Saturday, September 27, 2014

We support the student democracy protestors in Hong Kong

25 years ago student protestors in Tiananmen Square asked government leaders to come out to dialogue about with the protestors about corruption in the Chinese government.  The communist government refused to talk, and instead of even contemplating change, they brought out soldiers with guns and tanks and suppressed the protestors with violence.

In Hong Kong right now, student protestors have already been on strike all week.  When the Chinese government took back Hong Kong in 1997, it was under the promise that universal suffrage will be implemented within 10 years. 

Not only was universal suffrage not implemented within the deadline, the Chinese government has been making all sorts of paper-thin, ridiculous excuses not to let the people of Hong Kong vote for their own leaders.  It's been 17 years ago, what about the promises?  Now the communists proclaim that they are giving Hong Kong democracy - but it is a farce, because voters can only vote only for candidates specially selected by the Chinese government for their loyalty to the Communist government.  This is complete bullshit.

The Hong Kong student protestors, including high school students who have joined the protest on Friday, gathered outside government buildings to ask Hong Kong chief C.Y. Leung to talk to them about this.  Of course the coward would not dare to come out to meet with the students.   He did what the communists always do - suppress protests with violence.  Out come the police with riot gear and pepper spray and students are beaten and arrested.

Here's a short report of this matter on Reuters:

Now they are using pepper spray and handcuffs - AGAINST HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS.  There is an "Occupy Central" protest planned for October 1st which the Communist government has threatened with bloodshed.  Will there be soldiers with tanks and guns again, against the peaceful people of Hong Kong?  Will this be a repeat of the Tiananmen Square Massacre? 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Things that Man Yung did in Tango that used to drive me crazy (but now are ok)

When people compliment us on our dancing, I say "Thank you very much!" and also this: "But you haven't seen us fighting!"

Our Tango journey has been a VERY difficult one.  We're surprised we haven't killed each other by now, since we both know how to use weapons (and can improvise if weapons of choice are not handy).  Man Yung used to write big "X's" on the calendar every day we got into an argument.  It kind of looked like this (BUT MUCH ANGRIER):

We are still semi-angry to this day and can't look back and laugh about it even though in retrospect we were fighting about really stupid trivial stuff like "Steps" and "How to embrace" and "Lead and Follow".  It's only a dance, for God's sake!

OK, maybe I shouldn't have made such a big fuss over stupid Tango things (but I also say Man Yung shouldn't have overreacted!). Luckily and through much perseverance, we weathered the storm(s) and now the urge to murder has gradually been displaced by the happier urge to dance.   Here are some of the things that almost triggered Tango Armageddon  - oh how silly they are now!:

1.  Man Yung's posture didn't remotely look like the posture of the Tango dancers in Tango X 2

This was before  the Campeonato and its Tango Salon/Tango de la Pista clones in suits - I too was once mesmerized by the sight of macho Argentinos (the Zottos and the Misses) as straight as pins in sharp suits and gomina-slicked hair, executing razor sharp turns and spins to the tune of Cafe Dominguez.

Why can't Man Yung look as good in a suit?  Why are his legs and body all bendy instead of straight and twisting me in awkward direction all the time?  Why can't he dance exactly like Zotto/Missee and why can't we also look all elegant and detached doing pretend social dancing at a pretend a milonga on a stage?

Boy am I glad we didn't go that route because then we would have joined the Tango Borg!  The big machinery of Tango Championship has been churning out so many identical looking and dancing "winners" over the past few years honestly we can't tell which couple from which and judging from the increasingly "meh" reaction all over the Tango-verse dancers don't really care any more.  Standardized Championship Tango is not something we want to dance - the more we dance, the more we like just being ourselves and expressing ourselves in our own way, as imperfect as we may be.

2.  Steps, steps and more steps

I used to wish that the internet connection would break down so Man Yung won't be able to learn any more steps.  Every week he would be trying something new.  Even in the middle of the night he would sometimes wake me up and want to try yet another new combination ("But I have to go to work tomorrow!!!" I would protest).  I couldn't keep up and I thought we looked silly tripping over our feet attempting yet more new stuff in the milonga.

"Can't we just play it safe and like, keep it simple?" I would beg.  "Manolo said dance no more than ten different steps at a milonga, but you are dancing like a hundred!" 

But no, Man Yung's brain is not wired that way and more and more steps we certainly did do.  I can say now that "what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger" - and voila!  Dancing with Man Yung for me as  a follower is like dancing with everybody in the world at the same time.  I could dance with anyone and it would be a cakewalk!

On the flip side I am now terribly bored if I have to dance with someone who does less than a million steps.  If I get to dance with a gentleman like this I go back to the table and say exasperated to Man Yung, "He only knows three/four/five steps and he did them over and over and over again for the ENTIRE TANDA!"  I'm sorry guys, if I agreed to dance with you you must be a lovely dancer, but because of Man Yung I have a very low threshold of tolerance for repeating sequences.  I even get bored if Man Yung doesn't have something new that week.

3.  Dancing with Man Yung on an unruly dance floor filled with inconsiderate dancers = 95% chance of Man Yung wanting to kick someone's ass

When Man Yung's mom heard that we were going out to dance Tango, she disapproved.  "Those dance places are full of hoodlums!  You don't want to go to these dangerous places!"

Ha ha we thought, Man Yung's mom doesn't know anything about Tango.  It's only filled with docile middle-aged folk swaying mellowly to the music and not causing any trouble!

But of course she was right and we were wrong.  Tango is filled with many over-the-hill, selfish, show-off hoodlums.  In their quest to do their solo exhibition or super-impress their partners they jostle the people around them and fire off kicks and boleos in all directions. 

Man Yung would get pretty ruffled when such folk would tailgate us, cut us off, charge into our space or deliberately dance into a very physically threatening manner.  I would try to pacify or reason with him.  "They haven't kicked us yet!" I may say, or, if they have kicked us and have sheepishly apologized, "At least they said sorry!"

"I have a responsibility to protect you on the dance floor," said Man Yung.  "I am not going to wait until you get gouged in the shins to do something proactive.  'Sorry' does not excuse this kind of reckless dancing, I'm going to stop it before it happens!"

You know what, getting kicked or stepped on the dance floor hurts.  If you get slashed or stomped by those dirty, germy, flying stilettos or heels, the bruises may fade but the scars might stay forever on your calves and feet.

I have thought about it...Man Yung has a lot of self control considering the numbers of really crazy out of control dancers we have encountered on the dance floor over the years.  If I was a leader, there would be a lot more broken noses (in fact, I want to break some noses now, but Man Yung is restraining me).

4.  Man Yung offers too much unsolicited advice

I used to hate it when Man Yung offered "constructive criticism" of my dancing. It was super irritating to be trying to dance and having someone say to me "You're going too fast!" or "You are dancing without emotion!" or "You have to do this step like this!"

I would dig in my heels and plug my ears and of course, do exactly opposite of the said advice.

In my wiser middle-age, I am starting to understand the value of good advice.  If someone loves you, they will tell you honestly what's wrong so you can improve.  If someones doesn't give a shit about you, they will let you keep on doing the stupid things you are doing (and even encourage you) until you dig yourself into a hole that you will not be able to dig out of.  Man Yung's advice comes from a good place!  Made me a better person (and a better dancer).

5.  Man Yung is dancing with every lady in the room - except his own wife

Actually, this isn't something that bothered me - it was something that bothered Osvaldo and Coca!

"Irene!"  Osvaldo and Coca would say.  "Where is Man Yung?  What?  Why is Man Yung dancing with that lady?  Why isn't he dancing with you!!!?!" 

"But of course Man Yung must dance with the ladies.  They are more beautiful and better dancers than me!" I replied chirpily.

Osvaldo and Coca would roll their eyes and stare daggers at Man Yung when he came back to the table.

Osvaldo and Coca (and Martha and Manolo, and Alberto and Paulina) have been in Tango so long, they know about all those going-ons between men and women in Tango.  In their experience, Tango Lotharios are dancing with all the ladies because they are on the prowl for their next sexual conquest.  Men (and Women!) are not to be trusted!  You got to keep you jealous eye on your partner!

The longer they know Man Yung the more they understand Man Yung and know it is ok.  Unlike quite a few leaders in Tango, Man Yung is only interested in dancing Tango and not anything else.  He isn't dancing Tango with the pretty young ladies because dancing is the only way for an old guy to get close to them (and maybe chat them up).  He isn't dancing with the voluptuous ladies to feel them up (and maybe to flirt with them).  He is dancing with all the ladies - young and old and of all sizes and shapes - because he just wants to dance Tango.

"When I am dancing Tango and in the music, the furthest thing from my mind is sex," says Man Yung.  "I WISH I could think about sex while dancing Tango, but it is impossible.  This just shows, you can't have everything that you want!"


Monday, September 8, 2014


Life is not complicated.  The best advice is the most simple advice.

In personal finance matters, no doubt everyone has heard the advice: "Spend less than you earn".  Yet, levels of personal debt are always reaching new record highs and a third to almost half of Canadians are living paycheck to paycheck.

In terms  of personal health, everyone knows that in order to lose weight, you have to "Eat less calories, exercise more".  Three years ago, I lost fifteen pounds over a year's time and kept the weight off since then by simply not snacking, drinking water instead of sweetened drinks, eating balanced meals, and by being less sedentary.  I didn't have to attempt any fad diet, do any bootcamp exercise or try risky diet pills.  It worked for me, but when a friend of mine asked me for my secrets and I told her what I did to slim down, she stared at me in disbelief.  "What, no snacking?  Not even a little bit?  You can't NOT SNACK!"  It was like I was asking her to give up her firstborn.

In Tango, the best teachers give simple advice.   As Osvaldo and Coca always say to us, "LISTEN TO THE MUSIC!" and "BE MORE GENTLE!"

"WHAT?!???!!  I don't have to pay a million dollars, or waste time on hundreds of hours of private classes, or listen to bullshit metaphysical lectures by half-baked tango 'professionals' mixing post-modern philosophical theories with exotic eastern spiritual concepts for the secret of dancing Tango well?"

Yes, we are giving away the secret for free!  BUT IT WON'T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE to 99.999% of Tango dancers anyway!  Everyone in Tango has probably heard one time or another the same kind of advice, and yet why are dance floors all over the world replete with dancers who are dancing like they are DEAF, who are also violently shoving their partners to and fro big manic grins on their faces?

The answer is simple.

It is easier to succumb to pressure of keeping up with the Joneses and buy the latest gadgets, handbags, clothes, dream cars, dream houses, and live the lifestyle you can't afford filled with expensive restaurant meals, daily gourmet lattes, and frequent luxury travel so you can fit in with your friends and acquaintances who are also doing the same thing and not saving a penny towards emergencies or retirement.

It is easier to satisfy your cravings for sweet or crunchy or convenient foods laden with empty calories and sit and watch marathon hours of tv and gain five pounds a year than to be active and eat right.

It is easier to disregard the music because you are too busy showing off all the steps (totally unsuited in a crowded milonga setting, by the way, but you were too busy showing off to notice) you have paid good money to learn at seminars or plundered off Youtube.  What is skipping a beat or two when you can draw attention to yourself and feel like a superstar?  It is easier to fling your partner around like a rag doll instead of treating her with respect and learning how to lead her properly and communicate with her.  You can push and pull her with all your might, no need to treat her like a flesh and blood person with feelings when it is easier to manipulate an object!

I tell you, the world is mad, mad, mad and people are crazy, crazy, crazy not to follow the simple advice to make things better.  Instead of doing things simple but right, people complicate things with their excuses and delusions and that's when things go wrong.

Over the weekend, we were assaulted on the dance floor by a leader who thinks he is an absolute hot-shot.  He has been terrorizing the dance floor for months with reckless tailgating, hazardous movements, weaving in and out of lines of dance and leading his partners into high boleos and kicks.  Every one we have talked to shake their heads when we bring up this guy.  Some have said, "I have been trying to get out of his way all night! I don't want a collision or to get my partner hurt!"  Others shrug their shoulders in exasperation, "What's up with him, is he nuts doing all that dangerous stuff on the dance floor?"

The guy tailgated us and led his partner into the usual dangerous high kicks and boleos.  We don't want to get sliced by his partner's stilettos so we told him to stop and control his movements, but he acted like he had every right in the world to do what he did.  Despite the warning, he tailgated us AGAIN in the next tanda and this time, he kicked me in the shins.  When we confronted him with this, his response was "What's the fuss?  YOU'RE JUST JEALOUS OF ME!"

Talk about staring in disbelief when we heard him blurt this out!  Any sane person would be embarrassed if they were dancing like this guy.  If we danced like this asshole we would want to COMMIT SUICIDE and all our teachers would disown us!  Instead of moving smoothly with cadence, he was always a furious frenzy of jerks and tics and twitchy spins.  Instead of dancing to the music, he was too busy shaking his booty and doing a tap dance to care about the beat.  Instead of embracing, he pushed his partners outwards so he could have space to execute his big flashy movements while staring with admiration at his feet!  Don't even talk to us about emotion, because for all his emoting "LOOK AT ME, I AM (SERIOUSLY) DANCING TANGO" - there was NONE.  He was too busy starring in his own internal "Tango Extravaganza Show" to be DANCING TANGO.

You would think it would be simple to respect others on the dance floor, to dance with care and not do anything that injures or may injure others...well, we have found out that the answer is NOPE!  It is IMPOSSIBLE - when you are too enthralled by your illusions of self-grandeur!

It is easier to self-inflate and believe you are dancing like the second coming of Pablo Veron...than to actually dance well.

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