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." 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

All the meat on the fire

Every Argentinian has their own secret asado recipe.  And it is the opinion of every Argentinian that their own secret recipe is the BEST asado recipe ever.  No self-respecting Argentinian will willingly admit that someone else's asado recipe is better than theirs - unless its their dad/mom's/grandparent's recipe or their husband/wife's recipe, in which case they will inherit the said recipe or have a hand in it, which means it's really their recipe and therefore it is still and always the BEST asado recipe ever.

I asked an Argentinian how this works.  How can every Argentinian's secret asado recipe be better than the recipes of all the other Argentinians?  Surely this is logically impossible.

He was not even ruffled by the question.  "It is perfectly logical.  Every asado prepared by an Argentinian at any given moment is the BEST ASADO THERE EVER WAS."

"What if there are two, or a hundred, or a hundred thousand asados being made at the same time? Surely they can't be all the BEST."

"Ah, but we live in a world where time moves forward.  Things happen consequentially, and not exactly contemporaneously.  The asado that comes a split second later is again the BEST ASADO THERE EVER WAS, and so on, and so on."

Ha ha.  But can Argentinians make a Chinese BBQ Squid?

He was rightfully stumped.

Actually BBQ Squid isn't really roasted, it is a marinated/stewed delicacy often found in Chinese BBQ restaurants/stalls.  That orange colour isn't from roasting, it is from tanning lotion.  But the Argentinians don't know that!  Shhhhhhh.....

This is a little known fact, but apparently every Argentinian's Tango is also the BEST TANGO EVER. 

Okay, I made that up.  But Argentinians who dance Tango do know a couple of things about how to dance it better than anybody else and in fact, they treat it like their asado.  

"All the meat on the fire!"  Don't hold back, just throw all those cuts of prime Argentinian beef, intestines, kidneys, sweetbreads etc. on the parilla.  They will all come out well done but the Argentinians like their meat thoroughly cooked anyway.  Rick McGarrey has already talked about it here.  While no Argentinian has actually said this to us in real life it is actually a very good Asado to Tango analogy.  Think this way and you are on your way to reach a mental and spiritual state to dance Tango well. 

"Hey Man Yung, do you think we can do a Chinese BBQ to Tango equivalent?  Like, all the Crispy BBQ Roast Pork in the....oven?"

Man Yung thought for a while.  "Not really.  Chinese Crispy BBQ Roast Pork, BBQ Roast Pork, BBQ Ribs, BBQ Duck, BBQ liver and hearts and BBQ sausage all have different cooking times and preparation methods.  Besides you know that your beloved BBQ Squid isn't even roasted, throw that on the fire and it will come out like a piece of charred leather.  BBQ Squid isn't really BBQ, it's been lovingly soaked in tanning lotion for it's sunny golden/orange glow....And don't even get me started on the marinated duck wings, duck heads, tofu, kidneys and seasoned jellyfish.  You can get all of these at the Chinese BBQ store but they aren't roasted AT ALL."

I made a face.  "DUCK HEADS."  Gross little fellas, consisting of soy sauce halved duck heads with the bills attached.  Man Yung likes them with beer. 

This is why I will never dance Tango as well as an Argentinian.  You can throw all your duck heads into the soy sauce, but would you want to eat them afterwards?* ** ***

1. * A local (Non-Argentinian, but excellent and exceeding popular, not always available for cabeceo due to being busy with hanging out with supermodels) dancer recently described to me the same concept.  "The old guys always told me, 'All the meat on the fire!'  That's how you can dance the best Tango."

I saw this as a splendid opportunity to fish for a compliment.  "You're right!  Now, in your opinion, who in Toronto dances with all their meat on the fire?"  

Hint:  Me!  Me!

 He rubbed his chin pensively for a few seconds.  "Nobody really."


2. ** Man Yung said, "Irene, I know you have a thing for avoiding soy sauce duck heads but that's not the whole extent of your problems with dancing Tango well."

"What do you mean?  There's something else?"

"Every Argentinian thinks his mom's cooking is the best.  I think my mom's cooking is the best.  Do you think your mom's cooking is the best?"

I vaguely remember spitting out my mom's cooking and trying to hide it behind my rice bowl at precisely the angle opposite from where she was sitting so she couldn't see what's going on. 


3. *** Man Yung wanted to add another nail to my coffin of being able to dance Tango well.   "Well Irene, what do you think of our cats?  Do you think they the most beautiful cats in the world?"

I look at him suspiciously.  "Come on!  What are you getting at with this?"

"Well, do you? Because I do."

I looked at our cats.   A bunch of old grumpy lumps.  They are cute and everything but realistically, they are not THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CATS IN THE WORLD. 

"They're ok but I'm not going to say they are the most beautiful cats in the world."

Man Yung shook his head.  "Too objective, Irene.  I have the most beautiful cats in the world, I dance the most wonderful Tango steps and I communicate the best Tango musicality and feeling in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE.  And my tango partner wife is the BEST TANGO PARTNER WIFE in history.  Can you think that?"

"Like, no.  Not unless I was like INSANE."  And whose freaking 'tango partner wife' was he talking about?  Must be some OTHER LADY judging from all his bloody whining and complaining about my dancing and housekeeping skills!   "And don't forget, I have stubby bendy legs."

"Precisely." said Man Yung.  


As you can see, Irene may not be doing too well with Tango, but she knows a heck of a lot way too much about Chinese BBQ!  You can read all about it here and here.

Alberto Dassieu


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