Manolo was feeling a bit better and coughing less. Martha and Manolo looked great - they always bring a bit of the old-style glamour with them, how ladies and gentlemen used to dress when they went for a night out at the milonga. We had to follow suit and dress up too - no sweat-stained t-shirts and tatty yoga-wear tonight!
With Martha and Manolo at Salon Canning. The posters on the table have the schedule of performances at Salon Canning - with photos of Martha and Manolo as well as Osvaldo and Coca!
The milonga was crowded but not as crazy busy as the previous Friday night. For some reason the floor had been invaded by older women and their teenage taxi dancers. It was ok when they were just dancing. But our skin crawled when we saw it was obvious that some of the women had more than dancing on their minds - and weren't ashamed to show it in public. One woman had her whole body plastered against her partner and her lips pouted out like a fish so she could "accidentally" kiss him. Her partner had to keep completely stiff and slightly angled away from her - so that he wouldn't collide into her lips when he tried to lead her. What a way to earn a living.
El Flaco Dany's brother, Jorge Garcia, arrived around midnight and said hello to all of us. Once he was settled down, he asked me to dance a tanda of Rodriguez. Now, I'm not writing this only to brag shamelessly about dancing with Jorge Garcia (hee!) - although this is a perfectly legitimate reason these days in the Tango blog world - but also for instructional purposes. You see, Salon Canning has a very crowded dance floor, with a lot of undisciplined dancers from all over the world trying to outdo each other with their own little exhibitions. How would a milonguero navigate on such a floor?
Jorge stuck to the very edge of the dance floor, and kept me on the side facing the tables. His back was almost always facing the writhing masses, so when we got kicked or bumped into (and this was often), he was the one who bore the brunt of it. Jorge's feet were constantly moving to the compas, but we advanced very, very slowly and very, very calmly with lots of pauses to wait for spaces to open up on the floor. When we did move forward we did it lightning fast since the dynamic of the floor with all the erratic dancers was always changing.
Jorge was an old pro at this - and I really appreciated his care. Social Tango is more than just expressing the music with your body all by your lonesome - you have to take care of your partner and "dance" with the people around you too when you navigate. In Toronto, I had the experience of dancing with one leader who knew lots of figures but had no concept of navigating the crowd. He needed space to do his figures - but when there wasn't any, he'd tried to do them anyway....until he shoved me right into the people next to us. And he'd stop, and start all over again... and I would hurtle into someone, and he'd stop.... This went on for the whole tanda. I felt lucky that I had karate training and could take a few knocks!
The highlight of the evening was Martha and Manolo's exhibition:
Martha and Manolo performing Canyengue, Tango and Milonga at Salon Canning, October 25, 2010
After Martha and Manolo performed, a flood of people came over to congratulate them and to tell them how much they loved their performance. Man Yung was no exception - he was so overcome with emotion, when he went to hug Martha he tried... to swallow her whole! (just kidding)
When we left with Martha and Manolo, people were still looking for an opportunity to talk to them. In the corridor, a young man came running after them - just to tell them how much he appreciated their performance. He had been dancing for some time but he hadn't seen the way the traditional dancers danced their Canyengue, Tango Salon and Milonga - this was the first time. It opened his eyes, and he couldn't stop thanking Martha and Manolo and telling them how wonderful it was, to have this chance to watch them perform.
The best way to learn how to dance tango - to really dance Tango, and not a pale imitation of it, with heart and soul - is to watch and learn from the example of the dancers from the older generation, like Martha and Manolo, Osvaldo and Coca, and Alberto Dassieu. If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity, don't let it slip - seize it!