Tag Archives: Tango

Tango in an age of Covid

We now live in an age of restrictions and cancelled events, so I thought it about time I gave my take on it all.

We had arranged our annual trip to Buenos Aires to coincide with the returning to Europe of the ship Costa Pacifica. These return trips are usually cheaper as they are classed as re positioning cruises. People had talked of “The Virus” but dancing every night in BsAs we gave it little thought. Even when we told people and they said we would get “El Virus” we thought little of it. We were off on a cruise for the first time in our lives, and we were going to enjoy ourselves.

The story of our eventual disembarkation you can find here 23 March The Journey Home. The whole story is told in blogs from 3rd March 2020. We came back to a world without Tango.

We set ourselves schedule where we wold clear the room and tango Tuesday and Sunday and sequence dance Wednesday and Saturday. Of course by the time we had decided to do this we had not sequence danced for almost a year. We had forgotten so many of the dances we had to refer to youtube in order to do them again.

Later on we started hiring Pulford Village Hall just for us to dance. It was in somewhat of a state as they were using the time to do essential repairs. We could not organize a dance due to the restrictions, but with just the two of us, we assumed we were within the rules and harming no one.

And so we managed to get some dancing, but little socializing. The local walking group was not meeting and the only interaction we got was in the shops.

Until we moved onto the next stage.

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Gran Hotel Victoria

For my second article I have chosen this tune, that almost every orquesta seems to have recorded. I shall be doing some unashamed plagiarizing here. It just means that if you have any problems with the facts, you can blame someone else.

For those who do not know the tune, here is my favourite version by Francisco Canaro (without the Gran); https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlVAeanW4qg and here we have D’Arienzo (with the gran) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wtXFUkzqgc

You can spend hours on Youtube looking into this tune, I am sure you will find your favourite does not agree with mine.

There is an Hotel Victoria in Buenos Aires, on the corner of Alsina and San Jose, but this is not it, as you will see. That one also is also not very Grand.

The historian from Córdoba, Efraín Bischoff, says a different thing. He affirms it is a tango from Córdoba which was composed by Feliciano Latasa for the opening on January 4, 1906 of the enlargement of the Gran Hotel Victoria which was run by Pascual Andruet on 133 San Martín Street in the city of Córdoba».

We shall present a short biography of the composer or, maybe rather, alleged composer of the piece. Pianist and violinist, Latasa was born in San Sebastián —Guipúzcoa, Spain— on September 25, 1870 and settled in the city of Rosario, province of Santa Fe, at the dawn of the twentieth century. At that city he led the orchestra of the Sociedad España and the Orfeón Gallego.

When in Córdoba he appeared at the Club Democrático España and at the Roma and Victoria hotels leading his orchestra lined up by José Ferreras and Cristóbal Boday (violins), José Aguilar (flute), José Guisado (clarinet), Ernesto Di Blasi (trombone) and J. Macia Granja (bass). He composed the tango “Gran Hotel Victoria” (Hotel Victoria), the chotis “Carmencita”, the zarzuelas “Risas y lágrimas” and “Celeste”, and, according to Vicente Gesualdo, numerous dancehall pieces, chotis, mazurcas, polkas, waltzes, pas de quatre, etc. He died in Córdoba on September 18, 1906 when he was nearing age 36.

This is taken from an article in Todotango.com. Look it up if you have time, there is a lot more interesting stuff in there.

The Hotel itself has had many refurbishments. It is built in a conventillo arrangement and now has a roof over the central courtyard with a lift to the upper floors standing in the corner. We visited in 2014 but only managed this one picture.

It had just completed another refurbishment when we there and the staff were more than happy for us to look around.

As I always say, if you have any issues with what I have said here, please comment, I am always happy to hear other views.



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You gotta love it

And another from last year. Oh dear!

After a morning on computer management, it was going to be a welcome change to do some tango.

Saturday and we are off to El Arranque again. We had to charge up the SUBE cards and, of course we missed the train. It was no big deal though another was along in four minutes. This is another reason I prefer the subte to the busses, unless the line is down they are through as regular as clock work.

Our waiter had our regular places and our drinks on the table as we arrived, you gotta love this service.

Not a lot to say really, we danced our socks off and I managed two dances each with my regular ladies. Even  Viv hardly missed a tanda.

Erwin our usual DJ was not here today we had Vivi La Falce instead. Good choice of music and interesting cortinas. She was calling something out during the tropical, I have no idea what it was, but the locals seemed to appreciate it.

We had arrived early so by seven thirty we were ready to go. We stayed for the sorteo, but again I did not win, so it was time to go home.

We stopped off on the way home for some meat. We had to do without last week because we left it until Sunday. Two cracking pieces of Aberdeen Angus grilling steak, for two quid, you gotta love it.

Deep joy, the internet is still working, so you will get this post.

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Too many goodbyes

Always sad to see the end but here we are.

We took the subte for Uruguay and on the platform we met the nice girl from the Chino. I was glad to have a chance to say goodbye. Some good Spanish practice as well. She left at Pasteur so that will be the last we see of her.

My sube card had $3.20 on it and Vivs had $24. So we can use Vivs to come home and there will be little credit left to run out.

Nuevo Chique was packed too many turistas, it made dancing difficult. Viv was having a great time though. The locals seem to know it will be their last chance to dance with her. Every woman I ever danced with was there, it was impossible to dance with them all. I missed Pauline again but at least I can dance with her at home, some that I missed I may never see again.

Viv dragged me out at seven, then a man arrived who she has not seen in a while. At least this gave me a chance to dance with Gerta. I have been avoiding her as she was worried about my cold. It would have been a shame to have gone home without dancing with her.

We stopped off at Plaza Congresso for some food and more beer. A last chance to drink Quilmes Stout and have some matambre.

We came out to see a 90 drive past. Fortunately the next 151 was not too long in coming and it was back to the packing.

We had to have some last Ice cream before bed, it will be nine months before we get Ice cream like this again.


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Drunk in charge of a broken Umbrella

A grey start to Monday morning. Viv sent me out for some fruit, so I took the opportunity to pay the City tax (Rentas) and put some credit on my phone.

I bumped into Jose on Corrientes. I love bumping into people I know here, makes me feel more like I belong. In the veg shop he opened a fresh box of pears for me and I told him we were leaving. Viv told me to give him $100 for his son, he did not at first understand “es una regalo por tus hijo” I said. When he realized we were leaving he thanked me and asked when we will return. So many goodbyes, it is sad to be leaving.

Viv dragged me around the shops again, looking for some guest towels. We never managed to find what we wanted. They only seem to sell towels in sets here. We tried the shop at 550 Medrano but by the time we got there it was closed. Some shops do not open until one others close one until four, others still open just when they please. It makes shopping an interesting experience here.

We returned to Plaza Bohemia, hoping that with the demise of Ideal the numbers would be up. It was a vain hope. The rain did little to help, but I suspect deeper problems. There were two spare women and three men. Viv was not advantaged though, because the shy guy would not look up and did not get up to dance until another lady arrived. Then he danced only with her.

We did many tandas together, but there was a real risk of . me becoming casamiento  with the few ladies. Good news though, Viv won the sorteo. They sell tickets and divide the money up into prizes. Small house, so there was only one prize of £130.Hardly a fortune  but better than a kick in the teeth.

Back to the bus stop and my umbrella is looking rather sad. It blew out on the way and several stays are broken, but it will see today out.

We were supposed to be meeting Mauricio and Kym and I had suggested Imaginario. Turns out it is shut today TIA. So we rescheduled for Guardia La Vieja. I got in and ordered a stout “No tiene, solo Hieneken” he said. So I tried ordering a pint, “Solo Hieneken” he said again. What is the point of having a long menu of beer and only stocking poison. So we had two coffees.

When Mauricio arrived we explained that they have no beer, so he messaged Kym and we retrenched to El Banderin across the road. No stout here either but they did have Quilmes so this would have to do. They do not have a lot of food choice here either, so we all had bondiola sandwiches and some crisps.

Kym brought another friend and the lads polished off two bottles of wine, while we hammered the beer. Then we ordered more beer. They are just not used to this here, we got louder as we put the World in general and Argentina in particular to rights.

Then they closed all the blinds and threw us out. I thought that they had more stamina here than that, but it is Monday I suppose.

We walked back past our apartment and as a parting gift, I gave Kym my umbrella. Well I think he has ten blocks to go.

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Final Arranque

Our last trip to El Arranque. We had our usual seats and we literally danced our socks off. Viv said she only missed two tandas. I struggled when there was a DiAngelis vals seemed every time I looked I was just too late. Seemed like I managed to find the worst dancer in the room, but she seemed happy enough.

They had the cumbia, followed by Pugliese so I had a rest for a while, then it was right back to it. I exchanged emails with a few of the ladies, don’t know if they will ever write but nice of them to ask.

Soon though it was time to leave, muchos besos and “buen viajes” then back on the subte.

We were supposed to be meeting Mauricio and Kim at a place called Lo de Roberto. It looked a right dive from outside. Inside was not much better, We found a big table, sorry the only big table. This place was established in 1890, same furniture and sanitary fittings, I think. We ordered beer and already had trouble I thought she said “solo negra” well that would do for me, but when it came it was Schnider. We then had confusion over the negra she said “Si es negra” I finally worked out she was saying “Schnider”. I think she needs her adenoids removing.

We were starving and waited a while, but with no sign of our friends we decided to order some food.  No empanadas, everything else was just nachos and sort of picada. Viv ordered a lomo sandwich and I ordered something ham on a plate. Then we ordered some more nachos.

Well the whole lot would not keep a sparrow alive and when I saw the girl scooping nachos out of a jar with the hand that had just handled money. I thought enough.

We waited until ten, no sign of Mauricio or Kim so we retrenched to Imaginario for some empanadas.

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Great night at Chique.

Our last Thursday at Nuevo Chique, but not our last visit, that will be Tuesday. Again the crowd is different, but more sympathetic. Viv only sat out when she wanted a rest and I never got the chance. I tried to sit out Pugliese, as I do, but I got such a hard stare it was impossible to stay seated. So we danced solid for three and a half hours.

By this time we had enough and it was time to leave. Viv had invited Jack for a drink on Tuesday after our last milonga, but he had the date mixed up and had asked his girlfriend to meet us tonight. Viv had her one piece play suit on, impossible to go to the toilet, so it could get interesting.

We retired to the Congreso Plaza and ordered drinks, Jack needed some food as well. Funny how time flies when you have good company. It was nearly ten by the time we left. We had sorted out the world banking, the arms race, and the presidential elections. Having put the world to rights, it was time to seek out our bus.

We walked out to see two 151s and a 90 disappear past congresso. I thought we were in for a long wait, especially as it was now ten o’clock. In the end though we waited only five minutes or so.

Back home by ten fifteen and Viv had managed to hold out, despite a bottle of water a glass of champagne and a litre of beer. A heroic effort.

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First of the last

As we enter our final week, it is with sadness that we go to Canning for our last time.  Again the dynamic has changed, I think it has a lot to do with the long termers going home now.

By seven Viv had enough and wanted to leave. Well the next tanda was Rodriguez so we did a last tanda together. Then somehow things changed, Jack from New Jersey arrived and danced with Viv. Then she had a whole string of dances. Mean while I still managed to find ladies with whom I had not yet danced. So we carried on until eight, still trying to elicit sympathy from the locals, telling them of the terrible cold at home.

At eight though we did have to go. We were meeting Mauricio at a bar further along Cabrera. Our plan was to be early, but we forget, Mauricio is not Argentine and he was already there.

We moved to a bigger table and waited for his friend. She is some sort of television executive, and it was hard for us to follow much of what they talked about, especially when they lapsed into Portuguese. Good company though and the Malbec helped. Viv though had a black beer, I don’t know what brew it was but it was disgusting. There was no hint of malt, I think it was full of pipe cleaner.

We all managed to eat something different, but I think all in all, I was not best impressed. I can’t see us coming back here.

I got confused when we came out; We had walked along Cabrera, and Mauricio had told us it was Cabrera and Salguero. I could not work out where Salguero was ( I normally use the traffic flow and it was all going the wrong way) Well it turned out it was on Medrano, so we were one block out.

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The Brits

I took a trip out shopping again. Made a complete fool of myself in the Almacen. I got some crudo and tinned tomatoes then went to pay. At the till I remembered I had forgotten the minced beef. So I left my things there and rushed to the butcher. “Media kilo de picante?” I asked “Que picante?” he asked me.  I looked baffled and pointed to the minced beef “picada!” he said. Too many similar words in this language. It made his day anyway.

Another Tuesday another trip to Nuevo Chique. Today we say goodbye to Paloma and Bret, they return to France tomorrow. There was Champagne flowing in the foyer for a while then it was back to the dancing.

I managed a dance with Mercedes, a chance to thank her for the Cuban night and pass my best wishes on to Jorge.

There was a different feel here tonight. There is always a passage of tourists here amongst the locals. Tonight though, it seems to be all British. I was sat in a whole row of Brits, none of whom seemed to want to dance with Viv. I am afraid I take a rather selfish view, if the men won’t dance with Viv then I won’t dance with their wives. There are more than enough women any way and I failed to dance with all those that I had wanted to dance with.

We never see this from other nationalities. The British come and dance only with those who have come with them. Another group arrived and sat at the far end, a few did get up to dance, but again with no one out of their group. Their leader, no doubt proud that he had shown them a traditional milonga, got up twice. To me though this is like going to an African village and staring at them from the perimeter making their bread or threading beads. To know and be a part of the milonga, you have to join in, learn to cabeceo, dance with a local, yes and even suffer the embarrassment of rejection.

We saw Anna again, unfortunately she left before I danced with her. Viv said she had not had a single dance. Again the dynamic was not good, it is always the way when numbers are up, the women have trouble getting dances.


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Last chance to see

Dancing in Ideal today. It will be the last chance before it is closed on Thursday. Rumors abound but I lean towards the one that says they are refurbishing. I cannot believe that they would spend countless millions on La Molin, which is all but derelict  and has nowhere near the reputation this place has, then leave Ideal to ruin. Hay! but stranger things have happened here.

The mix again is different, for a while I had plenty of women to dance with, while Viv had few men. Then the mix changed again and I started to run out of partners. All in all though a good afternoon and I was thoroughly knackered by the time we left.

We met Anna there, a lady we had met at Vos last year. We never thought we would see her again, but she has taken up tango, so we meet again. Graciela kept us stocked up with peanuts, well Viv anyway. I just got earache every time I took some. (from Viv, not Graciela). Viv never got a dance from the singing waiter though.

We headed off to Suarez again as Viv wanted to test out the chocolate mouse. True to form, they did not have it today. So we had tarta manzana instead.

We stopped off for some cheese scones and cheese straws on the way home to have with out supper. Then out again for tonight’s beer.

Ever think you have left and come back in another time? The girls in La Riena (The bread shop) are always the same, but not tonight. I thought it rather strange that I did not recognize them. Later in the Chino, the guy outside stacking boxes, never seen him before. The nice girl on the till and the miserable boss, not there. Somebody different, even the verdereria had someone different. It was all very strange.

Perhaps they are all buried under the new concrete outside our building.

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