Archive for September, 2010

Bloody annoyed

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Last night was wet and miserable. I debated staying in or going dancing. Niño Bien or Club Gricel would be my choice. At about 10:40pm I decided dancing was the thing to do and given the time, and that I hadn’t been for three weeks, Niño Bien was the place to go.

A number 12 colectivo got me to within a few blocks and I scurried the remaining distance, thankful that the rain had eased off. Despite getting a fairly crappy seat I danced most of the tango and one of the vals tandas until deciding I was all done at about 3am. None of the dances were spectacular, only one was disappointing and it wasn’t the one with the shortest partner.

On the way out of the milonga and not for the first time I stopped and admired photographer Daniel Flores’ tango related prints. He displays them every Thursday at Niño Bien, and some nights at Salón Canning too. There is one favourite that always catches my eye and a couple of others that get a second look. Daniel appeared beside me and began chatting about his work. The prints were $50 (pesos not dollars) each, for three only $40 each. I had more cash than usual in my pocket – I had come prepared for a taxi one or both ways and possibly a second milonga if Niño Bien had turned into a flop. Getting them back to the UK undamaged may be tricky but the prints will look nice framed and hanging on my walls. So I splashed the cash and left with three very nice black and white prints for $120 in a plastic bag. A bargain. Or so I thought.

Outside it was raining hard. I had just enough cash left for a taxi but opted for the colectivo. Half way to the bus stop I changed my mind when a taxi turned the corner in front of me with his red light on. “Santa Fe and Malabia” I said. My daysack went on the floor, the prints flat on the back seat next to me. In the five months I’ve been here I’ve taken three taxis except for the two weeks when Sam and Jo were here. When I was sharing a cab with them I’d usually ask for Santa Fe and Scalabrini Ortiz, it was just easier, but given the rain I thought I’d ask for the closer option – only a quarter of a block to walk instead of three quarters. Standard operating procedure would have been for the driver to tear down Cordoba, playing the red light game, hang a right at Scalabini Ortiz and then left at Santa Fe. I got the not-boy-racer driver who took a more sedate route along Soler and then decided to get sneaky and try to nudge up the fare by crossing Scalabrini Ortiz and Malabia and then having to  turn down Armenia and double back along Santa Fe – adding two blocks to the fare. I objected and when we pulled up at Santa Fe and Malabia a minute later he knocked half a peso off the fare. Irritated and distracted I paid and climbed out taking my prints with me.

When I walked past the mirror in the lobby on the way to the stairs I half thought something was wrong. It was only when I got upstairs, into the apartment, through the kitchen and into my room that I worked out what was wrong. I went out with one bag, I arrived home with one bag. My daysack containing my tango shoes and a few other odds and ends was not on my back. It was still in the back of a taxi last seen driving off along Malabia. The odds and ends included my Ixus 70 compact camera. So my three prints for £20 actually cost a pair of shoes, a digital camera, a daysack and some odds and ends. Another £250 or so. Damn. I am bloody annoyed.

Mental notes to self:

  • don’t buy things you really don’t need
  • don’t be lazy and take a taxi just because it’s raining
  • notice and remember the taxi number when getting in
  • don’t forget to take ALL your belongings with you when getting out of said taxi

Los finales (part 2)

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Tuesday night in Buenos Aires was the final of the stage tango category of the 2010 mundial de baile. It was held at Luna Park which the previous night had hosted about 7000 spectators for the final of the salon tango. I had the impression that there were slightly fewer people there for the stage tango final.

At 6:30pm I didn’t have a ticket but headed down to Luna Park anyway. The boleteria had no tickets (they weren’t supposed to, theoretically they were all given out for free two weeks ago) but there were several guys hanging around near the booths who looked like touts. I approached one with a couple of tickets in his hand and before I could say anything he asked if I wanted tickets for the mundial. It turned out he had two spare tickets he wanted to give to an extranjero in the spirit of spreading tango to the foreigners. My bum isn’t big enough to need two seats so I thanked him and took just one ticket. Unlike my tickets for the salon final this one actually had a seat number so I took the designated seat and found myself a bit closer to the stage than the previous night.

Proceedings kicked off a little after 7pm with the host again jabbering on in castellano at about a thousand words a minute. I picked out “20 couples” and something about who the judges were.

There were two warm-up acts and eventually the host introduced the first couple of finalists and they walked out onto stage. Their music started and they launched into their carefully choreographed routine. As did the next nine couples. They danced to a variety of tangos but they all felt a bit samey to me and none of the choreographies really wowed me. I’m sure they were all good but I was somehow expecting more and felt disappointed.  We might not have been able to deliver a routine with as much style and polish as these couples but I am sure my partner for the salon category, Jo, could have choreographed a better routine than any of these. Color Tango seemed to be the most popular orchestra. The host re-appeared, explained we’d have the second half of the couples in a few minutes and banged on again about something. My mind wandered.

The couples in the second half seemed a bit more interesting than those in the first half. More interesting dresses for the ladies, more interesting and varied music and choreographies but still a preference for tango renditions by Color Tango. That’s not a criticism of Color Tango; I have enjoyed listening to and dancing to them playing live on a couple of occasions in the last five months. Stage tango really isn’t my cup of tea and I was quite pleased when the 20th couple finished their routine.

The host appeared again and banged on about something and the giant screens either side of the stage started to show film from 1983 of Juan Carlos Copes and Maria Nieves dancing. You would have been forgiven for thinking it was a live performance, the audience loved it and were clapping and cheering most of the way through. When it finished the host introduced Maria Nieves to rapturous applause from the crowd. They then wheeled out about a dozen of her colleagues to pay tribute to her. Each presented her with a big bouquet of flowers until the poor woman almost disappeared underneath them all. They rescued her from the floral overload, she removed her coat and danced a routine with I-don’t-know-who. He didn’t look old enough to be Carlos Copes. I didn’t catch his name in the commentary and I can’t find it online today. She is nearly 72  yet to my mind they danced a more interesting routine than any of the competitors. I thought they thoroughly deserved their standing ovation.

Afterwards it was time for the results of the competition. The couples filed back onto stage to hear their fate. As in the salon category there was a prize for the most elegant couple and then the top 5 were announced in reverse order

  • 5th: Eber Alejandro Burger – Yesica Lorena Lozano Elias (Lanús, Argentina)
  • 4th: Leonardo Luizaga – Paola Giselle Luizaga (Zárate, Argentina)
  • 3rd: Cristián Andres Lopez – Naoko Tsutsumizaki (Tokio, Japón)
  • 2nd: Cristián Correa – Manuela Rossi (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • and the champions: Diego Ortega – Chizuko Kuwamoto (Colón, Argentina)

This seemed like a good time to leave so I have no idea what the show by Susana Rinaldi and Osvaldo Piro and el Orqesta Escuela de Tango was like. A longer lens and a better seat would have been good but there are some photos in my Stage tango finals set at Flickr.

I thoroughly enjoyed the salon final on Monday night and if I’m here next year I’ll go again. The stage final on Tuesday was more of a thing to be experienced. It was interesting to see, I’ve been once, don’t need to go again.