Archive for the ‘TANGO PARTIES’ Category

Another tanda   Leave a comment

Another tanda

People who just yesterday played with us on the dance floors around the San Francisco Bay Area suddenly begin to have babies, others die in the most tragic of ways, and a new breed of playmates give us the eye the way we looked at our parents when they shook their heads watching our tastes and preferences. Lucy has morphed into Ethel, and Ricky is now Fred.It feels like just the other day when we made the decision to step aside and throw our support to a former disciple turned tango entrepreneur. In return we’d get the treatment and respect extended to visiting celebrities, and occasionally would be invited to do a workshop or two, or perform at some special occasion.

In between we had to deal to unexpected health challenges, one that almost marked the end of a road. Nevertheless, one year after our last foray as milonga hosts, we returned to the former Taqueros restaurant, now the upscale Irish House.

It was Sunday, the week after the Saints fumbled their 2011 Superbowl hopes in San Francisco, allegedly affected by the same malady that some New Orleanians who venture out of the Parish line suffer, the fish out of water syndrome. What’s great about this city is that nobody goes ballistic, there is no mourning period, they put their Saints paraphernalia away and resume the countdown to Mardi Gras.

We had this idea of appealing to a new group people so the critical mass of dancers in the city would increase, and we were expecting and prepared for a great introductory lesson and an introduction to tango parties to many newcomers. I felt like 1997 again, except I had long hair back then.

Imagine our surprise when face after known face began to file into the upstairs room on time for the multilevel lesson. They changed their shoes and stepped on to dance floor forming a circle. It really felt good and it changed our focus immediately.

We presented a very nice combination consisting of a turn to the left right after the salida in cross feet, then showed a similar salida followed by a turn to the right, and finally taught them how to concatenating them together for a longer and challenging move.

After the lesson, we danced almost four hours non stop, a new after Katrina record. The virtues of dancing at a public place become evident one more time. People made their choices of whom to talk to, whom to dance with, whom to drink with, and whom to sit with. The place really look like (not, I’m not going to say Buenos Aires), the place look like the kind of place where adults go to socialize with other adults.

Even a group of youngsters put some of us to shame, by occupying a table, ordering diner and drinking champagne. We really appreciated every single person who took the time to come, dance and have a good time.

When it looked like we were destined for the geriatric hall of fame, we heard the music, looked at each other and got up to dance another tanda.

2008 UNA NOCHE DE GARUFA   Leave a comment

December 27, 2008

Tonight’s the Night! Una Noche de Garufa.

This is the time we all come together to break bread, and raise a glass to the passing year, and the year ahead, to each other for having survived another year to dance a tango!

9 PM – ???
Delish Buffet!
The Best Tango Music!
Midnight Champagne Toast!
Hats and Horns!
Woo Hoo!
Dress Up!
Una Noche de Garufa!
The Country Club of New Orleans

Listen to Una noche de garufa by Ricardo Tanturi

It was a balmy New Orleans winter night. Thankfully there was no fog to impair comings and goings to the Country Club of New Orleans. The grand old house was lighted up, a beacon for the revelers. La Mariposa had it all decked out. The tables were set, the banquet laid. Another year had passed, and we came to celebrate the tango and friends.

Though our ranks may be depleted by a heart breaker named Katrina, we put on our glad rags and smiles, and embraced one another.

Once a year we come together to break bread, to take a meal together, to lift a glass or two in the name of friendship and tango. Then tables and chairs are pushed back, and Tangoman cranks up the music. Dinner conversation gives way to the embrace moving us around the floor to the heartbeat of the tango.

Midnight comes, and free flowing Champagne uncorked. Toasts given to those gone, and to those here missing them; eyes shining and bright. We have lived another year to dance another tango.

Thank you one and all for making this first post Katrina Una Noche De Garufa possible again.

This year end tango party started in 2000 at Pierre Masperos. Then one was held at Antoines in the amazing Japanese Room. And the best ones were held on Octavia Street at The House of Tango. There was also a great one at The Latin American Club on Magazine Street. As ever, intrepid hosts and ring leaders Mariposa and Tangoman, planned, cleaned, shopped, hung decorations, cooked, organized, provided music (live and the best recorded tango), invited all to participate, and had a hell of a good time!

This year as in years past, together we laughed, we cried, we ate well, we drank deeply, we danced until our feet hurt!
Hope to to see everyone all through this coming year, and at its end we’ll come together again!

Con cariño y amistad,
La Mariposa is Valorie Hart and Alberto Paz is the Tangoman


Joe Canoura is an acclaimed musician who worked in New Orleans for many years on the Latin and Jazz scene. Sabina Lewis is his wife, and one of the founding members of the tango community in New Orleans. After losing their home to Katrina floods, they have relocated to San Francisco.

This week they’re in town so we had a great party to welcome them at La Phare, 523 Gravier St., New Orleans, home of the Argentine tango on Wednesday nights.

Photos by Jessica Hack

Photos by Jessica Hack


You beautiful people are the best to party with!

The fine autumn weather is here and it just gets everyone in mood to go out again.

After a long wait of nearly three years, the posh bar formerly known as Loft 523 is up and running again.

As you all know we held weekly classes and a milonga there for three years every Tuesday before Katrina. Now Le Phare has invited us back albeit on Wednesdays to resume weekly Tango Nights! The place is much the same, only better!

The cool upscale decor and comfy sofas are still there. The great sound system is there. The wood floors are there, with ample space for dancing. Video screens have been added, so we can show tango movies, and excerpts of dancers in Buenos Aires.

We have a super cute and friendly bartender named Jonathan, who was with us before, and a new manager Bruce (also very cute). Both of them are making us feel welcome, and doing all they can to make Wednesday Tango Nights a long lasting and successful fixture at Le Phare. But the most important element is you!

You made Tuesdays at Loft 523 the most popular milonga in New Orleans, and judging by the energy and enthusiasm last night, you are going to make tango at Le Phare fun and happening once again!

You know we play all tango all the time, so you can dance from 9 until midnight non stop. The group classes are always fun and informative, so come early and join in.



Posted September 18, 2008 by Alberto & Valorie in TANGO PARTIES

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Ever since our arrival to New Orleans in the year 2000, July has been the birthday month for celebrations. As people come and go, Valorie and Aaron are the remaining symbols of a tradition that consists of gathering with friends to dance, eat and toast to another year under the belt.

Watch the highlights of the birthday dance at the Country Club and the traditional lunch at a choice New Orleans eatery.

Here are some images of the joyful celebration


On occasion of the non New Orleans opening of Robert Duvall‘s cult movie Assassination Tango, the House of Tango in Uptown became the focus of another great party.

Robert, Aaron and Valorie dressed to kill

Robert, Valorie, Adrian and Joe posing for a mug shot

Julio and Denise gunning down the floor

A killer of a milonga at the House of Tango

Laughing Gary and lovely Phyllis

Denise and Julio

Valorie, Alberto, Alfonso and Annie

2001 UNA NOCHE DE GARUFA   Leave a comment

It is not an easy thing to describe one’s first impression of New Orleans; for a while it actually resembles no other city upon the face of the earth, yet it recalls vague memories of a hundred cities. It owns suggestions of towns in Italy, and in Spain, of cities in England and in Germany, of seaports in the Mediterranean, and of seaports in the tropics… Whencesoever the traveler may have come, he may find in the Crescent City some memory of his home – some recollection of his Fatherland – some resemblance of something he loves…

Lafcadio Hearn – At the Gate of the Tropics, New Orleans, November 19, 1877

One thing that strikes the most about the end of the year holidays in New Orleans, is the low key way in which people celebrate the holidays with a spirit that permeates into a desire to renew the vows of love and affection with friends and family.

To those who share a common interest in tango, the weeks preceding and following the turn of another year, bring the excitement of celebrating another banner year for the community, and the prospects of even better times to come.

As the year 2001 was coming to an end, Fortuna came on knocking at the door with the news that a building uptown might fulfill a long held dream about finding a place where to teach and dance tango.

What Fortuna did not mention is that one month later, we would be living, teaching and dancing under one roof. Our House of Tango became a reality, and soon a flurry of activities began to take place.

First it was an intimate gathering with those who had welcomed us, encouraged us, and pointed us in the right direction when we first decided to make this city our home. Then, our first milonga, followed by an end of the year dinner and dance billed as Una Noche Garufa and featuring dishes and wines under the theme Winter in Tuscany.

So far, visitors from many cities in the US and Europe have made their way to New Orleans, and had the chance to enjoy tango dancing with our local community. Next, our first workshop, and the beginning of a series of weekly group classes and regular Saturday milongas. But before, a visual chronicle of our second year end celebration named Una noche de garufa.

Valorie Hart, the hostess

Valorie Hart, the hostess

Alberto, Bruce, Linda, Gwen

Table setting

Table setting



Cocktails in the parlor

Cocktails in the parlor

Dining in the salon

Dining in the salon

Ed and Annette from Berlin

Eddie and Annette from Berlin

Bruce and Linda

Bruce and Linda

Adrian and Mary

Adrian and Mary

Denise and Yvette

Denise and Yvette

Eddie and Annette

Eddie and Annette

Aaron and Stephanie

Aaron and Stephanie

Dining in the salon

Dining in the salon

Aperitiff in the hallway

Appetizers in the hallway

2000 UNA NOCHE DE GARUFA   Leave a comment

The city of New Orleans shares an uncanny resemblance to another port city colonized by the Spaniards, culturally influenced by the French, and originally created to serve as a human dumping ground for the most undesirable characters from the Old Continent.

Settled on the banks of a mighty river, the blueprints called for a Cathedral and the Cabildo circling the central square. Today, New Orleans is without a doubt the most authentic European city in the United States. Buenos Aires continues to be the most European city in South America.

From the late nineteenth century settlements of Buenos Aires, the tango emerged as the dance and music of the disenfranchised lower class and in a little over one century it has become an international ambassador for the cult of the human embrace.

The dance floor at Pierre Maspero

We first visited the Crescent City in October 1999 invited by Casa Argentina of New Orleans to teach a four day Argentine tango workshop to about twenty couples. Actually it was Sabina_Nola (an e-mail handle at the time) who had originally asked the proverbial question, “when are you coming to New Orleans,” after she had missed us in San Francisco while visiting California. When she approached the Casa Argentina, the task to host us, promote us and introduce us to the local dancers fell upon a couple of Ecuadorians who were  having dances in Metairie, just outside the Parish limits.

An amused group watching a tango exhibition

Barely a couple of years old, tango in New Orleans had been quietly practiced in a downtown cabaret and at a quiet suburban studio fifteen minutes away. We remember getting the impression that these were two groups separated by a common passion (and a stretch of Interstate 10).

Performance by Gary and Phyllis with Alberto and Valorie

On December 29, 2000, six months after we had moved to the  Crescent City, we wanted to share with our new tango friends a taste of the good tango life that lies ahead.

So, we gathered in the heart of the French Quarter for a night of “garufa,” a night of partying the tango way, a night to thank and be thankful for the renovated spirit of friendship, camaraderie and unselfish love of the tango.


Sabina on the left and Robin on the right flank one of the group tables

The location was the second floor room of a nearly two-hundred year old restaurant, which was smartly decorated with garlands, Christmas lights, multicolored ribbons, votive candles and freshly cut flowers.

Gwen, Aaron, Linda and friend

Four round tables were set around the dance floor, each one with centerpieces topped with candelabra and individual flower vases. The open bar began serving the first arrivals at 9 PM as they gathered to greet each other, their lively conversation leading to a delicious dinner which included paella, salmon, shrimp pasta, Caesar salad and a delicious bread pudding for dessert.

Eddie, Alberto and Valorie

The evening stretched into the first hours of the morning when the last couple literally dragged their happily tired feet off the floor and marched, with the reverberation of the sounds of legendary orchestras in their hearts, into the misty gray halo that wraps around the colonial street lamps.


August 10, 1997

The greater community of greater Los Angeles received an invitation to a birthday party for Japanese dancer Shizue Endoh. Planet Tango organized the evening of tango at the Westmor Dance Studio. The main attraction of the evening was a performance by the stars of the Japanese show Tango Libertad Tahei Kobayasi and Yuko Eguchi. Shizue Endoh, is a student of Kobayashi and Eguchi.

Westmor’s owner John Morton, an internationally known ballroom dancer and instructor, was the Master of Ceremonies. A large number of ballroom dancers attended for the first time to an Argentine tango parry and show.

Invitations and announcements for the event began to be sent as early as last March in order to allow everybody’s schedule to be accommodated so the entire tango community, teachers, promoters and dancers alike could join in the celebration. The response was overwhelming as the ample ballroom, decorated especially for the evening, was graced by the presence of Award winning actr and tango enthusiast Robert Duval, his new girlfriend Luciana Pedraza, master Orlando Paiva and wife Susana, singer Martin de Leon, Yolanda Rossi, Michael Espinoza, Mark Celaya and Joan Yarfitz, Felix Chavez and Marilyn Hall, Zita Gonzalez and Marcos Cuestas, Raul Perotto and Johanna, Maurice Schwartz, Bill Forget, Allen and Holy Adel, owners of Pasion Supper Club, Norma Gil, owner of Empanada’s Place, Alicia and Luis Sanchez of Alicia’s Travel, and many more who on a weekly basis, constitute the core of a fun seeking, tango loving community.

The lively crowd enjoyed the excellent music of the Miami based Tango Trio led by bandoneonist Miguel Arrabal, Miguel Pineda on bass, and Frank Valente in piano. A succulent Argentine style buffet was catered by Mercado Buenos Aires, located in Van Ness. For many, it was the first time to taste the classic empanadas, the aromatic matambre, the delicious Russian salad and the variety of red and white meat plates and vegetables served with elegant decor on the ample buffet table.

The main feature of the night was a floor show that began with a birthday dance fort Shizue Endoh with Tahei Kobayashi. Next to dance were hosts and organizers Valorie Hart and Alberto Paz. They were followed by first time Argentine visitors Facundo and Kely Posadas. Finally Tahei Kobayashi and Yuko Eguchi from Tokyo, Japan, gave an impeccable sample of what people are expected to see next year when Tango Libertad premieres in Los Angeles.

The main feature of the evening

Long into into the night, the milonga continued with the live music of Miguel Arrabal and his trio and recorded sets from the Golden era.

Party time

1996 EVITA, THE MILONGA   Leave a comment

Let me entertain you, might be what Eva Peron might say were she still be alive to witness the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical Evita recently released by Hollywood Pictures and distributed by Buena Vista.

It is a rock opera, it is Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. It is Hollywood. It is Madonna, and yes, it is Evita. If you have any negative vibes against any of that, you will probably hated it. If you have an open mind and wish to be entertained, you will see an incredible amount of comic strip Argentine history packed into two hours. But hurry because first week hype in major cities this film will not have the legs of trashy fun like Travolta‘s Michael, or Tom Cruise’s Jerry Maguire.

Meanwhile, on December 28, the Southern California tango community was treated to the most authentic and traditional Argentine tango party ever. Over two hundred people attended Evita, the milonga, hosted by Alberto Paz and Valorie Hart at the Hollywood Dance Center. They came from as far as Tokyo, New York, Northern California, Santa Barbara, Bakersfield, and San Diego. The exquisite taste and creative vision of Valorie, La mariposa, set the stage for a unique tango dancing experience.

A candlelit Evita shrine, complete with Santa Evita botanica candles, Casablanca lilies, an Argentine flag and a 3-foot high official portrait of Eva Peron, dominated the center of the lounge complemented with a guest bar and a large screen video display showing the best of Solo Tango, Tango bar and other tango videos.

On the main floor, a delicious buffet, a carefully mixed musical set, and the creme de la creme of Southern California tangueros traded floor skills with their counterparts from Northern California and San Diego. Pictures tell a thousand words, so have fun enjoying the images of a great time.

Part 1 – The dancing – People watching

Part 2 – The presentations and exhibitions