Parking is impossible in the narrow, busy microcentre streets during the week, so anything requiring a stationary vehicle, such as moving house or using a skip, has to take place at the weekend. Elderly Dodge or Ford pickup trucks are loaded with mattresses, fridges, chairs and tables, an entire household is stacked up on the pavement awaiting transport. Further down the street a ground floor is being gutted, a diminutive dumper loading earth and rubble into a waiting truck. It's relaxed after the crowding and heavy traffic of the week. Most of the buildings are at least eight floors, so weekday pollution is dreadful. At the weekend the area returns to its inhabitants: you can stroll down the street, breathe, and feel safe, at home in it again.
Some common misapprehensions about milonga behavoir:
In Buenos Aires dancers never change their shoes in the milonga.
In Buenos Aires no one ever walks across the floor.
Dancers in Buenos Aires never collide.
Dancers in Buenos Aires dance in a line round the outside of the floor and never move out of that line.
Dress code is formal: no jeans or sneakers.
Back to Maipu 444 last night, Saturday night, for the Cachirulo milonga. Didn't get there till after 11, which I later realised was a mistake. It opens early, 6pm according to the listings, but by 11 the party is in full swing, and a lot of very accomplished dancers are busy. There's not much space, but everything is smooth and musical. Men and women are separated, but the club is small and intimate, so it's interesting but not that formal. Greeted with a warm handshake from the organiser, but arriving late means I get a back table in a corner of the room. Anyway, after a quick glance at the dancing, I decided not to attempt to join in, and avoid any eye-contact. I didn't feel comfortable enough to join in at that stage, but it would be a good place to arrive early, and probably not difficult to get in a few dances when there's more room, before it gets busy. But a lively, friendly atmosphere, and great music. Pedro Laurenz in full flow in 'No me extrana' as I arrive. You can't help feeling sorry for his singers: they're just a minor incident in a torrent of sound.