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.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Where Have All the Theaters Gone?

The famous corner of San Juan y Boedo still bustles after San Lorenzo wins a football game and during the Murgas.

But here in the old Barrio de Tango, it used to be where the elite meet and greet.

The famous cafe on the corner, Esquina Homero Manzi, was the in place to have coffee after going to the theater and then dancing a half a block away in what is now Rodo, a big appliance store. The only sign of the building's old glory days is a large golden angel plaque high up on the back wall, so out of place now in this big bare white space full of refrigerators and vacuum cleaners.

A few decades ago, instead of shorts and flipflops, beautiful people wearing suits and furs came here to dance tango and hear the best live orchestras. And then went to the corner to hang out with Homero Manzi, the famous composer of Sur, and other tango notables.

Two blocks down Boedo, is the Coto supermarket where we shop. I don't know what it was before, but if you stand back you can see it once was a gorgeous elaborate building like so many that have vanished from old Buenos Aires.

I lament that my barrio has no cine, but the building is still there, just a half block away; now it's an evangelical revival temple. Here you can see it from my terrace. Sometimes I can hear the hymn singing on Sundays. But when I want to catch a film, I have a ways to go.

I can only imagine what it used to be like living in Boedo, el barrio de tango.


Elizabeth said...

I remember walking around in the neighborhoods in BA and realizing how layered the city is. A plastic store front over old ornate structures that you have to look hard to see. It is pretty sad in a way, but I suppose all places have these layers. My house is built over land in a neighborhood where the tu-toob-yek group of North Coast indians had at least seven long-houses. No one really thinks about it.

Johanna said...

During the '20s and early '30s, downtown LA used to be the movie palace capital of the world. Over 30 stunning "palaces" lined Broadway and other avenues. Today, only a handful remain - and most of them have been converted to churches or had their sloped floors leveled and turned into retail and storage space.

For a short time, me and my sweetie were training as tour guides of the historic spaces for the LA Conservancy.

Simba said...

Interesting post. Living in Boedo, do you happen to know what happened to the good old "Galería del tango"?

I remember taking classes and going to práctica there back in 2001, but no tango there in later years as far as I know. Quite a few (old) videos on youtube filmed there as well.

tangocherie said...

Tu-Toob-Yek is such a fabulous name!

I was a "charter" member of the L.A. Conservancy myself, along with my husband, and attended all of the first season's series of "Best Remaining Seats." Dressed in 30's garb, we trekked all over L.A., to San Gabriel, Santa Barbara, and even to Catalina to view old films in old places--most of them accompanied by the old organist, Gaylord Carter. It was SO much fun, and did a lot to bring attention to the gorgeous old theaters.

But here in Buenos Aires, only the foreigners lament the loss of old places.

Hi Simba,
I remember the Galleria. In '98 or '99, I took a wonderful class there with Olga Besio. Later on the space was chopped up and it exists as grim offices and retail space. There still is a Salon de Fiestas upstairs though.