May 4, 2010
My sister Karen and I have just returned from the trip of a lifetime. We finally managed to get to Buenos Aires on our first shared holiday in 30 years after having had to postpone three times.
The first delays were caused by the sad death of our parents earlier this year. Then, as we were finally about to leave, the BBC asked us to take part in a documentary about Tango Teas at the Waldorf. This was such an exciting opportunity to showcase the wonderful bi-monthly event we have re-introduced to the famous Palm Court that we readily agreed to the request. The show will be aired May 27 on The One Show. The producers concentrated on the Tango element of the Tea Dances which turned out to be extremely apposite bearing in mind that we were about to go to the home of Tango.
We had been recommended to a dance couple who were to be our teachers: Diego and Cecilia. Our first lesson was at a small studio in the heart of Palermo, a very chic and newly renovated area of Buenos Aires. Diego and Cecilia conduct the lesson together – he dances with us and she observes and provides valuable commentary to correct our posture and footwork. From time to time Cecilia takes over in order to practice with us and perfect our technique. This arrangement works very well as although the teacher can feel whether we are following his lead, the addition of another expert pair of eyes means that every aspect of the dance is covered.
We grew to love our teachers. Diego and Cecilia are beautiful dancers and arranged for us to watch them perform at the Tango Show at the famous Carlos Gardel restaurant. They are resident performers in the show, which is absolutely breathtaking. It was a particular pleasure for us to have them come over to our table at the end of the show and to know that they were our teachers.
They also took us to a milonga - dance hall - where a number of their friends who are mostly professional dancers gather to dance late at night. We did not have enough confidence to get out on the floor in such expert company but it was very obvious that our teachers were held in very high esteem by their peers. Diego and Cecilia gave another performance of three dances and it was beautiful.
We loved Buenos Aires and can’t wait to return there. The people we met were very kind and friendly, the hotel we stayed at - the Palermitano in Palermo - was just what we needed. The staff were very caring and attentive to our needs. They always made sure that we had as much information as we needed and every night left us chocolates on the bed with a sweet little note.
The restaurants were amazing – we simply cannot believe how inexpensive and high quality the meals were. One night we went to the home of Diego Felix and his wife, who provide a five course menu of sensational fish and vegetarian food. Diego specialises in using little known herbs indigenous to the region, and guests are invited to go into the kitchen and talk to the chefs. We would highly recommend this restaurant as well as La Cabrera, Social Paraiso and Cluny, all in Palermo.
One afternoon we ate at an outdoor restaurant in Recoleta next to the famous cemetery where Eva Peron is buried. We were serenaded by an excellent guitarist who sang his way through the Antonio Carlos Jobim and Astrud Gilberto song book. This made me very wistful, as I know just how much my Dad would have loved to be with us. Then we discovered a musical group called Acqualactica – it consists of a father and his three young sons who not only compose their own music but also make their own electronic instruments. The music is a mix of new age and chamber music – very restful and haunting.
We can’t wait to go back and have booked our tickets for two weeks over Christmas. If anyone wants to join us it will be the height of Summer and we can go to the milongas together.