Archive for June, 2010

When bloggers meet

Friday, June 4th, 2010

I met up with a couple of fellow tango bloggers this week, Sally on Monday, and Bob on Tuesday.

The Monday afternoon milonga at La Ideal is usually a fairly quiet affair, with about 40-50 people and this week was no exception. I went mainly to meet up with Sally before she flew to England today for 3 months. We didn’t get to dance this time or much time to chat so afterwards we went for a pizza. She introduced me to a pizza place on Av. Corrientes about a 15 minute walk from La Ideal. As we chatted on the way there I had ideas for a couple of new blog posts. I didn’t make a note of the name of the place but the pizza was excellent and I’ll go back for more some time. We talked about her plans for her trip back to England, how my adventure is progressing, some ideas for a few more touristy things for me to do, and tango of course.
A big part of her trip will be a promotional tour for her book “Happy Tango”, a guide to tango in Buenos Aires. If you’re thinking of coming here to tango I can’t recommend it highly enough. It should be available real soon now. She and her Argentine beau, Carlos, will be visiting lots of UK tango venues, classes and milongas. Leaders, if you get a chance to dance with Sally, don’t try to impress her with your flashiest moves. Just dance your best, most connected dance possible and be rewarded with the gift. Followers, don’t be shy to ask Carlos for a dance. It’s not every day you get a chance to dance with a porteño so make the most of it.
On Tuesday afternoon I met Bob and his wife, Viv, in a bookshop/CD shop/café called Crack Up in Palermo Soho. I arrived a bit late because on the way there I found some street art/graffiti which caught my eye and was worth a photo or two. I thought mermaids were supposed to be pretty things. Not this one…

Timekeeping in social situations here is very lax and I think they forgave me. Bob and Viv have an apartment here and come as often as possible. It’s funny, we were envious of each other’s circumstances. I’d like to be able to come here more often, they’d like to be able to stay for longer when they come. Maybe when we all win the lottery or don’t have to bother with that pesky work nonsense any more we’ll be able to. We chatted for almost three hours about all things tango related and the time just flew by. Finally they had to leave to shop for a mirror for their apartment.

Afterwards I wandered around the cobbled streets of Palermo Soho in the late afternoon sunshine taking a few more photos. This afternoon I’ve messed about with selectively colouring a few of them, the results are in my Palermo Soho set on Flickr, along with the ones that made me late for our meeting.
Tango this week has been a bit disappointing, at least on the quantity front. El Beso on Tuesday was a waste of time and money. There were less than 40 people, an excess of leaders and not much dancing for me. I met another Brit there, David from Norwich, who is here for a couple of weeks. He’s not been impressed with the quality or quantity of dances he’s been getting. This really isn’t a good time of year to come for a short stay, especially for leaders. I suggested he try Sueño Porteño on Wednesday night.
Happily for both of us Sueño Porteño was nearly full, although like everywhere else I’ve been recently with an excess of leaders. The locals were friendly as always and we both danced a reasonable number of tandas. Last night I went back to El Beso which was about three quarters full and again with an excess of leaders. It was another 3 tanda experience for me, partly due to a duff seat (my own fault, I should have arrived earlier) and the mostly porteña followers not wanting to take a chance on a gringo. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. David was there too and had a similar experience. I think for now I can scrub El Beso off the list of places to go any night except Sunday. We left about 11:30pm to try our luck elsewhere. It was a toss up between Salón Canning and Niño Bien. I’ve had mixed experiences at both on a Thursday night. David was disappointed at Niño Bien last week so we went to Canning. It was the quietest I’ve seen it, less than 40 people and some of them obviously just there to watch. It was nice to have so much more space to dance in than usual, but a shame there were so few followers available to utilise it.

Tonight I will try somewhere new for me, La Nacional.

How was your tango this week, and did you meet anyone interesting?

Random observations

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Apparently I may be a soulless techie barbarian, at least in some respects. No one actually said as much but reading between the lines that was the gist. Never mind, here are a few random observations related to Argentina and Buenos Aires.

Inflation is something that the Argentinians are very familiar with. In 2009 Argentina had the third highest rate of inflation in the world. In 2010 it may overtake Congo and Venezuela and reach the top of the league table. I’ve noticed it myself in taxi fares, the cost of mints and breath fresheners and McNuggets. 8 weeks ago a McNuggets (go large) meal cost $24 (pesos, not US dollars). Now it costs $26. That’s an 8.5% increase in 2 months. Some economic experts predict the annual rate could reach 40% in 2010. If McNuggets keep going up at the rate I’ve seen they’ll cost me about $30 by the time I’m due to come home at the end of September.

The state of the pavements here in Buenos Aires is shocking. There are 2 problems: dog poo and “potholes”. It’s obvious where the dog poo comes from and the porteños do nothing to clear up after their dogs. Utility companies (or whoever) dig holes in the pavements (sidewalks for the American readers) but seem to never make good the holes. They fill them in with dirt but forget to put back the tiles or slabs or whatever was there before they started. While walking around you need to keep at least one eye on the ground at all times to avoid stepping in something squishy and stinky, or breaking your ankle on the broken surface. There are a few photos of the pavements near my apartment over at Flickr. They were taken on Av. Santa Fe and Av. Scalabrini Ortiz and are typical of the pavements I’ve seen all over the city. I know, you’d have to be really bored to look at them, but you could check out the less boring pictures at the same time.

Argentina, or at least Buenos Aires, must be a good place to be a dentist. Porteños in particular, possibly Argentinians in general, collectively have a very sweet tooth. There are panaderias (bakeries) all over the city selling all manner of delicious, sweet, teeth rotting, calorie laden facturas (pastries). Virtually all the breakfast cereals are sugar coated crap of some form. The porteños love their dulce de leche (think caramel but made with milk and sugar), they put it on and/or in just about everything, including facturas. One tried to tell me it was healthy because it’s made with milk. And a whole lot of sugar! I’m sure by the time they’ve spent hours cooking it, virtually all the milk has evaporated and what’s left is basically caramelised sugar. So I imagine the dentists here do very well. Even without all the cosmetic work they do. The facturas are delicious though! Here are some I ate yesterday.

OK, 3 things there not helping the soulless techie barbarian image – a discussion of inflation, admitting to eating an occasional McDonalds meal (less than one a week, honest!) and photos of potholes in the pavements.