By Chloé Margulis
Our days in Argentina were flying by with everyday bringing a new adventure different from the others. One day, we navigated through the subways into a less affluent neighborhood where Carlos Gardel’s House Museum is located. It took us about two hours to understand the subway system, especially since everyone we asked for help was giving us incorrect information. We arrived at the museum only to discover it was closed due to an unexpected pipe breakage
We tried to make the best of our day by hustling over to Chacarita Cemetery—home of Gardel’s body and many other famous mausoleums. We spent hours exploring the mausoleums, and even got to go inside one, climbing into its cold depths, and scaring each other in the dim lighting. Alize Margulis, a 2010 International Studies Alumni, accidentally opened one of the tombstones underground, only to find within, an urn of somebody’s ashes.
At Gardel’s mausoleum, his bronze statue was holding a cigarette, which is supposed to be lit at all times. One of the students, Ben Trusnovec took the honor of lighting a cigarette as per the tradition and placing it in Gardel’s fingers.
“I was very touched that we, as a group, with Ben’s help continued the tradition of ensuring that Carlos Gardel’s famous bronze statue always has a lit cigarette in his hand,” Music Professor Stephanie Watt said of the moment.
We also took private tango lessons with professional dancers at the studio Tango y Tango. This was an amazing and invigorating experience, especially since the teachers taught us how to feel the music and your partner.
“I loved the intensity that [teachers] Natalia Fossati and Juan Pablo Guerri taught at the lessons,” Professional Ballroom Dance Instructor Barry Masten said. “Their passion and love for the dance and history gave such a great importance to the connection alone and demonstrated how the art of the tango should be danced.”
We learned the traditional Argentinian tango, which we practiced over two classes and then put our skills to the test at a Milonga Club—a club where locals get together to dance the tango and listen to live tango music.
On our final day of tango lessons, the girls had to close their eyes and let their partners lead them across the floor for two dances. You were not allowed to open your eyes, and this experience really taught us how to feel with your partner and dance as one.
“Natalia and Juan also took the time to dance with each student and faculty member and give constructive criticism,” Watt said. “Having the dance lessons by these two professional teachers was the glue that supported the essence of this trip.”
Another day, we left the city perimeter to go to a Gaucho Ranch called Estansa Santa Susana. We had the option to ride horses with the gauchos, with nothing more than a blanket under our bottoms and a rope bridle, or take an “enjoyable” ride in a buggy cart.
“I chuckled about how ironic the entire experience was as I watched the graceful beauty of our group calmly trotting off in the distance with the gauchos leading the way in their traditional dress,” Watt said. “And the rest of us were clinched to the buggy cart rails, wide-eyed, nervously laughing and wildly bouncing out of our seats as our two angry horses kicked up a trail of dust in the sunset. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy…. was that FUN!”
After horseback riding, the gauchos presented us with an array of flavorful meats and a traditional tango show. We even got to dance with the gauchos and country folk after the meal. The little party was followed by a horse show, in which the gauchos herded horses and pinned a tiny hole on a pole with a knife while galloping at full speed.
Our stay at the ranch was concluded with individual rides with the gauchos. We all “rode off into the sunset” with a gaucho, exploring the countryside a little more than we were able to by riding individually.
We power napped on the bus back to the city, because that night, we went to a hip hole-in-the-wall Jazz club. Prominent Argentinian musicians came together to perform a medley of gypsy and Argentinian infused jazz music—music that made you want to get up and dance. In my opinion, this was one of our best days, filled with music, horseback riding, delicious food, and an infusion with Argentinian jazz-adoring locals!
Photographs were provided by Chloe Margulis