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.