When days are as hectic as nights

IMGP6959 A few weeks ago, after much thought, I decided to buy an apartment in BA. The hard facts are that if I want to pursue my dream to be a great tango dancer, it has to be financially viable to stay here in the longer term. When I left England in March this year I thought I might stay for three months. After a week I knew that would never be long enough. I changed my ticket and I fly home in December. Now I plan to return in February.

Renting an apartment here is not cheap. Of course it is cheaper than renting in countless other cities in the world, but I am paying US$650 a month and watching my savings shrink. This is not a good feeling. So, for better or for worse I have taken the decision to buy a small place while I can still afford to do so. At the moment I don’t want to tempt fate by talking too much, but suffice to say that I have found something I like, in an area I like and I am working as hard as I can to succeed with the purchase. Later I will write about my experiences because it may help someone else who wants to do the same. The process is complex and a potential minefield for a foreigner who only speaks elementary castellano. I am lucky. I have made friends and they are helping me to achieve what at first felt unachievable. However, there are many things that could go wrong and so, for now, I am keeping my fingers firmly crossed behind the back of every tango partner I embrace…

I spend my days travelling all over the city to police stations, tax offices, banks, international couriers, internet cafes for my printing, photocopy shops, estate agents, solicitors, exchange bureaus… the list is endless. Yes it is fascinating, but it is also stressful and I get home exhausted. I spend my evenings at the laptop emailing the UK for information, talking with friends and family on Skype, researching the next stage in the process, and if I am lucky, sleeping a little. Then at around midnight… well you know I can’t bear to miss out on a night’s tango.

In truth, all this day time activity has impacted on my nights. I have stayed home a few times in the last week. But the weekend was the weekend after all and I was able to sleep until 4pm on Sunday! So, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights – well let’s just say, I made the most of them. 

Friday started at a club in Almagro with a folkloric music and dance session. Maybe a couple of hundred young people packed into a cultural club to listen to live bands, watch stunning examples of folkloric dancing, and to dance endless Chacareras and Zambas. I was there with my new pink ‘panuelo’ and to my delight my friend Jorge asked me to dance the Zamba. This was my first in public and it was probably terrible, but I felt the passion of this dance run through my soul. In the Zamba the partners look into each others eyes throughout, and however bad my footwork, I lost myself in the experience. Carlos and I danced many Chacareras, laughing most of the time. I love the way the Argentines smile and laugh as they enjoy these dances. And, it’s infectious.

Saturday night began with a live orchestra at La Ideal where I was catching up with some Argentine friends of English friends of mine. The Milonga was quiet. Very quiet. Sometimes the lack of people at La Ideal saddens me, but it is the most expensive Milonga I go to in BA at $15 pesos and maybe that has something to do with it. The orchestra was fantastic and I do like the pista at La Ideal, especially on nights such as this when there is space to play! I was delighted when an Argentine woman told me she ‘loved my style’ and asked me who my teacher was. Somehow it means more to me when it comes from a woman. I guess I am well aware now what it can mean when it comes from a man… yes I am far more sceptical these days than I was – bitter experience I’m afraid!

The early hours of both Saturday and Sunday morning were spent in La Viruta. I danced till 6am, drank too much ‘cafe con leche’, ate too many ‘medialunas de grase’ and loved every minute (Did I mention that the medialunas at La Viruta, available after 4.00am at weekends, are the freshest and most delicious in the city?).

On Sunday I was back at Porteño y Bailarin. This place is now firmly on my list of favourites and I love it on Sunday nights. Somehow it feels to me exactly how a Buenos Aires Milonga should be: the perfect music selection, the dim lights, the back room, the ‘surprises’ that are announced unexpectedly. Last night we were treated to an incredible female singer. What a voice. She sang tangos and then brought the house down with ‘Life is a Cabaret’. Later Carlos and I practiced our milonga and vals in the back room which was fairly empty. I felt like the place was mine. It hurt me that I had to drag myself away before the last tanda. I needed to get up at 8am today to be at DHL to send documents to the UK by 9am. After such a magical weekend this was one  horrible shock to the system I can tell you. This could be the first Monday night for months that I don’t make it to Canning… Meanwhile, I will try to sleep well and tomorrow I will be continuing my quest to purchase the apartment. 

The decision to buy here is a big one and I have moments when I wonder if I am slightly ‘loca’. But no, I don’t believe I am. I cannot be certain how I will feel in the future. Today, it is enough to focus on the fact that in order to live my dreams, I need a home in South America, in Argentina, in Buenos Aires. I am realising these days that if I think too hard about things, it stops me doing anything at all. I believe that a decision made is simply a new door opening. Wish me luck as I begin to walk through this one…


4 Responses

  1. Hi Sal

    Buying an apartment sounds like a really exciting step. (But we miss you!)

    By the way, I don’t know who much traffic you are getting to your blog but maybe you could look at ways of generating a bit of income from it. Just a thought but you might find some ideas at http://www.problogger.net/archives/2007/07/11/how-to-make-money-blogging-what-we-wish-we-knew/

    Also, maybe you should look at writing a few pieces for newspapers/magazines back home as the stuff you are doing is worth sharing and you are a good writer.

    Just a thought. love ya x

  2. Hi Sally,
    Good luck with the purchase and you ARE doing the right thing. You won’t regret it.
    Take care and keep us posted.
    Bernadette xx

  3. Sally,

    I suspected you’d extend the visa OK before you even left, but this is sounding like you’re ready for the long haul! Hope it all works out as you want – sounds like there’d better be a LOT of wardrobe/shoe space 🙂

    Great to see you’re having a ball over there, and fascinating reading – you know you’re making us all jealous!

    take care,

  4. I completely agree with you. You should get a place in BsAs. I finally am caught up to what you were writing to me on a personal email. YAY! Best of luck, Sally. I hope you get it.

    Hugs and smiles, “Sly” 🙂

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