It was the second time this trip that I got to hear my favourite orchestra play, but the first time I could actually dance to it …
There are a great many things which amaze me about Buenos Aires. One of them is that you can learn on Friday that Romantica Milonguera is playing live at a milonga in just three days’ time – and easily secure a front row table reservation. Another is that the entry cost is £2.40.
Of course, that wasn’t the total cost of the evening. By the time we’d added in taxis both ways, empanadas, water, a bottle of the local equivalent of Prosecco, and tips, the total for two of us had hit £23.20. Just call us the last of the big spenders.
It was originally going to be four of us, but a friend of Steph’s was in town for just a few days, and he wanted to go to Muy Lunes, so she went there instead. And poor Antonio wasn’t feeling well, so opted to go to bed instead. That left Maria and I in sole charge of representing our respective nations.
There had initially been some miscommunication via WhatsApp, with me under the impression that RM would be playing at 10.30pm. Steph spotted this, and I then messaged them again to find that the orchestra would be playing at around 1am. It was clear that I wouldn’t be getting much sleep that night, but I didn’t care!
Milonga 23: Parakuktural at Salon Canning
Despite my multiple visits, Salon Canning still manages to maintain its legendary status in my mind! Yet I don’t feel intimidated there. Admittedly this is likely because I’ve always attended Parakultural milongas; I know there are some higher-level milongas there where I would almost certainly feel extremely intimidated! But still, the level is high – it’s just that there’s nothing flashy about the dancing. It’s simple dance, done extremely well. And while the latter part is still an ambition, I can get dances there even in a pretty role-balanced room.
This time, however, there was to be no inaugural milonga tanda! I waited patiently for suitable music. Maria, not sharing my discomfort with rhythmical tandas, had by this time accepted her first cabeceo. She told me afterwards that it felt every bit as good as it looked.
A few tandas went by, and I had to accept that I wasn’t going to get Pugliese or Troilo at this time of night, so cabeceod Maria for a Calo tanda. (I’d like to pretend I recognised the composer, but in reality Shazammed it.) This was a really good blend of rhythmical and lyrical music. The calm pace of the dance here, coupled to an excellent partner, meant I felt very comfortable with this – and Maria can testify that it even involved some double-time!
It was a beautiful tanda, and I felt completely back on form after feeling rather less so at Sans Souci. The floorcraft here is superb (at least in the outer ronda), so no need for dodgems! It’s so relaxing dancing with a great partner in a place with perfect floorcraft and calm dancers all around.
I again enjoyed a relaxed mix of chatting, drinking and dancing. Given that we’d arrived at 10.30pm and for sure wouldn’t be leaving before 2am, I felt completely able to just dance the tandas that inspired me. I had some (textbook) cabeceo refusals, of course, but was able to find partners every time I wanted to dance, with the exception of a single tanda.
Of course, when Romantica Milonga started playing, I wanted to dance every song!
First, though, there was a performance. Those who know me will know that I don’t possess the spectating gene. It doesn’t matter how much I enjoy participating in an activity, I have no interest in watching other people do it. I view performances as an annoying interruption to a milonga. However …
Rocio Lequio and Bruno Tombari were an incredibly rare exception! I was absolutely captivated by their dance. There are two things, I think, which leave me cold about most performances. First, they quite often prioritise physically impressive acrobatics over expression of the music from start to finish. That is, most of their dance expresses the music, but then there are sections in which they appear be going for Technical Difficulty scores rather than Artistic Interpretation. Second, what they dance often bears limited relation to social tango.
But Rocio and Bruno were totally different. Every single step, pivot and shimmy was in perfect sync with the music. And it was recognisable as tango – rather than show tango – throughout. I loved it, even if my attention was split between them and the orchestra.
Afterwards, though, it was straight onto the floor!
I danced five or six songs with Maria, and we got very briefly and fuzzily featured in a video RM posted on Facebook (third video). I then immediately cabeceod another follower and danced four or five more with her. Another and another followed (with the aid of roaming cabeceo in the latter case), and I was in heaven. My favourite orchestra, live. What has become one of my favourite milongas. Fantastic dancers. I didn’t sit down at any point in the set (all photos (well, video frame-grabs) taken while the performers were dancing).
Admittedly the extremely crowded floor did create some evasive manoeuvres when forced into the centre, but nothing Viruta-like, and I just found it fun.
I even danced a milonga! At least, it started as what seemed to be a milonga, then morphed into … I’m not sure what. It seemed kind of salsa-like. However, whatever it was, my follower clearly knew it well, as she started singing along. I immediately handed over the lead to her, and she led a kind of jive-type dance which somehow was easy for me to follow despite me having no idea how it worked! It was a kind of elastic back-and-forth movement while we rotated, and took me only a few seconds to pick up what she was doing. After that we had great fun for the rest of the song, and ended it with a laugh and big hug.
That turned out to be the last of the live songs. I returned to our table, and while the recorded music was very nice, I felt sated. I said to Maria that I was happy to stay or go as she liked, and she too was ready to end on a high note. We were home around 3am.
I was buzzing too much to go to bed immediately, so it was well after 4am by the time I crawled into bed, and I still couldn’t sleep. I eventually did so at around 4.30am, having a good night’s sleep for 1h 45m before it was time to get up and start work.
Totally worth it!