Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Milongas of Buenos Aires: Milonga 10

Some people have taken the trouble to write and say they're enjoying these blogs about Buenos Aires tango, so I'm doing a few more. This one is about my visit to Milonga 10. Enjoy!

In the show 'Midnight Tango' the action is set in a Buenos Aires tango bar. It's a regular bar but the tables have been pushed back to allow space to dance. The doors swing open and the cast walk in in ones and twos, form couples on the floor and starts dancing wonderful tangos for the delight of the audience.

It's the myth of the Tango Bar. You read about it in books and see it in plays and films. But in five visits to Buenos Aires, I've never seen one. You need space for a milonga, so they're held in dance halls or ballrooms or, like the famous Sunderland, basket ball courts. I would have sworn that the Tango Bar doesn't exist. And then I went to one.

Milonga 10 is held at Club Fulgar. We'd read that you should arrive early, so we were there soon after it opened. We walked into a bar with a small floor surrounded by tables. Two couples were dancing while a few people sat around drinking. We thought we had made a mistake and then we realised what we were seeing. These people weren't your regular tango dancers. They were about as good as we had ever seen. The leading lights of 'Midnight Tango' had started their performance.

The stars of this show were never going to make it onto the West End stage. She was neither young nor lissome and he, frankly, could have lost a couple of stone without noticing the difference. But they danced like angels.

Their support acts were a couple who moved so perfectly together that you could never spot a lead, just a harmony of locomotion that really did make them one dancer with four legs. And then came the girl with librarian's glasses and impossibly long legs who placed every step with sensuous perfection.

One couple would be joined by another, people dancing or sitting out as these stars dominated the room and the rest of us just watched. Then the street doors swung open and gradually the rest of the cast appeared.

By 11.30 the place was filling up and the audience began to storm the stage, the tiny floor packing out with serious dancers. This was no place for passing liaisons. These guys knew their partners and they knew their dance.

We left around 1.00., no longer wanting to fight for our place in the crowd. But we had been there, dancing in that tango bar, supporting parts in our very own 'Midnight Tango'.

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