Milonga on the rails

In the lonely outskirts west of the city, overlooking the rails to Frankfurt, lies a former train depot, covered in ivy. To reach it from the town center, one passes many a nondescript warehouse, many a faded or peeling sign, many a billboard plastered with articles one doesn’t need.

If one were to take the train to the north via Darmstadt on a blue Sunday evening, one perchance might be surprised by a glimpse of lights dancing from glasses, bottles and chandeliers in this same brick depot, and by the shadows of pairs in close embrace. One might even be struck by the notes of red on the walls, without realizing that they are the blooms of amaryllis perched on the windowsill.

One would watch the scene as in a silent film, oblivious to the notes of the bandoneon or the voice of Carlos Gardel, from that train to Frankfurt or Cologne. Inside the depot, the dancing pairs would feel a slight tremor of the passing locomotion, and those waiting at the bar might glance through the windowpanes and meet the fading eyes of a passenger peering curiously out into the night.

Welcome to Weststadt Bar, on special Sunday evenings, when a train depot transforms into a ballroom, and a milonga brings cars from Wiesbaden, Heidelberg, Mannheim, Frankfurt, Aschaffenburg, to such a forlorn part of Darmstadt. What is it that makes people drive hundreds of kilometers for a tango?

Milonga on the Rails, 2011 watercolor digital collage«Un ilôt de beauté parmi les décombres» (An island of beauty among the ruins), 2011 (watercolor and digital collage)

Listen to Anibal Troilo and Alberto Marino's Milonga Triste, 1946 version

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