Monday, December 24, 2012

What our cats want for Christmas

Yummy Christmas Dinner!  Science Diet Turkey and Giblets Entrée!

Since our cats are the most sweetest, loveliest, adorable cats IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE, we try to spoil them every Christmas with gifts we were originally quite certain they would love.  

...Unfortunately, they have never been impressed at our gift selections.  "Your gifts suck!" they complained in unison.  "Just look at all this EPIC CAT GIFT FAIL!:"

1.  Fancy Electric powered aquarium with ascending and descending bubbles and plastic tropical fish

"We knew right away that those fish weren't alive.  Who did you think you were kidding?"

2.  Premium Catnip flavoured cardboard scratch pad with rolling ping pong ball"

"Why would we scratch that stupid piece of artificial crap when it feels so good to rip up your carpet corners and door frames with our claws?  And what's so interesting about pushing a ping pong ball around and around on a track?  Are we gerbils or something?"

3.  Zhu Zhu

"We can't believe you paid good money and pushed over several pregnant women and an old crone with a walker for motorized hot wheels wrapped in faux fur.  Give us a real mouse next time!"

4.  Expandable and Collapsible pink and black three-way Play tunnel

"Are we supposed to amuse you by friskily playing hide and seek in this contraption?  Why don't we just sun ourselves next to the window and scoff at you instead?"

5.  Combo Sisal Scratch Post with plastic excess fur collecting Neck Scratcher

"See #2 above for our comment on your carpets and your door frames.  That Neck Scratcher looks like a scary slicing part from the Guillotine - we're not stupid, we aren't going to put our precious necks anywhere near that!"

This year, we finally had enough of the cat complaints.  "So, what do you kitties REALLY want for Christmas?" we asked.

"All we're asking for is for you to wave a leather shoelace or a straw (preferably with a paper sleeve so we can shred it off while we are playing) creatively in front of us so that we can chase it around.  And while you are waving it around, we want you to concentrate ONLY on waving it around - we don't want you talking on the phone, checking your email, thinking about making money from Tango, or eating a sandwich."

We were skeptical since what the cats were asking for was so low-tech and cheesy, but we went along with it anyway.  Guess what?  The cats had loads of fun - they sprinted around chasing the end of the straw and the shoelace and rolled around and pounced and jumped until they were tired.

We were astounded.  "We can't believe that we spent all that money on those terrible cat gifts while all along, you would be happy with something so simple!"

"Ah, you silly humans!" they said.  "You always make it so complicated.  Do you think that receiving a super-sized box of gourmet chocolates, a Rolex watch, the newest Apple gadget, a designer handbag or even a brand new car would make you happy?  Things won't make you happy.  As for wishing for and getting massive wealth, lots of power, a big dream house - don't think that they would make you happy either.  We know you like to dance Tango - yes, dancing and enjoying Tango might make you happy - but don't think that having all the latest Comme Il Fauts would make you happy.  And as for having rabid Tango ambitions and hoping to become a "Tango Performer", "Tango Teacher", "Tango Professional", "Tango Expert", "Tango Name", "Tango Champion" - ha ha, don't even think about it, you will be miserable!" 

"So, in all of your cat wisdom - what should we do this Christmas instead of wishing for gifts or plotting Total Tango World Domination?"

"You should keep on waving that shoelace - and then when we get tired playing, we should all have a nice nap.  You are permitted to cuddle us - but without making any cloying, infantile, baby-talk noises. In cat years, we are not babies - we are older than you! After our nice refreshing nap, we can have Science Diet Turkey and Giblets (or in your case, the human-food equivalent).  And then we can play some more!"

Thanks to advice from all our cats, it's shaping up to be the best Christmas ever!  Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013 to everyone!





 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Adela Galeazzi and Roberto Fortunato at Salon Canning

The beautiful and talented milonguera Adela Galeazzi has been teaching classes at Salon Canning with Rino Biondi on Saturday afternoons lately - and after class one day, one of Adela's favourite dance partners, milonguero Roberto Fortunato, came to visit.

Here's the video of Adela and Roberto's exquisite dancing that afternoon!  Just look at Adela and Roberto's wonderful musicality, and Adela's cat-like grace and delicate footwork:


Adela Galeazzi and Roberto Fortunato dancing to Fresedo after class on a Saturday afternoon at Salon Canning

Adela's awesome technique reminds us of the way cats move - with softness, precision, speed, and underneath it all, surprising power.  

"Hey kitties!" we said to our cats.  "Want to take up Tango?"

 "Squishy?  Not even - we're perfectly comfortable!"

We thought our cats would be interested in learning how to tango since they are naturally athletic and musical creatures (they have their own kind of cat opera called "caterwauling" - we hear it every morning if we are even five minutes late in making their breakfast) - but they were too busy trying to fit more than one cat in a half-cat sized cardboard box to answer us.

In fact, our cats keep on surprising us.  We thought that cats would go "meow meow" but we were mistaken - they don't understand "meow meow" language, let along speak it.  We can go "meow meow" at them all day and they would look at us like we were completely bonkers.

"No, the proper way to speak to "cat" is to go 'Aurrrrrrwow!  Aurrrrwow!'" said one cat.

"I prefer 'Ack-ack!  Ack-ack!'" said another.

"Don't be silly with those noises," said yet another.  "I understand Cantonese perfectly well."

We were also mistaken about what cats like to eat.  Man Yung had been brought up to understand that cats ate fish. In fact, 75% of our cats turn up their noses when presented fish.  The other 25% would eat fish, but only in the form of salmon sashimi - but she also demands to have bits of cooked lobster, shrimp and crab whenever we have it for dinner.   As for the non-fish-eating 75%: one likes yogurt and cheese (and beef tartare!  You can't slice any beef at home without him 'caterwauling' for some), another likes french fries, KFC and crispy b.b.q. roast pork skin, and the little one goes nuts for BREAD.  Man Yung and I have to hide in the bathroom if we want to eat a sandwich in our house - but even with the bathroom door closed we are in mortal danger because we have a ferocious, bread-eating cat on the other side of the door, swearing loudly in Cantonese and trying to claw his way through the wood.*

* Joking aside - we let our cats have a little "human food" only as an occasional treat - the rest of the time they have to eat their nutrition-optimized cat food!

We love our kitties - even if they are trying to steal our sandwiches!

Man Yung risking life and limb in hugging our most savage, bread-guzzling kitty.  Kitty was not amused by this display of gratuitous human affection.


Thanks Adela for sharing your video with us!



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Osvaldo and Coca performing everywhere!

We love watching Osvaldo and Coca perform - and during our trip in October, Osvaldo and Coca were as popular as they are always, performing at least two or three times a week at milongas all around Buenos Aires.

Here are some videos we took of their performances at La Salsera - two Tangos, a Vals, and (half) a Milonga!









Osvaldo and Coca are beloved wherever they go and they always bring down the house with their exhibitions!  People never get tired of their dancing... and why?  It's because they truly become one with the music.  They take you straight into the heart of the music with their dancing.  If anyone says they are bored by Osvaldo and Coca's dancing, they must be bored of Tango!

Recently, Osvaldo and Coca also performed in Uruguay:





And here's their exhibition in Salon Canning with the live music of Sexteto Milonguero:



We also want to share these two delightful videos of Osvaldo and Coca performing at La Yumba de Dorita at Club Oeste - they dance to Caló's "Jamas Retournaras" and Canaro's "Con Tu Mirar".  What emotion!





Thanks to all the people who appreciate and love Osvaldo and Coca's dancing as much as we do - and for all those people who film their performances and put them on Youtube.  In an internet permeated by videos of flying legs and furiously spinning bodies, robotic expressionless tango clones, and bopping soulless nuevo-isters, Osvaldo and Coca's videos show us that there is an alternative - and better - way to dance and enjoy Tango.  Tango does not have to be exaggerated, it should be natural, and it can come from your heart if you are sincere - and that is lovelier and more astounding than all the exhibition of skill and artifice in the world.  Thank you Maestros, we love you!



Sunday, November 25, 2012

Irene and Man Yung perform to D'Arienzo's "Este es El Rey" at Rivadavia Club, sometime in.... October 2011!

I wanted to post some great new videos of Osvaldo and Coca today - some that we took of them during our trip this year, and some of their recent performances in Uruguay, and with Sexteto Milonguero in Salon Canning....

"But you haven't even posted the video of us performing at Rivadavia Club last year!" said Man Yung.  "It has been over a year and still you have not gotten around to putting the video up on Youtube!"

Yes, I have been taking my sweet time posting this video... could it be, because it wasn't that interesting?  Why don't we ask Osvaldo and Coca for their opinion?

Late last year after we returned back to Toronto, we sent them a DVD with the video of our exhibition at Rivadavia Club.  A few weeks later, we called them from Toronto.  "Did you receive our DVD? What do you think of the video?" we asked Osvaldo.

"Wait a moment - I'm going to let you speak to Mami (he meant Coca)!"

And then I promptly forgot about the video, because we started talking about the best hand-made pasta noodles with tomato sauce in the world (which would be Coca's).

Coca's hand-made noodles with tomato sauce...Makes you forget about tango 
(because all you can think of is devouring at least three plates - or more!)

Next time we saw Osvaldo and Coca in Buenos Aires, we suddenly remembered that we didn't get their opinion on the video when we called them on the phone.  So we asked them again.

"Hey, do you remember the video of us performing at Rivadavia Club last year?  You know, when we danced "Show Tango" to a "Show Tango" Tango (actually, one of the most clichéd "Show Tango" Tango) "Este es El Rey"?  Did you see the video?  What do you think?"

"Yes, my dear, we saw the video," said Coca.  "Hey, this weekend when you come over to our place do you want to eat noodles with tomato sauce, or do you want to try my gnocchi?"

"I want noodles with tomato sauce!  At least three plates!" I replied, jumping up and down with greedy gluttony glee. 

Hey, is it just me, or do we NOT have a promising career in Show Tango?  Especially with all the plates of pasta I've been packing away (Oooooooph!  Can't fit in my skintight red and black fringy sequiny see-thru Show Tango costume anymore!)



We're just kidding about Osvaldo and Coca's reaction to the video!  They actually didn't try to avoid the topic - but they didn't really have any opinion because they don't really like people performing "Show Tango" that much, it's not their cup of tea.  In fact, they always discouraging us from performing to Pugliese because they feel that Pugliese's music is a little too "Show Tango" for their tastes (and conversely just to annoy them we are always threatening to perform to Pugliese!)

As for the background story for this video (like, why on earth are we performing to D'Arienzo's "Este es El Rey"?) - It was the last night of our visit to Buenos Aires in October, 2011.  We had bumped into Clely Rugnone, the organizer of the Monday milonga at Rivadavia Club, like, three or four times during our trip - and she wanted us to come to visit her at her milonga.  We didn't think we were going to have time to make the trip, because we had to go to the airport at 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning - but then, last minute, we decided to go for a little while because we had finished packing early.

Clely was delighted that we had come (especially since we had a flight to catch in a couple of hours).  A couple of tandas into the milonga, she came over to talk to us.  "How about a performance?  What would you like to perform to?"

"Eeeeeerrrr....What would you like us to perform to?" we asked Clely.

"Whatever you like!"  she replied.

So we go back and forth with this question for about two minutes.

"No, we'll dance to whatever you like!" we said, finally.  "We'll dance for you!  What is your favourite tango?"

And that's why we ended up dancing to "Este es El Rey".  In fact, Man Yung had no idea what it was going to be.  Clely introduced us and we scrambled out there onto the dance floor - and when the music started playing (DA-DA-DE-DA-DA-DE-DUM!), I think Man Yung was so shocked his hair stood on end.

As for the "guerilla-style" camera work - Osvaldo and Coca weren't there to film us so we just set up our camera on top of a tissue box.  However, the very kind lady from "Los Mejores" tango magazine sitting just two tables away decided to give us a hand and she grabbed our camera and dashed closer to film us, so that we wouldn't be the size of ants on the video. (See our post about our performance at La Nacional for more ant-like action from yours truly)

Although we would have liked to jump higher, spin faster, and yes, it would have been more exciting if we were shot out of a cannon while dancing to "Este es El Rey" - it is a "Show Tango", after all - I think it worked out, we didn't deviate too much from our usual style and none of our limbs came off with all that "Show Tango" exertion.  Our friend Roberto Segarra was at the milonga and came over to congratulate us after we performed.  "Goodness, I haven't seen you dance like that before!" he said, winking.

Thank you Clely for giving us this chance to perform at your milonga!  Un beso muy grande!






Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Big Rush



Osvaldo had that exasperated look on his face again - the fifth time since class began.  The object of his exasperation was a slender brunette in tight leggings and four-inch high Comme Il Fauts.  Instead of following the lead of her partner on a relatively simple step, she was going at her own furious pace - which was a great deal faster than the compas with a lot of knee lifting and foot flexing, tapping, twirling and flapping.

Everyone jumped when Osvaldo started yelling.  "DON'T RUSH!  DON'T RUSH!....STOP RUSHING!!!!!"

The lady looked startled but the funny thing was... she couldn't stop!   She looked at Osvaldo with eyes as big as saucers but whatever was happening from the hip downwards kept on going at breakneck speed.  It was like her feet were possessed by Adornment Archfiends from "Ladies' Tango Technique" HELL.

She couldn't stop rushing.  She paid good money for the (Demonic!) workshops that trained her feet to do so much in so little time - and she couldn't wait to show what she had learned, even though the setting was totally inappropriate.  Who did she think she was going to impress in a class that emphasized slow over quick, and patient pauses over flurries of unbridled nervous jerking movements?  You might laugh, but she isn't the only one so afflicted. Countless times we've been to classes where ladies can't wait to show off their footwork (to the detriment of their following), and gentleman can't wait to show off their fanciest steps (which they had learned somewhere else, perhaps on Youtube).  "Look at me!  Look at me!" they said.  We looked....and rolled our eyes to the backs of our heads. 

What's the hurry?  But it seems to us that people in tango are always in a hurry.  Instead of waiting for the cabeceo - the impatient ones are flocking over, snapping their fingers to get someone's attention, pleading or ambushing or bullying or blackmailing others emotionally for a dance.  Are they afraid that they would be losers if they don't dance every tanda or that they have failed if their targeted partner won't dance with them right now?  Everywhere we look there are people rushing through all the step sequences that they can remember as quick as possible, without pausing, legs tripping over feet at least half a beat in advance of the beat. Are they afraid if they wait a microsecond for the compas to actually arrive, they will forget the step?  We look the other direction, and we see more people in a rush - tailgating, or charging forward right into other people when there is no space to move forward. Are they afraid that pausing makes them look like wimps?  Or perhaps if they don't push people out of the way, there's never going to be enough space to let them advance?   

Instead of learning to follow, followers learn to be "smart", because it seems to get them to where they want to go a lot faster.  All that fancy footwork - smart, because a lot of the time it conceals lack of proper technique.  There are smart shortcuts too, coming soon to a "Ladies' Tango Technique" near you: "Look at the leader's shoulder", "Look at the leader's feet", "Look at the leader's chest", "Squeeze the leader like a boa constrictor so he can't do any difficult steps", "Make yourself real heavy to slow the leader down" etc. etc.  Some ladies are so busy squeezing, dragging their feet, staring fixedly at this that and the the other it is a wonder that they can even hear the music (actually, I'm pretty sure that they can't), let alone follow - let alone dance!  

Hurry, hurry, hurry - instead of taking the time to become better dancers, people want to be performers, teachers, professionals right off the bat.  Armed with a bunch of "Tango shortcuts" - or just a couple of badly executed moves stolen off Youtube - some unleash themselves specifically onto ignorant newbies who couldn't tell good from bad.  Other, equally incompetent - or marginally more competent - dancers see the big "Tango Gold Rush", and they can't wait to be professionals themselves. 

Bad teachers teach ignorant dancers who couldn't tell the difference.  Mediocre teachers pretend to be "better" than they really are using inventive marketing, interesting "angles" and impressive resumés.  To further their impressiveness, they might even post videos of themselves performing - if they're lucky, it'll be somewhere in Buenos Aires (Maybe it's their birthday!  Or someone else's birthday!  Or did they bring ten to twenty students with them? - because if they did, some organizers would let them perform too because it has been a quiet month in the milongas).  If they are not lucky, it would a performance in some community centre or shopping mall in their home town in front of bored and unimpressed shoppers. Nevertheless, no matter what the venue, unless they have brought their own claque, they won't likely hear any applause except the polite clapping at the very end because they have failed to make their audience feel something genuine and true.  All the creative marketing in the world wouldn't make you a better dancer than you really are.

Why are we in such a hurry to get somewhere in Tango?  What would you find anyway once you get there?  The money is a pittance.  As for the fame - what's the big deal, having a "name" in a niche of a niche among niche dances?  In our hurry, we miss the whole point of Tango.

The most precious thing in Tango is now.  This moment in your arms, in the music.  A place where it doesn't matter if we dance badly or well, if our skill is high or low - or whether someone is looking at us or not - so long we are truly dancing.  When we hurry, we miss it.  When we don't hurry and we take time to experience and to enjoy what it is like to dance with one another - this moment is ours forever. 

So we return back to our poor fellow student - it's the eighth time this class that Osvaldo is exasperated (with visible steam coming out of his head).  Her eyes are still as wide as saucers as her uncontrollable feet did a merry jig underneath her. 

"Never mind!" we wanted to say to Osvaldo.  "Have a maté!  No need to be impatient or in a hurry yourself with students who can't stop rushing. They are all kind of like that.  If they get it eventually, they will - but if they don't, not even an exorcist will help!"  But we knew better - Osvaldo takes his teaching very seriously, he wouldn't think that our joke was funny at all.  Poor lady - and poor Osvaldo!















Sunday, November 11, 2012

Martha and Manolo exhibition at Porteño y Bailarin, Sunday October 14, 2012

...Enough about us!  It's time for a real show by our Maestros, Martha and Manolo!  Here are the videos we took at Porteño y Bailarin of their exhibitions of Canyengue, Tango and Milonga.  They were so electrifying, the crowd couldn't stop clapping and there was a standing ovation at the end:







Osvaldo and Coca arrived just in time to catch the last part of the exhibition!  Here is the photo of us all together after the show!




Sunday, November 4, 2012

Unusual sights of Buenos Aires

Since we are talking about unusual sights, how about this: two middle-aged, not terribly attractive or skinny Chinese people from Toronto performing at Salon Canning!  and NOT dancing in a "Robotic Championship-style Salon Tango Style"!  Without costumes!  Without choreography!  Without anyone being shot out of a cannon!  AND THEY AREN'T EVEN TANGO TEACHERS/TANGO PROFESSIONALS.  And there was applause (a great deal of it, not just polite clapping at the end)?  Unbelievable!

Toronto Tango is still shocked and perplexed and scratching their heads - and yet, the Porteños thought it was quite normal (and maybe even liked it)!

Here are some other sights that may be considered normal in Buenos Aires - but bizarre anywhere else:

1. Unique transportation arrangements:


We stopped in awe an admiration and exclaimed to the Taxi driver: "What a work of art!"  He smiled quite proudly and agreed. (We asked his permission before taking the photo!  Didn't want to get him into trouble!)


Some cars that you can find on Buenos Aires roads are really vintage.  You won't be able to find this model of car in this kind of shape - and still running! in Toronto.  In fact, some modes of transportation are so vintage they run on hay and grass....


Up to two years ago, you could still hear the horse's hooves clopping away as the horse carts passed by Osvaldo and Coca's house in Gerlí at least once every hour.  Lately, however, we haven't encountered any. 

2.  Protests and Rallies:


Noisy political rallies and protests are everywhere.  If you see a whole bunch of schoolbuses drive up to an intersection - before you know it the whole street will be blocked and traffic diverted for miles.  This was in October 2011 just before the presidential election.  Here's a video of the event so you can see and hear how noisy it was:



Man Yung joined in this student protest last year:


There's another protest blocking the highway to the airport!  Yet another blocking the 9 de Julio!  And another outside of Congreso! It has become so common it is no longer news.  Whenever we jump into a cab we ask the driver two questions: "Are there any road blocks today?" and "How's traffic?"  The inevitable answers are "Yes" and "Loca!" (Crazy!)*

* This year we encountered more examples than ever of protests in the street - but this time Man Yung didn't want to get close or take photos because he sensed that the mood of these protests were more angry and volatile than they were previously - and it would be foolish to get caught in the middle of a dangerous and angry crowd.

3. Strange fruit:






We saw lots of these "Papayas" hanging from the trees.  We asked the Taxi driver: "Can we eat them?  At least can we make soup?"  The Taxi Driver laughed at us and replied:  "If they were edible, there would be none left!"  In fact they aren't papayas or some melons, they are some kind of cotton seed pods (not at all tasty).


On a related note, this delectable-looking fruit salad was in fact, EXTREMELY SOUR.  It is quite normal for Porteños to add like, ten packets of sugar or a gallon of orange juice to their fruit salads to make them more palatable.

4.  Good doggies:


A very common sight you are not likely to find anywhere else: dog walkers all over the block.  And not "just" dog walkers - they're dog walkers with supernatural powers leading like, massive herds of at least ten to twenty dogs (or that's what it looked like to us).  And all the doggies are always so good and well-behaved!


The dog-walkers would like, just leave their ten to twenty dogs outside apartment buildings while they delivered/collected more dogs, and they wouldn't need to be worried about the dogs running into the street or biting passersby or anything like that.  The dogs were well-behaved even in the park, they weren't noisy and never gave any trouble and they'd just stand or sit there.

On a sad note, many dog owners gave up their dogs when the economy went bad - this year more than ever we saw rail-thin dogs without owners wandering the streets at all times of the day and night.  We couldn't even look at these poor little darlings directly because they would come up to you and ask with the pleading look in their eyes for you to take them home.

5.  More remnants of the past:

A street vendor of Maté and other drinks.  Why so many different flasks?  Different flavours?  There were also street vendors for roasted peanuts and...cupcakes!  Of course you won't see this kind of thing in Toronto nowadays - but Man Yung remembers that in Hong Kong, street vendors and open-air markets used to be quite common on every street corner even up to the end of the nineties.


Here's another Buenos Aires street vendor selling some kind of contraption for making decorative flowers out of putty.


Talk about unusual! These kinds of "British-style" mailboxes were also common in Hong Kong in the past - imagine our surprise finding them in use in Buenos Aires!





Thursday, October 25, 2012

We continue to talk (ad naseum) and post videos about our "Big Night" at Salon Canning

...and why not?  It may not mean anything for people who don't dance Tango, like, all of our immediate and extended family, all our friends outside of Tango, all our work colleagues, our car mechanic or our grocer etc. - but surely an opportunity to perform in Salon Canning should be nothing to sniff at and quite possibly something to write home about?

Wait a moment - to think about it, it doesn't really mean anything for quite a few people who dance Tango either - if they are dancing in Toronto, that is!

Despite the overwhelming odds against anyone even having the remotest interest in what we were up to in Salon Canning, we will nonetheless keep on divulging more and more details here on this site, where we write for our own delight and to annoy the one, two or maybe as much as three people around the world who may have landed on our blog by searching for the "Mr. Men" or "Naked Richard Hatch" on Google:

THE MUSIC

We had made a whole long list of music that Man Yung would have enjoyed performing to, or music that we thought that may "WOW" the audience as contenders for what we would dance to on the "Night of the Salon Canning Extravaganza". 

Then we realized that Martha and Manolo AND Osvaldo and Coca had confirmed that they will be there at Salon Canning to watch us perform.  That meant we had to pick something that meant something to both sets of Maestros - if we picked music that meant something to one set of Maestros and not the other set someone will be ANGRY! 

"How about 'El Adios' as our choice for Tango?" we said to each other.  Yes, we have performed to this twice already in Buenos Aires but it is a winner because both Martha and Manolo and Osvaldo and Coca have performed to it too.

"How about 'El Cicatriz' as the milonga?"  We have seen Manolo perform to it before in the Bridge to the Tango video and we know that he must have danced to this with Martha too.  However, when Osvaldo asked us about our musical selection, he disagreed with the choice (perhaps because he hasn't performed to it).  "You should pick something slower!" he said.  Thinking about the 'El Adios' theory above, I immediately thought of an alternative - "How about 'Ella es asi?'"

Since both Martha and Manolo and Osvaldo and Coca perform to this regularly, it got ok from everyone!

As for Canyengue - I chose it all by my lonesome. 'Paja Brava' is nice and slow.  I am old and decrepid and my knees will give way if I try to dance Canyengue any faster.*

* And that's why Man Yung keeps on saying, "Irene, are you for real or are you imitating prima donna FIFA football players and diving whenever we are dancing Canyengue?  It's time for me to get a partner with sturdier knees!"

THE COSTUMES

I felt woefully inadequate in the costume department as I had nothing that screamed "TANGO"! - I do not own a single item of clothing that had sequins, feathers or fishnets (or all of the above).  As a compromise, I brought along a black skirt that was 'kind-of' see-through and a fancy red top - as everyone knows, the official colours of "TANGO"! are black and red and maybe people will forgive the fact that I am not wearing a glittering skin tight dress plunging to my wrinkly middle-aged navel and slit right up to reveal my supersized granny panties.

Right before setting out for Salon Canning, I realized that I had never danced in my fancy red top before and therefore had never ascertained whether the top would be susceptible to 'wardrobe malfunction'.

"Better to be safe than sorry - it is monstrous enough having to perform in public at the most important Tango venue in Buenos Aires.  The last thing I want to do is to flash someone!"  And I threw on a black yoga top from Lululemon.

As for Man Yung - he wore a navy jacket from Tilley Endurables with pants that are a different colour.  Why?  Because the pants that match didn't fit on him after a couple of tubs of Freddo's ice cream and several nights of beer, wine, torta ricota and asado.  And want to know something else?  The pockets of his Tilley jacket are sealed with VELCRO.*  Yes folks, exciting!  In a "Nuevo Tango", "Hey, I haven't encountered that before" kind of way!

* So that I won't pickpocket him while he is lost in the throes of Canyengue Passion.

Fifteen minutes before the performance, one of the organizers of Parakultural gleefully announced to us that washrooms have been cleared of people - "You can go ahead and change into your costumes now!"

We look at him blankly for a second.  "Oh yes - thank you so much - we have already changed!"

I wonder if he was in any way disappointed at our reply?

THE CHOREOGRAPHY

None!  Everything was entirely improvised!

We wouldn't know how to do choreography even if you tied little strings on our arms and legs and manipulated our limbs from a giant overhead crane like we were puppets.  We were only taught to dance one way - that is, completely without any planning!* ** ***

*  Manolo's advice to us - and he said it three times on three separate occasions: "JUST DANCE WHAT YOU KNOW". 

** We said to Osvaldo and Coca a couple of days before the performance, "What should we do?  It's like we aren't even prepared!  Shouldn't we rehearse or something?"  Osvaldo's reply:  "Nene, don't be ridiculous!  We never rehearse ourselves - we just go ahead!  You'll be just fine dancing like you usually do!"

*** Manolo and Osvaldo must understand us very well - we would make right fools of ourselves if we did some choreography.

In fact, we danced just like we would in a milonga - therefore the dorky, follow the line of dance dancing and decided lack of leaping, kicking**** and spinning with enough centrifugal force to separate curds from whey.

**** Except for that high kicking thing I did during the Canyengue.  "Wow, you freaked me out when your leg shot up that high!" said Man Yung afterwards. "You never do stuff like that in the milonga!" I responded: "I had to do it - Martha taught me that especially for Canyengue and if I didn't do it, she would say I wasn't doing any adornments. Once I got it out of the way I was home free!"

"No wonder no-one in Toronto is interested!" said Man Yung.  "They have seen it all before and our kind of dancing must be completely and utterly boring to them by now.  I think they would much rather see a Tango performance that would have us jumping through flaming hoops, escaping from a locked and chained underwater chamber while in straitjackets, or even being shot from a cannon. We have let Toronto Tango down once again!"*****

***** Conversely, are we giving hope to those Tangueros and Tangueras out there who are purely interested in dancing social Tango?  You, too can perform at Salon Canning without spending months devising or rehearsing choreography!  Because, you know, sometimes people don't want to see fireworks or bizarre high concept performance art or even Cirque du Soleil tricks.  They just want to see you dance Tango.


THE SURPRISE

We have written before how much our Tango Hero Daniel Lapadula's instructional DVD, "Tango Estilo del Centro" had aided us along in our Tango journey, way back when in our Tango infancy in 2005.  You can read about it here in our post "Daniel Lapadula and the Thirty-Sixth Chamber of the Shaolin Temple" (Yes, please read - it is just as exciting as it sounds!)

The strange thing is, while we have bumped into every possible person we would want to bump into during our eight trips to Buenos Aires - we have never had the opportunity to bump into Daniel.  Guess who was at the door of Salon Canning when we arrived?

It was Daniel!

"Daniel! Daniel! Look, it is Daniel!" I said to Man Yung.

He is very tall!  We didn't realize that until we met him in person.

We even took photos!

 We are excited finally to meet our Tango Hero Daniel Lapadula!  At Salon Canning!

Daniel actually remembers us and our emails to him eons ago.  Yippee! 

Now that the little chinese people had stopped jumping around him in glee, Daniel had to explain to the people at his table how come we were so excited to see him (Because of his DVD! We learned our basics from his DVD!) 

We think Daniel was originally planning to leave before our performance but he stuck around just to see us.  Before we went on, he even came around to wish us "Mucha mierda" (Lots of crap) - which is the Argentinian way of saying "Good luck, break a leg"!

Because of the filming angle of our camera, we caught Daniel's reaction to our performance throughout most of the video.  We think he was kind of anxious at the beginning... What if these little chinese people who claim to have learned from his DVD suck?  That wouldn't reflect in a positive way on the methods of 'Tango Estilo del Centro', right?

...Luckily, we did fine and even got some applause!  "Look, Daniel is smiling!" we said when we looked at the video.

As we said before - Daniel's methods work!  And here we are seven years later performing at Salon Canning! (Well, we had a lot of help from Martha and Manolo and Osvaldo and Coca and Alberto and Paulina too!)

Dear Daniel:  Thanks for your DVD - it helped us a lot when we most needed help as Tango beginners!  Thanks for sticking around and watching our performance and for caring!  Un abrazo muy muy grande!

THE WITTY, PRE-PERFORMANCE BANTER

When the gracious host and organizer of Parakultural Omar Viola introduced us, he let Martha and Manolo talk about us.

"Irene and Man Yung are our dearest friends of the soul," Martha said.  Martha and Manolo always introduce us to the people they know by talking about our history - our classes with them in Toronto 2006, where we met them for the first time... how we came to Buenos Aires for the first time, only because of them, to learn from them again and participate in their Camicando Festival... how we return every year and how we honour and respect them as our teachers and beloved friends and we have been welcomed into their Tango family. Martha continued: "When I heard that they were coming to Buenos Aires, because they dance well, we thought of arranging for the opportunity of an exhibition at Salon Canning...."

Osvaldo spoke up.  "Hey!  Don't forget, they are MY students!"

"Is there going to be a fight between the Maestros (over these little chinese people)?" said Omar Viola.

Manolo took the mike and reassured everyone that there will not be a fight - they are all friends and they are all there to support us!*  And don't worry, Osvaldo was only joking!

* We are lucky - imagine if there was a fight between the Maestros to disown us, because we dance and behave so badly they would rather not be known as our teachers?:  "Osvaldo, you simply must take them!" "Please, Manolo, no need for courtesy - you can call them all your own, I don't want anything to do with them!"

THE VIDEOS OF THE PERFORMANCE

Ta da! Here we are, dancing Canyengue, Tango and Milonga.  Avert your eyes, if necessary:


Canyengue - "Paja Brava" by Orquesta Tipica Victor


Tango - "El Adios" by Edgardo Donato


Milonga - "Ella es asi" by Edgardo Donato

THE AUDIENCE REACTION

They didn't mind that we danced JUST WHAT WE KNEW!

They applauded at our interpretation of the music!  That means that they clapped when our movements were expressive of the music (and not just politely at the end) - instead of during places where we spun particularly fast or kicked particularly high.  Nope, you won't find any of those moments in our performance, too bad - but you will find lots of Tango performers incorporating these hijinks willy-nilly into their exhibitions regardless of the music just to get applause.  Not us!

Lots of people came to congratulate us.  One Porteño gentleman had actually seen us before at Glorias Argentinas and Pinar de Rocha - and he was very pleased again at our performance.  

"You guys did good!  Congratulations!  I even had a tear in my eye!" he said.  We have a hard time imagining him tearing up in emotion - he is a big strong guy with a big grin and looks like he could wrestle anybody and win with both hands tied behind his back.  He winked.  "Look now, I don't have a tear in my eye for just anybody!*  Good job!"

* Or maybe he was crying because we danced really horribly?   Something to ponder!

But the most important thing was this:  Our friends and teachers were proud of us.


We are with our teachers Martha and Manolo and Osvaldo and Coca, and our wonderful friends Ruben and Elena at Salon Canning.  Thank you so much for all your advice, support and love all through the years, and for driving so far through the storm and the rain to see us perform!  
Los queremos mucho!
 THE AFTERMATH

So, after an opportunity and success such as this, you'd think we would just leverage this into a profitable Tango career by adding it to our Tango resumé and making it truly impressive!

It is too bad... we don't want to teach or become Tango professionals.  We are quite content sticking with just dancing.  In fact, we neglect to mention to everyone we met that "We have performed in Salon Canning" (Exclamation mark!)

We were sitting at La Nacional with some very nice people we just met in some of Martha and Manolo and Osvaldo and Coca's classes just the other day.  They were reading some Tango magazines they just picked up at the door.

They turned to us suddenly.  "Hey - your photos are in the magazine!  Wait a moment...what does it say?  It says that you performed in Salon Canning?!?" 

We look at them in surprise.  They show us the photo of us in Punto Tango's October edition.  We were on the list of the scheduled performances that month.

"And not just Salon Canning - it's Parakultural!" They look like they are in awe.

They were so nice, they gave us a copy of the magazine (we didn't know we were in it so we didn't grab a copy) asked us to autograph the copy of the magazine that they are keeping.

I hesitated.  "Are you sure you want me to spoil your lovely, clean magazine by writing all over it?"

So much for stardom!


















Sunday, October 21, 2012

How to belong in Buenos Aires

 La Milonga del Moran

Since we started writing our blog, many of our Tango friends and acquaintances have reacted in fear over some of the stuff we have written.

“Are you sure you want to say that?  Aren’t you afraid of offending Mr/Ms X?” they whisper perilously, with their hair standing on end and with eyes wide open as big as saucers.

Some have even told us that as much as they “like” us as people, they can’t comment on our blog or link to us from their own websites/blogs or even acknowledge that they read our blog for fear of “Well, you know, I’m a tango teacher/organizer/professional and you don’t want me to get into trouble for being associated with you with your rather brave remarks! Ha ha ha (fearful embarrassed laughter) etc.”  In fact, one particular lady used to sit with us and bug us incessantly with her malicious backstabbing gossip (hoping that we would write humorously about the targets of her hatred, in fact) but only at certain milongas or on the phone.  At other places where she needed to maintain a certain “image”, she would pretend not to know us and not even say hello because, “Well, you know....”

Yes, indeed, we know - you are too chicken, and heya!  You aren’t much of a friend.

Of course, secretly, these folks are overjoyed when we deride the latest arrogant Tango Fabio who has descended into town, or the inconsiderate jerk who keeps flinging his partner into everybody’s shins.  And to tell the truth, do we regret writing what we have written? 

We don’t regret it at all!

We have never set out to be Tango teachers/organizers/professionals etc.  We aren’t even that interested in dancing with any body other than each other.  We don’t really NEED anyone to approve of what we say, or what we are, since we aren’t pining for people to ask us to dance, or to come to our classes or our milonga or to like the music we play.  Or even to read our blog, which must be by now the LEAST read blog in the Tangoblogaverse.  Our moms have raised us to “Tell it like it is,” and we do.  If you don’t like it, too bad, because we don’t care!

And you know what?  Tango needs more people to tell the truth.  The idiot with no sense of personal space who is completely oblivious to the people he is bumping into on the dance floor?  The road rager who tailgates the couple in front even though there are only two couples dancing?  The guy who stages his own Calle Florida high kicking spectacular in the middle of a crowded milonga?  Well, we are happy to report that they are all dancing a lot more considerately now.  Not only are they dancing better and getting more dances, there is less of a chance that other, perhaps new dancers are emulating their bad behavior thinking that that is acceptable in a milonga.  The level of dancing and the pleasure that milonga attendees have in attending the milonga can only increase.  Think about the reverse situation - no one saying anything, inconsiderate behavior being the rule rather than the exception, the milonga pista descending into a free-for-all, everyone-for-himself/herself mess....that’s one sure way to Tango Hell.

This is the eighth time that we have traveled to Buenos Aires, and we are happy that we have made wonderful, enduring friendships with Porteño milongueros and milongueras, and have become closer every year to our beloved Porteño teachers and mentors.   Some people back in Toronto have commented on how lucky we are to be close to so many people in Buenos Aires - and yes, having the chance to meet Martha and Manolo, Osvaldo and Coca, Alberto and Paulina and all the other lovely, magnificent people of tango was sometimes about luck and timing.  However, to become part of their Tango family - to see the sheer joy in their eyes whenever you return to the city, to be embraced by them in crushing embraces which lets you know they never want to let you go, to be missed and talked about fondly when you leave ... That is nothing to do with luck.  We can tell also you that it has nothing to do with strict compliance with certain expert advice you may find on the internet about “codigos” - you know, all that nagging about where you should change your shoes, etc.  - either.  As Elba Biscay once said to us, "Go ahead and change your shoes under the table - remember, just your shoes, and not your underwear!"

Now, we have to talk about something “fea” (ugly) - as an example of what not to do.  There is one lady (not going to say who, you will have to guess) who thinks she is getting it right, but in fact, is getting it all wrong when it comes to endearing herself to the dancers here in Buenos Aires.  Famous for causing disturbances back in Toronto milongas (she has since toned down - yes, we wrote something about it), she was kind of famous for this in Buenos Aires as well, to the point where our Porteño friends would ask us nervously whether we knew her, since she was from Toronto - and they’d be completely relieved when we said no. 

We heard with our own ears back in Toronto all her boasting.  “I know _________ and _____________ really well and I treated them to dinner at MY fabulous apartment and I'm going to invite ______________ and _______________ to dinner as well and they will come because I'm like real chums with them and I am so generous and you know what, I spent $__________ on classes with ________________ and _______________ and I bought _________________ CDs and DVDs from them as well and spent $________________!!!!”  It was like she was the second coming of The Messiah with her money and how she was lavishly treating the poor third world Porteño teachers/milongueros with her first world money and largesse.  Her attitude was abhorrent - we couldn’t even believe our ears when we heard her boasting and she even pronounced some of the names of the teachers she was mentioning wrong.  Some of the names she mentioned were people we knew.  She was lucky that she isn’t a man with the insulting and condescending things she said - because if she was, for the sake of honour, we’d have to invite her outside and give her a drubbing. 

The funny thing was, when we asked some of the persons she had mentioned whether she had indeed, had paid for or bought whatever it was that she so proudly boasted about - the answer was that sure, she took a few classes, but the rest of it was completely untrue!

How could she expect to be loved when she had no respect?  No respect for the milonga - causing a ruckus and hoopla wherever she went, disrupting dancers who are trying to enjoy the music.  No respect for herself - touching and forcing herself onto people whose forced, embarrassed smiles and tense body language clearly said “No”.  No respect for the teachers and professionals she should honour and revere for their wisdom in teaching her - instead treating them as objects whose affection can be bought with money for her own aggrandizement.  She didn't care about the feelings of the people she said she was "generous" to (what, are they beggars or leeches who need her to feed them?) - it was all about herself, and how to make herself look and feel important when she boasted. Instead of treating people honestly, with respect, she connives and calculates to draw attention to herself.  Yes, her behavior gets her noticed in the milongas - but only as an object of pity or horror, or perhaps as a target for those men looking to take advantage of foreign women with money.

To belong here - and to belong in Tango, and by that, we mean the rich, emotional Tango culture of the milongueros, not the washed-out copy you may find somewhere else - you have to be honest and respectful. You have to come with humility - with an open heart and a sense of wonder and appreciation for the things you can experience and learn from the masters who have lived Tango all their lives.  You have to treat the dance floor and other dancers with respect.  You have to dance with tranquility and sincerity, for yourself, for your partner, for the music - and for Tango.  The milongueros and milongueras will welcome you into their world - and your teachers will be proud of you.  This is how you make Tango your family, your home.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

We perform at Salon Canning (yes, that's right - we can't believe it ourselves!)

We are in Buenos Aires!  It's only a short visit (as always) but already so much has happened....We've met up with friends, we have stayed out all night at milongas, we have eaten a ton at our favourite restaurant La Madeleine - now that I have started learning about calories I realize that each delicious dish there must be like, thousands and thousands of calories - but I don't care!

With respect to performances, we performed last Saturday at J.L. milonga at La Nacional.  They remembered us from last year and asked us to perform again - we asked Osvaldo and Coca, "Hey, won't they be like, bored to see us again?" and they replied, "Don't be silly!"  We'll be uploading some videos of our performance soon, once we find a better internet connection than the one we have at the hotel.  We also performed on Monday at Salon Canning.  Yep, you heard us right - THE Salon Canning, pretty much the most well known dance hall in Buenos Aires.

With respect to our performance at Salon Canning, this is how it happened.

We emailed Martha and Manolo when we knew when we would be in Buenos Aires this year, and they emailed us back with a cryptic message.

"It has been arranged," they said.

Huh?  What has been arranged?

"Your exhibition at Salon Canning on October 15. You will send your photo to the organizer Omar Viola."

After hyperventilating for about 24 hours, we searched high and low for a "suitable" photo of us to send to Omar Viola.  Unfortunately, we didn't have any photos of us in dazzling Tango "Gear".  Or in delectable Tango "Poses". Actually, we didn't have many photos of just the two of us to choose from.  The best we could do was a pretty dorky pic that we took at El Tacuari after Osvaldo and Coca's class - which ended up on the Salon Canning website on the list of upcoming performers!

"Oh my God," we said when we saw the list of performers on the website.  "There's Javier Rodriguez and his new partner, there's Fabian Peralta, there's the newest Tango Salon champions, there's Julio and Corinna - and there's us!  We look really, really out of place!"

Here's the photo that we sent so you could imagine for yourself how surreal (and absurd) it was seeing our photo there among the photos of all the other famous tango professionals:

"Who are these Chinos?" they said after seeing our photo on the website. "For sure I want to go to Salon Canning on October 15 to see them dance! (Not!)"

They even put our names on the Salon Canning flyers and on the Salon Canning placemats (you bet we took some of those home as souvenirs - most of the people in Toronto won't believe us if we said we performed in Salon Canning and ha ha! we have proof!) and we're like, what have we got ourselves into now? 

Anyway, so October 15 actually arrived and we performed and it was ok!  Actually, it was more than ok.  We'll write all about it a little later.  Right now we are just tearing out our hair trying to upload the videos onto Youtube with the very unreliable internet connection that we have.

We did manage to upload one video after THREE days of trying.  Canyengue!  Here's the video of us dancing Canyengue at Salon Canning - we'll try to get the tango and milonga videos up soon:









Monday, October 1, 2012

Martha and Manolo AND Osvaldo and Coca (Again) at Viva La Pepa Milonga and La Milonga de Moran

Just wanted to post the individual exhibitions by Martha and Manolo and Osvaldo and Coca when they were at Viva La Pepa Milonga - first, a magnificent Canyengue by Martha and Manolo:



and secondly, a Tango by Osvaldo and Coca:



.... and then, when we were looking around Youtube, there they were again - Martha and Manolo AND Osvaldo and Coca together (with a whole bunch of other milonguero dancers) at La Milonga de Moran:


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sorrow

Yeah, sure, nice photo...but the little old lady was right, while we were snapping photos this morning in the park we were worried all the time that our camera battery would run out of power (and yes indeed it did)

There's a sweet little old lady who lives alone in one of the townhouses in our neighbourhood.  We got to know her this year because we kept on seeing her in front of her house whenever we went for a walk in the nearby park.  Although she needs to rely on a walker to get around, she is bright, healthy and alert.   She could see us and hear us just fine from half a block away and we always wave and holler hello at each other as we pass.

"Do you know how old I am?" she asked us as we were chatting one day.  "I'm ninety-seven years old!"

She is in amazing condition for someone in her nineties - we would never have guessed that she is almost as old as Tango!   

In the summer, she'd sit outside her front door with all her friends from the surrounding townhouses and gossip until well after the streetlights came on.  However, it's autumn now and it's already dark and cold by dinnertime.  We have been persisting with our daily walks but when we're outside the little old lady's house we could see that her porch is unlit and she's sitting all by herself in the kitchen.

The only time we get to chat now is on Sunday mornings - we're up at seven-thirty (and after a late night at the milonga - quite a feat!) and we've already finished our walk by nine-thirty.  By the time we are back, the little old lady is usually waiting at the curb for her son to drive her to church.

This morning, she was annoyed.  "Goddamn it, he was supposed to be here at nine!" she said.  Wait a moment - did she actually say "Goddamn"?

We looked at our watches - and the rascal was indeed late by twenty minutes.  And still nowhere in sight. 

We were concerned.  "Are you alright?  Are you cold?  Are you wearing enough clothes? Do you want to go back into your house to wait?" we asked. 

"I'm ok, don't worry!" She was in good spirits despite having to wait.   Another car drove up the street and she craned her neck to see better.  "Nope, that's not his car," she said.

We decided to stay and talk to her a little to keep her company.

"It's great that you are in such good health at your age," Man Yung said, trying to distract her from being irritated about her tardy son. "I hope you will be just as healthy and happy at one hundred!"

The little old lady grimaced and rolled her eyes.  "Oh, no thank you!  It'll kill me to have to live that long!"

We were completely surprised at her response.  "But wouldn't it be a great thing to live to a hundred years old?  You'll get a letter of congratulations from the Queen!"

She cackled at the absurdity.  "What good would that be?  My son is always late and I'll still be waiting for him to show up to drive me to church!"  She shook her head.  "I'll tell you what it's like to live as long as me.  When you're thirty, you worry.  When you're forty, you worry.  When you're fifty, you worry.  When you're sixty, you worry.  Seventy, eighty, ninety.....every decade is sorrow.  You know, my granddaughter just got married this past July - I was all excited and happy and ready to go to the big wedding party in Vancouver.  But I couldn't!  My Travel Health Insurance would cost a FREAKIN' EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS! That's more than all the government benefits that I would get in an entire FREAKIN' YEAR!"

We learned something new today!

1.   We like it when old folks are crabby and honest and tell it like it is.  No painting a pretty picture with all roses and rainbows and puppy dogs or any of that crap!

2.  "Oh, no wonder why it's harder and harder for the older generation milongueros to travel outside of Buenos Aires to teach - once they get up in age, their health insurance would cost a FREAKIN' EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS!"

3.  "Thank god, Man Yung, that we didn't decide to save for a downpayment on a bigger house and instead blew all our savings on traveling to Buenos Aires twice a year for the past couple of years.  It's really is better that you go now, before the milongueros have all passed on - and most importantly, before you get so old that your travel health insurance costs a FREAKIN' EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS!"












Monday, September 24, 2012

Martha and Manolo AND Osvaldo and Coca at Viva La Pepa Milonga, September 23, 2012

Now, this is not something you get to see everyday!  Our teachers Martha and Manolo AND Osvaldo and Coca together on the same floor!  And not only will you get to see Martha and Manolo and Osvaldo and Coca, you will also get to see Osvaldo and Martha, and Manolo and Coca, AND.... Manolo and Osvaldo!:



This is absolutely fantastic!  Can't wait to see them soon!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Irene and Man Yung perform to "Poema" at Salon Rodriguez, October 12, 2011

We have been so busy this year that there's a lot of videos from our past trip(s) that we haven't posted up on the internet yet.  So in the next two weeks, we will (hopefully) get around to that!

Here's a video we talked about in our post about going to Martha Fama's milonga in October of 2011.  Now, we met Marta Fama (and Man Yung danced with her several times) again when we were at Juan Lencino's milonga at La Nacional (which you can reminisce about here).  She must have had a good impression of us, because as we were leaving the milonga with Osvaldo and Coca, it seemed to us that she was asking Osvaldo and Coca to bring us to her milonga the following Wednesday at Salon Rodriguez for some mysterious purpose (and we were like "?????" because Irene's Spanish isn't that great).

This is from our journal about what happened that following Wednesday at "La Gorra de Rodriguez":


It was like half-past three when we got back to the hotel.  We were free until the evening so we did laundry and took a nap.  Marta Fama's was at 9:00 p.m. so there was plenty of time - we even had some instant noodles before heading out.

Something ugly happened when we were getting our taxi to get to Marta Fama's milonga.  We had to wait a little bit but we finally got a taxi at the taxi stand.  Man Yung already noticed there was a guy harassing the shop owner as he shut down his store for the night, a couple of units down from where we were standing.  What surprised me was that the hobo came over as we were getting into out taxi to harass us!  He wanted Man Yung to give him money, but Man Yung didn't have any change and he refused to be bullied.  The hobo even demanded that we hand over our hats!  No, we wouldn't budge.  The taxi driver - and older, bald gentleman - kept on saying to the guy in a calm voice, "Close the door, buddy.  Close the door."  Finally after thirty seconds of this, the hobo realized he wasn't getting anywhere and we were able to close the door.  However, the guy spat at the taxi, which was nasty.  After this very unpleasant experience, the taxi driver felt quite sorry and embarrassed that such a thing would happen to use as guests in the city and he kept on reassuring us that this was not normal.

The taxi driver was confused about the address - luckily I had the flyer that Marta Fama gave us and handed it over to him because it referenced a landmark called Cid Campeador.  Man Yung had the foresight to tell me to bring the flyer instead of just writing down the address in my notebook - perhaps he had ESP that it would not be an easy place to find!  We had a conversation with the taxi driver about chinese people eating dogs and cats (apparently, that's what Argentinians think that Chinese people do!)... he chuckled when I commented about the poor little pets!  I think he was being extra friendly after the horrible incident with the hobo.

Cid Campeador is actually a statue of a guy on a horse waving a sword.  I think we have passed by before.  The streets around the statue are kind of confusing - going this way and that diagonally, with every road apparently "contra-mano" (going the wrong way).  Finally after a lot of diligent number hunting and going to and fro, we arrive at Salon Rodriguez.  The place looked kind of deserted and it was in the middle of a block of residential street.

The florescent lights made the place look "El Arranque" green - no one was milling about the entrance way, we had to go up some steps to the 1 1/2 floor (past the washrooms).  The hall is big but looked like a smaller hall and a bigger hall joined together.  Marta Fama was teaching milonga traspie in the smaller hall, and she had maybe twenty students.  She was dressed in skinny cigarette pants and a gypsy blouse, looking as chic as ever - and when she saw us she rushed over to kiss us hello.  She told us to sit "over there" at a table by the side of the wall - so we headed over there. The fan was going on pretty strong so we kind of rearranged a table.  We went to pay Marta's dour-faced assistant - and she asked us where we were sitting, and then told us we couldn't sit there - and she moved us to the side near the bar.  We were getting settled at the new table when Marta Fama finished her class - and came over to tell us that we couldn't sit there... we explained to her that's where her assistant put us.  Her assistant came over and Marta Fama had a look of disapproval on her face and told her that we have to sit "there" (pointing back to the place we were going to sit at in the first place).  So we had to haul ourselves back over "there" - the original table!

Osvaldo and Coca came not long afterwards. When Marta Fama greeted them I heard her ask Osvaldo whether his students (us) would do a demonstration for everyone.  So that's what she was talking about at La Nacional!  We tried to protest - Man Yung thought he would get away with not performing as he didn't bring his jacket.  Marta Fama said, "It doesn't matter, people aren't looking at your jacket they will be looking at your feet." Oh well - can't back out of it. And look at the VIP people coming in (now they will have to suffer the agony of watching Irene and Man Yung perform)!  El Chino came with some other old guys - and they sat two tables down from us. 

Clely also came - she sat at the table that the assistant put us at.  We said hello - we are seeing each other everywhere we go.  Coca was hungry - she went with Osvaldo to the bar to say hello to the kitchen people, and when she came back, she already knew that she wanted to order a potato omelet.  "But I can't eat the whole thing, I have to share!" she said.  We went over to get her a piece - they have ready to serve food laid out at the bar and all of it seemed to be potato omelet in different shapes.

Man Yung was off dancing when Blas arrived.  Blas came over to say hello to Osvaldo and Coca, and he said hello to me to be polite - but he didn't recognize me.  He recognized Man Yung though!  His eyes lit up when Man Yung came back and he gave Man Yung a big hug.

The entrada was only 10 pesos.  There was a table of relatively young people on the opposite side - somebody was having a birthday. Martha and Manolo's student Laura (who sometimes teaches there classes for them when they are not available) was there at the party.  She had chandelier earrings on and looked quite pretty in her green jersey dress, and people from her party danced with her, even the dj (who looks like Pablo Veron but not as tall) danced with her.  We said hello, we were mutually surprised to see each other there (the milonga was kind of for locals and off the beaten track - so yes, we were all surprised that we would end up there!).  Man Yung also danced with her a tanda - and a tanda of milonga with Clely.  Guess who else we saw?  It was Stella - Man Yung wasn't sure but I jogged his memory - "It's Stella, the girl from Viejo Correo with her mother!" I said.  She is quite popular with the locals. We thought we wouldn't have the chance to see her now that Nina and Luis's milonga at Viejo Correo is no more.  We exchanged emails and facebook information, and Man Yung asked her to dance.  The other men at the milonga must be very jealous Man Yung is dancing with all their "girls".

Man Yung is doing more and more steps and not sticking to Osvaldo's steps.  He did some steps and asked Osvaldo to look.  Osvaldo looked at his crazy student and said, "Now I've learned something new!" .... NOT in a totally positive way.  Man Yung has to remember that Osvaldo and Coca do not do ganchos.   

It was almost time for us to perform - but Laura had to go.  We said goodbye to her - she asked whether we were going to Martha and Manolo's practica the next day, but we couldn't, we had a birthday party to go to.  The DJ asked us what we wanted to perform to but Osvaldo decided for us, we will dance to "Poema", he said.  So we danced "Poema":



Funny captions that can go with this video include:

1. "What's with the silence and the sound of crickets chirping? (Except for the part where we jumped out of our seat when Osvaldo yelled at Marta Fama for blocking the camera)"  

2.  "Wow, it's quiet - now we understand what it's like for Championship Salon Tango style dancers to perform - people don't clap until the dancing is all finished, and not because they liked it - they're only applauding because they are relieved that they won't have to watch it anymore!"

3.  "Did we forget to bribe the people to applaud?  Don't tell me that Man Yung spent all the bribe money on whiskey!"

4.  "Man Yung!  I told you not to dance with these nice gentlemen's partners.  Now they are all jealous and they won't clap when we perform!"

5.  "Oh no!  Now Laura will go and tell Martha and Manolo tomorrow that Irene and Man Yung performed a Tango and no-one applauded.  They will shake their heads sadly and say, 'We told them to stick to Canyengue instead of unleashing their half-baked Tango willy-nilly upon the unsuspecting masses, but they wouldn't listen!'"

OK, we are only half-joking about the above.  We are kind of spoiled by the enthusiastic applause we usually get!  It was pretty quiet throughout the performance, but it was a good experience for us - we weren't thinking at all of doing any "tricks" to elicit applause because we were too busy enjoying dancing! When it ended we both had the same thought - out of the many times we have had the chance to perform in Buenos Aires, it was the performance that we enjoyed doing the most.  Osvaldo and Coca was proud of us, and so was Blas, who gave us a big smile and a hug after we came back to our table. "Poema" is not a big "applause" song (it is rather sedate - doesn't have big spinning fireworks in the middle like some songs from Color Tango!) and this is the way it should be danced if you don't want to do circus tricks. 





Alberto Dassieu

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