Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tango dancing with the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young

Recently, there has been a deluge of fresh, young(ish) followers in Toronto with long legs, sky-high stilettos and high-slit skirts.  The Bimbangueros/Tangorimbos have been piling one on top of another as they trip in haste to dance with these beauties...

"Delightful!" you say.  "Toronto Tango is definitely in need of fresh blood.  You are lucky to have such heavenly creatures in your Tango community. They look so SMASHING together!"

Ha ha, "Smashing" is the right word to describe what they are doing - the Bimbangueros charge recklessly up and down the dance floor while their wonderful partners use every opportunity to foot flick, knee lift, back kick and heel gouge in all directions.

"Once, I was sitting in the corner of the room at a milonga minding my own business (and surfing the 'net on my smartphone) when one of these dangerous seething masses torpedoed down the line of dance.  I thought, 'No way they are going to hit me, I'm huddled in the corner here with all my legs and arms tucked in' but I was wrong.  She kicked me with a back boleo - and didn't even say sorry!  Well, she didn't say sorry at first - until I kicked her back with a pissed off look on my face."

"Good job, Irene!" said Man Yung.  "If more people spoke up - or in your case, kicked back - when they are assaulted on the dance floor by people dancing dangerously, maybe these dancers will become more self-aware, less reckless and more considerate."

"Hey Man Yung, sometimes you ask ladies to dance before you see how they are dancing (you crazy man you!).  Have you ever danced with someone who looked perfectly normal and civilized when you cabeceo'd her but who turned into the 'Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young' once you embraced her in your arms?"

Where are these high-kicking gals from?  From Europe?  From Outer Space?  Mais non!  
They are the product of your local Tango School of the money-grubbing inconsiderate and reckless instructors.  Rather than curbing the rash enthusiasm of their numerous prodigy, they say nothing so these gals will continue to attend their classes and milongas.  They may even teach by example and kick quite a few people on the dance floor themselves!

"Oh, do you mean Shub-Niggurath, the perverse Cthulhu-mythos Outer God with the menacing tentacles and the explosion of countless writhing goat legs?"

"Yep, that's it.  I know you are too much of a gentleman to dump her mid-Tango or mid-tanda.  What do you do to minimize the damage she may inflict on the couples around you?  Do you just keep your distance from the other couples?"

"Keeping a good distance so her back boleos won't dig into any one's flesh is a good idea, but it may not always be possible if the floor is crowded.  What I try to do is not to lead anything that would give her the opportunity to lift her heels off the floor.  No boleos.  No ganchos.  No enganches.  Any leader who has been dancing for a while can feel when they've picked one of these ladies who can't keep their heels on the floor.  The lady would be all jittery and twitchy and just itching to launch a big high kick if you give her half a chance.   The unruly stuff you see on the dance floor isn't done just by the follower alone - their partners have encouraged them to execute dangerous movements by leading those movements."

"But Man Yung, you underestimate the power of a determined (rabid) adornista.  I have seen leaders leading perfectly innocuous back ochos and giros - but have them converted into weapons of destruction by ladies who hook their feet up behind them before stepping down.  If they are anywhere near a person that uplifted stiletto heel won't be slicing air - it would be slicing someone's shin!"

Man Yung shrugged.  "In that case, the leader could do nothing but walk.  And pause.  And pause even more.  It's funny, but the more you try to tire an zealous adornista out with more movements, the more energetic and ebullient they become.  Do exactly the opposite, don't move very much or at all, and they may even fall asleep!"*

* Man Yung says, "I still think it is the leader's fault, maybe they should observe first and not dance with a follower who is dangerous on the dance floor.  However, I understand that some ladies are irresistible to some leaders due to their looks or their sexy attire, and leaders will want to dance with them even at the risk of hurting others on the dance floor.  You know what, I STILL THINK it is the leader's fault - what can be so irresistible that you will cooperate in assault?  Haven't you guys seen a woman before? So immature!"

Thursday, August 7, 2014


We celebrated our ten year anniversary in Tango at the beginning of this year.  Actually, we didn't really "celebrate" - it was more like an observation, "My goodness, how time flies!" kind of thing.  And then we went out and danced as usual. 

Nevertheless, ten years is milestone and we have been thinking about what it means for ten years to pass in Tango.  We've certainly come a long way since our fledgling steps in the group class held in a basement studio at Mad for Dance deep downtown.  Our first salida, our first giro, our first milonga, attending our first tango event, the different instructors we took classes with, our first time in Buenos Aires, our first performance in Buenos Aires, and on and on....

There's always been a sense that we are moving forward.  We practice every week for an hour and every two or three months we have some kind of breakthrough, either internally, externally, or internally manifesting itself externally.  Conversations with our teachers, conversations with each other, snippets of video on Youtube, things that we experience, books that we have read, flashes of inspiration - all contribute to the momentum and the endless change in the way we dance.  We look at us now, we look back to where we used to be, and we can't help but think about the future - where will we be ten years from now?

We hope that our Tango will continue to become better, deeper, more expressive, more enjoyable - a year from now, five years from now, ten years from now.  Barring some surprise or catastrophic event, it is a pretty safe prediction that we would achieve this goal to some degree. 

We wouldn't say unfortunately, because it has nothing to do with good fortune or misfortune and more to do with human nature - many dancers do not have such modest aspirations.  Some want more attention - they high kick and spin recklessly to show off in crowded milongas now and hope one day to receive an invitation to perform for real.  Some want more recognition - they become "authorities" to any one who would listen and teach on the dance floor instead of following or leading properly and hope one day to become instructors.  Yet others use Tango as a way to increase their sense of superiority, but they go about it the wrong way - by becoming snobbishly what they think is more "authentic", by maintaining their "clique" and dancing only with members within it, to the extent that they hide at milongas only catering to "their people" and never come out to dance with anyone else.

We predict that these people will achieve what they have set out to do. What they won't achieve is Tango that is better, deeper, more expressive or more enjoyable.  Some dancers who had been veterans when we started dancing ten years ago are still dancing in exactly the same way or worse ten years later.  They may be instructors now, or have performed, or consider themselves some kind of Tango "Elite", but the quality of their dancing has either stayed the same or deteriorated.  And the Magic 8-ball says than ten years after, it will be pretty much the same.

We shake our heads but none of this really matters.  It doesn't matter what we want to achieve in Tango, it doesn't matter what the others want to achieve in Tango.  It doesn't matter even if Tango lives, or if Tango dies.  We go out to dance, if we are lucky we will enjoy ourselves and all our worries are suspended for a few hours.  If we are not lucky the music will suck, the floor will be a disaster zone and/or we will get kicked in the shins and/or we want to fight with the guy/gal who is dancing like an asshole in all lanes with their spiky heels up in the air.  Who cares where we will be, or where the others will be tomorrow or ten years from now?  It is only a dance.

We received bad news today that a good friend from our martial arts days has been diagnosed with leukemia. Only forty years old, and with a young child!  We saw her just a year ago, when she came with her husband and daughter to visit Toronto to see whether they wanted to move back here for the sake of her daughter's education.  She was full of dreams and hopes for the future of her family and her child.  Her illness is something no one could have predicted.  We told her to be strong, to stay optimistic and we told her that we would pray for her recovery. 

For now we will keep on dancing and keep on writing. Whatever the future may bring, we have to live one day at a time, and make the most of it.

We started Tango at Mad for Dance studios ten years ago, and we have been practicing there all these years.  The studio is closing at the end of August.  Thank you Michael and Raija for renting your beautiful space to us, our Tango would not be where it is today without the opportunity to practice in your studio.  Mad for Dance will always be a cherished part of our Tango memories. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hot Sh** (Not)

Just when we thought that Toronto Tango leaders were following the line of dance and dancing with respect for other dancers on the dance floor....

"Wow, look at that HOT guy weaving out in and out of all of the lanes of dance at once like Formula One on speed!" somebody shrieked.

All Tangueros and Tangueras swiveled their heads to look.

Yes indeed, some skinny tall guy with fashionable facial hair in an untucked shirt was plowing violently through the crowd with his high-kicking (and also skinny) partner. The bodies of pathetic, old, unattractive and weakling dancers caught in his path were being flung helplessly in all directions in the growing trail of destruction.

He spins menacingly with knees, elbows, heels all jutting out at once!  He tailgates!  He takes up  more space than twenty dainty milonguero couples! He takes big long strides right into furniture and other people!  In fact, he has more sparkly arrogant invincible confidence about his dancing...than someone who actually dances well!

"Ooooooooh!  So dreamy!" went the collective sigh across the room.

"I'm too sexy for my too sexy for my too sexy for my" - Genius lyrics!

 "Come on guys! He's not THAT hot!  In fact, I would say that a leader who is so atrociously inconsiderate to all the people around him is NOT HOT AT ALL," I said.  "Attractiveness is no carte blanche for being an asshole on the dance floor!  I think there must be a word to describe him, but how can you put Bimbo and Tanguero together?...Bimbanguero?  Tanguerimbo?"

My objections were ignored.  All eyes, male and female, stare in his direction for the next chance at cabeceo. Who cares how much injury he inflicts when he dances - so long he isn't fat and/or old?

Why be a good social dancer if you are... skinny, fast, young and good-looking?*  All the ladies (and especially the ones who are tall and who look like models and who kick so high on the dance floor you can see their knickers) are DYING to dance with you even though you don't know how to dance Tango socially.

* The unfortunate truth - you can get away with murder in Tango if:

1.  You are good looking!
2.  You are young AND average to good looking!
3.  You are so stylish people mistake you for someone good looking!
4.  You are a Tango instructor!
5.  You are a Tango instructor from Argentina!
6.  You are a young, good-looking Tango instructor from Argentina!

For all those hoping to dance like a Bimbanguero/Tanguerimbo with no repercussions, good luck with your reincarnation into the next life.  Hope you will reincarnate into a young, good-looking Tango instructor from Argentina, then no-one will mind!

Alberto Dassieu


Roxina and Adrian Canyengueros


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