Thursday, March 20, 2008

Scouting tour from Buenos Aires

Hola Tangueros!

Es muy caliente en BsAs ahora, pero soy feliz.

The most difficult thing so far about this trip is finding a locutorio with good computers with fast connections, and relearning how to type on a standard keyboard (not an ergonomic one).

The CITA classes so far have been pretty good, with Tete as my favorite maestro. The shows have been great. The CITA milongas suck though, with lots of international tango heads doing fancy, big moves on a very crowded social dance floor, with lots of long legs and flying spiked heels in the air. I´ll go to the one tonight, but only because the old milongueros (Tete, Flaco, Nito & Elba) will be performing. Other than that, I think I will pass on the other CITA milongas and just go on my own to the real deal local milongas (they say La Baldosa is pretty good, and I want to go to Sunderland again, though that means I will miss any other Saturday night milongas).

One great thing about CITA is that they have balanced all the classes by bringing in extra local student teachers, who are typically intermediate to excellent dancers themselves (with most being excellent). I even saw and had the pleasure of dancing with Miguel, the Dinzelito who helped us during our four lessons at the Dandi in August. He is the native American/Asian looking leader who sold his paintings at the end of our lessons. Someone said Pamela might be here for CITA, but I haven´t seen her. Buenos Aires is probably the only place on the planet that has enough leaders where they could do this (balance the classes both by sex and skill).

On Saturday I went to Sunderland for the first time, and by myself. I actually did well there, and danced most of the night. Some people say it´s a very closed environment for a milonga, with people going in couples/groups, and the portenos not asking the foreigners to dance. I did not find that to be the case. Then again, I am a bit bold and persistent (and I hope charming) with my cabaceoing.

The food is divine (love the beef, milanesas, and empanadas), but quite rich and in large portions. So my roommate Gail and I, who get along quite well, have been self-catering in from Disco (like Safeway), since we like the fresh veggies (I´ve eaten some combination of a cucumber or red bell pepper or tomato every day I´ve been here), rotisserie chicken, and hard cheese. So it´s been even cheaper for us to eat.

As some of you know already, the floors at the milongas here for the most part (except Canning and maybe Nino Bien), are not hard wood; most are that old 50´s style stone composite, sort of like modern silestone. The floors for our classes have thankfully been hard wood (they are held at hotel ballrooms). But even with the nice floors for our classes, our feet have been taking a beating. Thankfully too, our hotel (the Savoy) is just a block or two from our classes and Artesanal, and Disco.

The shoe shopping has been great. I´ve gone to most of the popular ones, but only bought from P.H. and Artesanal (Christy & Chelsea´s favorite).

I had lunch with Giovanni yesterday. He is as sweet as ever. His English has vastly improved. I saw his notes, and was impressed by his diligence and the neatness of his writing (looks like he was taught at a convent). He continues his studies here and also teaches dance. Right now he has a 4-month gig teaching privates to an American every day, dances including tango (traditional, nuevo, and women´s technique 3 days a week), and salsa etc. (on the other two days). He does quite well here as it´s rare to find a leader who has both strong English skills and Tango skills.

I´ll transcribe my notes from classes when I get back to SF. It´s just too difficult for me to type them on this keyboard. Some of my notes are sketchy, others more detailed, depending on how tired I was or how much I liked the teacher and what they were teaching. I´ll try to squeeze in a group lesson with Susanna Miller while I am here (she teaches 3 nights a week at the same place where the El Beso milonga is, and that´s near our hotel).

Most everything is closed for the next few days for the Easter holiday, with many businesses observing all the days of the Easter vigil. The international tango heads (including me) will still be found working it in the ballrooms and at the milongas though.

Besos y abrazos,

Ana de Buenos Aires

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