Saturday, November 11, 2017

How to look like a Maestro* in front of other Maestros

* OK, maybe not really like a Maestro, but at least not like a turd.

It's "Tango Festival" time!  Or "Visiting Maestro(s)" time!  I think every tango community has experienced it - when reknowned, famous, very important glamourous and amazing tango professionals from Buenos Aires (well, at the very least "not from here" or "from the next village over") drop in on our humble communities for special, big, huge, mega awesome events.

As everybody knows, when Tango VIPS visit, everyone puts on their poshest tango outfits and shiniest tango shoes.  They dance beautiful elegant steps, always follow the compas and pay special attention to floorcraft and safety on the dance floor.  That's because the presence of Tango Maestro-y Greatness is so inspiring.   I can say with a completely straight face - these are occasions that truly bring out the best tango in everyone.

I lie!  It actually brings out the WORST!

Fast dancers dance 500% faster!

Dancers who know a million steps too many suddenly know a gazillion more!

Adornistas who adorn excessively completely forget how to follow and just do machine gun adornment drills around their partners!

Leaders who bump into other people...well they bump a whole lot more.

And why?

They just want the visiting Maestros to look at them and say "Good Job!"

I know you were aiming for "Great Job" and not just "Good".   

Come on people, all the stuff you are doing to impress the Maestros is just making them laugh!

Dancing faster doesn't make you look more professional, it makes you look like you drank too much coffee and Red Bull. 

Dancing a gazillion tricky steps (and falling over your own feet) is the Tango equivalent of verbal diarrhea.  Let's just call it what it is: Tango Diarrhea.

I'm not going to say anything about adornos.  It is very entertaining to see ladies doing a merry adorno jig around their partners and any entertainment when you are paying double the price for half the fun is appreciated.

Bumping of course, is obviously not a sign of Tango Greatness.  It is the sign of a Tango asshole.

Folks, dancing like this is not the way to impress a Tango Maestro.

You must do the opposite.  Dance SLOWLY like you have all the time in the world.  Dance only a few steps CLEANLY and CORRECTLY and TO THE MUSIC, because you enjoy it and not because you want people to look.  Stop doing auto adornos.  And STOP BUMPING OTHER PEOPLE.

All in all, dance like YOU are the Maestro and like you don't give a damn about any thumbs up. 

In any case, the Maestros are not even looking.  They are too busy drinking maté/beer, chatting with their friends, and worrying about how they will look when they dance/perform.  Because they would like you to clap and applaud and say "Good Job" too!*

* "Ah, Irene, now I know why you dance the way you do at Tango Festivals," said Man Yung.  "I was wondering why you are leading like you have drank Red Bull and a triple Espresso with no concern for music or other people and you are laughing your head off while doing it.  You know the Maestros aren't looking!  It's a free for all, dance floor Armageddon and no-one will give you thumbs up or down.  It's like hiding in plain sight.  Good job!"

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Random Complaints

Man Yung asked me last week, "Hey, why haven't you written anything on the blog lately?"

"I don't feel like saying anything,"  I said.

"Are you afraid of offending someone?"

"As if!" I replied. "I've got lots of complaints.  I just haven't gotten around to making a funny story about them!"

1.  Ladies with their stiletto heels in the air

Seems to be a trend lately.  The skinnier and younger they are, the more they kick.  Spiked feet slicing through the air without any consideration for others. And sometimes the leaders aren't even leading boleos!

They even end every tango with one leg snapped upwards.  Scroll through photos of these ladies in Facebook and in 50% of the photos those heels are pointed to the ceiling and ready to impale.

Is it just empty headed reckless dance enthusiasm or some strange mindset about tango aesthetics?  Doesn't it matter that they may hurt some tango sister nearby? Is there no chivalry among women anymore?

Keep those darn heels on the friggin' floor!

2.   Have Tango DJs finally run out of Canyengue music - and have to resort to Circus tunes?

It's bad enough that at some milongas we have to hear Canyengues interspaced with tandas of D'Arienzo, Biagi and Donato.  ALL NIGHT.

But it could be worse.  They could run out of Canyengues.  That's when the cleverest DJs in Toronto will start to play Circus Tango Music.  Monkeys on unicycles sliding down tightropes under the big top kind of music.  Just to complete the picture - the monkeys are chomping roses, wearing tuxedos and red sequinned fishnet dresses with fringes while yodelling, spinning, leaping and juggling bananas.

What, you don't know what I'm talking about?

Then you failed to make the mental association, and in fact enjoyed dancing the tanda enormously - even applauding the DJ heartily for the lively and "fun" tanda.

3.  Stomping randomly at tango music is not a "good" tango step.  In fact it is not even a step.

The step sequences on Youtube are just too difficult to copy.  But the leader did stomp.  I can stomp.  Maybe I should do it too!

Whoops, you missed the beat when you stomped.

Apart from being meaningless, your stomping is actually showcasing your lack of musicality.  You should really stop doing it and stick to the 8 count basic.  You can fudge the music less noticeably that way, trust me.

4.  How did so many people lose their sense of smell?

I can not stand dancing with people who smell like ripe armpits.  Or onions.  Or rotten fish.  I couldn't even stand dancing with people who just smell like "nothing" or "neutral".

Give me a dance partner who smells like a citrus grove or a flower explosion any day.

But why is it that so many people are still happy to dance with dancers who smell awful?  Are they just being polite?  Is there something wrong with their noses?

Or are the smelly people dancing so fantastic that their awesome dance skills override any urge by their partners to vomit?

5.  What's up with staring at yourself in the mirror while dancing?

I can't believe people are still doing this.  I thought people had stopped deluding themselves.

Fourteen years ago when we first started tango, there was this guy who would stare at the mirror the whole time he was dancing.  It was like he was so amazed by his own cirque du soleil tango moves he couldn't stop looking at himself.

He eventually realized that he wasn't as good as he thought he was.  Doesn't dance tango very much anymore.   Good - because all that looking at himself in the mirror and not looking at where he was going was seriously bad for his navigation skills.

Now there's ANOTHER guy who can't stop staring at himself in the mirror when he dances.  And the way he dances - he's practically the first guy's spiritual dance twin.

They should get together and do a show.  We'll play Circus Tango music while they fling and stare endlessly at themselves in the mirror.  It may be tricky for them to juggle bananas without keeping their eye on the bananas, but I'm sure they will be incredibly impressed with themselves anyway.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The amazing, astounding music of the Franco Luciani Trio

Franco Luciani Trio at Lula Lounge, August 7, 2017

For those of you who couldn't make it to Toronto Tango Club or Lula Lounge over the long weekend: Sorry guys, you missed two fantastic, unforgettable nights of Argentinian music from the Franco Luciani Trio.

We caught the Trio in concert on both nights (for a steal of a price of $25 per person including milonga on both nights) and we are still jumping up and down with joy (literally!) from the experience of hearing them and watching them perform.

There is a informative biography of Franco Luciani on his official website in English and Spanish  (link:   I'm going to put a little excerpt here:

Instrumentalist, composer, vocalist and harmonica interpreter Franco Luciani is considered by Argentine critics and the media to be one of the most remarkable and talented musicians of the new generation. Born in Rosario (Santa Fe, Argentina), in 1981, he started out studying drums and percussion. He attended the National University of Rosario [Universidad Nacional de Rosario], the Municipal School of Music [Escuela Municipal de Música], and the Provincial School of Music [Escuela Provincial de Música] in his hometown, graduating from this last institution with the nationally validated degree of Music Teacher Specialized in Symphonic and Drum Percussion. However, he ultimately carved out a professional career as a harmonica player, covering all types of harmonicas, but specializing in the chromatic one. He is an exponent of Argentine popular music, both rural and urban (folk music and tango, respectively). This inclination led him to compete in the Pre-Cosquín Contest of the Cosquín National Folklore Festival in 2002, where he was the winner in the ‘Instrumental Soloist’ category, and then granted the 2002 Cosquín Best New Artist Award [Premio Revelación Cosquín]. This festival, in which Franco has taken part non-stop since then, is considered to be the most important festival of Argentine folk music, and one of the main folklore festivals in Latin America.

Franco Luciani's biography also lists his extensive recordings, tours, prizes and mentions that he has "also shared the stage, toured and taken part in recordings with a large number of renowned Argentine and foreign artists, such as Mercedes Sosa, Fito Páez, Raúl Carnota, Chango Spasiuk, Pedro Aznar, Jaime Torres, Divididos, Guillermo Fernández, León Gieco, Luis Salinas, Teresa Parodi, María Volonté, Horacio Molina, Maria Graña, Amelita Baltar, Dúo Coplanacu, Víctor Heredia, Eva Ayllón, Juan Carlos Baglietto, Jairo, Gotan Project and Lila Downs, among others." 

Franco Luciani's biography is truly impressive and his performances in Toronto with his Trio did not disappoint.  The Trio consists of Franco Luciani on the harmonica and vocals, Leonardo Andersen on the guitar, and Alberto Munarriz (who is an Argentinian musical scholar living in Toronto, teaching musicality classes at the Toronto Tango Club) on the double bass.

Honestly speaking, the Franco Luciani Trio is the BEST group we have heard performing live Tango for dancing, and we have heard many world famous groups and orchestras over our fourteen years dancing tango in both Toronto and in Buenos Aires.

The Trio performed two very generous sets of forty minutes each at Toronto Tango Club on Sunday.   They were only three musicians but they had a HUGE, beautiful sound backed by clear, driving compas.  All of the music was danceable, you just can get on your feet and dance and the music never strayed from that core danceability.

At the Lula Lounge the following Monday, the Trio demonstrated their broad artistic talent with a showcase of music from Franco Luciani's latest CD, "Anda en el Aire".   In the first set, we enjoyed a mesmerizing mix of folklore, tangos by Astor Piazolla and contemporary compositions by Franco Luciani himself.  Later in the evening, we danced to more live Tangos, Valses and Milongas from the Trio.

How would we describe the music?

Franco Luciani is a wizard of the harmonica.  In our opinion, he is Hugo Diaz but even better - because we can really dance to his music!

There is a wonderful comraderie between the members of the Trio.  They are world class musicians but their music never loses that ease and delight comes from jamming between good friends.

Their music is human, moving, passionate, and close the roots.  Man Yung says that he feels a lot of joy and peace listening to their music because it is SIMPLY SO GOOD. 

Man Yung bought Franco Luciani's latest CD 'Anda en el Aire" right away and we've been listening to it on endless loop since Sunday!

Looking at Franco Luciani's Facebook page, he is going to be on the last leg of his North American tour starting this weekend in Montreal for the International Tango Festival.   If you are going to be in Montreal for the weekend, make sure you catch one of his concerts, you are in for a treat.*

* And if you are a Milonga organizer and Franco Luciani is touring near you, you got to book him for your milonga.  Dancing to his live music is such a splendid experience, there are no words!

"Violentango" by Astor Piazolla from Franco Luciani's newest album.

Alberto Dassieu


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