Archive for the ‘New Orleans’ Tag

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


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

2006 Labor Day Dedadence Parade   Leave a comment

Post-Katrina Decadence Parade 2006

2003 NEW ORLEANS TANGOFEST   Leave a comment

New Orleans has been charming visitors for nearly three centuries. Imagine the tango against the magical background of wrought iron balconies, lush, leafy courtyards and quiet cobblestone alleys. Share the experience of a lifetime where it’s all about you on center stage, with everything designed for your enjoyment. In New Orleans you will find a combination of tango, local attractions and genuine friendship. The Double Tree Hotel, located at the foot of Canal Street, offers the best of both worlds — the Old World allure of the French Quarter, with its elegant Creole restaurants, world-renowed art galleries and antique shops — and the bustle of Canal Street, the Crescent City’s Champs-Elysees and downtown shopping thoroughfare.

Above all, New Orleans is home to a great tango community. Spend an exhilarating extended weekend in the Crescent City dancing to great music with the finest dancers in the country.

Planet Tango produced another great fun filled weekend, the 2nd New Orleans TangoFest, August 15 – 17, 2003 at the Double Tree Hotel, 300 Canal Street, featuring Live From The Tango Belt a tango experience of a lifetime featuring Guillermina Quiroga, introducing Alberto Catala, Valorie Hart, Alberto Paz, Susana Collins, Eric Lanoix, and Orquesta Milonga.



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

The sound missing in New Orleans   Leave a comment

Chronicle of the first Tango Show and Dance at the Rock ‘N’ Bowl Cafe with the music of Quartet MALA JUNTA from Uruguay and the performance of the NOLA Dance Troupe “Los Che.”

Those who undertake the endless journey on the path of the tango, travel through well-known avenues where the emotions intersect each corner, sharing the happiness of the encounter with old and new friends .

There are also less frequently traveled roads. Those who venture on these, have their hearts full of tango, with the flaming torch that blazes new trails, so that those who follow can find a friendly footpath. This path leads to a place to make a heart-warming pause before continuing the search of the destiny that waits ahead.

One of these new footpaths leads to New Orleans, the Crescent City that rises majestically from the shores of the powerful Mississippi River. A harbor city; a melting pot of races; a “Bohemian soul;” a resonant box of old and new sounds that form the musical essence that gave the world the happiness and the sadness of jazz. Music of the black folks that seized the soul of the white people, and after a long time of tragic racism and segregation contributed to the universal recognition of men and women, without regards to the color of their skin.

Gerardo, Julio, Juan, Gloria and Jorge

Roz, Aaron and Linda

When arriving in New Orleans, the traveler recognizes traditions; the narrow streets; the balconies overflowing with flowers; the street lights that illuminate the nigh for untiring travelers as they look for, and find, in every door, the sounds of pistons; of strings; of accordions; of drums and of voices that sing the experiences of life. Each relevant event is celebrated with brass bands parading through the streets of the French Quarter marching with the joy that the music creates, the second line dancing and the spirit always present of those who no longer exist, but have left their footprints on the old cobblestones near the river bank.

Alberto Paz and Valorie Hart

On Monday, April 9, a missing sound arrived to New Orleans. It came from the Eastern shores of the Rio de la Plata, another majestic river that unites two cities fraternally related by the common sound of the original tango. With a bragging and sentimental accent, lazy and inciting, the moan of the bandoneon was heard in New Orleans.At 9 PM, in a hall reminiscent of neighborhood clubs of Montevideo or Buenos Aires, the night shivered like a first love affair when the “fueye” of Gerardo Perez played the sounds of La Yumba. As the floor filled with dancers, many listening to the phrasing of the bandoneon for the first time, the members of the Uruguayan quartet Mala Junta began to write a new chapter in the imponderable history of the music of New Orleans. The tango had its party and it dressed up for the occasion.

Graciela and Enrique

Gloria, Julio and Nelly

The way is now open so that the travelers of  tango may  find, in a bend of the Mississippi River, a warm abode where open arms will wait them with a fraternal embrace, and where they can hear along with the old sounds of New Orleans, the new yumba of tango shooting from digital tracks, and sometimes from an orchestra on stage.

Alberto and Aaron

Rosanna, Valorie, Catherine and Warren

“Los Che”
Valorie, Phyllis, Aaron, Sabina, Sean, Catherine,
Mary Anne, Warren, Gary, Melissa, Ed, Alberto

THROW ME AN OCHO MISTER   Leave a comment

2001 Mardi Gras Tango Odd-Essay

The year was 1718, the occasion a one way cruise; the skipper was Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur de Iberville, his mate, brother Jean-Baptiste, Sieur of Bienville. The passengers included French and Canadian immigrants; whores, beggars, Indian slaves, thieves and cutthroats on leave from Parisian jails. The destination, a below sea level collection of swamps in a miserable steamy, sticky and suffocating heated bend of the Mississippi river. Starvation and deadly disease were a threat. Bienville pulled into the quay on May 7, unloaded the passengers, threw their belongings overboard and proclaimed: Welcome to the Crescent City, enjoy the Mardi Gras!

Mr. Nick of the Bywater Tango club recruiting on Royal St.

Mr. Nick of the Bywater Tango club recruiting on Royal St.

A couple of hundred years later, after being ruled by the French, the Spaniards, and finally purchased by the United States, the state of Louisiana has earned a reputation that some call European and others Third World. In particular, the city of New Orleans is recognized as the birthplace of jazz, its culinary variety and Mardi Gras.

It is said that the celebration of carnaval was imported from France as a ritual that begins on the twelfth day after Christmas and ends at midnight the day before Ash Wednesday. These dates are very familiar to Catholics although there is very little religious about Mardi Gras.

Joe Canoura and his revelers

Joe Canoura and his revelers

Some say that the Church gave up trying to fight the decadent pagan tonesof the celebrations by its faithful, and looked the other way while people went out indulging in food, drinks and other carnal excesses, so their bodies would be strong enough to endure the Lenten period of fasting and abstinence.

This is a city where the smell of crawfish boil turns more people on than Chanel #5, and where waitresses at the local sandwich shop tell customers that a “dressed” fried oyster po-boy is healthier than a Caesar salad. The major topics of conversation when you go out to eat are: restaurant meals you have had in the past, and restaurant meals you plan to have in the future. People don’t learn until high school that Mardi Gras is not a national holiday.

For visitors, New Orleans is Bourbon Street, and Mardi Gras a time for housewives and coeds to expose their breasts in exchange for plastic beads. It is actually the outsiders, who for fourteen days, fill the city coffers with a cool billion dollars, litter the streets with a tonnage of garbage and convert Bourbon Street into the greatest loitering place in America. Major Mardi Gras parades have long abandoned the French Quarter because the growing size of the floats and crowds began to pose a major fire hazard. However three walking parades “roll” through the streets of the Vieux Carre, and neighboring Fauburg Marigny and the Bywater.

Members of the Follows who Lead Society

Members of the “Follows who Lead” Society

The Krewe de Vieux and the Krewe of St. Ann are for humans. The Krewe of Barkus is for all the dogs of the city (the four legged variety) and parades exclusively in the French Quarter.

The super krewes and the big parades now roll through the streets of surrounding neighborhoods, continuing a tradition that began just before the Civil War, when a secret aristocratic society of well bred white supremacist founded the Mistick Krewe of Comus for the purpose of saving the spirit of Mardi Gras, which they felt had been condemned to extinction by the idle and feckless Creole of colonial and Catholic heritage.

The old line formula has not changed a lot: a host of black men lead the parade with propane gas tanks on their backs waving flambeaux; high school marching bands; masked horseback riders and police squad cars march in between tractor pulled floats overflowing with lights. They sport giant theme figures, from mythology to Star Trek, to political satire. They are manned by masked riders wearing elaborate customs and donning titles such as kings, queens, captains, pages, marshals and throwers.

The PURPLE Ball at the Bywater

Miss Valorie, Miss Cheryl and Miss Sabina missbehaving

Miss Valorie, Miss Cheryl and Miss Sabina miss-behaving

For a first time participant, as a parade slowly rolls through streets lined with enraptured spectators, who seem capable of pushing little old ladies out of the way to catch Mardi Gras throws, one wonders if some will leave the parade with footprints on their hands. In reality, one quickly learns how to avoid catching beads with the nose, how to befriend fellow catchers, and how to go home with the booty of trinkets caught from the floats hanging around the neck.


Heels on wheels

Although the plastic beads from Taiwan, which have long replaced the original glass beads from Czechoslovakia, have no other value than that charged at the French Market or other stores along Royal and Bourbon Streets, the whole unjustifiable idea is to run beside the floats, waving hands, jumping up and down, yelling throw me something, mistah, and catching the colored beads before they hit the ground.

On Bourbon Street, after midnight and a couple of cocktails with names like hand grenades, hurricanes and goodies, young All American coeds bare their breasts in exchange for fake jewelry to the chants of go, go, go descending from the festooned balconies of the Vieux Carre. The lenses of video cameras propped high above heads and shoulders catch a glimpse of flesh.


During the ensuing months, late after midnight in the heartland of America, infomercials will peddle Mardi Gras’ Housewives and Coeds Gone Wild videos on TV with an assortment of revelers exposing their breasts. They will most certainly be followed by lunatic preachers who will inspire other freaks to come on down to New Orleans and second line their way into the parades waving flags with slogans that read Satan Rules and Jesus Judges.

Miss V sampling the Creole fare

Miss V sampling the Creole fare

Anticipating a dry season for tango dancing while everybody else was having fun, a meeting was called at a secret location somewhere in the Warehouse District on Tchoupitoulas St. for a purpose soon evident by the release of the following proclamation:


WHEREAS, Mardi Gras has cast its fun over our passionate tango nights and care usurped the place where a milonga is wont to hold its way. Now, therefore, do I deeply sympathizing with the general anxiety, deem it proper to join the Annual Festival in this goodly Crescent City and by this proclamation do command assemblage of the Krewe of the Mistickal Nights of the Tango. Given under my hand this, the 1st day of February, A.D. 2001. TANGUS.

Tangus, lord of franela and firuletes

Tangus, lord of franela and firuletes

Further, breaking all old line rules, the Krewe would not require a membership fee, would welcome people regardless of dancing style, gender, race or sexual preference, adopting the motto: Pro bono tango, be nice or leave.

The We-Can-Tango-to-anything Krewe

The “We-Can-Tango-to-Anything Krewe

And so it happened that the Krewe of the Mistickal Nights of the Tango was seen second lining at the Krewe de Vieux parade through the French Quarter on their way to the Planet Tango’s Mardi Gras Milonga at Pierre Maspero’s Restaurant. Further, masked and unmasked members of the Krewe continued their carnival celebration through the streets of New Orleans, some having been spotted at the Krewe of Barkus parade holding the leash of at least two of the eighteen hundred canines that joined that parade.

Parading on Royal St.

Parading on Royal St.

Two well known tangueros who own a self-described former flop house and bordello provided a first rate balcony party during one of the major parades. Petite tangueras with Ph.D. degrees were seen in the street shamelessly screaming
we need more beads! Soon they became unrecognizable under the weight of the tonnage of worthless and hard won baubles.

Six weeks of king cakes, Purple, Bunch and countless other balls, lots of street dancing, masking and bead collecting, finally came to an end at midnight on Fat Tuesday, as State trooper cruisers begun to clear Bourbon Street followed by the Krewe of the Sanitation Department.

Everybody has gone into fasting and abstinence to shed the extra pounds of king cake from their waistlines. There are only 50 weeks until Mardi Gras 2002 and the next meeting of the Krewe of the Mistickal Nights of the Tango.


Tangus with an attitude

Mounted Brett greeting Miss Cheryl

Brett greets Miss Cheryl

He leads, he follows, they want to have fun

He leads, he follows,


Hitching a ride


Second line: An informal parade performing impromptu dances that follows the brass bands and floats.
Crawfish: One of the year’s four seasons. The rest are, Shrimp, Crab and King Cake.
Tchopitulas: A word New Orleanians can pronounce, but can’t spell.
Po-boy: A sandwich judged by the number of napkins used.

2001 MARDI GRAS PARTY   1 comment

These are the images of the 2001 Mardi Gras Milonga at Pierre Maspero’s in New Orleans
Courtesy of Gary and Phyllis Breaux

After having crashed the Krewe de Vieux parade with our own Krewe of the Mistickal Nights of the Tango, we diverted our march to the original Pierre Maspero’s restaurant on the corner of Chartres and St. Louis. Being new to the city we went ahead with our plans to meet at Cafe Brasil in the Marigny, and joined the wacky Krewe de Vieux parade as the revelers began to make their way to the French Quarter. Later we found out that there is some sort of pecking order and even secret handshakes that discriminate participation from those who are recently arrived, come from Yankee territory and on top of that are fun and great hosts. The rumor is that one Kathy from Canal Street almost had the vapors when we inadvertently inquired about adding the Krewe of the Mistickal Nights of the Tango to the roster of the politically incorrect parade. Sorry K, get over it.

Left to right, there is Phyllis, Valorie, Gary, Eva and Eddie. Next is Warren and Phyllis showing off.

Julio with Barbara and the back of Edwin. Warren and Phyllis showing off again. Alberto with Phyllis

Eddie, Phyllis and Aaron. Eddie with Eva, and Ed and Barbara

Natalia and Eva. Natalia, Mary Ann and Phyllis. Warren and unidentified female

Eddie with Mary Ann. Alberto with Mary Ann. Gary and Phyllis

Julio with Valorie. Warren and Mary Ann. Julio and Alberto

Mary Ann, Phyllis and Warren. Eva and Edwin

Eddie and friend. Phyllis, Aaron and friend. Eva and Valorie

Joe and Sabina. Morgan

Phyllis and Gary. Aaron and Bruce. Eva and Gary

Sean, Eva, Julio, Phyllis and Gary. Alberto with Natalia. Ed and Barbara, Warren in the back

Alberto and Valorie. Ed and Barbara. Sean testing how far her back can bend without cracking

It was a great party with plenty of tango dancing and a warm feeling of camaraderie. It looks like this is going to be a nurturing, kind and gentle community to grow the city into a great tango destination.