Casa Luna is situated in the bario Monserrat, to the west of the micro centre, just a few blocks over 9 de Julio. Monserrat is an old, and historically poor bario, the resident population being families that have lived and worked here for generations. The street is busy teaming with life from early morning ....to early morning.
We occupy the ground floor Eva Peron room, but by choice will move to the upstairs Carlos Gardel room after our hosts Vicki and Rob leave for the USA. The Gardel room has ensuite bathroom and small sitting area, with easy access to the office. A back staircase leads to the single Porteno room. Exit through the garden door and you reach the Garden apartment, connected to, but separate from the main house. Double sliding doors ensure lots of light, whilst the garden setting provides total peace. It is at the large table in the garden here that I sit and write. A breeze rattles the leaves of the banana tree whilst red geraniums and hydrangeas add splashes of colour to dense green foliage that reaches over twenty feet above my head.
In the bario just paces away fresh fruit abounds at the corner shop, whilst diagonally across is El Gigon, a superb perilla serving the most divine steaks. On the other corner a pizza shop, and but two blocks to Campo dei Fiori where outstanding fresh pasta is served under the ancient domed brick ceilings by equally ancient waiters who started here as boys.
But now for tango. Saturday night is the night of Los Consagrados.
Buenos Aires is a city of milongas - the location where tango dances are held. Of the more traditional is Los Consagrados in Humberto Primo 1462. Those assiduous readers of my blog will recall my blog entry from 2010 in which I described an exhibition here of tango from Lucia y Gerry
We depart in limpid air as dusk arrives. The entrance way is grand, with metres of marble leading to a majestic staircase. Above the romantic notes of Lucia Demare are muffled by heavy curtains, beyond which the salon extends longways through a mirrored hall. Tables are filling, but we are booked as Vicki and Rob's guests, so separate according to convention to sit at reserved tables opposite across the room.
As a new tanda starts, prospective dancers search across the room for the cabeceo and mirada - the code to identify a partner. Stephanie accepts my cabeceo for the first dance, and I cross to her table. She rises. We enter the pista. It is Calo, a deliciously expressive tango. As new dancers on the floor we attract inspection. Seated dancers assess the level of our skills and experience to determine whether they too will accept our cabeceo and mirada in forthcoming tandas.
Whether as guests of Vicki and Rob - veterans of Los Consagrados- or because we have just passed the test of initial inspection, we dance most tandas for the next two hours. It is clear that 'the embrace' is key. Get it right, and tango is effortless. Get it wrong - the dance is tough like stringy steak. Here the Portenos - local dancers - are unforgiving. The embrace must be close, gentle but safe, flexible but clear, sensitive, intimate but respectful. It is the door to connection. And with connection comes the perfect tanda.
Satiated with tango for one night, and fresh to Buenos Aires, we leave to eat; our destination being a loved pizza cafe in San Telmo where we will be greeted with hugs. Outside the milonga, the bario shines and gulps of warm air from an evening breeze refresh our faces. We slip our dance shoes across our shoulders and stroll hand in hand. Yes, we have arrived in Buenos Aires.