Sunday, January 19, 2014

Green Vegetables, Radishes

Some things in Tango are just unpalatable

Man Yung says that there's a saying in Chinese: "Green Vegetables, Radishes: Each to his own taste."

Everybody has their own preferences.

We have pretty specific things we like in Tango, and things we don't like.  Nevertheless, we couldn't care less what other dancers prefer - so long they aren't charging into other people on the dance floor or acting in a threatening, disruptive or space-hogging manner.

However, a problem arises when the organizers of our favourite milongas bring in guest teachers that they think are the bee's knees - and that we think SUCK.

What if the guest teachers teach stuff that they say can be danced socially, but in fact cannot? "Why should you care, you won't go to their classes anyway!" you say.  We might not be going to their classes, but if somebody goes and learns how to do "The Cool Helicopter Move!" (or some other stupid dangerous Tango stunt) and proceeds to execute it in the milonga - should we punch out the ignoramus or the person who taught the ignoramus?

And what if the guest teachers are asses and insist on doing their thrilling impromptu stage show on a crowded dance floor? What if the guest teachers refuse to end the pre-milonga class until a good half hour after the milonga has started?  What if the guest teachers look utterly disgusting and disrespectful of the milonga - like they can't be bothered to shave or put on clean, unwrinkled clothes?  Trust us, all of the above and more have actually happened in Toronto before.  Should we say something to the organizer, or should we not?

And lastly - what if we don't want to watch a show by a guest teacher who in our opinion should get two thumbs down, way down?  No, we don't want to watch "Tango 'n' Comedy",  "Tango 'n' Football", "Tango with Gimmicks", "Trendy Tango", "Tango with gratuitous underwear flashing or even nudity (lucky you!)",  "Unoriginal Tango Show copied off a Miguel Zotto extravaganza", etc. etc.  We just want to dance, and not only are we losing a precious quarter to half-an-hour of dance time to a "Show" we don't want to watch, we may even be forced to PAY EXTRA for the privilege of seeing something that would make us want to wash our eyes out afterwards!

Yuck.  How could we say anything negative to the organizers, who may be our friends?  Don't we have to continue to live with them and their milonga after the newest flavour in Tango has left town?  Organizers have invested a lot of time and effort to bring these people in and they might even be friends with the visitors - not only will they not likely to rein in their guests' bad behaviour (or bad dancing), they will definitely be upset if you dare to criticize. Once, Irene had the foolishness to be candid to one organizer who was pushing classes by some guest teachers who (in our opinion) were just not that great.  Black stormclouds with lightning bolts immediately gathered over the organizer's head and we had to flee or get struck by lightning!

Would you say something?  Or would you just stay away from the milonga until the circus has left town?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Legends of Tango

Martha and Manolo just posted a link to this wonderful Tango Documentary on Facebook - it's called "Leyendas del Tango Danza" and it's got interviews and exhibition clips of Martha and Manolo, Osvaldo and Coca and other famous maestros and maestras of Tango.  What a treasure trove of Tango!:

Man Yung kept on trying to view it on his iPad but couldn't - we thought his iPad was broken, but luckily, it wasn't time to get a brand new iPad.  The video just can't be played back on mobile devices. Too bad Man Yung, you'll have to live with your old ancient 1st gen iPad, Irene's pocket money is going to more urgent things, like new Comme Il Fauts!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Adela Galeazzi and Jorge Kero

Adela sent us a link to her recent milonga performance with Jorge Kero - coincidentally, it was on Jorge Kero's birthday which was on the Day of Tango "Dia del Tango":

And there's more!  Here is Adela dancing with Roberto Fortunato and Elba Biscay dancing with Juan Topalian at a D'Arienzo homage at La Milonga de Elsita.  They dance a tango as well as a vals:

Beautiful, elegant, musical dancing to cheer up a dreary January winter day here in Toronto.  Thanks Adela!

Sunday, January 5, 2014


We read in the Toronto Star yesterday there has been record sightings of the Arctic Snowy Owl all over the central and eastern part of Canada and the United States.  One of the best places for viewing the owls in Toronto is at Tommy Thompson Park at the edge of Lake Ontario.

We have never been to Tommy Thompson Park so we decided to drive there, to see if we would be lucky and get to see a Snowy Owl.  It was perfect weather for the outing - temperatures rising to near zero after a week of below fifteen on most days.  The sun even came out at times from behind the grey clouds.

The park is at the end of a desolate stretch of industrial lands.  It is only open on weekends and holidays, the rest of the time construction trucks roll up and down the pitted worn roads outside and the gates of the park are closed. 

We parked at the entrance and walked into the park.  The paved trail was covered with slush and ice and we had to walk slowly to avoid slipping.  It was a busy day for the park - every few minutes we encountered fellow visitors on their way out, fully dressed for the cold in boots and parkas, hats and scarves.  We stopped everyone to ask, "Did you see the owls?"  Some were lucky and saw a few, some weren't so lucky and didn't see any.  There was no doubt that everyone was at the park for the same reason.  Everyone we met was in a jovial mood - owl or no owl, it was worth it to just be there enjoying scenes of sunlight, sky and water.

Alberto and Paulina loved being in nature, and decorated their house with the natural things they found on their travels - dried grasses, feathers, sea shells.  Every time we were in Buenos Aires, Alberto always tried to persuade us to go fishing with him.  "A few days, just the four of us by the river.  You haven't seen the beautiful countryside in Argentina yet!  It is so peaceful.  Afterwards I will make you the best asado ever, right on the riverbank."

We would react with looks of terror in our eyes.  We were only in Buenos Aires for two weeks and we had dancing to do, the last thing we wanted was to be sitting still under a hot sun with a fishing rod and no milonga in sight.  "Next time!  Next time!" I said, but Man Yung was more honest.   He would look at Alberto with a big frown and say, "Alberto!  Please!  No fishing!" Alberto would look at Man Yung and laugh until his eyes disappeared.  Every time we returned to Buenos Aires he would repeat his threat, just to get the looks of terror in our eyes all over again. 

It was easy to spot the Snowy Owl - we just had to find several groups of people standing still with their cameras all pointing in the same direction.  It was standing on an ice covered bush at the edge of a cliff, its head swiveling around towards all the cameras, to the lake, and back again.  We had our camera ready and managed to zoom in and snap some photos.

We were pretty sure that the owl thought that us humans were quite silly with our camera equipment and binoculars and hushed awe as we stood in a reverent twelve meter radius around the target of our attention.  Nevertheless, the owl indulged us all and let us take photos for a few more minutes. 

"Look, the owl has changed its position!" said Man Yung.  It looked like she was preparing to take off - and she did, unfurling her wings and climbing the air effortlessly.

"Darn! This camera is too slow!"  Man Yung was trying to take a photo of the lift-off.

I knew that it would be too late. "Forget the camera, forget it!  Just use your eyes - look with your eyes!  Try to remember that you here at this moment, that you are seeing, that you are watching the snowy owl fly," I said.

The owl was now a pair of white wings flapping slowly and further and further out over the water - now, a ghost; now, a shadow; now, nothing more than a mote against the steel-gray waves.

Our lives are filled with missed moments.  Moments when we are fumbling with the camera.  Moments when we are thinking of something else.  Moments when we are preoccupied with things to do, people to see, goals to accomplish.  Moments too, like this windy day in the park - when we tried to capture everything to impress it in our memory forever, because we finally realized how our moments are not infinite and maybe this moment is something we should stop to treasure.  How our moments slip through our fingers, despite all our hopes and best wishes.

In remembrance of our dear friend Alberto Dassieu October 13, 1936 – December 5, 2013

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