Los finales (part 1)

Last night was the final of the tango salon category of the Buenos Aires 2010 mundial de baile. It was held at Luna Park and it was a brilliant night.

Using the pair of tickets I received for entering el campeonato I went with a friend to see how the really good dancers do it. We took a taxi from Palermo and arrived at the stadium about 35 minutes later. Our tickets specifed a gate and area but there was no assigned seating. When we arrived the venue was about half full already. We found a couple of free seats (hard plastic bolted to the concrete – take a cushion if you don’t want a numb bum) and soaked up the atmosphere.

Proceedings began not long after the scheduled 7pm start time with the host jabbering away in fast castellano. I understood from the “Rah rah Buenos Aires” rabble rousing content that there would be 4 rondas of 10 couples each, 3 tangos per ronda. The winners would get AR$20,000 and there were assorted other prizes including one for most elegant couple. He also introduced all the judges and probably said something about what would happen after the couples had danced. This was followed by a short slide show on the giant screens either side of the stage of photos from the national championships which were held in May. The host re-appeared and started to introduce the couples for the first ronda. As each couple was called they walked onto stage, paraded round and took up a position at the back of the stage. They obviously hadn’t practised this or been given very explicit directions by the stage assistants. The audience clapped and cheered for their friends/favourites as they entered. There was a very noisy and enthusiastic Columbian contingent sat close to us. Once all the couples were on stage they spaced themselves around the perimeter and waited. Just before the lights dimmed I looked around and saw that the stadium was now almost full.

The host called for the music and the dancing began. I don’t envy the judges their job and have no idea how they managed to keep track of all the couples. I videoed the first tango of the first ronda and then put the camera down to watch the dancing more closely. It was all exquisite and it was very easy to concentrate on just one couple and miss out on what the others were doing. I recognised one of the couples from the first ronda that Jo and I danced in last week. After their three tangos the host re-appeared, thanked the couples and they left the stage to be replaced by the next group.

After all four rondas the stage hands busied themselves for a couple of minutes arranging the music stands and microphones and a tango orchestra appeared. The host introduced them and they played one tango. The host re-appeared, jabbered away in rapid castellano and an old guy walked onstage with an assistant carrying his bandoneon. This was Leopoldo Federico and the crowd went wild. He took centre position in the orchestra and they played another tango. Another old guy appeared, this one a singer. I didn’t catch his name. He was good, sounded like he gargled ground glass every morning and as Jo would have said, had a good head of hair. He sang for one tango and disappeared. For the next tango Miguel Angel Zotto and Daiana Guspero appeared and danced together in front of the orchestra. The orchestra played a few more tangos and then Leopoldo Federico shuffled offstage, an assistant again carrying his bandoneon.

A conductor, Carlos Franzetti, appeared and for the next few tangos waved his arms around enthusiastically. I have no musical training. I am baffled by the point of conductors. Especially when the orchestra managed perfectly well without one for the first half of the show. For the second half they were also accompanied by a singer wearing a pork-pie hat – Rubén Blades. Please don’t misunderstand my flippant tone. The orchestra, singers and dancers were all absolutely brilliant. First class entertainment and all for free. I wouldn’t have missed this night for anything.

The orchestra cleared the stage and the host re-appeared. All the couples filed back onstage for the results. It was a squeeze getting 40 couples into a semi circle at the back of the stage, something else they obviously hadn’t rehearsed. The first prize awarded was for the most elegant couple. I’d have given it to someone else but that’s because I was rather taken with the woman’s red dress. Then the host announced the top 5 couples in reverse order. They were

  • 5th: Frank Carlos Obregon Delci – Jenny Carolina Gil Alvarez (Caracas, Venezuela)
  • 4th: Ariel Manzanares – Daniela Sol Cerquides (Bs As, Argentina)
  • 3rd: Cristian Andrés López – Naoko Tsutsumizaki (Tokyo, Japan)
  • 2nd: Diego Ezequiel Pérez – Maria Soledad Cantarini (Rosario, Argentina)
  • and the champions: Sebastián Ariel Jimenez y Maria Inés Bogado (Bs As, Argentina)

The champions are just 18 years old. They certainly looked very young and understandably overjoyed at their success.

After the results there was a two tango show dance by the champions from previous years and finally another dance from the new champions.

The whole event lasted about 3 hours. It would certainly have been worth queing for 5 hours for a ticket. Afterwards, starving, we walked up Avenida Corrientes looking for somewhere to eat. We found a rather nice restaurant, Sorrento I think it was called, on the left hand side between Avenida Florida and El Obelisco. Refueled we headed off for a night of dancing at Club Gricel. I’m hoping I can score a ticket for tonight’s final of the stage tango at Luna Park. If so, there will be a part 2 report tomorrow.

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8 Responses to “Los finales (part 1)”

  1. Cherie says:

    Sorrento is my very favorite restaurant in BsAs! Lucky you to have just happened upon it.

    But what the public wants to know is your opinion of how the contestants danced and if you were in agreement with the judges?

    • Mark says:

      Ha! You mean “get off the fence and nail your colours to the mast”.

      Let’s say I wouldn’t have made the same choices as the judges. Most of the couples I watched danced using a dynamic embrace. This was true at all the stages of el campeonato. In the final I saw some giros in a really close embrace from some couples, but most were open to varying degrees. I was concentrating more on appreciating the overall event than critiquing individual couples’ technical prowess.

  2. jantango says:

    In case you don’t obtain a ticket, get together with friends and watch the live broadcast on Channel 5 or http://www.c5nenvivo.com.ar via internet.

    • Mark says:

      Thanks, Janis. I rocked up at Luna Park about 10 minutes before 7pm and blagged a ticket from an Argentine guy who had a couple of spares he wanted to give to extranjeros. I’ll have a blog report on proceedings tomorrow.

  3. Great report Mark – thanks so much! Great to read about the whole night – almost as good as being there! Well…

  4. June says:

    Thanks for the account – I was there myself and thoroughly enjoyed all semi-finals and finals. Just for the record, a different source has reported the ages of the Salon tango champions as 18 for him and 29 for her. In the Stage category, it is 21 for him and 42 for her. Interesting to note that it pays to dance with an older woman!

    • Mark says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’d be very surprised if Maria Ines Bogado is as old as 29. There are several older women I like dancing with. None of them pay me! I must be doing something wrong…

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