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, November 17, 2009

Club Español: The Good News and the Bad

Last Saturday Club Español had its first milonga in years! That's the good news.

El Club Español (Bernardo Yrigoyen 172) is one of the most beautiful buildings in Buenos Aires, and, unlike so many others, it still is perfectly preserved. As my secret correspondent related to me after attending the milonga on Saturday, "it made La Ideal look the inside of a biscuit tin." In the good old days, which were just a couple of years ago, the salon was packed every Thursday afternoon with dancers as well as gawkers who just wanted to see the famous place. The building's security does not let anyone in just to look. Many tourists would buy a ticket to the milonga just to have a drink and enjoy the ambiance of the elegant room. There is also a beautiful restaurant on the ground floor level, but diners are not allowed to wander around the building.

The milonga became especially important in 2005 after the Cromagnon tragic fire caused the closure of other dance venues in the city. But Club Español escaped by virtue of being a private club, and as it was the only milonga available, everyone tried to get in. Dancers crammed into the anteroom waiting for someone to leave so they could enter. In those times, people were desperate to dance, and folks who never normally attended this milonga went. It was like a feeding frenzy for all the tango-aholics who were used to dancing every night, or whenever they wanted to. Other nights they went far outside of the city limits to dance where the closures were not in effect: La Glorieta, Banco Provincia, Circulo Trovador, and there were lots of tango house parties.

Here we are after qualifying in the preliminaries of the Campeonato in 2006.

Because the building is so elegant, dancers tended to dress up more there. It was wonderful just to be in that salon, and DJ Dany's music is always the best.

So we were all crushed that when the rent was raised, the organizer moved the milonga to Casa Galicia (San Jose 224), where the Neuvo Chiqué milonga continues with new organizers every Thursday afternoon

And so the memory of the glory days of "the old Español" lives on in our hearts. Thus the news that once again there is a milonga there was greeted with joy, albeit that Saturday is the worse possible day, because of the competition with Los Consagrados and Cachirulu.

But, and here comes the bad news: the new milonga is not held in the second floor ballroom, but in the first floor theatre (shown above for another event) one Saturday afternoon per month "by invitation only." The theatre is much smaller, as there is a stage at one end and the floor very uneven for dancing. My correspondent reported that he couldn't pivot at all, nor could anybody else, so they mostly sat.

Here's a video taken on my birthday in 2006, where you can see the Club Español milonga in all of its heyday glory.


Kiran said...

Oh! Sad and encouraging news at the same time!

I hope next time I return somehow the original Milonga will somehow magically be restored to its former state.

Elizabeth said...

Love watching this! What a dream.
Thanks for a peek into glory days.
Viva la milonga.

Nancy said...

If I can't get into the ancient brass elevator with the red velvet bench and listen to the tango music coming closer and closer from the upper floor then it just isn't the same.

Sweet memories.

tangocherie said...

Such sweet memories indeed! Sigh...

Extra info: it was after the milonga in Club Espanol that Ruben and I had our first date, March 2005.

Simba said...

Thanks for reporting these great news! I was so sad to hear they closed it down before I had the opportunity to go there, now there might be another chance!

Joli said...

That is good, yet terrible news!

Mark said...

Hi Cherie

Thank-you for the great posts on your site, I´ve learned a lot about Tango from reading your blog. I don´t dance tango (although I hope to someday) but I love the music and the dance.