Journal 6 - December 24


buenos aires journalToday is the day before Christmas. It's very cloudy outside, but you can feel the moist in the air. Unlike Christmas in the US or Japan, you don't see much decoration in the city, or Christmas songs in the stores, almost like any other day of the year.

On December 22, after writing my journal in the internet cafe we headed for the Latin Museum of Art (MALBA) in Recoleta. It was a cool day with sunny light blue skies, and soft clouds drifting quickly with the strong winds blowing through the city. We got to the museum and being hungry, we decided to eat at the contemporary styled cafe of the museum. We chose a seat outside at the terrace. At a table nearby, an Argentine young lady was speaking English with a strong accent to a French guy, debating about art or something and sharing a bottle of white wine. I love cafes at museums, a little snobbish but always interesting people, fashion, and talk. It always seem to spice you up and give you different dialogues for your conversation. We had some delicious salad, delicious pasta, delicious coffe, and rubbery dry lemon pie (they messed up on the important part). We studied the brochures we picked up at the entrance, this month's special exhibition was Jorge de la Vega (Argentine painter of strong colors) and also with its!comparison with Antonio Berni's artwork. After a relaxing lunch, we headed inside.

The second floor was a collection of contemporary art, which inspired me very much. Ever since I've started tango, it seems like my interest in contemporary art has grown, I've always loved painting, but even more. Believing that Tango dancing consists of geometrical figures and connections with the floor and partner has allowed me to comprehend these artworks at a perspective I've never realized. Some of the interesting artworks were Julio le Parcs' moving Patterns, these were 3 dimensional mirrored pieces that moved, creating reflected patterns to change and create other new different patterns, another Gregorio Vandavega's "Caja de luz alterna" which was a box with 9 squares lined up 3 x 3, layered with lights between it alternating, being able to show the different shadows and bright lights... It's hard to explain what it's really like with only words, but they were very impressive. Especially the "Caja de luz alterna" gave us inspirations of theatre lightings and effects that we would be able to use, if we were to produce a dancing production on stage. We moved on commenting our thoughts, and then to the third floor which was the special exhibition. The art pieces by Jorge de la Vega seemed to be too strong for me, and being tired from all the new exciting inspirations we got from the others on the second floor, we just scanned through the floor and finished off our visit. We had spent a good 2 and a half hours there. An interesting phrase written on the steps of a staircase was "El arte hace a la vida mas interesante que el arte" "Art makes life more interesting than art". Which I believe is so true, in all arts...

buenos aires journalSomehow, I had a bad headache, maybe from too much mental work?! But we arrived home pretty tired. We got ready to go to Gabriel's brother Dan's house, for his birthday. Gabriel's two brothers and their wives, their friends, children, etc. were there. We ate grilled hamburgers and they chatted... I kind of tried to listen, but at some point gave up and kind of dreamed about in my thoughts. I think I communicated more with the dog there.. ;)

We headed over to Canning past 1am. Robert Herrera and Natacha were performing that night. Again, it was packed in there and filled with smoke, which was quite truthfully, very suffocating! We danced a couple, and some performances started. The first one was a modern dance group? Or a contemporary tango group??, but they did something which I thought was totally out of the league, it was inappropriate for a performance at a milonga where people are right there, maybe on a stage it would be okay. People tied up in ropes in underwears or even without things on, and they moved to tango music, perhaps they were describing something, but it was not very pretty to see... I can see Gavito accross the floor, hardly looking at the exhibition and sometimes glancing with distaste, as he is one of those very tango, very dundy, very machoist person, he would never approve of this. An unsure applauding after the show and some people cheering on. We dance a few more tandas and then, Gavito performed. Now, this was totally his style. He started off dancing in the middle of the floor, spotlight right on, and with the special guest singer singing towards him. He danced with passion as though he were right there with a beautiful lady, and then of course, one of the beautiful ladies stood up from her chair and walked gracefully on to the floor. They started to dance, and then, of course, another beautiful lady stood up from her chair, and moved slowly to the floor, taking the dance to be hers. And of course, you know Gavito, he had another beautiful lady come towards him!! Okay, and that was it, but only Gavito can dance this, because he seems to live it! ;) Each girl switching for his dance, the other two dancing together. It was a beautiful performance, the way he embraces is so very unique, the way it's so tight and so relied on each other, like it would never break away. A great applause! Then after awhile, Robert Herrera and his group performed. This was something very different. I would not say very tango, but Robert Herrera and Natacha are great dancers and performers. Modern tango music, and some Chacarera. Chacarera is a type of folk dancing, where men stand on one side, ladies on the other, they dance towards each other and then switching sides, hands up, and feet rhythmically tapping and stepping, almost like the Sevillanas dance in Flamenco. They sometimes play Chacarera in the milongas, and the crowd suddenly livens up. Hopefully Gabriel and I will be able to take a class in this, it looks very fun...!

We got home again, around 4:30 despite my headache and all.....

Next day was a slow start, getting some good rest. We went to see some tango shoes downtown. We went through, El Abasto shopping center. This is a very very big shopping center that used to be the center of Buenos Aires back in the days. A market where the people came together, and sometimes tango dancing happening... It was not used for awhile until they renovated it into a shopping mall, it still uses it's old frame with it's high ceilings. Inside were regular clothing stores, and then some artisanal stores, and then amusement park, and food areas. At the top floor, one of the great maestros, Carlos Coppello teaches here with his partner Alicia Monti. We saw some big poster advertisement at the subway station here. Maybe in the coming few weeks, we will drop by to say hello(we met him at the long beach tango event this summer).

buenos aires journalWe left the mall, and arrived at Susana shoe store across the street, one of which is very famous, but recently with not such good quality. I didn't find a pair to fit my feet, and we moved on to Flambella on Suipacha St. There were not that many different designs, but as we tried some on, we can feel the strong quality and the good leather. I found a comfortable pair of plain black shoes. Nothing very special, but good for practicing.

It was already almost 8 by the time we finished this shoe shopping. Time flies, but the sky was still quite bright. We stopped by the cafe Havanna. Here they have their famous chocolate cookie-pie-cake kind of thing. It's hard to describe, but they are kind of like cookie sandwiches with Dulce de Leche or other yummy flavored cream filling inside, and then chocolate covering the whole thing. It's not too sweet, but just perfect!! I have to take some of these back to LA for sure!

After a short break with coffee, Gabriel headed to a dinner with his brothers and I to Jorge's class at Coronado. Having checked the map that Gabriel has, I got on the subway (I found out that the trains here are imported trains from Japan!! They had Japanese lettering on the windows!! No wonder why they seemed so familiar!) and then got off Malabia. I had to walk several blocks up to Coronado... mmmmm it was pretty dark, and hard to read the signs. Finally determined that I am headed for the right direction, I walked on. Stopped by at a cute accessory store, very original, and made it to the studio. The salsa class was going on again. I watched the Cuban teacher dancing, trying to find out how they keep track of their rhythm (wink wink) and waited, then at some point Jorge came in followed by Maria. "Hola!" and besos, of course being asked where Gabriel was, I would try to explain in some Spanish. The class was great like always, I danced with different people, trying to relax. I met a lady from Australia chatted with her, and then a couple who lived in France. They are professional dancers and instructors, Luis(Argentinian) and Pascal(French). At some point, Pascal became my translator, and after the class, we all headed to the Parilla place across the street. 13 people and a baby, Maria and Jorge being superstitious, said that they can't have 13 people at a table, so we counted in the baby. Maria getting jolly with 2 glasses of beer, started laughing non stop which was very cute, and then Jorge cracking jokes and talking politics with Luis. Pascal having to translate things. Since Jorge was sitting next to me, he just kept on piling up chunks of meat on my plate, calling out the name of each part and making me repeat them, joking that I have to eat it all. I was stuffed! A fun dinner it was too!!

Okay, I am getting kicked out of this internet place. It's 8 and it's the evening before Christmas... I will continue next time, it's already long anyways...