Sunday, June 17, 2018

Non-Tango things that have made my Tango better

We know people who are avid class takers and who dance tango literally, EVERY NIGHT.  Good for you!  Keep it up!

I've commented this before to some of my friends while watching particularly horrible awkward dancing: "Give them 20/30/40 years in Tango....eventually anyone can turn into a Milonguero."  

I may have said that ironically but also in total earnestness.  A tried and true way to dance Tango better is to just do more of it.  Either lots in a short time span or less but consistently over more time.  

Good Tango is sometimes just mileage.

But BETTER Tango is more than that.

Without doing any Tango Drills, going to any Tango Festivals, taking any Tango private classes or watching any Tango videos on Youtube, I can just wake up on a random morning and find myself a better Tango dancer.  

I don't know why it happens. 

I'm kidding.  Of course I know.  But if I tell you, you're going to say, "Gosh, Irene is weird."

And then you will go secretly try those same weird things yourself to see if they work.  

Heck, I'll give you a list anyway since I've promised myself to write at least two posts a month this year and I'm kind of behind:

Various Non-Tango things that have mysteriously enlightened Irene's Tango:

1.  Watching a Meteor Shower.

2.  Reading D. H. Lawrence's "The Rainbow" and "Women in Love".  

3.  Going to see a Philippe Jaroussky concert.  OMG listening to him sing live was the most intensely beautiful 2 hours of my life.

3.  Losing 15 lbs of weight gradually using the "Madam Chic French Moderation" method.  Yeah, laugh all you want.  Don't be mistaken, I didn't dance better because I lost weight - I danced better because I LIVED better.

4.  Playing piano again after a break of almost 10 years.  

5.  Persisting in playing my old piano that I got in Hong Kong when I was eleven even though it is crappy and cannot hold a tune or be tuned anymore.  Even my cat cringes when I play.  Hey, I don't care - me and my piano have a history together.

6.  Marie Kondo-ing my house.  Kind of like the experience of losing weight as in #3, but instead weight reduction I was decluttering.

7.  Having better relations with my parents and brother and sister.  However, I am still going to laugh at their Tango ignorance (Oh-no - maybe my Tango will become even better when I stop laughing at them?)

8.  Writing a Tango Blog (OK, this is a Tango thing.  But writing about Tango and analyzing it front to back and top to bottom and actually solidifying thoughts into words helps me immensely).

9.  NOT RECOMMENDED:  Suffering horrible, awful loss, and gradually coming to terms with it.  

I don't wish this kind of sadness on anyone.  Not to make light of this kind of heart breaking and spirit destroying experience, but my Tango did get a lot better.

10.  Falling in love with and being proud of my home town Scarborough.  Growing up I thought my neighbourhood sucked and it was just the sleepy boring old suburbs.  After learning that it was in fact "The Food Capital of the World" and actually trying out the different awesome cuisines available locally and meeting lovely people from different cultures living here, I realized that the place where I grew up in ROCKS.

11.  Letting go of anger.

12.  Forgiving people who were once my enemies - even loving them a little.

13.  Becoming older and wiser.

14.  Understanding myself more.

15.  Understanding Man Yung more.

16.  Accepting both myself and Man Yung more.

17.  Having Man Yung understand me and accept me more.   Yes Man Yung!  This is important!  Partnership is not a Chairman Mao Communist Totalitarian Regime!

In summary, I danced better whenever I was touched by beauty, when I found out something about myself, and whenever I strived to be a better person.

Man Yung said after reading what I wrote, "Yes, life is like that!  Like the four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter."

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Tango Staycation

I would have written this post over the Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada, but I was too busy on a glamourous Tango "Staycation".

Now, of course we would rather be on a glamourous Tango "Vacation" and we miss visiting our wonderful friends in Buenos Aires, but we have to be home every four to six hours to feed and massage an ancient constipated pet cat.  This one (on the left - I don't know who the guy in the chicken hat is HA!):

And when we told Manolo the reason behind us not flying to Buenos Aires to visit him, he said "Does he taste good with a side of rice?"

HE WAS JOKING!  About getting rid of the cat and about what Chinese people eat!  Cat Lovers and Chinese people, it's JUST A JOKE, OK?

Well, in any event, Vacation/Staycation is just a state a mind and we will use all our powers of Imagination/Zen/Self-Delusion to bring you the following:


1.  Wear same set of wrinkle free "travel clothes" for days on end.  Wash them in the sink and hang them all over the place to drip dry OR screw that, wear them for days on end and do not wash them. Did you know merino wool clothing supposedly never smells bad and self-cleans? 

Irene demonstrating how to look conspicuously like a tourist.  You don't even need to be in Buenos Aires - we guarantee that this outfit will make anyone stick out like a sore thumb anywhere in the world!

2.  Eat pasta and pizza and red meat with abandon and wash it down with gallons of beer/wine.  Gain 5 lbs in 7 days!

Yes, we can get pretty great pizza here in Toronto.  But would it really be as good and excessively cheesy as the ones at El Cuartito?

3.  Buy random stuff because that's what people do on vacation.

Or better yet - DO NOT buy random stuff and be good to the planet.

"Man Yung, I can't believe we took a photo of this incredible HANDBAG STORE in Buenos Aires and didn't go in or buy anything from it?????  WTF!!!?"

4.  Since cannot buy new tango shoes easily when not in Buenos Aires, do next best thing - resole tango shoes, or wear existing tango shoes in one's possession that don't fit well for that brand new tango shoe feeling. Hobble awkwardly in ill fitting tango shoes at local milongas, it makes it feel like you are dancing on unfamiliar floors!

5.  Dance all night. Or at least until 1 a.m. midnight.  Because we need beauty rest + have to go home and massage the cat.  By the way this past week (in Toronto!) we danced Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  On Monday and Thursday we massaged the cat MORE.

6.  Forget to put on sunscreen because so busy/exhausted.

Unfortunately, this happened all the time when we were in Buenos Aires.  It is not a good idea!  The secret to looking and staying young: Sunscreen, sleep and Tango.  OK, when we were in Buenos Aires didn't get much of the first two but the surplus of the third made up for it.

7.  Go and see the sights and eat the eats in Scarborough, food capital of the world.  Or don't, and nap all the time when not eating and dancing because old and exhausted from dancing + massaging the cat.

If Scarborough is the food capital of the world and we live right in it and have a million choices of what to eat, why do we end up eating the same fifty chicken wings and plate of fried noodles at the same Chinese restaurant?

8.  Watch soccer matches broadcast in a non familiar language.  There are lots on Youtube.   Brings back memories of watching soccer in Spanish in Buenos Aires hotel room (when not passed out from exhaustion or doing laundry in the sink).

9.  Argue.  

Why, don't other people argue while on vacation?

10. Answer work emails. 

Why, don't other people answer work emails while on vacation?  How else can I make sure my inbox is clear and I'm up to date?

There must be more stuff we can do to add to the list to make our "Staycation" sound more exciting but I'm tired from dancing/writing/massaging the cat and need a nap now.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

I replied to Felicity's comment and realized we had been dancing at the same milonga... on different continents

Yep.  What a coincidence!  Felicity's original comment (to the previous post "Why the Cabeceo is important) is in black, and my responses are in blue:

Hi Irene,

"It is always BETTER to dance with someone who is willing to dance with me than someone who isn't."
Agreed: why would anyone want to dance with someone unless they also want to?

Comparing notes, my reasons for not dancing with (any) guys this weekend:

1. Couldn't see good dancers

Agreed.  Getting rare in Toronto too.  Toronto full of hot headed flingers.  However have still a handful of leaders I still enjoy dancing with.  I am often tempted to pray (with incense and crispy BBQ pork offerings - actually, doing complete opposite of the evil eye ritual) that they do show up at milonga but realize that praying is completely useless due to my low dance popularity quotient

2. I like dancing with the guy but he just danced with someone I can't bear and so is contaminated (at least for that day). This is a fairly new one on me. It surprised me too!

Actually this happens to me after Man Yung danced with someone who forgot deodorant or has a problem that deodorant cannot fix.  I have to get him to change before I can dance with him.  Otherwise the urge to vomit will override ability to follow.  Man Yung either has nasal blockage or likes B.O. of strangers does not understand about the fuss I am making.

I have also been put off by the smell of green peppers that attached itself to a leader I like to dance with from a follower I dislike.  Go figure.

3. I really like dancing with the (visiting) guy I've known for years but he has been sending confusing messages during the last year at the two milongas where we last met. I don't know where I stand so I won't look or say anything about dancing even though we're sitting next to one another and (finally) talking again...

I’m a straightforward person, I don’t understand leaders who send out confusing messages either.  

I prefer to dance with someone who is as consistently eager to dance with me as I am with him.  Not BS "Oh I LOVE dancing with you!" and then when there are other "more preferred" followers in the room he forgets to cabeceo or even say hello.

If he is "hot and cold" he better be some hot stuff in Tango.  No wait - EVEN IF he is some hot stuff he can go stuff it.  I'm too old for this game playing s***.

Reasons for not dancing much with women this weekend:

- At two of the milongas: no space / chaos. Space alone wouldn't necessarily be an issue if it weren't for the snails-pace ronda and dangerous floorcraft. Couples were dancing for themselves, not aware of the couples around them. Or were but didn't care, or couldn't dance well enough to manage. I was prevented from moving, was bashed many times, squeezed, tailgated and cut up by guys. I was kicked and scraped by the slim, well-dressed woman several people tried to tell me was a good dancer.

Luckily have not had too much bad luck or accidents while leading on crowded and crazy floors.  I have feeling guys in Toronto are more considerate to women leaders, well, at least to me.  They don’t generally bash into me and my partner unless by pure accident, I have a feeling they have their eye out for not bashing.  Actually, apart from one or two really rotten apples, leaders on a whole in Toronto have become more considerate on the dance floor in the past year.   

However, that being said, I think we have the twin of the slim well dressed woman "so called good dancer" here in town.  Or perhaps it is the same woman?  She has the longest legs and most honking huge feet with stilettos the size of machetes on said feet.  She also flails and kicks highest with the most abandon.  Frenetic displays of reckless high kicking signal "I'm a good dancer", like how red and blue bottoms on Mandrill monkeys means "YEAH BABY! Sizzling white HOT!"?   What is this (tango) world coming to. Milonga organizer had to announce “Keep heels on the floor” but the rockette apparently is deaf because she was still slashing her heels up and down for hours after that announcement.  

Other cavorting, spinning and leaping Mandrill monkeys on the dance floor were noticeably excited by her tango courtship display.

 Hot Stuff

- Couldn't see dancers I like

Sad.  See above re: lack of good dancers.  Sometimes good dancers were (deliberately?) hiding behind not so good dancers I was trying not to cabeceo.  Sad x 2.  See above re: confusing hot and cold.  Not so good dancers I was trying not to cabeceo may be going "wtf?" too re: my cabeceo/not cabeceo (sorry, it was for the person BEHIND you)

- Poor music. B or C sides of famous orchestras. Orquesta tipica Maglio.

OMG this CONFIRMS we were at the same milongas.  A DJ played Maglio (and equivalent) all friggin’ night too.

- I'm not convinced enough she wants to dance with me to want to risk a clear look (from my seat).

Yep, I’ve had ladies say they want to dance and then not even try to cabeceo.  Talk about ambivalence. This has been ongoing for a few weeks now.

- That quiet, good-dancing girl I like isn't looking my way. She refused / avoided me once. I won't invite her again unless she makes it really clear that she wants to dance.

You and I, we must be trying to dance with the same girl.  Sometimes I think she just wants to dance with her favourite guy leaders, or doesn’t want to dance with a girl in front of certain guy leaders who would scoff at women dancing with women.  That’s ok.   

I'm the same: My best lady friends in tango know that I'm not available for leading if my favourite guy leaders are available.

- She could be looking but I don't want to dance milonga / vals / this particular tango tanda.

Actually, I’m pretty much up for anything at this point.  Have heard so much Maglio had to make decision: either dance to the friggin' Maglio, or not dance at all and waste $15 entrada.

I danced 6 tandas over three milongas this weekend. All with women. Good music is always a pre-requisite but curiously, the reasons one does dance are not necessarily the converse of why one doesn't dance:

1. We smiled as she came in and she sat next to me. She was a nice person and turned out to be a good dancer.

That's lovely :-) 

2 & 3 An experienced lady told a woman or women I didn't know near me in my hearing that I was a good dancer and she should dance with me. So I risked inviting one and later the other.

Solid dance reputation being built this way.  It's great!  I hope that I'm getting positive reviews too.  Rather than people whispering "OMG avoid her she sucks" :-(

4 A woman who looked familiar reminded me as she arrived that we'd danced in Cambridge

5. A good dancer I didn't know sought me out with her eyes

You are better at the cabeceo than I am.  I still have to engage in conversation with ladies at beginning of the evening about willingness to dance later and THEN cabeceo to seal the deal later.

6. A woman I've seen dancing well for years I thought had looked my way some time last year but I hadn't liked the music at the time. I invited her this time.

Thanks for taking the time to comment Felicity!  I hope we will really meet one day at the same milonga and we can cabeceo each other for sure :-)

Alberto Dassieu


Toronto Weather

Buenos Aires Weather