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Festivities in Buenos Aires 2017

 

(Photo copyright Beatrice Murch)

I am pretty sure that I was at least 10 years old before I had the stamina to stay up until midnight. Christmas night was rather sporadic in sleep but I was always out like a light by 1030pm or 11pm despite how hard I tried to stay awake. But if you have just spent Christmas in Buenos Aires, you will have realised that it is most normal for children of all ages (from babies upwards) to be up until the wee small hours of the morning since Christmas Eve dinner is the most important part of Christmas celebrations. As the clock strikes midnight to welcome in Christmas Day, the children head outside to see the fireworks and the remaining adults quickly shuffle all the hidden presents under the tree. When said children walk back into the house, there are exclaims of "Goodness me did anyone see Papa Noel do that!?" and "A big man in a suit dropped these off while you were outside!" (note, these are not direct translations but rather the gist of the exclamations) admist the squeals of delight as children revel in doing what they do best at Christmas time - ripping off wrapping paper. Clearly late nights are in these people's genes.

And judging by the mid 30s temperatures we have been having lately, New Year in the city is promising to be a sweltering and sweaty affair unless you are underneath the air conditioning. Many northern hemisphere dwellers understandably don't really feel it's Christmas when spending December down in the southern hemisphere. Christmas lights don't make sense when it is light until after 9pm, eating a big meal during a heatwave seems ludicrous and most people seem to celebrate outside on their terraces or patios, making Christmas a much louder affair in the streets. New Year's parties in warm weather, however, makes for pleasant outdoor all night affairs.

While the fireworks displays are not as they once were (much to the relief of many domestic animals), the stroke of midnight on both Christmas Day and New Year's Day bring many people and families out into the streets in Buenos Aires. Traffic jams are rather frequent in the wee small hours of the morning as everyone is either making their way to either their own or another family member's house for more gift giving and best wishes.

It is highly recommended over the holiday season to prebook everything. Public transportation can seem non existent on the holiday days as they run a very reduced schedule and delays are inevitable. Many restaurants require reservations as well.  

If you are in the city for New Years Eve and wish to make it memorable and unique (and cool with the assured comfort of air conditioning), be sure to check out some of the local tango shows. Most offer free transfers which means you don't need to fight to get a taxi to get there or back, and with a variety of packages that can also include meals and drinks, it means your night is well taken care of.   Transfers, cocktails, dinner, tango show - all followed by parties until the wee small hours of the morning. Madero Tango is even offering the additional surprise of watching fireworks go off over the docks of Puerto Madero. Whether it’s traditional (Esquina Carlos Gardel, Cafe de Los Angelitos), romantic (Gala Tango, La Ventana), extravagant (Madero Tango, Señor Tango, Rojo Tango) or bohemian (El Viejo Almacen, El Querandi), you´re sure to find a New Year´s Eve tango show that suits your style.

Whatever you decide to do, we hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that you all have a safe and Happy New Year.

 

Tango World Championships 2017 Buenos Aires

Photo credit to Claudio (Tangoblivian) 2009

If you’re in the city at the moment, you may have noticed a huge influx of tourists and locals alike carrying tango shoe bags, spilling out from old buildings after classes and practicing boleos by bus stops. Okay, maybe not the boleos, but cafes will be filled with more people talking volcadas and sacadas than any other time of the year.

The Tango Festival and World Championships has already kicked off here in Buenos Aires, meaning the city is extra full of the tango spark. Running from the 10th August until the 23rd August, this year’s event is full of free concerts, performances, milongas, classes and of course, the Mundial de Tango - where hundreds of dancers from all over the world come to compete for the crown of World Champions.

There are two categories for the World Championship - traditional tango salon in which the dance is improvised as what normally happens at a milonga; and escenario which is choreographed stage tango as you see when you head to a tango show. Both categories offer fantastic insight into the different faces of tango. 

The festival also has its own product fair where you can buy shoes and clothes, allowing you to browse some of the city’s best specialists all in one place.

While not the easiest to navigate, here you have the official website with the program. You can search by place (easy to find things happening near you), day by day or venues. The English button is on the top right hand corner if you don’t feel like practicing your spanish.

http://festivales.buenosaires.gob.ar/2017/tangofestivalymundial/es/home


Need some recommendations to start you off?


DANCE

Natacha Poberaj is a former World Champion, winning the 2007 championship while 7 or 8 months pregnant. Gallego Manolo dances canyengue style tango which is a playful style of tango which was a ‘street’ style of dance used around the 1900s.

http://festivales.buenosaires.gob.ar/2017/tangofestivalymundial/en/evento&title=Gallego%20Manolo%20y%20Natacha%20Poberaj


It goes without saying that getting tickets to the Final or Semi Finals is well worth the effort but these usually are sold out very quickly. If you feel like seeing some great shows, head along to a milonga to see some wonderful artists performing.

http://festivales.buenosaires.gob.ar/2017/tangofestivalymundial/en/schedule&names=Glorias%20del%20Baile%20por%20las%20Milongas


MUSIC

Esteban Morgado Cuarteto is an internationally renowned tango guitarist who will be performing a wide variety of works for people to enjoy

http://festivales.buenosaires.gob.ar/2017/tangofestivalymundial/en/evento&title=Esteban%20Morgado%20Cuarteto


And if you are a Piazzolla fan, you are in for a treat! There are several ensembles taking on this master’s work over the 19th, 20th and 21st August. Be sure to check out at least one of these great acts.

http://festivales.buenosaires.gob.ar/2017/tangofestivalymundial/en/schedule&names=Suite%20Piazzolla

Tango World Championships 2017 Buenos Aires

Photo credit to Claudio (Tangoblivian) 2009

If you’re in the city at the moment, you may have noticed a huge influx of tourists and locals alike carrying tango shoe bags, spilling out from old buildings after classes and practicing boleos by bus stops. Okay, maybe not the boleos, but cafes will be filled with more people talking volcadas and sacadas than any other time of the year.

The Tango Festival and World Championships has already kicked off here in Buenos Aires, meaning the city is extra full of the tango spark. Running from the 10th August until the 23rd August, this year’s event is full of free concerts, performances, milongas, classes and of course, the Mundial de Tango - where hundreds of dancers from all over the world come to compete for the crown of World Champions.

There are two categories for the World Championship - traditional tango salon in which the dance is improvised as what normally happens at a milonga; and escenario which is choreographed stage tango as you see when you head to a tango show. Both categories offer fantastic insight into the different faces of tango. 

The festival also has its own product fair where you can buy shoes and clothes, allowing you to browse some of the city’s best specialists all in one place.

While not the easiest to navigate, here you have the official website with the program. You can search by place (easy to find things happening near you), day by day or venues. The English button is on the top right hand corner if you don’t feel like practicing your spanish.

http://festivales.buenosaires.gob.ar/2017/tangofestivalymundial/es/home


Need some recommendations to start you off?


DANCE

Natacha Poberaj is a former World Champion, winning the 2007 championship while 7 or 8 months pregnant. Gallego Manolo dances canyengue style tango which is a playful style of tango which was a ‘street’ style of dance used around the 1900s.

http://festivales.buenosaires.gob.ar/2017/tangofestivalymundial/en/evento&title=Gallego%20Manolo%20y%20Natacha%20Poberaj


It goes without saying that getting tickets to the Final or Semi Finals is well worth the effort but these usually are sold out very quickly. If you feel like seeing some great shows, head along to a milonga to see some wonderful artists performing.

http://festivales.buenosaires.gob.ar/2017/tangofestivalymundial/en/schedule&names=Glorias%20del%20Baile%20por%20las%20Milongas


MUSIC

Esteban Morgado Cuarteto is an internationally renowned tango guitarist who will be performing a wide variety of works for people to enjoy

http://festivales.buenosaires.gob.ar/2017/tangofestivalymundial/en/evento&title=Esteban%20Morgado%20Cuarteto


And if you are a Piazzolla fan, you are in for a treat! There are several ensembles taking on this master’s work over the 19th, 20th and 21st August. Be sure to check out at least one of these great acts.

http://festivales.buenosaires.gob.ar/2017/tangofestivalymundial/en/schedule&names=Suite%20Piazzolla

10 little quirks about Buenos Aires

Photo credit: LWYang  on Flickr.

For something a little different, here are some unusual things you might encounter on your visit to Buenos Aires. Are there any other eccentricities from this city that stood out for you?

Argentine futbol fans are passionate beyond belief.  

In Buenos Aires, the rival teams are Boca Juniors and River Plate. You can not like both. It is simply impossible. Even small children can become upset when finding out their new school friends are supporters of the other team. Game day includes busloads of estactic fans, leaning out of windows chanting and waving their shirts around. Boca Juniors has their own world famous band at all their games banging their drums and chanting a variety of songs which even the youngest fans sing along with. Some people even leave work early or arrive late just because they wanted to stay home to watch the game.

Mate (pronounced MAH-teh) is shared at many social gatherings.

The ´don´t share your drink bottle´ rule does not apply at many Argentine social gatherings as the famous mate (tea leaves in a gourd) is passed around the group and shared amongst all those who want to participate. There are a set of ´rules´ about how to make mate and participate in the round, which are generally followed but the most important for beginners to remember is not to move the bombilla (drinking straw). The tea is not to be stirred!

Drinkable yoghurt comes in sachets remarkably similar to normal milk.

While drinkable yoghurt in sachets is perhaps not a terribly different thing in the world, the surprise it can bring to those who do not understand spanish and pay little attention when trying to distinguish which ¨milk¨ they are buying from the fridge, makes it worth noting. Consider yourself warned so you don´t need to find out first hand what happens when you accidently pour strawberry yoghurt into your coffee. Handy hint: make sure it says Leche.

Most road markings are simply suggestions.

When it comes to intersections, the official rule is ´give way to the right´.  In real life, it is usually first come first served, or whomever is going the fastest or whichever car/bus/truck is biggest.  You will find some stop signs placed at some intersections, but these are merely to suggest that this intersection is more dangerous than others so it might pay to slow down a little.  Painted lines on the road seem rather decorative than to serve any purpose and some larger streets (ie capable of fitting 5 cars wide) do not even have lanes painted on them. And as for indicators on the car, it appears that many porteños are unaware what that lever on the steering wheel is for. Hazard lights, in contrast, are used frequently to communicate many things including, ´trouble uphead!´ and ´I am looking for a parking spot´ and even ´I am just double parking while I run in to buy some bread at the bakery´.  

Icecream can be delivered by the kilo

Porteños love their icecream. Summertime means late and super hot nights where shops are open til the wee hours and full of rambunctious children of all ages. If you are with friends and have a craving for icecream in the middle of the night, you can get it delivered right to your door without having to leave the air-conditioned comfort of your living room.


Don´t touch the fruit.

When you run out of fruit, you do not have to look far to find a local fruit and veggie place - conveniently obvious by the large crates of fruit stacked precariously out the front of a little doorway. Most places prefer that you don´t select your own fruit, but stand there listing one by one, the variety of things you need. It seems most people shop in small amounts (foreign ´locals´ can stand out by their long lists of weekly shopping) so as not to hold up the line.


Dulce de leche runs in the veins of almost everything.

You probably expected to see a lot of dulce de leche (caramelised condensed milk). It is no secret that it is what fuels most Argentines throughout the day. But perhaps you were not quite prepared to the extent that dulce de leche rules the baking section of this country. It is smeared over and between layers of cakes (it is considered an acceptable way to ice a cake), it oozes out of alfajores, it is piped into medialunas and facturas (pastries) and is one of the most popular icecream flavours. You can even buy an ice cream cone piped full with just, you guessed it, dulce de leche. Warning: consuming that amount of dulce de leche in one go is not for the faint hearted.


Entrepreneurial sellers in most forms of public transport.

Not only buskers, Buenos Aires also has public transport sellers. You name it, they sell it. Announcing themselves to the passengers (each trying to make themselves distinct), they make their way through crowded carriages selling their goods. One single train/subway/bus trip will expose you to a variety of opportunities to purchase batteries, socks, teatowels, chocolates, baking, nail scissors, battery packs, pens, note books, sewing kits, children's books, lollies, card holders, earphones … the list seems endless. But you never know when you might need an emergency toenail clipper or have a sudden need for a bar of chocolate to keep you company on your commute.  


Not everyone dances tango.

It´s true. There are not sensual strangers dancing under a street light on every corner in San Telmo. Some porteños are even known to start learning how to dance tango while travelling  in another country. Whilst tango beats strongly beneath this monstrosity of a city, it is only a select population of locals who involve themselves in dance. Tango music is a little more accessible to the entire population and you will definitely be hearing it at some point during your stay whether at a cafe, a neighbour´s apartment or someone singing in the street


The tradition of dog walking.

One of the most impressive things of the city, is turning to the corner and being confronted with a happy pack of 12 dogs walking orderly around one figure.  While the laws of the city state that dog walkers can not walk more than 8 dogs at a time, one walk through the parks and streets of Palermo or Recoleta shows that some dog walkers are flaunting this - some with up to 15 dogs. The dogs seem to love it, happily panting their way together towards the local park where sometimes, several walkers meet up and the dogs spend their energy playing with each other.

Returning to tango - Excerpt from Stories from a Travelling Tanguera

It has been over two years since bright red leather high heels have adorned my feet. I have been in a tango embrace just a handful of times during this period, if dancing in the kitchen counts as dancing tango. Needless to say, it was high time to get back on the horse and see what had changed in the world of tango and whether or not it really is like riding a bike and you never forget.

It was with trepidation and a familiar feeling of butterflies-in-the-stomach, that I approached my first night out in this fair city, at the milonga where it had all started.  Milonga Del Moran has been around for eight years, and is a grand lady of ‘barrio milonga’ - neighbourhood milonga. Held in Club Moran in Villa Pueyrredon, this monthly milonga is run by a young trio of people with an immense passion for tango. Marcelo Lavergata and Lucila Bardach run a class prior to the milonga which welcomes all levels of tango dancers. DJ Mariano Romero keeps a steady flow of tango, vals and milonga throughout the night, drawing on his immense knowledge of tango music to create varied tandas for all tastes.

Two days after I first arrived in Buenos Aires in 2011, a new friend kindly offered to show me around the city before ending up at a milonga - Milonga Del Moran. Exactly six years later, this now husband was again taking me to the same milonga which happens to be in our neighbourhood.  However, I was apprehensive with fears (both old and new). Would I remember how to move in a tango embrace? Would I be able to follow the lead? Would I tense up and forget all that I had worked so hard to overcome in the weekly lessons and numerous milongas that I had attended during the height of my tango addiction? Would I remember how to connect with my dance partner? Questions, doubts, anxiety - it seemed a little strange to have all these within when I was now more knowledgeable about tango and was heading to a milonga with a guarantee of dancing (it is handy having a partner who also dances). 

But I need not have worried. My fears are calmed once we walked inside.  Instead of a peck on the cheek that greeted me all those years ago, I receive a warm, long embrace from the organisers who have now become friends. My feet slip easily into the old comfort of tango dance shoes and the tango addition bug starts to stir within. I see some familiar faces waving to us from within the crowd, pleased to see us out on the dance floor once again. I am more relaxed dancing now that I know that no one is judging how I dance (an easy worry to fall into for new dancers dancing here in Buenos Aires for the first time - rest assured no one is really paying THAT much attention to you).  I even manage to find two fellow kiwi tango dancers, far from home and happy to be experiencing the relaxed barrio milonga vibe that Moran gives. As I sit and talk to them, I realise how far I have come with tango and how it is not a dance that I do anymore, but a part of my new culture and life.

My feet seem to remember what to do despite my ankles giving a little protest at stretching in ways they haven’t for a long time. The tango embrace still gives the warmth and acceptance that it always have, and the music still swirls around, taking you to another world during the tanda. It was only a short evening (as late night milongas are rather a stretch for this old girl now) but one that has left me wanting more.


Things to know:

Milonga Del Moran

https://www.facebook.com/la.delmoran/

Held monthly (usually around the third week of the month) on Saturdays.

Class from 8pm, Milonga from 9.30pm.


Club Social y Deportivo Moran

Pedro Moran 2446

Agronomia, Buenos Aires


Public Transport: Buses 111 and 108 take you from the city centre to nearby. Suarez train leaves you with about 10 blocks to walk.