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The year that was in travel is the year that is.  And, it’s the year ahead in 2020.

Every 31 December we ask ourselves – “Where did the year go?  It feels like January was just yesterday”.  Why does time feel like it slips by so fast?  

Is it because technology steals so much time from us?  Our work days find us in front of computer screens and in our spare time we are always tip-tapping on our mobile phones or tablets?  Our meals are delivered to us quickly in restaurants.  And, we better hurry because “this deal” won’t last.  It seems as if we are continuously in a race against time. 

Is time the friend of anyone amongst us?  Time is certainly no friend of mine.  There is never enough time in my days, weeks or months to check off my to-do list.  I’m fairly certain my to-do list grows faster than the things I get done.  Is there anyway to slow time?  Is there any way to make 2020 move slower so we can savour the days?

2019 was a remarkable year in more ways than one.  I use the term remarkable as it can refer to both good and bad.  Everyone’s year is filled with both good and bad so I can’t very well say my circumstances are special.  They are unique to me, however.

People come and go from our lives.  Life becomes fresh as new and interesting people come into our lives.  There is a lesson to learn from every person who crosses our paths.  It is up to us to decide what to do not only with the lessons but the people we meet.  

Richard Bach said it best in his book, “Illusions” – one of my favourites.  Bach said, “Every person, every event in our lives is there because we have drawn them there.  What we choose to do with them is up to us.”  

I read the book and the quote more than twenty years ago.  The words made such an impact on me, I remember and use them today.  The quote refers to the good people in our lives, tho’ unfortunately, the bad people as well.  I won’t go into details but I can say I’ve been betrayed, told I was loved when I wasn’t, used, taken advantage of and  lied to as well.  At one point it got so bad I had to question what is happening in our world.  Where did all the good people go?

I still wonder and sadly I’ve had to become weary and cautious.  I’m a genuine sort of guy who prefers to see the good in people.  I’m kind and I’ll do almost anything to help you, if I can.  I won’t change they way I live and see life.  I’ll simply be smarter in 2020 and beyond.

When you travel like I do, my travel experiences are also my life experiences.  I talk a lot about opening your mind and heart while travelling.  Throughout the blog I talk about the good people I’ve met.  I stay away from talking about the not so good people I meet along the way.  Today I’ve chosen to only refer to the bad seeds.

Instead of harbouring feelings of anger and hurt, I turn to myself.  I’m always comfortable with who and what I am.  I’m also aware I can always be better.  What can I do to improve?  I take stock of myself and take steps to become a better person.  I want to be better not only for myself but for the people in my life as well.

All that said, how can I put a year of travel into one video?  Over 4,000 travel photos – all with an iPhone – in one fast paced video.  Four minutes and thirty seconds.  That’s a lot of time in our fast-paced world.  Thanks for taking the journey with me.  I hope you enjoy.

Best of Luck to Everyone in 2020.

 

During my first visit to the city, I was caught totally off guard.  A protest had shut down the highway between the airport and the capital city.  The driver carefully navigated the car down a slippery slope to go around the protestors only to met with another large group of protestors right near the hotel.

I was a bit shocked and uncomfortable at first, but once I ventured out on foot I realised there was no harm in my way.

Buenos Aires offers photographers splendid scenes to visit and  photograph.  There is a European feel to some of the architecture complete with a café culture.  You’ll find tango in the streets and in theatres.  Colorful buildings dot grand avenues while modern architecture seems confined along the harbour.  And if you want to visit the departed, Recoleta Cemetery is not to be missed.

One word of caution for any visitor – Be Aware.  Be mindful of the people around you and keep your valuables in a safe place.  My best suggestion is don’t wear flashy jewelry, don’t carry a large bag and be really careful with your expensive iPhone or camera.  Pickpockets and thievery are  unfortunately common in Buenos Aires.

The travel video in this blog post highlights some of the best Buenos Aires has to offer.  Each image was captured with my iPhone as sometimes the mobile device is easier to use than a DSLR.

Travel: it opens up new possibility, refreshes our perspective, and enriches a connection with the world around us. And whether you’re hopping on a plane for a worldwide journey, or exploring your own backyard with a newfound appreciation — you’ll want to take note of these travel photo tips.   The only gear that’s needed?   That trusty iPhone camera of yours.

:: TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY TIP ONE

Focus On Color

Colour is everywhere and if you are drawn to colourful scenes you then are well ahead of me in this lesson.  You can be very creative and add a huge splash of interest to your photos by utilising colour.  

Bright primary colours tend to attract the eye especially when they are contrasted with a complementary hue.   Take advantage of colour when you can.  And remember, when composing a photo try to incorporate more than one element of the composition.  The possibilities are endless.  Your creativity and imagination should run wild.  Good photo composition is not difficult.  It is simply using your own eye to make stunning photographs.

:: TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY TIP TWO

Look For Lines

A poorly composed photograph can leave your viewers unsure where to look.  Their attention might drift aimlessly around the scene in a photo without ever finding a clear focal point.  The viewer doesn’t know where to look.

How can you fix this?  You can use lines to control the way people’s eyes move around a picture Yes, lines.

Lines are going to be present in your work no matter what you do, so it’s all about taking control of them so that they serve the purpose of leading a viewer into your photograph.

The next time you are out with your camera, take a look around you first.  Are there any lines or paths that your eye naturally follows to lead you to the main subject?  If so, you should consider backing up from your subject to include them.  A line can be anything your eye will follow.  

Leading lines can be roads, lines of cropped grass, anything repetitive, buildings going up, a row of flowers, a wall,  – anything that guides the eye to the focus of your photos.

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY TIP THREE

Make A List

Just as you might make a list of places you want to see and visit while you’re travelling, make a list of the sights you want to photograph.

I have a comprehensive list of  places to photograph in London.  The list consists of all the interesting London places to photograph for an upcoming book.  I go to a particular place on the list, capture images, review the images and return to the same place, if my images aren’t satisfactory.

As you travel you don’t have the luxury of time like I have in London.  Be sure to spend enough time in a place so you capture the best possible images.

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY TIP FOUR

Make weather Your Friend

When you look out your window and see stormy weather of any kind, you might be disappointed.  You might think today is not the day to go out and about with your camera.

On the contrary, stormy weather like rain, fog and snow enables you to capture images of iconic places that haven’t been captured before.  No two storms are alike.  A moody photograph of the Eiffel Tower or the Chrysler Building might be the coolest photos ever taken.

Don’t let bad weather deter you from taking your incredible travel photos.  Instead, let crappy weather lead you onto the streets with a new set of photographic eyes.

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY TIP FIVE

LET MOTION AND BLUR BE YOUR FRIENDS

Motion and motion blur can add vitality to your travel photos.  If you’re capturing a photograph of a street scene and a bus or car passes by but they are blurry, that’s cool.

Light streams are fantastic composition elements to include in your travel photos.  In fact, it takes a bit of effort to master light trails from moving cars.  For me, London and motion go hand in hand as the city is so full of energy.

You might also find people walking down the street create a blur.  If your image is crystal clear except for the movement of people, you have a super travel photo.  It’s a keeper.

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY TIP SIX 

PAY ATTENTION TO PERSPECTIVE

Most people take their photographs standing upright.  Most people also put their subject directly in the middle of the photo frame.  Avoid both common photo composition mistakes.

Place your subject to the left or right of center and your travel photo will improve drastically.  Also think about getting down on the ground, finding higher ground, turning sideways, jumping in the air and anything else you can do to capture your image from a different perspective.  Unique angles matter.  When you’re trying to capture a photo of a familiar scene that’s been photographed a million times, unique angles matter even more.

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY TIP SEVEN

KNOW WHEN TO GO

How many times have you been anxious to photograph a particular scene only to find  hundreds of other people at the very same place?  This has happened to me countless times.

Do a little research to know the busiest times of your destination.  Once you know when crowds are less likely, that’s your time slot.  Go to your site with your camera when fewer people are around and you’ll avoid needless frustration.

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY TIP EIGHT

DON’T BE AFRAID OF SHADOWS

Shadows can also be used for a simple but dramatic effect.  Shadows tend to give a feeling of anticipation and often a cinematic effect, which is a good thing.  Don’t shy away from shadows.  Experiment and learn to use them to your advantage for a strong photo composition.

No matter how, when, why or where you travel around the world you are sure to receive one of the best educations of your life.  The lessons you learn may be small and unnoticeable or they may be huge and life changing.

A foreign culture may make you realise something you didn’t know about yourself and sometimes even move you to tears.  My visit to Bhutan took me to a state of peacefulness I’ve not found anywhere in the Western world.  I can’t begin to describe the effect the tiny kingdom had on me except to say when I viewed photos and video from the journey, tears rolled down my cheeks.  It’s a mystery to me why the tears came even today.  All I know is Bhutan touched me beyond measure.

The taste of new food, aromas, colors and even travel sounds can leave an impression on you well after you leave a destination.  The sensory elements of travel may inspire you to add them to your own creative adventures in cooking or music or handicrafts.

You may be in awe of Big Ben or Mont Saint Michel glowing against the night sky.  Istanbul’s Blue Mosque or the Old Medina in Marrakech send your senses into sensory overload.  A sunset on a beach in the Caribbean or Bali may change the way you look at the world.

But most of all, it is the people you meet along the way who will touch you in ways you never though imaginable.  Maybe you’ll understand that we are all just trying to make it in this world.  We just happen to speak differently or pray a little different.  Inherently, we’re all good people.

And so when I wanted to show the many places I’ve travelled throughout the world, I decided to do it in one go in one epic video presentation which I’ve titled “Travel Around The World With The Gentleman Wayfarer.”  There are approximately 3000 photos in the fast-paced presentation that span all the way around the world.  The places and people I’ve included have impacted my life in one way or another.  This is my tribute to every one and every place that has made a difference in my life.

Travel with an iPhone or any mobile phone is very common today.  If you are keen to improve your travel photography skills, a mobile device is a great way to do it.  Phones are easily accessible, they fit in your pocket and you really don’t have to think too much.

Consider these iPhone Travel Photography Tips during your next journey.

1) Strengthen your travel photos with different focal lengths.

The iPhone is equipped with two lenses, a wide-angle 28mm and a portrait lens, 56mm. Different focal lengths tell different stories. A wider angle generally gives a better sense of place, while a telephoto brings the viewer into the details of the subject.  Consider this while you’re shooting and experiment with both.  And remember – one key element to great photo composition is filling your frame.

2) Keep Using Your iPhone in Low Light

Some of my favorite images have been shot well after the sun has gone down.  I love the challenge of low light photography.  In the past, I would have put my iPhone away thinking the images wouldn’t be usable, but now with a new sensor and faster aperture (f/1.8), the iPhone autofocuses and captures substantially better in low light.

3) Be In The Moment But Also Think Ahead

Travel photography is about capturing the unknowns and unexpected.  Always be looking forward, and consider using the iPhone’s burst mode so you don’t miss a moment as it happens.   To use burst mode, press and hold the shutter button until rapid fire begins.

4) Buy An Unlocked iPhone So You Can Switch to Local SIM Cards.

Communication is super important while traveling.  If you’re roaming internationally, the cost can be astronomical.  Buy a local SIM card as it allows you to make new plans, call someone, google something, and more, while you’re on the go. In photography, this means your GPS data will be recorded with your photo.  The iPhone’s memories feature can organize your images together by location and create simple and fun video vignettes.

Later, you can also look on a map in Photos and see exactly where you captured different photographs.  I use this feature as I don’t always remember the names of the places where I’ve taken photos.

5) Bring a Small Tripod

A small, compact tripod can be helpful and is a great way to capture time-lapses, low-light images, and more. While the iPhones now all have a stabilizer built in, the extra support from a tripod can be especially helpful with the iPhone optical zoom.

Keep in mind that shooting with a longer focal length, like the iPhone optical zoom, amplifies camera shake.  You’ll find it will naturally be more difficult to get a sharp clear shot while shooting with 2x, especially in low-light environments or unstable foundations, like a moving vehicle.  To compensate, use a mini-tripod or experiment with burst mode. Sometimes I’ll shoot a 20-shot burst just to ensure that I have the sharpest shot possible.

6) Upload Your Photos to the Cloud Daily

Thanks to a the iPhone’s water-resistant feature, you won’t be losing our pictures during accidental swims, but it could be left at a hotel, or worse, picked from your pocket, which happened to me in Ecuador. At the end of the day, the iPhone can be replaced, but your pictures can’t. Don’t get two weeks into a trip only to lose them all in a moment.

If you don’t have your laptop because you’re traveling light, consider a SanDisk iXpand.  It’s essentially a USB flash drive with a Lightning connector, so you can quickly and easily off-load your images each day.  I love mind and take it everywhere I travel.

Be sure to keep your backup and your iPhone in separate bags for extra safety.

7) Play it safe.

Don’t put your iPhone—or any valuable—in the tray when going through security. Instead, put it in a pocket of your bag before sending it through the x-ray.  This way it’s protected from being accidentally—or intentionally—carried off before you get through the metal detector.

8) Play To The Strengths of the iPhone

One of the greatest strengths of the iPhone as a camera is its agility.  You can focus on getting to the best shoot spots instead of worrying about lugging gear. Don’t weigh it down with a bunch of unnecessary DSLR lens adapters.

Try leaving your DSLR at home and travel super light.  The iPhone  doesn’t replace your DSLR, but it’s plenty powerful and a really fun way to experience and capture the environment around you.  You’ll love leaving the extra chargers, batteries, lenses, and big tripod at home for a change.

There is Tango, then there is Milanga.  Milanga houses can be found throughout Buenos Aires and this is where the locals go dancing for themselves.  The scene is genuine and so very romantic.  Men stay on one side of the room and women stay on the other.  When a song begins to play the men will approach the women asking for their hand to dance.  Such chivalry and I love it.

The woman is free to decline, but mostly dance partners changed throughout the night.  Young, older and middle-aged dancers from every part of society became one in the dance hall.  There were more sensuality and beauty in this room than “The Last Tango in Paris.”  I’ve never felt anything like this before and I was merely tucked off to the side of the dance floor with my camera.

The milonga is a very special thing. A simple description is an organized event where people can dance the tango. The word milonga also is a type of tango music and a style of dance that is performed to that music. On any night in Buenos Aires, you can find a milonga filled with people sitting around the dance floor, drinking their wine or champagne and watching, and being watched. But not everyone in the milonga is the same. Oh no, that would not be tango. Everyone has a role to play and there are definite hierarchies in place. There are maestros that travel and teach around the world, there are tangureros that perform on stage and for your tourist pleasure in La Boca and San Telmo, there are the organizers that provide spaces for dancing, there are DJ’s that keep the dance floor moving, there are live orchestras and tango singers. There are the tango “sharks” that prey on tourists in the milongas. There are the old milongueros who were probably one of the above in their youth, but now they come to the milongas, not because they want to dance, but because it is what they have always done.

The people that go to milongas are not professional dancers. They have “real jobs” and simply love tango. 

The night at the Milango was one of the most beautiful nights I experienced in Buenos Aires.  The scene was straight out of a romantic movie except this night was real.

Where can you see the Milonga?

La Catedral del Tango
Sarmiento 4006 (Casi Esquina Medrano) Buenos Aires
Tel: 15-5325-1630
When to go: Any day of the week, but Wednesdays and Saturdays are the most popular.
When to arrive: The milonga starts at 11 pm.
When things get good: Lots of people stay after the class to practice what they have learned.
Why you should go: La Catedral is an institution. It is definitely one the unique spaces in Buenos Aires and has a very relaxed feel. You won’t see a lot of top dancers there because the floor is not the best but this is what makes it a comfortable space for beginners to give it a try. They have classes for beginners every day starting between 6 and 7 pm. Contact them for details.
Pro tip: Dress casually; the atmosphere is something like a dive bar.

La Milonga de Los Zucca
Humberto Primo 1492, Buenos Aires
Tel: 15-6257-7513. (text only)
When to go: Thursdays
When to arrive: Before 11 pm.
When things get good: Around midnight.
Why you should go: If you want to see men in bespoke suits and women in their best dresses, this is the place to go. Located in a grand old hall there has been a milonga every Thursday in this space for years
Pro tip: Make a reservation and dress to impress.

La Milonga del Indio
Plaza Dorrego, San Telmo
When to go: Sundays
When to arrive: Go find a good spot to sit when the market closes.
When things get good: Most dancers arrive around sundown.
Why you should go: This milonga is located in the middle of the San Telmo market. It is very casual and relaxed and happens every Sunday, cancelled only if it rains. It is very relaxed and you definitely won’t be the only tourist taking photos.
Pro tip: Bring bug spray… the mosquitos come out after dark just like the tango dancers.

La Viruta
Armenia 1366, Buenos Aires
Tel: 4774-6357
When to go: Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays
When to arrive: Around 2 am (I said late night didn’t I?)
When things get good: Around 3:30 or 4 am the dance floor is at its max and everyone has arrived.
Why you should go: La Virata has the feel of a dance club that just happens to play tango music. It is something like the after party of tango – EVERYONE goes here when the regular milongas end but they don’t want to stop dancing.
Pro tip: Ask the waiter to seat you or expect to be moved from your seat later. Also on Friday and Saturday after 4 am they serve “Desayuno” (medialunas and coffee). Don’t wait too late to order on busy nights; they have been known to sell out. All the tango dancers agree they are some of the best medialunas in the city.

Confitería Ideal
Suipacha 384, Buenos Aires
Tel: 4328-7750/4328-0474
When to go: They have matinee milongas (starting at 2 or 3 pm) every day of the week except Tuesdays and evening milongas (10 pm) on Saturdays.
When to arrive: around 3:30 pm
When things get good: between 4 and 5 pm
Why you should go: Located inside a famous confitería (pastry shop) in the heart of downtown Buenos Aires, since 1912 Confitería Ideal is worth going just for the beautiful architecture. Many famous Argentine politicians and celebrities have dined there.  Pro tip: It’s a great place for merienda while you watch the dancers.

El Yeite Tango Club
Av. Cordoba 4175, Buenos Aires
When to go: Mondays or Thursdays
When to arrive: Around 1:30 am if you want to sit down. 3 am if you don’t mind standing by the bar.
When things get good: 3 am when everyone heads to El Yeite after leaving the other milongas
Why you should go: If you want to be part of the “scene” and see the best up-and-coming dancers this is the place to go. They go to see and be seen. A young crowd the keeps the environment and the dancing high energy.
Pro tip: The milonga is held upstairs. If you go on Thursdays there is salsa and bachata happening on the downstairs dance floor.

Throughout Buenos Aires, you can find tango performed on the streets and tango in huge dinner theatres.

Destination:  Buenos Aires

Tango in the streets, brightly coloured buildings, sidewalk cafes and even the tourist trap souvenir shops should lead you to Buenos Aires’s ethnic neighbourhood of Caminito.  

 Travel Destination – Caminito in the La Boca District of Buenos Aires

A visit to Buenos Aires is not complete without at least a few hours in Caminito in the La Boca District of Buenos Aires. Originally settled by Italian immigrants, this area continues to be a popular destination.  Only a few streets, the buildings are painted with brightly coloured hues.  One can not help but be taken by it all. Expect to find street cafés all about, an abundance of tourist shops, artists displaying their works, and tango dancers ready to teach you a few steps.

All in all, I love Buenos Aires, and all it has to offer.  As a travel destination, the city should be on your top ten places to visit.   The culture is incredible, and the people are warm in nature.  I’ve had fantastic experiences here.  Truly, Buenos Aires is one of the cities of the world I often think about long after I leave.  It is also a city where I will return over, and over again.

La Boca can be a fun area to explore, but be cautioned not to stray away from the main streets.  Enough said here, and the local police will warn you as well.

A little more about La Boca in Buenos Aires ::

La Boca is one of Buenos Aires’s 48 barrios or neighbourhoods. It is located at the southeastern part of the city, near the old port in the mouth (Boca in Spanish) of the Rio de la Plata. Nearby barrios are Barracas in the west, and San Telmo and Puerto Madero to the north. Many of the district’s residents are of European descent. This is because the old port was where the Italian, Spanish, Basque, French, and German immigrants arrived.

Inside La Boca, you will feel as if you’ve stepped back in time as the neighbourhood still retains its Genoese look with traditional colourful wooden houses. While some inhabitants still spoke the Genoese dialect in the late 20th century, use of the dialect has been in recent decline. Presently, La Boca is part artist colony and part working-class neighbourhood.

If you plan to visit Buenos Aires make a point to visit La Boca. The colourful houses, pedestrian-friendly walkways, little shops and restaurants make for a pleasant day of sightseeing and shopping. The street of Caminito is the centre of tourist activity in the barrio, and of particular interest for people who are into the dancing the tango. Here, tango artists perform in the many tango clubs found on the street. Tango-related memorabilia is sold in most shops.

Aside from tango, La Boca is also the home of the Boca Juniors, one of Argentina’s biggest soccer teams.  To experience the unique flavour of an Argentine soccer match, grab a ticket and watch the games at the La Boca soccer stadium, La Bombonera.

For those who are more into art than sports, there is the Fine Arts Museum of La Boca. It is also called the Museo de Bellas Artes Quinquela Martin as it used to be the residence and studio of the artist. 

La Boca is touristy, so do know this.  Also be aware of your belongings and don’t stray from the main tourist area.

Map Showing the Location of La Boca (Caminito) in Buenos Aires ::

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Mix the passion of South America and a hint of Europe and you have Buenos Aires, one of the finest cities in the Americas.  From Tango Dances to parades in the streets (and sometimes demonstrations) and a dramatic cemetery – Buenos Aires has it all.  Don’t miss El Ateneo or Teatro Colón and most definitely add in Caminito in La Boca.  

Each time I visit Buenos Aires I fall in love deeper and become more passionate about the city.  There is a European charm to the people of Buenos Aires and the energy is just as upbeat as any Capital city you’ll visit.  Amongst the sophistication, there is a laid-back South American vibe making the city even more appealing for those seeking to escape our uptight world.

Do keep in mind, however, with all the good Buenos Aires has to offer, there is a dark mood at times.  Watch your step, know your surroundings and mind your belongings at all times.  If you are used to being flashy, don’t be.

As I sit and share Buenos Aires with you, my mind wanders to my schedule.  When can I trek back to this city I’ve grown to admire and appreciate?  Do I really need a reason to visit Buenos Aires?  For me, just being there is enough.

In the meantime, here are my twelve reasons to visit Buenos Aires ::

::  The colours of the older building in the city are divine; the bright vibrant colours in Caminito in the La Boca District are photograph worthy and will make you smile.  There is a festive vibe in La Boca and you’ll feel the city’s energy during a Sunday stroll through San Telmo’s street market.

::  You’ll find public art and other art displays throughout Buenos Aires.  Go on a mission to find as many as you can.

::  The Sunday Street Market in the San Telmo District where you’ll find dancing in the streets, musicians galore, food for a feast and a relaxed crowd enjoying the atmosphere.

::  If you are a steak lover, you’ll be in beef heaven in Buenos Aires.  Arguably, Argentina serves some of the best steak in the world.

::  The National Cathedral in Playa de Mayo is well worth a visit not only for the architecture and religious relics but also for observing those who take their faith seriously.

::  A visit to El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a bookstore in Santa Fe Avenue.  The bookshop is housed in an old theatre.  Browse books, marvel at the theatre details that have been kept intact and read a book in one of the private theatre boxes.  I can never get enough of this stunning bookshop even if I can’t read Spanish.

::  Teatro Colón Opera House is a theatre on the main thoroughfare through Buenos Aires.  From the outside, it looks European.  On the inside, it is European.  If you’re craving the opera or symphony, book a ticket in the best seats in the house.  The theatre is simply beautiful.

::  Casa Rosada.  Yes, it really is pink.  At night, the building is even pinker.  Eva Peròn stood on the balcony here many times.  Imagine the crowds in Playa de Mayo clinging to her every word.

::  Tango in the streets.  Tango in dinner theatres.  Tango in the local Milanga.  Choose one to see or choose them all.  You’ll feel sensual and be ready to dance after one display of physical beauty.

::  Puerto Madero is a contemporary addition to Buenos Aires.  The bridge symbolises the beauty of a woman though I’ve yet to see this in the structure.  

::  You can get lost and confused in Recoleta Cemetery, the resting home to the rich of Buenos Aires.  Some mausoleums remind me of a modern-day Prada Store, though the majority have interesting elements.  I took fascination with the derelict tombs.  Recoleta cemetery is rife with history and cats.

::  There are plenty of green spaces and parks throughout Buenos Aires.  Once you step beyond the gates of a park, you are transported into a peaceful area and you’ll wonder if you’re still in the big city.

::  Parades and protests are an almost daily occurrence in Buenos Aires.  Don’t be alarmed by a protest; they are peaceful.  The city celebrates cultural diversity though I’ve only seen South American’s in the parades.  They are great fun to watch and you’ll find scrumptious street food along the parade route.

Map Showing the Locations of El Ateneo Grand Splendid Book Store, Casa Rosada and Puerto Madero

 

Destination:  Buenos Aires Argentina

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Travel Destination – Buenos Aires Argentina.  Tango Dancers. 

When the Tango Dancers go on stage, the magic does not begin but continues to flourish.  At this show, I immediately staged right, or stage left – only steps away from the dancers on stage.  A stagehand directed me from the other side of the stage to let me know when something special would happen.  

What an incredible experience photographing the tango dancers.  The story does not stop here.  Before leaving I promised to return with the photos I had taken this night.  So, a few months later I did indeed return to Buenos Aires.  On my way to the theatre, I was walking toward a sidewalk café, when all of a sudden a familiar face appeared before me.  Who was this?  Luis, the stage manager, and some of the Tango Dancers.  They saw me before I saw them, and they welcomed me back as part of the family.  This is one of the beauties of what I do – making friends around the world.

Having seen first hand the personas backstage, I know there are great stories to be told.  One day soon, I fully intend to create an epic project telling the true romantic story of The Tango in Buenos Aires.

Consider these interesting facts about the Tango :: 

::    Argentine Tango and American Tango are different! Most people are familiar with the version of tango that takes big, crawling steps, and that’s usually done with a cape on and a flower in the someone’s mouth. This is a ballroom style of tango known as American Tango. Stemming from Argentine Tango, American Tango is bigger and is more often found in competitions than on social dance floors. It looks great, and can be flashy and fun, but don’t get the two confused. Argentine Tango is more flow-y, involves more legwork, and takes closer and smaller steps than American Tango.

::    If you’re a creative type, then you’ll love Argentine Tango. The majority of the steps are not set steps like you might find in a Salsa or Bachata. Instead, they are largely improvised, so you have to know the moves and how to string them together. Basic figures are used in conjuncture with each other to create incredible movements. The dancer does need to know the lead and implementation of these basic elements, so he can easily navigate the dance floor and dance in time with the music.

::    Once you’ve mastered the dance and can dance with anyone, what do you do?  Milonga! A milonga can mean one of two things. It is a type of tango that uses different beats and is often done without pauses. But in this case, we mean going to a milonga; a type of club or venue that specifically hosts Argentine Tango dances. There are many places in Arizona, especially in Phoenix, that host Milongas for anyone interested in Argentine Tango, from beginners to experts. If you need to practice, a milonga is a place to do so.

If you are looking for Tango Performances, consider Cafe de Los Angelitos (where my photos were taken) or Esquina Carlos Gardel Tango Performance  Below is a map showing the location of Cafe de Los Angelitos and Esquina Carlos Gardel Tango Show:

Travel Destination :: Buenos Aires and The Tango Dancers

I have had the privilege of being backstage of many live shows throughout the world, and it is always fascinating to me the focus, and dedication, performing artists have. The moments an audience never sees are the most captivating. As artists give everything to an audience, often being over the top, they almost all are subdued behind the scenes.

The professionalism of performing artists is remarkable, and I sometimes wish I could bottle this up to share with the viewing public. Beautifully, however, there is artistry not only on the performing stage but also in the cramped quarters behind the stage. Their silence and concentration are powerful. The moves are rehearsed meer moments before going onstage to perform to perfection.

This very night I not only fell in love with the romantic Tango Dance but also with the dancers in Buenos Aires. Their charm will make you melt. When I returned months later with the photos to show the dancers, they welcomed me as one of their family. For a more comprehensive look at the tango dancers of Cafe de Los Angelitos please check out Backstage At The Tango.

Consider these interesting facts about the Tango Dance:

:: At first, this dance was considered to be a dance of poor and underprivileged people from the docklands of Buenos Aires. Tango appeared in the middle of 19th century as a dance of African and European immigrants, who danced on the streets and bawdy houses. As a result, the dance became a fusion of African, gaucho and European styles.

:: The main reason for the first wave of popularity of Tango is a shortage of women. Immigrants were mostly men and they immigrated for economic reasons. As a result, at the beginning of the 20th-century women were 100,000 less than men. So the only ways to get close to a woman for many immigrants were to visit a brothel or to dance with her. And being a good dancer increased a chance to dance with a partner. So no wonder that Tango is full of passion and sexual innuendo. Everybody knows that famous expression: “Tango is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire”.

:: The dance was prohibited by the people of quality as it was considered low and scandalous as it was performed in the brothels.

:: From 1955 to 1983 Tango went underground because of the change of the ruling regime. Right-wing conservatives got into office and took all measures to get rid of Tango as it was supported by the previous leader Peron. Because of the prosecuting of dancers and banning Tango songs the dance lost a part of its popularity though didn’t disappear at all.

:: Tango is the first European dance that allows improvisation. It is a well-known fact that before Tango all couple dances were based on sequences so all dancers moved in the unison. The second wave of popularity started in 1912 in Paris and, surprisingly enough, the upper class in Argentina started to dance the Tango as it was extremely popular in Europe.

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I’m not a dancer.  Even in my wildest dreams, I don’t rhythmically glide across a polished floor with my partner.  That’s not to say I’m a two left-footer.  I’m simply too self-conscious to be on stage, which is strange because I’m far from shy.  I’d rather be behind the scenes in a supporting role or lifting others up onto my shoulders.  It’s true.  I’m more comfortable being in the shadows.  But, I very much enjoy watching other gracefully display their passion for applause.
During each time in Buenos Aires, I always found myself sitting amongst a throng of tourists watching a Tango show.  A Tango show is the “thing to do” in Buenos Aires if you didn’t know.  I’m rarely one to do what typical tourists do as I’m often off the proverbial beaten path.  And to be honest,  the show seemed like a tourist trap in my mind.   After a bit of self-resistance, there I was doing the thing I swore I wouldn’t do.  The first time I went it was my birthday I remember.  I sat at a long table with people I’d never seen before, and would never see again, with a plated pick a number dinner.  I sat sulking a bit and thinking what a self-inflicted mistake to be amongst the crowd who were anxiously awaiting the curtain rise.
The lights dimmed, the music rambled through the air and the dancers articulated their choreographed steps across the stage. Seeing and hearing this display immediately changed my disposition.  I was mesmerized and didn’t take my eyes off the dancers until the curtain descended after the final number.
The movement of the dancers is sensual and captivating, yet I must say the show is indeed too touristic for my taste. The show is made for tourists.  I left the show and thought there must be more, there must be a way to get behind the scenes.  I wanted to know the dancers and I wanted to go backstage at the tango.  Creative people inspire me no matter where their creativity derives.  I always want to know what motivates creatives and the process they go through before their final creation is viewed.    I wanted to photograph the dancers.
One night I returned to the tango show;  I took a deep breath, turned up the charm and simply asked the maître d at the reception. “I’m an American travel photographer.  May I go backstage to photograph the dancers?”   He never replied though mumbled something in Spanish to his co-worker and nodded his head toward me.  I stood, waited and wondered, “what to do now?”  I waited longer.
Forty minutes later a man named Luis arrived with a big smile.  He took hold of my arm and ushered me backstage and into the dressing room.  Since no one spoke agreed to or denied my request, nor explained what was happening, I blindly followed.   I was wide-eyed but felt a warm rush of adrenaline because I knew an unbelievable adventure awaited.  Luis introduced me to the dancers then motioned for me to take photos.  I had free reign before, during and after the performance – no boundaries and no rules.  Just shoot.
Going backstage and seeing the professionalism, the faces behind the stage personas and the pure dedication the dancers put into every performance was well worth asking a simple question.  I couldn’t believe getting backstage would be so easy and I realised the worse anyone could say is no.  Keep this in mind the next time you want to do the unthinkable.  The images I captured are included in the video included in this post.  I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch.
Six months later I visited Buenos Aires again and made a special trip to the tango theatre, Cafe de Los Angelitos, with the Tango dancer photographs in hand.  As I neared the cafe a familiar face popped in front of me and it was Luis, the stage manager who introduced me to the dancers.  It was as if I had been away and returned to see my family.  The welcome was so friendly and warm with hugs all around.  The dance company made me feel as if I belonged and this was the best part.  Showing the dancers their photos and seeing their genuine delight was like icing on a cake.
Travel should lead to experiences you’ll remember for a lifetime.  You don’t need to be as bold as I tend to be.  Take baby steps if needed.  And remember, what is the worse anyone can say?
A video and behind the scenes view of tango dancers at one of the largest tango shows in Buenos Aires, Cafe de Los Angelitos.  Join me as I am given full access backstage of this remarkable and romantic dance.  See tango dancers and their intimate moments before they take the stage.
Travel Destination:  Buenos Aires Argentina