ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST: R.I.P. Tete
If you've spent any time in Buenos Aires, you would have seen a white haired whirling dervish on the floor otherwise known as Tete. Though wheezy from asthma with an ample belly, he could dance circles--literally--around younger dancers.
Last night, the security person at El Beso told us that Tete had died yesterday at noon. Lucia added that he had been dancing the night before until around midnight, though he had been dealing with some health problems for a few weeks. She explained that he died of cardiac problems at his home, and that they had found him already dead on the floor. Most people were stunned, including us. One sees them as fixtures at the milongas, and expects to see them sitting there forever. However, as divine as they may seem on the floor, they succumb to death as all of us less-divine dancers will.
I was suprised to hear that quite a few had mixed feelings about this man, this tango legend. I have to admit that the few times I danced with him were torture. When I was his partner, and when I watched him, I always got the feeling that he wasn't dancing with me; rather, I was just along for the white-knuckle ride. So, I never danced with him again. For me, he was an acquired taste.
However, I can't deny that the man had a unique style that will never be replicated, even though one catches glimpses of his creativity and his energy in his young nephew, with whom I adore dancing. Just as the other milonguero greats who left this mortal dance floor before him--Ricardo Vidort and Carlos Gavito, for example--Tete takes with him his tango memories, his knowledge of tango's history which he lived and breathed. I looked around El Beso last night and wondered who would be next. Chiche? El Flaco Danny? These aren't guys who make good health and clean living a priority, which, I suppose, is part of their charm and, ultimately, their downfall. However, their presence in the world leaves an indelible mark on tango and the milonga, and their absence leaves an empty spot on the dance floor that will never again be filled by their own particular, even peculiar, magic. R.I.P.