Monday, April 27, 2009

Irene and Man Yung's Illustrated Guide to "Successful Tango Publicity Poses"

A dear tango pal got in touch with us over the weekend with the big news – turns out that he is planning his own Tango Festival!

“WHAT!??!!!” you say in astonishment. “ANOTHER TANGO FESTIVAL ?!??!! Doesn’t the GTA (That's the Greater Toronto Area for all you folks who don't know) already have TWO, or is it THREE, or is could it even be FOUR regular (or something like that) Tango Festivals? Can you say OVERKILL?”

Superficially, this additional Tango Festival extravaganza may seem to be a little on the side of overkill – after all, our tango community has only about 5 dancers. However, don’t forget - we also happen to have 350 teachers, so we have to find something for them to do!

The venues have been booked, the classes have been scheduled, the prices have been set. The DJs have been carefully selected, and a whole roster of Local Instructors, Guest Instructors, Local Guest Instructors, Guest Assistant Instructors, Guest Assistants of the Assistant Instructors and Guest Instructors, Local Assistants of the Guest Assistants of the Assistant Instructors and Guest Instructors, Assistant Instructors and Guest Instructors, Local Volunteers assisting the Local Assistants of the Guest Assistants of the Assistant Instructors and Guest Instructors etc. etc. (forgive me if I have missed anyone on the list) - have been meticulously hand-picked from the luminaries of tango from all corners of the tango globe.

But how can he distinguish his Tango Festival from all the other Tango Festivals? What will be that extra special something that will make the people flock to his event, and not all the other twenty contemporaneous tango events within a 800 km radius?

Our suggestion: What you need to promote your Tango Festival and make it the big stand out is a nice big shiny poster showing all the Tango VIP's in all their enticing Tango Glory!

All those hours spent by Irene and Man Yung gawking at the free tango shows on Calle Florida are paying off big time, as Irene and Man Yung presents:

Irene and Man Yung's Illustrated Guide to "Successful Tango Publicity Poses"

You may be more flexible and athletic than a circus cortortionist. You may be dressed in full flashy black and red Tango regalia. You may even wear the current au courant "Someone stole my goat" Tango facial expression that signifies to the whole world that you are a serious Tango Artist. But what is your Tango Publicity Pose really saying?

EVERYONE knows that Argentine Tango is nothing other than "The Vertical Expression of a Horizontal Desire". Fail to adhere to this ideal in your publicity materials and your Tango Festival, Tango Event, Tango Spectacular - in fact, your whole Tango Career - shall suffer the consequences.

Let Irene and Man Yung help your Tango Publicity Pose with the following tips and tricks starting with a simple example - The "Standing Three-Legged Tango Pose":

1. Standing Three-Legged Tango Pose
A common enough pose. Does it make people think "TANGO"? NO! They are thinking about Merchant and Ivory movies and cucumber sandwiches.

TANGO is PASSION and ENTWINING and PENETRATION - in fact, it should be THIS (CAUTION: Illustration has been carefully censored to protect the minds of the underaged and non-parentally supervised):

2. Kneeling Tango Pose

For the slightly more advanced - The "Kneeling Tango Pose":


NO! NO! NO! It has no virility. It is FLACCID. In TANGO, MAN is MAN and WOMAN is WOMAN. MAN is not COOKED OATMEAL, and WOMAN is not PUREED APPLESAUCE. Your strong limbs must enter into each other's SPACES - there you will find TANGO. You must make it THIS:

3. Reverse Nuevo/Alternative Tango Pose

For the Nuevo/Alternatively inclined - don't think you are off the hook. You must make extra effort to be TANGO. This is what we see all the time - the "Reverse Nuevo/Alternative Tango Pose":


It is HORRIBLE. It is not TANGO. Where is the TANGO CONNECTION? Where is the TANGO FIRE? Where is THIS:

4. Reverse+ Reverse Nuevo/Alternative Tango Pose

All you Nuevo/Alternative Tangoists, you are very clever. You are innovative. You are vanguardista, as the Argentines say. You make a "Reverse+Reverse Nuevo/Alternative Tango Pose"....

... But all the Reversals in the world does not make your pose TANGO. You can do what you like to Australian Didgeridoo music superimposed with copious amounts of Gotan, but do not neglect THIS:

5. Lying Down Tango Pose

For the very advanced, very expert Tangazorias, we have the "Lying Down Tango Pose":

Dear lady, you are as fresh as a daisy and all the fainting violets. Did you have a pleasant nap? Well, please wake up, because your pose is not TANGO! In the throes of TANGO PASSION, you must not be DEMURE. You must do as the TANGOCHAMPIONS do at 0:09 and 3:10 of their riveting TANGO PERFORMANCE - they are not TANGOCHAMPIONS of the WORLD for NOTHING:
6. Standing-Up Tango Pose

We end this Guide by going back to basics. And yet, like you always hear about "Tango Embrace" and "Tango Walk" - "Tango Standing-Up" is one of the most difficult and intriguing of Tango Poses:

Do it wrong and you will look like you are merely engaging in the Argentine National Pastime - waiting for the bus, waiting for your VISA, waiting for your DNI, waiting for customs clearance - also known as "Standing-Up" in queue and WAITING.

What you need is some of this:

YES, you may not be ENTWINING with PASSION but you are PENETRATING each other with your GAZE.

If all else fails, try this:

Works as a Tango Publicity Pose, works on the dance floor, works even at home! An all-round WINNER!

Friday, April 24, 2009

GRICEL (And I'm not even talking about Monday's) - Is anyone else following this soap opera?

Has anyone else been following/enjoying Michael Ditkoff's reports about his first visit to Buenos Aires on Tango-L recently? Coincidentally, like us, he has been talking about his own personal experiences at GRICEL (See below. These excerpts have been taken straight from Tango-L. Click on each title to be directly linked to the post on Tango-L).

The moral of this story: SHHHHHHHHHHH! Don't say a peep if you have anything negative to say about GRICEL! (Boy did I learn MY lesson!) If you do (even if you are talking just about navigation) you will be criticized from top to toe about your ignorant lack of language skills, your naive lack of understanding of Buenos Aires culture and the codigos of the milonga, your gross and infantile misinterpretation of body language, your cowardly decisions, your embarrassing attempts to get a dance, and your total failure as a soulless, respect-lacking, Norteamericano dancer! Talk about getting maximum value for your money!

[Tango-L] Report from Buenos Aires #4: Before you dance



Here are some travel tips:
1) Buy the Insight fleximap of BA. It´s laminated so it won´t rip like
paper from opening and closing.The website is www.insight.com

2) Buy a BA Guide Book. Mine is lonely planet.

3) Get a copy of BA Tango Guide. Write to abatango@Yahoo.com and
you´ll get on the email list. It lists practicas, advertisements for
shows and lessons, and the milongas.

4) Arriving at BA´s airport
A) Go through immigration
B) Collect your luggage and go through Customs. The Customs
declaration form asks for your cell phone serial and model numbers.
C) Currency Exchange
Use Banco de Nacional Argentina at the airport and not kiosks. There
is no commission charge at the bank. If possible, get all the pesos
you´ll need. You´ll have to wait in line if you decide to do it in
town. In fact waiting in line at the bank is the Argentine national
pastime, not futbol.

There are windows inside the security zone. If they´re closed, there
are doors outside the security zone. Have your passport ready.
(Remember to bring a copy of your passport and credit cards) so in
case they´re stolen you know the numbers.

D) At a newsstand, buy Guia ¨T¨de Bolsillo Capital Federal. It´s a map
of BA showing ALL the streets by barrio. It has more detail than the
insight map.

E) Use Remise instead of Taxis to get into town. Remiss charge a flat
fare (about $100 pesos) whereas taxis charge by the meter. You pay the
rate PLUS tolls.

F) Buy some sunscreen if you come during the hot months. You can buy
it here as ¨dermaglos solar.¨¨
**********************************************************************************************************

Public Transportation

A. The subway ¨el subtle¨ (subterra´neo)
is easy to use. You can get a farecard called monedero though I don´t
know where. My guide had an extra which she gave me. You can add
value, just like farecards in New York and Washington, DC.

B. Buses
The bus routes are difficult to read in the Guia. In New York, they
are called buses, in Mexico called autobus and in BA are called
colectivos. There are 700+ bus routes, all operated by private
companies. Each route (outbound and inbound) is described in detail in
the back of the guia. However, when you look at a barrio in the guia,
you don´t see bus routes on streets. Each barrio is divided into map
grids. When I took my walking tour of Retiro and Microcenter, I found
the grids for both the house and Retiro (tour starting point) and
looked to see which buses operated in both grids. I found that bus 150
was listed in both grids so I took the 150 from the house.

There is a fare zone system. Tell the driver your destination. He will
punch a button that will display your fare on the farebox. Enter coins
(exact change) only. The machine will give you a ticket. Hold onto the
ticket in case transit enforcement comes on the bus to check for
tickets.
Fares range from 1.2 to 1.75 pesos depending on distance.

Because the bus companies are privately owned, there are no transfers
which means you have to pay an additional fare if you change to
another bus.

Tomorrow is laundry day and Gricel, which I haven´t been to yet. Today
I took a 6 hour walking tour of Plaza San Martin down to Plaza de
Mayo. (I bought the Living Earth(?) guide book. Tomorrow I plan a
walking tour of the Port or La Boca.

Reporting from Buenos Aires where it still feels like summer instead of fall
Michael Ditkoff
Washington, DC
--
I'd rather be dancing Argentine Tango

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[Tango-L] Report from Buenos Aires #5



When my father taught me how to drive (I took driver´s education for the 10% insurance discount), he taught me more than how to make the car go and stop. He taught me NAVIGATION! I remember going to a deserted shopping on an early Sunday morning to learn parking and stopping distances. Much the same happened when I learned tango, except it wasn´t from my father nor in a shopping center. Joe always told me about small spaces on the dance floor in BA and to be ready for anything. (In reflection, that was an understatement.) My final exam to come here was a 2005 Denver Tango Festival. Could I maneuver through the MERC? I managed quite well because everybody followed the line of dance. In fact, there were 2 lines of dance; one around the perimeter and another one inside that one. Both lanes moved independently but they MOVED and there was room for everybody. It was a sight to behold!! Down here, in the home of tango, it´s terrible. There´s a perimeter and then there´s the inside, I call the VORTEX, where powerful forces pull dancers all over the floor. People dance clockwise and diagonally across the vortex. The Argentines could find the line of dance if you gave them a map, compass, radar, and GPS!! I have a theory on the cause. I already wrote they love to talk when the music begins. I timed how long it takes for the line to move. It usually take a full MINUTE. Some begin to move at :15, :30, :45 and a few need the whole minute. A musical selection lasts about 3 minutes so 1/3 of the music is wasted on chatter. In the States, Americans are off to the races when the music begins. It´s rare you see a couple talking instead of dancing. And if the dance was exquisite, the couple will silently embrace between the musical selections. Couples don´t do that down here, but that´s another dispatch. Argentines don´t have a monopoly on poor navigation. It´s also in the States, but I don´t think it´s as bad. Nevertheless, I think teachers and milonga promoters should teach navigation instead of figures that can´t be danced in small spaces. But of course, ´Moving with the traffic' will never draw attention like "Colgadas-the missing ingredient from your dance." Alan Forde of the Atlanta Tango Festival said more than once "You´re not just dancing with your partner. You´re dancing with everybody in the line of dance.¨" Gricel has a rectangular floor. Tables face the front wall, seating 6. The tables are so close to each other, you can have trouble moving away from your table to dance. Your legs can get caught up in the chairs legs. (Mine did.) Dancers in the vortex were going clockwise and counter clockwise. Then tried to change direction at the end of the floor. BUT there were people behind them so the end just got jammed, like people getting on a bus but nobody wants to move to the back. Another problem is Argentine leaders can´t do spot turns to lead molinetes.The man moves over to the next lane and the woman slams into anybody who in the way. For me, I can´t tell is the man is going to try to return to his spot in front of me. I hope the Argentines drive better on one-way streets than they navigate on the dance floor. I´m probably finished for the night. I danced at Arranque and I want to take a walking tour of Recoleta tomorrow. I´ll try to send a milonga review before I leave. Just listing names of milongas really doesn´t help anybody. To paraphrase Garrison Keillor of A Prairie Home Companion That´s the news from Buenos Aires Where all the women dance in close embrace All the men need navigation lessons All the children speak Spanish Michael Ditkoff Washington, DC -- I'd rather be dancing Argentine Tango _______________________________________________ Tango-L mailing list Tango-L@mit.edu http://mailman.mit.edu/mailman/listinfo/tango-l

[Tango-L] Gricel



I was in Gricel the night Michael was there.  It was crowded.  This is a
milonga well attended by locals and by regulars. It is rare to see
people who normally do not come to this milonga. While some of us may
not come every week, we know each other.

There is navigation on this floor. Perhaps at times it may not be the
best but it is there. This is Buenos Aires at its best. A tightly
packed floor of dancers with hardly any room to move. There are several
"lines of dance" and if you dance here regularly you know where to find
them. If you are new to Buenos Aires and our milongas, I am sure it
would seem like chaos. The center of the floor is for newbies. The
outside is for more experienced dancers, the rest dance in the middle.
When the floor is very crowded it sometimes seems impossible, but
somehow the dancers always seem to find their way. The best dancers
wait until the floor clears. They rarely dance before this. Only if a
favorite dancer is going to leave or a favorite tanda is played.

There were no fights at Gricel. I have no idea what he was talking
about. In my 9 years in the milongas here I have only seen 1 actual
fight and that was in Niño Bien when a tourist got really drunk and
started throwing chairs. Sometimes men purposely bump into each other
and fake a disgruntled attitude, They always smile and hug afterwards.
Even when they do bump into each other and there are "some faces" and
maybe an exchange of words there is never a "fight". Perhaps Michael's
lack of the language is the reason he thought the men were fighting. I
have no idea how he could come to this conclusion. Fight in my opinion
would mean loud yelling and fists and there was nothing like this at
all. Nothing.

For the record, Michael actually came to my table and asked me to
dance. So much for his recognizing me and doing the cabaceo. He was
shocked when I turned him down. He was actually dazed when I had to say
no twice to him. He would not give up. I don't accept dances at the
table from strangers. From my friends who know I want to dance with
them yes.

Of course Argentine women danced with him, where is he? It does not
mean he is a good dancer, it only means he danced with Argentine women.
We have lots of new people in our milongas and they will dance with
foreigners. It is not like the old days or even when I first came
here. People are interested in dancing with new people. Not all of us,
but some of us. It depends on the milonga.

It does not matter how many years one has danced. There are plenty of
people here who have danced for 40 years that do not dance well. There
are others who have danced for less than 5 who dance very nicely. I do
think though it is very arrogant for someone to come here and judge the
milongas based on North American criteria. I think it is also sad that
he only went to a few milongas rather than to go others outside his
barrio. I don't know what he was so afraid of. He was more at risk
walking in his barrio late at night than taking a taxi. The worst thing
that could have happened is that he would have been overcharged by 5
pesos - a whole whopping $1.35 USD.

To come here and not experience the culture - the food - pizza,
empanadas, parilla, and the many other things that Buenos Aires has to
offer is sort of sad. This is a city that has so much. Buenos Aires is
tango. When people say they think that North Americans dance better
than Argentines? What your little feet are pointing better? You have
more figures? The one thing you do not have is that you do not
understand the music, the soul of tango. North Americans, generally
speaking are so concentrated on being the best technically they dance
without soul.

Perhaps if Michael had come to Gricel and tried to enjoy himself instead
of judging us on his North American values, he would have had a better time.




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[Tango-L] Fw: Gricel



>I was at Gricel Thursday April 16. I'm surprised it took Deby one week to >respond if she was actually there April 16. I danced at Lo de Celia which >is also very crowded with navigation problems. At Gricel, I stayed on the >outside. Just about everytime I did a molinete, there was somebody >different behind me, which means that men were jumping in and out of the >line of dance. > > I never wrote there was a fight at Gricel. I said two Argentines ARGUED. > It didn't look good natured from the look of the partner of one of the > men. She look absolutely embarrassed. > > Wrong, Deby. I didn't come to your table and ask you to dance. I don't > know who went to your table, but it certainly wasn't me! I don't go to any > woman's table and ask her to dance. I exclusively used cabeceo my entire > stay. > > My ONLY comment about the Argentines was on their navigation skills and > nothing else. > > The Argentines thought I was Argentine until I told them I wasn't. They > spoke to me in Spanish and I told them in Spanish I was a NorthAmerican > and that Spanish > isn't my primary language. > > I wasn't afraid to go out of my barrio. I didn't want to go outside. > Experience has proven that when the women see me at milongas in the > barrio, they are more likely to accept my invitation. I don't see any > reason to go to a lot of milongas and be a stranger at each one. At my > last milonga, El Arranque, I danced eight tandas, which is a lot. I > danced two REPEAT tandas with two women. One of them waved to me when I > walked in to let me know she was there. > > Deby's attitude is similar to other people who didn't like my postings. > Instead of offering corrections, like Shakruh on a woman declining an > invitation, they just launch into ad hominen attacks in public and private > emails. > > And Deby, I didn't have any trouble connecting with the women who wanted > to connect with me. I've lost count because it doesn't matter. It's not a > competition. > > Michael > I danced Argentine Tango- - with the Argentines
_____________________________________________________________________________


Monday, April 20, 2009

Something Refreshing...


There's nothing quite so irritating as the experience of having Nuevo Tango dancing couples bumping or gouging you with errant heels, knees and elbows at your local ultra-traditional milonga. And even if our dear Nuevo Tango dancers are not managing to take out chunks of flesh from the people next to them as they whizz by - if looks can kill, the Nuevo Tango dancers would be stone dead from the evil eye they are getting from all the other dancers when they dance like the masses should part like the red sea to give them space to demonstrate the newest thing from the Temple of Nuevo.

Let's face it: Nuevo Tango + our favourite Friday traditional milonga usually = Disco Inferno of the Worst Kind, a.k.a. Navigational Disaster. Nuevo Tango dancers would fare much better in less crowded milongas in Toronto on Friday nights where they actually play Nuevo Tango music and encourage a practica-like atmosphere.

That being said, last Friday's milonga gave us a refreshing surprise: Nuevo Tango dancers who were (on the whole) navigating well and not trying to stamp out extra space for their "Cosmotango Duet" by dancing dangerously or threateningly!

In North America and Europe at least, Nuevo Tango is here to stay - at least for now. We are not against people dancing Nuevo Tango - Dance, after all, is a physical expression of one's personal feelings about music, and Nuevo Tango dance moves are as legitimate as any other dance move when it comes to dancing.

What we are against are dancers who act like they own the floor and who will adamantly do whatever moves they damn well please - without any concern for crowded conditions or potential injury to other dancers. Nuevo Tango, by being inherently athletic and space consuming, is easily culpable ... but no more guilty than:

- the Tango Fantasia couple who stabs someone in the sternum while executing a gravity-defying lift
- the Tango Salon/Villa Urquiza couple who lacerates the naked exposed shins of the poor tangueras close by because they can't keep the adornments on the floor
- the Milonguero Tango couple who shoves other dancers into the side tables because they can't change directions on a dime, or
- the real Tango Navigational Idiots who repeatedly engage in unpredictable eight-directional rock-step bouncing so that no-one could avoid where they will land (and pulverize toes) next.

The Nuevo Tango couple we saw last Friday night are (somewhat newish) instructors, so obviously a certain high level of Nuevo Tango skill has to be attained before their refreshing navigational dance floor non-disturbance can be achieved.

For those Nuevo Tango dancers or wannabe Nuevo Tango dancers who don't have this kind of skill - it doesn't take a whole night's dancing to find out that you still can't make the grade. One or two awkward collisions on the dance floor are more than sufficient evidence that you should hone your skills even more - and PLEASE, at the local Nuevo Tango practica, rather than the crowded traditional milonga!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

El Mundo de Tango - meet your WORLDCHAMPIONS!

This was so absolutely fantastic it left me completely speechless:



"Demonstration Worldchampions Argentine Tango "

Apparently everyone knows that Tango a la Valentino or Forever Tango is no longer "authentic" enough - to be true "WORLDCHAMPIONS" you've got to try harder than that.

Of course, you still have to have the traditional "TANGO SHOW!" stuff like complex lifts, kicks, dips, throws, reverse position, spins, dramatic poses,"I can see your underwear" sequined skirt WITH fringe, and Fred Astaire + Ginger Rogers footwork - otherwise how would you distract the audience from their dinner? But in terms of "keeping it street, dude!" - these WORLDCHAMPIONS went all out. It's like someone collected all the "conventional" wisdom (and Youtube video clips) of everything they thought was the real "Argentine Tango", put it in a Blendtec blender with a generous helping of Olympic-quality athletic skill and incredible dance talent - and VOILA!

JUST LOOK at all those "authentic" touches that they've crammed in:

1. Gavito leans
2. Colgadas and Volcadas (a contemporary must for "authentic" Argentine Tango - see any of the clips of "Argentine Tango" demonstrated in any of the reality tv dance shows)
3. "In your face!" Close embrace (interspaced with really, really "Hey Ma! No hands!" Open embrace)
4. Multiple sacadas and ganchos, and wow! some steps even look like parts of giros
5. Face dancing (sometimes they are so overcome with TANGO PASSION they look like they are reciting dramatic dialogue to each other)
6. Not just lambada, but AERIAL lambada (at 0:13 seconds)
7. Imitation four-inch high Comme Il Fauts

They've even included a "bonus" performance of "WORLDCHAMPION Argentine Tango Salon" starting from 3:21 in which there is slightly less lifting (but almost as much kicking) to a version of Hugo Diaz's "Milonga Triste" .... in which a sexy voice-over chanteuse clearly proceeds to have the BEST ORGASM EVER - perhaps even better than this one:



I think I'll have what the WORLDCHAMPIONS are having!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Irene's "History and Origins of Follower's Adornment Techniques" - Part III

THE BACK BOLEO
(OF YOUR OWN SWEET VOLITION)


Well, this is not so much a "History and Origins" post but a complaint about one little adornment thing that Man Yung always wants me to do.

Man Yung suggests that when I walk forward, I should give a little enchanting kick backwards with my back foot. It is musical. It is charming. It is feminine. It is a lovely "surprise!" for onlookers and other couples on the dance floor. "It looks great! So many wonderful followers do it! YOU should do it!" he says, exasperated.

I say how about not.

It's not that I don't agree that it is not "charming", "feminine", "musical" and whatnot. Of course it is. Man Yung is never wrong.

But Man Yung my dear, please consider what material you are dealing with. Your better half is one of those poor pitiful individuals who couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time, let alone WALK FORWARD AND SUDDENLY KICK BACKWARD SIMULTANEOUSLY TO 2x4 RHYTHM.

"But Irene," as so many of our gentle readers are muttering to themselves, "Your dancing is boring. You don't do anything. Watching you dance, we suspect that you are probably in the midst of taking a nap and catching a few zzzzzzzz's. No self-respecting Tanguera in this Golden Age of Youtube has any excuse not to add a few toe taps, hip shimmies, foot flicks, knee lifts and yes, unlead Back Boleos to express your own personal exuberance for the dance! All in all, where's your sass, and where's your class? You should at least try!"

Having been abandoned at an early age and raised by wolves - and thus never having learnt how to speak the Queen's English, to choose the proper kind of hat for every occasion, or even to cross my legs at the right kind of angle while partaking of high tea, I must admit I am quite at a disadvantage in terms of "sass and class"*. Alas, woe is me.

But there is still hope! It is common knowledge that even without a dash of "sass" or a dash of "class", unabashed self-promotion, a bevy of mediocre adornments and a creatively padded CV will do much to elevate one to "Tango Professional-ship", or even eventual "Tango World Domination"!

I'm well on my way to "Tango Follower Adornment Technique Glory" - all I have to do is fix my wonky brain-to-heel coordination and refine the focus on my backward propulsion with the following top-secret, tailor-made "Lady's Tango Week" women's technique exercises (If I didn't generously give them to you here they'll cost you at least $35.00 CAD per workshop! - Please, don't rush to thank me):



Right Leg Mule Kicks! Look at that perfect form!


Left Leg Mule Kicks! What astounding athleticism!



If only we could do this in the milonga - then we can propel ourselves backwards
under tables to avoid collisions!


...and PRESTO! I will be able to do what I've ALWAYS wanted to do on a crowded dance floor!:



* However, apparently some think it is "sassy" and "classy" to do this. Thank god I've never qualified for the Team! Go, Blog Swarm, Go!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Alberto Dassieu in Europe


Alberto Dassieu's website: http://www.albertodassieu.com.ar

Our friend and teacher Alberto Dassieu will be teaching in Switzerland in May. If you are going be around that area during that time, don't miss his classes!

Alberto had a very serious health scare last year, but thankfully he has recovered and recommenced teaching. We always treasure the time we spend with him and his wife and partner Paulina each year, and this past March was no exception.

We exchanged emails last week and Alberto and Paulina told us that they were very happy with our progress and enjoyed the videos we made of our class this year. Alberto requested that we put the videos up on Youtube so that he could post them on his website. Here's a review video of the vals section of his class. The vals is "La Tapera" by Edgardo Donato - Alberto also performs to this vals with Paulina:



We are gradually uploading other videos of Tango and Milonga.

We've recommended Alberto's classes to all our friends - and those who have taken his classes know that he is one of the best teachers and dancers of his generation. In fact, we took his class this year along with our best tango friend - she's the one who is coughing and talking in the background of some of the videos! She has confirmed that dancing and learning from Alberto was one of the most amazing tango experiences she's ever had - and she too, like us, have made lifelong friends in Alberto and Paulina.

Thank you again, Alberto and Paulina - and we wish you every success in your tour of Switzerland!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Still looking for "The Embrace" - Milongueros and Milongueras

Armed with an effulgent, glittering notion of what "The Embrace" would look and feel like from lessons with local instructors, the internet, or by word o' mouth - many lovely tangueras and tangueros all over the world travel to - where else, Buenos Aires! - to look for it. After all, the Milongas of Buenos Aires are supposed to be as close as you can get to "Tango Heaven" on Earth - and the Milongueros and Milongueras are no less than "Tango Angels".

So why do comments from returning "Turistas" make it seem that a visit to Buenos Aires is just like a descent into "The Octagon"?:

"Take that! Norteamericano!"

“I’m NEVER going dance with any of the old guys again – they held on to me so tightly I couldn’t even breathe!”

“Sure I’ve danced with a Milonguero – he was gripping my right hand so hard he almost broke my wrist!”

“What’s so special about Milongueras? They are heavy as hell and they can't follow anything I lead!”

“Milongueros!?! Some of the worst dances I’ve had were with Milongueros!”


"Die, die! Turista, die!"

Dear Turista: Complain if you must, but contrary to what you may be deceiving yourself to think - the Milongueros and Milongueras of Buenos Aires are really, truly "Tango Angels". They haven't spent 50+ years of their lives dancing tango for nothing - do you really think that their embrace, musicality and all-in-all entrega of Tango are not the very best on this planet? Give me a break.

If tango with the true Milongueros and Milongueras feels like Fight Night at the Ultimate Fighting Championship - sadly, oh so sadly, you only have YOURSELF to blame.

Please consider the following:

Are you even sure you are really dancing with a Milonguero/Milonguera? In your excitement about dancing with "anyone, oh just about anyone, please!" - did you even care to check how your potential partners are dancing before you accepted that "Cabaceo of the Excruciatingly Painful Joint Lock"?

In fact, are you sure that the "Tango" you think you are dancing is the same "Tango" that is habitually danced by the Milongueros/Milongueras? It's fine and dandy to be facilely to be "executing" expert moves with your regular partner or with anyone who has taken the same classes with your local "Tango Guru", attended "Cosmotango", or perhaps have watched the same "Tango Campeonato Mundial" videos on Youtube - but are you sure you are really leading, really following, or (gasp, horror!) just merely doing CHOREOGRAPHY masquerading as IMPROVISATION? Because as common sense may divine, the Milongueros/Milongueras have no idea what the hell that you, your teacher, your community or your internet source have choreographed - and they are neither going to lead nor follow the same, predictable steps that you and the hordes like you have so expertly programmed yourself to do.

Some tips and pointers for Followers:

1. Stop that frenzied wriggling! Your attempts to "exhibit" your hard-earned skills of adornation and "women's technique" are misguided - you impress no-one. Can you really blame the Milonguero for holding onto your possessed, writhing, head-spinning and ectoplasm-spewing Linda Blair form for dear life?

2. Don't let your arms go completely limp in an effort to "play dead". This trick does not necessarily work with bears and other carnivorous predators - and it certainly won't work on the Milonguero who is really trying to do his best to lead you. If you "make like a cadaver", it would just make sense for him to grip your torso harder to make your body go where he wants it to go.

3. Some do the complete opposite of "playing dead" - and counter with shoulder joint popping pushing. Are you trying to really "feel" the lead or are you trying to dislocate your partner's arm? Believe me, you are failing miserably at the former, and even if you succeed in the latter - you are making yourself a candidate for Ultimate Fighting, and not Ultimate Tango.

Man Yung's take on dancing with Milongueras to follow in the next post. But whether for Leaders or Followers, it may be useful to keep the following in mind:

Recognize that it is you, yourself who should be dancing better - stop blaming the Milongueros and Milongueras for your own failure. You may even want to try to learn how to really lead or follow. Try it, it may even turn out to be therapeutic.

Alberto Dassieu

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