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!!

 

First Day in Buenos Aires, standing in front of the Congreso National…an absolutely beautiful sight that projects lots of things if your feelings are sensitive and aware enough to pick them up.!  … yeah, I know – my clothes are baggy…lost lots of weight – guess that is better than them being too small 🙂

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When I first went to Buenos Aires, I had no guide, no expectations and very few assumptions…probably a good way to approach life!  However, I did connect with Tango Alejandro Gee before I arrived; and, he literally became my guide so that I could find what I was looking for during my time in country – literally, experientially, and spiritually.

Sitting at dinner and a Milonga with Alejandro, he shared some excellent wisdom.  Alejandro said that an older Milonguero once told him, “in Tango, you have to learn how to walk in the dark.”  For me, that speak volumes of wisdom.  It solidifies how Tango has many analogies that can be used in our lives.  A story in the bible that is often repeated is how when the storms came and everyone was afraid, how Jesus spoke to the waters and said “Peace be still.”  For me, that wisdom is not just for the storms in the ocean or those in the sky – it speaks to the storms of the soul.  For those storms of the soul are the ones that really need to be changed into peaceful situations….not to mention the darkness faced by those struggling with the reality of mental health conditions.

One of the challenges of writing a public blog is that when you make your writings public, then people can read into your psyche.  But, sometimes we need to expose what is in our psyche for our own benefit and the benefit of others – so that those who may have the storms of life on their journey may also learn and benefit.

So it is true, we do need to learn to walk in the dark.  One of the things I find so interesting about Tango are the analogies that can be developed – being able to stand with balance; to develop our posture; to walk in spite of; to make sure that we don’t take steps that are too big or awkward so that we don’t throw ourselves off of our axis; to become aware of what we believe in, and to continually stand on it regardless to how groundless our situation becomes; to develop relationships based upon these principles; and to breath and lead with the heart.  Not just the physical heart, but our emotional center.  And, how this heart has to be used in maintaining our connections with others.  Sometimes in Tango we make mistakes – there may be a separation, we may step on toes, we may get lost; but, don’t stop…just accept the mistake and keep dancing..keep living….keep your heart aligned with….(you fill in the blank)….and continue on.

Just as these things inspired Tango originally – what is your passion(s) – what do you source to drive the power of your existence – what compels your passions to come alive – to thrive – to evolve – to give comfort – to bring you together with others – to build relationships – what is the inspiration of your passion? What happens to your passions – is there always joy, is there pain, loneliness, loss, happiness, camaraderie, family, love, the loss of love?  With El Beso – has your soul ever been kissed to the degree that when you smile it isn’t the mature adult smiling – but, it is the smile of a child – your inner child.  What happens with your passions – is there always peace or do the storms of life come along and you are in need of the words – ‘Peace be still.”

It is unfortunate that often times, movies about emotions are considered chick flicks. This indirectly undermines an understanding of the actual nature of the emotional capacity of men. Maybe one day, someone – whether it be a man or woman – will right that wrong and let chicks know they haven’t cornered the market on the expression of human nature. 🙂

With that said, it is absolutely wonderful to go somewhere where you can’t speak the easy language of words…you are forced to use the human language – a language of patience, of compassion, the language created when you stop projecting your own internal inadequacies and actually seek to understand.  This is the language of humility, patience and hope that a respect for humanity is met with respect.

I am being careful here with my wording as I don’t want to trigger stereo-types (e.g. cognitive shortcuts). So, without repeating the cliché that Tango was born in the brothels, let’s focus more on the river plat region. During this time very little interaction between the upper class and immigrants or the poor took place. And so, the Tango culture was basically born in how the immigrants and the poorer interacted together. Much of this social interaction took place at night, so let’s just say that the night time culture of an urbanizing environment brought together the people of the night who were from ALL walks of life. Those who frequented these establishments became known as Milonguero’s…the dancers, singers, musicians, and those who made a living during the night 🙂 … if you know what I mean – so let’s just say that if we are talking about brothels, we are also talking about pimps, prostitutes, thieves, and others that work in the night. There is a story I was told about a Milonguero who was a thief. The organizers still invited him to their gathering. But, they also knew to take everyone’s valuables and lock them up in advance. By engaging in this act, they could enjoy the Milonguero’s contribution to their social gathering, while also dealing with the reality of protecting their stuff!! 🙂 Consequently, when a Milonguero says, “to dance Tango, you have to learn to walk in the dark,” then hopefully, you get my drift 🙂 I got it…

What stands out though, is that these individuals from all walks of life were not just seen as some pariah. They were a part of the intricate mix of those who made the origins of Tango, of such, that it lasts the tests of time and continues to support people socially by bringing them together – not separating them. This says quite a bit about how being overly judgmental ultimately undermines the quality of our own interaction with others…not necessarily that of the person being judged….

and, the fact of the matter is – when people come into your life – they bring their life – the good and the challenging – judgement isn’t a useful tool – so, can you see there humanity – do you have compassion for them – if you can answer the question of why, does that build understanding – if they are willing to dance the dance of life – then, help them dance….

As I bring this specific trip to a close….being here, I was looking for something specific…looking to connect to the inspiration of Tango…to understand!! …. that is my learning process….Thank you to Alejandro Gee and Erzsebet Tamas (Jou Jou)….I found it…and now that I found it, I know what to connect to…Tango music, if they have words, are sung mostly in Spanish…but the relationship between the words, music and environment doesn’t always make it necessary to understand the words – if you can connect to the inspiration (some of us need that – and some of us don’t).  But, after being here and connecting to the inspiration…I can give you an example of what it means…click on this link, and listen to the words and look at the convincing expressions…and feel the emotion of what is being conveyed, and you will know for sure…what this trip was about….and what was found…

James Brown

This is a Man’s World

and now compare….

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Luciano Pavoratti & James Brown

Do you understand it now…?   Whew….I do…..!! 🙂

This trip was exceptionally amazing and I have to share and give thanks…thank you to all those that inspired it…you know who you are.  But, also thanks to those who give me instruction in Atlanta, Georgia – Angel Montero and April Parker!!

Usually after I travel abroad, I start to think about where I shall go next.  Well, in this case…I already know….with respect to Buenos Aires – in the next few months – Voy a Volver!!

And now we come to one of the main purposes of my trip.  This cultural exploration to delve into the inspiration and expression of Tango.  What I am specifically interested in is a specific style of Tango that is connected to the “Golden Age – the early years of the Dance.”  I want to see and connect with what drives the older dancers – many of the themes I have touched on in these posts on Argentina.  So, I followed the advisement of Alejandro Gee and took the walk to a particular Milonga being held at “El Beso – The Kiss.”

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When referring to an older style, a description of its inspiration is found in “The Meaning of Tango”:

Imagine a young man at the end of the nineteenth century, fourteen, fifteen or sixteen years old, living in a village with his large extended family in one of the poorest parts of Spain or Italy. He hears that the Argentinian government is running a campaign to bring people just like him to their country. They will find him a place to stay, feed him for the first week he is there, and help him find work. He has already heard that Argentina is one of the richest countries in the world – far richer than his own country – so he decides he will go there, make his fortune, and then come home and build a grand new house for his mother…

So our young man leaves, for the first time in his life, his mother, his sisters, cousins and aunts, and makes the long boat trip to Argentina. He arrives in the great port of Buenos Aires, only a few years earlier practically a village itself, now a bizarre mixture of sophisticated European capital city and Wild West frontier town…There are more people in each street than he has ever seen before in his whole life, and practically all of them are men…

Our young man finds himself far from everyone who has ever loved him and everyone he has ever loved. Perhaps in another place he would have consoled himself by getting married, starting a new family, having children to love. But the city he is in is a city of men. Maybe he will be one of the lucky few to find a woman to love him, but the odds are against him…Many of the men must have found the loneliness and isolation intolerable. The only place they could express their softness – the sweet tender part of their nature – was in the arms of a prostitute or dancing the Tango.

To dance with the women in Buenos Aires, the immigrants had to learn their dance – and learn to do it in a way that pleased the woman, or the women would not dance with them. The unique pressures of this extraordinary city, in this extraordinary moment of its history, formed the evolving Tango, and made it into something more than a dance. The Tango became an expression of a fundamental human need: The Hunger of the Soul for Contact with Another Soul.

– Christine Denniston “the meaning of TANGO”

Which answers some questions regarding Tango – what is the passion – what does it source to drive the power of its existence – what compelled it to come alive – to thrive – to evolve – to give comfort – to bring people together – to use as a tool to build relationships – what is its inspiration? In the history of the development of this human story, is it the pain, loneliness, the loss, the missing Joy, happiness, camaraderie, family, love, the loss of love?

Will not go too far into that as each person has to find their own soul in the Tango, their own longing – if you want to go that far – as Maya Angelou said it, “the soul is the longing…” so in the music, in the dance, in the embrace, in the camaraderie – what part of it relates to what you long for?  Whew…I like the sound of that 🙂  To sum it up…as the name of the club implies – “has your soul ever really been kissed”? And, what happened after that?…. 🙂

El Beso

Walking pass the door and into the stairwell, the color of the walls, the posters, the feelings generated by the environment and projected from the soul in tandem with the old style Tango music you hear playing,  and a sense of expectation starts to rise….

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Once you walk in you see every one seated by the organizer.  And, it reminds you of a traditional type of arrangement.  The organizer generally seats the women in one section, men in another, and couples in another – although in certain sections you will see them interspersed with each other…

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The environment, once you stop to observe the nuances, is something that reminds you of another time – a time when chivalry was a part of the order of the day.  Although people are seated in different sections, they communicate about a willingness to dance through the Cabeceo…a way to  inquire about whether or not a person wants to dance while both maintain their dignity.  If the answer is in the affirmative, the man walks to her and escorts her to the floor.  The main focus of the dance is to make the follower have a wonderful time.  Afterwards, the man has the responsibility of escorting her specifically back to her seat.  If she is not the best dancer, it is the responsibility of the leader to adjust to her in a way that still ensures she has a wonderful time.  I witnessed this on several occasions and the many examples of chivalry were quite impressive to say the least.

To watch the dance…

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Is a completely amazing experience.  I’ve seen many amazing things in this world, and this ranks right up there at the top.  If you get captivated into watching one couple dance, then it appears they are doing their own thing.  But, when you expand your focus, while including that couple, to include the entire floor….then, you witness one of the amazing views in life.  Similar to watching a flock of birds or a school of fish shift directions.  It appears they are doing different things because each has their own favorite steps, moving at various times to what they find in different layers of the music.  But, then it is as if a signal goes off…and, then they all move, seemingly, together counter-clock wise around the room in the line of dance – creating a glowing sense of harmony!  A beautiful sight to behold…

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As Alejandro mentioned, the majority of these individuals were older people.  Some appearing to be at least 80 years old…and many of them mimicking the walk of a cat…At first many of them just looked at me as I wrote in my journal with my look of amazement.

Then after awhile, they began to smile and an older gentleman sitting next to me began to speak to me.  Interestingly, as he talked, he quickly recognized that Spanish is not my first language.  And, I told him in my elementary Spanish way that I did speak a little.  And so, our conversation began.  I asked him about his style of dance, Viejo Estilo, the old style of Tango.  He spoke slowly and was so very patient that he gave me the time I needed to think and form my own sentences in Spanish.  Instantly, made me ponder what is it about older people that drives that patience in life and in the dance.  Just as if I was dancing with him, he made me feel good and made me want to talk to him more.  We indeed had a wonderful time.

As I asked him about the Viejo Estilo, their is only one thing he kept mentioning over and over again – El Piso! El Piso! El Piso!  El Piso means: The Floor…which goes into the vocabulary of the dance.  Never lose the floor!!  Right from the start when studying Tango and watching Tango in El Beso, you pick up right from the start it is a form of communication!  It is a language.  And, in every language you have to get the basics of vocabulary.

Borrowing again from Christine Denniston –

“A newcomer, to Tango, learns the way a child learns a language.  First, absorbing the language of the fluent speakers around it, then after about nine months starting to speak the occasional word, gradually gaining confidence and skill, until after about three years the child can have a reasonable conversation.”

In this communication of the language of Tango, there are certain focus points necessary to build the vocabulary.

Tremendous emphasis is given to just learning how to stand; becoming aware of your axis; developing your posture; and, learning how to walk…significant things that must be dealt with before steps can be performed effectively or are even necessary.  Of course there are more aspects to this vocabulary, but this serves as a start.  Now, keep in mind….I don’t claim to be an expert, knowledgeable, or even proficient.  In many ways, I am a baby still learning how to stand and walk.  Added to my own mix, I have ZERO, as in Nada and Nunca, history of dancing.  But, for me it isn’t a dance.  I’ve found some tools that can be used on my path in life that also allow a person to improve their relationships and build…

What gives me hope, is that I read of an old Milonguero – Old Style Dancer – who was asked by his companion “how is your Tango coming?”  The old Milonguero replied, “after forty years of dancing, I think I am finally getting my walk correct.”  *chuckle*….so, that gives me hope!!

There are plenty of sources you can use to learn about Tango, I’ve only discussed a few that are relative to where I am on my personal path and journey in dance and in my life.  And, believe me, there are plenty of principles in Tango and Buenos Aires culture that can be used to make the path and journey more mutually beneficial for all involved…finishing this trip with just a few observations – coming next!

In my travels, I find it interesting how different cultures manifest similar philosophies but through different mediums…and often times the eventual expression tends to reflect the unique characteristics of their immediate environment and social interactions. Even to the point where the same religion or cultural expression can be significantly different although the values may be the same. Experiencing this variation allows for deeper insight into the object of your focus. Being a Pinterest fan, I always like the quotes that I come across:

“I believe that every book you read changes you; changes how you think, what you say, how you act, or how you look at the world. If a book doesn’t change something about you then it has failed at being a book…”

Obviously spoken by a book Nazi purest 🙂

“It’s called reading, it’s how people install new software into their brains”

Well, if that can be said about reading, then there is much more we can say in regards to creating the actual experience. As mentioned, this trip is less about sight-seeing and being a tourist, and more about developing mindfulness through being exposed to and absorbing the cultural drivers of Tango – this amazing point of confluence where if mentally and soulfully penetrated, we can not only get a better understanding of Argentinian culture, but also connect to what Tango actually is….

It is a difficult dance, and I am no dance expert but what I’ve seen of many other dances, this just isn’t a 1-2-3-4 scenario where you just step on time. It is much more complex than that! Since it ultimately developed from the impetus of a city going through significant change…in many ways the dance and the music reflect the desire of a society to meet its needs while also adapting to intense social change. More so, however, it reflects the human story. Consequently, Tango is not just a dance. It is not just the music. For some, it is everything!! For those who are quite unfamiliar with Tango, then this is a video that allows you to see an example (click the link).

Roberto Zuccarino and Magdalena Alvarez – Salon Canning

Chizuko Kuwamoto and Alejandro Gee

However, keep in mind that Roberto Zuccarino example is for a ‘salon show’ – with all the dramatics. The example of Alejandro Gee is styled more towards actual social dancing (earthy).  What you will find in the actual environment is something significantly earthier – if you know what I mean….I will only post so much here…but, if you are so inclined to want to learn more, then this is some serious recommended reading ‘the meaning of Tango:’

 

MOT

In short, when you think about the evolution of Tango, imagine a time in the late 1800s and early 1900s where the area that became known as Argentina was mostly populated by natives to this area, Africans – resultant from the slave trade, and Spaniards as a result of being part of the Spanish Empire. The government developed a policy to promote mass migration to Argentina in order to develop the workforce needed to economically develop its vast resources. Thus, massive immigration brought in many young Spaniards and Italians and others from Europe. Many of these immigrants were young men leaving family, loved ones, friends and a familiar environment to come seek their fortune. This influx of people, formed a conglomeration of people that despite their various countries of origin, had similar mental, emotional, and socio-economic characteristics. So, the Tango Dance and Music reflected the common social characteristics, needs, and lifestyles of people who were mostly transplanted but also seeking ways to adapt to their environment.

While those times are long gone, we can still use our imagination to be able to feel, sense, and increase our awareness of this unique human story. So, my first steps are to put some Tango music on in my headset and go for a stroll.  My first focus is mostly on architecture, but I will have other pictures posted later.  We could take this into a very deep discussion when we touch on the implications of architecture, both reflecting the psychology of the builders and its impact on those in its surroundings (e.g. consider the effect of color, ceiling height, style, etc.)

But, let’s take a walk through one of the older parts of Buenos Aires – the Congreso District…the sights are wonderful, but what we are looking for are those things that allow us to use our senses to bring forward the past….with a bit of Osvaldo Pugliese playing in the background 🙂

This is the area adjacent to the Congreso National Building – an older structure under renovation:

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This is a common architectural style featured in the area – it speaks volumes – can you imagine how it stood out back when it was first constructed:

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Off of the main strip down in one of the neighborhoods:

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Observed this fine gentleman working. He has the back of his bicycle propped up and attached to a grinder.  As he peddles his bike, the grinder turns and he is sharpening his knives for a day on the job:

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This the back of the Congreso National building, amazing view and structure/design.  Sitting here at night with music in the background allows you to really use your imagination to bring forward early times….

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Similar to Cuba, one fascinating aspect is the number of vintage cars that are in use and in excellent condition.  I have no idea what year this car is, but it is a Falcon.  You car enthusiasts know that this is about as extinct in the United States as the Sabre-Toothed Cat:

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And in the midst of the hustle and bustle, have to respect a person willing to do what they need to do to make a living:

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There are plenty of photos to be taken, but as mentioned earlier, I am looking for those that through an initiated feeling can provide the context of awareness that I am looking to heighten – get my drift?  Architecture/Buildings, just like trees, have seen many generations go by during its time.  As it is said, if the walls could talk!!  And, with imagination and creativity – they do talk indeed!!

Within the first few days, my cup became full and runneth over…next stop – to experience an actual ‘old school’ Milonga (the place of dance)!!!!!

 

 

I ended the first blog posting with a picture of the ‘Thinking Man’ with the National Congress building in the background. This trip isn’t singularly for the tourist experience – in fact, I tend not to be interested in those types of trips (although they do have their purpose). I much rather prefer immersion in place of the perfunctory.

One day, I may put together a post that compares aspects of the many cultures I have experienced; but, for now, this is a singular focus on a particular cultural aspect of Buenos Aires. Often times when exploring cultures, it is necessary to spread yourself across multiple venues and seek to experience the many aspects and nuances of what a country has to offer. This trip is unique in that much of the historical development of Buenos Aires can be identified by delving into a singular aspect of their social network – The Tango (more on that later).  One unique aspect of Tango is that it is the major point of confluence for history, socio-economics, immigration, music, cultural expressions, socialization, politics, and many other cultural components that illustrate the development of Argentinian society.  Because it is a point of historical and contemporary confluence, Tango, it holds the key to developing much deeper insight into the nature of people.

And so, where I usually follow the Anthony Bourdain trail when traveling internationally, this time I am following I am seeking to develop a greater more in-depth understanding of this dance that is loved in so many parts of the world. It would be easy enough to just take the classes throughout the United States and develop some proficiency. However, that isn’t enough for me….I don’t want to just know it…I want to feel its base. On a side note, it is interesting how we can come across individuals who are experts in community development, but are uncomfortable and inexperienced in the practical reality and sub-culture of the communities they claim to be the subject of their expertise. Consequently, I am forced to dig deeper to develop more of a connection to the base of this amazing cultural phenomenon.

So, to maximize this experience, I researched various venues to stay while on location.  I didn’t want the usual hotel or to simply reside in the tourist district. I wanted an authentic Argentinian abode to begin my immersion.  Thus, I found two amazing individuals: Professores Alejandro Gee and Erzsebet Tamas (joujou).

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These are two absolutely amazing individuals that provided excellent instruction, accommodations, and an exceptional immersion into Argentinian and Tango culture.  They asked me what I wanted to focus on and then commenced to instructing and drilling me on the basic fundamentals.  I must say it was very intense….even brought out the old mans arthritis 🙂  If you are really interested in delving deep into what makes Tango the Tango…they are an excellent source of direction.

Alejandro also provides living accommodations in his studio.  This studio is an absolutely beautiful place – full of Character.  This is what his dance studio looks like:

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Amazing!!  On the walls are pictures of a lot of the Tango Greats from the Golden Age…that really adds a sense of mystic.  In many ways, it brings forward the greatness of the Golden Age era into our contemporary times and allows us to feed and grow from the richness of the past.

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This is a view of the area walking into the studio – love the nuances in the design!!  Just says so much about what you can feel from older style architecture….it brings it forward:

 

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Now who can not appreciate this type of stained glass inside lining the hallway.  There are certain feelings and experiences that are better presented without words…just look and feel it…

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Italian marble winding staircase with more stained glass.  Climbing or descending these steps really gives you an understanding about what a ‘sense of permanence really means.’  You don’t carelessly walk these steps.  Best grab the handrail…if you slip and fall, there is no forgiveness coming from this floor.  But, they are nice to walk slow on…you can feel the permanence enter your body – you can interpret those implications on your own 🙂

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One of the many things I love about international travel are the people you meet.  A major part of Argentinian/Tango Culture is the socialization – a wonderful meal, a glass of wine, great company and meaningful conversation, in the middle of the dance studio.  With the pictures of the Tango greats on the walls and Tango orchestras playing in the background, this is not an experience to be forgotten.  And, let me make this clear!! Alejandro Gee is a master instructor, but the man can also FLAT DOWN RIGHT COOK!!  I was thoroughly impressed and this type of intimate exposure to Tango/Argentinian culture was soulfully touching!!

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There is much more to share!!  However, unlike many of my trips where I have kept up on my blog.  This one I let sit for a bit….as I mentioned, this is more of a thinking trip….some would say: an anthropological exploration 🙂  I was deeply amazed and my thoughts are seriously provoked….more to come….