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. 


Edmund said...

I would have been scared to death to give a demonstration in Buenos Aires! How many times have you been down there?

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Edmund,

We've been to Buenos Aires seven times - and if we remember correctly, our performance in Salon Rodriguez was the sixth time we performed in Buenos Aires (we have also performed in Circulo Apolo, La Baldosa, Saraza, Pinar de Rocha, and La Nacional). A few days after this, we also got to perform at Clely's milonga at Rivadavia Club. We're pretty lucky to have so many opportunities - and yes, it's pretty scary, but on the other hand, it's less scary for us to perform in Buenos Aires than in our hometown Toronto. Why is that? Well, in Buenos Aires, the milongueros know their tango - so long you dance with musicality and feeling, they will love (or at least respect) your performance. However, out of Buenos Aires (or in Buenos Aires milongas where there are mostly tourists from out of town), the audience won't be satisfied unless you do something out of cirque du soleil - like set yourself on fire while running away from ravenous lions while jumping through a spiked hoop off the top of the CN Tower. Ok, we are exaggerating, but generally speaking, these people want to see tricks - while the Milongueros want to see Tango.

Our experience in giving exhibitions in Buenos Aires has taught us that it's ok just to dance! Whether we get a lot of applause, or a little applause, or no applause, the most important thing is that we are dancing tango together.

Thanks for your comment!

Irene and Man Yung

Irene and Man Yung said...

Hi everybody reading the comments,

Whoops, we really did undercount the number of times we had performed in Buenos Aires -

In addition to performing at Circulo Apolo, La Baldosa, Saraza, Pinar de Rocha, La Nacional, Salon Rodriguez and Rivadavia Club, we have also performed at Club Oeste (at La Yumba de Dorita), and we have both performed (but not together!) on two separate occasions at Glorias Argentinas (Man Yung with Susy Tilbe and Irene with Alberto Dassieu). We have also participated in group performances at the Camicando festival, once at Confiteria Ideal, and once at La Baldosa.

Holy moly, that's a lot of times! It's times like these we are kicking ourselves that we are not "Tango Professionals", because with all these performances we would have plenty of stuff to pad our resumes with and make us sound really impressive! (NOT!)

Actually, after performing all these times, the best piece of advice we can give is this: If you ever have a chance to perform, it is best NOT to do things in your exhibition for the reason of getting more applause, because you will fall into the trap of being a two person Tango Circus (Now on stage in Tango Hell!)

All you need to do when you perform is dance Tango, purely for the sake of dancing Tango - that would be more than enough!

Irene and Man Yung

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