As you can probably tell, I am not posting on my blog in real time these days.  My trips, as a result of a number of reasons, have really evolved into being more a personal pilgrimage – a journey within myself to identify further my person…and to use these experiences to further evolve myself, with intention…. some may call it utilizing self-creation as a tool.  In truth, as I take my time…I rather enjoy it.  It allows me to re-live the joy of the experience over again long after I am gone.  So even as I write this, I experience the feeling of wonder and peace as if I am there with my new friends right now!!

As I have mentioned, while I am chronicling my journey…this isn’t a Tango blog.  I am nowhere near developed enough to create that…nor is that my interest of intention.  There are plenty of those out on the web both horrible and disrespectful to women and men and reflect a complete ignorance of the deeper aspects of what Tango is and what is means!!  Oh, we can take classes…learn the steps…that isn’t it!!

At the end of my last post I said, “Tango isn’t just a dance”…it isn’t just a bunch of steps…it isn’t just a walk, a giro (turn), an ocho, a gaucho, a hook, a sacada…or whatever…it definitely isn’t simply the ego…when Alejandro introduced me…they treated me like family…so, Tango is much more than a dance…I met people who go to Milongas simply to listen to music and see and talk to their friends…to be a part of their community…even when they talk about each other or fuss about each other…they show that they are family…oh, one of the most beautiful expressions…not styles…but expressions of humanity I have seen…

And so, each time I have gone to Buenos Aires…. We sit and eat…and that…means an abundance of things…similar to the Tango community that April Parker and Angel Montero (yes, have to give a shout out to my peeps 🙂 create around themselves in Atlanta…after class we head to Felinni’s…love the class and dance…but the social part…they don’t forget…which makes you want to be a part of what is taking place…and, another point…Felinni’s Pizza is SICK…whew…SO GOOD….

So again, just prior to the end of my trip…Alejandro Gee and Erzsebet Tamas invited a mix of friends over for dinner…and, I will say…so that I could have more friends also…and I could join the pack 🙂 and now I am fully vested…

A mix of people from around the world….left to right, Rachel, Patrick, Alejandro (that man can cook), Erzsebet, Leroy, Yumiko, and Jane…talk about a wonderful time and conversation…actually, quite hilarious…Leroy is pure energy and fun…who would of known I would meet a retired fire-fighter from Chicago at the Tango House of Alejandro Gee in Buenos Aires…not to mention the unique stories of everyone else around the table..stories of Great Britain, California, Buenos Aires, Eastern Europe, Tango Champions….and much much more…and, I’ll leave the adult conversation within the context of what is talked about in House Tango…stays in House Tango 🙂

You can see the pictures…but, can you feel them.  Ahh…a Tango question…you can see it, hear it…you know where you are…but, can you feel it in your core…we are having such a good time….

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No steps, no patterns, no posturing…but, you are looking at Tango…as I walk my pilgrimage finding my way…thank you to all my new friends for touching my life and helping me to see what I have on the inside…helping me to be my own Alchemist…and Yes, Erzsebet…my chakras are improving….

Hasta Pronto…Mi Amigos…

 

 

 

 

 

Although my primary emphasis is to expand the depth of my pilgrimage, learn the city, absorb the culture, figure out Tango, there are certain things that must be experienced…not just as a tourist…but, to acquire the feeling so that you can learn to understand it.  Thus, Confiteria Ideal and Obelisco Tango becomes a must.  First,

Confiteria Ideal!!  An amazingly historical place in the history of Tango and Buenos Aires…to the degree that the BBC did a specific special on it.  There are regular rumors that this place will be closing down. So, I wanted to make sure I had the opportunity to visit, absorb, check it out…and get a dance in 🙂  Now, as I mentioned, I am on a journey of sorts.  I make no projections that I am a milonguero, Tango expert or anything near those levels.  As my friend April Parker says, I’m just a Tango baby…and I’m trying to find my way 🙂

One of the things I find so interesting about this place, is that locals will show up during lunch hour or whenever they have a break or when they just want to dance throughout the day.  And so, even in the early afternoon, you will find regulars here as well as entranjeros (foreigners) enjoying their Tango.

This place is absolutely beautiful.  You can order food and drinks…whatever your palate desires and get your dance on.  Now, I am going to be forthright…being a Tango baby…it can be rather horrifying to come to a place such as this, or El Beso, Gricel, Obelisco, and Salon Canning when you are learning to dance.  You may see people that look like they could use a walker, but when they hit the floor and the music comes on…they move with the grace of a Gazelle or Ballet dancer…and here I am…feeling as if I am fumbling around.  But, eventually I engaged in the Cabaceo…and started dancing.  And, it was such a wonderful feeling to overcome that fear and dance in Confiteria Ideal!!  And, at the end of my dance…La Senorita said to me, “Senor, tu caminata is muy bueno”…ha ha ha ha…man…talk about walking on cloud 9!!!!  It was all I could do to keep from running back at that moment to Alejandro Gee and Erzsebet Tamas and yell…I did it…I did it…talk about taking an internal pilgrimage and learning about yourself…ahhh…so good!!!! 🙂

Confiteria Ideal is a landmark in and of itself, but has many collectors items within giving testament to the history of Tango.

And, of course…there must be tributes in place to the historically amazing Carlos Gardel…

Needless to say, that when I walked out of there, my feet were not even touching the ground.  There are a great many things to be said about facing your fears…which begs the question…are you growing as a person, are you really on an internal pilgrimage if you have not faced your fears.  As Pema Chodron would ask, “have you faced the snake…have you faced your greatest fears…and made peace with them” …then you grow… if not…then your are not…

Walking outside, I love to see the markers for some of the basic Tango steps…it is in the life blood of the city…whether many Argentinians respect their historical Tango or not….

Later on that day….while I was still on Cloud 9, I get back to Alejandro’s Tango House.  Alejandro says to me, “aren’t you coming out with us tonight”…sometimes I was tired, sometimes admittedly I was a bit unsure of myself – only a few people I know want to intentionally look like an ass 🙂  Ha Ha…but, yes they are out there…not something I would do on purpose 🙂  In this case, I was on my cloud and said, “sure, why not…thank you.”

So, this evening I met Alejandro Gee and Erzsebet Tamas at Club Obelisco Tango.

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And for those that are curious and for entertainments sake, here is a posting of some rules and some Tango art 🙂

 

As we arrive and I sit at Alejandro’s table.  And, it is common that the regulars have their own reserved table.  So, I sit with Alejandro…a few of his friends are there and more are arriving until we eventually have about eight (8) people at his table.  Now, admittedly my Spanish is limited…although it is significantly improving 🙂  All of these gentlemen are older…as I talk with Alejandro…some of them have been dancing together over 60 years.  Of course, me…I am a Tango baby I’m not fawning or flopping all over the place.  I don’t know much of anything about Tango…I’m learning…All I know is..it isn’t the typical club scene..people are sipping a little…maybe some Champagne, wine, a taste of liquor here and there…and empanada or such and some water…and although I’m learning Spanish…they are still talking to me…and I’m talking to them…like we are all understanding each other….I watch them dance, I dance a little (YES YES) ha ha…and I am having such an awesome time… that I ask for a picture to be taken…talk about some of the coolest people…sitting there with them I learned so much about Tango that isn’t really taught…and so, I got this wonderful photo of us:

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Going left to right is: El Flaco Dany, Tango Alejandro Gee (my friend that I stay with at his Tango house), Osvaldo Centeno (kind gentleman that gets me back and forth to the airport), Tito Rocca (am amazing Tango singer), Ricardo Luis Gallo (el pollo; what a fun man), Cacho Latronico, and Tito Franquelo.  Just absolutely fun and amazing people…

We get through the night….one of my best nights ever…walk outside and I’m just taking in the night air..and snap this photo…you to take at least one picture of Che Guevara…if you don’t…especially if you are from the U.S., then you probably really need to see somebody professional 🙂 It’s not the best picture..but, it is Che…

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So, it’s been a long day…and a long night…I get back to Alejandro’s…do a bit of reading and post the picture I got with the Milonguero’s….now I don’t know much…I’m still learning…but, in the morning when I look at my facebook page…I see a note from my friend and instructor in Atlanta (April Parker ) that says and I quote:

LOOK AT THAT Malik Watkins!!!! Holy mother Mary of ****, you’re hanging out with the Tango Gods! Dany El Flaco FTW!!!!”

So, then people start asking me…how did you get to sit with them…I’m like…ehhh…with who…I don’t know…I am Alejandro’s friend…so I just followed him like he…uhh…said… Well, now that I’ve done more reading…and am learning the history of Tango…it would be similar to a foreigner coming to the United States  and following a friend…and you join your friend at a table with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and etc….and, these Milongueros were so accepting….so cool…and never treated me like the clueless Americano…which I certainly was…I learned so much about Tango that evening….it isn’t just the dance….Thank You so much to the Milongueros that evening, they treated me like family…and I felt a part of a family….and nothing but Love to Alejandro and Erzsebet….and you too April Parker (funny lady)….

Buenas Noches!!

 

Two of the things I love most about each day.  First, is my Tango lesson with Alejandro Gee and Erzsebet Tamas; Second, my daily walk around the city.  Public transportation is there if I really need to get somewhere, but oh how I love to just walk, feel, smell, taste, and experience each thing of each day here 🙂

Today I go off into a different direction.  One thing for sure in BA, Argentinians love their dogs/pets and they are everywhere…watch your step bubba 🙂  They love them to the point as in many larger cities, there are people whose profession is to walk dogs – I ain’t mad cha!!  But, how many dogs can a person walk at one time.  Obviously, I would have gotten that Jeopardy Question wrong.  But, I do have to ask…now where are the pooper scoopers?:

Never-the-less, everyone looks at peace…so, I’m gonna be peaceful with them…besides…look at this common view:

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Can you see it?  Can you feel it?  Yes, old world architecture with the appropriate breaks with balance…but, if you sit there and reflect on the history of Buenos Aires, of Argentina, of the socio-economic dynamics both historical and contemporary and its relation to Tango…what do you feel on the inside? 🙂 ahhh….gotta love it…

And, while I do love street scapes such as this…the people, the families, the youngsters, this kids…bring it to life…

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Kid on a skate-board riding the rail…okay, it’s a great picture..thanks for the compliment 🙂

This day, I headed out without a plan…just to roam, and feel and reflect…and just by chance I came upon another wonderful gem.  The CG on the building…stands for Carlos Gardel – this is one of his original homes:

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For many, Carlos Gardel stands as the most prominent person in the exquisite history of Tango…in short…his life is the quintessential exemplar of Tango.  What a wonderful surprise to come upon his home/museum.  I won’t write a long essay on him, if you don’t know who he is you can always look him up.  For those that know, then you can imagine the emotional response associated with this aspect of my internal journey….nothing but love…

More inside the home/museum of Carlos Gardel…where he spent his time composing, writing…so interesting…

 

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As with many of the great ones, Carlos Gardel met death in an untimely manner. It is said that Carlos Gardel died in a manner befitting him….in that “without knowing pain or agony, as he deserved, as he created songs that poured balm on the lives of others…

If you know Tango, then you can imagine the feeling of spending time in his home reading about his life.  If you don’t, then compassion can guide you to that place.  What an amazing experience, and my own reaction to this experience…will just keep adding to the depth of my own compassion…

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Continuing on my stroll…always on the look out for what is to be really seen…I love to see people from all the variations of life…and to refer back to what I have read, what I am learning…and ask myself…what is that human story…how did they get to this place…oh, it’s beautiful…

Oh, to see…to feel….to sit and become a part…yes, my feet hurt 🙂 my legs are tired…even a bit frustrated trying to build the muscle memory and mental awareness to dance my Tango…it isn’t always easy going through the process of finding your way….then again, that’s what makes it sweet…especially when you can sit…and like a seed, allow yourself to grow…

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Indeed, there are some things that really just catch your eye.  Now, in all truth, I can’t even tell you what exactly this building is…but, sometimes you don’t have to know in order to acknowledge the time, effort, skill, diligence and mastery that screams from something that has been created:

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Another long day…another absolutely amazing day…my mind is over-flowing with what I have learned…so walking helps me to process everything and place it in a context to be used for present and future growth…and as the sun goes down…I love this part of Buenos Aires as well…the views at night, the flow of people, the change in how something looks from day to night…being a night creature…maybe you understand what I am saying…things can be just as beautiful even when they have a cover on:

Definitely will be checking out the theater on my next visit.  🙂  Walking back to rest, come across a beautiful view.  A program being held to support those with personal problems such as Alcohol use and other maladies…amen to that!!!!  It is beautiful to see people not just focusing on condemning other people, but trying to do something to help them.  That, in and of itself, is beauty…

And so, another day…another night…another period of growth…a pilgrimage may look one way on the outside…but, trust this…that isn’t what is really taking place on the inside…if you are making progress.  And, as the evening comes to a close:

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I love me some Buenos Aires….Buenas Noches!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call it a rhythm…call it routine occurrences…but, so many things can be categorized within the cycles of life.   It seems that, of late, I am continually touching on a cycle in life that places information on ‘pilgrimages’ into my mind.  Pilgrimages of the type – Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James); The Hajj (Islamic Pilgrimage to Mecca); or, even the Mount Kalaish Pilgrimage in Tibet (Buddhist and Hindu).  On the surface, the associated discussion is treats the pilgrimage as a component of a person’s faith…. a journey that symbolizes devotion.  And, while this may be offensive to some – no apologies in advance – herein resides a problem.

It should be much more than a simple act of devotion, it should really comprise an opportunity to identify, explore and realize what exactly resides within ourselves.  That is why I get a lot more out of discussions on pilgrimages that are fashioned after Paulo Coehlo’s El Alquimista (The Alchemist).  The journey…the pilgrimage within…is indeed…the most fascinating…how we respond to our walk…to our pilgrimages…is the clearest illustration for us…on what resides within…

When I read back through this blog, I become fascinated over and over again at the opportunities I have had to see the world….in many ways…all of those experiences represents my own pilgrimage.  Not a pilgrimage to just see one thing or to take one walk…but, the pilgrimage of many places, of many things…and of many walks.

Of course, this part of my pilgrimage includes a great deal regarding Tango.  It is amazing to read a book such as ‘The Quest for the Embrace: The History of Tango Dance 1800-19830’ by Benzery Saba…and then walk the streets of Buenos Aires.

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One part that screams volumes to me is the discussion with renowned milonguero – Carlos Gavito,

“when I learned, around the 60s, there weren’t so many names.  Tango was very individual, very personal.  Everyone had his own different style of dancing…that’s why for me, there are no tango styles…the style is the person. Milonguero style, for example, doesn’t exist; the milonguero exists, the one who’s dancing.  I spent the greater part of my life at the milongas and I dance Gavito.”

Ahhh….so beautifully said!!  Now, as I’ve said before…I don’t pretend to be a Tango master…I’m clearly a Tango baby…that is looking to find the way…but, I do see how so many camps exist and have always existed…and it really resonates with me…to not just focus on the style…but recognize it as an expression of that person….and that is alright with me.  And so, as I take my trips to Argentina, and walk the streets of Buenos Aires…I am looking to find my way…my way…my journey…my pilgrimage inside of myself manifested by what I see and feel in the environment.  And, having arrived…here I go… 🙂

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Oh how I do love the feel of the old city…without going into the implications of various types of city planning…the intimacy of the feel, the architecture, the variations in people walking down the street, how close everything appears.  I do love the opportunity to visit a place more than once so you actually get to know it…it becomes a part of you.  The familiarity helps to build the expectation of comfort even in a place where you are just learning the language and the culture.

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Such an absolutely beautiful day…to get out of the car…and to just walk amongst people…to observe life and its various expressions…

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To see the children play and learn proper soccer technique…to hear the sound of joy coming from them with the chatter.  Interesting how many places I’ve been are much better than the United States in soccer…with all the technological advances, these other countries always seem to come out on top…even without the riches.  That screams many things…for those on the inner pilgrimage.

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And, ohhhh, this building always speaks to me: Palacio del Congreso Nacional Argentino….always one of my first stops…just to sit and look.  It always makes a trip better for me to read about a place, then to go see it for myself.  In this case…the interplay between how social and political dynamics impacted Tango, and vice-versa 🙂  Amazing to travel and to become a part of it, to the extent that you can actually feel it!!

I must say, it is also beautiful and common to see Argentinians express their social and political views…right at the gate of the Congress building…it isn’t just a unique United States trait…every visit and practically every day you see someone expressing themselves in the local political process – protecting the animals from cruelty, and also protesting President Obama’s visit in this case:

Getting to know a place, its expressions and how you respond to it…one of the tasks of the pilgrim 🙂  So, as I walk…behold…all you Tangueros…

The National Academy of Tango…and a plaque for Carlos Gardel…for those in the know…he is the Humphrey Bogart, among others in South America…and in many ways…exposed the world to Tango.

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What a surprise of a gem.  Now of course everyone in Buenos Aires doesn’t revel in the history of Tango, but it is beautiful to see those who do celebrate such a rich contribution to world culture (more on him Carlos Gardel later).

Ahh…so wonderful to be back in Buenos Aires.  So after a long walk, it’s a walking city which is a much better way to get to know it, I come upon such beautiful places.  Many people visit these places.  But, I am visiting less for the tourist aspect and more to get a feel for the cultural expression to add to the quality of my internal journey.

I love how they light the city at night…colors and contrast combined with the context and structure…is really a powerfully beautiful yet subtle statement…almost sounds like a wine tasters description of a good vintage 🙂  The Pink House, the parks, those old structures…many a night…I just sat in solitude…with my thoughts…revisiting history, but also developing an awareness of my own feelings…no distractions…just me and my BA 🙂

After a long walk, heading back to Alejandro’s….I stop at my favorite Parilla (which he always teases me about) 🙂  To get some of the famous Argentinian grilled meat…they remember me from last time so it’s my personal version of the show ‘Cheers’ in Buenos Aires…and look, my old buddy sits with me while I enjoy one of my favorite dishes….cats are something else; mi amigo el gato 🙂

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Finishing up this day, long flight…long walk…good emotions from seeing my friends Alejandro Gee and Erzsebet Tamas….one last thing…

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Helado!!!!!!  Ahhhhhh!!!!!! 🙂  This in and of itself is worth it…absolutely delicious…texture…taste…context…I have to admit…walking into an ice cream shop to order so that you can practice your Spanish…that is pretty close to priceless…a nice slow walk to enjoy my Helado, then to sleep…Tango practice starts tomorrow….Buenos Noches Mi Amigos!!