The new X

Practica X

Práctica X has moved. It used to be at Humboldt 1464, a big cavernous venue with a polished concrete tile floor, comfortable chairs and settees and an ultra-cool ambiance. Now it lives at Viejo Correo (Av. Diaz Velez, 4820), a battered old former post office with a smaller floor, rickety chairs and a more clubby atmosphere.

Tuesday 3 August was the opening night in its new venue. To boost the interest and encourage a good turnout there were a couple of big name acts on the bill. Live music from orquesta Sexteto Milonguero and an exhibition performance by Gustavo Naveira and Giselle Anne.

Viejo Correo is a rectangular venue with the entrance on one of the short sides. Once inside there is a seating area with tables and chairs for maybe 50 people, then the rectangular pista (about half the area of the old one) with a single row of seats (backs to the walls) and small tables down the long sides, then another seating area with tables and chairs for about another 50 people, and at the very back the bar and above it a stage.The class was well attended but the practica got off to a slightly slow start. The place was full by about midnight with hot-seating going on. I didn’t count heads but it felt like there were more people than I have seen in the old venue.

The pista is about half the area (rectangular) of that at Humboldt 1464 (square). The dancers appeared to be doing a poor job of adapting to the smaller floor. Figures which would not look too large in the old venue suddenly looked huge and more importantly invaded other couples’ space in the new venue. Also anyone seated on the chairs down the long sides of the pista was in danger of being stabbed or slashed by a flying stiletto. I went with three friends, two of us were kicked or trodden on.

Sexteto Milonguero started playing at about 1:30am. I had a cold and wasn’t dancing but was taking photos (some of which you can see in my Practica X set at Flickr) instead. So I wasn’t paying enough attention to the music to comment on how good they were. Gustavo Naveira and Giselle Anne danced their exhibition at about 2:30 to live music from the orchestra and rapturous applause from the crowd. Honestly I was underwhelmed. If I can persuade YouTube to play ball I’ll upload a video of their third and final dance.

We left after the exhibition, as did many other people. Probably for the final hour or so after that the pista wasn’t too crowded. I really liked Practica X in its old home, in the old post office not so much.

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6 Responses to “The new X”

  1. Cherie says:

    I didn’t realize that the new venue you mentioned was the “old” post office!
    Many years ago I frequented Viejo Correo every Tuesday night and Friday afternoon, but I stopped going when it fell out of “fashion” and my favorite dancers stopped going too. It hung in there as a club de barrio after remodeling in 2005 for “Cromagnon” upgrades. But honestly as a venue for the Practica X crowd, I imagine it’s a disaster. Being cozy and clubby is not conducive to athletic moves in trainers. But at least this historic salon is going for a new life, as many places are these days in order to stay open.

    • Mark says:

      Maybe after the novelty has worn off, and the festival has finished the numbers will drop to a more suitable level for the available space. Or maybe not, since then we’ll be heading back into tourist season.
      Practica X at Humboldt 1464 was spectator sport for me and the spectacle at Viejo Correo is no longer as impressive as it used to be. It now has about as much appeal as Villa Malcolm and Loca! must be the new top dog amongst the informal practicas/milongas.

  2. Tangobob says:

    I used to love Viejo Correo on a Tuesday night, but last year we found it closed on a tuesday. There seems to have been something of a revival this year but tuesday it stayed firmly closed. So I am happy that something at least is happening. It would be a shame for the old place to close.
    I noticed also that they do not serve food now and the table arrangements do not make it easy to reach the floor. Still nothing stays the same and with luck another of my regular venues will go on for years more.

    • Mark says:

      They were definitely serving food the night I went. Maybe it was because it was the opening night. It’s possible I’ll be back there next Tuesday so I’ll check. What happens on the other nights of the week I have no idea!

  3. Maraya says:

    It sounds like the newest location is more like the older location on Medrano – before Humboldt. I preferred the original location and only went to Humboldt a couple of times – feeling it too sterile. I equate Viejo Correo with a more traditional milonga – that’s my experience there. I agree – those of us who dance have to learn to keep our feet down near the floor in smaller crowded venues.

    • Mark says:

      Hi Maraya,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m a Buenos Aires newbie so I don’t know about Practica X before December 2009. I understand the other milongas held at Viejo Correo are indeed traditional but I’ve not personally tried any of them.

      Cheers,
      Mark.

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