The moon above La Glorieta

La Glorieta is one of my favourite venues for tango in Buenos Aires.

Under its roof I have felt  apprehensive (my first night out in Buenos Aires tango, alone), high (after my first ever tanda with Carlos, on my first night out in Buenos Aires tango, alone), caressed by romance (after my second ever tanda with Carlos, one week later), the joy of sharing (on countless occasions ever since when I have taken visiting friends there), crushed (watching the qualifying rounds of the Metropolitano 2007), part of an Argentine life (dancing with the Argentines, in the chilly winter, in my coat, under the moon), and always very very happy.

Why is La Glorieta my kind of place?

It seems to me that it is a place for everyone: to dance, to watch, to chat, to kiss, to be.

It’s outside in a public park and so touches dancers and non-dancers alike: people sit and drink mate on the grass, or stand around on the stone walkways as dusk falls. Children mimic the dancing they see up above. Old folk sit on benches, listen to the music and chat to the dancers as they change their shoes. Passers by are attracted by the drifting melodies, can see tango being danced, perhaps for the first time. People arrive on foot, on bicycles, on motorbikes, on the bus, on the subway.

It’s relaxed: no reservations, no tables, no competition for the best seats, just smiles and shoulders touching as the night gets darker and busier. Eyes meet easily here, or a quiet, ‘Bailas?’ is equally appropriate. Everything and everyone is in the mix: tango shoes, street shoes, people dressed for dancing, people dressed for a walk in the park, the old, the new, the young, the ‘mas grande’ (that means the older not the bigger – well in this context anyway), the friends, the lovers, the singles, a million and one different tango styles and quirks, the beginners, the old hands, the Argentines, those from other countries. This is social dancing for fun, for love, for joy.

It’s kind of home made and reminds me of English summer events outside: the spaghetti junction of cables running to the music system; the music itself, that sometimes falters or changes from vals to tango mid tanda; the lengthy announcement that breaks the evening in two; the ‘no loo’ scenario.

It’s beautiful: the shadows that play in the roof; the weak lights that sometimes give up to let the moonlight in; the extra gentle sound and fresh air when it rains; the curled ironwork which I can lean on, or tie my bag to, or just notice; the wide stone steps; the smooth tiled floor that has felt the sweep of many feet.

On Sunday evening, Carlos and me danced in La Glorieta. Our bodies had wonderful conversations: laughing through milongas, chatting excitedly through valses, whispering through tangos. We watched too with fondness, and chuckled to see an old couple talking aloud constantly as they danced, their torsos pulled apart by their chatting heads. I said, ‘They’re are deciding what to eat for dinner, no?’. During the next tanda a joking C. gave it a go with me, ‘Shall we go to Disco or Coto? What shall we buy?’ We lasted about 30 seconds. ‘Que diferencia!’ Carlos seemed mortified, ‘How can you feel anything if you are talking?’

Too true eh? I have thought the same as a few men in the past have wittered on in my ear… How can you listen to my heart (never mind the music) if you are talking to my head? And why are you letting your voice stamp on your own soul? And, when I’m dancing with you I don’t care who you think you are or what you think the people dancing next to us are doing or who you have decided I am: I want to feel who you really are… so please just shut up and then you might find out who I really am too…

Carlos and me laughed, closed our mouths and left our bodies to it.

La Glorieta, Buenos Aires As we walked home from La Glorieta on Sunday evening, Carlos told me that he would never have spoken to me before dancing with me, in any other Milonga. But at La Glorieta last April he did so because we happened to be standing next to each other during the mid-evening announcements, close enough together for conversation to be natural. He says he looked at me and thought I looked alone and slightly anxious (he probably means terrified). He says he wanted to help me to feel better, to smile. His tentative, ‘Where from you?’ or some such delightful variation did not fail. Carlos tells me he still can’t believe that he actually spoke to me like that, out of nowhere, him being the shy soul that he is. That he noticed me at all, that he was inspired to speak, that he tried a few English words… these are the things I marvel at. I think La Glorieta smoothed our way with its open nature and generous spirit.

I feel that La Glorieta is a place with a beautiful soul, in part formed of all the magical connections created under the curve of its roof. The memory of our first tentative encounter is in there somewhere, mixed with the echo of their easy conversations, the depth of your kisses, the energy of their dancing, the song of your laughter.

Perhaps if you dance there, you will feel it too.


13 Responses

  1. Sigh…I think that if I am ever in BA, La Glorieta will have to be a must. You describe it so beautifully.

  2. La Glorietta rocks. It probably rocks harder when its a bit warmer, but then I would say the dance floor has more in common with a rugby scrum than a ballroom. I still do not know how I managed to navigate round, and chat randomly with the locals in Spanglish, and still bump into a familiar face.

    I didn’t feel so terrified trying to get dances in the open air, than I did in every indoor milonga in that city. Great place.

  3. Christine in LA, Well if you do ever come to Buenos Aires I think La Glorieta will be very happy to see you, as indeed will I.

    Kieron, It is indeed a great and friendly place, and I am happy you liked it too. I guess the key to the scrum is to arrive a bit earlier than the vast majority, from about 6.30pm… thus you can enjoy the space a little first, and gradually bump into more and more people, both those you know, and those you haven’t yet met!
    Until about 8pm it is fairly calm… but of course later there are more folk to dance with.
    Ah the swings and roundabouts in the park eh?
    Love to England, and you.


  4. I’ve always loved La Glorieta since I became a regular after the
    Cro-Magnon crisis, when there were no milongas inside the city of Buenos Aires, when I and everyone else were frantic to dance.

    And I learned to love it there the most in winter.

    But La Glorieta is not about great tango–it’s about dancing freely in the park, whatever age, style, music…anything goes. And sometimes that is so lovely.

    Of course you have very special reasons as well for loving La Glorieta, very special memories.

  5. Cherie

    Yes, it is lovely I think that La Glorieta sits in its park alongside all the other wonderful venues we can choose from to dance tango in this city: each with their own clientele, character, music and style.

    That I could go there and dance as a tango beginner and a total newbie in town, and feel less intimidated than in some other places was very important.
    I am grateful to La Glorieta for that. It was the first place that I experienced any kind of connection in my Buenos Aires tango (my first tanda with Carlos, and on the same night during a tanda with someone else).

    On the other hand I have indeed experienced some fairly ghastly tandas there too…

    And now when I go, I usually only dance with Carlos or with a few friends who I know and so I am fortunate enough to be able to enjoy the lovely spirit of the place without having to worry about whether my partners can offer me great tango or not!

    But yes, it is true that because it is so accessible to everyone, a rather wide range of tango skill levels may be present! Also because everyone moves around so much (no tables) and because it can be a bit dark too, it is hard to spot how anyone dances and connect them with the face right infront of you now asking you to dance, so unless you know the faces from another place it can be a bit like russian roulette!

    Oh God, now you are making me think of it from a very different point of view!!! (a more balanced one!)



  6. Hi Sally,

    I have only been to La Glorieta once – I was stressed out, tired, looking for some friends who i couldn’t find for ages – but its special vibe made me calm down a bit.
    There is something about dancing outside. We have just danced outside in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh for the first time this summer – and I haven’t felt so happy dancing in ages. It felt inclusive, little girls and 75 year old beginners and everybody in between, belonging and enjoying the music, the sun, the wind and the dancing.
    I love your blog – thanks for all the wonderful posts.

  7. Hi Claudita

    It is so great to know that my blog reaches you in Edinburgh, and that you like it.

    I have never danced in Scotland but those words, ‘the Grassmarket in Edinburgh’ sound very romantic, and I am happy that the sun shone for your dancing.

    Inclusive tango with a special vibe: yes that is why I love La Glorieta…


  8. La Glorieta sounds like such a happy dream and I’m sad I never made it there. If there is a next time, then I will be sure it is the top of my list.

    But I will read your post again and be happy for you that you can go there, and I can understand completely why it is so special.

  9. Dear tangobaby

    I hope there is a next time.
    I know that La Glorieta would love to welcome you onto its smooth floor, as I would love to welcome you to Buenos Aires.


  10. I love La Glorieta. I always felt completely relaxed there, which was a very necessary contrast to every other milonga in town. I felt that the usual rules didn’t apply, and that noone was judging me.

  11. Hi Psyche,
    Yes, I find La Glorieta to be at times a much needed welcome relief. I completely understand what you say.
    Hugs and love to you and to England.


  12. What an absolutely lovely post!

  13. Hi mtnhighmama
    Thank you. I am happy you enjoyed it! SC

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