La Confiteria Ideal

I have a complex feeling of this place.

It is one of the most important tango venues in Bs.As.. 7 days a week from afternoon to evening, there are always tango events going on – afternoon milonga, tango show, orchestra performance, evening milonga. Not only that, it is also a historical cafe in Bs.As., like Cafe Tortoni, it’s big and with nice decoration. Stepping inside La Confiteria Ideal as if travelling back to the past.

I like this place a lot. The atmosphere and the environment are just perfect for tango. It is elegant. There’re golden decoration everywhere; but with the polish of time, you never feel they are too much. I particularly like the floral ceiling on the second floor and the old elevator (don’t know if it’s still functioning). Everything inside the cafe encourages you to make a journey through time. Dancing there, you can easily imagine yourself dancing tango in the golden ages. Besides that, 2 years ago, I spent a wonderful afternoon dancing there. That afternoon milonga (monday) was packed. Most of the time the crowd danced on the spot… because there were just too many people and people could hardly travel on the dance floor (except the first 30 seconds at the beginning of a tanda). However, that afternoon, I didn’t step on anybody and nobody stepped on me either. And I had lots of fun dancing with the old milongueros.

We went back to La Confiteria Ideal this year. Not the same day though. We went there in the evening, after visiting the gay-friendly milonga La Marshall. That evening Orchestra Sans Souci together with the singer El “Chino” Laborde performed there. The entrance was expensive (15 pesos, normal milonga charged between 7 pesos to 10 pesos), but with live music, what do you want! So we went in and we got a table very close to the little stage that hosted the orchestra. The performances started 30 mins after we arrived. The orchestra was ok, the music they played were very dancable, but they just followed the style of Miguel Calo, not that innovative I must say. The singer has a great voice and he has sense of humour. That evening, Isaac, Jean-Michel and I were impressed by his singing. I heard that he’s going to release a CD soon, definitely I will try to get one. So we had a rather relax but still enjoyable tango evening even though we didn’t dance much.

Ok… but this place has quite few things that puzzle me.

For those who know me well, I’m an “expert” of toilet. Of course I won’t miss the toilet in La Confiteria Ideal. The first thing that puzzle me – the handle of the entrance door of the ladies toilet and the big mirror inside the ladies toilet – 2 years ago they were broken, 2 years later, they were still broken. It was not a big deal, and because it was not a big deal, I think it’s not that difficult to repair them. However, they are still there… I won’t be surprised to hear that maybe 5 or more than 5 years ago, this broken handle and mirror were already there….

Jean-Michel told me that the gentlemen toilet was dirty and ugly. Of course I have no way to prove. But he invited Isaac to make a visit, and Isaac said the same thing. So I assume that the gentlemen toilet’s condition must be even worse… at least the ladies toilet is clean.

Second thing, the piano. As I said, 7 days a week there is always performances and milongas happening in the cafe. So the piano is used quite often. Many live orchestras or performances need the piano. I have quite good ears, and I’m very sensative to sound. I have a piano myself at home. I haven’t played it for years and it hasn’t been tuned for years as well. But I must admit that, my piano at home still sounds much better than the piano at La Confiteria Ideal. When the pianist of the orchestra started playing the piano, I couldn’t believe my ears. I think the whole orchestra should altogether tuned the instruments down for the piano – and even if they did so, I’m not sure if it’s going to sound better. Of course they didn’t do that. So throughout the performances, the orchestra and the singer were playing and singing in one tune, while the piano was definitely in another tune. That was very annoying. I just wonder when was the last time the cafe having someone to tune the piano… If you want to know how this out-of-tune piano sounds like – imagine a piano inside the music room of an old primary school being abandoned and leaving untouched for decades, and then suddenly one day someone stepped into this music room and tried to play this piano. If you love this “nostalgic” sound, you will love the piano at La Confiteria Ideal.

There are more. The ceiling has been broken here and there 2 years ago, and they still remain broken this year. Some parts of the broken fans or lamps have been hanging there 2 years ago, and needless to say, they are still there, continue to remind you that there used to be a fan or a lamp… few years ago a friend of mine went to Bs.As., at that time he already told me that La Confiteria Ideal was in a poor condition and at that time the place smelled bad. The place doesn’t smell bad when I was there – so maybe there’s an improvement, or it’s just because it is in winter.

The biggest puzzle – the cafe is having plenty of activities and is still generating income. So how come the owner doesn’t invest money to maintain the place? If doing an one-off renovation involves too much money, then at least they can do it little by little? Is changing the mirror and the handle of the toilet that expensive and difficult? Is tuning a piano unaffordable? Isn’t that a well-maintained historical site can attract more people to come? Too many questions… I don’t understand.

Is it a dream to see La Confiteria Ideal being restored and in as good condition as Cafe Tortoni? Unfortunately, yes.

3 Responses to “La Confiteria Ideal”

  1. Emiliana Says:

    Pancho and I had the same feeling when we where in CI. Actually there are a lot more things to be repaired. In fact, some parts of the wall has been repaired, but in a very awkward way. But I’d say, I’d prefer leaving CI like this, than seeing it being demolished or repaired in a way like those historical buildings in Hong Kong, which is painted by vivid color or restored in a way that is so differernt from its original. At least, we now still see the signs of history of the interior in CI now. So, i still love CI and treasure all it is having now.

  2. Isaac Says:

    I was there the other day. Saw the broken ceiling… Bad! But you would have loved to be there on that day. A ‘Juan D’Arienzo’ type of orchestra was playing and they sounded really great!! The ‘pumping’ of the bandoneons hyped up the place a lot! You really feel like going on the dance floor and jump around to the rhythm. I forgot the orchestra’s name… will check it out for you.

  3. Paul Says:

    Trying to track down a copy of a programme the BBC4 did a while ago – La Confitera Ideal : The Tango Salon. Can anyone help please.


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