Saturday, 21 February 2015
Sitting at the entrance desk playing guitar, Luciano greets us with a wide smile. This is our first visit to 'De Querusa Practica'.
Organised by Andres 'tanguito' Cejas, Noelia Coletti and Pablo Giorgini this has to be one of the smartest places to dance Argentine tango in Buenos Aires - not for the venue, but for the tangueros. This is a place for the beautiful and the competent.
Taking colectivo 126 from Bolivar/Independencia, San Telmo, a rapid, rattling journey of just over 20 minutes brings you to Carlos Calvo 3745. The doorway is within metres of the bus stop, leading straight from the street to an open reception area. Behind, the sound of tango and Tanguito's encouraging tones as the initial lesson comes to an end. Luciano looks up, offers a big hug and welcomes us to the practica.
The well lit salon is large and long, lined by small tables; with a huge seating area towards the rear of the room - leading to a café bar from which pizzas and empanadas are already being carried by hungry dancers. A dozen couples remain on the pista, developing their recently acquired or practised steps, each one showing the gorgeousness that is Buenos Aires in what they do, how they do it, and fascinatingly, how beautiful they look.
Luise, Stephanie and I take seats near the door to change our shoes. Now is a moment to take in the essence of De Querusa Practica. The average age here is youthful - 20-40, but with a sprinkling of mature tangueros of distinction, or those that retain the quick confidence to partner the young and energetic. The old milongueros seen at other milongas are replaced by rows of attractive men and women. The DJ sits on a low stage above the pista, and below him the tangueras, like a chocolate box of treats.
It is early in the evening and the floor is relatively clear, with space to walk and to dance. Luise accepts my cabeceo and we slip silently into the ronda. Embrace is close and each move is accompanied by a breath and the gentle intimacy that is tango. Around us, other tangueros dance using space intelligently and with respect. Those entering the pista check for the moment and await an acknowledgement to join the ronda.
Nearly four hours slip by in a trice, with elegance and joy. Relieved from his door-keeping duties, Luciano arrives to invite Stephanie to dance a tanda. The stage-side line of tangueras look on longingly as Luciano strides out, and another dream is made.
The bus to return home screeches to a stop, and we board clutching our tango shoes. We race along Av San Juan. After the elegance of De Querusa, the lines of boarding late-night revellers seem dull. And so we are whisked back into the reality of real time, towards the bario of San Telmo.