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.