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:
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!"
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?
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.
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!