I would have written this post over the Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada, but I was too busy on a glamourous Tango "Staycation".
Now, of course we would rather be on a glamourous Tango "Vacation" and we miss visiting our wonderful friends in Buenos Aires, but we have to be home every four to six hours to feed and massage an ancient constipated pet cat. This one (on the left - I don't know who the guy in the chicken hat is HA!):
And when we told Manolo the reason behind us not flying to Buenos Aires to visit him, he said "Does he taste good with a side of rice?"
HE WAS JOKING! About getting rid of the cat and about what Chinese people eat! Cat Lovers and Chinese people, it's JUST A JOKE, OK?
Well, in any event, Vacation/Staycation is just a state a mind and we will use all our powers of Imagination/Zen/Self-Delusion to bring you the following:
THINGS WE CAN DO ON TANGO STAYCATION THAT MAYBE PERHAPS MAKES US THINK WE ACTUALLY TOOK A TRIP TO BUENOS AIRES:
1. Wear same set of wrinkle free "travel clothes" for days on end. Wash them in the sink and hang them all over the place to drip dry OR screw that, wear them for days on end and do not wash them. Did you know merino wool clothing supposedly never smells bad and self-cleans?
Irene demonstrating how to look conspicuously like a tourist. You don't even need to be in Buenos Aires - we guarantee that this outfit will make anyone stick out like a sore thumb anywhere in the world!
2. Eat pasta and pizza and red meat with abandon and wash it down with gallons of beer/wine. Gain 5 lbs in 7 days!
Yes, we can get pretty great pizza here in Toronto. But would it really be as good and excessively cheesy as the ones at El Cuartito?
3. Buy random stuff because that's what people do on vacation.
Or better yet - DO NOT buy random stuff and be good to the planet.
"Man Yung, I can't believe we took a photo of this incredible HANDBAG STORE in Buenos Aires and didn't go in or buy anything from it????? WTF!!!?"
4. Since cannot buy new tango shoes easily when not in Buenos Aires, do next best thing - resole tango shoes, or wear existing tango shoes in one's possession that don't fit well for that brand new tango shoe feeling. Hobble awkwardly in ill fitting tango shoes at local milongas, it makes it feel like you are dancing on unfamiliar floors!
5. Dance all night. Or at least until 1 a.m. midnight. Because we need beauty rest + have to go home and massage the cat. By the way this past week (in Toronto!) we danced Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Monday and Thursday we massaged the cat MORE.
6. Forget to put on sunscreen because so busy/exhausted.
Unfortunately, this happened all the time when we were in Buenos Aires. It is not a good idea! The secret to looking and staying young: Sunscreen, sleep and Tango. OK, when we were in Buenos Aires didn't get much of the first two but the surplus of the third made up for it.
7. Go and see the sights and eat the eats in Scarborough, food capital of the world. Or don't, and nap all the time when not eating and dancing because old and exhausted from dancing + massaging the cat.
If Scarborough is the food capital of the world and we live right in it and have a million choices of what to eat, why do we end up eating the same fifty chicken wings and plate of fried noodles at the same Chinese restaurant?
8. Watch soccer matches broadcast in a non familiar language. There are lots on Youtube. Brings back memories of watching soccer in Spanish in Buenos Aires hotel room (when not passed out from exhaustion or doing laundry in the sink).
Yep. What a coincidence! Felicity's original comment (to the previous post "Why the Cabeceo is important) is in black, and my responses are in blue:
"It is always BETTER to dance with someone who is willing to dance with me than someone who isn't." Agreed: why would anyone want to dance with someone unless they also want to?
Comparing notes, my reasons for not dancing with (any) guys this weekend:
1. Couldn't see good dancers
Agreed. Getting rare in Toronto too. Toronto full of hot headed flingers. However have still a handful of leaders I still enjoy dancing with. I am often tempted to pray (with incense and crispy BBQ pork offerings - actually, doing complete opposite of the evil eye ritual) that they do show up at milonga but realize that praying is completely useless due to my low dance popularity quotient.
2. I like dancing with the guy but he just danced with someone I can't bear and so is contaminated (at least for that day). This is a fairly new one on me. It surprised me too!
Actually this happens to me after Man Yung danced with someone who forgot deodorant or has a problem that deodorant cannot fix. I have to get him to change before I can dance with him. Otherwise the urge to vomit will override ability to follow. Man Yung either has nasal blockage or likes B.O. of strangers does not understand about the fuss I am making.
I have also been put off by the smell of green peppers that attached itself to a leader I like to dance with from a follower I dislike. Go figure.
3. I really like dancing with the (visiting) guy I've known for years but he has been sending confusing messages during the last year at the two milongas where we last met. I don't know where I stand so I won't look or say anything about dancing even though we're sitting next to one another and (finally) talking again...
I’m a straightforward person, I don’t understand leaders who send out confusing messages either.
I prefer to dance with someone who is as consistently eager to dance with me as I am with him. Not BS "Oh I LOVE dancing with you!" and then when there are other "more preferred" followers in the room he forgets to cabeceo or even say hello.
If he is "hot and cold" he better be some hot stuff in Tango. No wait - EVEN IF he is some hot stuff he can go stuff it. I'm too old for this game playing s***.
Reasons for not dancing much with women this weekend:
- At two of the milongas: no space / chaos. Space alone wouldn't necessarily be an issue if it weren't for the snails-pace ronda and dangerous floorcraft. Couples were dancing for themselves, not aware of the couples around them. Or were but didn't care, or couldn't dance well enough to manage. I was prevented from moving, was bashed many times, squeezed, tailgated and cut up by guys. I was kicked and scraped by the slim, well-dressed woman several people tried to tell me was a good dancer.
Luckily have not had too much bad luck or accidents while leading on crowded and crazy floors. I have feeling guys in Toronto are more considerate to women leaders, well, at least to me. They don’t generally bash into me and my partner unless by pure accident, I have a feeling they have their eye out for not bashing. Actually, apart from one or two really rotten apples, leaders on a whole in Toronto have become more considerate on the dance floor in the past year.
However, that being said, I think we have the twin of the slim well dressed woman "so called good dancer" here in town. Or perhaps it is the same woman? She has the longest legs and most honking huge feet with stilettos the size of machetes on said feet. She also flails and kicks highest with the most abandon. Frenetic displays of reckless high kicking signal "I'm a good dancer", like how red and blue bottoms on Mandrill monkeys means "YEAH BABY! Sizzling white HOT!"? What is this (tango) world coming to. Milonga organizer had to announce “Keep heels on the floor” but the rockette apparently is deaf because she was still slashing her heels up and down for hours after that announcement.
Other cavorting, spinning and leaping Mandrill monkeys on the dance floor were noticeably excited by her tango courtship display.
- Couldn't see dancers I like
Sad. See above re: lack of good dancers. Sometimes good dancers were (deliberately?) hiding behind not so good dancers I was trying not to cabeceo. Sad x 2. See above re: confusing hot and cold. Not so good dancers I was trying not to cabeceo may be going "wtf?" too re: my cabeceo/not cabeceo (sorry, it was for the person BEHIND you)
- Poor music. B or C sides of famous orchestras. Orquesta tipica Maglio.
OMG this CONFIRMS we were at the same milongas. A DJ played Maglio (and equivalent) all friggin’ night too.
- I'm not convinced enough she wants to dance with me to want to risk a clear look (from my seat).
Yep, I’ve had ladies say they want to dance and then not even try to cabeceo. Talk about ambivalence. This has been ongoing for a few weeks now.
- That quiet, good-dancing girl I like isn't looking my way. She refused / avoided me once. I won't invite her again unless she makes it really clear that she wants to dance.
You and I, we must be trying to dance with the same girl. Sometimes I think she just wants to dance with her favourite guy leaders, or doesn’t want to dance with a girl in front of certain guy leaders who would scoff at women dancing with women. That’s ok.
I'm the same: My best lady friends in tango know that I'm not available for leading if my favourite guy leaders are available.
- She could be looking but I don't want to dance milonga / vals / this particular tango tanda.
Actually, I’m pretty much up for anything at this point. Have heard so much Maglio had to make decision: either dance to the friggin' Maglio, or not dance at all and waste $15 entrada.
PS: I danced 6 tandas over three milongas this weekend. All with women. Good music is always a pre-requisite but curiously, the reasons one does dance are not necessarily the converse of why one doesn't dance:
1. We smiled as she came in and she sat next to me. She was a nice person and turned out to be a good dancer.
That's lovely :-)
2 & 3 An experienced lady told a woman or women I didn't know near me in my hearing that I was a good dancer and she should dance with me. So I risked inviting one and later the other.
Solid dance reputation being built this way. It's great! I hope that I'm getting positive reviews too. Rather than people whispering "OMG avoid her she sucks" :-(
4 A woman who looked familiar reminded me as she arrived that we'd danced in Cambridge
5. A good dancer I didn't know sought me out with her eyes
You are better at the cabeceo than I am. I still have to engage in conversation with ladies at beginning of the evening about willingness to dance later and THEN cabeceo to seal the deal later.
6. A woman I've seen dancing well for years I thought had looked my way some time last year but I hadn't liked the music at the time. I invited her this time.
Thanks for taking the time to comment Felicity! I hope we will really meet one day at the same milonga and we can cabeceo each other for sure :-)
"I prefer to use the cabeceo. You have to ask with your eyes," I replied.
"So I just need to look at you and you will dance with me?" he asked.
"No, I have to return the look. If I don't that means no. Thank you for your understanding, the cabeceo is important to me."
Now, since the gentleman in question was a real gentleman, this was totally ok with him and he didn't ask "why" or "why not" or try to sit and chat with me until I relented.
Now that I follow and lead, I understand even more why the cabeceo is so important in tango. Maybe there's a lot of people who feel differently, but for me, there's a sacred space in the embrace. I have to trust and accept the person I allow into that space in order to create a tango that is 100%.
I hate dancing half-assed tango. There's no point to it. Are any of you out there just "going through the motions" because you have been forced to dance with someone you don't want to dance with, just to be nice? Well, you have got to stop. You are hurting your Tango duende*.
* Tango duende - a protective tango muse spirit that has to be carefully nurtured in order to develop into full potential to grant the protectee special tango powers. Too much abuse of the Tango duende will make the Tango muse flee in horror and turn your tango into a kind of partnership line dancing.
Let me break it down on both sides:
Follower's perspective on a non-cabeceo invitation to dance:
You know what? I am purposely not looking in your direction because I don't want to dance with you. I see you fine. I am not blind or ignorant.
Yes I am busy looking at my phone but that doesn't mean you get to stand three feet from me and wave in my face to get my attention. Has it crossed your mind that I think whatever is on my phone would be a better use of my time than a tanda with you? Well, it's true.
Do you really want to know the reasons why I don't want to dance with you?
It may be nothing personal. I am tired. I don't like this tanda. I don't know you and I don't know how you dance. Maybe my knee hurts. No, I don't want you to sit and share with me your traditional folk remedy involving cabbage and frozen peas for fixing knee joint pain for the next twenty minutes.
- I don't like the way you dance. You have no musicality.
- I don't like the way you dance. WTF are you leading? I don't get it.
- I don't like the way you dance. There's a 1 in 5 chance you are going to fall over and/or step on my toes.
- Your embrace sucks. I enjoy hugging trees more than hugging you.
- I am trying to cabeceo the gentleman behind you because I enjoy dancing with him more than you. Stop being in the way.
- Our height difference gives me a crick in my neck and a twinge in my back.
- I don't like your choice of cologne.
- You have put on too much cologne and it's more like a toxic gas than a pleasant citrus/floral breeze. Besides, I want to smell like the perfume I put on before I came to the milonga today and not like what you put on.
- I don't like smelling your natural body odour/oh gawd, you friggin' STINK.
This reason is a biggie for me. I can't dance properly if I am gagging at a horrible stench!
- I don't like your bad breath.
- I don't like your personality.
- I don't like talking to you. Or listening to what you have to say.
- I get an allergic reaction from one or all of the above. Hives. Runny nose. Urge to vomit.
- I would dance with you if you use the cabeceo. But since you didn't I don't want to.
If I had to say any or all of the above to a non-cabeceoing leader, that's quite bad enough.
But not quite as bad as me having to say "No" straight to your face and have you slink all the way back to your side of the room in humiliating defeat while everyone in the room is watching. Right?
Leader's perspective on why it is better to get a dance from a follower with the cabeceo:
It is always BETTER to dance with someone who is willing to dance with me than someone who isn't.
I don't see the point of forcing or pressuring a follower to dance. I don't care how "good" she is (I know some leaders out there are like "She's such a good dancer I've got to try her out!" Like she was a new car and they want to go for a test drive).
I've danced with ladies who didn't really want to dance with me. Maybe they were curious about following a woman leader or their friend who had danced with me and enjoyed it pushed them to ask me to dance.
I don't know if other leaders can feel the difference, but I do.
Followers who aren't willing just don't connect.*
* No entrega. As to what this means and what this feels like, this is a subject of another post.
If someone is willing to return my cabeceo, that's actually the beginning of our connection. We can dance a real tango if we connect.
If someone isn't accepting my cabeceo, I tell you, it's for a really good reason (see above).
I'm man/woman enough to accept AND respect that.
In fact, even though Man Yung and I are partners, a tanda that begins with a cabeceo between the two of us is more Tango than one that does not!
I know that some red hot* Toronto tango newbie girls recently went down to Buenos Aires.
* Red hot = young, skinny, pretty, popular and wearing something tight and/or revealing. As opposed to old and/or fat and/or ugly and sitting on the side all night and never asked to dance. No, I'm not jealous but just stating the sad realistic facts.
I hope that when they were there, they didn't just dance with flingers. They go to flinger classes here and dance almost exclusively with other young Toronto flingers and boy do they worship and gush over them. They think the youthful flinger lads are the best thing since sliced bread. A million gazillion Facebook likes!
I look at the said flinger lads flinging and 1) hope they don't fling into me and 2) roll my eyes and want to barf at the red hot newbie adoration they are getting. Are you all mad?
Unfortunately, I really do think they went down to Buenos Aires and just went to flinger classes and flinger milongas and just danced with other young gleeful flinging people. The girls think flinging is the real authentic Tango and anything else is just bizarre.
They do not know that dancing with the Milongueros is like Heaven. They mistakenly believe that the near-death experience of being flung in Tango at high speed is like Heaven. As one tanguera has described to me quite aptly, "When he flung me and I clung on for dear life, my life flashed before my eyes!"
It is so sad that in a space of a few years, Tango newbies can't access how milonguero tango feels like even if they want to. Most of the old milongueros have passed on. People who have learned to dance with the milongueros or who have danced with the milongueros and who can transmit that wonderful tango feeling are few and far between (probably quit tango after being flung into). Everyone is flocking either to the competition tango or the flinger tango bandwagons.
I've danced with the Milongueros, girls, and flinger Tango pales in comparison.
With the Milongueros you feel and hear the music.
With the flingers, they aren't listening. They just want to fling and they are thinking of the next flingy step they can throw at you.
With the Milongueros, you are dancing with gentlemen. They will protect the women they dance with and respect the people around them.
With the flingers, you are dancing with jerks and they don't care who they hit with a careless fling because they are so busy flinging.
With the Milongueros, you feel their warm, steady and confident embrace.
With the flingers - well, they've flung you out in a wide orbit and you are gripping on with your fingernails or else you are going to be flung to Mars.
It's too late now, but next trip, I hope that instead of doing the Flingtastic Tango Tour, they will go and take lessons with the few milongueros and milongueras who are left. There are a few still teaching. Like Myriam Pincen and Blas Catrenau. Absolutely a match made in Tango Heaven for sure.
They recently performed at Salon Canning. I hope you enjoy this video of their performance!
There was a time around 2006 when the label "Villa Urquiza" became the latest trendy thing in Tango. Tango videos had recently started to become widely available on Youtube and a few clever Tango entrepreneurs used the label on themselves and on a certain "look" and style of dancing in those videos as an indication of the highest quality of authentic Tango.
Tangueros and Tangueras all over the world just lapped it up and soon everybody and their mother said they were dancing "Villa Urquiza" style.
I am not an expert on Villa Urquiza tango and I am not going to go into great detailed analysis of it. I am also not going to tell you what it is or what it isn't. How tiresome that would be and anyway, I'm sure someone must have done it already in a much more eloquent and poetic and even novelistic manner than I could possibly do because I write these posts on the fly and don't give a damn.
However I think it was a great marketing tactic and made people who thought they were dancing Villa Urquiza tango feel great about themselves and more superior to a lot of people who were dancing whatever it was that was not "Villa Urquiza".
Unfortunately it also led to people starting to want to dance "the same" and now pretty much all the people who are dancing "the same" and who enter into competitions and win them these days for following strict rules that have put Tango into a neat little ballroom box would probably say "Yeah, I think I'm dancing Villa Urquiza", although I believe all those people dancing the "same" may have moved on to the next trendy "authenticating" label which appears to be "Tango Salon" or "Tango de la Pista".
During our conversation over asado and limoncello, I asked Alberto, what is "Villa Urquiza"?
"That is MY tango," he said.
Which shocked us because we had been watching Youtube and what we had seen with the label had (in our inexperienced and ignorant eyes) little to do with what Alberto was dancing.
But Alberto was indeed "Villa Urquiza", and more authentic than all those people dancing "the same", because his style came from a time and a place and from people he knew and the way he thought and felt the tango and therefore was his and his alone. Unique.
When Alberto was young, he hung out with El Chino Perico and they would go together to dance in the milongas. He said that the very very best follower he had danced with ever was actually El Chino's sister.
They'd go to the renowned milongas of Villa Urquiza. Gerardo Portalea was king. Alberto told us there was a competition once at one of the milongas. When he knew that Portalea was in the competition, he knew that there was no way that anyone could beat him. And as he had said - Portalea won the tango competition. And Alberto - I think he said he won the one for Rock n' Roll?
Anyway, Alberto would go to those milongas with his buddies to watch Portalea dance and try and steal Portalea's steps. Alberto said that after watching and watching and watching, he managed to get it.
We thought he meant he got Portalea's steps the way Man Yung would "get" them which would be like, regurgitating 75% of all the sequences he was dancing which was garnered from replaying Youtube vids again and again in slow motion.
Alberto demonstrated Portalea's salida to us. A simple step to the side, followed by a step forward.
And he beamed with satisfaction and pride, because in that salida was the entire Villa Urquiza universe.
If you understand what I just said, you just do - but if you need to ask, you aren't there yet.
It was almost impossible for me to follow Alberto at first. Even after dancing for three years and becoming quite a good follower by Toronto standards, the first time I danced with Alberto at Glorias Argentinas (on the first night we were in Buenos Aires) I had no idea how to follow him because his style was so different from what I had experienced so far in Tango.
However, it only took a couple of private classes with Alberto and a few tips from him and my following was changed forever. Yes, it did not take very long, and no, I didn't have to do hours of technical drills or listen to hours of philosophical musings. I've heard that a lot of teachers these days would milk the hell out of nothing and charge you $150 an hour for it for years and at the end of it, you will suck at Tango more than when you began.
Alberto's precise and concise teaching was like the salida showed us - so deceptively simple, but in it contained all. And it worked.
We enthusiastically recommended Alberto to everybody who asked us about teachers in Buenos Aires. He was especially fantastic with followers. I wish that Man Yung could have learned to follow from Alberto, but back then he was concentrating only on learning to lead.
With Alberto, you do not break the embrace. It is always close. The follower could not look down to see what her feet or doing, have her mind elsewhere or practice fancy but meaningless adornments because it would mean she would miss what came next.
Giros have to be tight around the leader's axis and to the music. No leaning your weight on the leader despite the unbreakable embrace. And the follower MUST be slower than the leader. MUST NOT ANTICIPATE, EVER. There are Alberto's elegant paradas to contend with. Any iota of anticipation, any movement even just a little ahead, will result in a trip, a fall - in all, disaster.
Man Yung's style is different. When he leads he says it doesn't matter what the follower does. Rabid adornistas, total beginners, gals who auto-gancho and auto-enganche - he can and will adapt to them all. Totally laissez-faire, completely "whatever". Leader has to deal with it, he says.
In Alberto's Tango, if the follower does not follow and become absolutely one with the the lead and the leader, there is no Tango. Following Alberto was difficult, but correct. Because everything that Alberto demanded of the follower was correct, and because the way Alberto danced was correct.
I remember watching a documentary in which a milonguera discussed about how it was dancing with Portalea. She was a veteran, a skilled and desired follower.
But dancing with Portalea - the first time she danced with him, she was shaking, she said.
She had to hold herself, comport herself in a different way. Even when she was dancing with someone who is a good dancer, it was crucial for her to mould herself to her partner, to adapt to his style.
And when they interviewed Portalea in the same documentary, he said that for a leader, the main thing was to be able to have a partner who can dance.
Alberto said a similar thing. We asked him when he goes to a milonga alone, how does he decide with who he would like to dance?
His answer was, "With the best dancer."
"Because I know she is going to know how to interpret everything that I feel."
Simple enough as an answer - but it meant everything.
Once again, if you need to ask what that meant - you aren't there yet.
Alberto would go to the milongas with he best floors, the best DJs, the best dancers. He would sit and wait patiently for the perfect music, so he could cabeceo the perfect partner, and create the perfect Tango moment.
This was Alberto's Villa Urquiza. It took decades of dancing and experience to create. And it was difficult because he demanded so much. Who said perfection was easy?
Alberto said that he had one wish, that there'd be someone dancing his style.
Are there any leaders who are? I'm not sure. In any case, maybe Alberto's style is not something that can - or should - be duplicated, in all its perfection and difficulty and uniqueness. A copy would not do Alberto justice.
I wonder about the followers who learned from Alberto. How would it be like to dance with her? Will she still retain the perfection he imparted to her? Will she interpret everything that I feel when I lead her? Will dancing with her reveal to me the sentiment of Tango from the quiet leafy suburban streets of Villa Urquiza from times gone by?
Alberto y Paulina en Toronto, Septiembre, 2010 - dancing at La Cachila in Toronto 1 - YouTube
Alberto y Paulina en Toronto, Septiembre, 2010 - dancing at La Cachila in Toronto 2 - YouTube
More posts about our great friend and teacher Alberto could be found here.
My cat told me I have too many freakin' shoes and none of them are right
From: Irene Sent: March 18, 2018 10:47 AM To: Irene Subject: Shoes!
Dear Irene of 2005,
Hi! I'm Irene - that means you - in 2018. No, this is not spam and you are not high. I'm really you. I have to tell you something and luckily (bizarrely) I discovered I had your email address.
Don't worry, it's not something serious. Everything is well here in 2018. You're (I'm - We're) still dancing Tango. I just have a little bit of Tango shoe situation. Like, too many Tango shoes and I'm not using like 95% of them. I keep on wearing the same four pairs and they are wearing out! I wanted to give you a little bit of advice before you buy so many goddamn pairs and fill up all the available closet space in the house - especially since Man Yung won't let me throw any or them out or sell them. I'm sure as hell not going to wear them if I'm going to dance like a turd in them and have Man Yung complain and whine about my dancing. It's the same husband by the way. Unfortunately, George Clooney married somebody else (no, really!) and she really does have the nicest shoes ever (darn!)
The best Tango shoes for us are Comme Il Faut. You don't need to consider any other brand.
Get size 37 only, that's our size. You will be tempted to get 38s because your feet are going to swell like crazy from tight ahem, "custom made" ill fitting foot destroying Tango shoes (forget about getting multiple pairs of those - Comme Il Faut will eventually come to Canada and you can wait) but 37 is our true size.
Our best heel height is 3 inches - stick to that. Higher heels do not make our feet look more elegant, rather, elegance comes from having a relaxed foot. I'm not going to tell you what a relaxed foot is, trust me, you will get it from practice and experience. Just give it some time.
You also don't want higher heels because you're going to be leading in those heels. Yep. Don't be alarmed, we will be fine leading in heels because we won't start early (In fact, you and I never wanted to start leading, we're going to say no, no, no, no, no to Man Yung who keeps on saying it's good for you (yeah right, I don't buy it) to lead for the next decade. That is, UNTIL we find out it is handy to take over the lead in situations where Man Yung is getting pissed off at some crazy flinging leader who is tailgating and wants to head butt/kick them while he is dancing). In fact, we're not going to start leading until our following is rock solid. But it's not going to work in 4 inch heels - we aren't going to follow well at that height, of course we won't be able to lead well.
We need open toe shoes. Not peep toe, because you can't grip the floor. And the best kind of shoe for us doesn't have a heel cage, just straps. Everyone you talk to say they like their shoes super tight and encasing (afraid to get stepped on probably) but we are the exact opposite. Obviously, what works for other people may not work for us, and vice versa.
As for colour - we don't need black shoes. Screw the idea that you need black shoes like you need a classic little black dress. They don't look right on us. They make us look short and even with relaxed feet you will look stubby.
I guess all other colours are fine so long they are not too dark or boring beige. However, the best shoe colour for you is GOLD! It goes with our skin tone so well, it's just like a neutral. It elongates our legs and goes with everything in our closet (except silver dresses).
So that's my advice for you: Get more gold, size 37, 3 inch high strappy Comme Il Fauts, the more the better.
Don't get embroiled in Tango politics and don't side with Tango people who come to you with a pity story hiding daggers behind their backs. They have their own agendas, they will take advantage of your good and generous nature and they are nasty!
Oh, before I forget - cherish the moments you have with the special people you meet in Tango. You'll be surprised how little time we really have with them.
There's not much other other advice really. We don't have any ulterior motives for "Tango World Domination" or want to profit or become famous from Tango, we just want to enjoy dancing so our Tango journey will be just fine. There's nothing right or wrong, nothing really to regret. Treat everything that comes your way as another opportunity to learn. Just enjoy the ride, I guess.
Just came across a very recent video of an exhibition by two wonderful milonguero dancers we adore... Blas Catrenau and Myriam Pincen performing to D'Arienzo's "El Flete" at La Nacional:
Myriam Pincen y Blas Clemente Catrenau - YouTube
We have loved Blas Catrenau's dancing since we saw a little clip of him dancing La Cumparsita with his previous partner Graciela Lopez on Rick McGarrey's "Tango and Chaos" website. Blas and Graciela were the first Metropolitano competition champions in 2002 and we had the pleasure of meeting Blas and taking his class in 2009 and actually writing about it here:
It is such a treat to see Blas, who is an absolutely amazing, top milonguero dancer, paired with the awesome top milonguera Myriam Pincen!
This is what I wrote about Myriam a few years ago:
A Toronto Tanguero who is enjoying all these videos of the milongueras asked us, "What is it like dancing with Myriam Pincen?"
I want to dance like Myriam one day! She is a wonderful dancer, her footwork and adornments are perfect and subtle, she is musical, she follows EVERYTHING. She is a real, living Goddess of Tango - but she is more than that. Would you be able to find anyone with even half her talent who is so warm, welcoming and humble? I think it would be very difficult.
And what's more, Myriam finishes each tango with a beautiful, bright smile!
The combination of Blas and Myriam is the creme de la creme of social tango. It is becoming rarer and rarer now to be able to see such wonderful dancing since so many great milongueros have passed away.
For leaders, it would be a dream to dance like Blas; for followers, it would be a dream to dance like Myriam. And a dream come true for me to be able to watch them dance together!
...And the chain-smoking philandering alcoholic Mad Men won!
Instead of going out to a milonga last night, we stayed in to watch Mad Men on Netflix. Of course it wasn't just that watching Netflix was more tempting than an evening of "tango boogie" - there was 10 cm of snow and some freezing drizzle making the prospect of driving all the way downtown daunting. And Man Yung had some kind of running nose/sniffles. And I am fed up and tired out with all this bad weather and brutal slushy commutes to and from work all week. And our cat has constipation and needs some heavy duty massage to poop.
HOWEVER we have to face the fact that bad weather and germs and fatigue and cat constipation didn't used to stop us from going out to tango before. To illustrate, this was our list of non-work non-sleep activity priority as recent as 2015:
1. Tango! 2. Staying home because not feeling good/tired/snow storm/tornado 3. Spending time with family because have to/birthday party/wedding/special occasion 4. Going to a concert 5. Eating out
This is the revised list of priority as of beginning of 2018:
1. Staying home because not feeling good/tired/snow storm/tornado 2. Tango! (But sometimes tied with or losing to Netflix) 3. Spending time with family because have to etc. 4. Eating out 5. Watching a robovac vacuum our carpet(We are too tired and old to sit through a 3 hour opera or 2 hour concert now). After much deep thought, we have given our robovac the very original nickname of "Robot".
Back way back when people would flock to the milongas because there wasn't anything but re-runs of Seinfeld and Friends on tv. But now Tango has some serious competition. People have other "better" things to do, like sitting on their asses eating ice cream and chips while online shopping or binge watching shows on Netflix.
It's time for Tango to "try harder". And it is. But I think, it's trying harder in all the wrong ways. Like too many freakin' festivals/marathons and visiting tango teachers. Too much exclusive obscure and no-body has played before frackin' "special" music. And too much friggin' competition style tango.
I wouldn't be bored at all to go to a milonga to dance to the greatest hits of tango with dancers who have great embraces and who listen and express the music with their dancing. I wouldn't give a s*** about Netflix if that was the case.
Instead I go to some red-hot Toronto milonga and I immediately regret not staying home to watch "Paul Blart Mall Cop 2". About 90% of the dancers think they are top of the pops because they've gone to lots of workshops by "famous" dancers. They don't want to embrace and don't want to be embraced because 1) they want space to see what their feet are doing because they learned some really nifty! "Tango de la Pista!" steps and 2) they need space for their feet to do lots and lots of adornos. And they don't want to hear the same old stuff. Bring on the Circus Music please!
Not like they are listening anyway they are too busy showing off, or putting 100% of their concentration into duplicating their workshop steps correctly and in the right sequence. Recently, a couple dancing behind us was so engrossed in tango salon steppage, the leader stepped right on top of Man Yung's feet.
Unfortunately, I don't see that things are going to change in the near future. The people learning to dance now may be taking workshops on "Floorcraft" or "Dancing to music from _________ orchestra" or "Steps for dancing in a Milonga" but the people they are learning from don't have good floor craft, can't dance to any music from any orchestra with any meaning and moreover their steps aren't suitable for dancing in the milonga. So sue me.
Came across this on one of my portable usb drives - it's a videoclip of me dancing Tango Salon with our Maestro and wonderful friend El Gallego Manolo after a class at Escuela Argentina de Tango in 2009:
Tango Salon Class with Martha and Manolo, March 2009 - YouTube
After class with Martha and Manolo at Escuela Argentina de Tango, 2009
I used to cringe when I was watched it. I screwed up so bad on some of the steps near the end! :-(
After things like that one does not cringe anymore looking at one's past shitty dancing. I am too busy admiring my lustrous hair and svelt figure in the video to cringe.
"What I remember most about that video is that after you danced with Manolo, Manolo apologized for YOUR screw up!" said Man Yung. "What a Gentleman!"
"Oh yeah, that's right!" I said, remembering. Manolo is the epitome of a Gentleman. He always makes sure that his jacket is buttoned when he gets up. Opening doors for ladies. Getting up from his seat and standing when someone is greeting him and kissing him hello. His presence puts everyone at ease, he radiates confidence, courtesy, kindness and grace.
"Manolo is the perfect Gentleman, I agree. Quite different from what I get from you!" I said to Man Yung. "When I screw up following you, not only do you not apologize, you give me the evil eye! And when YOU screw up following me, I apologize to you and you still give me the evil eye!"
We're entering our 15th year dancing tango! This qualifies us to reminisce about the "good old days" and "way back when" of Toronto Tango like a couple of annoying old fogeys:
1. When we started Tango, there were only a few milongas each week and on any given night, there would only be one milonga and not two or three competing ones and the whole of Toronto Tango would crowd into at that one event to kick each other in the shins.
Now there are plenty of milongas to choose from and milongas are less crowded, even deserted in some cases. If you want a good shin kicking you have to choose to go to a milonga that has a super small space to dancer ratio, or super aggressive dancers, or both.
2. Tango instructors would go to milongas of other tango instructors to dance with and try to steal students using their superior dance skills and/or smooth talking. People used to get pretty worked up and angry about student poaching!
Unfortunately this doesn't work very much any more, everyone has seen better dancing on Youtube and no-one is impressed by anyone's dancing or talking.
3. There wasn't a lot of tango information available back then. Youtube did not exist and video footage of tango was limited to copies of Tango Shows and things that people copied off "Solo Tango" TV channel in Buenos Aires. We were once given a videotape with snippets of choreographed pieces that were "dubbed" with tango music on top and the action had no relation to the soundtrack. No wonder a lot of people danced like they couldn't hear the music! That was what they saw on video and in shows and that was what their instructors saw too.
Now there really isn't any excuse because Youtube has lots of examples of great dancing to the music. Dancers on the whole are better but strangely, some people still dance like they are deaf and they aren't even from those way back when days.
4. You used to be able to get whole sets of video instruction from famous Argentinian tango dancers. There was the "Asi se baila el Tango" by Mora Godoy and Osvaldo Zotto, "Asi se baila Milonga" by Pepito Avellaneda, "Asi baila Cayengue" by Martha Anton and Luis Grodona, "Un Tal Gavito" by Carlos Gavito and Marcela Duran, "Tango Estilo del Centro" by Daniel Lapadula and the Bridge to Tango series featuring old time dancers like Rodolfo and Maria Cieri, Petaca, Manolo El Gallego, Juan Bruno, Pupi Castello etc.
Getting the videos was not easy, you had to find trusted websites to order from or get them from stores in Buenos Aires either directly or from friends who were traveling there. The production values and the content on the videos were quite good. A lot of thought and planning went into most of the videos in presenting a whole and complete - and unique - "systems" of dancing of the featured dancers.
I don't believe that instructors are producing these kinds of videos any more, it isn't worth it people can easily rip out footage and post on Youtube and no-one pays for any copyright. Besides, search for any kind of step or movement you want to learn on Youtube and you will get hundreds of search results, who would bother paying now when you can get it for free?
5. Back then, people used to travel a lot more to Buenos Aires and even planned to move and live there.
I don't think people are doing this as much any more. Maybe it has become too expensive. Or we are talking to people from the good old days more than people who started dancing recently. The good old days people have seen the good old days of Tango in the 90's and early to mid 2000's in BAs and the Tango scene has changed so much since then Most of the fantastic older dancers have died and a lot of the milonga venues have closed.
When we first went to Buenos Aires in 2007 there were some really good, interesting, unique dancers to watch on the dance floor and milongas that we would look forward to going. It's not the same. Things just don't seem to be as much fun.
6. There used to be only a handful of Tango Blogs and Tango websites. Then there was an explosion of Tango Blogs. In fact, at one time, we used to have like five or six regularly updated blogs by Toronto dancers.
Now, who even blogs anymore? Are they Facebooking Tango blogging? Or What'sapping Tango blogging? Or Tweeting Tango Blogging? Help me out here, I'm an technology ignorant old Tango fogey and I don't know what I'm talking about.
7. People used to be more excited about visiting Tango instructors. Now they come so frequently and dance so much alike.
People used to care about the annual Tango Mundial thingy too. Now we don't even remember who won...the last ten times. Meh x Infinity.
8. Remember we said New Tango is dead? Yes, we were right! Back then a whole bunch of people danced it recklessly on crowded floors to look cutting edge and cool.
If someone dances it now in the milonga, not only does it not look new, it looks anachronistic.*
* "WTF Irene, you are still talking about this?" asked Man Yung. "That is so passé no one even talks about this anymore!"
If you feel like it, there's more old fogey reminiscing here.
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