After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Great Cafés: Confitería Ideal, Buenos Aires

An article by Terence Clarke, part of The Great Cafes series,
came out yesterday, the same time as my local rag, Desde Boedo, published a poetical piece, Buenos Aires 41 en la Ideal, by Edgardo Lois.

La Ideal has been a significant presence in my tango life. A previous post, Midnight Service at the Church of Tango, likens the old hall to a cathedral. The Tango Ghost lives there, as well as the spirits of thousands of great dancers, musicians, wannabees, and lookyloos. La Confiteria Ideal has been the center of Tango Buenos Aires for milongueros, tourists, movies, encuentros for decades--if the walls could talk, they would recite an encyclopedia of stories.

I myself in my 11 years of dancing tango, have at least one book of stories and tango tales from La Ideal.

Not much has changed since I first went there in 1997, when there was no running water in the ladies' room.

That has been more or less repaired, as well as a big hole in the granite dance floor, but everything else just continues to deteriorate. Oh the clothes I've ruined on the splintered old wooden chairs! The personal relationships I've made and lost and watched in the tarnished mirrors lining the walls.

The famous incident of a couple of years ago when a chandelier fell onto a milonguero whose wife thought he had gone out to make photocopies. Maybe a result of the Phantom of La Ideal taking revenge on all the married people who go there secretly to dance?

Everyone who has danced tango in Buenos Aires has a story of La Confiteria Ideal. Even though I rarely go there anymore (without a student), long may this faded Belle Epoch temple of tango stand.
May el duende de tango live long and prosper in La Ideal.


Anonymous said...

I "heart" La Ideal...


Anonymous said...

La Ideal is beautiful, just beautiful. It has a something.

I'm sorry we've missed each other so far - this weekend my tango path completely went in another direction!

Well, I'll be here for a while. And I do plan on seeing you :-) Let me know what your milongas are this week, etc...

NYC Tango Pilgrim said...

It is not my favorite milonga. But the place has its own vibes. And I have met some interesting people there. Will be back one of these days during my stay.

See you and Ruben at the Los Consagrados this Sat..

tangobaby said...

Thank you for bringing back such wonderful memories of my big night at Ideal. And the lovely afternoon dances with the sweet milongueros.

Because it was the only place I really knew of (because of the tango movies) before I went to BA, it was the moment where I really wanted to pinch myself and say, "I'm here! I made it!"

I still have a pair of shoes covered in the dust of Ideal's floor and I will never polish them.

(And I hope the chandeliers have stopped falling down.)