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I stepped off the airplane at Kennedy into a total shitstorm, but its good to be back nevertheless. I love how, when you return to a place after being gone awhile you sortof ride this sleepless, raw energy, prolonging the grace period of “being jetlagged” and taking your time “getting back into the swing of things.” View from my bedroom window at about 5am on a Sunday morning:
My last couple of days in Buenos Aires were spent doing the typical last minute things– consuming as much grass-fed beef as possible, as much Malbec as I could, and buying as many cheap genie pants & similar crap in Once as my guilty conscience would allow. My last tango experience wrapped things up well, also– I had a card to use up from Escuela Argentina de Tango so my last class was an assisted práctica with them. In it, I noticed a few nice things: I no longer walk into a class convinced I’m the worst one there, my palms are sweating far less, people actually want to dance with me, and, well, I can do this! Its a great feeling. Last dance was with someone who could have well been the first person I danced with here in BA– a roly-poly Porteño named Ricardo (or something) but the difference was immense– with the first Ricardo I was stumbling, tense and nervous and then with this one I couldn’t wipe a smile off my face as he put my feet where they were supposed to go.
Back in New York I’ve checked out a few places to dance besides Sandra Cameron, and will continue my research. It’s easy enough to dance every night of the week here, and there are several afternoon milongas, but I haven’t yet gauged the crowds, music, et cetera. I’m going to miss all the live orchestras and unfumbling leads in BA, I know it. I danced with a pretty amazing Polish guy the other night at Dance Manhattan, so who knows. So until my next trip to South America– and depending on this graduate school application ordeal and shitty economic climate, it may be sooner rather than later– goodbye Los Porteños y Jenny. Be sure to check out the new greatest hits page and also the updated tango lessons page for my opinions on several places to dance in Buenos Aires.
Just before you leave a place, you stumble upon all the coolest things that you wish you’d been doing the whole time. It always happens. Today it was, among other things including a great milonga with a terrific little Piazzolla-playing quintet in San Telmo, Miguel Angel Castellini’s magically decorated boxing gym in the Once neighborhood.
Stepping inside, I’m hit by a heavy stench of B.O. and more framed boxing paraphernalia than one could ever imagine in Rocky Balboa’s locker room. Most if it is from Miguel’s champion days, during the late 70s when he beat the hell out of someone at Luna Park. Look down the steps, there is Miguel!
Taking a breath, I descend the stairs. Met by the bald man, I explain my interest in boxing, and Miguel puts a gentle arm around me and shows me around his sanctuary– the various equipment, rings, and even a few fighters.
Here he is coaching a very tough lady.
He sends me off with a schedule of classes and makes me promise to volver, pronto.
Buenos Aires, I love you. Why do I leave on Saturday? Why, again?
I love all the cool old cars in this city. Especially when they are broken.
At the risk of sounding douchey I’m into the maté thing here since the coffee pretty much sucks. I’m kicking myself for not bringing down some Stumptown or Gimme, but I told myself to be open-minded and brew what they sell at the grocery rather than import bourgeois beans. It’s been a failure so far, but the gourd-and-steel-straw operation turns out to be pretty fun. My favorite part is that it doesn’t get all nasty and bitter if it sits around.
My direct flight on delta from JFK couldn’t have been easier. I get on the plane after having good pizza and beer at Roberta’s in Bushwick, browse the stack of trash mags Matt gives me, and pass out across a few seats, waking up about 8 hours later with only a couple hours before landing.
Sofia meets me at the apartment which isn’t very close to the town center, but I’ve discovered that it doesn’t matter. We walk around and lunch in Palermo then she’s off and I unpack, nap (it’s really really hot here!) and wake up and grocery stuff. Everything costs a dollar. It’s awesome.
This is the apartment, which is spacious and airy and more space than I’ve had to myself in about 6 years.