Performing in the New Year’s Festival at Barrio Chino!

Backstage at the Barrio Chino New Year's Festival

Backstage at the Barrio Chino New Year’s Festival

What a QUILOMBO! Quilombo=chaos in Argentine Spanish.

We went to the Barrancas Plaza in Belgrano, a huge park located in the Barrio Chino. This weekend, it was used for the big Chinese New Year’s festival. Delia has been coordinating with them the past few years for tango dancers to perform there. This year it was, Delia & Ernesto, Beau & Daniel, and Leo & I. It had been raining the past day in Buenos Aires and the park was all wet and muddy. We were surprised to see the large crowd at the event regardless of the bad weather. We were performing on Sunday at 7pm, towards the end of the festival, so we got there at 6pm to get ready. Of course, the whole program was already delayed. Back stage entrance was a quilombo and tons of people were swarming around trying to avoid the mud puddles, walking on the wooden pallets that were placed as path ways to the stage, bathroom, and make-up/wardrobe bus. People in colorful costumes for dances, martial arts, and other types of performance pieces.

We found our way into the bus to get ourselves changed into costumes and to get our hair and make-up done. I had already done my usual performance make-up with fake eye lashes and all, so I decided to get my hair done. They made me look more Asian than I think I’ve ever seen myself. Ha! People coming in and out into the tiny bus, it was continuously a quilombo. We decided to move to another space, which was actually a lounge space for the Chinese Ambassador, but they allowed us to wait there. The 6 of us were waiting in there while the program kept being delayed, and our number kept on being switched. We were in our flip-flops/sneakers since we wouldn’t be able to walk on the pallets up to the stage in our tango shoes. Sometimes we would stretch, other times, we were just chatting. As our turn was coming close, an incident occurred where the organizer of the festival got upset at us for acting improperly in the VIP lounge, wearing flip-flops or barefoot, stretching and dancing, when it was a lounge space for the Ambassador. That caused some uproar in the Argentinean partners, that they had no right to talk to us so disrespectfully, so we all decided to get out of the room. Haha, so things always happen. It was perfect though, the 7pm performance ended up being around 9pm, and as we walked out of the lounge, it was finally our turn.

We were performing live to a tango trio, Leo and I were dancing to Loca, Beau and Daniel to Quejas de Bandoneon, and Delia and Ernesto to Tanguera. Leo and I were given the D’Arienzo 1960 version to practice to. We had rehearsed one day to this music, had semi choreographed it with some lifts for some of the strong parts of the music, and the musicians had told us that they would play exactly the same as this version. Lo and behold, as we started to dance, I could barely even recognize that this was the same song! The stage was a rough wooden floor, which you could not slide or pivot on, even with hard sole shoes. With a non-sliding floor, as a follower, it gets really difficult to feel subtle lead, it gets very desensitizing. I was struggling with that trying to connect with Leo, at the same time trying to hear the music, which was not flowing into my body at all. At some point during the song, Leo led a high jump, which caught me by surprise because the music really didn’t say anything. That didn’t come out as nice as it should. The D’Arienzo version had a nice stretchy violin portion, which we had choreographed to, which led to the strong variacion in the end with lifts, jumps and fast turns. They played nothing of this, so the end suddenly loomed up and boom it was done. Thank god Leo knew the end was coming, he kicked me up into a jump and into the last pose to make it. QUE QUILOMBO! I could almost say this is the first time, I could not feel the music at all, and I felt like we did not dance at all. Live music performances could be tricky. I remember a performance that Varo and I had done. The way the musicians played, we thought the song was coming to an end, at least three times during the performance, making us strike a pose each time. It’s very funny at the same time not so funny. Most of us dancers kind of understand though, how somehow the musicians don’t always understand that you can’t change the arrangement and rhythm of the music if dancers are performing to it. In the end some people gave us compliments for our dancing, which is surprising, I would be scared to see a video of this performance…!! But all of this included makes it fun and interesting.

They announced our group as “Chinese” dancers with Argentineans. If they had announced that we were, Taiwanese, Korean, and Japanese, it would not be good, as politics sometimes take affect. I think we played it off well enough!

Afterwards, we went to an Americana Bar called “Wrangler’s” (pool bar) in Belgrano located at Juramento 2121 for some pizza and beer. It’s kind of funny going into a bar that is mimicking the “wild west” with photos of Native Americans & cowboys, cowboy hats, knives, and etc. as a bunch of us were from the US.

We definitely had a fun evening! Happy New Year, the year of the horse!

P.S. Check out the “Quilombo” photo of Delia in La Nacion

In the make-up/wardrobe bus

In the make-up/wardrobe bus

Getting my hair done

Getting my hair done

With Leo

With Leo

With Delia and Ernesto

With Delia and Ernesto

At the Wrangler's bar

At the Wrangler’s bar

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