference between the melody and the rhythm. Best of all we can hit that last beat, trust me it impresses far more than throwing wild ganchos.
I am not the best Tango Dj in the world, I have to put in many hours to arrange a good set. It is all worth it when people compliment my music, but I do wonder at times, how many really know what is going on?
There is hope on the horizon. There is a new teacher in the area, and searching, as I do, I commented on Desde de Alma, thinking it was Color Tango. “No this version is Pugliese” she said. I stood corrected and impressed.


Filed under Tango


Time for some shoe therapy. We had a lot planned for today, but first we have to go to Arenales and the Comm Il Faut shop.

Roger is in town so in between the shoe shopping we are also trying to make arrangements to meet up. It has become something of a tradition now that after Comm Il Faut we go to La Tekla on Talcahuano and Paraguay. So we asked if Roger would like to meet us there. Unfortunately I said Uruguay and that got confused with Talcahuano as they are parallel. In the end I sent the directions by SMS as it was easier that way.

When Roger and Mirta arrived there was much kissing all round (even two men from Wales can learn to kiss here) and we had a lunch that lasted for nearly three hours.

We have so much in common, both engineers, both from Wales and we have both wrestled with the Argentine system with varying amounts of success and failure in equal measure. We could talk all day about our Argentine experiences, and then of course there are all the interesting artifacts hanging up In La Tekla. What? For instance was that crank shaft out of? Five bearing and big enough for a three litre engine and there, in the casting it said BMW. The severed head on a singer sewing machine? Could it be Christina? Nice cam chain! And all those phones! I had an Underwood typewriter like that once.

Two litres of beer, and two lots of Coffee, time to head off for some afternoon kip ready for the night ahead. We had to postpone the meal with Philippe, there will be time enough tomorrow.

We rejoined them at Gricel later and danced with them, took photos of them dancing, they took photos of us dancing and just enjoyed each others company. The night just flew by.

When Viv had had enough dancing I tried my hand with the locals, but did not have a lot of success here. One lady I danced with had her own ideas of what she was dancing, kept moving and it had nothing to do with me. Because I had taken her from the table I never saw her shoes, she had loose clumpy sandals that were totally unsuitable. The next lady I danced with was huge (in every way) I tried to lead, but I think I was on a loser. She kept apologizing, but I just said “no problemo” and carried on to the end of the tanda. She had (I think)two daughters with her and they decided to video as we reached her table. Well there comes a time when you should break the rules, this was it. For the sake of her daughters I opened my hold and led her, as best I could into some crowd pleasing moves. Leave them happy, that is the main thing.

I managed one good dance before we left, but the hour was late and we needed to catch our collectivo.

Now last week we had arrived at the stop just after quarter to the hour and waited nearly an hour and a quarter. By this calculation I guessed that the bus must come normally at or about quarter to. So we arrived just before half past. (No point in taking chances).

The bus arrived just as we did, good job we did not wait until quarter to.

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Filed under Argentina, milonga, Tango

Too many women , not enough time.

I don’t usually travel for dances while I am working, but I have had a dearth of tango recently and was desperate for some three minute hugs. So being between nights and days I could lie in tomorrow, at least I would not carry my tiredness over to the next day.

Viv drove the hour and a bit it took us to get to Croft, allowing me a little rest, but the rest was short lived, when we arrived as I had to help her with the shoes.

We drank coffee and arranged shoes while we waited for the music to start. The first dance should have been reserved for Viv but, as usual, she was not ready. So I danced with another, but I made up for it on the second tanda though.

It looked for some time as though we would have too many men and I would be struggling to find partners. In fact I danced one milonga with Eric, (a rare chance these days to follow) but by about the fourth tanda the crowd was really growing.

In the end there were so many women there, there was no way I could get around them all.

The room is quite large and there is no way it could ever be described as crowded, but there were enough people to create an atmosphere and make it difficult for any “big dancers”.

I oiled my dancing with a couple of glasses of red wine, another advantage of Viv’s driving. Not that I need Dutch courage to ask women to dance, but it helped me forget how tired I was.

I spotted a pair of Comme Il Faut’s and rushed over to dance with the owner. Of course the subject came up of where she had bought them; She had stayed in Recoletta in February, and when I said she should try Almagro instead, she responded in Castillano. Although apologising for her poor Spanish, I was impressed and really enjoyed a chance to practice before my imminent return. I know you should not be talking as you navigate the floor, but hey, how many chances do I get to talk Spanish in the UK?

All in all an excellent night, where I forgot how tired I was until the music and dancing stopped an we had to pack up all those shoes again. Unfortunately they are not to the taste of most of the tango dancers, but we did sell one pair to a local, which sort of made it worthwhile.

A big thank you to Jo for the milonga and Chris for the music, now when is the next one?

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Filed under milonga, Tango

A new respect

I have developed a new respect for the DJ’s of Buenos Aires. Every day and every night these (mostly) men  create tandas straight from their vast knowledge and entirely off the cuff.

It looks easy, all you have to do is put three or four tunes together from the same artist and from the same era with similar rhythms. Of course anyone could do it, and many over here think they can.

I decided to create a Milonga to celebrate our Coral wedding, a simple matter of putting together about twenty tandas with a Cortina between.

My first problem was with a milonga tanda, I just could not find enough tunes by D’Sarli, I had to add one otherby Firpo to my list. Several times I could not find what I wanted but after a lot of work in the end Ithink I managed it. It all looked grand until I played the whole lot together, then I realised that there were more than one or two errors.  My Fresado tanda consisted of three canjengues and one melodic tune; I had a similar problem with Troilo.

I have rewritten my list over and over, maybe I am striving for a perfection that cannot be achieved, but I know that every day in Buenos Aires this is done successfully.

This work has taken me several weeks, I think I am finally there, but I would not want to do it again in a hurry, never mind putting it together on the night, with an audience in waiting.

To some here I am the expert on the music, because I am able to name some tunes and, mostly, knowing exactly when they are to end. This though is just an illusion I create, I have my favourites, tunes that I know well. These I can name, but if you could imagine the vast catalogue that exists outside my knowledge, then try to imagine knowing all this music, when it was produced, the cadence and the rhythm, you would get some idea of the skills possessed by the Buenos Aires DJ’s.

These men were born into a world of tango, from their mothers knee they heard the tunes of  D’Arienzo Tantori and Biagi, we can try to ape them, we can work on preparation, but in the end they are almost as great as the artists themselves and they have a genius that we can only wonder at.

Footnote Jantango has just published an article about Dani a Buenos Aires DJ. Read it and enjoy:http://jantango.wordpress.com/2010/03/21/best-dj-in-buenos-aires/


Filed under milonga, Tango

Gresford two, The birthday dance

My second tango of the week was all our own work, we held the Second Gresford Milonga on Friday.

The preparations have been going on for some time: I have finally wired in our mirror ball motor along with some colour changing spots, on-going repairs have been done to the floor (domestic flooring is simply not up to this level of abuse) doors have been removed and generally the place has been tidied. I have been working on my playlist and have included some of the new material I brought back from Buenos Aires, but  I failed to make a printed list, there must be some way to export a playlist to Microsoft word, but if there is, they have not made it simple. This list of preparations of course does not include the work that Viv has been doing, all a mystery to me I’m afraid, although she works very hard, I am after all just a man and could not possibly understand. She does her bit and I do mine, without ever understanding each other, so it has been for nearly thirty five years now, we may not understand, but something must be right.

The day of the great event and I first have to take OGG1 to the garage, and then we are off to the wholesalers. We go about once a month to restock, so we thought it would be nice to have some fresh stuff in for the party. They have some nice cakes and meats that will give the milongueros something to stave off the hunger.

Everyone was told that La Cumparsita would be at seven thirty, and on the dot Dave and Alison arrived. People then started arriving in ones and twos, some were in confusion, because it seems on my instructions I had said “look for the Campervan” of course OGG1 was in dock so there was no van on the drive. I had thought that as most people had been before they would have known where I was. We had another problem as well, I had moved the van and put my car in the garage to leave space for people to park, but I could get no one to park on the drive, they were all worried about being blocked in. This was ironic as later when they went to leave, the cars were parked so close they could not be extricated from the queue.

When Sharon arrived she looked beautiful, all in pink and fluffy with four inch heels, a special effort for her birthday.

The dancing was going well; they were all getting used to the tandas, although it was impossible to stop some dancing the cortina. Then at nine the music stopped, I was mid dance and rushed over to the music system to find what was wrong. All looked ok so I went to the computer, Viv had decided to close the program down, because she had prepared the food, I was not pleased, as this left me with the problem of finding where I had been in the play list.

After the food we had cake to celebrate Sharon’s birthday with the traditional singing of happy birthday to Sharon,

Then we had a special treat: Peter played a tanda on the bandoneon accompanied by Patricia on the guitar. How special, to have live music for my house party, my deep thanks go out to the pair of them. Our cortina was Nat King Cole singing Perfidia en español, Peter, not to be outdone, sang the next cortina for us, also Perfidia en español.

We also fitted in a Birthday dance for Sharon, I still have some educating to do though, as I waited for the cortina to finish, someone was already tapping me on the shoulder, before the dance had actually started. I had to politely ask him to wait, at least until the tango started (or words to that effect)

I never used my camera so have no photos, for this I must apologise, maybe next time I will not be so busy and will have time to record the event. I only took one photo and that was Sharon blowing out the candles.Sharon blows out the candles my apologies for the poor quality, I should have used flash.

For some reason everyone started drifting off early, and by half eleven the party was almost over, just no stamina, we were ready to party the night away, but by one o’clock we had no party goers to celebrate with us, and so we drifted off to bed. We can always clear up tomorrow. At least the weather held out for us, the rain which seems to be almost constant in summer, never appeared. The garden was a wonderful refuge from the dancing and somewhere to sit and enjoy some food and drink.

Now when can we have another?


Filed under Dance Venues and Schools, milonga


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)


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

Chester Milonga

This tradition thing is catching on; Mondays class was dedicated to learning how a Milonga works, and the traditional music.

Sharon had a basic class at the beginning, where we learned a simple step that would allow the beginners to keep moving around the room. After this some time was spent on the etiquette. No overtaking, no walking across the floor, no back steps, and no stopping the flow, to teach a move that was not followed because you could not lead it. 

This is my favourite bug bear, if a woman does not follow what I have led, and asks what should I have done, I always respond “just follow” if she does not get it I will try again later, modifying my lead until she does. There is nothing worse than someone stopping the flow with both parties in a couple looking at the floor, trying to do something that is obviously beyond them. It is, ok, to just walk to the music.

OK back off my soap box; We were arranged around the room, men one side and women the other, eye contact being the only form of request allowed. Again I must admit to walking up to one or two women to ask them to dance, as they were too busy talking to catch my eye.

The music was kept traditional and arranged in tandas. I liked the choice of Aker Bilk as a cortina.

Sharon has taken a few photographs and has promised to forward them to me, I in turn promise to post some of them here as soon as I have them.

I cannot end without a note to say that all the women had made a special effort and were all beautiful, there was not one there that I would not have been proud to have on my arm.

Una cosa mas, as they say in Buenos Aires, I would be glad to hear of anyone who would like a regular Milonga in the Chester Area. If I do organise anything it would have to be irregular, maybe once a month. My shift working prevents me doing something on a weekly basis, that is unless someone else comes in with me.

I think that the size of the crowd we have at present, a weekly Milonga would anyway be unsustainable, at the moment. But any ideas or offers are welcome, lets get something moving.


Filed under Dance Venues and Schools