By Ruth Offen.
Hola to all,
Some of you may know me from founding WaterWorks Gallery 36 years ago, others know me as my son Zack’s Mom and some others might know me because of my involvement and interactions in the arts either visual or dance.
For the last few winters, I’d often travel to Tango festivals to dance, while continuing to live on the island. These festivals are mostly in Europe where it was very cold and sometimes are in Mexico, where it was very warm.
My idea in 2020 was to go to BsAs for the winter months (summer in Argentina) and then in April travel to another country and return to the Island in June.
It has now been approx. one year and 6 months since I left San Juan Island on my adventure.
January 15th, 2020, I arrived down here in BsAs where the average winter temp is 85 and the humidity runs 60%.
Staying in a part of town called Montserrat…living in a Tango house with a private room, bathroom and a totally private garden. What heaven…then add I was going to 2 Milongas [dances] a day and dancing for many hours. Many days a week. Rinse and repeat.
Then there was March 12th, 2020, when everything closed, and a pandemic was declared.
Argentina decided to close its borders to the world. With this country closing, I had to decide. Am I staying or am I going back to the Northwest?
At the WaterWorks Gallery already in place was my fabulous manager, Jennifer Smith. Yes, a successful contemporary art gallery that continues to innovate and succeed in creating a space of beauty. My home on SJI was in the process of being marketed for a sale and yes, ultimately sold (a big thank you to Jim Carroll).
After living for 35 years in Friday Harbor, I made the decision. It was time to take a leap into the future, into the unknown. I decided to live here in Buenos Aires but changed to a small apartment in Recoleta. Paris, Madrid, and Rome all in one place. Think boulevards lined with arching old trees and buildings from the 40s with grand entrances.
Strict quarantine lasted for six months here. In the beginning, we could only go out to shop for food, go to the pharmacy or walk your dog. Gradually these restrictions eased into the set of rules we live with today.
I’m sure we all have Quarantine stories, but for me, I choose to use the time to learn and create new things. Over the years I have honed my skills as a photographer and as a visual curator and editor.
This isolated time allowed me to invest the time in myself and the projects I wanted to do. I was not being pulled into the warm orbit of the gallery as I was 10,000 miles away and 5 hours ahead of the island.
I am so grateful for the time. And so grateful that I figured out what I wanted to do. Learning how to create a website was an edifying experience that took me a few months to conquer. The result is www.travelingtango.com. And never one to just sit around, I published a 52-page magazine size color photo book on tango that expresses the essence of social dancing from my perspective. The book is called Why I Dance Tango? The pages are filled with photos and words about Tango from many perspectives. The connection, the embrace, and the happiness it helps to generate in people. Normal people of all walks in life, young and old.
Unlike the USA, there is not any government support for the people in the Tango world. Clubs have closed and lives have changed. I sell the book and donate all the money from sales to people who dance tango or Tango clubs here in BsAs. More info on my book available on https://travelingtango.com/why-i-dance-tango-photo-book/
Currently, I am still living here in this beautiful city living the 15-minute life. (Haven’t driven a car in a long time) Shopping for everything I need in my barrio (neighborhood) fruit, veggies, and meats.
I feel. Such incredible gratitude because I can dance Tango privately in my apartment with beautiful wooden floors. Currently, there is no Tango anywhere. The weather is cold, but not compared to the Northwest. Today it is 45 degrees out and the winds are blowing north from the Antarctic.
I find myself missing the island and all that it offers, the peace and the solitude. The varying shades of landscape and the shades of gray skies. The colors of the ocean that goes from green to blue. I miss the people and the spirit of the Northwest. I miss the spectacular summer sunsets and how late the sun stays out in July. The Islands hold a special place in my heart. I miss the food a lot. Cannot wait to taste a fresh crab cake.
As to all else, I’m planning a visit to the Northwest in September. Lots of unfinished projects to attend to and friends and family to catch up with.