Monday, May 25, 2009

Prudence, not Tango

When we went to Buenos Aires in February this year, our plane had a problem on takeoff. A rather loud "bump" was heard around the mid-section of the plane.

The pilot assured everyone that they were "looking into the matter" with the control tower and that "all their systems appeared normal".

Then, about half an hour to forty-five minutes after takeoff, there was a little bit of bad news (yes, just a teensy bit - because Air Canada doesn't want their passengers to be in any way alarmed). Namely, that -

The control tower has reviewed the footage of our take-off, which revealed sparks coming out of the plane's engine. We are turning back to the airport now to have things checked out.

It got mighty quiet in the cabin. Perhaps some people were praying, or wishing they had written their will, or wondering who they wanted to call in their last moments.

The parents of a young female former colleague of mine had a very clever way of dealing with potential disasters like this. Whenever the family traveled, they never traveled together - Mom will take one flight; Dad, another - and the sisters would also travel separately. On different days. On different airlines. That way, the probability of the whole family being killed all at once would be pretty damn near close to nil. Someone should benefit from all that life insurance - and god forbid if it was not the closest next-of-kin!

However, such ingenious strategems fall strictly in the realm of "Prudence", and not "Tango". "Tango" would be more like Man Yung's attitude during the flight back to the airport. He held my hand, looked into my eyes meanfully, and said:

"It doesn't matter what happens. I'm not afraid of anything because we're together."
*

The flight returned back to Pearson Airport safe and sound - although the landing was rather rough and people were applauding the fact that we landed in one piece.**


* For the record, I wasn't afraid either. I was too busy thinking about the number of pairs of Comme Il Fauts I was going to buy on this trip. And also whether I was going to be able to connect to the internet using the hotel's WiFi with my new Acer Aspire One netbook. But shhhhhh! Don't tell Man Yung!

** And Air Canada compensated us with one night's hotel (actually, more like four hours) and a coupon for $75.00 off our next flight. We were off on another flight the following morning - but we missed a whole day of our trip because of the delay.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Two "new" tango places in Toronto

We've had some pretty glorious sunshine over the past week here in Toronto - although the temperatures are still bizarre, ranging from a frosty 6 degrees centigrade on Monday to balmy almost 30 degrees today. In any case, it's time to emerge from hibernation, and try out some tango places we haven't gone to yet in Toronto!

Last Sunday we checked out the Milonga San Telmo at Elizabeth Sadowska's new studio at Dundas Street West and Runnymede (3352 Dundas Street West). We often went to Elizabeth's Sunday milonga back when it was at her old studio at Dundas Street West and Keele (a few blocks to the east of her new location), but this was the first time we've gone to her new studio since she moved a few months ago.

Her new location is lovely. Lots of parking - and a beautifully renovated space with lots of light for her new studio. The studio floor is silky smooth hardwood and wonderful to dance on - one of the best dance floors in Toronto. You can't get tired dancing on floor like this.

We also enjoyed Elizabeth's music very much - honestly speaking, we think that Elizabeth's regular DJs (herself and DJ Vlad) have much better music than her recent guest DJ's ! But that's just our opinion.

Elizabeth is also the organizer of the annual Toronto Tango Festival, coming soon on June 11, 2009. If you want more details (and to see photos of her new studio) here's the website: http://www.rhythmandmotion.ca/

On Wednesday night, we checked out a new milonga held by John and Pam Needham, in Toronto's west end - WE Tango. It's held at the Swansea Town Hall located at 95 Lavinia Avenue in the former village of Swansea, not too far from High Park, and the remarkable thing about the location is that the area does really have a quaint English village feel:



We got a great parking spot right in front on the street - a residential street with houses that don't look like they have been pre-fabricated for mass suburban consumption. It's an area with personality - a big change to what we are used to in the suburbs of North Toronto.

Even though the milonga only runs from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., it's a nice place to tango on a quiet Wednesday night. John and Pam are friendly and gracious hosts, and there was a good crowd going on with still plenty of space to dance. We had a very enjoyable evening.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Angel Vargas - A Pan y Agua

Oh, that incredible voice! That delivery that breathes and speaks of the streets of Buenos Aires! We can't get enough of Angel Vargas - preferably singing with the orchestra of Angel D'Agostino, but we'll take later Vargas with his own orchestra just as well. We already have most of the commercially available Vargas tracks - but we'll hunt down CDs that may have just one or two tracks with Vargas that we don't already have. We can't get enough of the singing of Angel Vargas.

That's why we were so excited when we found this vintage clip on Youtube of Angel Vargas singing "A Pan y Agua":



I know it is odd that they've filmed a whole bunch of people standing and watching Angel Vargas perform and then inserted cut scenes halfway through of people dancing tango at a milonga (so, were they dancing, or watching the show, or doing one, and then immediately switching to the other in perfect synchrony?). A little weird, but still, an interesting slice of "tango life" in the 40's or whenever this clip was filmed.

But guess what? Not a single couple dancing show tango, nuevo tango, or even those so-called "Milonguero", "Villa Urquiza" or "Tango Salon" styles commonly promoted in "El Mundo de Tango" today. Frankly, all these commercial and mass-produced "styles" are getting kind of old, we need a new flavour to keep the big tango economic engine running. Maybe if we study the video hard and long enough, we can distill the essence of this tango, bottle it and sell it to the masses. Just think about it: "People actually dancing tango to enjoy themselves, and not to make a spectacle of themselves or to recruit new devotees" - the newest trend!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Nothing says "Love" like a great cup of Coffee!


... especially after a great big argument over Tango!

As much as Man Yung would want to accomplish all the moves in Cosmotango AND all the poses in our Tango Posing extravaganza - with Irene's stubby limbs and poor head/neck/torso/hip/leg/arm/foot/hand/hairdo/footwear coordination, it is unfortunately just not possible.

What Man Yung needs is a really, really good, superrrriffficously delicious perfect heavenly tango partner - but since she's already taken, or perhaps busy getting more plastic surgery, he'll just have to settle with arguing with Irene every time he wants to practice.

Arguments in Tango are really horrible, horrible things. He says she's going too fast - she says he's not really leading. She says that he's pulling her off balance - he says she is interpreting the music by herself! It's the classic "He said/She said" dilemma - and both of them are out to prove the other wrong. And since dancing Tango amplifies all existing communication and interaction problems of the partners - the arguments usually escalate into humongous blowouts about every single thing that's wrong with the relationship itself.

That is, until Irene is willing to offer the first conciliatory gesture - a freshly made, perfectly brewed cup of coffee. A cup of coffee so strong, so rich, so fragrant, so delightful, so labour-intensive, so self-sacrificing and time consuming - that all grudges are immediately forgotten and all hatchets buried.



Irene's Recipe for ONE CUP OF PERFECT,
HAND-MADE, POST-TANGO ARGUMENT COFFEE:


Time Required:

Approximately 12 - 15 minutes (Just think about it - you could be flossing, rearranging your closet, watching youtube tango videos, or taking a nap! What incredible sacrifice of your time! He'd better be grateful.)

Equipment:

Stove, preferably the electric coil type - so the heating elements stays hot even after you turn off the heat.
Electric Coffee Grinder (we use a blade grinder instead of a mill grinder because speed is very important in this recipe. And our grinder is ONLY for coffee and nothing else - we don't want our coffee to taste like paprika or meat or whatever else we used the grinder for last week!)
Fine Mesh Skimmer

Fine Filter (we use an old permanent filter from a coffee machine we threw away)

Ingredients:

4 1/2 Heaping Tablespoons of freshly roasted whole coffee beans (if you don't roast them yourself, get them at specialty stores that roast small and therefore fresh batches every few days - we get ours at Moonbeam Coffee Company at Kensington Market here in Toronto. We've also tried Supermarket and Starbucks coffee beans - but these beans have been lying around for too long and just can't compare.)
1 1/2 cup of cold, filtered water
Half and half cream and sugar to taste

Instructions:

1. Heat water in a small covered saucepan until it just reaches a "rolling boil". Turn the heat right off, but leave the saucepan (still covered) on the heating element. You don't want any more of the water to evaporate because that will leave you with noticeably less coffee!

2. Immediately spoon 4 1/2 heaping tablespoons of the roasted coffee beans from their airtight container into the coffee grinder. Grind the beans coarsely - but make sure that there are no more "whole" beans. Don't grind the beans too finely, because the particles will go through the filter and end up in your cup.

3. Pour some of the ground coffee into the hot water - just a little first, because if your coffee is fresh enough, it will react with the water and the water and coffee mixture can bubble up so furiously it can spill over! When the reaction (if any) dies down, pour the rest of the ground coffee in, and stir once. Cover the saucepan and wait for 4 minutes.

4. Remove cover of the saucepan. Using the skimmer, quickly skim all the coffee grounds that you can out of the mixture and discard the grounds.

5. Pour the mixture through the filter into a standard size coffee mug so that the filter can remove the remaining fine grains of coffee.

6. Add cream and sugar to taste.

Serve with a smile and a piece of Godiva chocolate. Heaven!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

AWESOME TORONTO BLOGGER!

....Nope, it's not us - unfortunately!

The "Awesome Toronto Blogger" is actually Neil Pasricha of "1000 Awesome Things". His blog just swept the Culture/Personal Blog award categories at the Webby Awards for the actual award itself as well as "People's Voice".

Here's a random selection of some of Neil's top 1000 Awesome Things:
The other 218 things (he's on #773 right now) are pretty cool too, most of them right in the "Gosh darn - why didn't I think of that first?" category. What's more, Neil's Toronto-oriented perspective makes his observations doubly - dare I say again, "AWESOME".

I wonder if Neil can be convinced to do a special on Toronto Tango? I'm pretty sure he'd be totally gobsmacked (well, we certainly were!) by things like:

- Mesmerizing Teacher to Student Ratios
- Intriguing Tango Cloning impulses
- The Unsolved Mystery of "Fabio"

Dear Neil: Why aim for "World Blog Domination" when you can aim for "Tango World Blog Domination"? Just think of all the lovely tango chicas who will be fawning over you in their 4-inch Comme Il Fauts!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Martha and Manolo's new Milonga on Mondays!


Our teachers Martha and Manolo have announced that they will be organizing a milonga at Viejo Correo on Mondays. Viejo Correo is one of our favourite milonga venues in Buenos Aires, with its wonderful ambience and silky smooth tile floor:


Nina Balbuena and Luis Cordoba also run "La Milonga del Centenario" at Viejo Correo on Thursday nights.

Alberto Dassieu

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