Our journey starts at an eerie port. Through the blue mist we recognise the bow of an old wooden ship, anchored in melancholy, waiting to sail out to sea. Suddenly, a mysterious man dressed in a large coat appears: “Tonight we shall only do what the heart dictates”, says Chino Amado, lead singer of Los Amados and natural born macho latino. Are these welcoming words or a warning? For love is as much of a blessing as it is a curse…
For Los Amados, however, it’s been all about success. This company of actors/musicians was born in 1989, when actor Alejandro Viola imagined a Latin big band that could combine music, dramatisation and humour in the name of love. He assembled a group of musicians with histrionic dispositions and they all proceeded to create their alter egos: characters somewhat anchored in the 1940s or 50s, with evocative names such as Pocholo Santamaría and Mambo Méndez, that dress up in an almost Almodovarian fashion (saturated colors, glossy textures, and flowers, lots of flowers!), wearing greasy tufts and prominent moustaches.
The band’s repertoire, just as the staging (how on Earth did they come up with that giant, twinkling swan?), aims to take the audience to the very core of that crazy, corny little thing called love. Through the rhythms of Colombian cumbia, Cuban bolero, Dominican merengue, Uruguayan candombe and many other regional sounds, Los Amados pay a hyperbolic tribute to romance that has won several local awards such as the prestigious ACE, the Teatro del Mundo and the Estrella de Mar. Their latest invention, El danzón de Los Amados, was nominated for no less than four ACE awards this year: Best Musical, Best Director, Best Costume Design and Best Actor – this last category was won by Alejandro Viola.
El danzón is also their first show to include a ballroom “to dance like in the old times, or new times. Following the music, we come close to each other, we caress each other, we go crazy, we are set on fire, we desire, we break apart and we come together again, we smile, we have fun”. Sounds like too much of a romantic spectacle? Well, it is – a preposterous, over the top display that comes to life every Friday and Saturday night at Sala Siranush, in Palermo, where candlelit tables, Armenian delicacies, and a nice bottle of Argentine Malbec help to kindle passions.
But they key word here is humour. Through well-timed gags (in clear Spanish and accompanied by explicit and just as funny body language), Los Amados warm up a firstly timid and discrete audience, until everything is set to let emotions go wild. After that, infatuated couples dance and embrace, kiss and whisper in each other’s ears, yielding to the magical spell of romance. It’s rosy, sparkly, dazzling… almost embarrassing, but nevertheless irresistible when sensuous and joyful Latin American songs such as “Soy lo prohibido”, “Merengue pa degustar”, “Bravo”, and “El día que me quieras” are played.
Los Amados are talented showmen and they truly give an unforgettable performance. Nevertheless, the best things happen off stage, because the audience is composed of lovers of all ages, from their early twenties to almost eighties. The guy with a mohawk is just as bewildered by cha cha cha as the grandpa with a hump. The girl in the tight purple dress feels sexy, and so does the housewife who is celebrating her 54th birthday. There are boys hugging other boys, and girls holding hands. To sum up, there are all kinds of love and people feel free and comfortable to express them in the universal language of music.
When the clock strikes midnight and almost three hours have gone by, Los Amados board their ship, wave goodbye and set sail to their imaginary sea, leaving us all in exhausted ecstasy. Walking back home in one of the last winter nights in Buenos Aires, this kind of experience makes you feel like Spring is just around the corner.