Wednesday, 4 December 2013


VivaLaPepa, Sunday I think.
Danced quite a bit. Very informal, pretty good place to just jump in and get some sort of start (and it helped to be with a group). Very young, very very bumpy. Crowded. Surprising performance by famous middle-aged couple who repeated one of the numbers with minimal alteration, apart from not kicking the audience the second time.

La Viruta - I think also Sunday, later. It probably matters which night you go, sorry, I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure it was Sunday after the Pepa one.
Club-style, very dark, don't bother if if you're not with a group, but hit the two-for-one capirinhas with some mates, and you're all set. Probably not a bad place to be seen around though.

La Piccola at a new venue, no idea where and can't remember what day, probably Monday or Tuesday but totally confused now.
Great start at finding partners in the traditional format. Good find was DJ man, one of favourites, v v musical. Quietish. Liked the venue. Traditional, segregated seating, therefore cabeceo, but it's OK to dance with a lady occasionally.

That very small one, forgot its name, probably Diez (10) on Monday or Tuesday
Young, small, informal. Mix of strategies but cabeceo works fine. Had a ball throwing crazy nuevo shapes. They were well thrown, much better than they generally are here, and musically, so I enjoyed this. Some youngsters could do with more shirts, though. Good to be with a group.

Cochabamba444, Wednesday I think.
Described to me as a tango dive, and that was a pretty good description. Basically a bar where people dance, kind of like Happy Days but crowded and everybody dancing tango. Loads of historical stuff on the walls, a bit like they have in theatreland restaurants here. Close embrace, very sticky floor (the only one - all others were on the slippery side), very crowded, bumpy. Interesting. Really interesting. Mixture of invitation styles. Attention started to wear me out. Hid in notebook. Was approached by friend-of-friend, a journalist, who wanted to know if I was one of these anthropologists. No, I was writing a vegetable shopping list because I wanted a break. Couple of nice dances, delightful dance and conversation with journalist, sorry to miss out on promised milonga with him but left with friend. In a funny way this evening was very inspiring to my imagination.

Cachirulo (Saturday at Obelisco)
Great space, apparently purpose-built (check it out on YouTube), and more or less the ideal shape and size, with very few poor seats. Bit bumpy. Lengthy announcement threatening to expel offenders, to disapproval of some as I later found. Formal, segregated seating, cabeceo (obviously), well lit and appointed. Fascinating mix of personalities. Rock and roll, salsa, chacarera, mad party atmosphere. On my second visit somebody actually rock-and-rolled themselves to a horizontal position on the floor, accidentally I'm sure. Whole thing insanely entertaining, highly efficient night out. Managed to make first ever Spanish witticism - probably incorrect, but certainly understood. In my opinion, much better to be 'sola' or with a female friend than with a group; groups have the only difficult seats. Memo: Try to remember to take small amount of money to the loos.

El Beso on Sunday (I think - Susanna's?).
Traditional. Overlapping crowd with Cachirulo at both its locations, and La Piccola. The room is a slightly odd shape, with a couple of pillars, and a lot of tricky seats, but it's also quite small, so you can work around things a bit. A seat in back row near the bar was recoverable by working the room on first visit. Once they clock you, they look for you - keep your eyes open and let them take care of it.

Cachirulo (Tuesday at El Beso)
Similar crowd. I have the impression that women tend to arrive at different times, and leave when satisfied; it's the men who stay all evening. This would make sense as a response to the imbalance of numbers. The Obelisco one might be a better choice for a first try, because of the easier layout. Memo: turn right at the top of the stairs before you buy your ticket, it's where the loos are, and you can change your shoes before going in, which is much easier in this particular case. For this and all hardcore traditional milongas, once you have found the entrance you are okay; hover holding your ticket and let them sort you out.

The one with Sexteto Milonguero just up the road from El Beso, the name escapes me, it was an anniversary for the milonga. [Edit: found the ticket, it was Porteno y Bailarin, Riobamba 345]
I think this must have been after the Tuesday Cachirulo. Two dance floors, mixed seating, informal. I'm not really that into this band, but sat with two friendly Swiss guys and danced one track of live music and one or two recorded. It was a fun event but I was honestly more interested in a beer and a natter at this point.

Milongueando en el 40 (Wednesday at Obelisco)
Had a really really nice time on both visits, hardly stopped dancing while I was there despite a rather painful foot on the first visit. Lighting a bit lower than on Saturday, which made it a bit tricky for some. Quiet, but good. Excellent Pugliese tanda and some interesting dancing generally.
Also, a pizza was abandoned, or at least wolfed very rapidly, in my favour. He was my favourite. Bugger, he's not on Facebook. Probably for the best. I was told I was the only foreigner there (it wasn't crowded), but the lady next to me was a USAmerican.

Lujos at El Beso (Thursday)
Got on v well, similar crowd to both the Obelisco ones, big overlap with La Piccola too. The woman who organises this is poetry in motion, and also the printed tickets are really pretty. I have kept quite a few milonga tickets and thinking I might do some sort of decoupage. Counted the last one mentally as the last milonga of my stay, since I knew the planned outing on the Friday probably wouldn't be my thing, and had a wonderfully indulgent evening with affectionate goodbyes, more repeat dances than I usually would have, and a kindly lift home.

Lujos at Plaza Bohemia, forgotten the day. Possibly Sunday but I'm not sure.
Liked this space a lot less - big and square - but it's OK. At this stage I was having terrible trouble keeping track of all the new faces, especially with the changing contexts. I was with a couple of female friends and by comparing notes we discovered that one of us, not me, had been mistaking two men for each other for over a year, with unfortunate consequences since only one of them was an arsehole. I made a mistake or two in choice of music and partner combination, but had a good time. We went somewhere else after, I think to El Beso, so it was probably Sunday.

La Baldosa on Friday
Civilised, sat with a group, dancing style very very 'salon' which is honestly just not really my personal thing (the event as a whole reminded me strongly of Tango South London, only the room at TSL is much smaller and in my opinion rather nicer - this one is very grey), but I danced the chacarera with pleasure.

Best compliment (in very carefully constructed English) (and if you ignore the pizza - it is something for a woman to be prized above pizza)
"You make me a better dancer".



Anonymous said...

Thank you for your summary of a wide range of milongas. Can you comment on the music that was played?

I know that at the traditional milongas of 6 hours or more, there will usually be one 15 minute recreational break for otros ritmos such as chacarera, rock and roll, tropical, pasodoble or occasionally foxtrot. Apart from that, the rest of the music will be clearly from the centre of the tango corpus.

What did you experience at the less traditional milongas? Was there much non-tango music played? If so, did the dancers treat it as an "otro ritmo" or did they try to dance tango to it?


msHedgehog said...

There was absolutely no non-tango music played at any of the non-traditional milongas, so I can't help on how they would have danced to it. As for the traditional ones, all had an interval of 'otros ritmos', generally rock plus chacarera, but in one case also salsa and in another case zamba. Otherwise the only thing I really noticed was that they play more of Pugliese and his imitators (I mean music that's got a similar sound) than I am used to hearing. And possibly less Di Sarli, I could be wrong. I heard Donato and Laurenz quite a bit, but maybe less Canaro. One partner consistently told me it was Canaro when he meant Donato, which reinforced my impression. Overall I think it was all core, but with the centre of gravity a few years later than in Europe. However my judgement of these things tends to be rather inaccurate so you should not rely too heavily on it.

msHedgehog said...

To be clearer - I noticed no difference in the music between milonga types except that I think only the traditional ones and the 'salon' one played 'otros ritmos'.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information. Your observations about the music at the traditional milongas matches my observations exactly (all core, centre of gravity later than in Europe). I haven't been much to the non-traditional milongas in BsAs, hence my curiosity since you seem to have covered pretty much the entire spectrum! I have to say, I am not surprised to hear that the music is basically the same apart from perhaps the "recreation" tanda.

Thanks, and regards,

msHedgehog said...

Thank you. To get closer to covering the spectrum, I would also have had to visit Canning and the 'gay' milongas, at least. And the big 'salon' one that I can never remember the name of; and El Yeite. I'm just not quite enough of a night owl to do all that in three weeks, unfortunately.