Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Meh" and the Mundial

We were going to post the actual video...except that we were suddenly overcome with an intense sensation of "Meh" (Now in Minty Wintergreen flavour!)

The newest winners have been announced!  Yippee!

I squinted at the computer screen.  "Wait a minute....they aren't very good."

Man Yung was flabbergasted.  "What do you mean, they aren't very good?  They are most excellent.  Look at how LOVING they are - with all the kissing and the hugging and tears of joy and GENUINE, LOVING EACH OTHER EMOTIONS and stuff.  You can't say that for a lot of the competitors.  Some are cooler than cucumbers, you know, visibly 'Not really that into each other but we'll stick it out anyway for the purposes of the competition'."

"IF "The Most LOVING Tango Dancers" equates to "The BEST Tango Dancers" in a competition, no doubt they will take the prize this year.  While "LOVING-NESS" is much desired and will enhance your Tango dancing, I'm afraid that that it is a mere 10%, ok, maybe 15% of your score - and more like an 'impression' thing rather than something that would actually give you points."

"So, smartypants - what makes you think they aren't that good?"

"Well, for one thing - they are going way too fast."

In fact, the woman was going so fast that in no less than two instances during their "victory dance", the man had to stop and modify his steps to contain all that speediness and make it "look" like they were "still" dancing with the music.

Man Yung frowned.  "Oh, they are just a tad fast because they are excited about their win and they are GENUINELY ENTHUSIASTIC."

"Okayyyyyyy...but look at all their other performances on Youtube - it has been happening all the time, and they hadn't won yet!"

I should have known that Man Yung would not be convinced.  In "La Casa of Irene and Man Yung", Man Yung wins all arguments!

"This only proves that the man loves his partner very much because he never gets angry about her and yells at her for going too fast, he just adjusts his own dancing to accommodate her speediness.  Yea for LOVE!"*

* And not only "Yea for LOVE!"  Man Yung is entranced with their magical leaping giros and is determined to learn them through the magic of Youtube!  "All it takes is a little time and practice and we, too, will be able to do these moves!"

I could hardly contain my enthusiasm.  "Yes, for sure we will be able to do these moves pronto pronto! - if I abandon all following to your leading altogether when we are doing the giros, and just gallop around you at a constant rapid speed irregardless of leading or the compas - then you can prance and kick and twirl with utter unbridled freedom in the middle irregardless of what I'm doing on the outside orbit!  Yea for CHOREOGRAPHY!"**

** Man Yung says, "Congratulations to them anyway!"  He isn't being sarcastic - they must have put a lot of time and effort into this.  "But, I like the winners from last year better."***

*** Irene says, "Meh".

(The above image is courtesy of Tulsa Tees which can be accessed here:
. Thanks!)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Irene and Man Yung discuss navigation problems #2: Four-Directional Bouncing

 Accidents in Quadrille Dancing - Whoops, how did that happen?

Man Yung is frequently amused by weather reports in Hong Kong.  For example:

"Today, the wind will be blowing in no particular direction."

"Ha ha ha!" laughed Man Yung.  "They are reporting this kind of garbage weather forecast not because they don't can't predict wind direction.  They are doing this just because they are scared to be wrong!"

Weather forecast is actually easy - meteorologists have many fancy machines and algorithms and experience and stuff - compared to, say, the difficulty in predicting where the local Mr. Tango Navigational Disaster would head next.  If you are dancing in the vicinity of any of these Four (or maybe Eight or even Sixteen is more accurate) Directional Bouncers, you can't tell whether he will go left, right, backwards, or forward next.  The only thing you can be certain of is that within the next twelve minutes, there's a 80% chance he will be volleying right into you and your partner.  Put two or three such persons in one milonga and the whole floor will descend into chaos!

Some of the Bouncers have their eyes closed.  They won't be improving until they start looking where they are going!  Some of these Bouncers have their eyes open, but they just don't give a s*** about the people around them and they expect people just to get out of their way.  Maybe they are like this because they consider themselves "Tango Professionals", or perhaps "Tango Veterans", and they think they are better than everyone else.  These guys will need an a**whooping to get them going the right direction.

An embarrassed voice at the back of the lecture hall pipes up. "Not all Four Directional Bouncers are like that!  Some of these Bouncers are nice, considerate guys.  They don't want to collide into people every 30 seconds.  What are they doing wrong?  And what could they do to fix it so that they can stop attracting Irene's 'Evil Eye'?"

Ahhhhh....true.  Some nice guys out there are navigational disasters despite their best intentions.
Part of this is due to not being able to adapt pre-learned "step patterns" to dance floor situations as they arise. The most common problem, however, is due to a move that we will call the -

"Rock, step.... KAPOWEE!!"

Many of these navigationally challenged gentlemen have a limited step repertoire.  It's hard to memorize more than five movements (including walking) and lead them with followers of different heights, sizes and experience levels in the pressure cooker known as "The Tango Dance Floor".  The leaders literally have their hands full trying to lead, to stick to the line of dance, to regurgitate "steps" - while trying to keep up with the tyrannical compas.

We've observed that one step all leaders seem to be able to do quite naturally* consists of the leader first stepping forward (and the follower stepping back) - the "Rock Step".  With the next step, the leader brings the follower back into a change of direction.

* In fact, when we asked one inexperienced leader about this step, he said he didn't learn it any where - he just "invented" it one day.

Unfortunately, this next step change in direction often results in the "KAPOWEE!!"  By bouncing into any ol' space, including blind spots - this could be left, right, or even backwards in the line of dance - the leader will disrupt or even slam into people around him.  You can imagine how hazardous it can be when clueless leaders are doing this every fourth or fifth step, and sometimes running amok for several additional steps after changing direction.

The solution is very simple, but we have not seen it mentioned anywhere.

All the leader has to do when the urge to do this natural simple step arises, is to lead the "bounce" change of direction step INTO THE DIRECTION OF THE LINE OF DANCE.  That means not left, not right, not backwards or any of the other seven to fifteen different directions - but FORWARDS, space allowing.

If you aren't tailgating (which we will rant about soon for the purpose of these series of discussions) when you do this, YOU'LL BE FINE.*  TA-DA!

** This easy to remember tip can be applied to ANY step which entails a change of direction.  Go FORWARDS if possible at all times.  And you can even change the length of the step you take depending on the space - you don't have to always take a big stride if there is no room!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Irene and Man Yung discuss navigation problems #1: Leading with your eyes closed

"Surely there must be some situations where a leader can dance with his eyes closed," said Man Yung.  "Like, for example, when he is totally overcome with the passionate emotions of the music."

I frowned.  "I don't agree.  If there are other couples around and/or if there are obstacles in the room creating a collision hazard - you know, like tables, chairs, lit candles, cactii, mirrors, walls etc. - a leader has to keep his eyes OPEN.  It's not just his own safety he has to think about, but also the safety of his partner and all the other dancing couples around him."

"So, only time a leader could close his eyes is if there are NO hazards.  Like, a large room, and no people or a few people around."

"Make that a HUGE room, preferably the size of a sports stadium, padded with foam on all sides like they have in insane asylums, with absolutely NO people around except the two of you dancing looney bins."

So sorry to burst Man Yung's bubble and all the bubbles of you eye-closing, don't know where you are headed, "Whoops I bumped into someone again!" Tangueros out there!  However, if you still want to experience the thrill of "eyes shut" activities, you can always try the following:

Blindfolded Piñata bashing:

Blindfolded Pin the Tail on the Donkey:

Blindfolded knife throwing:

And for the really advanced - The Blind leading the Blind!:

** Being a "milonguero" or "close embrace" dancer dancing really close and with teeny-weeny steps does not mean that you are less of a menace if you dance with your eyes closed - our previous ranting can be found here.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Tango Dream

Have you read Tangocommuter's blog lately?  I'm jealous.  He had a dream about Tango in Buenos Aires in the future.  Although it wasn't exactly a nice future (for Tango), it reminded me of the times in which I, too, also had clairvoyant (or at least hallucinatory) dreams about Tango.  Hey ma, I want to be a Tango Psychic too!

Quite determined not to be bested, I recklessly ordered and consumed the biggest bowl of Dac Biet (Special) Vietnamese Phó beef noodle soup available on the menu of the local Phó shop.  Then, I waited for LESS THAN THREE HOURS before I took a nap.  My friends, I knew I risked potentially FATAL (or at least acid-refluxy) indigestion (especially since there was way too much MSG in the broth) but I knew desperate times require desperate measures.

It worked - before long, I was in a trance.  Things were a little complicated at first - there were a lot of scenes of me running around the sleepy suburban neighbourhood of Agincourt screaming while being chased by giant, multicoloured snakes who recited lines from Shakepearian tragedies with their best Darth Vader voices.  There was also, I remember, quite a lot of ominous Buddhist chanting - especially whenever anyone tried to read a legal document out loud to the red-headed blind lady bedecked head-to-toe in baroque gold jewelry in the shape of stringy cooked ramen noodles.

Then, the clouds cleared up, the skies parted, and the rainbow psychedelic haze descended - and I too, saw the Tango Future.

Man Yung and I had traveled all the way downtown to the weekly Traditional Toronto Tango Milonga only to discover upon arrival that the organizers had, without any prior notice, decided to host the closing milonga of the very newest trendissimo Nuevo Tango Festival in town.  "Purely a business decision!" they said while grinning and jumping up and down enthusiastically - because even the most guardia vieja, strictly codigo traditional milonga sometimes has to do weird, contradictory things like showcase flagrantly non-traditional, stage and/or nuevo visiting professionals to "draw the crowds".  Because, as everyone knows, what people really want to do is not to dance, but to learn the infamous triple boleo/triple enganche with spinning back mule kick combo.

We grumbled but we weren't going to turn back and drive all the way back to Scarborough.  We changed into our tango shoes - except I had a lot of trouble because my Comme Il Fauts were now in the most trendissimo design ever - consisting of strips of yellow velcro and clear plastic that could only be assembled onto my feet after following a complex diagram drawn by MIT engineers.  Meanwhile a whole lot of people (we recognized none of them - must have been from out of town) arrived and entered into the dance hall. 

We followed them in.  The milonga was in full swing.  All the dancers were dressed in clothes and hats with polka dots and I swear the dance floor was covered in polka dots too. 

 Kind of like a Yayoi Kusama exhibit...but scarier

"It's not as bad as you thought," said Man Yung.  "At least they are dancing in close embrace and following the line of dance!"

I was suspicious.  "Yes, it looks like they are dancing in close embrace - but look closely, they are all doing that really annoying 'syncopation stepping on all the beats at strategic moments' thing masquerading for real musicality!"

Not that it really mattered.   The music was all D'Arienzo from the 70's or "modern interpretations" of the classics - and there were no tandas or cortinas.  No-one knew what was going to play next as anything could follow anything else.  A local Toronto DJ was standing over the stereo but when we caught his eye, he could only shrug helplessly because he wasn't really in control of the music system as it had been possessed by demons out of Tango Hell.

"OK, Man Yung - this doesn't look good, but we'll hold the fort - I mean dance - for as long as we are able to, and then when we can't stand it anymore, we'll go!" I said.  "However, if anyone viciously bumps into us [the pretense of "close embrace" was being gradually discarded on the dance floor and couples here and there were starting to fling around dangerously] we'll have to be prepared to fight them!"

I hadn't even finished speaking when one of the couples barreled into us.  And they had the audacity to look surprised.  We hadn't even started dancing - we were still standing on the sidelines!

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