Archive for the ‘Magazine Street’ Tag

IT AIN’T DERE NO MORE   1 comment

We’ve been suffering from severe tango deprivation syndrome ever since the levees breached on the aftermath of hurricane Katrina and much of the tango community we had worked so hard to support was washed away by the floods that destroyed much of invisible New Orleans.

To the bright eyes of the visitors that have gradually returned in record numbers things look a lot better than they were. For the long time residents and residents in exile, there is an awareness about things that ain’t there no more, as well as a keen appreciation for institutions that link the present to a nostalgic past.

Our TDS gets ameliorated ever so often when people come to do bed and tango with us. We have an incredible beautiful home with a guest area that sooth the senses, a private dance parlor, and a location that’s just a hop and a skip away from glam Magazine Street, legendary New Orleans culinary temple Commander’s Palace, and the streetcar named St. Charles.

Whether our visitors are our house guests or just in town wanting to tango, we look forward to Friday nights because it includes an early dance session at an Uptown restaurant hosted by the Argentine Tango Club of Greater New Orleans, a late fried chicken dinner at Fiorella’s in the French Quarter, and a stroll to The Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street in the Marigny.

Overflowing crowds always waiting to get in

Overflowing crowds always waiting to get in

All sorts of funky roots music can be heard there on a nightly basis. At least two bands perform each night – the first starting around 6 p.m. and the second about 9:30 p.m. Music ranging from blues to trad jazz to Latin and various permutations make the Cat a current favorite hang for many on the Frenchmen Street scene. On Fridays, we listen and dance to the Jazz Vipers. The venue is one of the few remaining places where you can hear jazz that sounds the way it was intended to be heard, on acoustic instruments in a small venue with super dirty floors.

On a given evening a parade of musical guests would sit with the Vipers

On a given evening a parade of musical guests would sit with the Vipers

Tonight, we had been looking forward to another fabulous Friday. First, newly married Tim and April from Maryland completed their week long sessions of private lessons and had their first real live tango dancing experience at Nirvana. Next, we joined Maria and Russell, fresh from their successful participation on the Tales of the Cocktail Conference and Exhibits, at Fiorella’s for fried chicken, fries and mashed potatoes. Finally we made our way to the Spotted Cat and almost had what it amounts to a serious case of the sadness. The side walk was deserted, and the music, well, it sounded Bourbon Street, amps and electronics included. As we stood there, we realized that The Spotted Cat ain’t there no more.

The sign at the door read Jimbeaux’s which is Jimbo’s in pig French, and the floors had been painted. The band stand was on the opposite side of the entrance and the bar was out of Abita Amber. It appears that as of April 30th the lease ran out and the landlord, Jimbeaux, decided to have a go at running the bar himself just in time for Jazzfest. The place got shut down during Jazzfest for numerous infractions about a day or two after it opened.

We first were introduced to the Spotted Cat by our friend Sabina whose sax playing husband Joe sat in many times with the Jazz Vipers. Gradually we became to appreciate the place as one of the most reliable live music joints on Frenchmen Street. We had to hang around for a while to grab one of those few seats by the window, while inching in for some space among the crowd of enthusiastic fabulous jitter-buggers.

The last time we were at the Spotted Cat was in March when Aaron and Rose visited from San Antonio. That night something especial happened to us. Half way through their set, the Jazz Vipers charged with their rendition of William Christopher Handy’s Saint Louis Blues. Before we realized it, we were on the small dance floor putting on one of the most inspired tango performances ever seeing at the Spotted Cat.

The memory of that unexpected last time at the Spotted Cat lingers on as the notes of Saint Louis Blues fill in the emptiness of a New Orleans institution that ain’t there no more.

The Jazz Vipers – St. Louis Blues

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