Argentina, November 2007

This is an account of my trip to Buenos Aires. I am writing it in multiple chapters. Click one of the links to jump to an individual chapter or back to the photos page:

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Chapter 2

Sunday - Tuesday , November 11-13, 2007

Sundays at our hotel, more like a bread and breakfast actually, they don't serve breakfast which in any case consists of coffee or tea and some slightly sweet media lunas, (crescent rolls) and a few unsweetened breakfast rolls of the type usually served with dinner here. Anyway, left to our own devices, we went out for breakfast to a delightful cafe nearby and had almost the same fare we do on other days. Better quality and a nicer atmosphere but not significantly different. The coffee drinkers might have a different assessment because our hotel has instant and the cafe had espresso and other coffee based drinks to delight those who more than abide the taste of coffee. I myself am a tea drinker having been introduced to tea as a child by my British (at least by heritage) grandmother. So, like most Brits, I take it with sugar and milk, or with cream if such is available. A decent quality tea bag with hot water is much the same in one location as any other so this breakfast was much the same as any other here.

After our morning sojourn, we repaired to the hotel to get ready for our first classes at Pulpo's Tango Week. Pulpo and his partner Luiza, as some of you know, are marvelous dancers with their own unique style. I have studied with them many times in both a class setting and in private lessons. Needless to say, though I'll say it anyway, I really like their style. You can see several videos of them by searching Pulpo Tango on YouTube.

The classes here are not all taught by Pulpo and Luiza. In fact, they are teaching only three out of over sixty sessions. There are other, mostly wonderful, teachers teaching other styles and other steps. Much like the Portland Tango Week and other festivals, there are different tracks but here, they are not broken down to beginning, intermediate, and advanced. Instead, each day begins with one of three classes, absolute beginners, men's technique, or women's technique. It should come as no shock that Denis, Roy, and I are taking the men's technique class. So far, I have not found this class very useful, though Denis in particular liked the Enrosque taught the first day. From there, the schedule goes in all directions with three choices for each hour and a half session. The true beginners must certainly be overwhelmed if they take classes after the first session.
Following the men's technique on Sunday and Monday was the first two classes by Pulpo and Luiza. They were, as usually, terrific and built on solid lead and follow technique. What they teach sometimes looks easy when they do it but can be difficult, especially if the technique foundation is not firmly in place.

On Sunday, buoyed by the exhilaration of the Pulpeadea class, all but Roy went to the musicality class. I knew things were on a downward spiral when we started the class with ten minutes or so of yogic exercises and continued with more exercises that had nothing whatsoever to do with music or musicality. Afterwards, the consensus was that it was a wasted hour and a half. Imagine my disappointment when Monday's fundamentals class was taught by the same couple. And, you guessed it, it also started with ten minutes of yoga inspired exercises then twenty minutes or more of "play" with our shoes. Sliding them around the room with our feet, kicking them across the room, and generally mixing them up in the middle of the floor. When we did, eventually get to some real technique instruction, it was a cursory coverage of Molinetes with little explanation.

After a disappointing start, the next class was with Pulpo and Luiza and it again was wonderful. I decided to skip the musicality class and instead got permission to change to a class titled Double Ganchos. I should explain that we had to pre-register for our classes so that they could maintain a gender balance and not over-full a particular room. The latter goal was not very well realized.

Anyway, the Double Ganchos class was great. By teaching a long sequence, we learned several techniques and, of course the individual steps that made up the sequence. It was a complex set of somewhat unusual steps but my partner and I had little trouble with it so that we were able to work on some of the finer details. I was also trying to learn the follow's part so that I could teach the individual parts in my classes back in Corvallis.

The others took a different class during that session and they also really enjoyed what they learned. After that class, they decided to go back to the hotel. Even Roy, who was registered for the Milonga Traspie class that I was taking, chose to skip it so he could walk back to the hotel, about three miles distant. Which reminds me, I haven't yet mentioned the Milonga class.

In general, I have never been a big fan of Milonga which explains why I seldom teach it in my classes. Knowing that gap in both my passion and knowledge, I signed up for Milonga Traspie (say mee-LONG-ga trass-pee-AY while trying to sound like Ricardo Montalban). The tango dancers reading this know Milonga to be a faster version of tango. Milonga Traspie is Milonga with frequent manic bursts of quick steps. It is well loved by other dancers so it made sense to me to learn it and give myself a chance to fall in love with it.

Another reason I signed up for this class is that it was to be taught by the famous Omar Vega. Unfortunately, Vega backed out and they replaced him with another couple. I don't know how good his class would have been but the new instructors, Luis Solanas and Maria Jose Iglesias were delightful. Of course it didn't hurt that Maria is drop-dead gorgeous. A fellow student, Jacqueline (Jacque) from Ireland and Chicago, described Luis as Hot! So much so that it took her a moment to compose herself afterwards. I the second session with them, there were too few follows (or too many leads) so I danced the first steps with Maria. I don't think it was the quickness of the Milonga or the vigorous dancing that made my heart beat double-time.

Regardless of the attractiveness of the teachers, the class was really fun and the teachers were engaging and amusing. I found myself thinking that I might actually get to like this dance. One more Milonga class to go on Friday but it is at the same time as the Vals (tango waltz) which is my favorite. Still, with just the two Milonga classes, I have learned some new steps, some new techniques, and a growing appreciation of Milonga Traspie.

Tuesday Night

It is now twenty minutes before midnight on Tuesday. We just returned from a wonderful dinner at a very nice local restaurant. We also ate there on Sunday and it was just as good then. Both times I had beef tenderloin, the first time with mushrooms in a brown sauce with round (spherical really but that sounds too technical) potatoes about the size of marbles. It was tender and delicious. Tonight I had the same cut of meet but this time cooked with a variety of fruits: orange, pineapple, kiwi, strawberry, and peach in a sauce similar to the one on Sunday. Not quite as rare as I wanted but so tender and tasty it didn't matter.

After dinner, we took taxis (thee are five of us so it is Nicole, Lynn, and Denis on one cab and Roy and I in another) to another bar/restaurant where our tango teachers from our visit two years ago, Carlos Sosto and Romina Veron were performing (click on the link to see them on YouTube. They were terrific and really outclassed the other three couples. We saw them on Sunday at Confeteria Ideal where they were hosting a milonga. I'm thinking of trying to schedule a private lesson with them on Thursday of our schedules mesh.

So far I have taken no pictures. The batteries for my camera were dead and I haven't yet found new ones. Maybe this will be a photo-less trip though perhaps I can get some of Denis' pictures and post them in place of my own.

Good night children.

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