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.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Tango in Salta La Linda

Look at this salon in the Cultural Center on the plaza, where the government was providing a free tango workshop and we got to observe! I could hardly watch the class because I was so busy looking at the building, sort of Baroque Gone Berserk, but I loved it; so tango.

See the little kid teaching the man?

Ruben taking a break on the salon's balcony, overlooking the Cabildo.

However when we got around to watching the class, we got depressed. The teachers were a couple in their early 20's. She took the women next door, and he kept the men, where he taught spins with lapices (torso a la derecha, cuerpo izquierda), walking taco punta like soldiers, barridas, etc. on and on with no music! How can a dance class not have music? Especially a tango class?

Anyway, I so enjoyed watching a little boy practicing with an older man (in the photo above), and teaching him how to do a figure. By the way, there were no "older" women in the class.

Salta is every bit as beautiful as they say. The air is crisp and clean--outside. But inside, everybody smokes, as there is no smoking ban in Salta as there is in C.F. In polluted Buenos Aires, you have to escape inside to breathe clean air; ironically outside of the Capital, where the air is usually purer, you have to stay in the open to avoid the contaminated air inside.

Because we were mostly outside enjoying the scenery, I was ok until we went to Manolo's Milonga on Saturday night (San Martin 1300). Inside a large warehouse-type of upstairs space were 250-300 celebrants of Salta's once-a-week tango, and they were all puffing away.

You could tell that these people have been dancing all their lives. Maybe their tango wasn't up to BsAs "standards," but they were dressed to the nines and having so much fun. The lights were dim, and people sat in groups. Everyone seemed to know each other. There was a kind of cabeceo when a man would walk over in front of a lady's table and catch her eye, but the formal men/women seating of traditional milongas was absent. It was also a very hard space to work as the two dance floors were connected by a "bridge" of floor that some people ignored and others danced over from one pista to the other.

We were asked to do an exhibition, and so we stayed longer than I should have. It was Manolo's birthday, with empanadas and cake, there was a tango orchestra, and in between orchestra sets there was a band. We performed around 2:30 a.m., and I had already started to wheeze.

Victor Acho invited us to his milonga the following night, Sunday, in another beautiful salon in the downtown plaza, but I was too sick from the preceding night's smoke, to go. I felt very sorry for myself. (At least Ruben went to the Casino.)

If the tango is "provincial," then Salta's folklore is central to the culture. However it seemed to us to be very commercialized. There was no Chacarera in the streets like I had imagined, you had to go to an expensive cena-show, a peña, where every place we went, the street in front was lined with tour buses, Without a reservation you were out of luck. It's like the tango shows of Buenos Aires, trampa para turistas.


Anonymous said...

Yo fui al curso seminario que dio la pareja de Bs As.
Quiero aclarar varias cosas, soy de Salta y bailo tango.
Estuvo muy bueno el seminario de los bailarines, tuvieron muy poco tiempo como para marcar cosas. Me parece mal que los critiques.
Segundo, Manolo es el lugar menos indicado para ir a bailar tango, la persona que te llevo no tenia idea de lugares para bailar tango, deberias haber ido a El Atico de Victor Acho.
Tercero, si hay algo que nos sobra a los salteños es el folklore, si vas a un lugar exclusivo como la Balcarce obvio que vas a tener que pagar, hubieras ido al interior en 20 min de colectivo llegas a alguna localidad del interior y te hubieras cansado de ver gauchos y folklore muy bueno y GRATIS (SI TANTO TE MOLESTABA PAGAR).
Me parece de mal gusto que nos critiques a los salteños considerando que no fuiste a los mejores lugares ni conoces todo Salta como para tener una opinion.
Por ultimo, acepto que en manolo fuman, pero tampoco es para exagerar. Nos vemos, mi correo es:

tangocherie said...

Dear Oliva,

Thank you so much for your comment.
Perhaps you didn't understand my post, because in all the four posts I wrote on Salta, I described how much I loved it. And the fact is, I can't wait to go back. I don't think you read my posts about the beautiful architecture, Humahuaca, Maimara, the gorgeous countryside, the Plaza, museum, teleferico, nor understood the complete post of Tango in Salta la Linda.

About the tango, I have the feeling that you are of the younger generation, and have different tastes. Ruben and I dance traditional tango. We searched long and hard to find a milonga on Saturday, and Manolo's was the only one we could find. Victor very kindly invited us to his milonga on Sunday, but unfortunately I was too sick from Saturday's smoke to attend.

Perhaps cigarette smoke doesn't bother you and you think I was complaining just to complain, so for sure you are not asthmatic like I am. And believe me, the Salteños smoke!

I hope one day to visit ALL of Salta, as you say I need to do, but 4 days just wasn't long enough to do so--especially as I lost one day to asthma.

When Ruben and I return to Salta, let's all get together for coffee and talk about tango in Salta La Linda! We would love that.

Un beso!

miss tango said...

Who could even say anything bad about Salta, it is so beautiful...ok, one bad thing aside from the smoke. Bring good eye cream. It is so dry that after two weeks of being there, one will wake up with pinched wrinkles, that take 20 minutes to iron out with cream...bring cream, buckets and buckets ;)

Sebastián Juárez said...

Hola, soy de Salta pero vivo afuera, y bailo tango, voy a estar un tiempo en Salta y quiero saber adónde puedo ir a bailar tango en Salta.

Coincido 100% con el comentario de olivatango, en Salta tenés muy buen folclore sin necesidad de gastar un peso.

Saludos a todos, Sebastián

tangocherie said...

Hola Sebastian!

Thank you for your comment.
You can read in the post on Tango in Salta the addresses of where we went to dance:

But this was some years ago, and the milongas may have changed.

About the folklore, I know for certain that there is fabulous folk music and dancing in Salta, but if someone is there for only a few days, just like tango in Buenos Aires, it's not always easy to find it. Everywhere we inquired recommended that we go to the tourist shows on Balcarce.

The idea is to stay longer, no? I hope Ruben and I can return soon to Salta La Linda!

Un abrazo tanguero!