Saturday, one BA Way

There are probably a million ways to spend a Saturday in Buenos Aires. Yesterday was my second here and it was action packed. I did manage to get up by midday, pretty good considering it was 5.30am when I stumbled in from the La Viruta Milonga at Club Armenia. The torrential rain that thoroughly cleaned the city on Friday had stopped so we decided to be tourists and head to La Boca.  Two specifics make La Boca a must for many visitors to BA: the small network of colourful streets with their vibrant market, and La Bombonera football stadium, home to the Boca Juniors, the former club of Diego Maradonna. We opted for the market as we are girls and markets mean shopping. By 1.30pm were on the Subte (underground).

In the mid 18th century immigrants from Spain and Italy set up home in La Boca. They used bright paint left over from painting the river barges for their corrugated metal houses and this characteristic has made La Boca famous. We took a cab from the Subte to the market. The driver warned us not to wander out of the market streets. In fact there were small barriers and a police presence at the end of each street. Clearly it is not a safe area for tourists.

The market itself was inexpensive. I bought several tango CDs. These were original, not bootlegged and at $10 to $20 pesos (£1.70 to £3.40), far cheaper than in the UK. Also they have EVERYTHING. I bought Pugliese, El Arranque and Color Tango. Of course there are the stalls of football shirts and tacky souvenirs but there are great Argentine crafts too. The silk shawls are beautiful, and we bought small leather bags on belts to put our valuables in when dancing tango at the Milongas. Many of the restaurants in La Boca have couples dancing tango for the tourists and buskers dance tango on the streets. Personally I’d rather watch the real thing in an atmospheric Milonga.

After getting the 152 bus back to Palermo and a mad dash to get ready, we left for Club Gricel in San Cristobel where my teacher Ariel runs a group class on Saturdays at 8.30pm. What a fantastic venue. Faded grandeur, ceiling fans, a bar serving strong coffee and snacks as well as all the usual drinks. The class was friendly and cheap at $10 pesos. It lasted until nearly 11pm. By then I was shattered. I kept having to sit down, and the Milonga was yet to come!

Our class had a set of reserved tables, which was lucky because I am learning that all the best tables in the Milongas are reserved in advance. After eating a pile of empanadas (miniature pasties stuffed with cheese, chicken or meat) I recovered enough to dance. My first dance came immediately and was with a milonguero (or at least I think that’s what he said!). It is an honour to dance with these guys who all must be seventy plus. The embrace is the closest possible and he led me with the tiniest hand pressures in the small of my back. He kept saying, ‘Muy bien, muy bien.’ Encouraging…

The clientele here was in the older range but the dances were beautiful, the men were gentlemen and KNEW how to lead. Perfect. I even managed to dance Milonga without tripping up. Between dances we had a riot learning ‘interesting’ Spanish phrases and wordplays from Ariel. I managed to stay upright until about 3.30am when my bed became only second to a bar of chocolate in my hearts desires. Many kisses and farewells later we were in a cab headed home. Meanwhile the younger patrons of Club Gricel had moved on to La Viruta. The older patrons, one or two easily ninety, were still dancing tango and salsa. How do they do it?

I have spent the entire day today relaxing on my bed. I need to. I have been roped in to a salsa class tonight at 9.00pm…

See pictures of my second Saturday in Buenos Aires

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3 Responses

  1. Your adventures make fantastic reading! What a life! Take care.

  2. Keep kicking, Sal! Some recommendations from the Telegraph Travel – El Obrero for serenading tango singer (if you haven’t already visited and partnered him!), the Reccleta Cemetery – tombs the size of buildings,ornate & include Evita’s. Time for one shop – Trust Leather,Uruguay 469,10th floor,Apartment A;4373 7354 – ring the bell as no shop but inside Off peg/Bespoke leather,open M-F,10-noon & 1-7
    Muchos Saludos
    Su amiga Mo
    x

  3. Have you been to a football game yet? I’ve heard it absolutely rocks! Me, I’m a Boca Junior fan. 😀

    That is someday want I want to learn are those subtle hand pressures…I need to find a milonguero who can teach me that stuff—though, it’s doubtful, since it is rare they would part with their secrets, so I’m told.

    Well, I am off to bed, Sally. It’s 1:40AM here, and I have to be somewhre at 6AM tomorrow. However, I’ll continue you reading your entries.

    It’s so fun to re-walk the same places I have been to with you. Of course, I don’t think I have been to Club Gricel. That’s something to put down in my “To Do” list. I miss the steaks of Argentina…nothing compares anywhere else.

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