Tuesday, December 28, 2010

There's always a party at Glorias Argentinas - October 23, 2010

After enjoying a few hours at Los Consagrados with Roberto and Olga and Ruben and Cherie, we hopped onto a remise for the long trip out to Glorias Argentinas.

There's always a party going on at Glorias Argentinas.  When we arrived, friends and family were gathering at their accustomed tables again, laughing, talking and eating merrily.  The lady who receives the entrada was so excited to see us and talk to us she forgot to say hello to the other people in line who just received their entradas from her.  "Everyone has been talking about the two of you since last Saturday!" she said.  We scratched our heads, what could "Everyone" have been talking about?

Carlos Anzuate insisted that we sit at his table - he was quite annoyed that we sat with Martha and Manolo the last time!  Hey, we have other friends too!   It's hard to say no or sneak by, his table occupies an important position right between the bar and the entrance.  One good thing though - Carlos has found love again since the sad death of his wife Porota last year - which meant that he was occupied most of the evening talking and dancing with his lovely new paramour.  We were afraid that he would feel lonely since Porota died, but now we were overjoyed to see how happy he was with his new girlfriend.  Carlos is in his eighties - more the reason to seize the day!

As usual, Oscar Hector prepared something special for the milonga.  His energy in organizing Glorias, other milongas and other events is inexhaustible.  On this night, he had a live guitar trio up on stage - playing music that was quite challenging to dance to!  The band encouraged everyone to get up and dance to their music.

Guitar trio to the people of Glorias Argentinas:  
Please dance to our music!  If you stay seated we will look like a bunch of asses up here on the stage.
Sorry we couldn't show you photos of the dance floor - we were too busy dancing there with the locals to the music!  It was more difficult to dance to the live music (not that Man Yung has any problems - I can play five minutes of bird calls from Naturespace and Man Yung could dance perfectly "to the music" with that), but everyone had a blast.  The couples all around us were smiling and laughing after every song.  In the middle of the set the trio asked whether people wanted to dance another tango, milonga or vals.  Some yelled out "Tango!", some yelled out "Milonga!", some yelled out "Vals!".... so the band played them all.

It was not a matter of looking slick on the dance floor, following the codes, or even being "Ambassadors of Tango", whatever that is - the band invited the dancers to dance, and the people happily obliged.  That's how you get a party going. In Buenos Aires, milongas are not the "Proving Grounds of the Tango Overlords".  They are just a big parties with music and dancing and food and friends and fun.  We (and the regulars of Glorias Argentinas) wouldn't have it any other way. 

Here you can see Bob and Viv in the foreground looking quite exasperated in the presence of locals engaging in "non-traditional music dancing".  We understand that they also frequently try to run away when the DJ plays Pugliese.  [Dear Bob and Viv: See, we haven't forgotten that you were there at Glorias on that night!]

You may be completely mesmerized by the expression on Bob and Viv's faces but let us draw your attention to the framed photograph to the left of the stage.... it's Carlos Anzuate performing with El Cachafaz's partner, the legendary Carmencita Calderon.

Apart from the live band, announcements, lucky draw, frequent tandas of rock 'n roll, salsa, folklore, swing etc., we also squeezed in a few tandas of tango, milonga and vals with friends new and old.  Here I am dancing milonga (candombe-style) with Carlos:

Carlos Anzuate dancing candombe to a set of D'Arienzo milongas with Irene at Glorias Argentinas, October 23, 2010

Chiche's brother Hector "Coco" Guaraldi arrived late but lost no time - I don't think he sat through any tanda!  This is a man who had major surgery just a few months back.  It proves that the solution to life's pains is not to let people treat you like an invalid and dance less... you have to dance more!  Every time we were at Glorias Argentinas in 2007, 2008 and 2009, we would see Carlos Anzuate and his wife Porota.  Porota's disease had robbed her of much of her mobility and memory, but that didn't stop her from taking to the dance floor with either Carlos or several of her friends supporting her on either side.  It was quite a sight to see Porota dancing with the assistance of her friends and husband when she could hardly walk - and all the regulars at Glorias were kind and supportive, and treated Porota with respect and care.  Carlos's love and attentiveness and the joy of being with friends at the milonga every week and dancing kept Porota going and out and about for longer than would have been possible normally under the circumstances.

You've seen Hector "Coco" Guaraldi's milonga traspie - here he is dancing vals:

Hector "Coco" Guaraldi dancing to valses by D'Arienzo with Irene, October 23, 2010

I returned to the table after dancing with Hector Guaraldi.  A tall skinny gentleman in a red shirt - his name is Aldo, and he also knows our friend Susy Tilbe - came over and started to complain.  "Why are you dancing like that with the short guy?  You are ruining your posture!  You should stand up straight and look elegant!"  And then he "proposed" to show me how "elegant" dancing was danced.

How annoying.  Yes, of course I could stand up as straight as a rod when dancing with someone a head shorter - but then, do I really want to have Hector's face lodged in my chest?  I could get Hector to accommodate me rather than have me accommodating him - but then do I want to pull him into an awkward position and aggravate his existing injuries? 

This reminds me of a conversation we had with Alberto back in March.  Alberto stressed how difficult it is to find a partner that is 100% compatible - and he was just talking about height.  Half an inch shorter could mean that his partner would be "hanging" on his neck... half an inch taller and the centre of gravity was off.  Alberto envied that Man Yung and I were just perfect for each other... height-wise.  But he doesn't know about all the times we have tried to kill each other arguing about tango! 

The conclusion is: there is no "perfect match", physically or otherwise, in tango.  Or conversely, all matches are "perfect".  You just have to make do with whatever you have and try to make the best dance possible between the two of you, tall or short, fat or thin. Dance like your partner is your first love, or don't dance at all (in Toronto, I frequently prefer the company of my iPhone).  Social tango should not just be about how you look, but how well you move with your partner to the music, and how you create tango between the two of you. I'm not tall but in Buenos Aires there are plenty of milongueros shorter than me, many of whom are in their seventies, eighties and nineties, some of them quite frail.  They take care of me on the dance floor - and I take care not to injure them with my movements and embrace.  That means I have to be light, I have to refrain from hanging or strangling, and ... crouch awkwardly if necessary.

And despite dancing so much with short men, I could dance perfectly fine with taller men.  You can see by the end of the tango by Aldo's big smile that any fears that Aldo may have had had dissipated:

The cabeceo exists at Glorias but it's such a family atmosphere people just ask each other to dance.  Friends of Oscar and Ana asked us to dance cumbia (we couldn't but we just went along), and at the end of the evening, Marta and Alfredo, friends of Oscar Hector and the teachers of tango at Salon Sur came over to ask us to dance too:

We dance with Marta and Alfredo, Glorias Argentinas October 23, 2010

Apart from teaching tango, Marta and Alfredo also dance a wonderful zamba - which they did as the night drew to a close.  It was another exciting evening at Glorias Argentinas.  Wished that you were there with us!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"I have no enemies"

From Wikipedia:

Liu Xiaobo

The 2010 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to imprisoned Chinese human rights activist activist Liu Xiaobo "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China". The laureate, a little-known figure inside China due to official censorship, is a veteran of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, and co-author of the Charter 08 manifesto for which he was sentenced to 11 years in prison by Chinese authorities on 25 December 2009. Liu was chosen to receive the award over a record number of nominees – more than 200.

If you have been following our blog since the beginning, you may have noticed that other than tango, we are also concerned about the violation of human rights in China - and the erosion of these rights in Hong Kong since sovereignty was transferred to China in 1997.

Human rights abuses, corruption, censorship, and violent suppression of those who dare speak out - this is what it is like to live in a totalitarian regime in which no-one is truly free.  The Chinese Government has tried to divert the world's attention from its sinister, dark side with displays of the country's dazzling economic progress, the magnificence of its Olympics and Asian games, and the wonders of the Shanghai Expo.  We cheered when we heard the announcement that Liu Xiaobo had won the Nobel Peace prize - it showed that the world was watching.  You can't fool all of the people all of the time.

Despite the Nobel Peace Prize announcement, Liu Xiaobo is still imprisoned - a political prisoner.  His wife was immediately put under house arrest - without being charged with any crime.  Other dissidents and associates of Liu Xiaobo were not allowed out of the country.  The Chinese Government would not risk to have any of his representatives attend the ceremony to receive the prize on his behalf.

On the stage, they left his chair empty.  The absence spoke louder than words - and reminded all of us not to give up, the struggle for human rights in China must go on.  Liv Ullman recited the statement that Liu Xiaobo had prepared to be read out at his trial for "inciting subversion of state power" - a crime for which he was sentenced to prison for 11 years.  Liu Xiaobo was not permitted to read the statement at his trial.  But now the whole world heard his words:

I have no enemies, and no hatred. None of the police who have monitored, arrested and interrogated me, the prosecutors who prosecuted me, or the judges who sentence me, are my enemies. While I’m unable to accept your surveillance, arrest, prosecution or sentencing, I respect your professions and personalities, including Zhang Rongge and Pan Xueqing who act for the prosecution at present. I was aware of your respect and sincerity in your interrogation of me on December 3.

For hatred is corrosive of a person’s wisdom and conscience; the mentality of enmity can poison a nation’s spirit, instigate brutal life and death struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and block a nation’s progress to freedom and democracy. I hope therefore to be able to transcend my personal vicissitudes in understanding the development of the state and changes in society, to counter the hostility of the regime with the best of intentions, and defuse hate with love....

I do not feel guilty for following my constitutional right to freedom of expression, for fulfilling my social responsibility as a Chinese citizen. Even if accused of it, I would have no complaints.
Liu Xiaobo, 23 December 2009

No enemies, no hatred... defusing hate with love.  This has been the work of Liu Xiaobo for decades.

We should learn from the peaceful example set by Liu Xiaobo - but it's easier said than done.  Toronto Tango can be a snake pit of enmity - if all the different factions had access to nuclear arms, they would probably be nuking each other right now.  As for us - Man Yung is still working on not wanting to punch out the lights of the elbow dancer who has just poked him in the back on a crowded dance floor!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Jorge Rodriguez and Malena Rodriguez dancing at Circulo Apolo, December 10, 2010

Just found this footage:  Javier Rodriguez's father and sister performing a Troilo tango at Circulo Apolo on December 10, 2010:

Jorge Rodriguez and Malena Rodriguez at Circulo Apolo, December 10, 2010

It's very interesting to note how much Javier's father has influenced Javier's dancing!  As for beautiful Malena - there's a Tanguera who is definitely not thinking of Wal-Mart

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cherie and Ruben dance Chacarera at Los Consagrados, October 23, 2010

Remember back in March when we wrote about the wonderful Chacarera that Cherie and Ruben danced at Los Consagrados?  Well, we have been kicking ourselves ever since for not being able to film them!

No trip to Buenos Aires would be complete for us until we pay a visit to Cherie and Ruben - and this time we had our camera ready.  You can see for yourselves the amazing Chacarera of Cherie and Ruben - and also the beautiful hall at Centro Region Leonesa, the comraderie between the dancers and the festive and joyful atmosphere at the milonga:

Ruben Aybar and Cherie Magnus dance Chacarera at Los Consagrados, October 23, 2010

Since Los Consagrados can get pretty crowded, we didn't dare barge onto the dance floor to film Cherie and Ruben dancing their beautiful tango, vals and milonga too in a milonga setting.... Sorry folks, that's a treat you will have to experience first-hand when you go to Los Consagrados to visit Cherie and Ruben!

Thanks Cherie and Ruben for your kind hospitality and hope to see you both soon!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Osvaldo and Coca at Salon Canning, October 22, 2010

We always go to Buenos Aires in February or March, so we were in for a pleasant surprise when we walked the streets of Buenos Aires in October... and found white jasmine for sale at every corner.   You could get the fragrant flowers even while traveling down Avenida 9 de Julio. Whenever traffic stopped, a dozen extraordinary brave (or perhaps foolhardy) street vendors would plunge into bristling traffic and walk between the rows of cars, selling notebooks, children's toys, ice cream, and of course, little bunches of jasmine.

Coca loves flowers, especially roses.  Once, a couple of enthusiastic fans ran out of the milonga after watching Osvaldo and Coca perform to buy roses for Coca.  They bought all the roses that they could find on Corrientes, and ended up with a huge bouquet.  Coca made a gesture with her arms like she was hugging Santa Claus. "It was SOOOOO big, the bouquet couldn't fit in my arms!"

We were on our way to Osvaldo and Coca's class at El Tacuari when we passed by a florist booth just on the corner of Callao and Santa Fe.  The florist - a big gruff guy with no neck in a lumberjack shirt - was delicately sorting and wrapping the jasmine.  The scent of white flowers and greenery filled the street.

"How much for a bunch?" we asked the florist, pointing at the jasmine in his basket.

"Five pesos for the small one.... Ten pesos for the large."

We got the large bouquet - which really wasn't that large, the blossoms all together were the size of a closed hand - and wondered whether Coca would like them.  It was just a small token... we hoped that she wouldn't mind, especially since she is used to getting enormous bouquets from her fans.

Coca was delighted when we presented her with the jasmine.  "For me?" she asked, eagerly taking the flowers from us with a wink and a smile.  Then we turned to greet Osvaldo - but when we turned back, Coca had disappeared.  Where did she go?  Class was starting!

After about two minutes, Coca emerged, balancing the loosened sprigs of jasmine in a small plastic container half filled with water.  "Water!  The flowers need water!"  she said.  She had dashed into the kitchenette at the back just to get the flowers a drink.  Our little jasmines were just as precious to Coca as a mountain of roses.

Osvaldo and Coca are always showing us how to appreciate the beauty of humble things.  Once, in class, Osvaldo and Coca demonstrated how to dance a tango simply - with only a salida, not even an ocho cortado or half a giro.  Tango does not have to be fancy to be rich and deep.  It was one of the most amazing, moving things that we had seen.

This is why Osvaldo and Coca are the once and forever champions.  But they won't be thinking of that when they dance.  Whether you find your tango under glittering chandeliers in the grandest hall of Buenos Aires, or in a cramped living room in slippers with the old sofa pushed to one side - at it's heart it is just two people, moving together to the music in the embrace.  And that's all it needs to be magic.

And here's Osvaldo and Coca, working their everyday magic in Salon Canning on October 22, 2010:

Osvaldo and Coca at Salon Canning, October 22, 2010.  
They dance to Di Sarli's "Todo", Orquesta Tipica Victor's "Carillon de la Merced", and Canaro's "Milonga Criolla".  
Includes all the speeches and shenanigans in between the songs!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Practimilonguero presents Osvaldo and Coca Parts 1 and 2

Just stumbled on this gem of a video posted today - a recent interview with Osvaldo and Coca!

Osvaldo and Coca in their own words - translated into English

We spend a lot of time with Osvaldo and Coca whenever we are in Buenos Aires but unfortunately, our spanish is not at a level where we could communicate with 100% understanding.  This is a great opportunity for us to be able to learn a little more about them - to get answers to the questions we wanted to ask but didn't have the language skills to pose!

Plus, we miss them very much and it warms our hearts just to see them.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The gigantic Salon Sur, and Tito and Gilda at Milonga del Centenario - October 21, 2010

First we went to Salon Sur.  Haydee Esther Malagrino had invited us [translation: she gave us free entradas!] when we met her at Glorias Argentinas to the milonga she organizes there with her brother Oscar Hector on Thursday.  Unfortunately, we were originally scheduled to go to Martha and Manolo's class at La Salsera...."What time does the class start?" Haydee asked us.  "Nine thirty?  Good then - our milonga starts at six - there's no conflict!"

When we arrived, Haydee and Oscar Hector were both excited and happy to see us.  What we had heard was that Salon Sur was gigantic.  It really was - the biggest dance hall we had seen yet in Buenos Aires.  We were still gawking at the huge ballroom when Oscar Hector led us to our table - really, the best table in the house, with the best view and the best access to the dance floor.  I had to give him a kiss for letting us sit at that table!

Salon Sur has an odd T-shaped dance floor.  It goes straight from the entrance - and then balloons out in front of the stage.  On other nights they must have rock concerts - there are two long bars, mezzanines in the front and on both sides, very high ceilings, and a heavy duty sound and light system.  Here are some views:

Salon Sur is really big - from here under one of the mezzanines.....
....to here looking the opposite direction....
....to here next to the stage!
No tourists in sight!  It was an excellent milonga - the locals were welcoming and fun, and every half hour a different local gentleman would come over to ask Man Yung's permission to dance with me.  Apparently Oscar Hector had been telling everyone what a good dancer I was. Did I ever mention what a great promoter Oscar Hector is?

At Salon Sur, we bumped into our Lo de Celia friends Carlos Velino and his pretty novia Marta:

Carlos Velino and Marta
We were able to stay at Salon Sur right almost to the end after all - Manolo had caught a cold and had to stay home instead of teaching at La Salsera that night.  As Salon Sur ended relatively early, we were able to head over to Viejo Correo to visit Nina Balbuena and Luis Cordoba at Milonga del Centenario.

It was lucky that we made it to Nina and Luis's milonga - otherwise we would have missed Tito and Gilda.  We first met Tito at Sunderland in 2009.  He's quite a character - he looks like the smaller Ronnie of The Two Ronnies and has a sense of humour to match!  Tito is a regular at Sunderland and rarely goes to Viejo Correo, even though he used to be Nina's dance partner.  Nina gave him a call because she knew that we were in town and there was a chance we would show up.  A mini-reunion!  After all, we once had a photo of Man Yung posing with Gilda and Tito posing with me published in El Tangauta.

The way Tito dances reminds me of the older generation of dancers who danced in the barrio milongas - like the ones in the documentary, "Tango, Baile Nuestro".  Here he is dancing milonga with Gilda.  It's rare to see milonga danced like this anymore, everywhere you turn it's usually milonga traspie.  This is more distinctive, like the milonga of Pepito Avellaneda, or even the milonga of our teachers Martha and Manolo.

Tito and Gilda dancing milonga at Milonga del Centenario, October 21, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Susy Tilbe at Lo de Celia, October 20, 2010

We posted this back a while ago - Susy Tilbe dancing with her partner in Milonguisimo, Juan Esquivel, at a homage to Carlos Di Sarli held at Maipu 444 by Nina Balbuena and Luis Cordoba on June 18, 2008:

Susy Tilbe and Juan Esquivel of Milonguisimo performing to Carlos Di Sarli's "El Ingeniero", Maipu 444, June 18, 2008

It's a video that we watch again and again... like all performances by the principal dancers of Milonguisimo, there's so much about elegance, musicality, feeling, and entrega that we can learn by watching this!

On the first night of our first visit to Buenos Aires back in 2008, we happened to catch a performance of Milonguisimo at Glorias Argentinas. How we applauded and cheered to watch our tango heroes dance! We got to know some of the wonderful dancers - and Susy, ever so kind and generous and welcoming to her fans, was the first ever milonguera whom Man Yung ever had a chance to dance with. An absolutely unforgettable experience - unfortunately one that Man Yung did not have the pleasure to experience again until this year.

There are some followers in tango that are so extraordinary, they are divine. The bailarinas of Milonguisimo are some of these mythical followers - Elba Biscay, Haydee Esther Malagrino, and of course, Susy.... What they have is not only the skill to follow beyond anything experienced or seen outside of Buenos Aires - what they have is that feeling, that feeling that is like none other. To be embraced by one of these goddesses is to be embraced by Tango. You forget who you are, where you are, what you are doing, who you are dancing with...there is nothing left but Tango...

"No, no! No marry!" Susy said to Man Yung, wagging her finger - her eyes dancing with laughter. Man Yung had just danced the night away with Susy, who graciously agreed to spend time with us at Lo de Celia during our recent October visit. After dancing about ten gazillon tandas with Susy, and of course being completely enraptured, the most natural thing for Man Yung is to propose marriage! Sorry Man Yung, you are stuck with me for now!

What is the secret to Susy's dancing and following that makes men prostrate themselves at her feet? Although Susy has tango skill aplenty, it's not just that - many followers have high levels of skill, but dancing with them is cold - frio. What is her secret?

Maybe there was a clue in something she said to me.

We were sitting at our table and talking about the milongas Susy likes to go to. She has a packed schedule every day of the week - she works full time and performs in Milonguisimo and other theatrical productions at night. Her days and nights are filled with work and rehearsals. She has to steal time to dance. "When work is done, and there's about two hours until the next engagement - off I run to El Arranque to dance, dance, dance all the tandas I could. Then it's off to the rehearsal! When I have a free night, I may go to ___________________ milonga, or to ______________ milonga. Do you know _______________ milonga? The place is nice, the music is so-so.... and the dancing is terrible!" Susy laughs. "But I have such a marvelous time!"

It's not always that she has the time to dance, but so long she is dancing, Susy will always be having a beautiful, wonderful, magical time. Her happiness in dancing tango is in her heart and soul, and anyone who dances with her can feel it too.

After the milonga, we left Bob and Viv, tango blog celebrities extrordinaire, with their deliriously enthusiastic Canadian blog fans [just kidding - a big tango blog hello to Jesse and Dorian from Vancouver] at the door at Lo de Celia - where they proceeded to wander aimlessly around the Entre Rios and Humberto Primo area - hee hee!* As for us, we had to take Susy home.

As we sped along the glittering Buenos Aires streets in the taxi, Susy had more advice for us. "In Tango, you have the man, and the woman. In the three minutes they are together, the woman must give her everything to the man. Her all. That is their agreement when they embrace. That is what makes the dance."

Susy Tilbe dancing with Man Yung at Lo de Celia, October 20, 2010 to a tanda of Pugliese

Susy Tilbe dancing with Man Yung at Lo de Celia, October 20, 2010 - a milonga!

Man Yung, we can take Susy home but you can't take Susy home with you! You will just have to make do with these lovely memories! And what wonderful times we had. Here's a photo of us, Susy and Roberto and Olga all together - at the always fabulous Lo de Celia. Another night to remember.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Roberto and Olga at Lo de Celia, October 20, 2010

We have never been to Susana Miller's Milongueando Festival of Milongueros - now in its 4th year - but we've got to admit, the roster of Milongueros that Susana Miller selects every year to teach class and to perform are really special, the cream of the crop of the Tango universe.  This year, she had our teachers Osvaldo and Coca and Alberto Dassieu, as well as El Nene Masci and Julio Duplaa.  In previous years, she had Tete, Pedro Sanchez, Abel Peralta, Osvaldo Centeno, Pocho and Nelly, El Flaco Dany... and our good friends Roberto Segarra and his partner Olga Gomez.

Roberto and Olga performing to Di Sarli at Milongueando 2009

You know that Roberto is something special once he steps into the room.  It's in the way he dresses; it's in the way he stands; it's in the way that people light up when he's there and come over to say hello; it's the way the organizer warmly greets him and presents him the best table in the house... and the way that he always has a smile and a word of encouragement for us newbies, us babies in Tango, if he sees that we are putting our heart and soul in the dance.  All over the internet we read of tango bloggers who have written about their encounters with him and who have found him an inspiration.

We see Roberto everywhere. In March we bumped into him at Lujos at Maipu 444, with beautiful Adela Galeazzi in his arms, dancing a joyful peppy tanda of Troilo.  At Rivadavia in October, we saw him dancing tanda after tanda with the lovely milongueras we had met at Lo de Celia. The next night he was in Caricias with his novia Olga.  On Wednesday we were all together at Lo de Celia again, where we had first met back in 2009.  We suspect that he probably never takes a break from the milongas - he must be at one or another, dancing the night away, every single day of the week. 

Man Yung doesn't speak spanish but already he has an in-joke with Roberto.  Whenever we encounter Roberto in the milongas without Olga, Man Yung asks, "Where Olga?"  Then the two of them guffaw with laughter and Roberto gives us a big sly wink.  Then he heads for the floor again for yet another dance.  Jokes aside, Roberto and Olga make a great team.  Roberto lets her take charge of everything - "He's my little baby bird," she says to us as she fusses over him lovingly, feeding him bits of pizza and olives and sausage.  While she is preoccupied, there's that big wink from Roberto again - he's having the time of his life!  Beautiful caring, take-charge girlfriend; great dancing night after night with Olga and with the other wonderful milongueras.  He transmits the feeling of Tango to everyone he dances with and receives it back a thousandfold in the embrace. Is that his fountain of youth?

You don't have to ask him to find out - you can see it in Roberto's wide smile.  Roberto doesn't only know the secret of Tango; he also knows the secret of Life. 

Roberto and Olga dancing a tanda of Calo at Lo de Celia, October 20, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nina Balbuena and Luis Cordoba, El Puchu, and Roberto Segarra at Rivadavia Club - October 18, 2010

We were at Nina Balbuena and Luis Cordoba's "Milonga del Centenario" at Viejo Correo on the first Thursday night.  We were dead tired, having just arrived in Buenos Aires earlier that day - but happy, to see Nina and Luis and many familiar faces at the milonga again.  Every time we are in Buenos Aires, we pay Nina and Luis a visit - they are wonderful people and dear friends.

Many milonga organizers come to Nina and Luis's milonga -  it's a friendly space where they can socialize, dance, relax, and promote their own milongas.  You could almost guarantee that Gloria, the organizer of La Shusheta, will be in attendance - we also met Ricardo of Saraza there on one occasion.  There were also many others that we didn't get the opportunity to know.

Sometime late in the evening, Clely, one of the organizers of the milonga at Rivadavia Club on Monday, came over to talk to us. She had short blond hair, a headband, and was dressed in a lot of white.  She wanted to invite us to her milonga.*  She gave us the flyer - with her handwriting and signature on the back.  "I'll see you two there!" she said cheerily, before scooting back to the other side of the room where she was sitting with all the other single ladies.

* We don't know whether you are familiar with the concept of "The Invitation".  Does anyone else get any invitations when they go to Buenos Aires?  Is it a common thing?  We haven't read anything on the internet about it. Just in case you haven't encountered any - we'll write a short post about our experiences with them after this post.

We met Alberto and Paulina the next Friday for lunch (a very delicious parilla called "Parilla Pena" on Rodriguez Pena) and asked them about "Rivadavia Club".

Alberto looked at the flyer and checked out the address.  "It's too far!  There are plenty of good milongas downtown that you could go to, with good dancing and good music.  Why go out of your way to the barrio clubs - these out-of-the-way places?"   Alberto and Paulina like to go to milongas closer to their home in Abasto.

"But we have a plan to visit all the barrio clubs in existence," I replied.  "Glorias Argentinas, Sunderland, Sin Rumbo, Nuevo Chicago, Caricias, Circulo Trovador, Kamel, Saraza, Circulo Apolo, Rivadavia Club..."  Alberto rolled his eyes, he knew we were kidding him - but that we were also serious about going to the barrio clubs to see how the local people lived, socialized and danced.

That said, we weren't originally planning to go to Rivadavia Club - it was truly pretty far even though there weren't a lot of choices for us on Monday nights downtown...We had dinner plans with Nina and Luis on Monday evening.  Where would they like to go after dinner?  I called Nina to confirm our plans.  "How about Rivadavia Club?" she said. That sealed the deal.

We always look forward to partaking in meals with our friends in Buenos Aires - milongas are a great gathering places, but conversations at a nice quiet restaurant or at home over a home-cooked meal are the best way to get to know people better.  In March we enjoyed delicious asado and empanadas at Nina and Luis's apartment (why are Argentinians all Iron Chefs at home?  They made such great food) and now it was our turn to invite them to dinner.

At Chiquilin, we had apple salad with palmitos and cheese, asado, a huge plate of fries and lots of red wine.  We talked about everything... Nina and Luis are encyclopedias of tango knowledge, having been involved in Tango so long.  Nina used to be Antonio Todaro's assistant at his school - she and Luis still teach Todaro's style in their classes at Viejo Correo and Club Oeste.  Tango wasn't all we talked about...in fact, Nina and Luis made Man Yung cry by talking incessantly about their cat - sadly now frolicking over the rainbow bridge.  

Dinner with Nina and Luis at Chiquilin

After dinner, we took a taxi all the way uptown to Rivadavia Club.  We didn't know what to expect - the outside was all dark, like a shuttered up cinema, but already there were people standing outside who recognized and greeted Nina and Luis.

Inside it was like this:

Rivadavia Club

Everywhere we went this October (with the exception of El Beso), the places were not to capacity.  We heard that attendance at Leonesa and Gricel was also low.  Some rationalized that the tourists came in droves in August to the various tango festivals and to the Campeonato Mundial and so that month was extremely busy - to the detriment of the period that followed.

Well, Rivadavia Club has a big, long boomerang shaped dance floor packed with local dancers. So here's where everybody has been hiding!  We saw some familiar faces and went to say hello - Roberto Segarra was there, surprised to see us so early - we had plans to meet him and Olga on Wednesday at Lo de Celia; this was a bonus.  There were also some of Man Yung's favourite ladies of Glorias Argentinas and Lo de Celia.  Apart from us, not a single tourist could be seen.

It seemed that Nina knew everybody in the room - every single person that we passed on our way to our seats on the other side of the dance floor got up to give her a kiss and a hug.  It seemed that the seated crowd was doing "The Wave" in slow motion as Nina made her way through. Luis, reserved and gentlemanly as ever, is Nina's rock, always supporting her by her side, content to let Nina be the Star that she is.  "Wow, that's impressive," I remarked to Man Yung as I watched Nina in action, "It's from all her years as milonga organizer, tango teacher and power socializer - something we've always known about Nina but never actually seen!" 

When we were finally seated people continued to flock to Nina to say hello.  If you ever get to meet her, you would find her as sweet as pie - and her exuberant warmth always draws people to her, she is ready for everyone with a big hug and a kiss with all of her heart.  The non-ending stream of well-wishers and friends lasted the WHOLE evening.

Nina's foot is still injured from a few months ago, so she couldn't dance - but we certainly did!  "Go, go on and dance!" Nina and Luis said.  So, Man Yung got to dance with his wonderful milonguera friends as well as Clely, who came over to ask him to dance - and I got to dance with Luis and also Oscar, one of the co-organizers of the milonga.  At peak hours, the milonga was as crowded, if not more crowded that El Beso on Sunday - but we never got poked in the back by any errant "Elbow Dancers".  If everyone respects one another on the dance floor, we can all get to dance and enjoy the music even if it's like a tin of sardines.  Just think about that!

Naturally, I also got to dance with Roberto Segarra.  He is always sneaking off to dance without his girlfriend Olga in tow (Shhhhhhhh!  Don't let her know! Just kidding)  Actually, Olga with Roberto is a bit like me with Man Yung - she can't keep up with all that dancing that Roberto unleashes upon her and is quite content to have him go and dance so she could take a rest.

Please remember that Roberto has just turned 90!!!!

D'Arienzo Vals with Roberto Segarra - Rivadavia Club October 18, 2010

Roberto is full of energy and life and love for dancing.  He dances like someone who is half his age. We always enjoy a few tandas together every time we are in Buenos Aires - I love his playfulness and musicality and, if you look at the last part of the second vals, you could see how we are flying to the compas together!  Que milonguero!

And now, for a real treat.  Remember in March when I was corralled into a "Surprise" performance with Alberto at Glorias Argentinas?  The headliner performer that night was actually El Puchu - a very well-known and beloved folklore and tango dancer in Buenos Aires.  Sallycat met him in 2007 and wrote a very interesting and informative post about him here.

Now that we've actually got El Puchu's permission, here are the videos of El Puchu performing in Glorias Argentinas back in March - a Biagi tango and a chacarera.  He is really loved by the locals - listen to the crowd go wild:

El Puchu performs to Biagi's "El Recodo" at Glorias Argentinas, March, 2010

El Puchu performs Chacarera at Glorias Argentinas, March 2010

At Rivadavia Club, we met El Puchu again.  He came over to say hello to Nina.  We got up to greet him too - and to tell him that we really enjoyed his performances at Glorias Argentinas in March.  He was probably scratching his head wondering where he had seen these Korean people (hee!) before, but he was very friendly, down-to-earth and humble.  We talked to Nina afterwards about him.  "I love him, he is such a good person," Nina said.  "I've known him since he was a child, he was always so kind and sweet." 

Later on the evening, I got a surprise - when El Puchu came over to ask me to dance!  (With Man Yung's permission, of course).  Here's the video that Man Yung took.  This is the first time I've ever danced with El Puchu.  What a beautiful dancer - with wonderful musicality, inventive improvisation, feeling and what everyone in the Tango blogverse is talking about - The Embrace:

Two Canaro Canyengues with El Puchu - Rivadavia Club, October 18, 2010

We urge you to study the video very carefully.  Who said that dancing in in crowded conditions has to be a boring two-step affair?  The floor was filled with dancers, but El Puchu was able to do all his intricate figures, keep to the edge of the dance floor, stay with the music (and express it like a dream), protect me from being bumped into - and he was never a threat to any of the other people on the dance floor.  The way he dances reflects his gentle kindness, his humility - and also his inner fire.  With dancers of the new generation like El Puchu and Santiago Cantenys, Tango has a bright future ahead.

An evening at the local barrio milonga isn't complete without a lively Chacarera.  Here's El Puchu again, leading the group - and dancing up a storm:

 El Puchu and the Chacarera  - Rivadavia Club, October 18, 2010

El Puchu teaches at and organizes a milonga at Salon Canning on Thursdays.  You can also find him on Facebook by searching for "El Puchu".  He's definitely a dancer to watch - and to learn from, if you ever get the chance!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Adela Galeazzi, Elba Biscay, Santiago Cantenys and Roberto Fortunato - Performances at Salon Canning, October 30, 2010

Tangocommuter has already mentioned these videos on his blog, but we just wanted to post our favourite one - the one where Adela dances with Roberto and Elba dances with Santiago in an energetic Biagi Vals:

You can see Santiago, Adela and Elba dance Tango x 3 and Milonga x 3 here:


And of course, you can check out other amazing, muy milonguero videos on Adela's Youtube channel here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Glorias Argentinas - Oscar Hector's 47th anniversary, with a performance by Toronto's Fabian and Roxana Belmonte!

This morning we got a surprise when we logged into Youtube - Fabian and Roxana Belmonte, internationally famous Tango maestros from Argentina based in Toronto, had sent us a message about a video they just posted of Oscar Hector's 47th radio anniversary at Glorias Argentinas!

During our recent trip, Oscar Hector and his sister Haydee Esther Malagrino had mentioned to us several times that this grand event was going to take place at Glorias Argentinas on October 27.  Unfortunately, that was the day for our return flight to Toronto - so we sadly missed it all.  Imagine our surprise when we discovered that we could experience a bit of what we missed through Fabian and Roxana's "Tangodeoro" Youtube channel!

Oscar Hector's 47th Anniversary at Glorias Argentinas, October 27, 2010 - with a dazzling performance by Toronto's own Fabian and Roxana Belmonte!

In the video, there's performances from Lito and Lidia Filippini, Oscar Hector with Haydee and another lady (what an incredible follower), and of course, a dramatic and spectacular performance from Fabian and Roxana Belmonte.  Fabian and Roxana has strong ties to Club Glorias Argentinas.  They have been going to the milonga since they were kids and had the opportunity to learn from the legendary dancers from the golden age there.  If you have a chance to discover the many wonderful treasures on their Youtube channel, you can see vintage video footage of Fabian and Roxana with all the tango luminaries at Glorias, like this one of an unforgettable homage to El Cachafaz and Antonio Todaro - featuring El Cachafaz's partner, Carmencita Calderon:

Homage to El Cachafaz and Antonio Todario in Glorias Argentinas, 1994 - watch carefully for a much younger Oscar Hector and also, glimpses of Fabian and Roxana

Thanks Fabian and Roxana for letting us know about your video!  You can find more information on Fabian and Roxana on their website here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Night at Glorias Argentinas - October 16, 2010

You'd think that we had enough excitement with Osvaldo and Coca at La Baldosa on Friday - enough to fill our "tango excitement" quota for the whole year.... but no.  We had to head over to Glorias Argentinas the very next day - with our tango parents, Martha and Manolo!*

* They are our tango parents, because we love them very much - and because without them, our life in tango would not be possible.  

At Glorias, we met for the first time the world famous tango bloggers from Wales, Bob and Viv.   We're sure Bob and Viv would agree it was a cataclysmic, ground-breaking event - the first ever Congress of the Chinese-Canadian/Welsh Tango Bloggers, so to speak.  Too bad that Jantango did not capture the entire event on video - the introductions, the mutual pleasantries, the invitations to dance, the threats to start a blog war, etc. etc.  Moving on....

What we did manage to film was Martha and Manolo dancing socially at Glorias.  Many of you may be familiar with the videos on the internet of their Canyengue, Milonga and Tango Salon performances in the milongas of Buenos Aires and from their frequent teaching tours around the world.  It was a treat to see them in a relaxed atmosphere, in a milonga close to their home, dancing swing and milonga!

Our "Tango Parents" Martha Anton and El Gallego Manolo dancing Swing (!) at Glorias Argentinas, October 16, 2010

Our "Tango Parents" Martha Anton and El Gallego Manolo dancing Milonga at Glorias Argentinas, October 16, 2010

As you can see by the videos, Martha is a beautiful, glamorous star of the tango universe (all the girls of the milonga watched Martha's feet and how she walked to learn from her - she is a Legend) and Manolo is impeccably dressed, a gentleman always. Their dancing is calm, joyful, playful. We visited their home on this trip and Manolo showed us his wall-to-wall wardrobe filled with matching clothing and tailor-made suits - he has been a fixture at the milongas of Buenos Aires for decades and decades and he knows how a gentleman should look for tango.

Man Yung is always nervous when we go out with Manolo to events - that's because Man Yung is such a dork, his jacket pockets are always flipped up or something's wonky or not buttoned.  "Yikes, Man Yung, that's gross!  What's wrong with you?" Manolo says sternly (but with good humour).  At the milonga, you have to respect yourself, respect the venue, dress and look like a gentleman.  Gentlemanly behavior (and dress code) comes first.  The dancer comes after.

Something that happened during the milonga that unfortunately didn't get filmed.  Sometime after midnight, a tanda of Canyengue played.  A few couples ventured out onto the dance floor - and so did we, because Martha and Manolo want to see us dance Canyengue whenever possible. Now, we were totally rusty, and our technique (as usual) is off - but after a few seconds, the people who got up to dance sat down, leaving just us on the dance floor!  We had no choice but to stick it out, dance the whole song - and put out hearts into it.  The people from the table stared at us, and we had to keep on going, thinking in turns, "did we miss some announcement?" and "was our dancing so horrible that they are completely mesmerized, like onlookers transfixed on a train wreck?"

When it ended, everyone applauded, like we had just done an exhibition!  We quickly ran off the dance floor, completely embarrassed at all our unintentional attention-grabbing. We asked Martha and Manolo what had just happened, since they had observed it all. It wasn't that mysterious. "I think the people just wanted to see you dance," Martha said.

While I was still trying to understand what had transpired, Man Yung cabeceo'd Haydee Esther Malagrino, one of the principal Milongueras of Milonguisimo [and here's another video of her dancing on stage with the cast of Milonguisimo], sitting all the way at the front of the hall.  We have admired her dancing since even before we met her through clips of Milonguisimo on Youtube.   She has the entrega and exquisite footwork to match the fast feet of her Milonguisimo partner, Jorge Uzunian.  She is another of the goddesses of tango - lucky Man Yung!:

Man Yung dancing with the incomparable Haydee Esther Malagrino of Milonguisimo, 
October 16, 2010

As you can see, we had so stunned the people at Glorias with our Cantonese-style Canyengue (sorry you don't get to see it - maybe it's for the best!) that most were still sitting down when Man Yung started to dance with the lovely Haydee.

Haydee came over a little later and arranged for me to dance a tanda of tango with a milonguero from her table.  And later, yet another milonguero whom she had been dancing with - and it's none other than Hector "Coco" Guaraldi, the brother of our friend Chiche who always sits at Carlos Anzuate's table!  Here we are dancing Coco's unique style of milonga traspie:

Dancing Milonga Traspie with Hector "Coco" Guaraldi at Glorias Argentinas, October 16, 2010

And last but not least - towards the end of the evening, Oscar Hector appeared at our table.  Yes, the Oscar Hector - organizer of milongas at Glorias Argentinas and the gigantic Salon Sur, impresario and principal dancer of "Milonguisimo" [we have posted clips of his brilliant performances before on our blog here, here, and here, and here], producer of radio shows, tango personality extraordinaire - if you have not been hiding under a rock and have actually seen historic footage on youtube, he is the one making the announcements at events in homage of such tango luminaries such as Carmencita Calderon, Lampazo, Los Dinzel....When I mentioned him to Osvaldo and Coca, Coca told me he is "Milonguero Milonguero".... And if you ever get a chance to visit Salon Canning, Oscar Hector's photo is the one that is the first one that you see at the entrance.

Photo of Oscar Hector with Teresita Brandon at the entrance of Salon Canning

So what was Oscar Hector doing standing there at our table, waving and signaling at the DJ in the DJ's booth?  He wants the DJ to play something lovely for a lovely dancer he wants to dance with.

Who was he talking about?  It was me!!!!!!!  

Me! Me! Me! Yippee! I have always wanted to dance with Oscar Hector, from even before we met we have admired his dancing in videoclips of Milonguisimo on Youtube.  He was the first person of the Buenos Aires milongas I've ever talked to - I called Glorias Argentinas on the first day we were ever in Buenos Aires and it was Oscar Hector on the other line, patiently giving me directions to his milonga.  He has never asked me to dance before, this was the first time he ever asked....

So there we were, Man Yung and I, jumping up and down in glee in the most uncool way possible. "Can we film it!  Can we film it!" we asked.  Oscar Hector looked at us with one eyebrow raised. "So you can make DVDs and make a ton of money selling them to the Japanese?" (he was kidding).  Oh, we don't care, we just want to film it so we can have a souvenir and remember this dance forever!  As I said, we are such dorks.

Here's the video of my first ever dance with Oscar Hector - and yes, he selected the most lovely music, a tanda of Di Sarli instrumentals from the 40's. It was a "Dreams come True" moment - I think you could see by the blissful expression on my face:

Dancing to Di Sarli with Oscar Hector at Glorias Argentinas, October 16, 2010.  
I look like I have just been transported to Tango Heaven

That's the end of the videos from our night at Glorias Argentinas - but that was not all.  Jorge Garcia and Susana arrived really late, past 2:00 a.m. - they had promised to met us so we could give them the photo we took of them at La Baldosa the night before.  After greeting us and other friends warmly, they lost no time, and started dancing right away - but I suspect they had already been dancing for a few hours at another milonga. Susana was tired, and when they passed by our table, Susana said she needed a break - and told Jorge to dance with me!
We've admired Jorge Garcia's dancing since we first saw him at Elba Biscay's birthday party, but I've never had the chance to dance with him.  It was a milonga - and dancing with him was so smooth, it was like gliding.  Jorge has great control, great navigation, and a great sense of fun - for about ten seconds we danced right around the centre pillar at Glorias Argentinas, right flush again it - just because there was a phrase in the music that called for exactly that.

What was Man Yung doing?  He should have been taking notes, or at least filming.  Well, he was too busy dancing!

More videos to follow.....

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tribute to Osvaldo and Coca's 55 years in Tango at La Baldosa - October 15, 2010

We are busy on Fridays in Buenos Aires.  First, we must go to Osvaldo and Coca's class at El Tacuari in San Telmo.  Then, we must follow Osvaldo and Coca wherever they are going after class.

It happened that the second day we were in Buenos Aires fell on a Friday.  It also happened that after class, Osvaldo and Coca were headed to La Baldosa for a special tribute milonga - a Tribute to Osvaldo and Coca's 55 years in Tango!

So, jet lagged and still tired from our flight from Toronto, we tag along with Osvaldo and Coca to the barrio of Flores to popular milonga La Baldosa.  We were looking forward to a nice relaxing evening out catching up with our teachers and perhaps getting a little dancing in.

"Don't sit there like a lump - dance, nene!"  was Osvaldo's advice to us.  So what does Man Yung do? Man Yung goes and dances with Coca:

Man Yung dancing with Coca at La Baldosa - a tanda of Troilo with Fiorentino

Man Yung is always nervous dancing with Coca.  She is his idol - his maestra.  "Mucho miedo!"* Coca says after the tanda, laughing.  Look at how calm and patient Coca is - she is taking care of Man Yung on the dance floor!  The hallmarks of a world class milonguera: feeling, tranquility...security.  And of course, magic red tango shoes.

* "Lots of fear!

Here's more magic:  Osvaldo and Coca dancing at La Baldosa.  Man Yung is following them with the camera. Of course they never get to finish any song - everywhere they go they spot someone they know.  And off they dart - to kiss and say hello.  So many distractions, you say! But when they do dance, their concentration on the music and each other is absolute:

Osvaldo and Coca - Social dancing at La Baldosa

So we are sitting there enjoying the milonga and talking to Osvaldo and Coca - when Osvaldo suddenly starts up.  "What do you want to dance to?"  Uh-oh.  Deja vu of what happened at Circulo Apolo in March.  This time Osvaldo and Coca doesn't even pretend that it isn't what it is.  They want us to perform at their tribute.  "But I'm scared!" I said.  "Tonta!"* Coca says.  They figure that what we are doing is acceptable to them - and that will be just fine and dandy for everyone else at La Baldosa, one of the most important milongas in Buenos Aires.  I feel my throat closing up and I'm starting to have a fever and perhaps some kind of rash - allergy to exhibitions, perhaps.  If they call an ambulance now I'll be able to miss the performance altogether!  

* "Silly!"

No such escape hatch.  "So what do you want to dance to?" asks Osvaldo again.

"Poema!" yells Man Yung.  A tribute to Osvaldo and Coca means dancing one of their signature songs. He didn't even need me to translate.

So here we are dancing to Canaro's "Poema":

A little "Surprise" for everyone - we go first and perform to "Poema" at Osvaldo and Coca's Tribute.   
Osvaldo filmed and provided the commentary soundtrack - consisting of a lot of mirth, giggling and cackling!
Here's a little something for Bob and Viv - the gentleman whom we greeted at the end of our performance is none other than your maestro, Jorge Garcia!  We have known him (and admired his wonderful dancing) since Elba Biscay's birthday party in 2008!

Looking at it afterwards, we cannot fail but be amazed - not at us (thank god we got some applause), but at Osvaldo and Coca's confidence in us.

"We had just got off the plane. The only dancing that Osvaldo and Coca had seen of us was in class... they offered no advice on performing and no coaching whatsoever.  How could they be sure that we weren't going to be an absolute and utter embarrassment on the dance floor?" Man Yung asked me.

I thought about it for a second.  "I think Osvaldo and Coca have a lot of faith in their opinion of us.  Sure, we may be just a couple of silly ducklings.  Nevertheless, it's enough for us to dance simply, if we could dance with feeling and musicality.  To Osvaldo and Coca, it's good enough for an exhibition, because that's what tango is about.  That's what they have been teaching us all along.  We didn't need to rush out and get into swan costumes and start practicing pirouettes if that's not what we really were!"

Now we've got that out of the way, please enjoy the rest of the performances from that night!

Here's Pedro Ochoa and Fatima Vitale, reknowned Buenos Aires tango teachers and performers (and Pedro Ochoa is also a musician, playing double bass with his group Z Club Tango Trio), performing to Laurenz's "No me extrana":

[We emailed Pedro Ochoa to tell him that we had posted the video of his performance on Youtube as we had promised to do when we talked to him and his partner Fatima at La Baldosa.  He emailed us back a very nice email - apparently he has toured in Montreal, Canada before, in 2008 and 2010.  He is looking forward to returning to North America again, hopefully in 2011.  You can get more information on Pedro Ochoa at his website www.pedroochoatango.blogspot.com and Myspace page for Z Club Tango Trio www.myspace.com/zclubtangotrio]

Here's Andreas Erbsen and Ruth Manonellas, the principals and owners of the tango school "El Tacuari" performing a dramatic Pugliese tango:

[Hey Bob and Viv, we think you would like this! - a gift from Irene and Man Yung] Of course, fleet-footed Jorge Garcia and his lovely partner Susana Soar brought down the house with their electrifying milonga:

Photo op!  Jorge and Susana very graciously granted us an opportunity to photograph us all together after the performances ended:

And last but not least, Osvaldo and Coca concluded the evening's exciting performances with their beautiful rendition of Orquesta Tipica Victor's "Carillon de Merced":

And then a little extra as everyone took to the floor in a group dance.  Partner exchanges permitted!:

* Please note that the ladies (except for Coca) did not call each other before the milonga to coordinate their shoes.  It is pure coincidence that all of us are wearing silver stilettos!

Dear Reader(s):  You may be completely exhausted by the cornucopia of tango video goodness in this post - but don't throw in the towel yet.  There's more coming!  Don't say that we aren't doing our best to bring Buenos Aires to you, wherever you may be in the world.

Osvaldo and Coca, Andreas and Ruth of El Tacuari tango school, friends - at La Baldosa, October 15, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Toronto Star writes about Comme Il Faut

I (and perhaps quite a few Toronto Tangueras) couldn't believe my eyes this morning  when I saw this article:


They also have printed a photo of two (very nice) Comme Il Fauts in the article!  Sacrilege!  Would not the ladies of Comme Il Faut come after them with an axe?

I'm ambivalent about my favourite shoe store getting all this non-tango publicity... It's bad enough to have to fight hissing and spitting Tangueras for shoes in the Comme Il Faut showroom, but ferocious fashionistas looking for cut-rate Louboutin substitutes too?  The world of Tango (shoes) gets hairier by the minute....

Monday, November 1, 2010

Adela Galeazzi - Late night at Centro Region Leonesa

We were only able to meet with Adela once during our most recent trip to Buenos Aires in Caricias.

"My broken heart!" said Man Yung.  "We were only able to dance one little tanda.... and then she introduced us to her handsome brother - but it wasn't her brother, it was her son!"

Oh well, poor Man Yung, at least you can enjoy Adela's dancing on Youtube!  We just received an email today from Adela with the links to her latest videos taken at the end of the evening at Leonesa on her birthday.  When we saw her at Caricias, Adela was wearing leopard print pants with leopard spotted Comme Il Fauts.  Here, in these videos, prepared to be amazed by Adela's feet - they have the precision of a panther's pounce, the softness of a cat's paw:

Adela Galeazzi with Santiago Cantenys

Adela Galeazzi with Roberto Fortunato

Adela Galeazzi with Pedro Salias

Note that all the men dance with great musicality - and none of them dance in the same way!  A great follower like Adela always shows off the best in all her partners no matter how they dance.  No nagging about "You've got to dance this way," or "You have to dance that way," or "What you are doing is not authentic!"

"Stop crying, Man Yung, we'll go back next year," I said to Man Yung.  "Meanwhile, if you want to watch more videos of the amazing Adela, you can always check her YouTube site for updates!"

Saturday, October 30, 2010


It was Alberto who gave us the idea.  We were at La Cachila with Alberto and Paulina when we noticed that Alberto was frequently sneaking off to the bar.  Was it for drinks?  No.  It was the fabulous complimentary melon fruit salad.

"I love eating melon," Alberto said.

You see, we were running out of ideas on what to buy our friends when we visited them.  You could get them wine, you could get them whisky - but what could you buy that would be really useful, that everyone could enjoy?

You could buy fruit.

"Why doesn't anyone give fruit anymore?" I asked Man Yung.  "I remember back in the 80's in Hong Kong, whenever we went visiting relatives or friends or whenever someone paid a visit, the visitor would bring these enormous baskets made of pink plastic coated wire - they were impossible to open - filled with apples and oranges.  Of course, I would always be disappointed.  Sugus candy would have been a bigger hit with me and my cousins. Even Quality Street - although the toffees were not a particularly nice surprise for me."

"Well, I like the Quality Street toffees.  Even before they had the wire baskets, people in Hong Kong were giving each other fruit.  They'd tie half a dozen, a dozen oranges together with red string, slap a pink paper on top - and yes, I know the kids prefer chocolates, but the adults really appreciated the fruit.  Families would sit together in the evenings peeling oranges and talking about the events of the day.  Fruit will always be eaten and would never go to waste."

"So why don't people give fruit anymore?"

"I think people don't visit each other anymore."

It's true.  Well, people do still visit.  But their hosts may allow them inside their houses - but rarely will they allow them into their homes.  We've been invited to people's houses before, here in Toronto.  Our hosts had gone to great lengths to make their houses look like the centre spread of "House Beautiful".  They would take us on a tour of the house.  "Here is the garden, here's the den, here's the master bedroom, here's the attic nook... here's the imported stainless steel appliances with moveable kitchen island with the Italian granite countertop."  Everything was pristine, you didn't dare drop anything from your plate and you couldn't even find a garbage can anywhere. It didn't look like anyone lived there, the occupants had just borrowed the space to throw a big party - and everything would turn into a pumpkin at midnight.

It's so much easier too, not to visit.  We have cellphones.  We have skype.  We have email.  We have facebook.  Anything except having to deal with the messiness of being together, face to face.

When we brought out two yellow melons from their plastic bags at Osvaldo and Coca's house and held them up chest level (a la Austin Powers one), they knew right away that Man Yung was joking about my lack, thereof.  Where did these cheeky chinese people come from?

In Argentina, like Hong Kong of yesteryear, visiting is still a daily occurrence.  Osvaldo always had his eye on the gate.  The godfather of his children, a distinguished bespectacled gentleman, came by to say hello.   A neighbour lady with a no-nonsense attitude and a wide smile came over and helped Coca check her blood pressure. 
Osvaldo and Coca, like all our Argentinian friends, let us into their homes. You came at lunch hour?  Then, please join us for lunch.  If the tablecloth is a little dirty, flip it over. In our home our children and grandchildren are always coming and going.  Our dog is fat, but fast - please make sure he doesn't sneak out of the gate!  There's the smell of tea, of cooking, of mate.

 "You must eat!" they said.  Force feeding optional.

The melons were a big hit.  "They were a little raw," Coca said, "but the kids couldn't wait.  They split open the melons right away, chopped it into little pieces, added orange juice and a little sugar...and we all ate it afterwards.  It was a very delicious fruit salad!"

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