Dancing in the rain

IMGP5915 On Monday it poured in Buenos Aires. I am so not used to rain anymore. It was always raining in England and maybe it still is, but not here. And so when the heavens cry on Buenos Aires, it is always a bit of a surprise and a bit of a pain.

Thing is, in England I had a car to keep me dry. Here it’s walk to the bus stop and get soaked, cram in with all the other wet coats, strain to see where to get off through the steamed up windows, walk from the bus stop and get even more soaked. On Monday I didn’t want to go out at all. But I had a tango class with Ariel.

I’m loving my tango lessons at the moment. I think I’ve got to a stage (perhaps temporary) where I am relaxing a little in tango and in life, and on the days he stops me frequently with, ‘I feel something strange…’, well I feel it too, and I enjoy the challenge of working to change that ‘strange’ feeling to a ‘great’ one. We usually manage to dance a few fabulous tangos at some point during the hour, and our milongas are always a good laugh. I know that I am still learning, and always will be. Rain, even of the torrential variety, will not stop me getting the bus and walking in the direction of Ariel. So I did get soaked on my way to class, but my coat dried out while we danced.

After the class I had the perfect excuse to head home. A vague plan to meet a friend at the La Ideal Monday afternoon Milonga fell through. She was busy. And hell, it was chucking it down. I walked under shop verandas trying to dodge the water pouring in torrents from their edges: sometimes I can time the dodge perfectly, and other times I am hit squarely on the nose, the boot, my glove as if someone was throwing a glass of water at me. Yuk. I thought about how no-one would turn up at the Milonga because of the rain and about how maybe it was not worth the effort to take another bus, then the subway, then walk and get soaked all over again. On any other day I might have gone home, no problem. But on Monday afternoon I could not. On Sunday night I had seen the film, Café de los Maestros.

I loved it. And so did Carlos. It made us both cry: the faces, the characters, the glimpses of their stories and of Buenos Aires. This film filled me with indescribable emotion for the music that I dance to, and with endless gratitude for those who created and played it, and indeed for those who still do.  It also brought into sharp focus for me that I am a tiny insignificant part of tango, but that in being even the tiniest part, I help to carry the story on into the future, and that it matters that I do. If it rains today and so no-one goes to the Milonga, then maybe it will not be there when the sun shines and you are in Buenos Aires and feel like getting out to dance.

So on Monday I stood dripping on a Villa Crespo street after my class, and I remembered the Thursday afternoon Milonga that is no more. I dug into my almost empty ‘monedas’ purse and managed to find the peso for the bus. I thought to myself, ‘For all you maestros who gave me tango, a bit of rain and no mates to hang out with ain’t gonna stop me. I’m on my way!’

I do like La Ideal. I can’t help it. Yeah I know it’s a bit of a tourist haunt and on the expensive side, and there can be a few pain in the ass type guys looking for new faces on the block. But in the afternoons there can be some wonderful gentlemen waiting to give me their souls, and I really like to dance in the afternoon. I allow myself to soak up the echoes of the past from the building, the space, the music and when I am alone there my heart fills up. I can’t explain it really. Maybe it’s that I watched Osvaldo y Coca dance between its columns on my first ever night out in Buenos Aires. Maybe it’s that I’ve met many friends on its balcony and at its tables. Maybe it’s just that I go there ‘sola’. Hell, I don’t know why, but it makes me smile.

On Monday I was delighted that two of my Thursday afternoon gentlemen had braved the rain and kindly danced with me straight away. I was surprised at how many people had not let the ghastly weather put them off: maybe they had all seen Café de los Maestros too. Or maybe they didn’t need to: one or two of them, I understand, had danced in it. Later the Milonga organiser invited me to move my seat to sit in the eye line of some of her milonguero friends. It was a joy to dance with every one of them. I chatted with a friendly Brazilian lady visiting on holiday. I sipped a coffee between tandas. I left when my feet could not dance another step.

I walked to the subway and sped towards home and Carlos. It was dark and I was at peace. The rain had stopped.


12 Responses

  1. Best tango post in a long time Sally! Very cultural and dense with tangible experiences.

    Cafe de los Maestros has made quite a stir over here too, alas I have not seen it yet.

    Give my love to the sisters and possibly to Sarah who flew in a few days ago.

  2. Thank you Kieron.
    I hope you get to see the film and that it inspires you as it did me.
    I had a coffee with A & D yesterday and will meet Sarah soon I am sure. I will say hi from you of course.


  3. I remember going to La Nacional on a particularly wet night and hardly anyone showed up. Then someone told me Argentines don’t like going out in the rain.

    Both times I went to Argentina, La Ideal was my first milonga of the trip, and it will be next time I come back. Will you come with me? Thursday at 4?

  4. Hey C.

    Alas the Thursday afternoon milonga at Ideal is no more. It closed. But if you make it on Monday (the afternoon I think I will now be making mine), Wednesday or Friday I will come with you, rain or shine. It will be a complete treat to sit with you again!

    I had a similiar experience in La Nacional back in the old days. My friends were very late and I sat very alone, and freezing. It can be a bit bleak there if no-one turns up I know.

    However, it sure won’t be bleak for any of us once we have you back in town.


  5. Dear Sally,

    A truly beautiful post. In addition, you have reminded me why it is so important to support the tango scene, whether in Buenos Aires or your local town. As you say:

    If it rains today and so no-one goes to the Milonga, then maybe it will not be there when the sun shines and you are in Buenos Aires and feel like getting out to dance.

    I haven’t seen “Cafe de los Maestros” but I’m going to be on the lookout for a copy!


  6. Irene,
    Do find the film if you can. I am sure it will come to an art house type cinema near you soon, or be available on DVD… probably with English subtitles, which there weren’t in Buenos Aires of course! But for me not understanding every word did not matter. The beauty was there in the music.
    And it was inspiring.


  7. Hey Sally. Lovely post. The rain made me sentimental this week. I almost went to the afternoon milonga at Ideal this week. The rain fall kept me inside. 😦

    I hope to see you this coming Monday. I can’t wait–I haven’t visited Ideal yet.

  8. stilllifeinbuenosaires

    I will try to get there on Monday, rain or shine. And so maybe we shall meet. I hope so.


  9. Chicken soup for a tango soul 😉

  10. Thank you, Hippy Bogus. SC

  11. I do love our thunder and lightening that comes along with it!

    But you neglected to mention how the streets flood 😉 You make me want to rush out and see the movie now. Everytime I see the posters plastered on the construction sites I contemplate peeling one off to frame one day.

  12. Si Miss Tango. See the movie if you can.
    I’ve got a vivid image of you clambering across construction sites with your mission in mind… it is making me smile.


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