La Milonga de San Anselmo Honors Two Marin Tango Couples

On July 27, La Milonga de San Anselmo honors Al & Barbara Garvey
and Jean & Charlie Stewart
who
helped build the SF Bay Area Argentine Tango community from scratch starting in 1985!

San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area is one of the largest tango communities outside of Buenos Aires. Today, we take for granted the fact we have the choice of several classes and milongas on Tango Mango to attend every day of the week. This was not always the case.

The first time Barbara Garvey, a Fairfax resident, saw the show Tango Argentino, on a business trip to New York in 1985, she called Al from the hotel to say “I’ve just seen what we’re going to do the rest of our lives.”

Al & Barbara Garvey

A year later, the touring company of Tango Argentino had come and gone from San Francisco, leaving behind a small but enthusiastic group of aficionados. Al and Barbara continued to actively promote all tango activity in the area, developing a mailing list and information center to support a growing community of teachers, students and entrepreneurs. They were joined in this endeavor by Jean and Charlie Stewart, also of Fairfax.

Among the first Norteamericanos to travel to Buenos Aires in search of tango

On that first trip in the spring of 1987, they were fortunate to meet the legendary Fino Rivera and take a lesson from him, only a few weeks before his untimely death. This encounter clarified dramatically for them the distinction between salon-style, or social tango, and the exhibition version, tango-for-export, to which they had been exposed by cast members of Tango Argentino.

Back in the States, looking for a proponent of social tango, they discovered Orlando Paiva, a milonguero of exceptional elegance, then resident in Los Angeles. They invited him to present a series of workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area. After his return to Argentina, they continued to organize seminars in Northern California for Danel and Maria Bastone of New York, and Michael Walker and Luren Bellucci of Los Angeles, Orlando’s proteges.

Studying with the maestros 

On subsequent journeys to Buenos Aires they studied with many other leading maestros, among them Roberto Grassi, “El Pibe del Abasto”, Pupi Castello, Graciela Gonsalez, and Lampazo. In 1991 they met Nito and Elba Garcia in Mar del Plata, Argentina, and, through the auspices of friends Hector & Ana Villalba, brought them to California for the first time, launching their world-wide teaching career. As the Northern California tango community grew to the largest in the US, keeping up with all its activities prompted the founding, in 1995, of the non-profit Bay Area Argentine Tango Association.

The first milonga in Marin

The Fairfax Milonga (1994-2003) was run by Jean and Charlie from 1994-1999 then taken over by the Garveys until 2003 when they moved to Puerta Vallarta. Al and Barbara also hosted many tango parties in their charming 90-year-old house centered around a dance floor and its tango bar. If you danced tango between the years of 1985-2003 you most likely would have attended these wonderful events. John and Debbie missed them so much, they traveled south to dance with Al and Barbara in their new home, again designed around a dance floor and surrounded by yet another budding tango community they have inspired!

Al and Barbara have performed and taught tango for almost 25 years, but they, along with Jean and Charlie, think of themselves as milongueros and tangueros, interested in all aspects of its culture, from the dance to language, literature, music, history and philosophy.

Milonga de San Anselmo Guest DJ’s 

The Milonga on July 27th also features another Marin couple, guest DJ’s Steve and JoAnn Palubinskas. Steve and JoAnn were introduced to tango in the same Mill Valley tango class taught by George Guim that John Campbell was attending in 1994. They have been instrumental in keeping the spirit of tango alive throughout the Bay Area and can be found dancing and DJing at many of the top milongas several times a week.  They hosted the popular Broadway Milonga 1996-2002.

We invite you to come and enjoy a wonderful evening of music, dancing  and companionship at La Milonga de San Anselmo this Friday, July 27th.

La Milonga De San Anselmo
(held 4th Friday of every month)
167 Tunstead Ave, San Anselmo, Ca 94960
Class 7-8pm  $15 Class + Milonga
Milonga 8-10pm  $10 Milonga Only

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4 Responses to La Milonga de San Anselmo Honors Two Marin Tango Couples

  1. Neeraj Korde July 27, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    Nice to know know about Al & Barbara. I believe they produced some tango videos as well long before youtube came in. The first tango videos I saw were produced by Al & Barbara on Orlando Paiva’s style and Nito & Elba. Wow! what a small world. Give my regards to them.

  2. Carol Young July 24, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    Thanks for this, Debbie & John. In my opinion these were the ‘golden days’ of SF Bay Area Tango. I danced for 15 years there, starting in 1995, before moving to Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA.

    It’s nice to remember our beginnings and hear about Al & Barbara and Jean & Charlie’s beginnings & the start of the BA Tango life.

    Warm greetings to my original tango family: Jean & Charlie, JoAnn & Steve, Al & Barbara. Wish I could see you all, and have another milonga at Al & Barbara’s Fairfax house.

    Besos,
    Carol Young

  3. Irene And Frank July 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    For us the honoring of The Garveys is most appropriate. They were our first teachers and inspired us later to found a tango community in Mendocino (tangomendocino.com) which still thrives though we’re no longer there. greetings to Barb and Al from Santa Fe NM where we now live, with hopes we’ll eventually see you on your Mexico dancefloor. Enjoy your fame in Marin! It is well deserved.
    Irene Thomas and Frank Howard

  4. Judy Feil July 22, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    Thank you so much…loved reading about the history of the tango community here in Marin…look forward to meeting Jean and Charlie and Al and Barbara on Friday
    Judy and Dan

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