An expat Californian building a new life via the tango in Buenos Aires since 2003, including information on learning the tango and where to dance it in Buenos Aires.

Thursday, January 31, 2008




Just in from Reuters:

"Argentina sees comeback of tango"


Guau, all these years tangueros and milongueros were dancing away in the salons of Buenos Aires, not knowing that tango had disappeared from Argentina.

This article, by Fiona Ortiz, is basically about tango as a business, and Juan Fabbri, The Tango Impresario, as king. The top-rated cena-show, Esquina Carlos Gardel in Abasto, rakes in 500 tourists per night, every night of the year but Christmas, at an average of $100 usd each.

Some people in the dinner-show business fret that a glut is developing. But Juan Fabbri says a surge in cruise ships docking at Buenos Aires will guarantee a full house at both Esquina Carlos Gardel and at a new 1,200-seat establishment he and his partners are opening at a cost of more than $2 million.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


UPDATE: Internet sleuthing has turned up this poster from the show, then called Milonguisimo, when it played downstairs at La Ideal. Check the Comments. (Thanks to Irene for the hot lead.)

THE LAMEST POST EVER

I am so embarrassed that I went to an event without my (new) camera, without paper or pen, and even lost the flyer. And I call myself a writer.

I feel extra bad because the show I saw last night at the Teatro Liberarte on Corrientes was utterly fantastic!

I didn't know what to expect, and so I wasn't prepared. The truth is I thought it would be just another tourist tango show among the hundreds playing here in Buenos Aires. Who needs to see a photo of another teenaged girl turned upside down?

But this bohemian cabaret in the basement of a bookstore was full of surprises, talent, incredible singing, and wow dancing--by milongueros. Almost everyone was over 50 and probably most were over 60.

And not only did they dance Canaro to Piazzola, they danced rock and roll--five couples freaking out on a stage the size of a postage stamp!

Gosh what a pleasure to see real, gorgeous dancing by real people--heavyset, grey-headed, bald and beautiful.

I sat there and planned to go back next week to take photos and get everyone's name so those of you who are in Buenos Aires could go. But last night was the second and ultimate in this venue. It may open somewhere else, and I'll let you know if it does.

Because if you are in Buenos Aires, you have to see this show!
WORDLESS WEDNESDAY


Monday, January 28, 2008

Learning Healthy Ways to Cook in Palermo






Our dear friend Ewa, the partner of the late Ricardo Vidort, danced into town with a mission to teach friends how to cook and eat healthier here in Buenos Aires. She invited three ladies (and Ruben) to come to her Palermo apartment last Sunday for a cooking class and lunch.

We all were busy chopping and sauteeing natural ingredients, and Ruben was sent to supermarket Coto with a mission--first-cold-press-virgin olive oil (he said, Que??) and ginger.



So we made a pureed squash soup, chicken breast with soya and ginger, brown rice, and a fantastic salad of arugula, radichetta, grated carrot, lots of fresh chopped garlic, and walnuts (Ruben couldn't get with the walnuts; he said they were dessert, not salad--muy conservador!)



He may be conservative in the ways he likes to eat (meat, onions, potatoes, lettuce, meat), but he brought along two bottles of white wine that just were the perfect touch to a delicious and healthy meal.





Ewa Kielezewska, originally from Europe, now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, creating amazingly beautiful clothing from soft suedes. Check out Ewka, her website.


Ropa Vieja in the Elegant Club Espanol












Our tanguero friend Raimundo (the one who has the short-term rental apartment on Corrientes) invited Ruben and me and a student of ours to attend his tango show on Saturday night. We went to the elegant Club Espanol after the milonga in Region Leonesa to see Ropa Vieja; (un poco de cada cosa). Se dice, se baila, se canta...


The show, held in the first floor ballroom (not the second floor salon where the fabulous milonga used to be on Thursdays) had two guitarists, two young dancers, and three singers. It was all about the many forms of tango: spoken, sung, danced, lived. We enjoyed the show, but the best part honestly was being back in that gorgeous building where Ruben and I have so many wonderful memories!

Gavito Biography: Yo Queria Bailar




I'm sure the life of Gavito--maybe more legend than fact--will be good reading. To be published in February in Spanish, an English translation is promised for the end of the year.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tigre For Christmas













Puerto la Pista was one of the few places to stay open for Christmas. My friend Ellen found in on the net, and we reserved a cabin for Dec. 24 & 25. Both of us expats, we wanted to leave the lonely concrete jungle that is Buenos Aires on Christmas and see some greenery and nature.

Even the 90 minute trip in the lancha to get to the island in the Rio Parana was spectacular. And the resort itself, with only 8 cabins and a small marina, was so relaxing and tranquil. There was absolutely nothing to do and so that's what we did. Ellen did take lots of photos (these are a few.) And I read.

At night we listened to the waves lapping the shore and the wind in the trees. Sigh.

Can't wait to go back.




Wednesday, January 23, 2008

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY




Carl Warner is an outstanding, incredible still-life photographer of inanimate objects made to appear what they are not. I call this one, TangoFlower. Take a peek at his website; you won't believe your eyes!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Falling for Las Cataratas de Iguazu!




This background is so gorgeous that it looks fake, but it really is tangocherie and Ruben standing at the front of a rubber boat right before we zoom under the falls.

When we got our first good look of this amazing spectacle of nature, it brought tears to my eyes, although we were rushing to follow instructions to hurry, get the life vests on, sit down, cover your cameras, put belongings in waterproof bags, etc.

And then we were off to shoot the rapids! Everyone on the boat knew we would get soaked, but I don't think we believed HOW soaked!

So finally I realized a dream of seeing Iguazu.
My complaint? (And you know I have one!)
The way the national park is organized to get the maximum number of tourists in and out in a day, I felt rushed. Beautiful catwalks are built all over the falls, with lookouts, but you have to keep moving, whether it's on the catwalks, on a truck, or a train, or the best--a boat. There's no time to just watch and wonder. No place to look at the falls and have a picnic. No moment to contemplate the power of nature and the energy of water, the beauty of the ever-present rainbows.

We were there for 4 days, but spent only 5 hours at the falls, even less time than that actually seeing water (well if you don't count the hotel pool.)

We went without a hotel reservation, we called and called to no avail, and ended up at the Hotel Latino. Could have been worse. But honestly, I'm sorry that we didn't scrape up money from somewhere to stay at the Sheraton within the park, where the falls are visible 24/7. I mean the price difference is huge, but maybe for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it's worth it.

NOTE: For all your transportation needs in Iguazu, airport transfers, shopping excursions to Paraguay, daytrips to Brazil, we highly recommend Martin Maldonado, a young man who really knows his way around in an air conditioned car: 03757-15537966.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Seduced by the Notes




Pianist Glover Gill found his calling composing and performing tango music

Years ago when I was still living in Los Angeles, I read in the paper that a trendy club on the Sunset Strip, The Viper Room, was hosting a tango orchestra from Austin, Texas, Tosca.

I went with a tanguero friend, and was amazed on two counts:
the nine-piece orchestra with Glover Gill's accordion, was fantastic. And nobody in the club, besides us, could care less.

The music was tango all right, original compositions of Gill. But the people who packed the small club that night was too busy drinking, talking, celebrating birthdays, to even notice. My partner and I were the only ones who even tried to dance, but it was a disaster as there was no dance floor, just an open space in front of the small stage, where people stood, clutching their cocktails.

Anyway, I bought the two CDs they had to sell that night, and later on I bought the Waking Life film soundtrack that Gill composed the music for.

Now Gill has several more recordings out, which you can read about on his website.

As he says in this interview in the Houston Chronicle,

This has pretty much bitten me on the throat and won't let go.

That's something that we dancers can understand.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Truffles Take a Holiday




The hardest time for expats is the holidays.

So it's no wonder that sometimes we crawl into a hole, refrain from blogging about our so-boring-to-everyone-else pain, and just try to survive until it gets better.
This is kinda related to my previous post about hitting the wall; it's no accident, I'm sure, that several blogs went inactive recently. It's that tough time of year. Or maybe blogs have a predetermined life-span of their own, like relationships.
What I do when I'm down either physically or mentally and most often it's both at the same time, is read.

So I've been hitting the books.
A couple have been absolutely fantastic: Water for Elephants and Suite Francaise.
And a couple others have started me thinking along different lines, not always a good idea.

Flashback: several years ago when I lived in Mexico, I met another expat who also danced tango. She had written a book of correspondence between herself and her boyfriend, who lived in the States. She used to sell it on Valentine's Day at autograph parties. I was impressed with the romantic and beautiful writing of her boyfriend, who I had met and truthfully I didn't think he had it in him.

Well, one day she let it slip that he hadn't written those letters at all; that she wrote what she wished he would have written! (Nowhere in the book or on her website did she state this little fact.)

Flashforward: so I've been reading a lot, as I said. And it so happens that many of the titles were very similar: lush memoirs by American/Australian ladies of whiling time away in Europe with their be-smitten and handsome Eueopean lovers, cooking and eating fabulous food, chatting up the charming locals, and including the recipes to make the rest of us without access to such ingredients drool even more.

Oh yeah, usually these ladies are restoring ancient palacios, chateaux, convents, or barns in which to live. Sigh. Rarely any comments about money worries, or details of the handsome European lovers and how they earn their living, or problems with visas or papers.

So I read Kim Sunee's Trail of Crumbs; Hunger, Love and the Search for Home, (she actually tells us all about her lover, but then Kim is only 25 and gorgeous, which can explain a lot.)

I read Malena de Blasi's The Lady in the Palazzo.



I read Eat Pray Love;One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Of course I've read Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes and all of its clones.

Where was I?
Oh yes, my point is that in these memoirs, the sun always shines in Provence, the buildings are always ancient and charming, it only rains first-pressed virgin olive oil in Tuscany and Umbria, and no one eats anything without truffles--well you get my drift. And you've probably read all these books too.

Guys, too, have written this way, only with fewer recipes, and it all began with Peter Mayle. Tony Cohan tried to pull it off in Mexico (my town of San Miguel de Allende, in fact), but he's just not funny, and the Mexicans aren't French (but almost).

My point is that for bloggers writing away a couple of times a week and then running it up the public flagpole, maybe the truth of an expat life is raw and naked--not perfumed and poetic or polished like the memoirists. There's no time to edit one's life let alone one's daily blog plus recipes.

It's not easy, folks. And whether some of us put ourselves out there when we're down or others crawl into their home libraries, it's just survival. Even if we have a handsome local boyfriend (Yay, Ruben!), even if we manage the language, even if we have a nice place to live and even if it's not ours, even if we can dance tango whenever we want, still we are SO far from home. Especially at the holidays.

Just in: Caroline of Tangospeak, and Miles of TangoBliss, have taken their blogs down.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


When passion hits the dance floor, it's called Tango.
His face on hers, her hands in his, two bodies moving as one…

CBS NEWS VIDEO ON NY TANGO FESTIVAL

A friend and student sent me this news video report link.

She attended this festival at Columbia University, along with more than 300 other dancers.
Organized by Argentinian Mariella Franganillo, I hear it was a great success.

I wasn't there, but the video continues the common media pose concerning tango of, Ooh, how naughty! Showing the reporter, CBS News correspondent Bianca Solorzano. learning a high leg wrap and blushing to her partner and the audience, I think we are now married in at least three countries!

And with, and after, all the hype, none of the couples shown in the video have any of the touted passion, two bodies moving as one, etc. If a watcher didn't know any better, he would ask, what the heck are they talking about?

I did really like, though, Mariella's comments on
"the conversation" between the two bodies and souls in tango.

The tango take in this report is oh so North American. I can not even imagine a similar attitude of the press here in Argentina. Will American morals ever get out of adolescence? Let's grow up already and get on with things in perspective. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hitting the Wall?

Things have changed in blogger-land. Many bloggers no longer keep up their blogs which probably will stay in orbit forever like space trash, if no one hits the delete button and takes them down.

Many other bloggers have initiated passwords and are keeping their writing private for only a select few. Some write the occasional post about the weather for the public, and then save the juicy stuff for those with passwords.

A very few bloggers have carved deep holes of trouble for themselves by a few sentences on their sites; they've been threatened with law-suits, persecution, shunned in their own communities at the very least by those they've written about.

Someone even said that the internet and blogs have flushed themselves down the toilet.

Is the honeymoon over?

It's true, at the beginning when everyone and his uncle started blogs and blogged about intimate details that few people really wanted to know, blogs were an Open Sesame to the internet and 15 minutes of fame. And some bloggers went berserk, displaying themselves and all their dirty linen to anybody who cared to read about it.

Someone even might say there was too much freedom in cyberspace.

As for me, I've been blogging for 2 years now, and never received spam or comments I didn't publish. The worst I got was my post about Melina Brufman dancing topless tango, but I just got a big kick out of all the defenders (mainly Melina and her staff), and felt good about the power of the word.

I do hope that blogging isn't becoming passé, because I for one really enjoy reading the posts of others and writing my own posts. I have learned so much from blogging. I have a feeling though that soon blogs will be more sanitized and more commercial--much lest venting and vomiting.

When blogging becomes like that--all slick and smooth--some of us will have to find another way to communicate with the world and express ourselves.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Letter From Bombay

LE
















Dear Cherie y Ruben,
I hope I can come back very soon. I had a lovely time and precious memories of you all . also I am grateful for the help you gave when I needed to move out from where I was. You and Ruben were kind to me and I will remember it. also my classes, where not only did I learn tango but also to become tranquil!!! I shall forever remember escuchar, sentir y bailar. and your translations.
Also in retrospect I think it was so daring of me to go to a milonga as soon as I landed!!
I hope the new year brings you and Ruben many new wonderful students and experiences.
Please keep in touch and let me know when you write any more blogs.
love,
Divya
Bombay

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tango-Tagged!



Johanna tagged me, and so did Lexa as well as Danzarin. See what chaos comes about just because you leave town for a couple of days?

The problem now is finding 7 untagged tango bloggers at this point, so I'm just going to let those of you out there who haven't participated yet to tag yourselves (and you know who you are!)

I did a similar meme a while ago here, and a photo Me and Not Me meme here. So now the blogosphere knows way more than it ever wanted to about tangocherie!

The Tango Tag Rules:

1.) Post the rules on your blog
2.) Link to the person who tagged you (see above link).
3.) Share seven random and/or weird things about yourself.
4.) Tag seven people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
5.) Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

My Weird Past

1) I was a Supernumerary with American Ballet Theatre and was on stage with the likes of Baryshnikov, Natasha Markarova, Fernando Bujones;

2) I had my 5th chemo treatment in Paris in order to be with my fiancé;

3) I started a woman's sexual health company (vive la différence!) that was so innovative and before its time that I lost my shirt;

4) I've traveled to Cuba 6 times;

5) I wrote a non-fiction book about parenting children in the arts, Coffee Shop Dreams, that never saw the light of day;

6) I don't like popcorn, soda pop, ice cream, candy, beer or chocolate; (now that's pretty weird, isn't it?)

7) I once blew out the speakers on my car stereo playing the original cast album of Phantom of the Opera. I also went to see the show with Michael Crawford three times! How's that for weird and creepy, just remember it was in the '80's!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY






Here's where I was on Wednesday--the Cataratas de Iguazu! I've waited all my life to see this, and it was worth it!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

El Ultimo Adios




It made all the papers, even the weeklies of tiny U.S. backwaters.
Julio Bocca gave his final farewell performance in Buenos Aires last month. It was huge (in more ways than one). A temporary stage built at the Obelisco on the "widest boulevard in the world," 9 de Julio, showcased his last and final final performance after a year of touring his farewell show. With the help of giant video screens, the 12 blocks of viewers filled the avenue to see the ultimate leaps and lifts of Argentina's superhero ballet icon.

I'm sure he doesn't like to be called "the Baryshnikov of South America," but newscasters around the world liken Bocca to the Russian dancer who became a household word in the United States.

Bocca is his own man. He doesn't need references. From the time he won the 1985 Gold Medal in Moscow at age 18 in the International Ballet Competition, he's gone for it. Baryshnikov, himself a gold medal winner, immediately grabbed him for American Ballet Theatre.

A huge success in the United States and around the world, Julio remained a superstar in his own country. After performances in Buenos Aires, fans mobbed him as if he were Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney.

I didn't attend the free outdoor show, but I was so glad the city was coughing up to give back to the people who idolized one of their own. One week later it was televised, and I suppose the city got their money back.

I watched the televised performance, but sadly it was only a souvenir of previous greatness. I've been tracking Bocca since the '80's, I've seen him at his most amazing: Manon, Hermano Cruel, classical roles, and above all, the fabulously original, El Hombre en la Corbata Roja. His ultimate farewell showed it was time to go. Low camera angles tried to make him soar higher, black tights camouflaged cellulite, unfortunately male ballet dancers are over the hill at thirty-five, and Bocca has managed to make it to forty.

Congratulations all around, and he will continue, not as Nureyev as a sad echo of his former glory, but more like the Baryshnikov of the "Western Hemisphere," intelligently choosing time and place and appropriate roles to continue his artistic growth.


How Addictions Begin

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Face of Pagliacci













Kirk Douglas






He has the face of Pagliacci, sometimes the mercurial masks of comedy or tragedy. He could have been a fantastic actor. He can be handsome or ugly or look like an innocent child. When his hair is long he reminds me of Beethoven. Sometimes Kirk Douglas. He has the head of a lion. His mouth has the square lower lip of comic book heroes. I never tire of looking at his face.

And if he has the face of Pagliacci, he also has the heart.


Placido Domingo as Pagliacci




















Tango Lessons, Tango Tours, Tango Taxi Dancing 2010





About us: our tango classes are bilingual, and concentrate on the music, embrace, connection, improvisation, and sensuality of tango milonguero, the most popular and traditional style of the Buenos Aires milongas, where we are well-known. We do not dance stage tango, and do not teach choreography. We've been dancing together for more than four years, and were finalists in the Campeonato Metropolitano de Tango de Buenos Aires 2006.





I've been dancing tango since 1997, and have studied with Fernanda y Guillermo, Julio y Carina, Francisco y Natalia, Suzuki Avellaneda, Juan Bruno, Nito y Elba, Fabian Salas, Gustavo Naveira, and, most of all, Carlos Gavito.







Ruben has been dancing tango in the milongas of Buenos Aires since 1980. He came to the tango from a background of folklore and rock 'n roll.

What Ruben and I offer for dancing tango in Buenos Aires:

Private lessons for one person with Ruben and me, 1 hour; for a couple, 1 1/2 hours; (rates on request)



Note: With lots of tango teaching experience, we feel that it's better to start out with a few private lessons to make sure you don't develop bad habits (which can take years to break), and learn the fundamentals of technique before you learn steps and figures. After you develop a base of tango technique, then it can be fun to take group classes to meet new people.





Here in Buenos Aires, "everyone" is a tango teacher, even if they've had only ten lessons more than you. Cheap lessons aren't necessarily the best. There are shoe stores and hotels which offer free lessons. But sometimes you get what you pay for.


Group classes: to be arranged

Packages: a discount given when purchasing a package of classes and/or other tango services in advance;

Milonga accompaniment with both of us, explaining the codigos, etc., including entrance fees, soft drink, transportation to and from our studio in Boedo. (Discount given if a private student.)

Taxi Dance Service: Ruben or I will accompany and dance with a client in the milonga of their choice--$30 usd/hour -- two hours minimum, plus expenses (transportation, entrance, soft drink.)

If you are a tanguera from out of town and only have a brief time in Buenos Aires and want to dance as much as possible, Ruben's professional milonga accompaniment will allow you to hit the ground dancing! Everyone looks at who Ruben dances with! A great way to kick-start your tango vacation! Ruben is one of the very few milongueros who offer this service; the agencies use tangueros with much less experience.

Ruben does not sit at a table with his client but a short ways away, always with his eye on her, thus allowing other men to cabeceo her for a dance. This arrangement also looks more natural and will help the lady dance more when she goes alone to the milonga the next time.




Two-Day Intensive Tango Tour: a one-hour private tango lesson, coffee in an historic cafe, a parrilla lunch or dinner (not including drinks), a cultural/historical excursion, tango shoe shopping, a milonga accompaniment, transportation between activities: Inquire about rates for your private tour.




Escorted Day Trips to the Gaucho Fair at Mataderos, La Boca and Caminito, and to the Delta of Tigre.

We also can advise and help with music and CDs.

All of our friends and students are invited to join us at our table in La Milonga de los Consagrados, Saturdays from 7:00-10:00, Humberto Primo 1462. Please just let us know in advance that you are coming so we can save room.





Here's a video that shows some of our Tango Services:






YES, we accept credit cards in advance by way of safe and secure PayPal.

Hasta pronto!

FOR TESTIMONIALS: please see the Comments, or email me for referrals.