Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Irene and Man Yung perform to "Secreto" and "La Tapera" at La Yumba de Dorita Milonga - Club Oeste 10/09/11

It's not the first time that Osvaldo has asked us this.  Osvaldo is kind of proud of us. "Hey, in Toronto - aren't all the people there looking at your dancing?" 

We turn and look at him oddly, and then blink in disbelief.  "Look at us?  Of course not!"

"Why not?" Osvaldo slaps the table and gestures to the dance floor.  "Look how everyone here is watching you dance!"

Coca nods and adds, "Everyone everywhere we go are asking about you!"

Every milonga we go to in Buenos Aires, people are staring at us and giving us nods and thumbs up of approval. Osvaldo and Coca must think we are joking when we say we don't stir up any interest in our home town.  How do we explain to them, "In Toronto, they aren't looking for the same things as what the Porteños are looking for when they watch someone dance Tango"?  And what are the words in Spanish for "Trendy Labels" and "Resumé?"  It seems to us publicity and self-promotion (and extravagant, attention grabbing movements and tricks) is what it takes to attract attention on dance floors outside of Buenos Aires - irrespective of the quality of dancing.  

When we dance, we dance what we are - we don't try to be bigger, or more interesting, or more perfect.  We have our love for each other.  We have our love for our teachers and our friends.  We have have our love for Tango. We want to dance the Tango that the Porteños feel with their heart and soul - not a "tango" that is engineered for entertainment of people who couldn't tell the difference. 

After dancing at Milonga J. L. at La Nacional on Saturday, we called Osvaldo and Coca at midday on Sunday to find out where they wanted to go.  Coca picked up the phone.  "Myriam called us back - let's go together to La Yumba de Dorita tonight!"

It was the Sunday night before the holiday Monday, so the venerable Club Oeste was packed to the rafters with locals - not a single tourist (except us) to be seen.  We have wanted to visit this ancient club for a long time, but have not yet had the opportunity.  This is where Nina Balbuena teaches her popular class on Friday nights, and where our friend Ruben Dario Lopez went to dance at the age of 18.

Osvaldo and Coca and Myriam Pincen (Yay Myriam! What a phenomenal milonguera!) had already arrived when we showed up:

Myriam Pincen, Osvaldo and Coca and the two of us at La Yumba de Dorita (Club Oeste)

There were so many people that we had to clamber over chairs and tables to get to the dance floor.  Despite the crowd, the dancing on the floor was orderly and calm and everyone who wanted to dance could get out there and enjoy themselves:

The dance floor at La Yumba de Dorita (Club Oeste).  Can you spot Man Yung?  He is dancing with Graciela Cano, who won the third Metropolitan Championship in Buenos Aires with her husband Pedro Vujovich. 

"What was it you wanted to dance to yesterday?" Osvaldo asked me.  We had wanted to dance to "Secreto" (for Jessie and Dorian out there in Vancouver! Hola!) but Osvaldo chose "El Adios" instead.  Might as well face the music - Osvaldo and Coca and the organizer Dorita wanted us to perform - and not just a tango, but a vals as well.  So we did:


Irene and Man Yung perform to Orquesta Tipica Victor's "Secreto" at La Yumba de Dorita (Club Oeste).  This is the second time that we have danced to "Secreto" - the first was when we filmed the video of ourselves at our weekly practice for Jessie and Dorian, who generously emailed us the music.


Irene and Man Yung perform to Edgardo Donato's vals "La Tapera" at La Yumba de Dorita (Club Oeste)

Osvaldo and Coca were as proud of us as they are always - and wonderful Myriam had words of praise and encouragement for us.  "Many couples I have seen dancing dance like two people," Myriam said, using her hand gestures to emphasize what she was describing.  She closed her hands together and intertwined her fingers.  "When I look at you dancing - I see one person." 

Why do we dance Tango?  We want to become one - with our partners, with the music, with the universe.  Osvaldo and Coca showed us the way to the infinite.  They also performed that night, to their favourite - "El Adios":


Osvaldo and Coca perform to Edgardo Donato's "El Adios" at La Yumba de Dorita (Club Oeste)

Man Yung had been looking forward to another opportunity dance with Myriam Pincen ever since our previous trip in April.  No-one in the world can dance like Myriam Pincen - no-one!  And how beautiful she is!  Here is the video of Myriam dancing Pugliese* with Man Yung:



* "Oh my God!" said Man Yung.  I think he is embarrassed.  "I can't believe that I started doing back sacadas and enganches with Myriam Pincen when I was dancing Pugliese! What the hell was I thinking??!?"

"Don't worry, I don't think Myriam minded that you were temporarily possessed.  So long you danced honestly what you felt the music was telling you to dance, it's ok."  I patted his back reassuringly.  Heh heh....I'm not going to tell him that yes, he was CRAZY to start doing all those moves with a top milonguera and ha ha!  She isn't going to dance with him ever again! (Just joking)

And here's another video of Myriam dancing with Man Yung - Fresedo this time (the Tango happens to be "Tigre Viejo"):


Myriam Pincen dancing Fresedo's "Tigre Viejo" with Man Yung at La Yumba de Dorita (Club Oeste).  Osvaldo and Coca take to the floor too!

Can we describe how Myriam Pincen dances?  Can we describe her footwork, her musicality, her embrace, her emotion?  THERE ARE NO WORDS.  She is magnificent.  She is a GODDESS.  Check out her videos on Youtube (especially her performances with Ricardo Vidort, they are classic) and also her interview with Practimilonguero.  This is a lady who IS Tango.

I love it when Osvaldo dances something other than Tango - his musicality is so innate, he can dance to any music.  Here is Osvaldo dancing Cumbia with lovely, awesome Myriam:



So there you have it - another glittering night in Buenos Aires.  We danced that night like any other night - those who know us can see that we danced in our exhibition as we always dance in the milonga.  We do not "walk" finer or do "special" moves, or bedazzle with tricks just because we are performing and wanted to gain applause.  Anyone with two legs and two arms can do what we do. But that was enough - because we danced as ourselves for ourselves and for the people we love.  Nothing more, nothing less.  In the end, that's what the Porteños want to see when they want to see us dance - and they embraced us as warmly as we embraced them.  

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lai Lai

Lai Lai Chinese Restaurant (Arribeños 2168) in Belgrano - Buenos Aires Chinatown

When Jessie and Dorian from Vancouver visited Toronto a few weeks ago, they recommended that we try Lai Lai in Belgrano for some authentic chinese food during our trip - just in case we felt in any way homesick.  With a sunny warm Saturday morning free of any planned activities, we decided to make the long trek there from Santa Fe and Callao.

"Take the bus, it goes right there!" said Juan José, the friendly shoe shine guy on the corner.  Since we are adamantly not locals (you can even say blatantly touristy), we decided to take a taxi instead.

Even though it was the weekend, it was traffic all the way.  Lots of time to look at the streetscape of Santa Fe and Cabilde as we passed - and to ogle at lovers making out in bus shelters:


The trip to the heart of Chinatown at Mendoza and Arribeños cost 40 pesos.  It was just before noon, so Lai Lai and many of the other restaurants (like Todo Contento, another chinese restaurant we had tried before on previous trips) were still closed.  We took some time to walk around to re-acquaint ourselves with Buenos Aires Chinatown.  We haven't been here since 2008.

The last couple of times we were here we were on tight schedules - classes during the day or Camicando workshops with Martha and Manolo meant that visiting Chinatown had to be hit and run.  We got our instant noodles from the chinese supermarket, and then left!  When we discovered that we could get the same cup noodles at the Carréfour near our hotel (and in better, more Argentinian flavours, like Cheese and Tomato and Chicken) we didn't need to go to Chinatown anymore.  This time we could enjoy more of Chinatown.

It's pretty busy - there's lots of Chinese people but also lots of Argentinians, and every store and restaurant has some Argentinian staff.  We saw help wanted posters on the windows - asking for applicants with DNI.  When we were at Todo Contento, the boss there told us there is now a requirement for all stores to hire a certain number of locals, so you will find Argentinian (as opposed to Chinese or Chinese-Argentinian) sales clerks, waiters and chefs everywhere you go in Chinatown.  This is completely different than the situation in Toronto Chinatown, where Chinese stores and restaurants have 100% staff of chinese ethnicity.

We didn't see this the last time we were here:

Gates of Chinatown

The big election is next weekend so the supporters and campaigners are out in force everywhere we turn.  Martha told me that people over 70 don't have the vote (!!?!) and so I think that's why the people giving out flyers didn't hand any to our elderly taxi driver when we stopped at the traffic lights on the way to Chinatown.  We also didn't get any flyers because with our Tilley hats and other dorky accoutrements, we look like we are from outer space - and I don't think space invaders get to vote in Argentina either.

After a leisurely walk around the block it was time for lunch at Lai Lai.  Lai Lai means "Come Come" in Chinese - and Man Yung explains that one of the two most important hotels in Taipei, Taiwan (in his day) was called Lai Lai Fan Tien, with Fan meaning "Cooked Rice" and "Tien" meaning "Lodgings".  The most common word for "Hotel" in Chinese is "Zhou Tien" which means "Alcoholic Beverage Lodgings" which, strangely enough in the olden days of Man Yung's youth, meant much more basic lodgings several levels below "Cooked Rice Lodgings".  As for why it could be that a place where you can eat cooked rice meant a luxurious 5-star hotel while a place where you could drink alcohol meant a 2 to 3 star hotel, I don't know and I welcome any coherent explanations as to same.

Lai Lai was starting to get busy when we went in.  Apart from another table of regulars, we were the only chinese - the rest were Argentinians.  They like Lai Lai chinese food!

Ambience at Lai Lai - the wall trim has postcards of colourful scenery from all over Taiwan

We ordered  Rice Noodles (Ho Fan) with Beef, Fried Onion with Beef (we figured that Beef in Buenos Aires is a failsafe choice), and Hot and Sour soup.  The soup came first - it looked authentic and tasted great with strong peppery and vinegary flavour.

The proprietress came over to talk to Man Yung (people love to start a conversation with Man Yung wherever we go). She's been living in Argentina for 28 years!  She was part of the immigration wave out of Taiwan in the early 80's.  Man Yung explained to me that people were starting to make money in Taiwan starting late 70's and early 80's due to the manufacturing and technology boom.  Since the Taiwanese still feared invasion from mainland China, they took their money and immigrated to many different places in the world.  Many immigrated to Panama (Taiwan had close political, technology and trade connections with Panama because of the Panama Canal works) but others went to other parts of Central and South America too, including Argentina.

"There were only about 3000 Chinese in Chinatown when I arrived," said the proprietress, "Most were Taiwanese with 20% Cantonese.  Now there are more and more immigrants from Mainland China, mostly from Fujian province."  Toronto is also experiencing more immigrants from China and Fujian province in particular - enormously resourceful people.  Man Yung knows of many Chinese who made their way first to places in South America - and then bought a plane ticket to the States or Canada.  Some would destroy their identification and passports en route, arrive in Canada and declare refugee status.  Both Man Yung and the proprietress agreed that it was very daring - the Taiwanese and Hong Kongers usually went by the regular route and applied for immigration!

The rest of our food arrived:

Rice Noodles (Ho Fan) with Beef and Fried Onion with Beef at Lai Lai

Now, we ordered Rice Noodles (Ho Fan) as an experiment.  It is only in places with a large population of Chinese people that you can get the best Ho Fan - it has to be made fresh daily and delivered each day in order to have a supple but soft bite.  This is fine for places like Toronto with its own Ho Fan and Chinese noodle factories - but places a little further like Hamilton or Ottawa you may find it impossible to find good Ho Fan.  In fact, freshness is so important, Man Yung tries not to order Ho Fan at a restaurant any time after 8:30 p.m. because this means the Ho Fan has been sitting in the kitchen fridge all day and would have become stiff and hard. The Ho Fan used by Lai Lai tastes good, but it has a springy texture which usually means it was made from reconstituted dried rice noodles rather than the freshly made kind we have in Toronto.  "I've been to Toronto too," said the proprietress - "The Chinese food here can't compare to what you have in Toronto!  We simply can't get the same kind of ingredients."  The beef at Lai Lai, however, is of the finest quality - not like some of the beef you can find in Chinese restaurants in Toronto, which have been "tenderized" to death with baking soda and such.

"We tried to keep all our dishes authentic here in this restaurant," said the proprietress.  "Some of the other Chinese Restaurants cater to the people here and offer a mix of Argentinian and Chinese, but we stick to tradition." We asked the proprietress to recommend the signature dish of the restaurant - and she told us to try the "Three Cups of Wine chicken":
Three Cups of Wine Chicken at Lai Lai

Man Yung loved the tasty whole garlic cloves in this casserole!  We better not bump into any milongueras tonight.

So there you have it!  A day in Buenos Aires without food from La Madeleine.  If you get a chance to visit Chinatown, we recommend that you try Lai Lai for some authentic Taiwanese style cuisine.

* Some other interesting things we found in Chinatown:  A huge RAT running into a store of imported Chinese knick knacks!  It was so big I thought it was a dog.  And the people shopping in the store who saw the rat running in didn't even blink or jump when the rat leaped over their feet.  And in the Taiwanese Cultural Centre, there was a notice for... Tango Lessons.  A chica called Emi, apparently the 'Only Taiwanese to receive certification from the University of Tango in Buenos Aires' is teaching Tango there 'for improvement of health', with a practica following the class.  Too bad she is teaching on Tuesdays, we missed it.  Darn.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Scarves!

 Window display at Gypsy at Callao and Santa Fe

One thing we love about Buenos Aires is the shopping.  Yes, prices have gone up a lot - but shopping or window shopping is such a pleasure because there is so much variety.  It's not like Toronto at all, where one usually shops at the mall where there's only the standard chain stores and very little in the way of quirky boutiques.

Perhaps it's because spring has just arrived and the weather is still variable, or perhaps the Porteñas are just fashionable, but everywhere we go, the women are wearing the most incredible scarves.  We've seen thick knitted scarves, smooth shiny pashminas, colourful silk squares, skinny abstract cotton ties, shawls with tassels or bobbles at the edges... Even the most subtle neutral outfit comes to life with a shot of whimsy or colour.  Our heads are constantly swiveling around just to catch a glimpse at the beautiful scarves that the Porteñas are wearing on the street. 

Where do they get these scarves?  Well the answer is easy - everywhere!  You have scarves at stores specializing in accessories.  You have scarves as accents for outfits on mannequins in shop windows.  You have street vendors hanging their wares on small billboards along the street.  We even found a cluster of wholesalers (who also sell retail, but in most of the stores except one or two you must make a minimum purchase of about 150 pesos to 200 pesos) on Lavalle north of Riobamba selling the same scarves for 80% to 70% less than the price in the boutiques. 

Of course, I can't help myself!  The selection is wonderful, the prices more than reasonable - every time we go out I end up with something fabulous.  Here's just a small sample:


The prices of what I have here range from 5 pesos (!) to about 120 pesos.  I don't think you could even buy two pairs of Comme Il Fauts (they cost around 590 pesos now) and certainly not a single Hermés carré with the total amount I spent on scarves this trip.

How to wear them?  In this regard, the Porteñas don't have many different ways - perhaps the scarves are so pretty all you need is to tie them in a simple way that shows off the pattern and colour.  The most common way we've seen involves folding a square scarf in a triangle, with the point of the triangle pointing down in the front - and the ends criss crossed at the back of the neck and the ends brought to the front.  This is mostly used when the scarf has bobbles or tassels on the edges, and it's a very fun, casual look.  When the scarf is oblong and long, we've seen it looped around the neck once, or tied in a knot with the ends hanging down in front.

I think the Porteñas are giving the Parisiennes a run for their money when it comes to accessorizing with scarves!  For more ways to tie your scarf,  take a look at the knotting cards on Hermés website here for an abundance of ideas.

How to make your scarf unnoticeable 101: Hide it under your jacket whilst wearing pink crocs, a Tilley Hat, and your backpack slung in front like it was a baby.  Yes, you too can look like this in Buenos Aires and not get robbed (probably because people who see you on the street will be afraid of you!) By the way I am wearing Odille's Sailboat Skirt - sort of adds to the sartorial terror, don't you think?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Irene and Man Yung perform to "El Adios" at J.L. Milonga - La Nacional 10/08/11

I know, I know...at the rate that we are posting our videos and experiences in Buenos Aires, you shouldn't be seeing this until 2025.  But since we have been receiving complaints about our incredible non-speediness (we have to take time out to do laundry sometimes) we thought we better post this one, pronto!

The DJ very kindly filmed this for us.  We deliberately arranged for the video to be taken from his perspective so that we can look like ants and any moments in our performance that may induce nausea will be reduced to a minimum (Just kidding).

We found out we had to perform about 10 minutes before we had to and it was a very nice surprise.  Many thanks to the organizer Juan Lencino and the M.C. for giving us this opportunity at their wonderful hit Saturday night milonga at La Nacional and to the very enthusiastic crowd who was not too disappointed that we danced like dumpy middle-aged chinese people from Toronto and didn't jump, spin or otherwise dazzle in the recently popular styles of Tango Stage or Tango Salon now winning championships worldwide.  Oh well, we could only dream: 


No, we didn't choose to dance to "El Adios"!  Osvaldo is sick of us dragging our feet whenever he tells us we are performing so he said, "Goddamit, you are going to dance to El Adios!" [Sorry Jessie and Dorian, we wanted to dance to "El Secreto" but we didn't have a chance to say anything!]

Many thanks too to the lovely and reknowned milongueras Marta Fama and Clely who were at the milonga for dancing three tandas each with Man Yung.  He couldn't sleep all night because he was so happy after dancing with them and the other beautiful and wonderful milongueras at J. L. Milonga!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Glorias Argentinas is no more

I had some bad news.

Martha looked like she didn't understand what I said.  "Yes, Glorias is still on Saturday," she said.

I explained to her I had already spoken to Oscar Hector and Haydee today.  Martha's eyes widened with shock and disbelief.

Manolo sensed something was up and leaned over to ask Martha what was wrong.  Martha repeated what I told her.  Manolo, too, needed a few seconds for the information to sink in.

"Glorias is closed," Martha said again.  "Glorias Argentinas is no more."

Manolo shook his head sadly.  "Oscar Hector has run the milonga there for thirty-five, forty years.  It was only yesterday when I danced there with Oscar Hector's mother."

After Martha and Manolo's practica, we took a taxi back to the hotel, and then walked to La Madeleine. The rain had changed to light drizzle, but the wind was getting stronger. 

La Cumparsita echoed through the grand hall of Glorias Argentinas for the last time just two weeks ago.  A dispute with the landlord over rent.  "It's like everyone we knew there, everyone who we have seen and danced with...has just died," I said.

"How could they let that happen?  It's not just a milonga.  It's not just a piece of tango history. It's Glorias Argentinas!  The "Glory" of Argentina.  They cannot let it fade away like that."

I had to reassure Man Yung.  "Well, the Saturday milonga is gone but the club itself is still there.  I think there is a milonga on another night - not run by Oscar Hector, mind you."

Man Yung was silent for a while.  "It will never be the same again," he finally said.  Sighing, he picked up his wine glass.  "I guess the glass is half full.  We can say that we had the opportunity to share and experience the last, twilight years of Glorias and be part of its spirit, its history - before it closed its doors."

It was the very first milonga we had ever gone to in Buenos Aires, on the very first night we arrived.  Man Yung danced with his first milonguera there - I danced with my first milonguero.  Man Yung won his first lucky draw.  Through video, it was on the pista of Glorias Argentinas that we first saw Manolo dance.  And then there were the other memories - performing there, crashing Elba's birthday party, dancing candombe with Carlos Anzuate, giggling hysterically with Chiche, joining the lively joyous crowd in chacarera...

"I propose a toast," said Man Yung.  "To Glorias Argentinas, that is no more."

There was only a drop left in my wine glass.  I raised it to my lips.

"And another toast," said Man Yung.  "To Glorias Argentinas - to its glorious past."

I thought I had finished the wine, but there was half a drop left.  I drank it down.

"And my final toast," said Man Yung.  "To Glorias Argentinas - and the day that the tango will be finished for us too."

For surely that day will come...for all of us.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Neighbourhood



Perfect Buenos Aires spring morning - sunny, but not too hot.  We pass by the hotel reception desk.  The hotel clerks turns to say hello, and their face light up with big smiles when they see us.  In the breakfast room, we hug and kiss our friend Juan in charge of all the food, who is also very happy to see us again.

We wave hello to the sales clerks in the boutique next to the hotel.  On the corner, the ancient grizzled shoe shine guy Juan Jose gives us big hugs and his toothless grin goes from ear to ear.

Across the street and to La Madeleine.  We shake everyone's hand and hug the manager.  "Tango again?" he asks as he shows us to our table. On the way back to the hotel, we chat with Nicolas the street florist about his shipment of jasmines.

The mood must be infectious.  On the street, we pass by a concierge of a fancy apartment building - Man Yung has only danced at one milonga, but already his waistline is shrinking and he has to adjust his belt or his pants will fall down.    The concierge smiles at us when we catch him looking - "It's ok, I don't mind!"

We are waiting to cross the street.  In front of us are two beautiful portenas loaded with shopping bags, talking excitedly.  "Muchas compras," I say as they smile and look at us with our silly Tilley hats on.  "Si," says one.  She adds, "You like Buenos Aires?"

"Yes - muy lindo!" we replied, nodding, happy.

You could talk about traveling to Paris, Barcelona, New York, Tokyo, or Hong Kong... but I think that for us, there's no other place we'd rather than be than our beloved Buenos Aires.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Secreto"?...or not a "Secreto"

We've arrived in Buenos Aires!  How excited we are!  If we were four years younger and had more energy we'd be rushing around town already.  Since we are no longer young or energetic, once we arrived we just went to sleep.*

* Man Yung wanted to say "bed" instead just to be ambiguous, but who are we kidding?

We're going to be too busy to post anything interesting [what, have we ever posted anything interesting?  Again, we must be pulling someone's leg] so we are just going to post videos of US, like how the tv channels in the U.K. used to post a video of a girl sitting smiling for hours and hours (and they made her actually sit still all that time, instead of using a loop or a freeze frame - the sadists!) just because they didn't have any programming to fill in the dead space (at least that's what I remember happening when I was four - or was I hallucinating?).

So with a big hug to Jessie and Dorian in Vancouver (the nicest people ever - we had a lovely time with them when they came to Toronto), here's a video of us during our last practice at Mad for Dance studios - dancing to a track that Jessie emailed to me right away after she returned to Vancouver, just because I mentioned we didn't have it!



Irene and Man Yung dancing to Orquesta Tipica Victor's "Secreto" - Avert your eyes!

Dear Jessie and Dorian, we know that posting this video on our blog as a way to thank you for sending us the music is probably not a good idea. You may have been expecting instead a meal at a fancy restaurant, or perhaps a nice gift, but alas, we must confess we are cheapskates!  The only consolation you may have is this: at least this is not REGIFT (because we are kind of famous for that too).

** The big white tension bandage around my knee is not a fashion statement.  It is because I twisted my knee.  Man Yung would like to say "while romping athletically at home, wink wink" but I will not mislead you, it is a month long TANGO INJURY.  Just a little "New Tango" (Man Yung, stop it already with the volcadas and colgadas!) will do that to an old person - time will make little hunched over milonguero-style dancers out of everyone, I guarantee it!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Some videos of us dancing from our last visit to Buenos Aires (April 10, 2011)

Man Yung was reading our blog yesterday when he realized - we're taking forever to write what happened in 2009!  "You have been so distracted and there has been so many diversions [Come on, could anyone resist writing about such enthralling topics such as Donkey Kong, Aural Indigestion and Weiners? - Irene], I'm predicting that people won't get to read about what happened in 2011 until... 2025!"

Uh oh....that means that the one or two faithful readers of this blog (okay, four or five) will never get to watch the amazing video footage we took on our most recent trip.  In fact, by 2025, I'd think most Tangueros and Tangueras will have actually abandoned Tango out of sheer frustration for other more exciting pastimes such as pole dancing, camel racing, backgammon - or even the polka.  There's already not much reason now  for anyone to watch any of our videos - by then there will be absolutely no reason!

So, for no good reason whatsoever except to pollute El Mundo de Tango en el Internet with more tango videos that nobody wants to watch (remember the times not that long ago when every new Tango video on Youtube would get 100,000+ views?  Now it's jackpot time if anybody gets 10+ views), we present to you:

Irene and Man Yung's vacation videos from the the second time they went to Pinar de Rocha, April 10, 2011 (yawn)

We never dreamed that we would go to Pinar de Rocha again.  It was FAR.  It was a little too close to Fuerte Apache.  And could we withstand Alberto and Paulina laughing at us again for traveling to and hanging out at all these out of the way milongas de barrio with no car ride back?  Unfortunately (or fortunately) we were presented with the opportunity to go there again - when we bumped into the Pinar de Rocha's organizer at Salon Canning when we were there with Osvaldo and Coca.  The organizer asked Osvaldo and Coca to go the following Sunday... and so we went again with them.  At least we were guaranteed a ride there and back!

When we got there, we met Julio Cesar Cordi again.  He is the DJ at the milonga at Pinar de Rocha.  We had been worried about him - he had major heart surgery since the last time we saw him.  We were glad to see him, looking well and rested.  He invited me to dance just as the milonga began - here we are dancing to Donato's La Tablada:




We had a special treat that night - Jorge Garcia and Susana Soar, Osvaldo and Coca's friends, came to join us!  Apart from being great maestros and dancers, they are also great fun.  They would be sedately eating their salad - and then some music that they liked would start playing.  Then they would abruptly stop eating, look up at each other - and rush off to the dance floor!  It was like a scene from a movie - too bad we didn't film these moments (and the moment when Osvaldo danced rock n' roll with Susana!  Although that was only half a song because Osvaldo gets out of breath easily, it was CLASSIC, wish you were all there to see it).

We'll cut to the chase - of course Osvaldo and Coca ambushed us again by making us perform.  We had all sorts of ideas as to what we would like to dance to, and Osvaldo kept on going to Julio to ask him whether he had the track... but he didn't have anything we or Osvaldo asked for!  Osvaldo finally gave up.  "Play whatever, " he said, and we didn't know which "whatever" until we were herded onto the dance floor and music started to play.  We ended up dancing to D'Arienzo's "Lilian":




What's interesting about the video is not our dancing.  We always dance like that no matter where we are, "performance" notwithstanding (we are only social dancers, not jumping spinning sequin-bedecked stage artistes) - and besides, you have been warned about the health hazards of watching us dance!  No, what's interesting is the gentleman sitting with his girlfriend on the other side of the room.  His body language says: "No way, I'm not going to clap for these strange little chinese people.  I'M NOT GOING TO CLAP!  GODDAMMIT I WILL NOT CLAP (even though other people are clapping)!... Darn, I started clapping, but it's in the wrong place and I had to stop half-way because I feel silly... Oh heck, who am I kidding - I'll clap, these little chinese people are doing ok."*

*Man Yung would like to point out that this gentleman knows Osvaldo and Coca - he was in the car that had just parked when we arrived, and he and his girlfriend were kind of excited to see them.  I would like to point out that everyone knows Osvaldo and Coca, it's not that unusual!

Then the organizer asked everyone whether they'd like to see us dance milonga - so we did:




I don't know whether we did well or not as it was totally unexpected and improvised (I hardly ever dance milonga at the milonga because I am usually too tired to move that fast), but everybody was smiling at us and seemed very happy. In fact, after we performed, at least TWO ladies came over, without cabeceo, to ask Man Yung to dance!

Man Yung also got to dance with Coca again:




And I (and this is the exciting part) - got to dance with Jorge Garcia!  Yippee!



The second milonga in this video is exactly the same one I just performed to with Man Yung!  Of course Jorge Garcia is much better (sorry Man Yung!)




I wish I was wearing higher heels - I have a sneaking suspicion the 3 inch heels make me look kind of stumpy.  If only I had feet like a ballerina and the posture of a marsh-wading Great White Stork!

"I think it is time you faced the truth, Irene," said Man Yung.  "No matter what shoes you wear, you will still dance like a little old lady."

Oh well, I won't mind - so long the little old lady is Carmencita Calderon!

* Man Yung says: I hope that our readers will not have to wash out their eyes after watching all these videos of us dancing.

** I say: No need to hope - I BET that our readers will have to wash out their eyes after watching all these videos of us dancing.

Alberto Dassieu

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