Tuesday, October 28, 2014


The banner on Hong Kong's famous Lion Rock placed by the pro-democracy protestors read: "I want Genuine Universal Suffrage".  The Hong Kong Government and the Chinese Government had been asserting all along that they are giving the Hong Kong people "Genuine Universal Suffrage".... that is, if you consider "You can only vote for candidates who have been hand-picked to be supporters of the corrupt Chinese Communist Party!" to be crucial for "Genuine Universal Suffrage".  No wonder the Hong Kong Government quickly dispatched police and firemen to tear the banner down the next day.

Man Yung has a friend in Hong Kong who has been a fervent supporter of the Chinese Communists all his life.  Back in the 60's and 70's when Man Yung was a young Communist fanatic himself, he and his friend would participate in lots of fun activities arranged by the Hong Kong Communist associations, like acupuncture classes, ping pong, Communist Choir practice - and the always exciting: "Participating in demonstrations against the British Colonial Hong Kong Government and throwing rocks at police." 

"What?" said Man Yung when I rolled my eyes at this.  "I think young people should always experience a stage in their life when they have ideals."

Notwithstanding starry-eyed idealism of Man Yung, his friend and many other youth of their era (including a physicist uncle of mine who was so captivated by Communist Propaganda he went all the way back to China from the U.S.A. to "Help Build the Country") the Chinese Communist Party has been a complete and utter disappointment in ways that George Orwell had easily envisioned in "Animal Farm" and "1984".  Still, Man Yung admits he clung to his hope that the Chinese Communists would finally "do good" one day... until June 4, 1989 when the Chinese Communists sent in troops and tanks into Tiananmen Square to kill and run over defenceless student protestors who just wanted the corrupt Communist government to stop being so corrupt.

Despite having devoted a good deal of his life and energy to the support of the Chinese Communists and the Communist ideal, Man Yung said that once he saw what the Chinese Communist were capable of doing - i.e. ruthlessly massacre innocents to continue their iron grip on power and to maintain the corrupt status quo - he stopped believing that there would be any good at all in any Communist regime.  So long there is only one party ruling China with absolute power there will only be corruption and misrule and everything will go to hell in a handbasket.

Man Yung's friend however, couldn't admit that his ideals were wrong or that what he believed in was wrong.  He had sacrificed even more than Man Yung in support of Communism - he had been persecuted by the Hong Kong government for his political activities and had to suffer the split up of his family as a result of the persecution.  I think his heart bled when the Tiananmen Square Massacre happened, and his heart bleeds every time he hears another Communist atrocity which must be every day now (of which a very short list can be found on this blog in our Chinese Fairy Tales).

Whenever Man Yung talks to his friend on the phone, Man Yung talks to his friend about the Communists and how they have turned modern China into the most corrupt, debauched, dissolute, unscrupulous etc. etc. society ever in the whole history of China.  Man Yung's friend can't refute what Man Yung says - not matter how much the Communists try to suppress and whitewash, their nefarious deeds are in the news every day.  But at the end of the conversation, Man Yung's friend sighs and says in not many words that he continues to have faith in the Communists.  He is going to go to the grave with a broken heart.

"Irene, the lesson you have to learn from this is that if you are wrong, you admit you are wrong and you can move forward."

"Ah, easier said than done.  Everyone I know is adamant on soldiering along on the same track even when evidence proves they are entirely wrong!" 

I'm not going to give you a list here of people who couldn't change their track.  In life as well as Tango, people would rather continue to be wrong than change their thoughts and ways.  That's why it is so hard for people to improve their lives... or their dancing.  I'm thinking, there are going to be a lot of people who are going all the way to Tango Hell in saggy nuevo pants with untucked shirts over potbellies doing colgadas and volcadas, ha ha.

Has anyone ever splintered into a million pieces admitting that they were wrong when they were wrong?  No.  Man Yung tells me that it is funny, the Chinese Communists and Chinese people in general have a terror of "losing face".  "They would rather lose a fortune than lose face - they would rather lose their lives than lose face!" Man Yung said. "Does that sound rational to you?  The Communists have ruled China for over sixty years.  They just had a big meeting in which they had a resolution to start "Govern the country by Rule of Law".  Ridiculous! What the hell have they been doing up to now?"

The student protestors in Hong Kong have been protesting, sleeping in tents on the streets for a whole month now.   Tens of thousands of people peacefully protesting for over four weeks without throwing a single rock, burning a single trash can, or breaking any window.  The government however has fired tear gas, shot pepper spray, sent in triad members to beat on protestors, got police to beat protestors with batons and even throw shit at protestors from roof tops.  We are in awe of the student protestors to have kept so calm in face of such provocation.

"I have been on this planet a long time and I can admit I am not a peaceful person and I am quick...not to use peaceful tactics," said Man Yung.  "There's one thing I have learned from the student protestors, and that is that violence does not solve problems.  Peaceful civil disobedience is a powerful thing."

Knowing how the Chinese Communists are, they cannot admit they were wrong and cannot do anything that they think will make them lose face.  It would take miracle for them to back down and really give Hong Kong genuine universal suffrage.  Despite the overwhelming difficulties, we are hoping that the protestors will stay safe and that the protests will come to a peaceful and satisfactory end.  No matter what happens in the end, we are proud of the students who led the protests and everyone who came out to protest with them in support.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Recently, I have been mesmerized by yet another trashy Hong Kong TVB drama called "Triumph in the Skies II".  It's about the 'glamourous' love lives of a bunch of commercial pilots and stewardesses at a fictional Hong Kong airline based on Cathay Pacific.  It is so ridiculous that when I watch it with Man Yung, he starts rolling his eyes every three minutes in disbelief at the ludicrousness of it all and he switches the channel to baseball, ultimate fighting, informercials - anything to get away from the steaming pile of manure in a train wreck that is TVB drama.  I have to wrestle him for control of the remote.

"How can you stand it?" said Man Yung, defending the remote with one hand and fighting me off with the other.  "How many implausible love triangles are in this thing?  Twenty?  Every second person has an incurable disease!  There's always someone fake crying every fifteen minutes.  The writing is so formulaic that I can already tell you all the plot twists and turns without watching a single episode.  Don't watch it, Irene, it will turn your brain into mush.  These mind-numbing state-controlled TVB dramas are part of an evil ploy by the Hong Kong government to turn all Hong Kong people into complacent consumerist zombies without an original thought in their heads so that they will have no spirit or will-power left to defend their right to democracy!"

Man Yung is right.  Ever since watching this series I have been suffering from phases of inertia and blankness and inexplicable cravings for luxury travel, Vivienne Westwood hoodies and Vitamin Water.  Perhaps not inexplicable....did the characters travel to exotic locales, wear Vivienne Westwood hoodies and drink Vitamin Water?  The answer is yes.  The product placements are so blatant that they even had a character construct a big heart on the beach made entirely out of bottles of Vitamin Water:

If you didn't drink Vitamin Water before, you will now after this episode, evil hahahahaha!

"Man Yung, you are completely right but I can't help myself.  The main character Captain Samuel Tong is so dreamy!"

 Heroic Captain Samuel Tong as played by versatile and intense Hong Kong actor 
Francis Chun-Yu Ng

Francis Chun-Yu Ng is one of the greatest living actors in Hong Kong cinema.  He can play any character - the good guy, the bad guy, the crazed maniac, the pathetic loser, the triad member and the cop (or both in the same movie!) and last but not least, the romantic lead and sport the weirdest haircuts at the same time and he'd be utterly convincing no matter what role he plays.  Even low budget, hastily written, badly produced, poorly directed garbage turns into Shakespeare once the remarkable Francis Ng is on screen.

"Turning into a mindless consumerist zombie is worth it just to watch Francis Ng's performance.  Who else can transform the impossibly virtuous, morally upstanding, infallible and deadly boring character of Captain Tong (with a terrible unflattering Elvis pompadour haircut) into a sex symbol adored by thousands of middle-aged see-lai Hong Kong ladies?" I said.
In real life, there's no way that the free-spirited cadet pilot heroine of the series would choose Captain Tong over his romantic rival Captain Koo who is younger, much nicer, more dashing, better looking and a great deal more fun to be with.  In the series, not only does the heroine choose wrinkly old Captain Tong, she also eventually understands that the stern, severe, soul-sucking lectures about a pilot's responsibility and respectability and about the "weight of the uniform" that he has been giving her on the job and also while they were on dates WERE ALL FOR HER OWN GOOD. And that he is doing this (and risking killing his relationship with the heroine) just because he loves her.

"Man Yung, you know what, you remind me a lot of Captain Tong*.  All the advice you gave me was good, but I just didn't know it! If only Tango was like a TVB drama," I sighed.  "Then you will know immediately who is giving you the best advice.  The authority figure in the uniform played by Francis Ng is always looking out for your best interests and if you follow his advice to the letter, you and the whole world will be better for it."

* Man Yung is also good at giving me stern, severe, soul-sucking lectures about responsibility and respectability and other "important" topics while we are on dates.  Yes I want to kill him sometimes.

I was hoping that Man Yung would be able to shed some light on how a tango beginner - or even a veteran tango dancer - would be able to tell who they could rely on for good advice in Tango.  Perhaps, you can rely on someone for advice if they have impressive videos on Youtube of their performances?  Or maybe you can rely on someone for advice if they have been teaching a long time?  Is there a 'spidey-sense' for what is good or bad in Tango?  What if you have a person who thinks they can tell good from bad but in fact has insufficient experience and poor taste and is in no position to make any judgment?

"Unfortunately, Tango is much like real life," said Man Yung.  "You're going to get advice whether you want to or not from people you dance with, with teachers you are taking lessons with, and even from random folk.  People who dress like tango dancers who look like they dance well may give you good advice, or maybe they won't, and people who don't have impressive tango resumés and who don't dress like tango dancers may give you bad advice, or maybe they won't. 

You can seek instruction and advice, but there's no way for sure of telling whether the person who gave you advice would give you good or bad advice. The fun thing about Tango is that is really like life - it's about the journey and not just the destination.  Sure, you can make mistakes here and there, you may not become a perfect dancer overnight, or even ever.  So long you are enjoying yourself, and you have lived all the tango experiences that you have wanted to live (i.e. some people may be just content to stay home, others want to roam the world) then I think it is just fine and you don't have to worry about missteps along the way!" 

What Man Yung said was really encouraging.  Carpe diem - seize the day!  "Hey Man Yung, I think I would really enjoy the experience of running away with either with Captain Tong, Francis Ng, or both.  Should I give it a go?"

"Irene, that is an excellent idea.  This will give me a perfect opportunity to look for a new partner!"

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Adela Galeazzi and Robert Segarra exhibitions at Maracaibo

Adela sent us an email with links to her recent performances with our friend Roberto Segarra at Maracaibo two Fridays ago.  The occasion:  THE 94th BIRTHDAY OF ROBERTO!

Roberto may be in his 90s but we swear he has more energy than both of us combined.  He still goes to milongas several nights a week and once he is there, he dances almost every tanda.  Whenever the music starts the heads of all milongueras swivel to look in his direction for a chance at cabeceo. 

Thank you to Adela for sharing the videos of these lovely performances of Tango and Vals with us!  Adela as always looks fabulous and her footwork is mesmerizing. 

Adela and Roberto dancing a Di Sarli Tango

Adela Roberto dancing a D'Arienzo Vals

The audience can't help applauding throughout the performances when Adela and Roberto fly in perfect sync with the cadence of the music.  Adela and Roberto dancing together is pure joy, pure emotion - PURE TANGO.

As Adela said in her email:

Es un orgullo haber compartido la pista con este caballero que tiene mucho camino genuino recorrido con el tango!


It is a pride to have shared the floor with this gentleman who has traveled a long way with genuine tango!

A note on Maracaibo - it is organized by Diego and Zoraida who organized the Mondays at Confiteria Ideal that we really enjoyed on our trip in May - lots of locals, traditional music, very milonguero atmosphere and changed the way we looked at Confiteria Ideal!  Maracaibo is held not too far away from Ideal at El Marabú at Maipu 365, a historic ballroom from the 1930s.  All our milonguero friends we talked to know about this famous venue and reminisce about the numerous Tango orchestras from the past who played there.  It has a very nice dance floor, when we are next in Buenos Aires we will definitely check out Diego and Zoraida's milonga there.

A note on the Hong Kong democracy protest - we have been glued to the tv and the internet for news on the latest developments on the protest.  We have been shocked and dismayed by the tactics of the Hong Kong government and the Puk-Gai Hum Ga Chan (this is the Cantonese swear word/curse/adjective meaning "Fall down dead in the street and whole family die" -  that's how strongly disgusted we are with this man-turd) Hong Kong Chief C.Y. Leung against the protestors - riot police, tear gas, and then sending in scores of Triad members masquerading as anti-demonstrators to beat up the students in Mong Kok.  If anyone has been following the news on the protest, the protestors are peaceful and anti-violence (they apologize to passerbys for the inconvenience caused and even clean up their trash at the protest sites!), there was no need to employ violence against them but hey, what can you expect from the Hong Kong government and the Chinese Communists, who are a bunch of murderous thugs in concert with criminals.  

We wish that the protestors will be safe.  They have already achieved what was once unthought of in their brave stand for democratic rights for Hong Kong people.  We want to thank all those people who have talked to us or have reached out in Facebook supporting the protest.  Democracy for Hong Kong now!


Iconic symbol of Hong Kong's peaceful protest for democracy - umbrellas against Riot Police and tear gas.  The umbrellas are not weapons, they were used to deflect pepper spray.  This is called the "Umbrella Revolution"

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