Friday, November 30, 2007

Tango::Milongas in Buenos Aires - Videos

Oleh Kovalchuke in Colorado Springs did a great job of documenting (on video) the various "top" milongas in Buenos Aires. They are great to watch to get a feel for them - if you have never been or are about to go. Here they are....


:: Milongas in Buenos Aires : Niño Bien ::



:: Milongas in Buenos Aires : Salon Canning ::



:: Milongas in Buenos Aires : Confiteria Ideal ::



:: Milongas in Buenos Aires : El Beso ::



:: Milongas in Buenos Aires : Maipu 444 : Wednesday ::



:: Milongas in Buenos Aires : Club Grisel ::



:: Milongas in Buenos Aires : La Viruta ::



:: Milongas in Buenos Aires : Cachirulo ::



:: Milongas in Buenos Aires : Lo De Celia ::



:: Tango en Mar Del Plata : milonga ::



:: Milongas in Buenos Aires : Plaza Dorrego ::

I would have liked to have seen him do videos of Porteño y Bailarín, La Nacional, and the Buenos Aires Tango Club. I would highly recommend all of those milongas if you are planning a trip to BsAs.

Here is one of Porteño y Bailarín, with Detlef Engel & Melina Sedo [teachers from Germany] doing a milonga demo...I was actually there...sitting right behind the bald guy at the top of the frame (on the right side of the dance floor)...you get a glimpse of him a couple of times...I was sitting against the wall...at Porteño y Bailarín, there are two dance floors...there is one toward the back and around the corner to the left from the dance floor you see in this video...this will at least give you a feel for the room/venue...

::Porteño y Bailarín::

Music::Ryan Bingham

I happened across this guy on YouTube. He's an Austin Boy...has been a hobo for years...traveling and singing...now he has a big record deal. "Mescalito" is the name of the album. You can buy it on iTunes. My favorite song on the album is "Long way from Georgia".

Here is his MySpace Link.

Nothing to say Friday...

I think I am losing my mind...I could swear that I woke up early and posted something...perhaps I just thought about it...or dreamed it...anyway, here's a little something...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tango::Fandango de Tango - The Final Analysis

Updated...I finished the post...finally...

Tango::Fandango de Tango - The Final Analysis

Tango Music::"Malena" by Orquestra Color Tango

I had the good fortune last April to see Color Tango perform live at The Buenos Aires Tango Club - not nearly as elegant as this venue/performance - but amazing to watch - and even better to dance to....

Plus, Analia Goldberg is hot.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tango::Superfast Traspie - Honestly

Thierry LeCocq y Delphine Blanco...very fast feet...dancing a milonga demo....to Francisco Canaro's "No Hay Tierra Como La Mia"...

I think I may have posted this a couple of weeks ago...if so, here it is again...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Not Tango::Save Me

I'm watching a show on the History Channel, or the Discovery Channel or something...a show on the history of the barbeque pit and barbequeing...it's on the show "Modern Marvels"...good god...

Save me...I need some tango...I'm having withdrawals from the festival...
BBQ in the Back Yard [Austin, Texas]

Tango::Superfast Traspie

Okay...actually "not" tango...but this guy..."The World's Fastest Clapper"...puts my superfast traspie to shame...at 14 claps per second...I find this hilarious to watch for some reason...this is some fast frickin' clapping!
Kent "Toast" French, The World's Fastest Clapper

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tango::Big Screwup Fixed

RE: The classy Dallas brunette that I accidentally "thank you'd" on the third song of a tanda...I forgot to mention that I apologized to her Saturday night...she was very gracious...and said she hadn't even noticed...

Photography::Bandoneones

La Fuerca Orquestra Tipica...streetside in San Telmo/Buenos Aires...near Plaza Dorrego...April 2007. I noticed these two bandoneonistos at a live performance by Roberto Alvarez' Color Tango at the Buenos Aires Tango Club. They were sitting at the foot of the stage...arms crossed on the stage...chins resting on their arms...watching Roberto intently...idol being worshipped...
Bandoneones

Tango::Fandango de Tango - The Last Tango in Austin - Sunday

place holder...please check back!

Neophyte Drama

The Librarian

Followers bitching and whining about not me dancing with them…the guilt trip approach in lieu of cabeceo

Opera Glasses

Why I don’t don’t dance with really beautiful women...

More bad DJ’ing to start the evening out..."elevator" tango (music)...(not just me...everyone that I know was complaining)...but then Alex Krebs takes over at 11:30pm...and the dancing begins...

Tango::Fandango de Tango - Milonga #4 - The Performances

Fabian Salas y Carolina del Rivero
These two are so sensually connected it's unbelievable to me...I think they are two of the most "natural" dancers...very natural, smooth movement...yet technically advanced at the same time...I think they and their style is under-rated...I like Carolina's new look - with bangs - "Goth Tango"???

Julio Balmaceda y Corina de la Rosa
Fantastic as always...starting out with a milonga as their first dance was refreshing...one of the top five couples in the world if you ask me...top three?

Guillermo Merlo y Fernanda Ghi
Too dramatic and showy...too much Vegas...for my taste...

Diego di Falco y Carolina Zokalski
My personal favorites...dancing what I see as "achievable" tango...nothing too fancy, rich and sweet...

Nito y Elba Garcia
Beautiful estilo milonguero...huge applause and standing ovations...our elders were definitely respected...

Alex Krebs y Luciana Valle
I'm not crazy about their style - not much to say...the "token" gringos/nuevos of the festival...

Pablo Pugliese y Noel Strazza
I loved their barefoot "collision" of modern dance and Argentine Tango...others did not...

I should have written more when it was fresher in my mind. I know I had more to say, but have lost it, forever. The emcee, Ricardo, had them all switch partners for the last dance or two. That was fun to watch! The event was great - great performances across the board!!!

Tango:: Shot down, strafed and napalm'd

After I got shot down on an invite last night, my tango friend Roberto was telling me a buddy of his used to say "I got shot down AND strafed". Meaning that a woman turned me down for a dance - tired, feet hurt, leaving, etc. [Shot Down] Shortly thereafter she was up dancing with another guy. [Strafed] I'm adding "napalm'd" to the saying - she danced with another, and another and another, and was still dancing when I left at 3am. [Napalm'd]

Ouch.

Shot Down::Crash & Burn


Strafed::


Napalm'd:: (possibly politically and socially incorrect given the bad memories of Vietnam...?)

Tango:: Onions

Ladies (and gentlemen)... please don't eat onions or garlic or otherwise consume odiferous stuff in the hours before a milonga...preferably 24 hours before a milonga...

thank you...

Tango:: Follower Elbow Erections

Ladies, that right arm, that right elbow, remember to relax...

Not flaccid...not erect...definitely not rigidly stiff...relaxed but not loose...

My arm gets tired in a high villa urquiza style to counter that elbow contraction...

Plus, it can't be comfortable for you, and it's not aesthetically pleasing to see those elbows jutting out...

I do my best to relax my followers...holding them close so they can feel my relaxation...exhaling...changing the position of my arm as a subtle signal...and usually they relax

I find this to be an "all too common" problem...

Tango::Fandango de Tango - Milonga #4 - Saturday

Saturday's milonga was the "main event" - 9pm to 5am - with performances by the maestros/teachers. Stephen Brown of Dallas DJ'd - so the music was great. I don't get the salsa and rock tandas early in the evening - I think that's a personal issue for me, so I will quit bitching about it.

The tango music was great - so the dance floor was full. The organizers were expecting roughly 400 people to attend. I would guess there were 200 on the dance floor at the peak of the evening - just before and just after the performances. This was what I would call a mildly crowded floor (not supercrowded). This would ordinarily not be a problem except that I think more than fifty percent of the leaders were beginners. As such, there were more than usual floorcraft and navigation characters - basiceighters - assbackwardsdancers - yahoos - generalidiots - generalidiotsteachingonthefloor.

I was a (male) tango whore - I suppose the correct term might be Tango Gigolo. I felt like a whore - or at least a promiscuous bitch - whoring around from woman to woman - follower to follower. I did my civic duty here and there - but mostly danced with some very nice followers who I wanted to dance with. Nice dances, nice connections. Here is the cast of characters...

Classy Dallas Brunette (shoulda danced with her more...)
Tucson Goddess
La Mariposa de Phoenix
Tall but Needy
Ottoman Empress
The Astronaut-ess
Lithuanian Lolita (pleading the 5th here..)
Ms. Tango Crush (sweet...sweet dances...sweet woman...very sweet)

There were a few more, but I can't remember them now. And even more I wanted to ask, but there just wasn't time. I wussed out at 3am - pulled a disappearing act - and disappeared. My lower back was bothering me again.

Classic cabeceo is impossible in these large ballrooms - so it happens in the walking around - to get water - to reconnoiter the other side of the room - whatever. A smile here, eye contact there, an occasional "hi". I need to learn to be more focused - quality vs. quantity you know. But, I wanted to dance with as many women as possible to get over my "not asking" issues. Plus, when the music is that good - you just HAVE to dance, you know? Sitting through beautiful music is agony.

I had a little ripple in the fabric of this blog early Sunday morning. I almost just quit posting all together - feeling like this is just drivel - of no real benefit to anyone - not really interesting reading - just me bitching about this and that - that I could spend my time better on other things - that there are so many more important things going on in this world.

I don't know...we shall see...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Tango:: Fandango de Tango - Day Three - Friday

THE DJ’ing SUCKS ::
Last night’s (Friday) milonga was scheduled from 9:00pm until 3:00am. At around midnight, I estimated about 200-250 dancers in attendance. At 12:40am at least 50% of them had left – possibly more. Everyone was complaining about the DJ’ing. I can’t recall the guy’s name, and I wouldn’t go so far as to name him here – but he was all over the map.

Just like Thursday night, there was a Nuevo/Alt-Tango tanda played at around 11pm. Then another salsa tanda played shortly thereafter – just like Thursday. I was sitting and chatting with LP, a woman who splits her time between Austin and BsAs, and mentioned this to her – that I couldn’t believe it. She was out of the room when it happened – but she was just as amazed as I was – and immediately told her male friend about it – in a “you won’t believe this” tone.

This guy broke every codigo in the book - he played three song tandas, four song tandas, played danceable cortinas, mixed the format playing vals just after milonga (as my buddy R noted), after sticking to a fairly defined T-T-V-T-T-M format. He played a lot of what I call “off” orchestras – perhaps more modern stuff like Las Solistas, Sexteto Arranque or something – stuff most people had never heard and was borderline danceable. Mixing orchestras within a tanda. Throwing in a Nuevo/Alt song to start a tanda, then switching to Traditional. Talk about mass confusion. There was an undertone in the room of “let’s see what he’s going to play now”. And it showed. People simply left. On a Friday night – a six hour milonga scheduled until 3am –at 2am there were twelve couples on the dance floor. I left at 2:30.

If a man/leader wants to dance a vals tanda with a particular follower – what is he (or she) to do when the format is like a tsunami just hit? What’s a man to do?

TALK OF REVOLUTION ::
Everyone who knows me – and knows my DJ’ing – was grumbling about the other guy – and talking revolt – that they wanted me to take over – asking if I had my computer and stuff with me. I said, yes, that every good DJ comes prepared to take over if the DJ has a heart attack (God forbid) or an Immodium AD moment. I joked that I could tap into his system with my wireless rig – and discreetly take over the evening from a table the corner – and he could still sit there and take all the credit – and thereby save face. A joke of course. It could never happen – a DJ replacement in the middle of a milonga – the problem would have to be very serious indeed. It would be similar to switching dancers in the middle of a tanda – a really, really big no-no.

I suppose it might be time for me to starting thinking about festival DJ'ing...or at least taking some steps in that direction.

ALEX’S BIG SCREWUP ::
Perfect segue to Alex’s big screw up of the night. BIG. In the three song and four song tanda confusion – I thank you’d a very good follower from Dallas after the third song. The beginning of the fourth song – not being Trad – sounded like a cortina to me. I walked her back to her table – and she promptly walked over to another table/guy – and walked back out on the dance floor to dance the fourth song. She was within her rights to do this – it was my screw up – but when I realized what had just happened, I was terribly embarrassed. I tried to get to her again to apologize and explain – but couldn’t find an opportunity. Tonight. I will do it tonight.

THE MILONGA IS “VERY GOOD” ::
Given the sucky DJ’ing, the evening was overall, very good. I wouldn’t say it was a bad milonga because of it – it was actually a “very good” milonga if you ask me. A buddy of mine used to say “even bad sex is good sex”. If the DJ’ing is “off”, the end result – dancing tango and socializing – good dances and not-so-good dances – is most definitely – “a good thing”. Remember Martha Stewart’s (probably trademarked) thing she would say at the end of a segment topic? She would always say “It’s a good thing!” in her most excited Martha Stewart tone/timbre. Now, how the F did I get from bad DJ’ing, to good tango, to Martha frickin’ Stewart?

THE FLOOR SUCKS ::
I forgot to mention in my prior posts that the floor sucks. A “Homemade” system (versus manufactured) sheets of varnished maple plywood laid on a 2x4 grid foundation. The plywood is great – the foundation is great – the problem is the seams – some as large as ½” – and not all are level or plane out smoothly. Women (and men) are catching their heels. Not a huge problem – but a top notch dance floor system would make the experience that much better.

IDIOTS AND JOKERS ::
My last bitch, I promise. There were some idiots dancing the basic eight count last night, back step and all, over and over again. There then there were the jokers dancing backwards against the line of dance. And the guys who dance right up behind you - tailgaters. And the three lanes weren't working well last night - loose to non-existent. The floor was clearing well during cortinas - very well - only one or two couples remaining on the floor - probably from more experienced dancers showing up.

MY “STUFF” ::
In the past, at milongas, I have a bad habit of dancing primarily with women I have danced with before. Usually, I would dance with one or two of what a buddy and I call (tongue deeply in cheek) “strange women”. Not that they are “strange”, but just that they are strangers to us.

In Austin, they are all (almost) strangers. This is nice to get me out of my comfort zone and asking more women to dance – more variety. It was nice to be cabeceo’d by women for a change – being the new guy. When a woman is somewhat overt about wanting to dance with me – especially if she smiles or even says hi – that is a huge signal for me. An open door so to speak. But, my preference is to only dance with women I have seen actually dancing on the floor. I need to know how tall they are – and their general level of dancing before I will approach them.

I still have issues (personal/internal) with reverting to the basics with new women – especially on a crowded floor. I don’t feel comfortable stepping out (pun intended) into more advanced stuff until I feel a really good connection. I try little baby steps towards more “stuff” - advanced changes of direction, volcadas on the close side - to test a follower’s range. If she doesn’t get something, generally I back off to the basics. Sometimes, depending on the follower and the floor, I will try it again to give her the benefit of the doubt. The goal is to gradually build upon vocabulary with a particular follower – and keep her safe – and having fun.

My “basics” are a vocabulary of five or six things (not all in one dance), with some variation – like a couple of different variations on the ocho cortado. I have been focusing on enriching my walk recently. Sometimes I am tempted to dance an entire dance with only the walk and the embrace and the connection. This is based on Jaimes Freidgen’s teachings that the old milongueros “do” only 5 things in a dance to any one song – any more gets confusing and “busy”. And that if you do them very, very well, you can get by on only three.

THE DANCES ::
They were good dances overall for me last night – a few very good – good connections – a few “okay” – not so good connections. I find that if the connection is good, it doesn’t matter if the tango is not so good. I would rather have “lesser” tango and better connection, than “greater” tango and lesser connection. I think.

A woman from the Pacific Northwest – who I first assumed to be an experienced dancer – danced a milonga tanda with me. She had said earlier in the evening that she didn’t like milonga and didn’t really get it. I told her that everything would be okay, and that I would help her “get it”. She did just fine – very well in fact - although superfast traspie was out of the question – as it is with most followers. Stopping after the first song, she admitted to me that she was only a beginner, and said something complimentary about me and the dance. She was blushing. Blushing from the dance I think. That’s a first for me. Especially for dancing a milonga.

There were half a dozen others – I danced more than I usually do. But there were still five or six women that I wanted to dance with, but couldn’t. I didn't get to dance with the future French Astronaut [double PhD's in plasma & particle physics] or the cancer researcher. At one point, I walked up to one woman to ask her to dance, and she got snatched up, as did number two, and then number three, right before my eyes. You snooze...you lose.

ALEX'S BIG SCREWUP #2 ::
I went up to ask a friend to dance but she said her feet hurt and she was resting. I then turned to another friend sitting next to her and asked her. She began to rib me about that – “going down the line” (which I never do) as she called it. She danced with me anyway – and punished me with a lazy and heavy follow. I will make sure to never make that mistake again. Numbers 1, 2 and 3 need to be in different parts of the room – never sitting next to each other or even at adjacent tables. I think I knew this (but not doing much asking in the past) – I need to be more cognizant of it from now on. I also noticed that Friend 1 was up dancing with another lead – ouch. It’s a good thing that I know her and that she didn’t mean anything by it – otherwise it might hurt a little more.

I could go on, but this post is too long already. I will try to digest everything and post significant topics in the future.

Overall, it was fun – very fun. Some dancing, some socializing, good dances, okay dances. Comme il faut…

Tonight I Can Write

2:55am

I have two books of poetry by Pablo Neruda on my night stand. I read from them rarely, but they are always with me, just in case.

One of my favorite poems is number XX, number 20 in the book "Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair". It is titled "Tonight I Can Write".

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write for example, "The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance."

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the sould like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Anothers. She will be another's. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer lover her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through the nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

By Pablo Neruda

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tango::Fandango de Tango - Julio Balmaceda

By the way, the system says I posted my "Day 2" (the prior post) at 1:28am, it was actually 2:28...

It's not every day you get the opportunity to watch Julio Balmaceda (and another partner, not Corina) dance socially. A memory from last night came to me this morning - just now - so I have to write about it.

It's a technique thing I guess...a "cool move" memory... he stepped out on the close side in crossed feet (his left stepping to her left side) and did a very quick counter-clockwise pivot such that the follower's left leg "popped" (via a back volcada or back cross - backwards entry into the cross) into the cross...very cool...I will have to experiment with that one at the next practica...

Julio has a very nice, very unique style - very "turny" - and I noticed he almost never "just walks"...it was fun to watch he and Fabian Salas dance socially - Fabian dancing a more nuevo-esque style...

Sorry that I don't have anything more philosophical to offer...I think I remain under "the disastrous effects of 'work' on the human capacity of reflection" ... a nice post I found on the blog "Le Chemin du Tango" ...

Tango::Fandango de Tango [Austin] - Day Two Thursday

Short and sweet because it's late. Very nice milonga tonight...110 or 120 folks...great DJ'ing by Phyliss & Darryl of Dallas...much higher level of dancing tonight versus last night...good line of dance/ronda....good use of lanes...still lots of unled boleos...some dangerous high back boleos...some "big hair" tango out of Dallas...really good leaders....really good followers...a few folks from PHX...a few from ATL...one or two from DEN & ASE...nice to watch and dance alongside Julio/Corina/Fabian/Carolina/Pablo/Luciana et al...

During the cortinas tonight, the floor cleared almost entirely - versus Wednesday night where the floor only cleared about 30-40%. It makes me think that first milonga as almost viewed more as a practica or practi-longa by the participants.

Very nice night...some nice dances for me with one particular follower....not great connections with a couple of others...

Jennifer Bratt & Laura Pellegrino were both there...I tried to get up the nerve to ask them to dance (one or both)...but I just couldn't do it...perhaps tomorrow night...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Deep Tango Thoughts::Tango Fantasies Revisited

My earlier post has not seen many comments - not as many as I would have liked...so I am re-posting it...http://alextangofuego.blogspot.com/2007/11/deep-tango-thoughtstango-fantasies.html

What is your tango fantasy?

Please click on the links above - to leave your commnets on the original post...Thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving! I give thanks today that I am alive, healthy, spending quality time with my loved ones today and dancing tango tonight.

Tango::Fandango de Tango Festival - Day 1 Wed

The 9th Annual Fandango de Tango Festival [Austin, Texas] started yesterday. The maestros/teachers are Fabian Salas y Carolina del Rivero, Julio Balmaceda y Corina de la Rosa, Guillermo Merlo y Fernanda Ghi, Diego di Falco y Carolina Zokalski, Nito y Elba Garcia, Alex Krebs y Luciana Valle, Pablo Pugliese y Noel Strazza.

I will very likely not be taking any classes. There is no "a al carte" pricing - classes are only available in one day blocks of three. The other irritation is that the class topics are not announced until the start time of the first class of the day. So, I would have to show up at the hotel [I'm staying with family in Austin.] each day, take a look at the class topics for the day, and decide if these are classes I would like to take, not knowing what the classes are for the next two or three days. Funky scenario. Anyway, I've already taken workshops with all of the "headliners" except for Alex & Pablo. I have enough new material rolling around in my head just from my recent Buenos Aires intensivo with Gustavo y Giselle to last me for the rest of my tango life.

It would have been nice to do the full festival pass, as I usually do, but it's just not in the cards for me this time.

So, I met a friend who is in town for the festival for dinner last night. We went to a really good little Mexican restaurant near the hotel. We talked mostly about the Paso Fino horse breed - he had been to a breeder earlier in the day.

The milonga was held in the same ballrooms the classes were. Four smaller ballrooms -open up the dividers and the milonga is then held in the resulting large ballroom. Except that there are three separate dance floors - two smaller ones on the ends, and a large one in the middle. The small ones have round tables set up on them. The main dance floor has tables set up along one edge. This makes the main dance floor about 30 or 40 feet by 60 feet. Because the classes ran late - the milonga started late. There was a large crowd hanging out in the hotel bar - eating, drinking and socializing. It seemed like we were there for an hour or forty-five minutes.

I didn't take my boots off - on purpose. My lower back has been bothering me the past three days - I wanted to take it easy - not dance - save my back for the "big nights" and just observe for a while and collect "intel" on potential followers.

And what did I observe, you might ask? I would say there were 60-80 dancers in the room. There were only one or two followers who caught my eye. There were only one or two couples dancing at the advanced level (or actually beginning advanced). In general, the level of dancing across the entire room was somewhat "low". Not what I am used to seeing in Denver, or even at the Atlanta Festival. But this only the first night. More dancers will be coming in the next three nights.

Several couples were obviously trying to work out class material on the floor. One couple even appeared to be arguing in the far corner. Others were less obvious about it, but at least they were doing in the context of "the dance". Most were enjoying the evening it seemed, with minor hiccups in getting used to new partners. The room was about 50-50 in terms of open/salon vs. close/milonguero styles.

There was a couple that reminded me of "trailer trash tango"...really tacky ornate "stirrup" type (thanks for Francis R for the correct word!) fishnet stockings...really tacky overtly floral dress...Wrangler jeans on the guy...but they were having fun, so who cares, right? She was throwing front and back boleos all over the place - none were led. There appeared to be lots and lots of unled follower embellishments going on - not a good sign.

The floor only cleared about 50% during the cortinas - not a good sign for the single leader. The cortina - at least leaving the dance floor during the cortina - was designed - in my view - to 'mix it up" and enable cabeceo, enable partner changing for the next tanda. If the leaders are hogging the best followers, and don't allow them to step off the dance floor and get "cabeceo'd", then it's what I would call, at best, "not good".

The music was good - thank GOD! The cortina song was a little namby pamby. And short! Now that I think of it, it was only five, maybe ten seconds long - not long enough to clear the floor, do a little cabeceo, and get back on the floor. When I DJ, my cortinas are at least 25 to 30 seconds - sometimes longer. Short cortinas are for practicas.

I'm guessing the vast majority this first night, the night before Thanksgiving Day, are local Austin folks, and other Texas folks from Houston, San Antone, Dallas - and a few out of towners. There were a few from Atlanta there.

The best followers were dancing with their husbands - hopefully that will change tonight - if not, I will have to become a usurper - and ignore the lamentations of the husbands. No, that's not my style, but I will have to figure out a polite way to accomplish the separation. Sadly, there's no real opportunity for cabeceo.

One last thought...I got a "ballroomy" feel for some reason...a feeling that a lot of the dancers were converts from ballroom...just an energy thing...strange...

Then there was the salsa tanda...one hour into the milonga...salsa? I like a little salsa with my chips, just as much as the next guy, but this is supposed to be a TANGO festival, isn't it?

The salsa tanda is when I got up and left...just before midnight.

Addendum::Beginning followers...."knees together"...stepping and looking like you have been horseback riding all day...not a good thing...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tango::"The Surrender" [Follow up]


























I've been reading with great interest all of the comments that readers have been leaving on my prior post "The Surrender".

Danzarin's comment in particular (at 5:30am this morning) got me to wondering, is it, this ever elusive "surrender", that is responsible for what we call the tango "epiphany", some call the "tangasm". That special dance with the special someone that may not be repeated all night - nor in a month of dances, nor a year of dances.

For me, I have always said these occured for me one in one hundred dances - alhtough it may be more like one in fifty or one in thirty. Except for the one follower - the one where only one in one hundred dances does not feel like this. Two souls - two energetic beings - our true beings - our true "selves" - embracing one another - a concept that came to me in a dream many months ago.

Is there a tango "soulmate" for each of us? The "one"? The Neo and the Trinity?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sin Titulo

This is from La Tanguera on her blog...verbatim...it goes to my earlier post
On Connection, Quality vs. Quantity and Learning to Feel *It*

As I've learned and moved ahead on my "Tango Road" over the last 3-4 years, I have also become gradually more selective regarding who I dance with. The reason is simple: it is more likely that I will have a blissful Tanda with those leaders with whom I have already developed a good connection, have similar sensibility to mine and are skilled enough to interpret the music and really dance. But, recently, the words of a Tango Teacher and the observation of a really good Tanguera in my community have made me wonder...

Could I, by being selective, lose my ability to connect?

Hum. *That* is a thought.

So, now you'll ask me: OK, Tanguera; How did you even come up with *this*? After all, prefering Quality versus Quantity is a sign that one has evolved enough to truly value the connection and the quality of the dance. No?

Well, Yes. Or so I have been thinking so far... In fact, I will admit to the fact that it can be quite hard for me to dance with some people, not so much because of their actual skill level (although in some cases it can definitely cause trouble), but because of their emotional understanding of the music. To me, it is important that we both are in the same wave, that our sensibilities are compatible--that the intensity which we feel the music is similar, that it is natural for us to move with more dynamic energy at one point, or slow down at another. This sense of emotional connection and telepathy is what can make this dance such a powerful encounter.

But I'm starting to think that being too selective in choosing the leaders I dance with also entails the following risk: that I am putting *my* sensibility and understanding of the music as a benchmark of what it *should* be, instead of giving myself the opportunity to understand the *his* sensibility, even if completely different from mine. Taking things to an extreme, it means that I'm actually prefering to stay in my comfort zone--dancing mostly with those who interpret the Tango World like I do--rather than venturing on a trip to a very strange and unknown place, which I may not understand at first, but that I may eventually come to value and enjoy. Moreover, as I stay farther away from those people who seem harder for me to understand, it is likely that it will also become more difficult for me to open up to them.

There is a Tanguera I know who seems to have mastered this ability to open up I am talking about. She is regarded as one of the best dancers in my community, and yet she is one of the least "choosy" followers I've ever seen. Watching her, I am amazed at how she moves seemingly without any trouble from dancing a Tanda with a visiting Tango Teacher or a Hot Shot to dancing the following Tanda with a mediocre leader with poor musicality. The surprising thing for me is that she seems to enjoy it every single time. And I don't think she is pretending, because she dances with that same mediocre leader at the next week's Milonga. So, she must be onto something there.

Quite frankly, I had always been a bit puzzled by her seemingly odd choices, until I had a discussion on connection with my Tango Teacher during a private lesson. He commented that, in his view, one of the best exercises to learn how to connect was to dance with more people, even if they were not regarded as "good" dancers, and the emotional understanding of the music was less than perfectly compatible. He argued that it was possible to learn to enjoy a dance with almost anyone, if one focused on paying attention to them and listening to what they were trying to say.

To be honest, I was quite skeptical about how much I could ever enjoy dancing with someone who is in a completely different mental wave than me about the music, technique issues aside. And still, watching this Tanguera in action, I have to admit that perhaps there is some truth in all this after all. While I am still convinced that there must be limits to it, maybe one can really learn to open up even beyond what we are willing to think possible. And, perhaps, giving ourselves this chance can take us to some beautiful places we would have never seen otherwise.

Tango::Men are Pigs

Story #1::
Tango dancer (follower) of eight or ten years....very beautiful and sexy woman...very good dancer....talking about the 2006 Fandango de Tango...at which she sat for 3 hours without being asked to dance...her friend, from Washington, D.C., who came with her to watch...and had never danced one minute of tango....danced all night long...

Story #2::
Woman from Spain at a practica last night....she took two tango classes three years ago...and is a better dancer/follower than many women with much more dancing time (avoiding the word "experience" - "dancing time" and "experience" can be two different things...)...she too came with a friend to watch...but she danced all night...mostly with me.....while many others sat...the Woman from Spain happened to be beautiful/sexy/intelligent/Spanish/exotic...and married...so many women...so many married women...

I am a man...

I am a pig...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Tango::Love In The Time of Cholera

Love in the time of Cholera

On my way to this movie yesterday, because of the time period the movie is set in, and the fact that it is set in South America (albeit Colombia, en el norte), i wondered if there might be any tango references in the film. No, don't get excited - there is no tango dancing, but there is one scene with a short clip of tango music. I don't want to give too much away - it's the scene with the character America - Florentino is picking her up at the train station - and there is a tango song playing in the background - emanating from some shop along the street. I'm pretty sure it's Carlos Gardel - but now I can't remember enough to ID the song.

Overall, I liked the movie, but it was nothing earthshatteringly moving. I thought John Leguizamo was poorly cast as the father. I thought the acting was "off" at times. The makeup was absolutely terrible. I was expecting more based on their use of Leonard Maltin's quote "This is the best movie I have seen all year..."

I don't think I will give away too much by saying this - so be warned - if you plan to see the movie you might want to stop reading now....

There is a scene toward the end...and Florentino is talking to Fermina about love...and he says something like this....

"Love is a state of grace, it is not a means to an end...it is an end unto itself..." and something else more profound that I can't remember now...the "means to an end" is rather cliche'd...but it was a good line...in a good scene...

I would see it again... I will see it again ...

And now I am reading the book...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tango:: "The Surrender"


















Photo by Leone...from the Catania (Italia) Tango Festival...

I find that some beginning followers have trouble with what I call "the surrender". I feel it in the first few seconds of the embrace and ensuing equilibration. I feel it - or not. Some very experienced followers have still not mastered it. It comes from everything within a woman (I think) - her past relationships - her body image - her self confidence - her insecurities - her nervousness at being new to the dance - or the absence of nervousness.

I have danced with rank beginners (first time on the floor) who although I feel their nervousness - quickened breathing - heart fluttering against my chest - sweaty palms - almost to the point of trembling - but who still seem to have mastered the surrender from the get-go.

Actually, I don't think it's something that can be "mastered". I wonder if it's something that you are born with, or not. But then I know it must come with an increasing comfort level - comfort with the dance, comfort with follower vocabulary, comfort with a leader, desire to dance with a leader. A woman may have a perfect surrender with one leader - and be more tentative about it with another.

I don't think the surrender can be taught...nor "practiced"...nor even conveyed verbally...what's a leader to do?

All I know is that I feel it - when a woman surrenders herself to me - surrenders herself to be led by me - surrenders the placement of her feet to me - surrenders control of her axis to me - surrenders herself to my embrace - and when I feel it, it feels so very good.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Not Tango::Free Hugs

I was just reading Johanna's blog "Hugging is Now Illegal", or at least against school rules. It seems this kid's school has a zero tolerance policy for public displays of affection (PDA's) and hugging (and I assume physical contact) of any kind is banned. The 13 year old little girl give her girlfriend a weekend "goodbye" hug...apparently the "half hug" one arm around the shoulder squeeze variety. The kid took detention in lieu of suspension - the american educational system's equivalent of pleading guilty to avoid jail time. (Note that I refused to capitalize the "a" in america as a small protest.)

Johanna's post reminded me of a YouTube video a friend sent me several weeks ago. It's about a guy, Juan Mann, ...here is the blurb from the video...."Free Hugs" is the real life controversial story of Juan Mann, a man who's SOLE mission was to reach out and hug a stranger to brighten up their lives.



Here's the article I read on MSNBC the other day about the little girl.http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21661718/

I am struck by the multiple meanings of the words "Free Hugs". It can mean what Juan Mann meant - a hug from a stranger at no cost or obligation. "Free Hugs" can also mean the same thing as "free association". It have a meaning similar to "Free Leonard Peltier" (from prison)...are the hugs of our american society imprisoned? What about "free thinking"? What about "free-dom"? What about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as our forefathers envisioned it?

We should represent tango not only as a dance, an art form, a free expression of our selves and our creativity - but a place to get "Free Hugs"...

I'm not finished quite yet...

america sucks in so many areas - international relations - energy policy - consumerism - materialism - crime (all varieties) - violence against our fellow humans - even worse violence (physical and emotional abuse) against our kids and our wives and daughters and sisters - racism - discrimination - general intolerance - environmental destruction - just to name a few. Let's face it, at least thirty percent of us are so fucked-up-in-the-head that we in turn spread this insidious "fucked-up-ed-ness" through generation after generation. It spreads through our society like a virus.

I have long believed - formulating my beliefs when I went through the system back when I was 16 or 18 years old - and refining them in the thirty years since - that america sucks because of the sole suckage of our educational system. When we are graduating students from high school who can't think or read or write or count change at McDonald's or make a consistent triple mocha from day to day - there is something terribly wrong.

We can address so many of society's ills...simply by addressing the issues of our educational system.

It's not the folks working in the system - I think most of them have their hearts and souls in the right place - some of them aren't worth a shit (oops, was that discrimination?) and need to be cut loose. It's a systemic problem - the system is too big and cumbersome and slow moving - we are throwing too much money at it as nation. We could do more with less.

I can't keep going...there is to much to say on this issue...but we need to address it...if we are to return to the freedom loving, freedom living, freedom talking the and freedom walking, society, country, nation and government of the people, by the people and for the people. Along the way somewhere, we lost what our forefathers envisioned for us.

But we are all too busy chasing the american dream...chasing the dollars to pay our bills and break even this month...to have the time to organize and show up at our schools and...do something about it.

Ghandi said it best...."BE the change you wish to see in the world..."

Okay, now I'm done with my diatribe...thanks for listening...

Here is Juan Mann's Myspace profile:: http://www.myspace.com/freehugscampaign

Tango::Volcada from the Cross

Level "C/D" Advanced Stuff...BEGINNERS DO NOT ATTEMPT...ESPECIALLY NOT AT A CROWDED MILONGA!
Here it is (on the subject of the prior post)...at time marker -2:50...a rotationally led cross unwinding volcada on the close side...followed by another on the open side...note that Giselle did not "un"-cross...

Tango :: La Cruzada - To Unwind or Not to Unwind? That is the question...

Here's a post I just sent to Tango-L...

Please comment if you have a comment...

What's the general consensus...after leading a follower to the cross (with a juicy pause immediately after the cross)...and transferring her weight to her left foot...should she keep her right foot behind (in the crossed postion) (not "unwinding")...or should she "unwind" (uncross) her right foot and bring it to the collected position?

My personal opinion is that unwinding/uncrossing, executed in a certain way, can be much more aesthetically pleasing...both in feeling and observation...plus, the follower is then "more" ready to take a forward step (in extremely rare cases - like a practica) or a side step (more common).

When her right foot is crossed behind, it makes a forward or side step awkward if not impossible, and the only option is a back step (for her).

Granted, this does not apply to the cross without a juicy pause, when you walk right through the cross, there is no time to unwind....there is the weight transfer and then the walk out in a back step...

This also does not delve into the subject of "led" unwinding options...

What does everyone think - when in a "pause" just after the cross - should a follower unwind on her own or not?

Alex

P.S. Now that I have finished this...I know what the majority will say...

Sort of Tango::Postcards from Venice

From Nuit (left)...and Tangobaby...in their tango travels to Venezia...thank you ladies...they will be treasured...(ack! sorry tangobaby's is cut off on the right...click the photo to see the full size version on flickr...)
Postcards

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Not Tango::What Every Man Wants In Bed

WHAT EVERY MAN WANTS IN BED

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And, this can all be yours...for $18,000...installation and flat plasma display not included...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

La Apertura - Tango Short Film

The divine Ms. Nuit found this on TangoMundo.net It's too good not to repost.

It's a short film called "La Apertura". Here is the synopsis:: Daniel's big chance to get everything he wants — his dream, his love, a way out of his poor Buenos Aires Province — has finally arrived. But at what price?
Awards::Zinebi Festival of Documentary and Short Film, Spain - Festival Audience Award

Friday, November 9, 2007

Deep Tango Thoughts::Tango in Culture

You know how when you are going to buy a new car, and you finally decide on what model and color, then you start to see them everywhere? Driving down the road, on every street corner, parked everywhere, in the valet, they just all of a sudden mysteriously start appearing everywhere. I just love how our minds work.

Is it the same with Tango? I notice tango (mostly nuevo) songs in movies, couples dancing (or feigning to dance) tango in bedroom and ballroom scenes, gum named "Tango", cookies with Tango themic (is this a word?) advertising...
Looks like tango to me...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Deep Tango Thoughts::Tango Fantasies

I was just reading TangoCherie's post on Tango-L about having a busload of milongueros from BsAs travel across the U.S. stopping in the major tango communities...

It made me think about how we all have our tango dreams ... if not full blown fantasies...

One of mine is a copy of Robert Duvall's reality...I want to (someday) build a tango "barn" like he has ... and dance tango in the evenings with the love of my life ... I will dig out the clipping from my files and post it ... I even have a file full of "character imagery" for the barn and house ...

Leave a comment and share your own tango fantasy ...

Deep Tango Thoughts::So it IS my bad lead after all

From a post a few days ago... ...based on the comments I am getting...it just dawned on me that it is about my bad lead on what I dance all the time, not the new stuff I try to incorporate...my "stuff" is predictable...predictive...if I am bored with it after one song...then the followers must definitely be...

This is something I will have to work on...not that my lead is "bad"...I think (and am told) that I actually have a pretty good lead..."very smooth" they tell me...

The other night I danced a song and did nothing but walk...my follower said that it was refreshing to dance with someone who had the confidence to do nothing but walk...

It was this that inspired (and continues to inspire) me...the first part...."Caminadas"...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgnjOZxVsCw

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Little Kid with a Missle Launcher

I took this photograph today after my run around the lake...I saw it pasted to a metal fan housing...
Untitled...sin titulo...

Monday, November 5, 2007

Valeria y Fernando


Valeria y Fernando
Originally uploaded by Black Thorn

The price of freedom...

What are they doing to my town? This monstrosity, the Soco (South Congress) Lofts is crammed between a titty bar and a post office. (I was going to the post office today, but felt like going into the titty bar and getting drunk after seeing this abomination.)

A one bedroom studio is $250k...a 2-2 is $400k...the construction is moving at a feverish pace from what I could see...so we all know that means crappy construction quality...my guess is crappy materials and finishes throughout...

This overbuilding in action, and it's ultimately unhealthy for the people living there, the people in the surrounding area, and society at large...will we ever learn it's not about the dollars...it's about doing the right thing...and doing the thing right...the "big box" theory has come to residential housing...

So very, very sad...

A rendering of the finished product...which looks like minimum security prison housing to me...


ALX_0002The view from the post office side....

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Carlos Di Sarli :: Verde Mar

My current favorite song...I find most of my favorites are Di Sarli...


I made this music player at MyFlashFetish.com.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Ron Paul::Liberty

I don't know much about Ron Paul...but I like this message...his message...I will be finding out more about him in the coming days...I thought I would share this video...it's very powerful...

Luciano Mares & Heather Morrow

Aspen's own Heather Morrow dancing an improvisation to the vals "Soñar y nada mas" by Alfredo di Angelis. This was held in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, during a workshop by visiting instructor Luciano Mares [Buenos Aires]. Heather is the teacher/organizer of the Aspen Tango community. The venue is the Masonic Temple in Glenwood Springs. This is where I did most of my dancing...

Luciano is a great guy and a great teacher (very precise and directed in his teaching) - enjoyable classes - if you ever get the opportunity, you should take his classes - or take privates.

Luciano just posted this on YouTube...so here it is...

Cool Music Video

Luciano Supervielle of Bajofondo Tango Club...I'm not crazy about the song, but I like the video...

Princess Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti

The wedding of Princess Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti (b:Buenos Aires 1971) and Prince Willem-Alexander Claus George Ferdinand of the Netherlands (the Prince of Orange) took place in 2002.

They played Adios Noniño by Astor Piazzolla...here is the video...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gjecwPc_lU

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Alex's Deep Tango Thoughts::The Cross Footed walkout from the Cross

Continuing in the vein of things leaders do outside of the norm that prove difficult/tricky to lead...(it's not really difficult to lead, it's the resulting confusing from the follower that presents minor issues...)

I have been trying a new thing that feels floaty and nice. Instead of putting my right foot down when I lead the cross (right foot down and change weight) and then walking out in parallel system - like most of us do - I have been walking to the cross, then "not" changing my weight (to the right foot) - allowing a walk out in crossed system...which feels nice...

But...some followers are confused by this (more beginning followers)...I presume because they have never experienced it...and don't know (know like "knowing" vs. "knowledge") that this is within the realm of tango possibilities...

I am into cross footed variations these days...even doing the basic walk in crossed feet... smoothly switching from open side to close side...the nice thing about walking normally (or primarily) in crossed feet, is that so many things are right there, ready to be had...because you are already in crossed feet...

Anyway, leaders reading this should try it...it's a nice variation...