As many of you may know by now, many of our most popular tango venues have closed recently or will be closing soon.
Verdi Club will be having its last milonga this Thursday, May 29th. The Monte Cristo, one of the bay area’s longest running milongas run by Gary and Nirmala closed its doors at the end of March 2014. Cafe Cocomo will close its doors on June 1st and both El Arrabal and Cellspace (Inner Mission) milongas will be closing in the next few months.
A big part of what makes a milonga special is the venue. The space itself helps create the atmosphere, inspiring dancers and creating a jovial experience.
What I find very sad is that the buildings at both Cafe Cocomo and Cellspace will be demolished to build condos and apartments. Why is this happening? I suppose the Bay Area tech-boom is to partially blame. As more people move to the Bay Area for work, a shortage of housing has resulted. Everyday I read new articles about the Bay Area’s housing crisis. As part of the solution, San Francisco’s mayor, Ed Lee vouched to build or rehabilitate 30,000 new homes by 2020. Building permits for condos and rental units are being expedited, and it seems almost all available open space will soon become housing. Unfortunately it also means large warehouse-like spaces such as Cafe Cocomo and Inner Mission, are worth a lot more as condos than they are as dance spaces.
We will miss Tango at the Verdi. Your bar with tasty Malbecs, your spacious dance floor and of course your gracious hosts, Christy and Adolfo. Verdi has always been “The milonga” to attend for visiting Argentine maestros. And perhaps because of this, it’s always felt authentically Argentine.
We will miss Cellspace Tango at Inner Mission. The space was so perfect for alternative tango. It had such a funky, casual, artsy vibe about it, perfect for alternative Tangos. I loved that the decor was always changing, including the seating, lighting and decorations. And loved that Cellspace was run by a multitude of hardworking volunteers over the years, many who make up the foundation of our diehard Tango dancers in the Bay Area. The good news is that the organizers of Project Tango are working on finding another venue that we hope will be equally charming and unique.
And we will all miss Tango at Cafe Cocomo. Cafe Cocomo, mostly known as a popular spot for Salsa was also a beautiful space for Tango one night a week. In the past year Fernando did done a wonderful job of reviving Tango at Cafe Cocomo by bringing in guest instructors and DJs and decorating the space perfectly for Tango.
People still talk of the popular milongas that have come and gone since Tango first became popular in the Bay Area. Many of you may remember the Golden Gate Milonga or the Broadway Milonga. Any mention of these past milongas brings a feeling of nostalgia and beautiful memories.
Lets keep in mind that history repeat itself. We will have more beautiful, fun, unique tango venues in San Francisco to enjoy in the future. And we still have many other milongas to attend each night of the week.