The first place we went to in Pittsburgh was a neighborhood community center where Norberto "El Pulpo" Esbrez (or known as El Pulpo, the octopus) and his wife Luiza Paes were teaching a class in the basement. We decided to join in on their lesson which was right before our musicality class.
That night, the milonga was in the upstairs loft of Peter's Pub, a bar just off of downtown Pittsburgh. The upstairs was lined with booth seats and the floor was half wood and half tiled. We set on the edge of the tiled area as other musicians arrived for a tango jam session. Musicians from two different Pittsburgh tango groups showed up, Tangueros de ley, and Step. The instrumentation for the jam was a nine piece groups: piano, bass, two guitars, bandoneon, accordion, two clarinets and flute. From the first note of Nueve de Julio we could tell it was going to be a fun jam, the sound was full and each musician was doing a good job of listening and fitting their own part within the group. Jams are usually played "a la parrila" a term that translates literally "on the grill" which means that the music is arranged/improvised on the spot. The more musicians there are the harder it is to manage on the spot arranging. However, even though we had not played together as a group before, we managed to trade off sections between ourselves and fit in the variations that we knew.
The milonga went until 1:30am. We played two sets with Gabriela singing a tanda of tango (La Cumparsita, Garua, Malena) and a tanda of milonga (Silueta portena, Campo afuera, El Portenito) with us. The upstairs bar was full of people socializing and it took a while to get out of the milonga. We ended up shooting the breeze with Sean Cosgrove (our host with his wife Trini Regaspi) and Pulpo until after the bar closed at 2:00am, and we ended up staying awake until 4:00 back at Trini and Sean's listening to Pulpo play recordings of his father's group called Tango Trio, talking us about his birthday tango week in November, and telling ridiculous stories about Llamas.
Sunday, June 3, 2007