Friday, 14 September 2007

weekend in the city

07 May 2007

It is as if someone has decided that the city has had enough; it can´t take any more of the frenetic weekday activity which I hear from my balcony at the back of Tucuman: the voices, the car horns, the shrieking buses, the street vendors, the demonstrations....But at the weekend a gentle, relaxed atmosphere prevails over the city. Especially today, Sunday, in delightful autumn sunshine. The elderly Porteneos stroll arm in arm, smartly dressed, perhaps carrying a decorative bag of fresh cakes or biscuits from the bakers, or maybe walking one of a hundred thousand supremely cared city dogs at the end of their leads.

After a lively night in Palermo which ended when my taxi dropped me off at Tucuman at 7.30 am (not at all unusual here in Buenos Aires), I rose at midday to walk to Recoleta to meet Judi at the street fair.

Judi is from New York and has returned to see Julio Bocca dance in Corrientes. It is his final year. He retires as one of the best living ballet dancers in the world. He is worshiped by the Argentine ballet lovers as a national treasure. And clearly worshiped by countless women who follow him across continents to see him dance. Judi is rather exceptional in this regard, as she knows Julio through her voluntary work behind the scenes with his ballet company in New York. She speaks about him with familiarity as well as awe for his dance skills. In her short weekend visit she will see three of his performances, sharing her discerning experience in our conversation as we walk through the craft market in Recoleta and take tea at La Biela. Here the locals and visitors sit outside what must be the city's most fashionable restaurant to eat, drink a glass of wine or champagne, see and be seen. Our saunter is blessed by one of the most superb street tango performances which hopefully I will upload to YouTube, and a brilliant Latin jazz combo playing to an appreciative audience.

Later, back in Corrientes before the evenings performance, we meet with Julio Bocca's biographer, Angeline Montoya. She is a young and committed writer, producing the definitive biography on the dancer, which he himself described as 'fascinating'. Quite an accolade from a man like Bocca! Interestingly, she is also a dancer,competing later this month in the Buenos Aires tango festival. Judi returns to New York tomorrow taking back the memorabilia which she has gleaned from the city to add to her Bocca collection. As we part, the theatre goers are flooding excitedly towards a host of theatres, spilling from the cafes on street corners and jumping from taxis. Regrettably, no tickets left for Bocca's I wend my way back past Obelisco towards Callao through the crowds, sounds, music, smells of this remarkable city. It is now becoming dusk and I pass with the late fragrance lifting from bright orange autumn cacti in the Plaza garden.