The greats

IMGP0426-1 Our TV stays on through the night this week. We go to sleep with Olympic athletes for company. If I wake in the early hours, as I often do, I might just catch a glimpse of Great Britain (or as our dear politically correct British internet commentators like to call us, Team GB) romping home in the velodrome: I can hardly believe we are 3rd in the medal table with 16 golds so far. Of course I haven’t managed to witness any of our successes live, because the lovely Argentines on TV Pública always seem to prefer adverts for Beijing to the moment the Brits cross the line, but I check the BBC live feed, and report our rising medal tally to Carlos with a degree of glee. I can only imagine the fever back in Blighty. Perhaps we will actually manage to pull an Olympic city out of the money bags in time for 2012 after all.

When I woke this morning, I was delighted to find myself listening to the Argentine National Anthem: their boys had done it in the velodrome too, and landed a first gold for Argentina. I shook Carlos awake and he immediately began shouting, ‘Vamos!’ and clapping his hands excitedly. After celebrating one beautiful bronze in judo on the first day of the games, he has waited over a week for a golden moment to come, or indeed any other medal moment at all. Neither of us managed to work out the rules of the race the boys had just won, but we celebrated like kids anyway. I have always been a sucker for sporting glories: my tears spring easily to watch another human’s achievement. And this morning we are hoping for further success. The streets of Buenos Aires will be silent: the footie greats are in action in the semis against their neighbour and rival, Brazil. Carlos postpones work to watch. His arms are folded but they are coiled springs waiting to punch the air. This is a huge one for a football crazy land.

And for the tango crazy, the government of Buenos Aires is doing its best to deliver something great too. The arrangements for the 10th Buenos Aires Tango Festival and the 6th World Tango Championship are being advertised in the newspapers, with big adverts for the official website pasted all over the city.

Things changed a bit this year with free tickets for the finals of the Mundial being available nearly 2 weeks in advance: yesterday. Last year you had to queue on the day, for that day. The upside was that you could arrive in town the day before and still get tickets, the downside was the need to queue over and over again (which I could not face – one day of hours in lines and near riots trying to get in to the venue for the Stage Tango completely put me off bothering for the Salon). This year the upside was you could queue once and potentially get two free tickets per person for both finals, the downside is that you had to be in Buenos Aires this week, when the finals are not until 30th August(Salon) and 1st September(Stage) – fine if you live here, interesting if you planned to turn up for the week, the weekend, on the day. By around 4pm yesterday – an Argentine National Holiday, when I finally made it downtown, there were no tickets left for the Salon final in el estadio Obras, and by close of business I understand that Luna Park for the Stage final was ‘agotado’ too: semi finals only available today then.

I like the fact that the tickets are free, and available to anyone prepared to queue. I like that this system favours those who are not just here for the show, and therefore perhaps those who support Buenos Aires tango with their pesos all year round. I like that you can only get two tickets per person for each event, so unless you repeatedly queue (and they don’t recognise you) you can’t be tempted to sell on in vast quantities… (this is the part I like best of all, and I hope it does not happen behind the scenes).  Whether you are a fan of competition tango or not, these finals can be great and entertaining free nights out.

IMGP0496 After I’d been for my tickets yesterday I wandered down to Harrods, Florida 877, which is one venue for the Tango Festival: stalls of tango stuff including shoes; a stage for interviews with the famous; concerts; a dance floor for a bit of social dancing;  group classes. These days I have to discipline myself to be an observer only on the shopping side of things. I must be satisfied with looking at the latest shoes: prices have risen sharply and now I fully understand the notion that the flashy (and even the less flashy) top end tango shoes can surely only seem cheap to the international visitor to Buenos Aires. Anyway, if you are in town and short on pesos or even if you are loaded, the free concerts on offer in Harrods are probably worth a look.

While I’ve been writing this, Carlos has leapt up twice and raced around the room yelling in response to goals from his countrymen. Watching this is a delight and makes me laugh aloud. With 20 minutes to go it is 2-0 to Argentina and we are seriously believing that ‘we’ have a medal in the bag. And now it’s gotta be a cert: penalty Argentina… 3-0!

As a Brit, oh how I have shouted against the ‘Argies’ in the footie of the past (Hand of God and all that… ) but here I am realising that the happy, excited, jumping up and down, human, ‘Argies’ have a certain silver from a great performance and that I am absolutely delighted for them. How life turns out eh?


7 Responses

  1. Hey Hon – I managed the queue and got tix for the final and the escanario finals – you can go with me if you want x

  2. I’ve attended the tango salon championship finals every year, but decided to take a pass on them this year. Obras is too inconvenient a location to bother and have to sit on concrete for hours. People who are arriving this week expecting to attend are going to be disappointed they missed the chance to get tickets.

  3. Hi Suzy Vegas, you serious? Might take you up on it for the salon final… will send you an email. Besos.

    Hi Jantango, mmmmm. Never been to Obras and don’t like the sound of sitting on concrete. Maybe will take a cushion to the semifinal so thanks for the tip. And for those who have no idea where the place is here’s a map link and how to get there
    because as you say it is not the most conveniently located venue. Good thing I live on the right side of the city and the 15 and 29 buses just about pass my door.
    Also worth saying I guess that for those who don’t have tickets for the finals or semis, watching the preliminary rounds all week is free and guess you just turn up on the day… and those are in Obras too. I might try that this year, as I never made it in 2007.


  4. Goooooaaaalll! Auguri to Argentina! I was spending the summer with my friend in Italy during the 2004 Olympics and got to watch Argentina win the gold in Futbal and in Basketball it was beautiful! I hope they can grab the back-to-back gold in futbol, how wonderful would that be!?!? Who is your favorite English team? Soccer is not so wonderful here in the states so I usually look to my adopted country for my team and I support Turin’s Juventus.

    I too tear up watching the Olympics- there are just so many great stories. Did you see the 33 woman’s gymnast for Germany. Her story is amazing! Ok I could go on about sports forever. I’m sending lots of positive thoughts to the Argentine team and I hope that you and Carlos and the rest of the Country get to run around screaming and yelling and cherishing a great win!

  5. Hey Christine in LA,

    Wow I feel your zest for sporting triumphs leaping off the laptop! I was a major footie fan in England but alas my team, Southampton, slipped from the Premiership and now spend their seasons struggling not to be relegated from the Championship. But in the ‘glory days’ we travelled the country to all the great grounds come rain or shine… so now I love to join Carlos in front of the TV in the local café yelling for Boca Juniors.

    I missed that German gymnast story but will now check it out. Gymnastics is one of my favourites: I remember getting up in the night to watch Olga Korbut… back in ’76 I think.
    Now there was a little girl who stole our hearts.

    The Argentines made it through in Basketball today too. The commentators were going completely crazy. It was fab! No medal guarantee there though: they’ve got USA in the semis!

    Ah well, it sure is great while it lasts! Besos SC

  6. And they won the whole thing in the end – hope Carlos jumped about accordingly! We have breakfasted and bed-timed with Olympics the last fortnight – Justin and Ella fascinated by new sports and able to sit and watch just about anything (except perhaps the dressage …). Good to think of you sharing the experience with us half a world away.

    Now back to normal and complaints about taxes for 2012 – but we’ll all be there, and maybe you can come back too?

    All love from the Robinsons xx

  7. Hey Jo, yeah they did didn’t they… those fabulous lads. I fell asleep. Carlos watched every minute.
    Did you enjoy London’s 8 minutes of ‘glory’ yesterday in the closing ceremony? Bloody hell eh? I was sure Boris was going to drop that flag, then to see the umbrellas, the zebra crossing and the privet hedge… well… what can I say? Carlos did say they had it right with the London bus, apparently it is ‘London’ in his eyes, although I think the hedge stuff confused him a bit.
    Carlos says in about 50 years the Argentines might get the Olympics and stun us all with gaucho horse displays. I am just wondering how many London buses we will cram in to the opening ceremony in 2012. Truth is whatever we do I will be proud. I love the way we Brits can always laugh at ourselves, and we always seem to pull it off in the end.
    I hope I am there with you all to see it.
    Hugs little sis. SC

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