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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Celebrating Springtime in Buenos Aires!

La Reina de Primavera
and her Princesses, with Sylvia and the organizer Myriam Rosich.

Spring is huge here, as I wrote last week. I know some might say, enough already, but we take our fun where we find it!

And the Milonga de los Consagrados, even though a few days late, wanted to do it up big time. Not only did every lady receive a carnation, there was a Queen of Spring contest, a tango contest, and a gang vals to celebrate DJ Carlos' birthday.

Las Tres Hermanas from San Francisco and North Carolina.

For a moment by moment replay of the Queen of Spring Contest as well as most of the tango contest, check out the video:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Back to Buenos Aires Free Tango Tune-Up

Ponerse a Punto!

Idle running slow? Need more air in the tires? Starter a little off?

Often when dancers return to their home country they lose some of what they've learned in Buenos Aires and regress into old bad habits. Sometimes the influence at home is just too strong for them to maintain the plateau they recently reached here.

Because many tango folks come to Argentina during the last three months of the year, Ruben and I are offering to any and all previous private students of ours a free half-hour private Tango Tune-up in our studio in Boedo. This is your chance to clear up any muddy waters, and remember what you've forgotten.

The only requirement is that before you leave home, you book your preferred time with us so we can ink you into our schedule in advance.

Ruben and I are anxious to see you out on the milonga floor dancing better than ever, smooth and elegant as a Ferrari!
It will be our pleasure!

Offer good from Oct 1-Jan 1.

If you're coming to Buenos Aires in 2009, book your Tune-Up now!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Enduring Antarctica

Argentina is far, far from home for most expats who live here and the tango tourists who visit. Some of us are able to travel a bit and experience more of Argentina than Buenos Aires. And some folks come this far south because they have a passion for Antarctica. (The closest I will probably ever get is rounding Cape Horn on a cruise ship, as I did last April.)

Londoner Jenny Diski writes about her trip to the end of the world in her excellent memoir, Skating to Antarctica, and also about the ill-fated and brave expedition of British Ernest Shackleton and his ship, the Endurance, on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1914.

During Diski's cruise, the documentary film of Shackleman's historic voyage was shown to the passengers, and Diski's writing about it sounded so fascinating I looked it up on YouTube. It's there, in 11 parts, and well worth the effort of viewing. Amazing dramatic footage of brave and strong men and their dogs, and of the ship breaking up in the pack ice. Especially memorable was watching the men hauling the ship by ropes through the ice.
Watch Endurance, Shackleton, and the Antarctic.

If we are interested in Argentina, we owe it to ourselves and to the country to know something of its history, including the Falklands, the islands of South Georgia, Elephant Island, and Antarctica. Not all of us have a burning desire to see the South Pole, but while we are relatively "close," it's something to think about. And read about, and above all, to know about.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bar del Glorias

Glorias Argentinas, in Mataderos on the edge of the city, was the first milonga I ever went to in Argentina, way back in '97. I remember that the hostess gave all the women in our tango tour group a rose, and arranged for us to dance with local men. It was great.

Ruben and I don't go there often because it's far and we have our favorite milongas closer to home. But yesterday, our friend Angel Cristiano organized an afternoon Primavera Fiesta in the antique bar, Bar de Glorias...Un Lugar para las Artes y el Converse... adjoining the big salon.

The bar--founded in 1941-- is very old and very comfortable, packed with memorabilia of decades. And yesterday it was packed mostly with retirees who came to celebrate Springtime and the beautiful weather. Angel presented all the ladies with a carnation, folks had lunch, and the afternoon was full of entertainment: tango singers, a young trio of guitar players, Ruben and I performing a tango, vals, and milonga. And then everyone danced cumbia.

Look at the heroes ensconced on the wall: Gardel, Che, Maradona, and John Lennon!

Angel and Aldo Raspanti are organizing a new milonga in Club Glorias Argentinas beginning October 1, Thurs., from 6-1:00.

Bragado 6875, near J.B. Alberdi 6800.
More info: 4687-1782/4605-3752

For those in Buenos Aires, Angel also has an interactive tango radio program every week day from 8-10 a.m.
AM 1290
Calls: 4622-1570

Because we were in Mataderos during the week instead of on Sunday for the Gaucho Fair as usual, we were able to go to a wholesale butcher and buy a big hunk of smoked bacon! Hooray!
American breakfasts coming up!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Feliz Primavera!



I took this shot during lunch at our favorite parrilla down by the river.

The first day of spring is an occasion for much rejoicing here in Argentina; ladies are given flowers and everyone is happy today. Wherever you are, whether you're celebrating spring or fall, may it be a lovely one!

Campeonato Video

Qualifying at Los Consagrados

Last night the qualifying round in one of the three milongas participating in the Campeonato InterMilonga was held at "our" milonga, Los Consagrados. (See previous post for more information on the contest.)

Five couples competed, all but one are Saturday night regulars. There was a flap about the winning couple, not habitues, because they are "professionals." So I don't know how it ended. But we were so thankful that we hadn't accepted the honor of being on the jury! Judging between our friends? I don't think so. And just sitting on the stage like that would have embarrassed me.

Judges were, left to right, Ivone, Horacio, Mimi.

Anyway, here are some more photos of the contestants for you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Gran Campeonato de Tango / INTERMILONGAS

The Mundial's over but you're now in Buenos Aires and you still want to compete in tango? You can do it this week!

Here's the info:

Organiza: Círculo Apolo "Milonga Entre Amigos"
Colabora: Revista Diostango /
Categoría Mayores de 40 años / Modalidad Tango Salón

1er. Premio: $ 1000,- en efectivo
2do. Premio: $ 500,- en efectivo
3er. Premio: $ 300,- en orden de compra

Comienza el Viernes 18 de Septiembre de 2009

Informes e inscripción en Círculo Apolo "Milonga Entre Amigos"
Machaín 3517 tel: 4541-1652 / 15-6123-4601

Milongas Participantes:

Milonga del Centenario (Viejo Correo), Av. Díaz Vélez 4820
Jueves 17-09-2009
Círculo Apolo, Machaín 3517 Viernes 18-09-2009
Milonga de los Consagrados, Humberto Primo 1462

So if you are 40 or over and dance salon style, you can concursar and perhaps win 1000 pesos! No matter if you are local or tourist. There is no fee to enter, just to the milonga, as usual. In any event, it will be fun to watch.

So hie thee this THURSDAY to Viejo Correo after 8 p.m., or Los Consagrados on Saturday between 7-10 p.m., or after 8 p.m. to Circulo Apolo this FRIDAY.

Note: Ruben and I were asked to be judges, but we declined based on our numerous friends at Los Consagrados. We could never judge between our friends.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Con Alma y Vida

Our friends, Helena y Carlos, inaugurated a new afternoon milonga last night at La Salsera in Almagro. The last time I was there was years ago when it was home to the gay milonga, La Marshall which since moved to Independencia, and now is in Maipu, where it's been for a few years.

There was entertainment by a couple who danced two tangos and a milonga.

WARDROBE NOTE: Please notice the white suede soles of Alejandra's tango shoes--they glow in the dark and were very distracting. If you have such soles on dark shoes, please have them dyed black.

Con Alma y Vida
Yatay 961
Fridays 17:00-22:00

Friday, September 11, 2009

Memories of Chateau Rodney

I went to see The Ugly Truth the other day, (or La Cruda Verdad, as it's called in Argentina.) It's a cute and bland date movie and the only reason I went to see it was because it was filmed at where I lived for six years in Los Feliz (Hollywood, Ca.)

I'm not surprised it was used as a movie set--the two apartments of the lead characters--because the 1926 Monterrey-style building was so special. There are six townhouse apartments in a horseshoe shape around a central courtyard. When I moved in in 1995, it was a little shabby but because of the quality of building in those days, it was still elegant and comfortable. The apartments have hardwood floors, the original tile kitchens and bathrooms, stained-glass windows, balconies, and archways. They didn't have dishwashers, garbage disposals, or room for the refrigerator in the tiny kitchen--it had to go on the back porch. There were little doors built in the walls by the back doors for the milkman to leave a bottle of milk; my neighbor Marita used it as a cat door.

See Phoebe, the Expat Cat?

But apart from the homey and beautiful construction, the building has a very special vibe. I'm not surprised that it appealed to the location scouts.

When I lived there, all the neighbors became family, and the events and parties and the love that went on there was out of a dream. It was just what I needed at the time. I recently recovered from drastic treatment for breast cancer, and I had just returned from living in France, where I had buried my husband. I had already lost my beautiful family home in Los Feliz a couple of years before.

I really felt the magic of Chateau Rodney, as we called it, and when I most needed it. The Universe provided a place of love, connection, and fun for an unlikely assortment of Hollywoodians, who bonded permanently.

I think all of us wanted to stay there forever, I know I did, but the building sold in 2001, and the new owner tripled the rent, which none of us could pay. So we were forced to move on in our lives--me to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. But whenever I'm in L.A., all of us former neighbors try to get together, as we did last July, and it always feels like it was just yesterday that we gossiped, griped, and drank cocktails together in the courtyard.

Of course, for the movie they pimped it up a lot. I mean, the lighting alone was spectacular, and it made me wish we had used more of it while living there. Also it made me wish I had taken more photos. But I'll never forget the good times there or the lifetime friends I made.

This is the door to my old apartment; see the address?

Here most of us are in 1995, celebrating my birthday in the courtyard.

And here we are at one of our favorite hangouts, ChaChaCha, in July 2009.

I'm glad I saw The Ugly Truth, because the memories are so beautiful.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Tango Rosarino

Ever since I started to dance tango way back when in Los Angeles, I had heard about tango in Rosario--mostly I suppose because at that time Rosario's Orlando Paiva was the tango teacher in L.A.

So long overdue, Ruben and I decided to check out tango Rosario, and soon we were sitting on a comfortable bus for the short (4 hours) trip.

We left on a Sunday so as not to miss our favorite Buenos Aires milonga, Los Consagrados. And because we were invited to attend the Sunday night milonga, Las Chirusas, which is at the Cafe Flor, Mendoza 862.

A charming old house, Cafe Flor has an indoor area with a stage and an "outdoor" dance floor for smokers. Both floors are old decorative tile. The crowd was mostly young, and almost all the women held their left arms low and lower on the man's back. Because of our discussion on this after the Campeonato post (see comments), I was paying strict attention. I wish I could have taken photos, but restrained myself. (I feel another post on this topic coming on.)

What I enjoyed most about Las Chirusas was the music. Nothing special about the selections, all old-guard, but the sound was just perfect in the small room, and I heard new things in the old songs.

In between milongas, we took a long walk by the river, where Ruben looked for places to fish. Unfortunately it was cold, wet, and windy, so we gawked at Rosario's famous monument to the flag (huge and macho and built in the style of what I call Fascist architecture).

Monday night we taxied to La Buena Medida (Buenos Aires y La Rioja) for tango and malbec with our new friend from Las Chirusas, Hugo. The organizer, Hernan, was friendly and the ambiance in the old historical cafe was relaxed and fun. The floor was also old decorative tile, and a bit heavy in all the humidity. I wished I had worn my smooth leather soled CIF's from the night before.

BTW, the "milongas" of Rosario are very informal, and the cabeceo almost unknown.

And so we had our two nights of Tango Rosario. Next time I want to plan to be there on a Tuesday, when Las Chirusas has a big milonga at the Ex-cine Carlos Gardel (Ov. Lagos 790), which has a wood floor, is large and I hear, gorgeous.

View from our lovely room at the Urquiza Apart Hotel.