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.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Feliz Año Nuevo! Happy New Year!

I can't believe it's almost 2010!!
Sending wishes for joy, health, prosperity, love, and thrilling tangos in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


My first holiday season in Buenos Aires as a resident was in 2004. That year, on December 30, the entire country was horrified to watch on TV news the unfolding tragedy of a burning nightclub full of kids, even children, with chained and locked exit doors. Naturally all New Year's Eve events were canceled, and nobody felt like celebrating anyway.

My friend Connie was visiting from Los Angeles, and we just sat on my balcony in Caballito with a bottle of champagne. I was so happy for her company that night, but we were feeling so sad, so mournful for the needless loss of the many young lives.

There was no tango that night, or the next night in memoriam, but soon a moratorium on all dance clubs was passed. The idea was to get safety issues checked out, exits inspected, etc., but that became a whole other story.

After the CroMagnon tragedy in 2004, one of the few
milongas that was allowed to stay open in Buenos Aires
was at the Club Espanol. Dany Borelli, the DJ,
used the music of Piazzolla as the cortinas because
all other music was banned. Or rather, for fear of
being closed as were most of the milongas,
only "musica nacional" was played.
At this time, there were no tandas of
tropical or rock 'n roll, because salsa clubs, rock clubs,
all other dance venues were closed for months.
People flocked to provincia where they could
still dance tango. Starving and frantic dancers
came to Club Espanol every Thursday afternoon
and waited in the lobby to be allowed to enter.
The energy was palpable. It was a feeding frenzy.

Being summertime, there were lots of planned
tango trips to Buenos Aires from other countries
which were canceled. Buenos Aires suffered from tango
withdrawal as well as loss of tourist funds, not to mention
the psychic pain of the tragedy even for those not
personally involved.

Some tango venues such as Lo de Celia were
closed for six months or more.
Many never fully recovered their cachet.
Tango house parties became the norm for
those who had space in their apartments
to invite their friends for dancing.

To those of us who were here the summer of 2005,
that desperate time became known as
when the tango died.

These kinds of senseless tragedies have occurred all over
the world due to greedy managers and bribes
of safety inspectors. Let's not ever forget what happened
in order to prevent it from ever happening again.

Peace. Love. Tango.
in 2010

Learn By Looking: The Embrace

What is more important in tango than the embrace? Yes, the music is first but the embrace is an all-powerful close second. It's not only how it makes us feel, and our partner, and helps us dance better, but it has curative powers! The magical, mystical, wonderful embrace--almost holy.

Sometimes this amazing action is taken too casually, especially tango dancers from other cultures. Ok, grab each other, and get dancing as quickly as possible. Tango time is a-wastin'! In Argentina, couples in the milonga know there is all the time in the world to dance, to enjoy their tango, to embrace heart to heart; there is no rush. The embrace is the first connection of the couple, and from the very first touch, they know if the dance will be a good one or not. The embrace is foreplay, as it were, to the main event.

But do you know that how we embrace our partner can completely change how we look on the dance floor?

Here is an example of a tall lady who thought her long arm was better low on the man's back, and it's a popular style these days. But look at the difference: the photo below shows her holding down the man's arm and preventing him from using his upper arm to lead. On the right it is a more natural embrace--as one would embrace a loved one--her posture is better, and both have freedom to move within the embrace.

Here is a petite lady who thought her arm couldn't comfortably wrap around the man's shoulders, but look! She even appears taller!

This lady is clutching her partner for dear life, but has turned her head aside as if he smells bad. (I blurred her face.) You can't see her elbow in the photo, but it's lethally pointed at the couple dancing next to them. This embrace does not appear as if they "love" each other, or even if they like each other.

This pretty lady is hiding her face and perhaps even leaning on her partner. She looks like she's enjoying herself though, but has forgotten good posture. Heads up, folks!

Whew, this grip with spread fingers makes this tanguera look like she wishes she were leading--and maybe she is! See how she is forcing her partner's right arm down? He can't have his arm up high enough around her back to lead her properly, and God forbid she's leaning on him. I've seen worse, though, with the lady's left arm almost in the man's back pocket; looking for his wallet, maybe, like the early Canyengue days? is the touching of one with another that we become most fully ourselves. --Marilyn Sewell, b. 1941, American minister

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Week with Ruben y Cherie

Here we are in the gorgeous old Casa Balear in Boedo after performing at a holiday Peña there on Saturday.

And while it's Christmas Week, it's also Ruben's birthday week (December 22.) And so Ruben y Marcela, the organizers of Nuevo Chiqué asked us to do an impromptu demonstration to celebrate.

And then here we are at Sueño Porteño Wednesday night with our students from Atlanta, Jane & Foy. As soon as we entered, we won a bottle of champagne!

And the week is only half over!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Progress, I think

This topic of my "papers" allowing me to stay in Argentina for a "little while" has not been breached for several months. Accordingly, yesterday I went down to 25 de Mayo for the appointment I received last January, 2009. Of course no one had told me the office had closed. So by the hair of my chiny chin chin, I made it back down to Migraciones in Retiro in time to get my number and to wait for six hours to be seen.

All was in order, after Ruben made a mad dash in the heat to Retiro station to photocopy one of my papers which turned out to be unnecessary. More fingerprints were taken, another photo, more questions asked about my background to make sure I was me.

And then, o happy day!, I was given the temporary DNI which would be finalized when someone came to my residence within 60 days to give me my permanent papers.

Well after six years, that's progress, isn't it?
For that, I'm thankful this holiday season.

Tangocherie's 2009 Tweet Cloud

Thanks to Tina for her example of Life in a Word Cloud on Twitter, so I made one too.
The thing is that I'm not really Twittering all that much as I seem to be more of a Facebook person, whatever that means. But here's my year 2009 as seen by Twitter:

This was generated based on the words I used most on Twitter this past year. If you use Twitter, go here to make your own tweet cloud.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Felices Fiestas!

I had so much fun making this on Smilebox! (Please bear with me if you've seen it before.)

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Santa Delivery to Savanah!
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Suffice it to say, from our home in Boedo, Buenos Aires, to yours wherever you are, in summer or winter, heat or cold, may you have joy and love and hope and blessings this holiday season!

Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

La Peña de la Familia

Celebrate! Music! Tango! Folklore!

Ruben and I will be dancing an exhibition in homage to Juan D'Arienzo this Saturday, December 19, in Boedo.

There also will be 2 live orchestras for dancing tango and folklore.

Please come if you are in Buenos Aires for an experience muy Porteño.



Sabado 19 de diciembre, 21:30 hrs.

Baile y Show con Orquesta y Cantantes en Vivo

Valor Entrada: $15

Reservas al 4612-2528


Venga a Disfrutar en Familia!!!


Colombres 841 (y cortada San Ignacio)
en Boedo

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blogger Endorsements

If a tango blogger gets invited to attend a milonga for free and then writes a rave blog post about it, is it necessary to disclose the getting-in free card? It just might be as of last December 1st under the new FTC Disclosure Guidelines.

And every time a tanguera bloguera gushes over her new Comme Il Fauts, does she have to clarify that she paid full price for them? Well, no, I guess she would only have to disclose if she got them gratis.

From time to time tangocherie reviews books, movies, concerts, videos and theater events that are of interest to the readers of this blog. I hope it's obvious that nothing but my honest opinion will ever appear here.

I reviewed many many books for publication in professional journals during my career as a librarian in Los Angeles, and critiqued theatrical dance events for the local newspaper. The traditional pay is one's salary and often a copy of the book, or of course, a pair of house seats to the event, "product in kind." Attempts to throw the fight for cash are rare because the stakes are too small and the integrity of librarians and dance-lovers too high. A critic, or blogger, or columnist, has to uphold his ethics or his "opinion"--his bread and butter-- is worthless.

Most of the books I've reviewed on this blog I've bought myself. One was sent to me with a request for review by its author, and when I posted honestly that I had problems with it, he proceeded to demand that I rewrite the review and when I refused, he harassed me for several months. I don't think my negative review hurt his sales at Amazon, though, just his ego.

The truth is, aside from that one disgruntled author, few people care what a small blogger thinks about a major product, and if readers disagree with the review or blog post, they can express themselves in a comment. But now the FTC is clamping down on payola, ("pay to play" in the music industry.)

But star-powered endorsements sell, and big blogs with high traffic can sell a lot of product, especially if there's a convenient purchase button on the same page.

The FTC can now, as of a couple of weeks ago, fine bloggers up to $11,000 usd for false claims and endorsements paid for by sellers if the financial relationship is not disclosed.

This naturally only applies to those blogs "published" in the U.S., and enforcement seems impossible.

You can read more about it on Mashable: the Social Media Guide (one of my favorite sites.)

Louis offers some helpful hints to bloggers about how to disclose.

But don't worry--there's no schwag bag in the life of tangocherie!

And there is never any free lunch! (Unless Ruben is making his famous Empanadas Tucumanas.)

Disclosure icons by Jeannine Schafer

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Few Favorite Papas Noel

A Santa tango in front of Esquina Homero Manzi
at San Juan y Boedo

Ruben trying on his Papa Noel outfit in preparation for playing Santa Claus for his twelve grandchildren--and one great-grandson! That's our little living Christmas Tree (I hope it lives!)

Santa flying through the sky at the Grove in Hollywood last Christmas.

Christmas Eve 2008, son Jason and I went to a family party.

Jason and a Ms Claus at the party. No one seemed to know who she was.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tango y Mucho Mas en Mardel

The "season" in Mar Del Plata is soon beginning--January and February. Ruben and I went down in November to check things out.

Our waiter who doubled as a tanguero.

These photos above are from the Friday night milonga, Chiqué, in the Centro de Castilla y Leon, Hipolito Yrigoyen 2067. We arrived at 10:30 and the class was still going on. This is rather a small salon, though, and gets quite crowded in the season, so getting there early might be a good idea.

Other Milonga options in Mar Del Plata are

Thursdays & Sundays at 9:00 p.m.
Tango Brujo
Gascon 3540

Saturdays at 10:00 p.m.
Bolivar 3367
155-606991 or 155-417792

Our friend Raimundo loaned us his beach house, and once again, Ruben played "survivorman," but this time it was easy.

But really, the best thing about our getaway was meeting and lunching with another expat I've only known by email, the beautiful and sweet fellow-blogger Katie Alley from nearby Necochea, who came in to Mardel to lunch with me at the Club de Pescadores on the pier.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

La Apertura

I love little tango films! There's just something about tango that adapts itself to this art form. (Upon reflection though, there are probably lots of little films highlighted with waltzes too. Anyway, all of the cartoon features have waltzes, Cinderella, for example.)

Tangosalonadelaide recently posted about several of their favorite tango short films, and one was new to me:
La Apertura (2007), a little jewel that has been shown in festivals around the world.

The cinematography, the atmospheric interiors, the tight shots, the very young dancers, the double-meaning of the title--all make for a very charming little film.

Miguel Angel Zotto has a cameo role (non-dancing) as the artistic director of a tango show about to go on tour to Europe.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

El Dia de la Virgen del Valle

NOTE: It's very difficult for a non-Catholic to keep all the Virgins straight. A reader, Eduardo Ricardo Castiella Duhart very kindly just informed me that it's actually El Dia de la Inmaculada Concepcion, and in fact, my post last year was just that.

December 8, today, is El Dia de la Virgen del Valle, and it's the official day in Argentina to put up your Christmas tree and other decorations. You take them down after Three Kings Day, El Dia de los Reyes, or around January 8.

So according to Hoyle, today Ruben and I put up our beautiful little living tree.

Not easy to find a real tree in Buenos Aires, and unfortunately this is my third one as the others passed away on my terrace--maybe there's too much sun out there.

Look at how they decorate at Las Violetas, one of my favorite historic cafes. This below is their window display of comestible goodies.

But how they mount their artificial tree--decapitated--is a bit bizarre.

Here's our lovely little pine tree. May it grow and be happy and enjoy a long life and many Christmases!

You can read about my past Christmases in Buenos Aires here.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Festijando Alberto

Friday night the small senior citizens center in Parque Centenario was packed with Alberto's friends. That night the semi-weekly gathering was celebrating his birthday, and so we were invited too.
Because it was a bit chilly, the feast of lots and lots of barbecued meats--chorizos, pork, beef and chicken--a variety of delicious salads, fresh strawberries with thick cream, and of course, after midnight (because it's bad luck to wish Happy Birthday to someone before the actual day), a big cake.

We had brought our iPod and battery operated speakers, so between courses and between the tables, we danced everything from folklore to tango to rock 'n roll. (Sorry no pictures of the dancing because I was dancing!)

After the asador took his bow, the tables were covered with green felt and the games of Truco began. I don't know how to play, but I love the decorative cards with their Tarot-like designs. The betting was done with beans.

This congenial group also has asados during summer on Sunday afternoons, when they play a bowling-toss type of game that is surprisingly a good work-out of the arms and back. Here they are in the cancha de tejos.

Then on Saturday at Los Consagrados, Alberto had his traditional birthday gang vals.

Good food, friendship, games, and tango: what more could anyone want for their birthday?

Felicidades, amigo nuestro!