Ricardo Vidort
The Last Compadrito
.(Part 3 )


I knew a doctor who often had to deal with dying people, and one time he told me something I always remembered. He said that sometimes the reason family members demand extraordinary measures, like tubes and respirators to keep a sick person alive when there’s no hope, is because they feel like they didn't do enough for the person earlier in life. He said it was probably because they felt a little guilt, so they wanted to do more at the last minute. It seemed a little strange to me, but now I understand it better.

After Ricardo died, Alej and I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico for a memorial milonga for him. It was very nice. Everyone danced, and then we watched some videos. But as we watched the videos, I suddenly started to feel bad. And afterwards, I couldn’t dance. I just wanted to be by myself. When I saw him on the screen it suddenly came to me that I had hurt him… and that there was nothing I could do about it. All Ricardo ever really wanted was to be liked, and respected… and I’m ashamed to admit, there was a time when I did neither. And even worse, I suddenly felt like he knew it.

I think what happened was that somewhere along the line, I got a little tired of Ricardo. I stopped really listening to him, and I moved on to other friends. But it was even worse than that. I was discovering all sorts of new dancers, and filming them, and Ricardo’s dancing, which I had seen a hundred times, just didn’t seem as interesting. It was a time when I forgot how brilliant he really was—and I didn’t keep my big mouth shut about it, either. I remember one evening in a parrilla on Corrientes with Osvaldo Natucci, and his old partner Eladia Cordoba (I think Osvaldo Buglione, his partner in their El Beso milonga was also there). Natu and I were drinking wine and having a great time, and I kept going on about Tete. Well, of course Natu knew Tete very well… in fact he lived with him in a large house along with Gerard Gelli, and several other milongueros. And he also knew Ricardo very well. Natu’s ex-wife Muma, who is a famous milonguera, was one of Ricardo’s teaching partners. (It was because Muma was sick and couldn’t teach with Ricardo that I first met Alejandra in the club on Suipacha. Alej had come at the last minute to help Ricardo with the class. A very small tango world, Buenos Aires.)

So Natu and I were getting pretty loud, and kidding around:

Me: “Tete is great…”
Eladia: “Yeah, Tete is great.”
Natu: "You have to understand, Ricardo Vidort is a maestro.”
Me: "But Tete can do things no one else can.”
Natu: "You need to study Ricardo more. He’s the ‘Grand Architect’ of tango.”

Alej knew more than anyone else at the table because she had danced with both Ricardo and Tete a hundred times, and she knew just how good Ricardo was—but she was smart enough to keep quiet. We went round and round, and finally when things settled down, Natu said, “Well, you can’t really say. Tango is art. Who can say what’s better?” And I said, “Of course, your right…(pause)… but…(pause)... I still think... Tete is better than ...” Before I could finish, Natu and everyone else at the table joined in and finished the sentence for me, and we were all laughing loudly. I think half the people in the place heard it.

Since he died several people have told me that Ricardo said I was a great dancer… but he never said it to me. He was always correcting me, which I now realize was a huge and valuable favor. He, like several of the other milongueros, cared enough to break the codes and give me instruction right in the milongas. But as I got better in tango, I got the stupid idea that he was trying to show everyone that I was his student. One night he came up as Alej and I were walking onto the floor, took my arm, and said, “Shoot the feet! Shoot the feet!” (He was always saying this, and it took me a long time to really understand what he meant.) It’s very important advice, but I was feeling a little annoyed with him. It happened right in front of several milongueros, just as Alej and I were ready to dance... so I made a pistol with my finger, and pretended to take a couple of shots at my feet. Everyone around saw it, and laughed, (even Ricardo). But now, I can see that he really just wanted to help, and it was a disrespectful thing for me to do—especially in front of other milongueros.


Ricardo's favorite was music was tango picado—but he knew how to adapt to all kinds of music. (Celia's, 2004)*
[addendum: I just looked at this again, a year after posting it. This is really good dancing!]


*This clip is like a Who's Who of tango. Raul Poli, Carlos Syracusa, Alito, Tito, El Malevo, Chiche, Cachirulo,
and Nestor Serra are all visible in it.