A trip to Sunderland, BA

IMGP7367 How weird it was to see the familiar red and white stripes of the Sunderland football shirt on Saturday night. I ate dinner underneath them in the bar of one of one of Buenos Aires’ most famous Milongas – Club Sunderland. It was my first visit to this venue in Villa Urquiza and I have to say, I loved it. The place itself was a complete surprise – a huge sports hall with a basketball court marked on the floor. The quality of the dancing was great. After a terrible night at La Viruta on Friday: people walking all over the dance floor mid tango, couples teaching each other oblivious to the flow of the dance, women flicking and kicking with heels sharp as knives on the extremely busy ‘pista’ – the refinement of the dancers at Sunderland was a welcome relief. I could actually close my eyes and relax. The bonus was that it was Miguel Angel Zotto’s birthday and we were treated to a great show. His friends sang tangos, he danced, his brother danced, his mother danced, ‘El Flaco’ Dany danced an impressive milonga. The place was packed and I think there were probably more people than I have ever seen at a Milonga in Buenos Aires, about five hundred, but somehow the dance floor never seemed crowded. I experienced the fresh buzz of trying out a new venue in this great city, and I danced until the final tango, ‘La Cumparsita’, told us that it was 5am and time to leave. The hard part was finding a taxi afterwards. The venue is a bit out of town and the streets pretty deserted at such an hour. Just as we were about to give up and head to the conveniently located ‘telo’ marked by a neon heart on its roof, a taxi turned up. ‘Telo’ next time then.

This night of blissful dancing was sandwiched between two very different BA experiences. The sun on Saturday shouted ‘Walk in the park,’ and I chose Parque 3 de Febrero. With its lake, gorgeous trees and argentine bird population, it is the perfect place for a romantic stroll with a lover. The Argentines were out in force with their ‘mate’ flasks, basking in the warm sunshine and I was happy to join them. On Sunday the weather was back to cloud, wind and rain and so where better to spend some time and money but the huge casino, at the Palermo racecourse. Actually I didn’t spend much money. I got told off for taking photographs and Carlos and I were brusquely informed that we had to sit one person to one electronic roulette station – no possibility of celebrating our winnings with kisses… we didn’t stay long!

Porteno and Bailarin last night was not the quiet Sunday venue I have grown to love. Maybe people are arriving now for the V Campeonato Mundial de Baile de Tango. Maybe there are just more tourists in town. Certainly the back room was full of couples intent on showing off their moves, making dancing for the rest of us somewhat ‘peligroso’ (dangerous). Carlos got his shin spiked and my right foot was attacked by a stiletto heel. I find myself getting annoyed by the fact that I have to be on my guard at all times with such dancers. Why is is that people are so intent on showing what they can do, that they fail to notice that there are others dancing around them. When I do open my eyes I see men crossing the path of the dance or moving against it and women with their feet flying. Of course it is fun to boleo and gancho, I love to do it too, but NOT in a busy Milonga. You will notice that courtesy for others is my hot potato at the moment! OK, I’ve moaned enough. And now that I’ve had my moan, I guess I better make sure that I don’t step on anyone tonight…

See pictures of Club Sunderland and my weekend in BA

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4 Responses

  1. dear sally,

    amazing blog! caroline’s “learning the argentine tango” directed me over here — i love your writing.

    i just came back from a milonga. it was beautiful tonight… and crowded. at one point, though, i was unlucky enough to dance with this one man who kept trying to make me do super-high boleos. i kept it sharp and low to the floor, but he was determined to be seen dancing with a woman doing high flicks and kicks, so he kept leading boleo after boleo after boleo…

    after my constant refusals (i amost yelled out, NO!), he gave up, and walked away. what a relief. my spine is aching.

    how i long to go to BA! please dance a song for me over there. 🙂

    from NYC,
    soobin.

  2. Porteño y bailarín was la viruta like? That’s weird. In la viruta you can count that on weekends you will find some wild fauna but I did know they can be found in tradicional milongas like Porteño y Bailarin. Luckily some milongas like Sunderland and el parakultural are “safe places” to go to dance.
    Nice Pictures!

    PD About your question why is that people are so intent on showing what they can do, in my last post I write a bit about it (in spanish) .

  3. It´s okay to moan, you gotta be vocal so maybe one day the people will get it.

    I don´t know why people do not want to respect the rules, of course you can do these movements…but only when the floor is uncrowded and safe to do so.

    When I dance with the old milongueros, yes of course they love for me to do the more acrobatic moves, but they take me off to the side corners and lead me there, where no harm can be done.

  4. Hi Tanguillo, possibly it was the back room crowd at Porteno y Bailarin on Sunday night. I suspect it was a different picture on the main pista.
    My spanish is improving to the level where I can start to enjoy your blog. Your post on Bailarines vs. Milongueros is fascinating and I’m going to devote time to reading you on a regular basis from now on. Maybe catch you at a milonga some day… look out for me, SC.

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