Recently I was incredibly surprised to see my image on the newsfeed in facebook with my picture advertising that there would be a birthday celebration for me at the beloved “el maipu” milonga (tango social dance) here in Buenos Aires.
What a fantastic idea!
Having invited a few friends, enjoying some local champagne and laughing a lot….the organizer Dany whispered something in my ear like…so we will have a birthday vals for you.
I had actually never seen a Birthday vals done in this milonga before so didn’t take it very seriously. Once the announcements were done and my Birthday mentioned, Dany suggested that since I had blown out the candle on the Birthday cake too early (or late)(who can remember with all the champagne) I would have to dance a Birthday vals in front of everybody.
Once having stood up a friend of mine danced a little spiral of the vals with me and very quickly someone else cut in and danced a little phrase etc…. etc…it was a lot of unexpected fun and really felt great to have the organizers invite me to do this with all the regulars. This milonga has been a regular place for me for over six years.
Thank you to all the regular dancers.
A special thanks to Lucy and Dany of “El Maipu” that run a truly generous, friendly milonga (dance) that makes everyone feel ‘at home’.
It’s past three a.m. at the Sunday night milonga (dance) during the Midwest Tango Festival held in Indianapolis for the first time this year.
Sitting close to the steamed up windows and feeling cold, exhausted from dancing tango all weekend and Dj’ing the Sunday late afternoon practica earlier, an intrepid ‘lead’ stands close by.
She skillfully looks at me with her mirada (look) and then cabeceo’s (nods at) me and I pretend that perhaps she is looking at the non-existent person sitting on the chair behind me. Both of us laugh, embrace, and quickly become one within the romantic Golden Age music that is enveloping us.
We are profoundly drawn into the fabric of the vocal line and accompaniment. As soon as the first song of the tanda (grouping) ends we look at each other with wonderment, surprise and deep emotion.
When two people connect so deeply, chest to chest, and breathe in unison with each other and the music, our bodies fuse together to become a kind of musical instrument and float away into another realm.
Only to come back to earth at the end of the tanda.
To some, the milongas used to be a place of hidden encounters with friends and lovers. No-one ever really spoke about the goings on and it was like what people say about Las Vegas….what happens in Vegas….stays in Vegas.
Many participants would drop in on their way home from work and no-one ever knew. Others might have clandestine relationships that only people within the milonga saw.
This only made the milongas more fascinating and tempting. An underworld of hidden riches waiting to be found.
Cachirulo in Obelisco Tango Saturday night was almost bursting at the seams.
Grand tango social dancers were in attendance and appeared to be chomping at the bit to get themselves on the dance floor as Carlos Rey played his delightful music selections. But, wait…the locals were looking somewhat frustrated by the lack of navigation, circulation and floor craft. Some were clearly not using mirada/cabeceo. A few regulars were probably thinking twice about getting out there on the slick dance floor with some very enthusiastic participants that didn’t seem to know the ABC’s of Buenos Aires tango social dance floor craft.
In 2005, while dancing tango in Salon Canning, one of the old milongueros told me it was the ‘honour’ of the milonguero to ‘never’ touch anyone on the dance floor. Once he made me aware of this it was wonderful to have that realized beautifully on the dance floor. We were on this brilliant square wood floor in and amongst every kind of tango dancer and….low and behold…had never touched anyone and were able to circulate with the group in the ronda.
Magnificent and safe!
To move as a group and feel phrases of the music and breathe together as a community……incredible!
On Saturday evening even with the fear of people bumping into each other and the floor being somewhat slippery, it was great fun. The celebrations culminated for me with an invitation to dance for my birthday by Hector and Norma of Los Cachirulos Tango.
Magnificent Claudio Strang agreed to dance with me.
Thank you to everyone who sat through the demonstration and honoured us with their presence.
We danced Telón by Osvaldo Fresedo 1938.
Telón, telón de la comedia
que empezó con un cantar
y que le dio final tu desamor.
Final atroz de ver la soledad
en el rincón del cuchitril
que un día enloqueció tu folletín.
Dolor de ver morir una esperanza,
sueño de Pierrot,
que al despertar se vio bufón.
Telón brutal que a la ilusión le dio un final
el día en que tu amor
se fue con el vaivén del vendaval.