Tuesday, September 6, 2016

"A six headed man eating monster on one side, and a whirling vortex of doom on the other"

A.K.A. Scylla vs. Charybdis.  Take your pick.

In case anyone wants an update:  I'm STILL working at leading.  The latest Man Yung imposed torture training method: Leading with torso only. 

As in "Irene, stop shoving me with your bird arms, they are puny and useless anyway, try to lead more accurately by pointing your body in the right direction.  And use telepathy more.  Stop rolling your eyes.  It'll work if you love me enough."

Amusing as this is, this is not the point of this post.  I want to talk about how I tried to navigate to a win-win resolution on a milonga dance floor that is clearly, for me, a lose-lose situation.

I really want to follow the line of dance.  On the outer edge of the dance floor.  You know, like the milongueros do, because they are cool and they know what they are doing. But you can't do much if you want to keep that track.  You gotta behave yourself.  Walk a bit, turn a tiny bit, ocho cortado.   That's it.

"Why aren't you doing your back sacadas?" Man Yung says impatiently.  "You look great doing your back sacadas!  And the triple enganche gancho combos I taught you!  How about those?" 

Hmmmmmmmm......  Can't really do those fancy moves unless I want to send all the little old people dancing calmly and quietly on the outside track all flying.

That means I'll have to hazard into the inside track.  Or WORSE, spin like the dreaded whirling dervish in the dead centre of the floor.  Along with all the other loonies who are either 1) doing the same kind of movements as I am and really need the space, or 2) can't navigate worth a damn or 3) both. 

I go to the middle of the dance floor and do a couple of back sacadas.  I narrowly miss a couple of people.  Some guy tailgates me continuously, and another spins and kicks so hard with his partner they are exactly like that jagged saw teeth image I read on Tangocommuter's blog.  But that's ok, people who dance in the middle are used to bumping.  I use Man Yung as a human shield and it's all normal because that's what they do to followers in the middle.  Not an eyebrow is raised, much less an evil eye.

But I have a shining hope: there must be more to a follower leading than bad navigation skills.  I secretly try to steer us straight on the outside track.  But for some odd reason I can't even go straight.  This Irene leading Man Yung combo is definitely listing to the left no matter what the f*** I'm trying to do. 

On the bright side,  I am doing some killer left turns!  If I'm going to have a signature move, that's it.  Turning endlessly left.  I know about fifteen different ways to do it, WITHOUT PLOWING INTO ANYBODY AND WHILE FOLLOWING THE LINE OF DANCE.  I can see where I'm going, and Man Yung is kind of on autopilot because he is heavily dragging us to the left anyway.  Yay!

"Goddamn it Irene," said Man Yung.  "The milonga is half over and all you have been doing is turning left.  Where are all the movements I've taught you?  They're all going down the drain!"

Back to the middle I sulkily go.  Tailgater on the left, saw teeth on the right, and me spinning endlessly left in the centre with some random back sacadas thrown in.  Hey, Toronto leaders, don't laugh.  If I'm anywhere in your vicinity, that means you aren't doing too well either!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


Some dancers think that the fancier the dancing, the better. 

"Simple is boring!" they say.  They complain if the tango performances they see don't have something body-contorting/death-defying/jaw-dropping/eye-popping.  They take classes not for basics or for navigation ("That's so BEGINNER"), but to learn complicated and flashy moves. 

...And then they go and do the stuff they just learned on crowded dance floors.  Enthusiastically and without any regard for the people they are barrelling into.  Thanks a lot.

It's probably useless showing them this video.  They are too busy practicing helicopter spins and triple enganche gancho giros (whatever that is) to pay attention.  It's a video of two of the biggest Tango maestros in the world....dancing simply.  And it's stunning:

Osvaldo Cartery and Elina Roldan dancing simply to a simple vals

They don't know or understand that it takes more experience and skill and musicality to break it down and make every movement expression and emotion.  It is actually easier to do a set of steps than to flow and be free to respond to every nuance of the music and to the changing conditions of the dance floor around you.


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!

Alberto Dassieu


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