Archive for the ‘ Mataderos ’ Category


He was a Mark Twain like character – cantankerous, tough, misanthropic, effusive and irascible by turns, addicted to profanity; this was Virulazo (Libra)…he did not like Piazzolla, he did not like the Japanese, Venice stank, John Travolta and Michael Jackson were queers; he once told Henry Kissinger to go to hell when he asked him to dance for free….he grew up tough; he began working at the age of eight first as a shoe shine boy outside whore houses…later selling sausage sandwiches to revelers late at night…a common laborer in a clamorous, rank-smelling slaughter-house; what little education he had he learned on the streets…his father was a Basque and his mother Italian but they separated early on and he was unloaded to his grandparents….”everything I am and all that I have accomplished I owe to my grandfather” he would say with tears in his eyes….he learned to dance tango by watching and his first performance was with his mother at the age of 12…he started dancing in cafes of the Mataderos neighborhood for spare change and for something to eat…


Later while dancing at a festival, he came to the attention of the master of ceremonies, the legendary lyricist Celedonio Flores and the singer Carlos Acuna; they encouraged and helped him….the very next day he appeared at the Armonia Cafe for his first professional engagement to great aclaim…in 1952 out of 157 dance couples, he won first place in a dance contest sponsored by the Aquila Chocolate Company…he would be Robert Duvall’s first tango teacher and he would be admired by the likes of Nureyev and Anthony Quinn whom he met in New York where he stayed at a luxurious hotel on 5th Avenue….his beloved dance partner Elvira had actually been his first girlfriend…they separated, he married his first wife Aida at the age of 18…nine years later he and Aida divorced and in stroke of destiny, he re-met Elvira whom he would marry and who would be his beloved dance partner for his whole life…his favorite tango was “Berretin” by Pedro Laurenz and his favorite singer was Carlos Gardel, who he said, moved him to tears each time he heard him sing…”crying”, he said, “is no longer just for women”