Sunday, July 3, 2016

Roberto Segarra interviewed by PractiMilonguero

Monica Paz has recently posted her interview of our Milonguero friend Roberto Segarra on her PractiMilonguero Youtube page.  Roberto is a treasure trove of Tango history - and still dancing the night away in the milongas even though he is turning 96 this year!

Roberto is wonderfully energetic and musical and his enthusiasm and passion for tango is infectious.  Here's a video of us at Marta Fama's milonga last year - watching it is a lovely reminder of the tanda of vals we danced.  We have our feet on the floor but it felt like flying:

"Roberto dances simply but he is sooooo milonguero, don't you think?" I asked Man Yung.

"Oh yes!  I heard he is a big flirt!" said Man Yung.

"No, that's not what I mean," I said.  "What I mean is that he dances only a few steps, but it's pure 1000% tango!"

"Ah Irene," said Man Yung, "The Old Milongueros danced few steps because they didn't have the advantages that modern Tango dancers like me have."

I felt incredibly flattered.  Man Yung can be so sweet sometimes. "You mean, Roberto didn't have a partner as wonderful as me to practice with so he could expand his step repetoire?"

Man Yung shook his head.  "No, what I mean is that Roberto didn't have an iPad. With one swipe, I have access to all the steps and step variations in the entire History of Tango.  With my iPad, I will always have some more steps to learn and practice.  I love my iPad!"*

* Oh really.  What the Old Milongueros didn't have was the DISTRACTION of iPad.  Man Yung may have all the steps know to Tangokind at his fingertips, but with all that time he spends watching Youtube videos and trying to learn more and more steps, he won't have to practice them to the point where he could actually digest them!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

We know it is getting hot.....

....But is it SO hot that it is absolutely necessary for guys to show up in the milonga dressed like basketball players?

"But Irene and Man Yung, it is hot! Shorts and jerseys keep me cool as a cucumber.  And when I'm trying to navigate in a crowded milonga, it kind of feels like I'm trying to dribble past the opposing players in a Raptors Game."

We've also seem some guys dig deep into their closets so they can go Tango in their scouts uniforms.  And just because it was hot, and not because it was Halloween!

"I swear....this kind of get-up at the milonga is just goddamn inappropriate."

We can assure you that a real milonguero won't be caught dead wearing shorts to a milonga.  From the anecdotes we have heard from our milonguero friends in Buenos Aires, little boys in Argentina  wear "short pants" and aren't allowed to wear "long pants" until they are old enough and man enough. 

Kids in shorts are only allowed to dance with their MAMA. 

So you have all these milongueros who have spent all their early years trying to get themselves a pair of long pants just so they can go tango with the big boys and girls.  The right to wear long pants is an important manly accomplishment.  No way are they going to ever wear shorts to dance tango, not in 45 degree heat, not when the air conditioning is broken and the fan is not working, not when the humidity is so bad it is like moving through soup, no way in hellfire and flames with the devil waving a pitchfork.

"Oh Man Yung, stop complaining!" I said.  "I know your pet peeve (apart from reckless bumper car dancers) is seeing guys in shorts in milongas.  I know it is not the best look, but they don't CARE about being milongueros.  Anyone wearing shorts couldn't give a damn about tango tradition or dancing with the best tangueras/milongueras.  Tango to these guys... is just salsa.  Or like going to the gym!  Give them half a year and they will be merrily on their way to bachata or merengue or afro-fusion or whatever it is that next catches their fancy."

Irene is only so tolerant....because like many other tangueras, she is secretly looking forward to the day when all the good looking buff tangueros will show up in the milonga wearing SPEEDOS.  Ah.  David Duchovny.  Shhhhhh!

***  Dear Tango Organizer: Please tell guys wearing shorts to milonga to STOP wearing shorts to milonga.  It is yucky.  However, if David Duchovny shows up wearing red speedos, he is more than welcome.  Thanks.

Sunday, May 29, 2016


As previously whined about on this blog, Man Yung is teaching me how to lead.  Although he seems to be having fun "following" (and making my life a living hell by teaching me more steps than I can digest, and then throwing fits when I can't remember how to do them!),  the Tangueras of Toronto are still running the opposite direction whenever I walk into the room.  So far, learning how to lead is not reaping me any rewards.  Why learn how to lead if I'm not going to impress any Supermodel Tangueras with my leading skills?

Notwithstanding, one has to soldier on.  And deal with things like this:  Last week while practicing to a favourite tango of Osvaldo Cartery - "Una Vez" courtesy of the marvelous Orquesta Tipica Victor - I suddenly realized something. 

I was crapping all over the music.

Maybe it was my insecurity talking.  Or perhaps I was sensing the disconnect between the steps I was doing and the music that was playing. Or quite possibly it was the sinking feeling I felt as Man Yung decided to take over and merrily dance how he thought the music should be danced - without following any of my lead.

I was reminded of something our maestro Osvaldo Cartery said in the documentary "Leyendas del Tango" which goes something like this: 

"Look at all the passion and effort that the composers and lyricists and tango orchestras put into their tangos.  Don't crap all over them!"

Osvaldo's advice at 56:30:  "Don't crap all over them!"

"Hey Man Yung," I said after I finished.  "I was crapping all over Orquesta Tipica Victor.  And I feel really bad about it."

"Yes, you were crapping all over the music," said Man Yung sagely.  "But at least you know about it. Look at all the people who DON'T know that they are crapping on tango.  They may think they are dancing to the music, they may be sprouting wise words about the philosophy of dancing well, they may even be Tango Professionals and getting people to pay them for their lessons/words of wisdom, but when they dance, it's pure crap. Isn't that much worse?"

"Oh no, Man Yung, it's much better if they don't know!" I said.  "Isn't ignorance bliss?  No pain if they don't know.  They are surrounded by other people who have no idea too, quite willing to blindly follow the blind.  You may be tsk-tsking but look at how happy they are.  Entire tango communities have been formed by people delighted by their own tango prowess but completely ignorant of crappage.  Get more people like me in Tango and Tango will collapse through sheer "futile give up-itus".  Before we know it we will all be at home making fancy post-modern macramé sculptures instead of dancing." 

Alberto Dassieu


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