By Chloé Margulis
There are three things you will learn about Argentina: first, there is an abundance of delicious steak; second, there is an abundance of different empanadas, which will become your snack food; and third, there is no such thing as a glass of wine half empty. I discovered all of this on my first day in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
On May 12, LIU Post honors students and faculty embarked on a 10 day journey to discover the history of tango in Buenos Aires. Music professor Stephanie Watt organized this trip as part of an honors course about the history of tango. The purpose of the trip is to continue learning the history of the tango dance by immersing students and faculty in the rich culture of tango’s capital.
We spent the first day exploring an area called Recoleta, a section of Buenos Aires, home to Parisian inspired architecture and the society’s elite. That evening, our wonderful guide Alberto brought us to the El Viejo Almacen tango house, where we were treated to a wonderful dinner of Argentinian steak, empanadas, and unlimited wine, followed by a narrative and sensual tango show.
“I could feel the energy among our group at the formal dinner before the show,” Professor Stephanie Watt said. “At that moment I knew that this tour was going to be an experience of a lifetime.
The stage was small, shared by an incredible band, 2 singers, and 4 couples. What separated this show from others was the intimate and emotional exchange between the dancers, musicians, and audience. The dancers engaged with us as we sat two feet from the stage sipping on our champagne. When a new song would begin, the audience would take a single breath with the dancers before they broke into the rhythmic art of the traditional Argentine tango.
The second day was considered our “touristy” day. One stop was to visit a famous metal flower on the outskirts of town. The metal flower is a structure in Argentina that at night, the petals close, and in the morning, the petals open, all depending on the position of the sun. When we saw it, the flower was in the midst of restoration because of a petal malfunction.
Shortly after our city tour, we visited the most famous opera house in Buenos Aires called Teatro Colon. During the tour, we sat in the most elite box in the house straight across from the stage where we witnessed auditions for an upcoming show. The unique thing about this opera house is that the acoustics are so incredible that voices and instruments are naturally amplified to bounce off the gold gilded dome ceiling. Microphones are not needed, so that any viewer can hear crystal clear from anywhere in the opera house.
When one of the sopranos sang a subito pianissimo it gave me goose bumps,” Watt said.
The last stop on the itinerary was La Boca, which is home of the most colorful streets in Argentina. On this strip of cobblestones, people danced tango and merchants sold hand crafted items. The surrounding buildings were the colors of the rainbow.
That evening, Professor Watt and Christopher Morrison, LIU alumni and flutist, performed together at the Academia Nacional del Tango.
“The excitement that I had felt at that moment acknowledging these facts is beyond words,” Watt said of the experience. “It wasn’t until Christopher and I played the last notes of our encore, Angel by Astor Piazzola that the release of this energy overwhelmed me. I never dreamt that one day I would be performing in this renowned institution as a classical artist much less receiving an honorary degree.”
A celebratory dinner was to be held at a famous meat house that midnight.
These were just our first adventures in Buenos Aires, a city that definitely never sleeps. With finishing dinner past midnight, then exploring the streets and local nightlife hotspots, our days and nights were filled with rich experiences.