Sunday, January 31, 2016

Become a Milonguero, impress the Ladies!

Man Yung has been trying to teach me how to lead for ages. 

My reaction?  No thanks.  And Meh.

"We argue enough and want to kill each other in Tango already with me following and you leading.  Why would we want to add more fuel to the fire?"  I said.

"Because it is fun!" said Man Yung.

"Driving a truck with square wheels with my hands tied behind my back on an ice rink filed with whirling dervishes with TNT strapped to their bodies is not my idea of fun," I replied.  

Leading Man Yung in a crowded Toronto milonga feels exactly like that.

Man Yung frowned.  "I don't agree.  But in any case, you should learn to lead because you will become a better follower." said Man Yung.

"But I'm so good at following already, there's no more room for improvement!" I said.

Ha, ha, just joking.  But honestly, learning to lead has made no difference in my following.  Or, I would have improved anyway and leading has nothing to do with it.  Or, I am just so sick and frustrated learning how to lead and leading that following feels like a breeze and I think I've improved but in fact I'm just relieved to be not leading!

Why should a follower bother about learning to lead?  I asked some of my favourite Toronto leaders what they thought about me leading.

 "Oooooh, your partner looks HEAVY," said the first one.  He rubbed his chin pensively. "I think you should practice more.  Weight lifting, that is."

"I don't like it," said the second.  "What if you get better than me?"

The third was sipping his shaken, not stirred martini on the deck of his yacht off the coast of Capri.   Surrounded by supermodels in bikinis, of course.

"Well, Irene," he said, "Tango is not something to be toyed with.  It is all about El AbrazoPasiónSentimiento.  Amor.  And the mysterious je ne sais quoi between un homme et une femme.  Zen.  And the Tao.  You've heard of the Tao, right?"

I nodded vigorously in agreement even though I had no idea what he was talking about.  I may be a hick hillbilly but it's no good to look like one in front of a tango leader I aspire (one day!) to dance with.

"Tango is El Arte.  It is La Vida.  What Tango should not be, my dear..." and he put his arms around three or four, or perhaps even five of the skimpily attired chicas beside him, "Tango should NOT be a way to get to get a hot girlfriend."

A lightbulb went on in my head.   But of course, learning how to lead in Tango is absolutely yes and positively a way to impress the ladies and get more dances.  You see, no matter how much I strive to be a better follower, certain unalterable circumstances (such as age, appearance, unflattering haircut, snarky wit, sitting next to Man Yung who is giving all the men the Evil Eye, being writer of unpopular tango blog, etc.) make me highly unappealing as a cabeceo candidate.  Even if I start wearing nothing but daisy dukes and a bra to a milonga, my dance popularity quotient will still be somewhere between zero and minus 50,000  But the men!  Even the worst of the lot have their pick of ladies to dance with.  Why not join them? 

I immediately entered into daydream fantasy land and pictured myself a sport jacket wearing Milonguero, like Ricardo Vidort (!) entering into the fabled halls of the legendary milongas of Buenos Aires.  Cool as a cucumber, spiffy as...spiff.  Heads of all the famed Milongueras turning in my direction for a chance to dance with me.  Yippee! No more snacking on Tango wallflower with a side of cabeceo fail

 "OK Man Yung, teach me your best steps!" I said - and waited anxiously for the moment I would turn Milonguero.

....Of course, things didn't turn out quite the way I planned.

One lady friend danced with me, and the next time I asked, she graciously declined.  "Naaaaaahhhhh...no way," she said.

Another had to let me down gently.  "It's not you...it's me," she said.  And then she ran for the hills.

"What's wrong with me?" I asked Man Yung during a particularly painful tango practice session involving me trying to push heavy boulders with my puny bird arms from point A to point B.  "Now it's not just the men, it's the ladies too who are avoiding me like the plague!"

 Try doing this in heels!

"Mwahahaha!" said Man Yung.  "With the High Level Youtube steps I'm teaching you, OF COURSE the ladies will be scared to dance with you.  They are afraid you will drop them!"  He patted me on the head reassuringly.  "But don't worry, you will always impress me.  Now get to work!"












Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year

Toronto's first extreme cold weather alert this season - temperatures are expected to plummet to -16 C tonight.  Winter has finally arrived in our city, after months of temperatures above zero, even above 10 C with sunshine and people out in shorts and t-shirts (what, are they crazy?)

What better way to enjoy chilly winter weather than in a cozy tango embrace?  Have been meaning to share this video for ages - DJ Erwin (our favourite Buenos Aires DJ) at Lo de Celia (our favourite Buenos Aires milonga) playing Orquesta Tipica Victor's Coqueta:



Watch how the crowd moves - as ONE.  Hypnotic harmony.  Something you can see in Buenos Aires milonga quite often where the level of dancing is high.  High as in calm, respectful and musical, not as in highly athletic kicks and daredevil spins!

We've been exchanging best wishes for the New Year with many of our tango friends.  Happy New Year, all the best, happiness, health, love, wealth, lots of tango etc.  We really mean it!  Happiness that isn't fleeting, but deep and profound contentment, lighting up all your days.  Health, energy and vigor, so you can enjoy and live your life to the fullest.  Wealth without compromising your dignity or sacrificing time with loved ones.  Love that is reciprocated and without heartbreak.  Lots of tango - without arguing (if you are with a partner) and without you knocking into people or people knocking into you at the milonga (that goes for everyone).

Happy 2016!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Osvaldo



I was working when Man Yung called me to tell me that Osvaldo had passed away.  He had received a message on Facebook from his daughter with the news.

"Man Yung, Papa won't suffer anymore....we have another angel who will care for us."

After the call, I sat in my office facing the window so that no one can see my expression, willing myself not to cry because absurdly, ludicrously, farcically, I had difficult clients coming in at 4:30 p.m. sharp and I had to deal with them.  Time was still marching forward, the world was still turning...

When Osvaldo died, I felt that Tango died.  Sure, people are still dancing tango, and on any given night there will be cabeceo and entrega and abrazo and passion and heartbreak.... Yes, Tango still exists but -

We were dazed with shock and grief but we went dancing that night.  It seemed the only thing we could do, after sending our condolences to Coca and her family.  It seemed the right thing to do, to honour Osvaldo by dancing for him, with thoughts of him in our hearts. 

But when we were at the milonga, underneath all that hustle and bustle and the smiles and chatting and movement, same people, same faces, same places and the music playing and playing like it was a goddamn broken record on repeat.... there was silence.  And a hole in our hearts with nothing inside it.


Who would show us now, "Asi se baila el Tango"?  Who will tell them, Tango is from your heart and soul, it is from love?  No, not that aggressive theatrical show-off stage spectacle with the flying feet and vicious kicks demonstrating "Love and Hate and everything in between" (Osvaldo and Coca really laughed at that one when we described it to them).  No, Tango's love is in being gentle - no, even more gentle, more gentle!  Cariño, like caressing your lover's face with your hands.  No Irene!  Don't mash Man Yung's face!  That's too much.  Like a baby, like holding a baby, like this... Osvaldo and Coca would demonstrate again and again, cradling an imaginary baby. 

And there's that other thing he'd say to us.  "Don't listen to them!"  He would wave his arms violently in passion when he heard about tango professionals giving us advice contrary to what he and Coca had told us.  Osvaldo may be from a humble background, but there were a couple of things he knew he was an absolute authority.  One of then was Tango.  "Don't listen to their bullshit.  You are dancing Tango!  Ask me.  I KNOW." 

He didn't have to worry about Man Yung.  Osvaldo would tell everyone who would listen with surprise and pride, "Man Yung has stolen all my steps!  I don't even have to teach him!"  And he didn't have to worry about Irene either.  "You dance like mami - like Coca. You dance like us."  He'd slap his hand on top of mine and squeeze while nodding to Coca in emphasis.

He had so much confidence in us, and he wasn't afraid to show the world how proud he was of us.  Every time we were in Buenos Aires, he'd take us to all the milongas.  Arrange for us to perform even when we didn't want to!   

Look!  Irene and Man Yung - they are my students.  My friends.  My family.

God, we will miss you Osvaldo.












Alberto Dassieu

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