Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dance Popularity Quotient

Are you an astounding dancer but a perennial wallflower? Are you an appalling dancer but have dance partners are lined up around the block for a chance to boogie with you?

Wonder no more at these and other "mysteries" of that "mysterious" dance called "Tango" - take this handy special Holiday Edition quiz to reveal your "Toronto Tango Dance Popularity Quotient"!

1. You are:

a) Male, under 30 (add 10 points)
b) Male, over 30 (add 10 points)
c) Male, Milonguero (add 50 points. You've got that extra-special Tango cachet)
d) Male, "Toronto Milonguero" (add 500 points. No, it doesn't mean you are necessarily as good a dancer as an actual "Milonguero" - not only are you often failing to improvise, you actually delight in doing the "bumper-car" on the dance floor. Your true popularity is all about the laws of geographical supply and demand)

2. You are:

a) Female, under 30 (add 25 points)
b) Female, between 30 - 40 (no points)
c) Female, over 40 (minus 25 points, with further 10 point deduction for every month over 45)

3. Guys, what are you wearing tonight?

a) Clean suit (add 25 points)
b) Sweaty suit (add 25 points)
c) Untucked shirt and baggy pants (add 25 points)
d) Shorts and Hawaii shirt (add 25 points)
e) Pajamas (add 25 points)

4. Ladies, what are you wearing tonight?

a) Cargo pants and tatty t-shirt (add 10 points)
b) Black and red dress with sequins and fringe (add 10 points)
c) Skirts with pants (add 10 points, and bonus 10 points because this is a costume signifying that you can also lead and you will ask other ladies to dance)
d) Something nice and classy that doesn't scream "TANGO"! (add 10 points)
e) Your skirt is so short your butt is hanging out/Your neckline is so low I can see your bellybutton (add 100 points)

5. Ladies, how about shoes?

a) Dance sneakers (add 10 points)
b) Tango shoes, but not 4 inch high Comme Il Fauts (add 10 points)
c) 4 inch high Comme Il Fauts (add 20 points)
d) Flip flops (add 10 points)
e) Barefoot (add 10 points)
f) One shoe on and one shoe off (you are obviously the belle of the ball)

6. Hairstyles for men:

a) Full head of hair (add 10 points)
b) No hair (add 10 points)
c) Balding (add 10 points)
d) Massive elaborate head-turning byzantine comb-over (add 10 points)
e) Toupee (add 10 points)

7. Men's dance skills:

a) Dance to the beat (add 10 points)
b) Don't dance to the beat (add 10 points)
c) Many dragging and leaning movements in your repetoire (add 10 points. Indeed, you must be the head of some Toronto Tango organization)
d) Many ganchos, voleos, colgadas and volcadas in your repetoire (add 10 points. See 7c) above)
e) You don't do "steps". "Steps" are for monkeys. Real men just walk with their eyes closed (add 10 points)
f) Sometimes you trip and drop your partner on the floor (You must be really good to be that fancy. Maybe you are an instructor! Add 20 points)

8. Women's dance skills:

a) No adornments (add 10 points)
b) Many adornments (add 10 points)
c) Continuous ochos (minus 10 points)
d) Spontaneous ganchos (minus 10 points)
e) You unintentionally flip your partner's "little brother" with your knee (minus 50 points)
f) Expressions of moist glistening ecstasy (add 50 points)
e) You unintentionally flip your partner's "little brother" with your knee while wearing an expression of moist glistening ecstasy (For some men, you can add 100 points. For other men, you can minus 1,000 points)

9. My conversations with my dance partners on the dance floor consist of:


a) Neutral chit-chat (add 5 points)
b) Blank awkward stares (no points)
c) Sarcasm (minus 5 points)
d) Mild flattery (add 10 points)
e) Unabashed pandering (add 20 points)
f) "Oh... My... GOD! You're the most AMAZING dancer in the world EVER. I don't even need a Medium! Your dancing totally channels the spirit of D'Arienzo/De Angelis/Di Sarli/Rodriguez/Pugliese etc. I SWEAR your dancing makes me feel POSSESSED!" (add 100 points)

10. Official Toronto Tango Status:


a) Male newbie (minus 5 points)
b) Female newbie (add 20 points)
c) Male veteran (add 20 points)
d) Female veteran (no points)
e) Tango DJ (add 25 points)
f) Tango Organizer (add 25 points)
e) Tango Instructor (no points. Last time I checked everyone in Toronto is an Instructor, so it isn't really that much of an advantage)
f) "Fabio" (add 100,000 points)

11. Bonus Round - "Literary Affiliations". You are:

a) Not a Tango Blogger (no points)
b) A Tango Blogger (add 25 points)
c) The Tango Blogger who blogs for "Irene and Man Yung's Tango Blog" (minus 50,000 points)


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Come on, guys!

This past weekend was filled with sad festivities as our milongas and the Toronto tangueras and tangueros got set to say good-bye to Victor Hugo.

We went to both Paradiso on Friday night as well as Victor's own Milonga Sentimental on Sunday night. The dancers were out in force. But no despidida would be complete without the age-old tradition of the "Goodbye Dance"! Legions of dancers lined up and patiently waited for their turn to orgydance with the departing one, and of course, the usual mild clichéd humor ensued - people cutting in the line, guys lining up with the girls to dance with Victor, guys doing adornments while dancing with Victor, etc., etc.

This was a great chance to watch all the followers in "action" with one of the top leaders in Toronto.

But hey guys, what happened? Where's the mile-a-minute toe tapping/knee-lifting/leg-flapping, the "not really following but putting on my own show", the "just doin' my own continuous ochos", the "you dance salon-tango while I flail around nuevo-tango style" and all those other fascinating following trends? With the exception of one newly-minted tango instructor/milonga organizer/disciple of "Fabio!" who has now adopted that shoulder spasm also known as "the shrug"- all the followers danced beautifully and actually followed. Is there some kind of "World Cup" of tango following going on that no-one has told me about? If that's true then judging from the beautiful dancing I saw last weekend Toronto is definitely a front-runner.

How depressing. Keep this up and I may have to lose my sense of humor.

Tango Hell - Sorry, only nine circles available! Reserve your spot now!

Tango "Fruits de Mer", Nuevo Flailers
Circle I Limbo

Toronto "Milongueros"
Circle II Whirling in a Dark & Stormy Wind

Tango bumper-car navigators
Circle III Mud, Rain, Cold, Hail & Snow

Face Dancers
Circle IV Rolling Weights

Tango Borg of Villa Mosquita
Circle V Stuck in Mud, Mangled

River Styx

Ta-Chango practitioners
Circle VI Buried for Eternity

River Phlegyas

Tango resume exaggerees
Circle VII Burning Sands

Thrusters/Humpers/Pumpers/Grinders, Ex -Ballroom turned Tango expert "Re-Inventors"
Circle IIX Immersed in Excrement

"Fabio"
Circle IX Frozen in Ice

Design your own hell



I swear to god, I just pressed a key and this popped up all by itself!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hasta Luego, Victor Hugo

This is from the broadcast email from Paradiso today:

Dear tango friends,
As most of you know, Victor Hugo Sanchez is going back to Mexico for an extended stay.
In recognition of his contribution to the Toronto Argentine tango community and because he is such a cool muchacho, Paradiso will have a special milonga in Victor’s honour on Dec. 12.
As we wish Victor “Bon Voyage”, we will be saying “Welcome” to Alison Murray and Carlos Boeri who will entertain us with a tango demonstration on the same night. It’s never boring at Paradiso!
$10 Admission this night includes class & milonga
8:30-9:30: class
9:30 - 2:00 am: milonga

We're going to make sure that we are going to be there - Victor is one great guy. His contribution to Toronto is undeniable. Not only is he a truly generous teacher with great musicality, he always dances from his heart. We're going to miss him and hope that he comes back soon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Adela Galeazzi and Rino Biondi - Milonga Traspie

This proves that blogging is a truly public enterprise - Adela Galeazzi read my recent post about her and sent me a link to her muy lindo milonga traspie performance with Rino Biondi at Maipu 444. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Elba Biscay

As it is getting pretty close to term end and due to the bias of the course towards "Marx-hugging" (I should have known when I walked first walked into class and noticed that 90% of the male students were wearing different versions of Marx-beards - is it a trend? Or does it really improve your ability to comprehend Marx? Unfortunately, I've tried but I still can't grow one so I can't confirm this for myself), I am now attempting to do my utmost to write an essay about how Marx's whole philosophical oeuvre does not make me want to run screaming to the hills (and failing miserably - sorry, I'm not a "Marx-hugger").

This means much less time to blog. But still, I can always make time admire one of the most wonderful milongueras we know - the beautiful and talented Elba Biscay!

The first time I really saw how a real tango vals should be danced was a video that Alberto Dassieu gave to us of his exhibition with Elba at Glorias Argentinas. I've posted it before, but I'm posting it again now:



Here's a more recent video of Elba, this time dancing to the same vals (D'Arienzo's "Valsecito Criollo") with her campeonato partner Antonio Juffre:




And here is a video of Elba Biscay, Adela Galeazzi, Rueben Harymbat (a.k.a. Ruben de Pompeya) and Antonio Juffre doing a little "Milonguero humor" sketch for the crowd at La Milonguita:



Not only is Elba Biscay one of the best followers we've ever encountered (I wish I could dance like her! She is all musicality and entrega with out-of-this-world skills as a follower) she is just about the nicest person ever. I'm embarrassed to say, we crashed her birthday party back in March at Glorias Argentinas but she was totally cool about it and made us feel at home. Further proof that goodness and great tango dancing are part and parcel of the same package.

Dear Elba: Thanks for all your hospitality, and thank you for being a great example for this follower and all followers on how to really, really dance tango!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ancient Chinese Wisdom Part II

Confucius says:

In a pond without fish...

... the shrimp is king!

Apparently all you need to build up your local personal private tango community is to take these tiny little egos (ooops, I mean eggs), add water, and PRESTO!

You'll have lots and lots and lots of shrimps that will have a lot springy tango shrimp action

Alas, despite all your good intentions, your shrimps may not be able to dance to the music or navigate on the dance floor. But you know what, do not fret - every one of those shrimps will feel extra-special about their own tango prowesses because there's nothing for them to compare themselves to except other shrimp.


Look ma! Those shrimps are not only not doing the cabaceo,
they aren't even following the line of dance!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The TALLEST of the Seven Dwarves



Group photo of the MOST "illustrious" Toronto Tango Instructors!

I've been pondering this question posed by Johanna as a response to my previous post:

Blogger Johanna said...

Irene, do you think common sense and Tango are mutually exclusive?


Which leads me to ponder: what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Does tango tend to attract and congregate the worst egoistic, nonsensical, self-deluding types, or is the tango community just a reflection of what humanity really is?

Of course, it is true that there are good, honest, honorable, kind, wise people in tango (otherwise, participation in tango would be completely unbearable), but let me just spend a couple of seconds bitching about the bad ones.

Toronto tango has been having an incredible influx of "new tango teachers" lately, as if we didn't already have one to one tango teacher/tango student parity. Of these newly minted instructors, there are good dancers, mediocre dancers and abysmal dancers - unfortunately more of the later than the former. In fact, many MORE of the later two than the first.

What makes all these mediocre/abysmal (or even so-called "good") dancers think that they are qualified to teach? How do they justify to themselves that they really have sufficient talent in dancing and teaching to produce students that will not add to the already quite large cesspool of mediocrity (or worse) that is World and Toronto Tango?

Over the years, many people have suggested to Man Yung and I that we should start teaching, (or have invited us to perform at the Toronto Tangofest, or the CNE etc.) but we have refused. Thanks but no thanks - we have a pretty lucid understanding of our abilities, and what it is that we want (and should be getting) out of tango. We are not DELUSIONAL.

However, many people are DELUSIONAL. If you are clearly a mediocre/abysmal dancer (I mean that you are clearly lacking in some basic skills of tango, i.e. you cannot do more than one rotation in a giro, you can't really execute moves that are not semi-choreographed, you can't tell the difference between dancing to the beat and dancing to the music, you can't navigate on the dance floor, you can't dance milonga or vals properly as you dance them as tango but faster and - let's face it - you walk like any of the scarecrow, tinman or the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz) why are you teaching? What is going on in that little head of yours?

Let me do a little mind reading and come up with some of YOUR justifications, ok?

1. EVERYONE knows that Toronto is a backwater town when it comes to tango. Since I am Argentinian/Latin/American/European/Spanish-speaking/French-speaking/German-speaking etc. etc. and I come from a way more traditional/sophisticated/trendy/innovative culture and I've spent a great deal of time in Buenos Aires "The CAPITAL OF TANGO" you toque-wearing hockey-playing ignoramus Torontonians should learn from me!

2. I have "worked with" (oops, what I mean is "taken the classes of" - no harm in a little resume padding) the GREATS of Tango and I have a resume with a list of workshops I have taken (but that I remember nothing from) so long that to print it out will literally cause a destruction of a small forest.

3. You see, I have a really great "angle" to promote myself by - see TA-CHANGO, PING-PANGO, BALL-RANGO, CRAPARANGO, etc.

4. Maybe I can teach only beginners because since they have no tango knowledge they won't know how crappy I really am.

5. Maybe I should only teach beginners in, say Sudbury so there's less chance that my students will come out to Toronto and will be able to see how crappy I am compared to other dancers.

6. I have membership in a great little tango "clique" in which we not only dance with each other, we also flatter each other to the skies - not only is there "strength in numbers", having a lot of like-minded sheep friends (oops, I mean "tangueros and tangueras") telling me that "Mr./Ms. X, you are SUCH a great dancer!" is surely proof that I am really great!

7. I AM THE TALLEST OF THE SEVEN DWARVES, i.e. Sure, I know there are many better dancers/instructors than me, but since there are evidently so many so-called instructors that are worse dancers than me (the little short middle-aged guy with the greasy pony-tail and the pot-belly that keeps on tripping up and dropping his partners onto the floor, for example), I must be a great dancer by comparison and I should definitely get my butt out there and spread my tango DNA!

It's one thing to have the praise-worthy aspiration of "promoting Argentine Tango to the world", but if you are going to act on your well-intentioned impulses, please make sure that you are not deluding yourself and that you have the skills to a) actually dance AND teach tango and that b) you are not just doing this for your ego because you are pathetic in the other areas of your life.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Common Sense


An excerpt from a pretty good post on Tango-L today by Melina Sedo (partner of Detlef Engel, their website is here):
I find it so very important to make everybody understand, that you
need to respect the codes of polite behaviour, when you're in a
Milonga. It's not even about Tango-Codigos, it's just basic
instinct. ;-)

-You do not invite someone to dance, who avoids eye-contact to you.
-You do not sneek up from behind and surprise him or her.
-You do not interrupt a serious conversation.
-You do not assume, that every person will love to dance with you,
even when she has never had the chance to see you on the dance floor.
-And, if you happened to "break" this rules: You do not insult
someone, if this person declines politely to dance with you: nobody
is OBLIGED to spend time hugging you.


Unfortunately all of this happened a lot to me during our recent tour
to the US, even in the "very traditional" Milongas:

I am used to being invited by the Cabezeo/Mirada and I rarely accept
a direct invitation out of several reasons: Very often I am just
tired after a day of classes or I have not seen the person dance yet,
so I avoid eye contact. Or I am doing something else, like resting
between two tandas and drinking a glass of wine or talking to
someone. Or of course, I just don't want to dance with this person.
So, if I get invited in such a case, I decline very politely and
always with a smile. I do not want to hurt anybody.

But: Apart from being forced to decline direct invitations of
stangers so extremely often in the US, I got some real rude
reactions, like an omnious "You made a big mistake", uttered in a
threatening voice.

Sometimes, things like that happened MULTIPLE times at the same
Milonga, once even with the SAME person.

And one man (an Argentine!) did something real strange: I was just
avoiding eye-contact with everybody as I was very tired and this man
came to my table and asked me. As I had declined already declined
three (!) direct invitations during this one Tanda, I told him very
nicely: "Excuse me sir, I'm quite a traditionalist, so I don't accept
invitations at the table. I'm so sorry." He smiled and stepped some
meters away and looked at me in a Cabeceo-like-way. I was so stunnd,
that I accepted his invitation, but later on I was even more surprised.
He told me, that he was an Argentine and uses the Cabeceo on a
regular basis. But: I had not reacted like the argentine women do:
they look, if they want to dance with you! So, I asked him, WHAT DOES
THAT MEAN NOW? THAT I DID NOT WANT TO DANCE WITH YOU!

Unbelievable, but true.
Sometimes, truth is stanger than fiction... ;-)
Dear leaders: I am not being shy when I turn my head and look away when you are trying to get my attention. I simply just don't want to dance with you.

If I really, really wanted to dance with you I guarantee I will make you know it. Not only will I fix my unblinking basilisk glare on you in order to elicit the cabaceo, I may even do as some other ladies do to get dances - i.e. offer to take as many private classes with you as possible, plead and whine and grovel and beg for a dance while you are getting a beer at the bar, or perhaps even ambush you right as you are leaving the washroom.

So, until the day you find me waiting to pounce on you on the other side of the washroom door, please just ask my friends (who are not only much nicer than me - they are also not completely tired out by the dance stylings of Man Yung) to dance, ok?

Irene

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dancing with Cats

Only four more weeks until the end of class!

Unfortunately, as a result of way too much Marx, Emerson, Thoreau and now Melville (with a goodly dose of "head scratchin'" "deep thoughts" on how to subject Moby Dick to a Marxist "reading" - blah!) I have been having some truly bizarre escapist dreams lately, including one with "me" dancing "tango" with my cat - which could have been something terminally cute like this...

Except it wasn't.

Because it was more like this:

I thought that our cat's phlegmatic mien and decided elegance and agility in chasing its own tail round and round in giros would make him the ideal tango dancer in the tradition of El Chino, or maybe even Fino.

Alas, not so. The human-sized tango dream version of our cat was a big, hulking, hairy, clumsy, lead-footed, up-and-down shuffler with no musicality.

Which makes me think that the ideal "dream tango" skill to have in cases like this would be the ability to play dead. Running away in slow motion would also be quite acceptable.*

* Also an option when confronted with a surfeit of Marx.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Irene vs. Man Yung, and vice versa

For all you folks totally scratching your heads and wondering just how Man Yung and I got to be such "great, trend-setting tango dancers" (Or not - and I refer you to this link), it's not all about "prodigious natural gifts", "exceptionally gnarly DNA", "extensive dance/music/movement training by the venerable old master Pai Mei" or even "born to be beautiful" (even though all of the above were certainly helpful).

We are going to let you all on a little secret.

The secret to the success of Casa del Tango de Irene and Man Yung (or not) is:


COMMUNICATION.




We would like to share this fascinating video on Youtube which aptly encapsulates the strenuous "thought-processes", the "working-out"-edness, and the endless "striving for mutual understanding" that would be the hallmark of "Irene and Man Yung's secret technique for COMMUNICATION in tango":





Jealous? Ha! I knew you would all be.

* By the way, Man Yung and I take turns being Batman. Which means that we also take turns being the Joker. In case you were curious - Nope, I didn't get what the hell Man Yung was talking about, and vice versa.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Excuse me, ma'am - who are you and what have you done with my wife?"


About three hours into our favourite Friday night milonga, Man Yung turns to me and remarks, "What's wrong with you? You have been dancing strangely all night!"

I, on the other hand, thought I had been dancing great. My legs couldn't look better in my lovely (newish) red suede leopard print Comme Il Fauts. In fact, I thought it was Man Yung who had been dancing rather strangely - all this gratuitous pushing and shoving when I thought I had been following perfectly and just gliding along!

Well, this decidedly non-complimentary stance that Man Yung was taking vis-a-vis my dancing "strangely" (in his opinion) does not dance harmony make. We were just about to top our escalating "heated exchange of salty Cantonese expletives" with a good ol' fashioned "fistfight" when I suddenly realized one thing.

It was the shoes.

We have been dancing rather "seriously" for the past few months (translation: We've been taking advantage of all the free time we had before my evening graduate classes started again, in fact, taking advantage of it so much we've been dancing until my feet hurt), so I have been dancing in tango shoes with heels no higher than 3 inches.

But what's a girl to do when she's got a closet full of Comme Il Fauts with heels not only 3 inches, but also 3.5 inches, and 4 inches high? You have to wear them sometimes, right?

And just by wearing a Comme Il Fauts with 3.5 inch heels, suddenly I was dancing like "Dynasty", or "Valley of the Dolls" or perhaps even "Desperate Housewives" (according to Man Yung), instead of plain old boring Irene!

If half an inch in heel height can turn me into a completely different woman, just imagine the transformative possibilities of the following....

FOUR inch high Comme Il Fauts

SEVEN inch high Comme Il Fauts (but they don't make shoes like these the last time I checked - pity because these would be perfect for pole dancing)

LEFT shoe at FOUR inches, RIGHT shoe at THREE inches (good for Milonga)

RIGHT shoe at FOUR inches, LEFT shoe at THREE inches (good for Candombe)

FLIPPERS (excellent for Swimming and for Colgadas)

CLEATS (to be really, really GROUNDED)

ONE shoe ON and ONE shoe OFF


I think I may actually be able to save a bundle on Halloween costumes this year!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Buenos Aires March 2008 Part I - Finally a Computer that works!

Finally, a computer that works!
From: Irene
Sent: March 2, 2008 1:01:27 AM
To: V

Dear V,

Sorry for the delay in getting you an update, but I´ve been having the worst /%&$%"/&%!!! problems with accessing the internet. It took me forever to figure out how to use WiFi with the HTC Touch phone, and the computer in the hotel was somehow excruciatingly slow. In addition, we have had non-stop action here so there was no time to compose emails.

Unlike last year of the big flight-delaying snowstorm, we were actually able to get on our flight and leave on time! You won’t believe the amount of checking I did on the internet for potential weather problems here in Toronto and Chicago (not that bad news would make any difference – if you are delayed you’re delayed). Our “airport limo” to the airport this time was a minivan taxi. Man Yung thought it was great – cheaper and more space!

Waiting to board the plane from Toronto to Chicago, we saw a lot of women at the airport wearing a lot of lululemon, and using the lululemon bags (not the ones you buy, but the ones you get to put your lululemon purchases in) as handbags. I wonder, is this a good or a bad thing? Does this mean we can now use the Loblaws and Dominion enviro-bags as fashion statement too? I can tell you that in this respect Man Yung is already ahead of the pack.

We stopped at Chicago O’Hare airport for a connecting flight to Buenos Aires. The airport was great for several reasons. We didn’t have eat “mystery/surprise” airport food (the special airport restaurants, bars and food courts we’ve encountered always look like they have a fancy food offerings, but mysteriously/surprisingly, the food ends up expensive and bland), O’Hare had MCDONALD’S so we were able to eat McDonald’s (yeah, I know it’s McDonald’s but at least it is consistent McDonald’s). There were some really good deals at the Duty Free. We bought some ridiculously inexpensive Chivas Regal for Martha & Manolo, Osvaldo & Coca and Alberto, and the bottles came with a free gift – fancy orange and black wheeled backpacks with the “Chiva’s Regal” logo. We spent hours wandering the airport, checking out the stores and waiting for the connecting flight – I’d say that’s the miracle of booking through www.Expedia.ca: discount flights with extra long waits between connections.

The novelty of being in an airport still hasn’t worn out for me – perhaps because airport = anticipation of the pleasures of being on vacation? Everything seems wonderful – the generic “hangar” airport architecture (so you will get confused as to which airport in the world you are in), lots of “brand name” stores with tons of books and magazines and shiny new “travel necessities” that you don’t need but you would be always tempted to buy because you have nothing else to do, the spectacle of people frantically clawing each other out of the way for a chance to use the electric outlets to recharge their laptops, and a string of Wolfgang Puck themed restaurants charging $4 for a bottle of water and $12 for a sandwich from a fridge! There were also big banners all over the airport indicating that Wi-Fi was enabled in the airport. I tried connecting to it with my phone. Didn’t manage to do it but it sure killed time!

We flew American Airlines this time. I’m a Continental fan myself, but for a promise of a few bucks in discount I would fly any plane! I was disappointed that seats on the plane from Chicago to Buenos Aires did not have their own individual tv screen and video system – they had the old 80’s overhead tv screens in the aisles instead. And the only movie available was some arctic documentary narrated by Queen Latifah. I didn’t bother to strain my neck to watch.

It seems that the trend nowadays in airplane travel is to either 1) bring all your luggage on board as carry-on or 2) check in your luggage and then lose it. The overhead bins are always jammed to capacity, and late boarders have literally no place to put their carry-ons. The poor lady seated next to me was one of the late boarders. She was a business traveler so she had all her stuff in a wheeled suitcase that just squeaked by the airport regulations for carry-ons. Unfortunately, the overhead bins up and down the aisle on both sides were completely full, and the suitcase was too large to fit under the seat in front of her. She was offered the possibility of checking in that piece of luggage, but she refused. So what happened? She stuffed the suitcase in the narrow legroom between her seat and the seat in front of her. So, where did she put her legs for the duration of the 12 hour flight? One of these days I should draw you a diagram. She must have been a Yogi master, because she neither exhibited discomfort nor died of a blood clot. In fact, I was restlessly moving around about 10 times more than her throughout the flight.

We were seated right next to the washrooms at the back of the plane. I thought Man Yung would be bothered by this, but in fact he thinks that these are some of the best seats on the plane, www.seatguru.com be damned! It wasn’t really that noisy, and we always knew when the washrooms were vacant. With the additional space, we could always get up and stretch without disturbing all the passengers within a 5 seat radius. Why is it that people always seem to look so awkward stumbling from their seats and lining up waiting for the washrooms to be vacant? Well, we completely avoided the embarrassment of having to be airplane washroom queuer-uppers! In fact, in our privileged seating positions we could stare disconcertingly at the people in the queues - more free entertainment than you can shake a leg at.

A couple of hours before landing, the yogi master/business traveler next to me noticed that I was watching tango videos on my phone, and struck up a conversation with me. She was a portena who travels a lot to the States to do business – in fact, she was a doctor who worked for a pharmaceutical company in Argentina. She had just been to Buffalo on business, but she had also traveled to Toronto before, and liked it very much and had a good impression of Torontonians as being really friendly and nice.

I don’t know whether it would be possible in an chance encounter with a stranger from any other country (certainly I don’t think it would be possible with Hong Kong-ers), but our fellow traveler immediately treated us like friends after a very short conversation. We exchanged business cards, phone numbers, email addresses and was invited to go shopping! We knew we were going to be just too busy to take up on her invitation, but it was really so nice of her to offer. In our experience of Argentinians, they are so welcoming and so warm that they are more family than some of our actual family members. Going to Buenos Aires is like going home.

Since we arrived in Bs As it has been really busy. We arrived just past noon on Friday, and we had to call Alberto and M&M right away. After calling Alberto we immediately had plans for Friday with him, and M&M asked us to meet them in the Canyengue class on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Falling, Falling, Falling...


I've been too busy to read tango blogs lately, but I wonder if anyone has made a comment recently about the impact of the financial crisis on the tango scene? It is a timely and relevant topic, I doubt that anyone can think pure tango thoughts anymore without a goodly dose of worry about falling stock, falling property prices, falling pension values, imploding financial systems....

I just read in the paper that the Canadian dollar's value has fallen to 83.41 cents US. That's 26 cents less than the all-time peak of 110.3 cents US in November, 2007, less than a year ago. And there's no indication that the downward slide will halt anytime soon.

The Canadian Dollar today will definitely buy less Comme Il Fauts than a year ago!

I am aware of two schools of thought regarding foreign currency vs. prices in Buenos Aires (I'm sure there are more, but I won't get into that now). In these current dire worldwide economic conditions, the proponents of the 1st school will definitely bitch about the rising prices, how everything costs more, why isn't Buenos Aires cheaper, how misled they were now that Buenos Aires is so expensive etc.

I recently read somewhere on the internet a description of disgruntled tourists, loitering in the cafes, mortified at the prices and regretting their trip - "But we had already booked it months ago, we couldn't cancel so we had to come anyway".

The 2nd school of thought (which Man Yung and I belong to), would be concerned about the prices in Buenos Aires and the buying power of the dollar too. After all, we are planning to return next year, and the last time we checked, we hadn't won the lottery.

But more importantly, we are more worried about how our friends in Buenos Aires are doing, whether they can get enough income from their teaching, whether they can meet their day-to-day expenses - in all whether the economic crisis is adversely affecting their lives. Buenos Aires is their home - whatever the economic outlook might be, they must live with it, and it is not a question of booking a one-way plane ticket out of there.

Yes, lodging and transportation and everything is going to be more expensive the next time we go, however, we are fortunate in that going to Buenos Aires for us will never be about how much stuff we can buy, how many milongas/classes/festivals we can attend, or how many fancy meals we can afford.

A nuestros queridos gran amigos porteños: We love you and we are thinking about you every day. We pray for your good health and happiness, hope that everything is ok, and we look forward the joy we will feel when we embrace each other again in Buenos Aires. Hasta entonces,

Irene y Man Yung

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

2008 Canadian Federal Election

We're going to the polls next Tuesday!

Man Yung doesn't want to vote this time. I understand his reluctance. We're confronted with a virtual Smörgåsbord of potential Prime Ministerial candidates to choose from. Some of the delights on the menu include:


NDP Leader, The Honourable Doctor John Gilbert "Jack" Layton: *

(yep, the one with the geeeeeeitar)

Conservative Leader, The Right Honourable Stephen Joseph Harper: **

(yep, the one with the teeny kittenzzz)


Liberal Leader, The Honourable Doctor Stéphane Maurice Dion:***

(yep, the one without the cluezzz)

...Wow, finding a good candidate to vote for is exactly like trying to choose a good leader to dance with in Toronto!

Man Yung says, "Let's vote for the dancing monkeys instead!"

* Distinguishing features: Snarly, snarky
** Distinguishing features: Lumpy, grumpy
*** Distinguishing features: Dumpy, frumpy


Friday, October 3, 2008

Marx


I've been trying to read some of the assigned Marx readings for my grad course, but I find that I am falling asleep within seconds of opening my hefty volume of David McLellan's "riveting" anthology of "Karl Marx: Selected Writings".

Am I getting 1) tired, 2) old or 3) both? Or have I succumbed to a virally induced strain of "Marx Narcolepsy" that medical science has yet to know about?

One distressing symptom is my complete alienation from the desire to either a) make ice cream or b) eat ice cream.

At this rate I'm going to rapidly lose weight and finally become the skinny stick-insect x-ray tango-junkie flaquita-ista I've always aspired to become!

Just think about it, with all that extra Marx-induced sleep, I will finally have the energy and drive to accomplish what I have always wanted to do i.e. RULE THE (Ontario, or maybe at least Toronto) TANGO WORLD. I may even find in my Marxist dream state the inspiration to emulate the marvelous dance stylings of the fabulous harem-pants-wearing partners of "Chicho"/"Pulpo"/"Homer"/"John Doe"/"Fred Bloggs" etc

Face-dancing, shoulder-shrugging, butt-shimmying, arm-lifting, pelvis-grinding, roomworkingschmoozing tango/trance/ecstasy, here I come!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Camicando 2009


Just exchanged emails with Martha and Manolo yesterday - Martha reminded me to spread the word about the CaMiCando festival to all Toronto tangueros/tangueras. It's only 6 more months away, and there will be special events to celebrate CaMiCando's 5th anniversary!

All details about the CaMiCando festival, including dates, prices, the classes offered, teachers' biographies etc. are available on the CaMiCando website here.

We've been to the festival for two years in a row now, and we are already making plans to go next year. Many of the people we've encountered at the festival have also attended the festival multiple times - for example, one of our friends in Germany whom we met at the festival in 2006 also attended in 2007 and will be attending with her parents again for 2009. For us, and for many of its other alumnis, CaMiCando is really like a family reunion.

FYI - Martha's message to Toronto: "It will be lovely if a lot of people from Toronto came to the festival." *

* As for OUR (i.e. Irene and Man Yung's) message to Toronto: Yes, it would indeed be lovely if lots of people from Toronto went to the festival. If you choose to go, you will enjoy yourself, meet other wonderful friendly tangueros/tangueras from all over the world who will remember you and email you after the festival is over, and learn lots from top teachers who actually want you to learn what they are teaching.

But we know what you guys would rather be spending your money on (e.g. this or this or perhaps even this)! Contrary to what you think, we actually don't mind that you would rather waste your time - in fact, we find it rather marvelous. As Man Yung often says quite possessively,
"Martha and Manolo are mine, all mine! - MWWWWWWAAAARRGGHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!"**

Alberto Dassieu and Paulina Spinoso - Pugliese's "El Arranque"



One of the many things I admire about Alberto and Paulina is that when they dance, they really dance TOGETHER.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Adela Galeazzi

For all of you followers out there who really want to adorn...



Adela and Pedro dancing to Di Sarli's "Siete Palabras" at Milonguita

Please try to learn how to do adornments like Adela Galeazzi.

We encountered these videos of Adela on Youtube.

We don't know Adela very well, but we were struck by her footwork the very first time we saw her dance in Glorias Argentinas in 2007. Here was this striking, beautiful milonguera with four-inch stiletto heels, doing the most precise, grounded, musical footwork with the greatest of ease. Her walk was so grounded it seemed that her shoes could make groves on the floor, but her following was so light and agile she floated like feather - an incredible combination. The milongueros that danced with her didn't want to let go of her - including milongueros from the show Milonguisimo like Horacio Prestamo.



Adela and Pedro dancing to D'Arienzo's "Pabellon de las Rosas" at Milonguita
(this video has been sped up at the end probably due to processing error)


Adela (and also Geraldine Rojas, by the way) doesn't "do" adornments - she owns them. The difference between Adela, Geraldine, and most other followers who "do" a lot of adornments is a question of unity. It's not a matter of knowing this adornment, or that adornment, and trying to incorporate them into your dancing - it's a matter of being "one" with every aspect of your dance.

We hope that we will have the good fortune to be able to see Adela's exquisite dancing again the next time we are in Buenos Aires.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Clarification regarding "Blog Swarming" Part II - Debate about Open Commentary/Open Identity

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Blogger Movement Invites Movement said...

I&M,

It doesn't seem like we misunderstood your post at all, but we see you do not want it to relate to our situation.

Amusing that you believe it's "WRONG" to have closed comments. Killing can be seen as "wrong"... closed comments though? Wow. We are not censoring anyone's comments. They can write whatever they want. We just don't want it on our blog and we see absolutely NOTHING wrong with that. If we are to have open comments, we believe it is necessary to "converse" with those who comment. We are easily drawn into debates. However, we do not have the time or the interest to do so presently.

We explained why we do not have open comments on our blog and it seems like a waste of time to explain it again here. Perhaps one day we will have open comments (and it is something we are considering), until then, it is our choice.

As for our real identities. In Toronto, we do not hide the fact that we write this blog. We even post the link to the blog on our Facebook and we talk about our blog. However, we do not see why people should have to know exactly who we are. We are just "small potatoes" who go about writing OUR TRUTHS. Strangers around the world do not need to know who we are and what we look like simply because we write a blog.

Wonderful for the both of you that you have the "balls" to speak your mind to anyone and everyone. We do not all have that ability and it does not in itself make someone a coward (a negatively charged word for someone who is timid). Jorge is a product of his upbringing - being Finnish and having been brought up by a timid (single) mother who only knew how to "make nice" have contributed to his character. He is not a coward because it is virtually impossible for him to speak his mind in person (which is the very reason why he has not been able to say no to women who ask him to dance). Being able to say your thoughts, whether in full view or in hiding, is generally better than not saying them at all.

We respect your decision to maintain your blog the way you do. You obviously do not respect ours... and that's OK.

J&K

September 12, 2008 3:07 PM

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Blogger Irene and Man Yung said...

Wow, so many comments for one post! We should really talk about the "Blog Swarm" more often!

Los Movimientos:

We understand not wanting to be drawn by "nameless/unknown bloggers" in cyberspace into debates but what if we (for example) or Roxana and Fabian (for example) want to comment on what you say? We have no easy way to do it except by posting our comment as a post on our blog. Anyone who reads your post straight from your blog will not be able to access our commentary unless they were following our blog at the same time. We cannot even say whether we agree or don't agree with your interpretation of some of ideas that you have quoted from us - in this we have found ourselves "appropriated" and then "censored" by you, for good or bad. Your "own truth" on your blog becomes a suppression of other legitimate truths, other legitimate voices, that may or may not dissent with your perspective. Surely a little inconvenience and the expenditure of a little bit of your precious time would be small sacrifices for the sake of free speech - "Don't throw away the baby with the bathwater", so to speak. We're sure you can more than hold your own on any debate however tedious, repetitive and drawn out it is.

For us, we believe that open commentary/open identity is to do with free speech and also really, truly standing by what you have to say - and defending it to the death if necessary. For us it is not a matter of convenience or time - it's a matter of principle.

But then it also goes without saying that it is also a matter of principle that we do not intend to dictate (although we believe we are entitled to our opinion) how someone lives their lives, or direct (although once again we believe we are entitled to make suggestions) how someone runs their blog. The final say regarding both is entirely up to you.

September 12, 2008 4:45 PM

Clarification regarding "Blog Swarming"

The following is the comment we received from Movement Invites Movement, and our comment in reply. We feel it is necessary at this time to clarify exactly the intent of our comment to Miss Tango and our post.


Blogger Movement Invites Movement said...

You have articulated perfectly one of the many reasons why we don't have open comments. Could you imagine the "Blog Swarming" that would occur (and has basically occurred on another blog which referred to ours)?!

We agree with you that the post was a very sneaky attack on Janis. At the very least, it was poking fun at her in a typically "high school" fashion.

September 12, 2008 10:44 AM

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Blogger Irene and Man Yung said...

Movements:

Although we appreciate your support of Janis, you misunderstand the intent of our post. It's one thing to point out when there's "Blog Swarming" at work - and quite another thing not to allow any commentary at all. Pointing out "Blog Swarming" when it occurs is part of fair commentary. People can agree, or disagree with us, just as they wish.
Not allowing commentary at all is censorship. We are opposed to censorship. We are not afraid for people to comment, positively or negatively, or even with the intent of "Blog Swarming", on our views. An opposing opinion may turn out to be quite right, or quite wrong - but total censorship is definitely WRONG.

Regarding the intent of our comment to Miss Tango, the first point we wanted to make is about people jumping on the bandwagon to personally attack a specific target - and not because they had been personally offended by the said target, or have some personal issues regarding the said target, but only because it appears trendy to do so to become part of the "in group" which is engaging in this. This kind of aggression really is totally unnecessary, and reveals a part of the "bullying" aspect of human nature. We've observed that it has been going on for a while now, and we felt compelled to point it out.

The other point we wanted to make is regarding anonymous attacks or attacks by pseudonym. This is something we find absolutely reprehensible. Hiding behind anonymity or a facade is the resort of cowards. We wouldn't say anything here on this blog that we wouldn't say to someone face-to-face.

In light of this, we would ask you to consider opening up your blog to comments, and to write your posts using your real identities. Most people in Toronto already know you but we think it is only fair that your worldwide readership has a chance to get know who (the real) you are as well.

These were the crucial points in our comment on Miss Tango's post.

Irene and Man Yung

September 12, 2008 12:53 PM

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Blog swarming


I just submitted the following comment about this post:

What, is it hip now to make sneaky personal attacks on certain other tango bloggers just because they speak their mind and they actually know what they are talking about? One blogger becomes the target of antagonism and then suddenly everyone jumps on the bandwagon in this "blog swarming" to try to look like they are part of the "in" group. Ridiculous and so "High school". Anonymous: There's a word for someone who attacks others while hiding behind anonymity - it's "COWARD".

You are bullies. And this is "blog swarming" - THE tango cyber-trend of the future, which tech-savvy tangueros and tangueras will now engage in to increase their "tango-cred" instead of learning to dance better.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Lito and Lidia Filippini - dancing to Biagi's "Lejos de Ti"

Back when "tango champions" were really and truly champions, competition or no:



Lidia is one of the featured milongueras in the clip I used from "El último bandoneón" several posts ago. Janis Kenyon also has a recent post about Lidia and Lito Filippini here.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Are you sure you really want to see "Irene and Man Yung Dancing" - Yikes!

WARNING: Dear readers of delicate constitution: Reading this post or viewing any of the videos included in this post may cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, sharp stabbing pains in the cornea, general malaise, psychological disturbances, recurring nightmares, or worse. Man Yung and Irene are not legally responsible for any damages or adverse effects that may arise. You have been forewarned. Proceed at your own discretion.


We have just received a comment from Nancy about our previous post on “Looking for Bahia Blanca”. We reproduce her comment, and our reply, as follows:


Nancy said....
Let me get this straight: these folks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0tDqE5SbEU

are criticizing all the above couples for their musicality and over-embellishments?

September 6, 2008 10:23 AM


Irene and Man Yung said...


Dear Nancy,

You are absolutely right, we also agree that in that video, there is a problem of synchronization in the video with the music. Whether that it is a problem with the video recording and posting process on Youtube, or whether it is a problem with our dancing - we cannot be 100% sure of either. The only ones that could be the judge of that are the people who actually witnessed that performance live at Lulu Lounge.
As for the right to criticize, have you ever been to a restaurant and had found something unacceptable about the food? Would it reasonable for the chef to respond to your complaint by saying "You have no right to complain because you are not a professional chef, you don't know what you are talking about?" We are not professionals, we are just "small potatoes", but it doesn't mean we are not entitled to our opinion. Just because someone is a "Master", it doesn't mean that everyone else not dancing at their level or with the same level of fame and power will have to censor their opinion about the said "Master" - this would be an affront to free speech. As Maria Nieves has said in an interview (this was posted by Janis Kenyon on her blog post about Maria Nieves recently): "Nobody is the owner of the truth in tango." It is always important to have a public forum for discussion, and by presenting our post as such we are opening the forum for comment on this topic (such as yours).
As for embellishments, I have as recently as last week admitted on this blog that I was once a bad an amateur adornista as any in the Tango world. I now have a problem with thinking too much about not doing adornments (instead of following). No matter whether I am here or there with respect to adornments, it is an evolving process and a process of learning for me.
The video of us dancing last August at the Amnesty International benefit was not posted by us. Perhaps it was posted by somebody who wanted to embarrass us with an example with our own horrible dancing? Anyway, we have to apologize to you, Nancy, and to any other unfortunate persons who has stumbled upon this video for any distress caused, especially if you had to run for the bathroom and wash your eyes out with soap after this trauma!
We hope that if people wish to post candid videos of our dancing on the internet in the future, they are duly warned to print a "Caution" notice beneath the video as follows: - "WARNING: Watching this video may cause psychological damage and recurring nightmares. Irene and Man Yung are not responsible for any damages arising from such action. Proceed at your own discretion."

Thank you for your comment, we look forward to more comments from you in the future!

Irene

September 6, 2008 9:13 PM


We are only aware of two unfortunate candid videos in existence on the internet in which examples of our dancing make their ominous appearance. As part of our ongoing public service “Warnings and Dangers”, we have decided to post both of them below in order for the public to have full advanced notice of such perils.


Here's the video that Nancy refers to of our Canyengue performance at the Amnesty International benefit in August of last year (Avert your eyes!):


And here's the video taken by an unsuspecting bystander of the Kensington Market open air milonga in June of this year, which unhappily includes the terrifying footage of yours truly:


No, we confess we are not the lovely couple in white performing all those death-defying awe-inspiring moves – that would be Toronto's very own Jack Gibney and Mona Paris. In this video, Man Yung is dressed in a navy polo with khakis, while Irene is wearing the blue lululemon top with the black skirt and blue shoes. You may still enjoy this video of tango on a lovely summer day in Toronto – but be warned to omit viewing of portions of the video from the times 0:46 to 1:04, 1:13 to 1:30, 1:58 to 2:12 and 2:24 to 2:40, as these portions of the video include shots of the two of us - we repeat our initial warning regarding nausea, dizziness and sharp stabbing pains etc. and once again deny responsibility for such effects in the event that you decide set your eyes on such.


We can only hope that our efforts here on advance warning will be able to prevent any trauma that may arise in the event an unprepared member of the public inadvertently stumbles on such horrifying amateur attempts at "Tango" from Man Yung and Irene while innocently surfing the internet.


ONE LAST WARNING: Now that the public is aware of what Irene and Man Yung looks like, the public is duly forewarned to avert their camcorders whenever there is even the remotest possibility that dance examples from Irene and Man Yung may be recorded and posted on the internet. Trust us, you do not want to frighten children, traumatize the healthy or perhaps even kill those with existing serious medical conditions with potentionally dangerous eyesore. YOU HAVE BEEN FOREWARNED

Friday, September 5, 2008

Looking for Bahía Blanca


Bahia Blanca: "A la ciudad que me vió nacer"

Ever since Sally Potter danced her “Milonga Triste” to this tango with Fabian Salas and Gustavo Naveira in an abandoned barber’s shop, we have been blessed with a veritable potpourri of interpretations of El Señor de Tango’s signature tune.

We know that Carlos Di Sarli was born in Bahía Blanca, and that he had tenderly dedicated the score of his composition to the city of his birth. We also know that this is a beautiful tango, filled with feeling and nostalgia. But what does it all really mean?

Since neither Man Yung nor I can ever profess to know anything, we can only humbly look to that venerable institution YouTube for answers. And in YouTube, not only is there potpourri - if you wish to go by the thesaurus, you may also find a ragbag, assortment, hodgepodge, collection, jumble, variety, medley, assembly – all in all, a cornucopia with a random sprinkling of cambalache:

Osvaldo Zotto and Lorena Ermocida



Question: "Mr. Zotto, what does it all really mean?"
Answer: "It means that Ms. Ermocida dances robotically without regard to following the lead while trying to do as many adornments as the music cannot possibly allow. We hope that people will look past the music and concentrate on her footwork. Because if they can't get the music (and I bet you 99% never will), at least they will get an opportunity to fiddle with their feet. You are aware, of course, that Ms. Ermocida is part of a very lucrative "Lady's Tango Week" festival every year? You should go. Not only will you learn lots of extra adornments - you also get to gawk at Pablo Veron!"

Daniel Naccuchio and Cristina Sosa





"Ouch! My back is so straight I am literally giving myself a hernia. That's the key to winning the Campeonato - stiff upper back and plenty of enrosques. What was the question again? Oh, the music - of course it means, 'swirly feet, swirly feet, double swirly feet' - is there any better way to evoke the notion of 'ocean'? No, to interpret this tune you don't need to follow the music - ever hear about water having musicality? Ridiculous."

Chicho and Lucia Mazer




Man Yung: "Actually, this is not at all bad. Chicho's musicality is pretty good - not 100% dead on, but mostly fine. This is one of the highlights of CITA 2004, in fact. Too bad stuff like this has set off an explosion of 'Folks, it is now acceptable to dance bad nuevo to good traditional tangos.'"

Fabian Peralta and Virginia Pandolfi





Man Yung:
"This is a surprise, Peralta looks like he is concentrating real hard on interpreting this! I don't think I've actually seen him dance better. Except that his partner is sometimes going faster than he is leading."
Irene:
"Do you think that green tea + Ovaltine would be a good ice cream flavour? .... Oh, you were talking about Fabian Peralta."

Orlando Paiva Jr. and Mariana Meling





Man Yung:
"Watching this, I'm starting to feel a little Bahía Blanca."
Irene:
"You dissed this two years ago when you first saw it. I told you it was pretty good."
Man Yung:
"He wasn't dead on with the music 100% of the time the last time I saw this - and he still isn't dead on."
Irene:
"Whatever."

Orlanda Paiva and Geraldine Rojas in “Assassination Tango”




Man Yung:
"What little we could see of the performance is pretty darn good. Can you see that Geraldine does not do a single adornment from the moment she starts dancing to the moment that the camera cuts away to the shot of the people gabbing?"
Irene: "Too bad that most followers are only taking notice of Geraldine when Geraldine is adorning - rather than when she is not."

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

So, what does Irene think about when she dances?

I used to think about what adornments I could do at every given moment. Now I think about not doing any adornments.

I think about whether the current music is any good, and what should be played to make the tanda better. I'm also on the lookout for anything that might inspire a blog post. I'm also looking at the door to see whether any friends/strangers/regulars have shown up.

I am also wondering if the "Four-Directions Bumper-Car ride" leader will crash into us and cause Man Yung to start a fight. Or I'm rolling my eyes at Man Yung's crazy moves and thinking that he dances funny.

I'm worrying about a wardrobe malfunction. I'm thinking about how long I will be able to dance without my feet hurting.

If it's Friday night, I'm thinking of what I'm going to do on Saturday morning (usually involving a trip to Wal-Mart). If it's Saturday night, I'm thinking about what to do on Sunday morning (usually involving a trip to the Supermarket). I am often contemplating ice cream flavours.

Sometimes I'm thinking about the funny joke I just heard while chatting with my tango friends. Perhaps I may be still giggling over the joke. Once I couldn't stop snorting with laughter while dancing with a certain distinguished older gentleman. I had to disguise it as coughing/choking/gagging, because it wouldn't be pleasant for the said gentleman to think I was laughing at him.

The only things I don't think about are 1) Winning the Campeonato, 2) Tango Blog World Domination or 3) Actual World Domination.

In fact, I've actually evolved to a point in which I can appear to be dancing but in reality I'm totally and utterly absent!

Following my example is not recommended.

Please follow Ofelia's example instead:



One final note: Entrega in Tango can be achieved in any embrace.

80 kilos = 176.4 pounds?

I have a good friend in tango who is one of the best followers in Toronto. If there is anyone who is truly "Milonguera" here, it would be her.

All the leaders that have had the privilege of dancing with her know what I am talking about when I say that she is one of the best followers. But does she care that she is one of the best followers in Toronto? Does she mentally replay all the lovely compliments that she receives from the people she dances with and the people who observe her dancing? Does she lie in bed awake at night thinking about where she is ranked on the fabulous echelon of great dancers in Toronto? Does she even read this blog religiously to see whether we have mentioned her name in the context of "great following" or "great dancing"? Does she even care she is "Milonguera" or not?

Actually, no. Therein lies her secret.

She started to learn tango around the same time that Man Yung and I started. Although she felt immediate love and affinity for Tango music, she has never done more or less than any normal, sane person trying to learn the tango in learning how to tango.

Sure, she took some group classes, and maybe a handful of private classes when she was a beginner - but she has never shelled out thousands of dollars for private classes week after week for years from the top instructors. She doesn't attend every single milonga and practica available, and when she does appear at a milonga, she dances only a few good tandas with the best leaders - and enjoys all of them. She has been to Buenos Aires (once), but she didn't take classes from morning to evening every single day and then burn herself out by staying at the milongas until 5 a.m. in the morning every single night. She doesn't have a thousand pairs of tango shoes. She rarely watches tango videos on Youtube, and she doesn't read tango blogs (even when I send her links). She has no idea who Rick McGarrey is, and couldn't care less. She enjoys tango music, but neither the music nor the dance are all-consuming obsessions for her. She has no desire to be DJ, instructor, performer or to become any sort of authority on either the dance or the music. She has a well-balanced life outside of tango - in fact, in living her day-to-day life, she actually has great long moments in which she is not thinking about tango at all (GASP! HORROR!)

Yet, despite all this and despite not having previous dance training/superior alien DNA-infused genetic makeup/Argentinian ancestry etc., my friend is a beautiful tango dancer. That's because when she dances tango, ALL of her dances tango. And when I mean ALL, I mean not an iota more, and not an iota less.

"Not an iota less": This means she is not thinking about who to dance with next, whether she looks good in her outfit today, what she is going to do on the weekend, whether or not to invest in that particular RRSP, etc.

"Not an iota more" (and this is the tricky one): This means she is not thinking of what she should do in the dance to make herself more impressive, more elegant, more stylish, more musical, more "milonguera/tanguera". She is not thinking about about what adornments she should nor should not do, in fact, she is not even thinking about her feet. She is not thinking about adopting any currently chic embrace or fashion or idealogy just so she can appear more "authentic" or "legitimate" in anyone's eyes. She is not thinking about dancing like Samantha/Geraldine/Andrea/Corinna/Milena/Eugenia/Villa Urquiza/Villa Devoto/Nuevo Tango/Nueva Pompeya/Barracas/Boedo/Lanus/Retiro whoever or whatever, and it would not make her any less tango if she did not have to fantasize about emulating someone else's style.

Here's an excerpt from a documentary "El último bandoneón" (The Last Bandoneón) by Alejandro Saderman. In this excerpt, you can also find examples of tango dancing by three women who dance with their "ALL": Margarita, Lidia and Ofelia.








This is priceless:

Javier Rodriguez: "Dancing with women like them is something different. It's not because they weigh 80 kilos. They don't weigh 80 kilos... they are 80 kilos... of tango."

For women like Margarita, Lidia, Ofelia, and my good friend, whether 80 kilos (or 50 kilos, or 150 kilos) equals 176.4 pounds is completely irrelevant. The real question is the question of being. When these women dance, they ARE tango.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Shu-Ha-Ri

From Wikipedia:

Shuhari
is a Japanese martial arts concept, and describes the stages of learning to mastery. It is sometimes applied to other disciplines, such as Go.

A rough translation of the three stages:

  1. Shu ("protect", "obey") — traditional wisdom — learning fundamentals, techniques, heuristics, proverbs
  2. Ha ("detach", "digress") — breaking with tradition — finding exceptions to traditional wisdom, reflecting on their truth, finding new ways, techniques, and proverbs
  3. Ri ("leave", "separate") — transcendence — there are no techniques or proverbs, all moves are natural
Back in my Goju-Ryu karate/martial arts days, this was how students were supposed to progress in "The Way of the Empty Hand" ("Karate-Do" - "Karate" meaning "Empty Hand", and "Do" meaning "The Way".)

The concept of Shu-Ha-Ri can be applied to the mastery of any discipline - even Tango.

In the "Shu" stage, one starts off in Tango learning the basics, adhering to fundamentals. In the "Ha" stage, one takes what is learned in the "Shu" stage but starts to find new applications, new directions. In the "Ri" stage, one transcends - and "forgets" about conscious adherence to the techniques one has learned for perfect free expression of one's dance.

But since we are all apparently Tango geniuses in Toronto (can you say "tango teacher to student parity"? Every second person you talk to is giving private classes. Bet you can't get that just anywhere), Toronto has it's own very special take on Shu-Ha-Ri:

1. Toronto "SHU" - See ad for latest workshop. Pay for and take the said workshop.

2. Toronto "HA" - Adamantly do your own thing at the workshop irregardless of what is being taught. Maybe even teach a "better version" of the workshop material to your hapless workshop partner.

3. Toronto "RI" - Promptly forget about everything you learned at the workshop. You weren't paying attention anyway.

This way, Toronto tangueros/tangueras can constantly maintain a state of blissful uninterrupted transcendence, and yet have something nice to add on to their resumes! A win-win situation all around.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Valsecito Criollo

Alberto Dassieu and Paulina Spinoso performing D'Arienzo's "Valsecito Croillo" in Switzerland back this past July:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

This is not Dolly

Irene's artistic interpretation of Man Yung's perception of the tango dancing in Hong Kong:




Good job, folks! Congratulations are in order.

Alberto Dassieu

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