Dario taught a swing dance classes in Parque las Tejas/ Tiles park. Despite now living in Buenos Aires, he’s sowing small seeds and nurturing a swing dance community in his home city of Cordoba. Some of those in the class are hip hop and house dance enthusiasts as well as Dai Zapata, an experienced Cordobes tap dancer.
As it was Dario’s last night we had to commemorate the occasion with a dance under the white bridge with the Christmas tree of lights in the distance.
Although barely audible we’re dancing to ‘Wham’ by The Hot Sugar Band.
This is the Campeonato Porteno de Swing/ Buenos Aires Swing Dance Championships and the build up has been exciting with everyone seemingly rehearsing their socks off to refine their coreos/ choreographies. Dear Dario, another kindred Herrang spirit has been consumed with rehearsals and we’re yet to meet and share a mate.
Before I go any further, let me translate Porteno for you! This word refers to somebody from Buenos Aires, a port city = ‘port-eno’. For example:
a ‘Portena’ government building graced with Jacaranda trees of violet blossom.
A ‘Porteno’ taxi.
Elspeth la Inglesa
I meet Elsie, a new pal, on a sun-drenched Saturday morning Avenida and we travel across the city to Pedro Goyena together. Elsie is from Bristol and we met at a Swing City dance class the week beforehand.
She talks in the very best slang that is so familiar to me and her company is muy linda! Together we jabber enthusiastically ‘effing, jeffing as we go, flinging in healthy dollops of sarcasm and random metaphor. Yes, I’m learning Spanish but sometimes it’s nice to take time out and let off steam in your mother tongue.
Elsie’s here in Argentina for six weeks to take stock, dip her plimsolls into Swing dance in Buenos Aires and to work with an alternative farming community in the countryside beyond the city.
We arrive at a beautiful dance hall in a 1930’s building. Dancers are buzzing around with their contest numbers pinned to their clothes. As always in this scene there is the sweetest mix of ye olde 1920s-50s ‘vintage’ variation mixed with casual comfortable plimsols, t-shirt, jeans.
Las Chicas line-up for the Open Jack & Jill.
Meet Jack y Jill
El Campeonato begins with an Open Jack & Jill. To give you a quick definition:
a J&J allows your ability as a dancer to be tested by dancing with a random mix of partners to music chosen by the Deejay, over a number of heats.
This contest was Open to all abilities as opposed to an ‘Invitational’.
Elsie enters the contest but I’m afraid I cower out. This Jack and Jill takes place over four sets with the best dancers selected from Round 1 to compete in subsequent rounds. With each heat, the number of dancers is whittled down to finalists.
I get up and get busy during the 20 minute social dancing breaks in between the Jack & Jill. After some lovely dances I have a surprise reunion with Gabriela, Cinthia and Cesar – we met last year in Brazil. They’ve flown over to compete. Here they are in the Solo Charleston Finals.
As the afternoon progresses I swoon at the talent and dedication of so many dancers here. I am full of admiration. Here’s are the Jack & Jill Finals: *cut to 2:22 for the solos!*
Una Pausa por Alfajores y café con crema
Elsie and I nip out for a much need break of fresh air, natural light, alfajores y café con crema. Upon our return, las coreos comienzan and we sit cross-legged to enjoy the fruits of the previous weeks’ laborious practise. I do love this!! Such humour, creativity and endeavour. This community is motivated and progressive. The energy here is in full flow.
This is my favourite showcase! Rachel Austin y Alex Morgan mix it up and dance like ninjas: “increIBle”!!
Find films of other choreographies at the bottom of this post 🙂
After all, no After Party for Me 😦
As the CAPOS continues into the night, my social batteries slowly wind down and I decide to forego the after party. I catch the No.24 colectivo to Avenida San Juan where I’m staying with amazing Couchsurf host Luciana. Sweaty and in much need of a change of clothes I can’t even comprehend the after party despite Marcela’s encouragement, dressed as a 1920s flapper girl shouting across to Elsie y I on a busy bus at 1am.
Jazzy night bus.
The future is: Campeonato America del Sur
Back to normality at Swing City classes on Monday evening, Juan Villafane is describing his aspirations for the CAPOS. Over the next couple of years the team will continue to grow the event, link-up with scenes in Brazil, Chile and Uruguay and evolve this into the South American Swing Dance Championships. The ambition is exciting and I can’t help but feel drunk on Swing-love! (yes, I’m giddy!)
With such a feeling the enormous ocean between us here in Buenos Aires and Europe ….or the miles of land to North America and west to Korea, Japan, India, China….these distances all fade away and through this community I feel such a comfort of human connection 🙂
(Thank you Ana Luz Crespi, ALC Fotografica for permission to use your photos.)