Thursday, July 24, 2008

Raining

I just read a beautiful post yesterday by Sallycat here.

Among the many wonderfully evocative and nostalgic things she says about her rainy day in Buenos Aires, she said the following which strikes a chord with a current preoccupation of mine:

If it rains today and so no-one goes to the Milonga, then maybe it will not be there when the sun shines and you are in Buenos Aires and feel like getting out to dance.

Man Yung and I always try to support the various local milongas - by our attendance. We are only dancers, after all. At various times in our tango existence, we've been to milongas that had over 100 people, and milongas with only 3 people. Maybe it is easier for a couple, because we could always dance with each other - but no matter the numbers, we always went.

People are fickle. They flock to the newest temporary thing in town with much enthusiasm just because it is trendy to do so, without any thought about the consequences of their withdrawal of support for the local milongas that have been there for them, week after week, month after month, year after year.

Maybe it is in most people's nature to take things for granted and to always embrace the most new-fangled thing. A few years ago "Milonguero Style" was "In", and then it was "Nuevo", and then it was "Villa Urquiza". One year ago everybody was posting tango videos on the internet - and now, even the most prolific video posters have become more or less silent, their self-promotional video campaigns having fulfilled their purpose.

If no-one is going to bother to dance Tango today because something brighter, newer and shinier has caught their eye, maybe Tango won't be there anymore when we finally realize that we had given up and taken for granted this really great thing we had.

But for Man Yung and I, come rain or shine, we will still be dancing Tango.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mango Ice Cream Recipe

If you have noticed the less than frequent posts on this blog lately, you are right - Irene and Man Yung have been LESS annoyed than usual. Summer is in the air, people are (generally) following the line of dance, we have not seen hide nor hair of "Fabio" in months (apparently he has realized that he has to actually pay to get into the local milongas) and we have been enjoying some incredibly delicious homemade Mango Ice Cream at home!

When we lived in Hong Kong back in the 70's and 80's (or in the 1850's, if you happen to be as old as Man Yung), there used to be basically only one dairy company for the whole colony called "Dairy Farm". I used to live in a low-rise apartment about 500 metres away from one of their cattle sheds in Pok Fu Lam. Apart from the scintillating preview of the smell of "Fabio" that oftentimes wafted our way on the breeze, it was nevertheless always fun trying to sneak a peek at what they were doing over there with all those cows.


Wikipedia says these are the Pok Fu Lam Dairy Farm cow sheds. I remember living near more dingy and less museum-worthy cow sheds. Maybe there were inferior sheds in Pok Fu Lam for the 2nd-rate cows, kind of like how some less than superior tango towns end up hosting lots of 2nd-rate Fabios?

Well I'll be damned, there's a Tango connection in all these pre-senile reminiscences! Apparently, the old Dairy Farm Depot at 2 Lower Albert Road, Central has now become an arts facility called "The Fringe Club". Which hosts a milonga every 1st Thursday of the month called "Milonguita".


The Fringe Club, formerly the old Dairy Farm Depot

Well, back to the main topic, the only ice cream available in those days in Hong Kong was the "Dairy Farm" brand. Most ex-pat Hong Kong-ers would agree with me that no matter how far we travel, and however distant Hong Kong is to where we are today, we all still retain vestiges of nostalgic longing for pre-packaged, cardboard-y "Dairy Farm Lotus Cups" of coconut, pineapple, honeydew melon, and of course, mango flavoured ice cream.

Until, that is, you are presented with a one litre container of Irene and Man Yung's homemade Mango Ice Cream!

Irene and Man Yung's homemade Mango Ice Cream


Ataulfo Mangoes

1 kg of ripe mangoes (I think I actually used 1.25 kg or something like that, but the more the merrier. I used Ataulfo Mangoes because they are sweetest and most fragrant)

One 300 ml can of condensed milk (my secret ingredient for all "asian" inspired ice cream flavours)
One cup of half and half
One cup of whipping cream
One pinch of salt

Peel mangoes and remove all the flesh, squeezing the juice and pulp from the pits if necessary. Dice mango flesh and puree with the condensed milk, half and half, cream and salt. Freeze in ice cream maker (like the Cuisinart ICE-30BCC) - and voila!!

Makes two scrumptious litres.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tango Microeconomics

Man Yung came across this in one of the books he was reading and made me go and find it on the internet. I found it here at http://netec.mcc.ac.uk/JokEc.html

Experienced economist and not so experienced economist are walking down the road. They get across shit lying on the asphalt.
Experienced economist: "If you eat it I'll give you $20,000!" Not so experienced economist runs his optimization problem and figures out he's better off eating it so he does and collects money. Continuing along the same road they almost step into yet another shit. Not so experienced economist: "Now, if YOU eat this shit I'll give YOU $20,000." After evaluating the proposal experienced economist eats shit getting the money. They go on. Not so experienced economist starts thinking: "Listen, we both have the same amount of money we had before, but we both ate shit. I don't see us being better off." Experienced economist: "Well, that's true, but you overlooked the fact that we've been just involved in $40,000 of trade."

Man Yung has been watching "Numb3rs" recently and this intriguing economics problem set his mind in motion with regards to its "real life application" to the field of "Tango Microeconomics". For example:

Tango Dancer A reads the ads for the latest visiting "Fabio" workshop ("The Best Tango Classes You will EVER have!", they proudly proclaim), decides to attend and spends X amount of dollars for a zillion group and private classes with the said "Fabio". Tango Dancer A then goes to the local milonga and proceeds to alarm and assault everyone around him with the large and awesome moves (and overwhelming aura of superiority, after all, he learned from the great "Fabio" himself!) he paid good money for in this tango opportunity of a lifetime.

Tango Dancer B sees and envies the fabulousness that is the newly re-minted Tango Dancer A, so Tango Dancer B waits for the next visiting "Fabio" to give workshops ("The Best Tango Classes etc., etc. X TWO!!") in his area. Tango Dancer B spends X amount of dollars for a zillion group and private classes with "Fabio 2". Tango Dancer B then goes to the local milonga, and proceeds to alarm and assault everyone around him (including Tango Dancer A) with his large and awesome moves, etc. etc.

So how does the local Gringo Tango Community benefit from all of this? Let's see... a couple of bruised shins from all those the flying linear boleo combinations, a fist-fight almost breaks out for the entertainment of all the tango folks, and the teacher to student ratio progresses closer to parity in the Community (i.e. somewhat like the Canadian to U.S. dollar exchange rate) as Tango Dancer A and Tango Dancer B both decide to teach as they are now qualified to enlighten everyone around them with their newly gained astounding tango wisdom.

So, at the end of this story, did the level of dancing go up, or did it actually go down?

We can't really answer that question, but we can definitely conclude the following:

1) Consumption of excrement in 2008 went up.
2) The "Fabios" are laughing all the way to the Bank!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Slogan


Man Yung raised an interesting point this week. We don't know whether Beijing has been/will be able to achieve what is represented by the current Olympic slogan. The last time we checked some VIP international personages were still reluctant to go to the "big party", there are still rampant rumours of repression and human rights violations, and getting the sporting venues in shape for the big event is becoming quite a nuisance and a nightmare for the people who actually have to live around those venues.

Kind of difficult to achieve "One Dream" if some people are dreaming of their Olympic glory while others are dreaming "Olympics, Schlympics, please sod off!"

It's ironic that it may not be the entire might of the political machinery of the most populous nation in the world that achieves "One World, One Dream".

In fact, it's even doubtful whether the mighty forces of Cosmotango could do it.

If there's anything that achieves "One World, One Dream", it has to be the silly "Dancing" YouTube videos of Matt Harding.

What more can we say? Lots of people from around the world happy, healthy and dancing.

One World. One Dream.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

World Dance

Matt Harding, the protagonist of the "Dancing" videos on Youtube, expressly states that he wasn't intending any kind of "message" in making the videos he has pieced together with clips of his dippity-do-dah dance in different countries across the globe (except maybe, "Stride Gum sponsored me").

His videos are goofy and popular, and I must be the last person on earth to have viewed them, but I like them:




Although I am not advocating that people start dancing willy-nilly in the milongas with their elbows sticking out amok-style, there must be something worthwhile in "the act of doing a goofy dance en masse in different countries in a non-message like manner".

Maybe it's Matt's attitude that I admire. Must "dance" have a message? Why should "dance" be elitist? Can't dance just be some sort of nebulous, undefinable physical expression of joy which could be universally shared and understood by all humans, regardless of race, culture, or nationality?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fitting in with the "Natives"

Tango Gringos/as, we really sympathize with you, we really do.

Going to Buenos Aires for the first (or second, or third, or thirty-fifth!) time is truly a bewildering experience. A whole different system, a whole different culture! All those people speaking spanish so rapidly! All those pesky "codigos" you have to worry about in the milonga - when ALL YOU WANT TO DO IS "BOOGIE LIKE THERE IS NO TOMORROW" (Sorry, I mean DANCE TANGO).

You feel otracized, you feel like people are looking at you strangely, and the worst thing is, PEOPLE WON'T DANCE WITH YOU. You feel that everyone knows the "Secret Handshake" and they have very cruelly omitted to tell you.

Never fear, Irene and Man Yung feel for your plight, and we hereby present:

Irene and Man Yung's "GUIDE TO FITTING IN WITH THE "NATIVES" IN BUENOS AIRES MILONGAS"

1. Be Prepared. Be Very, Very Prepared.

It's one thing to be grooving at your local milonga, where you are already King of the Hill/Queen of the Heap, everyone knows your name and the Champale (or Bud Light) is sparkling and always ready on ice for you at the best table in the room.

It's another thing entirely to be in a BUENOS AIRES MILONGA, where you are not even minor nobility, let alone Milonga King or Queen, when people are just refusing to acknowledge your existence. Obviously they have not had the time to truly appreciate your specially-ordered, carefully-assembled, "Forever Tango"-sanctioned tango regalia, nor have they seen all the fascinating moves/steps/adornments/floleo boleos you have been diligently been copying from YouTube.

All we can say, you must over-compensate for this woeful situation by being PREPARED. And by that, we mean VERY, VERY PREPARED. There's nothing like being prepared for everything and anything to make you feel like one cool cat, a total RICO SUAVE.

Extra tango shoes? Check. Different outerwear for 20 degree, 10 degree, and sub-zero temperature weather? Check. At least three different pairs of Crocs? Check. Four changes of shirt, pants and underwear? Check. Entire set of toiletries, including blow dryer, extra deodorant, soap and shampoo? Check. Portable GPS system just in case you get lost getting back to the hotel? Check.

The key is, DON'T HAUL YOUR GEAR IN PLASTIC GARBAGE BAGS (please see our previous post for our enlightening comments on this issue). Do you want the Argentinians to laugh at you?

What you need is top-of-the-line prestige travel lugguge, and you are all set! It is easy to hide all your gear underneath the table - just VERY POLITELY tell the Argentinians sitting nearby to move a little out of the way so that they will not step/trip/get their stilettos caught in all the straps of your backpack.

Or, if you want to be extra prepared, we have the following idea for you:


All your gear, safely secured by Pac-Safe exomesh and chained to any immovable fixture in the room! You may even want to pack your hiking shoes, yoga mat and sleeping bag within the mesh as shown in the handy informative illustration. The Argentinians will definitely be impressed with your confidence (you have nothing to hide), your ingenuity (WTF is that, man? It is Pac-Safe!), and you can boogie all night and not give a second thought to the security of all your worldly goods.

2. Carry your own personal translation device

As you may have realized by now, Argentinians speak a lot of Spanish. Why so many of them have not bothered to learn English is a mystery, because, as all gringos/as know, EVERYONE should learn English.

We know that you have tried out of "respect" for Argentinian culture to learn a few handy Spanish phrases (don't be ashamed to admit it, we've seen that Barron's travel phrasebook peeking out somewhere in that Pac-Safe exomesh) - but why do Argentinians look so confounded when you open your mouth, and stubbornly refuse to understand what the hell you are saying? All you want to do is ask them to dance! It's not like you are trying to explain the theory of relativity.

Put down that Spanish phrasebook immediately - you will only confuse your listener and yourself. Let us let you in on a secret.

The key to making foreigners understand you is simply to speak ENGLISH. BUT LOUDER.

The decibel level of your voice is directly proportional to the level of understanding you will achieve in your listener. Let us give you an example:

If you say,

"Please, please dance with me."

You will get bewildered looks and zero response.

However, if you say:

"DANCE WITH ME NOW, (insert your own expletive)!!!!!!!"

Argentinians will be tripping over their feet to get on the dance floor with you.

Following that logic, you should not need a fancy-dancy electronic "Spanish to English" and "English to Spanish" translation gadget to navigate the murky dangerous waters of BUENOS AIRES MILONGAS, all you need is this:

Be sure to get the same model used by S.W.A.T. teams everywhere around the world to assist them in resolving hostage-taking situations. Not only will your loudspeaker be well made, durable, handy, and bullet-proof, you will now be able to ask people to dance not only from the tables around you, but from right across the room, and perhaps even from the milonga down the street!

You will spark a trend and before you know it, everyone will be asking other people to dance using a loudspeaker. Who needs "cabeceo" when you have one of these?

3. Bring Sneakers

Dancing Tango is tough on your feet. Especially when you have been cramming all the private classes, group classes and milongas you can fit in your tight three week Buenos Aires schedule. Tango from 9 a.m. in the morning to 5 a.m. the next day is HELL on your arches.

Luckily, the footwear engineers at Adidas, Nike, Reebok and other sportswear companies have spent millions of dollars to conduct decades of research in order to ensure the continued podiatric health of their consumers. It is a well-known fact that state-of-the-art, comfortable and functional footwear is mass-produced by children in third world countries who really need the jobs and widely available at very reasonable prices.

In addition, did you know that contemporary Tango Gringos/as have chosen to participate in the "Forbidden Dance" at just the right time in tango history? Due to the style-setting trends of MASTER dancers like Chicho Frumboli, Fabian Salas and 95% of the cast of Cosmotango, the pivotal question is no longer "Where should I change my shoes at the milonga?" but "What kind of sneaker should I wear at the milonga?"

For the ladies, this is also an option:


Your feet will thank you for all that extra arch support (and quite possibly thank you even more than for bringing your Crocs, because as everyone knows, Crocs are ugly and you can't dance in them). And there's nothing like a little sneaker to enable the intensive leading skills you have been practicing with all your buddies at your local milonga! Again, the Argentinians will be tremendously impressed.

4. Method Acting


Did you know that Marlon Brando once convincingly played the character of an Okinawan villager for an entire movie? And that he was equally convincing playing the character of famous Mexican rebel Emiliano Zapata in another?

To what did he owe his astonishing, trans-cultural feats of thespiatic glory?

METHOD ACTING.

And now you can use it too to fit in the culture of the BUENOS AIRES MILONGA.

Feel like the wait-staff are ignoring you? You have been waiting 15 minutes and no-one has taken your order, or you have been waiting 15 minutes since you have ordered and still no-one has brought you your pizza?

Do you feel the humiliation? Do you feel the neglect? Does it bring back memories of your childhood?

CHANNEL your inner rage with METHOD ACTING, and feel free to jump up and down in your seat, wave your hands in the air, scream and yell your frustration, throw stuff at the waiters to get their attention, and leave no tip!

Or perhaps you really feel the music, you really do. And you really want the world to see what you look like in the throes of tango passion, because then they will all be running, not walking to get a piece of what is YOU.

Can we recommend a little METHOD ACTING? A little bit of this never hurt anyone!

5. Make yourself at HOME


By now, you may have realized that all the aforegoing tips and tricks have been careful compiled by "yours trulys" to make you realize that, to fit in the BUENOS AIRES MILONGAS, the point is the point raised by every self-help book and personal motivational speaker since the beginning of time.

Repeat the following mantras: "Be Yourself", "Be Confident", and last but not least, "Make Yourself at Home".

The Tango Gringos/as who have the best time in the BUENOS AIRES MILONGAS, who always "fit in" and get the most dances, are the ones who treat the milonga like their very own home. Who can deny the confidence of those dancers who sit on the sides after a lengthy dance session, placing their bare tired feet on the surrounding chairs and airing them out as if they were in their own living rooms? And the raging attractiveness of all those lovely gringo tangueras, talking loudly on their cellphones with their legs stretched out and knees assertively spread and splayed in a nonchalant, devil-may-care manner?

Such seasoned Gringo Tango veterans have even been known to pay visits to Toronto at our humble annual tango festival to teach Toronto dancers a thing or too about "HOME-making" skills. At the very first one, we saw amazing sights like: people dancing WITHOUT shoes, leaders dancing in Bermuda SHORTS, people lying down for a NAP on the dance floor, and people eating McDonalds and discarding their used up water bottles, coffee cups and napkins EVERYWHERE. Just as if they were at HOME.

Even Man Yung and I were totally IMPRESSED.

6. "Oh, what the hell! What's so important about fitting in?"

For those out there for whom the task of "fitting in" with the culture of BUENOS AIRES MILONGAS is just too much of a chore, no worries and do not fret.

Buenos Aires is a big city, there's all sorts of people everywhere, and all kinds of places, and surely, there is a spot somewhere in all that space where you can just BELONG.


Whoops, how did that get in there? What we really mean is this:

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Packing Lists

Seems like everyone is planning to go to Buenos Aires these days. Just the past month at least ten people we know have gone/will be going on their tango pilgrimage.

Man Yung and I are planning to travel to Buenos Aires again next March for CaMiCando 2009 - it seems a long way away, it can never be too early to start preparing.

So, in the spirit of obsessive preparedness for any trip lasting more than 48 hours, we present to you:

Irene and Man Yung's "Traveling Gringo Essential Packing List"
(In no particular order of importance)


1. Eagle Creek Travel Accessories

Are you nerdy if your suitcase opens up to reveal a densely packed array of colour-coordinated Eagle Creek packing Folders, Cubes and Sacs? The answer is yes. But you will be organized, you would have maximized space in your suitcase, and your clothes will be completely wrinkle free! Beats putting everything in grocery plastic bags and stuffing them in willy-nilly - and having the customs people searching your luggage at the airport think that you are hauling garbage.

I LOVE Eagle Creek products - that means packing aids, travel comfort accessories, luggage, everything. I don't mind looking like a walking advertisement for their goods, because they make traveling so much easier. Man Yung is still partial to packing the "old-fashioned" way (does that mean wrapping your stuff with a tablecloth and tying it to the end of a stick?) and he grumbles whenever I pull out the nerdy un-macho Eagle Creek packing paraphernalia, but how can he possibly complain when there are always four pristine sets of clothes in my Eagle Creek double-sided packing cube for him to change into at the milonga, with a separate compartment to separate the dirty clothes from the clean?

2. Pac-Safe

If you are a travel paranoid like me, Pac-Safe is not merely an imitation neo-medieval torture device - it is a MUST for travel.

Pac-Safe has a complete line of products featuring flexible high tensile wire mesh and well-designed security and locking devices to foil any pickpocket or opportunistic thief. Slash-and-grab won't work on you, and no-one is going to get away with your camera equipment, computer, luggage, or other valuables unless they have bolt-cutters.

I love Pac-Safe so much (or should I say, "I am so paranoid") I am carrying a dorky black nylon "Metrosafe 200 Anti-Theft Shoulder Bag" around everyday instead of matching my handbag and accessories with my clothes and shoes.

I haven't been asked to lunch by the ladies who lunch lately. I wonder why?

3. Crocs


If you think black coloured "Crocs" are more "subtle" and less "noticeable" than fuschia or neon green coloured "Crocs", you are mistaken. The only way not to look like a fashion victim while wearing these hideous foam boating shoes in public is to either a) wear extra-long bell-bottom trousers that cover up your Crocs completely but drag on the floor, in which case be careful of tripping and please roll up your pant legs while visiting less-than-sanitary public washrooms, or b) be a Crocs ambassador and act so supremely confident that Crocs is your fashion statement of choice that no-one will dare question your satorial superiority in wearing "Crocs with socks" or "Crocs with wedding dress" (or you may even try "Crocs with socks and wedding dress").

However, your feet will thank you for providing a comfortable footwear alternative after that 15 mile hike in the desert, 14 hour tango private class/group class/milonga marathon, or even that 45-minute trek from Terminal A to Terminal B at the airport.

4. Pocketknife


Very handy if you are in the middle of an open air market in Paris and you have no other way to carve that rosemary roasted chicken for an impromptu picnic. You may choose any of the Victorinox or Wenger swiss-army knives for your choice of pocketknife - the included wine corkscrew gadget for opening wine bottles at your picnic is a bonus - but we prefer the Spyderco single-hand opening/pocket-clip folding knives for our day-to-day AND travel uses. Like cutting that string, slicing that lemon, removing that price tag, and fighting off those wild boars and killer "amok-style" clowns, etc.

5. "Luon"

Can you say comfortable, low-maintenance, easy-care, easy-wash, quick-drying, moisture-wicking (and did I mention comfortable already?) sweats with brand-name cachet? Yes you can!


Although I am still deeply disturbed by the unreasonably high prices, dubious moisturizing claims and the suspiciously cult-like "manifestos" and "employee motivational" practices of Lululemon, clothes made from their "Luon" fabrics are really comfortable and travel-friendly. And a lot of their clothes are so well cut and flattering they can double as tango wear (although some people would be greatly disappointed at their lack of sequins and fringes).

6. One-handed automatic open AND close umbrella

I know that a head-to-toe "Luon" travel outfit is quick-drying, but "quick" does not mean necessarily mean "immediate", and two hours of squelching in wet sweats and Crocs after a torrential downpour may be a little too much of an "invitation to pneumonia" for anyone's liking.

We got our one-handed automatic open and close umbrella at Mark's Work Wearhouse - smooth opening and closing action, sturdy construction, generous canopy - at a very reasonable price.

Because the last thing you would want while dragging your Eagle Creek luggage on and off the bus/train/taxi, rolling up your pants legs and fighting off hoards of wild boars and "amok-style" clowns with your pocketknife is ten rounds of mortal combat with your umbrella:

Monday, July 7, 2008

We had a very nice time, thank you very much

We didn't travel downtown to go to a milonga yesterday. We weren't in the mood to experience any AMOK - style tango.

So what could be better than two hours of our own music, a couple of portable canvas chairs, soft radiant late-day sunshine, refreshing breeze and a little gazebo dancing all by ourselves?




And we even had a "Irene and Man Yung's Tango Blog" first: we were actually joined by a good friend of ours in our gazebo tango expedition!

It was a perfect little tango interlude - except that we should have left for dinner by 8:30 p.m. because that was when the mosquitoes started to come out.

Hope that you had a tango Sunday just as pleasant as ours.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - Part 2

So, I was telling Man Yung about my "tango jump-kicking" blues and he totally agreed with me.

"Yes, it is true. You are getting too old for this kind of stuff," my totally supportive hubby remarked.

There goes my chances to star in the "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" sequel.

Then Man Yung thought a moment. And his face lighted up.

"But don't worry, we can fix that if we can get you to consume some 1000-year-old Lingzhi and 1000-year-old Heshouwu."

What Man Yung means is that I should eat this:



Ganodermi, also known as Lingzhi

With a generous helping of this:


Radix polygoni multi-flori, also known as Heshouwu

Young Lingzhi are already the size of small umbrellas. As for Heshouwu, this is what a 200-year Heshouwu looks like:


I can only imagine that a 1000-year-old one must be as big as VW bus.

As Man Yung puts it, "If you eat these special chinese herbs, you will experience a second springtime and regain your youthful vitality - and you will be able to do all the tango jump-kicking you want without getting a hernia!"

Wow man, I can't wait to find my very own 1000-year-old Heshouwu and Lingzhi so that I, too can experience my second springtime and audition for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - The Sequel" AND Cosmotango XXXVII. *

* Maybe I'll be able to ditch Man Yung and find my very own Fabio shortly after eating said Heshouwu and Lingzhi and entering into my "second springtime" - imagine all the fancy nuevo/show tango jump kicks I will be able to execute in my 50's, 60's, 70's (and if I am very lucky) 80's and 90's with Fabio! Fellow dancers, better watch out on the dance floor!

** I heard a rumor that Man Yung had discovered a couple of these 1000-year-old Heshouwu when he traveled to Northeastern China back in 1980. And I suspect he must have eaten one (as to where he was hiding it in our 800 square foot condo - I have no idea) when he started getting old and feeling his "manly powers" were not as strong as they used to be. Now he is dancing three, four even six hours in a row non-stop - coincidence? I think not.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - Part I


Ever been in the situation where you're a guest having dinner at someone else's house, and then some other guest from across the table says something so offensive to you that you wish that you could have leapt up four feet upwards from your seat, traveled clear across the table in full flight from the propulsion force of your leap, and executed a perfect spinning back hook kick right into the face of the offender?

It was one of those times I wished that a) there were no laws against this kind of thing, b) I should have practiced jumping-kicking moves more when I was training full-time in the martial arts.

Unfortunately, I wasn't much of a jump-kicker back in those days. Kicking was fine, it was the jumping part that I sucked at. Little did I know that my lousy martial arts jump-kicking would actually foreshadow my lousy tango jump-kicking decades later! As much as I would love to emulate all my show-tango nuevo-tango "heroes" on YouTube (and much to the disappointment of Man Yung), I couldn't tango jump-kick for the life of me.

There goes all my dreams of finding my very own tango-niche of "Kara-te-ango!"

This also means my brittle old bones will not let me do any of this:



Valeria Solomonoff, a "TangoMujer"

What a pity.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Pop Quiz

Pop Quiz: Which one of following choices is not an authentic Tango experience?

A) Randomly encountering what you perceive as Tango on the street and being compelled to film and/or photograph it.



Jack and Mona, Kensington Market Street Milonga, Toronto, June 29, 2008.

B) Encountering what you perceive as Tango in any milonga in the world, including the ones in Buenos Aires, and being compelled to film and/or photograph it.

C) Seeing what you perceive as Tango in the media and being compelled to learn how to do it.

D) Taking what you perceive to be Tango classes and thinking that you are learning how to Tango.

E) Listening to an Argentinian, native Spanish-speaker and/or Tango Professional tell you a long-winded history of Tango or give you long-drawn advice about dancing Tango and either i) thinking it is true, because the teller is either an Argentinian/a native Spanish-speaker/a Tango Professional; or ii) knowing it is false, but being too polite to interrupt the monologue because the teller is either an Argentinian/a native Spanish-speaker/a Tango Professional.

F) Being instilled in mantras like "You must dance tango with more HATE", or "Tango is a SEXY and SEDUCTIVE dance" or "Tango is all about the EMBRACE" and believing them to be true.

G) Buying and dressing up in full Tango regalia (all the flavours of "Tanguero/a", "Cayenguero/a", "Milonguero/a" and everything in between), thinking it gives you Tango "street cred", or believing that you have somehow morphed into what your costume represents.

H) Going to Buenos Aires, visiting Confiteria Ideal, La Boca and San Telmo, taking a lot of photos and being a flagrant Gringo Tango Tourist.

I) Going to Buenos Aires, avoiding Confiteria Ideal, La Boca and San Telmo, but going to Porteno y Bailarin, Nino Bien, Gricel, Sunderland, Maipu 444 and/or La Viruta etc. and thinking you are not a flagrant Gringo Tango Tourist.

J) Being ripped off/robbed/betrayed in or generally disillusioned by Buenos Aires.

K) Not being ripped off/robbed/betrayed in or generally disillusioned by Buenos Aires.

L) Learning all the moves from "Asi Se Baila el Tango", "Forever Tango" or "Cosmotango" and thinking that people should get out of your way when you are replicating what you have learnt on the dance floor.

M) Thinking that people should get out of your way on the dance floor because you are a Professional and any exhibition of your moves is educational for the public.

N) Not doing any "moves" but still thinking that you have the right to defy the line of dance/dance with your eyes closed/dispense with the skill of navigation just because: you are an Argentinian/a native Spanish-speaker/you have visited Buenos Aires many times/you have taken a lot of private classes/you are in full Tango regalia/you have danced longer than the people you are bumping into/you think you know what you are doing.

O) Dancing with your favourite Argentinian Tango Professional/Milonguero/Milonguera and having something to brag about to your tango friends.

P) Not dancing with your favourite Argentinian Tango Professional/Milonguero/Milonguera and having nothing to brag about to your tango friends.

Q) Falling in love with your favourite Argentinian Tango Professional.

R) Falling in love with and marrying your favourite Argentinian Tango Professional.

S) Falling in love with, being seduced by, and eventually being abandoned by your favourite Argentinian Tango Professional.

T) Falling in love with, being seduced by, being abandoned by and being cheated of all your money and self-respect by your favourite Argentinian Tango Professional.

U) Resenting the fact that you were not seduced by, abandoned by and cheated of all your money and self-respect by your favourite Argentinian Tango Professional - better luck next time.

V) Bumping into the visiting Argentinian Tango Professional doing drugs in the washroom of your favourite milonga.

W) Videotaping your Tango dancing and posting same on the internet for the enjoyment of the public.

X) Videotaping your Tango dancing and the Tango dancing of all your important Tango friends and posting same on the internet to boost your credibility as a Tango authority.

Y) Doing your post-doctorate thesis on Tango, and getting Hollywood to make it into a movie!

Z) Quitting Tango to devote yourself to other important things, i.e. Life.

ANSWER: FOLKS, THIS IS A TRICK QUESTION.

Alberto Dassieu

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