BA – Watching the dream

IMGP6834detail Last week I watched one of the three semi finals of the V Championship ‘Metropolitano de Baile de Tango’. Ariel, my teacher, told me it was an experience not to be missed. He was right. We queued in the freezing street for an hour outside Salon Sur to secure free tickets and a decent table. Now, we all have colds, but it was worth it to see this slice of the tango dream.

The qualifying rounds of this competition with its two categories: tango and milonga, were held in Buenos Aires between 26 April and 27 May. The winners in the tango category will receive $4000 pesos and in the milonga category $3000 pesos. Of course the unspoken prize is the key to the door of fame and fortune. The final will be on 16 August and I will be there.

I felt the nerves and excitement of the participants as they queued to take their places on the pista. Each couple danced with nine others, either three tangos or milongas, all improvised. The music was announced before each round. The rules regarding the evaluation are strict and the dancers are marked on several categories including musicality, the embrace, the style of the walk, the use of the floor and rhythm. Many of the competitors I recognised as teachers or regulars at the Milongas. Others were from foreign countries and were warmly welcomed by the host. Friends of mine were competing in other semi finals and were there watching the competition. The standard of dancing varied greatly in my eyes. I was excited to see many youngsters with obvious talent and style get through to the final.

In the breaks, a live orchestra played and we all danced. I scooted around taking videos and photographs, like the journalist I realise I am becoming! It is what lies the under the surface of nights like this that fascinates me: the story behind the youngest competitors, the rivalry between friends, the objectivity of the judges, how the weaker dancers have managed to get through, the pride on the faces of the families around the pista… the list is endless. I couldn’t help wondering if one day I might be there with a number on my partner’s back. Never say never, I guess. But for now I am your eyes in Buenos Aires, eating empanadas in the Milongas  to keep warm, stealing photos and videos whenever I can.

Meanwhile in my tango story, I have a new challenge on my hands. Ariel and I are making a choreography. The primary purpose of this is so that I can practice to perfection (!) specific techniques that I have learned over the past months. Of course in addition it is great fun and we are including extras such as poses and maybe to come, a lift. Needless to say, we laugh ALOT. I have chosen La Cumparsita because it has huge significance for me here. It is the tango I have danced to end most of my happiest nights in the past three months, so it is fitting that it should be my first choreography. We are working with a ‘front’ as if on a stage, and it is fascinating to experience the process involved. After four hours we have one minute of dancing. The whole tango is two minutes and twelve seconds, so we are almost half way there. We hope to video the first draft soon in a large space so that we can see what works and what needs to be changed. When the choreography is complete, of course I will share it with you. I might even buy myself a sexy tango dress…

Meanwhile I am recovering from staying up all night on Saturday. I know I often get to bed about 7am after Viruta at the weekends but on Saturday night I managed to make it through until 10am on Sunday morning… We went to Parakultural in San Telmo. It was a special night because all the teachers were performing and the highlight was a display of folkloric dancing. I want to write a separate post on my experiences with folkloric because it is capturing my heart and I have started to take classes – so more later. After the Milonga we were invited to eat breakfast at a local cafe by Damian, the DJ. We waited while the night was cleared away and we danced like children to crazy music with the staff, laughing, laughing… Later, over coffee and tostadas, we talked for three hours about the tango scene, the music scene and life in general as it grew light outside. By the time I got into my bed I was dizzy with tiredness but also with joy. I love the spontaneity of nights like these…

See pictures of my nights at Salon Sur and at Parakultural

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4 Responses

  1. Sal –

    feeling very ignorant here as your tango language and your spanish are both stretching away from us! What is the difference between a tango and a milonga? What is a porteno? etc etc? Can you give us some definitions of key terms to help me along?

    Lots of love from all of us here –

    Jo

  2. ok darling, understand completely.
    will include in my next post
    your big sis sc xxx

  3. Hola linda!!
    Hey, I actually have managed to get myself to an internet cafe today and have been reading your amazing and highly entertaining blog! You are a journalist already, my dear!! I love it!! Up too early again after a long day yesterday and now heading to lesson #1 of the day. Lesson #2 to follow, then home for a nap?? No time for naps anymore! Great time at Dandi! See you at the Boliche de Roberto. Veni cuando quieras. Estaremos alla empezando a las 22. Esta en la esquina de Bulnes y Peron. Ciao!! Beso!
    G

  4. I can’t wait to see the video! I hope you put it on YouTube again so I can download and watch over and over again until I can both do the follow and lead. Did I tell you that I can both follow and lead? *merry laugh*

    Besos y abrazos. “Sly” 😀

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