Tony spent several months living and studying in Buenos Aires starting in October 2015. Here is a letter he sent with his impressions of the city, the dancing, and the instruction:
I'm currently staying in Palermo SoHo. the first month I was here I stayed in Palermo Hollywood. I choose Hollywood as it was the place I found on AirBnB, based basically on location. After the constant feeling of being lost the first couple of weeks and exploring around Soho. I decided to move literally "across the tracks" from Hollywood into Soho. The move has turned out to be a good one in more ways than one.
In Hollywood on Friday and Saturday nights, turns out its also the younger peoples hang out too. Very noisy late into the night, and I'm sure, even though my apt was on the 3rd floor and facing the street this along with early morning traffic, buses, work trucks and just life made the place very noisy! My ear plugs didn't work so well. Plus the Hollywood apt had a "cold" feeling. I like my comforts, this was pushing it a little for me.
So after the first couple weeks, I had less of a feeling of being lost and more "into a routine". Although staying up till 3 or 4am every day hardly seemed normal for me. That's just how this place goes, I've walked into restaurants at 9pm and the staff looked at me like "dude what are you doing here so early" as its just me and the staff. So I found myself sleeping or should I say trying to sleep in till like noonish. A bit difficult being on a noisy street. Oh I should also mention that the part of the apartment that faced the street was also mostly glass, which includes sliding glass patio doors. Not the best sound break.
By this time I was just getting into being a student of the Tango. I could get to and from the studio via taxi w no major issues other than traffic. Travel time normal day 10 mins, traffic or other issues 20 30 mins, I'm getting to my lesson late.
A side note, traffic, driving etc. The first or second day here I took a Taxi to the only place I knew I could change $ at the "Blue rate" thats the exchange rate with the highest dollar value, and it changes every day based on the value of the U.S. dollar usually around $14 or $15 pesos to the dollar. Otherwise the "Black" rate is much lower exchange, thats the rate one would get at say a bank or ATM. So having cash, US dollars on hand is how most people travel.
Back to my cab ride the street we were traveling on is called AV. 9 de Julio. AV. 9 de Julio is reported to be the "widest" avenue in the world! It has 13 lanes and is some 460 feet across, and looks impossible to cross on foot. In the middle of the Avenue in the Obelisco, very similar to the Washington Monument in DC. and a must see for any tourist. Unlike how we drive, very civilized and respectful of other drivers, we use turn signals, stay in your lane, try not to cut anyone off, no texting, etc etc. Here in BA its CRAZY!!!! No real use of turn signals or staying in your lane for that matter and drive as fast as you can using your horn when you suddenly get cut off! Add to this busses, big trucks with trailers, other cars, cyclists and motorcycles! Motorcycles just ride between cars either side, they just weave in and out of traffic often just running RED lights! You can imagine racing down this Avenue, I was a bit nervous to say the least. Oh on that note seems most cab drivers are also Catholics, so when they drive past a church its an automatic sign of the cross, of course while driving.
Once I adjusted my body to the Porteno lifestyle, staying up till 4am and sleeping till noonish, my cafe time which is the one daily habit I was not about to stop or change. So now I was off in search of the "perfect Americano" I tried quite a few cafe joints, finally I stumbled upon a French Bakery called Le Pain Quotidien, walking distance to my apt, also in Palermo Soho. As I am a creature of habit, the Americano, was good and the croissant was freshly baked, nice staff ( a couple of them Gonzalo and Diego have become friends as we have meet out for cervezas), and strong Internet. I use this time for reading the local news The Buenos Aries Herald an all English Argentine newspaper, catch up w NM news as well as do some writing.
From cafe its off to School. In between my lessons and classes I will go to the gym or swim, although swimming has been a little difficult due to the distance I have to travel to get to the pool.
I'm studying at DNI. dni-tango.com. At Dni group classes start at 12pm Monday thru Saturday, I could go into all the details of the classes schedules etc, however all that info is on there web page dni-tango.com. I will write however about my studies, teachers, style, and why I like DNI over other schools here in BA. When I first got here I did explore other teachers, studios, classes etc etc. Some I liked more than others, I did learn something every class I went to. However at DNI I was impressed with how the school is run and the attitude of the teachers and the style in which they teach.
At DNI I take a private lesson everyday Mon thru Sat. the way the school works is the first lesson is called a CLASS, followed by two PRACTICAS, in the "class" its a private lesson with one teacher for an hour, the next lesson is called a "practica" which is also an hour long, with another teacher male or female and in the practica we work on the material we did in the class, the next practica is also a review of what we did in the class. In between the lessons and practicas, I take group classes. Usually one class per day some days schedule permitting I can take 2 group classes. The teachers have all been great! I've been working mostly in close embrace some open and dancing to all traditional music. I have a newly discovered love for the traditional tangos danced in the Milongas throughout Buenos Aries.
During one lesson with Juan we sat down and had a heart to heart conversation about why I study and dance tango? Oh my gosh, the result of that conversation, resulted in me having a bit of an emotional breakdown! As I walked home after that lesson I just let ALL the tears out! Tears of Joy, Happiness, Sadness, Anger, and Frustration! It was great.......
What I did not plan was the same emotional reaction the next two days I went to my lessons, both of which were with woman Dulce and Josephina. All DNI teachers have a log they keep and share with each other discussing what each student has been working on. Of course we talked about my lesson with Juan, and again I tried to hold back the tears, this time I could not hold them till I was walking, so yes this was an emotional 3 days for me. As I sit here today writing about this it brings a smile to my face. It was moments like these that are among the many reasons I extended my stay month after month.
On the Milongas, Wow! A Tango Dancers dream come true! Everyday there are at least 15 Milongas starting late afternoon up to 2am! I try to go to at least one per week. Some of my favorites are; La Viruta on Sunday nights, milonga class at 8pm followed by tango performance by all the teachers at 9:15 then a tango class at 9:30, then a rock and roll class at 10:30 and finally the milonga starts at 12am and goes till 4am! On Friday evenings from 8 to 12 its a fun practica called Cheek to Cheek usually a younger crowd. On Wednesdays a milonga called Maldita Milonga, is fun, because its a low key casual milonga where the rules are just having fun. Last time I went there it was their 2 year anniversary milonga, with 3 live tango orchestras. A classic traditional Milonga on Tuesdays called Cachirulo that goes from 8pm to 2am packed floor great place to see some of the old time milongueros do their thing.
One the wine and dinning side of BA, vino here is very good and not too pricey. I'm convinced that the wines that Argentina ships out are not the best it has to offer. My apt in Palermo Soho is right next door to a fantastic wine shop and book store called Autre Monde boutique de Vios, the owner Victor and I have become buddies, he likes to practice his English with me and I like to learn about and taste delicious Argentine wines. With the exchange rate what it is I purchase great bottles for $250 pesos.
Speakeasy restaurants or Puertas Cerradas are starting to get more popular here in BA, I recently went to this place called Ocho Once delicious. The restaurant is in someones house, no sign just a street number, you ring the door bell and the host walks you in. Once inside it feels like a small restaurant with like maybe 6 tables inside and out. The menu consists of 5 courses including postre all for a set price. Once each course is served, the chief comes out and describes each plate. You can bring in your own wine for a corking fee. Of Course the house has a wine list as well.
As my time here comes to a close, I look back with so many fond memories of BA and Argentina, like my weekend trip to Iquazu these amazing waterfalls that separate the border between Brazil and Argentina, I came here to study tango and I'm leaving with much more than tango.
Thank you for reading this and waiting for my response. we have lot's of Tango dancing and studying to do my friend.