Milongas: after years of survival of the fittest, even some of the survivors have disappeared. Confiteria Ideal at Suipacha 384, El Arranque at Bartolome Mitre 1759, Centro Region Leonesa at Humberto Primo 1462, Milonga La Nacional at Adolfo Alsina 1465 - who would have thought that they would ever close?
But milongas still survive and thrive at Associazione Nazionale Italiana, Adolfo Alsina 1465, a location that has inherited Yira Yira and Los Consagrados from Humberto Primo. A new event here is Milonga de Juan, held each Wednesday afternoon from 3 - 9 pm.
Stephanie and I arrive just after 4 pm and are led to the prime table in the centre of the front row across the pista from the bar and backing the stage. Tonight, organiser Juan Angel Rosales is not present, so his tasks have been delegated to assistants. The salon is animated, but lightly populated, giving room to extend and to dance.
There is something special about afternoon milongas, particularly those in Buenos Aires. The atmosphere is more relaxed, with a feeling of fun. They are more recreational and less intense than their evening counterparts. Of course, they attract a different clientele - clearly those that do not work on a Wednesday afternoon. That said, with the welcome addition of tango tourists, the demography is not ancient - let us say, ‘simply mature’.
To feel our way into a milonga, Stephanie and I dance the first tanda with each other. It happens to be our favourite vals. An advantage of dancing together at the outset is that it presents us and our respective skill sets to watching tangueros, who then discern whether or not to cabeceo and mirada either of us for subsequent tandas. In this regard we need not have been concerned, for as the afternoon unfurled, we danced almost continuously.
A feature ot Milonga de Juan was just how friendly the regular attenders were, and how accommodating to us as tourists. At several points in the afternoon, local tangueros came to chat and share a moment of their time.
For those looking for an afternoon milonga, look no further. Milonga de Juan is a great and well needed addition to the milonga circuit and should feature on your list of places to dance when you next visit Buenos Aires.