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Old 01-25-2013, 07:29 AM   #49
porkandcorn OP
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Joined: Jan 2011
Location: Portland, Oregon
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fight at the milonga! - buenos aires, argentina

last night a fight broke out at the tango club. i had nothing to do with it.

i figured if there was one thing i was obliged to do while in buenos aires, it would be to head out to a milonga, or tango club. this is something that is quintessentially of buenos aires, and defines the experience of living in or visiting this place. when i first arrived, david and zoe arranged for a tango lesson on their balcony for myself and some guests. i met gustavo and jorgelina, a couple who teach. they invited me to the milonga where they have classes on thursday nights.


la catedral milonga, almagro, buenos aires, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

the club - la catedral - was a very friendly place. very casual and very approachable. it's a converted warehouse, with odd art hung on the walls. there is a 15 foot tall representation of a human heart hanging from the ceiling that glows red. it's off the beaten path, not like the tourist shows that most gringos see. these were real porteņos out for a night of dancing with their friends and families.

i took the tango course with jorgelina. i have to say that i'm starting to understand the dance. i'd taken classes about 3 years ago in portland, but it never stuck. something about being here in BA is helping with the retention. i feel more responsible for what i'm being taught, out of respect for the culture and the strong tradition.

the lesson ended, and a live 4 piece band began to set up for the open dance that was about to begin. already, some pros were working the floor while the band prepped. there was an old man with a tall beautiful young woman. you could tell by the way he moved her around that he was respected on the dance floor. she was challenged by his skill, but she was also talented. i was transfixed on them, it was very relaxing to watch them move from my darkened seat against the wall, in the back.


la catedral milonga, almagro, buenos aires, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

the singer of the band was very attractive blonde women in a tight black dress, probably in her late twenties. she was a performer, probably from the gringo tango circuit - maybe on an off night at la cathedral. but her voice was incredible and the band was amazing.

there was a table of spanish-speaking tourists in front of me. between songs, people would applaud and pound on the tables in respect. a gentleman in front of me said something that caught the singer's ear between songs. i think he was just trying to get into the spirit, but she didn't like the sound of it. she walked away from the microphone and over to his table. she looked him in the eye while everyone in the club looked on. she said something, that probably was not very nice. the table of tourists, men and women in their 30s, were shocked. the singer walked back to the microphone like nothing had happened. she's the brooding, self-tortured artist type - the kind that burn out quick in life. if i were to guess, i'd say she was high on something by the way she moved around between songs.

a few songs passed, and the table in front of me and people around them were talking about what happened. i was still watching the dancers, they moved beautifully. i lost track of the gentlemen who'd been confronted by the singer.

then after the next song, there was a commotion out in the hallway near the bathroom. there were men chasing other men, moving back and forth. i saw punches being thrown. i saw them go to the ground i think. another man came out to the dancefloor from that area and yelled something, likely "hey get in here these guys are fighting." the confronted tourists then walks across the dancefloor back to his table after a couple of minutes of turned heads and gasps. he's dripping blood from his nose as he walks back to his seat. he begins to yell, something about he going to get the police... this is all in spanish and i'm trying to piece it all together.


la catedral milonga, almagro, buenos aires, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

the bombshell singer runs across the dance floor, half restrained by the bass player following behind her. she hurls a few choice insults i don't understand, but they are beautifully spoken, with as much talent as her singing. i was fascinated. i hear the verb "matar" (to kill). she clearly wasn't a very happy girl. she's lead away. the bloody guy gets up and walks out, presumably to get the police. the dj puts some music on and after a few seconds, there are 2, 3, 5 couples on the dance floor, trying to get on with their night.


la catedral milonga, almagro, buenos aires, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i couldn't have been happier with that milonga, as it was extremely entertaining and an experience i will never forget. maybe it will help set the tango that i learned into my memory? if you are in BA, check this place out. it's not a seedy place, it was just a weird night.
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