An expat Californian building a new life via the tango in Buenos Aires since 2003, including information on learning the tango and where to dance it in Buenos Aires.

Saturday, June 30, 2007



AND EVERYTHING NICE!

Frank Almeida hosted a Blogger Fest last Thursday at his beautiful cookie shop in Palermo, Sugar and Spice. It was a glorious day, and it was such fun to squeeze into the colorful store and be surrounded by incredible edibles and fun people, previously only acquainted in cyberspace.

I don't have a camera, so I'll have to steal some photos from other bloggers, but here we are, yakking with our mouths full of yummy crumbs: Stephen (from the new expat magazine, BAinsider), Marcela, Alan, Nathan, Diva (with a frog), Frank, me & Sarah (BAinsider).
Since blogging is a solitary pursuit, it did me in particular a lot of good to connect with like minded folks. Life is not lived by Tangazos alone!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007



PLEASE WAIT!


Waiting is normal here in Argentina. The Argentinian people have so much patience. (My first Waiting post was about waiting in lines to get things done.)

But people who want to dance tango also need a lot of patience, and to wait. There are no short cuts. You have to put in your time.

Tango is the dancer's dance, remember? It's the most difficult of all the social partner dances. In the olden days, men would practice with their mothers and sisters just walking for maybe two years before they ever went to a milonga.

Nowadays, dancers, especially from other countries, don't want to wait. They want to dance tango Right Now Right Now. And so try to learn a hundred steps in huge group classes and expect to dance right away all night long at a milonga. Impatience as adults comes naturally to norteamericanos and europeos.

My son Jason used to dance ballet professionally. A graduate of North Carolina School of the Arts, he was a principal dancer with the Hartford Ballet, and Tulsa Ballet, and before I lived in Buenos Aires, danced in the Teatro Colon. His teacher, Tatiana Riaboushinka Lichine, one of the famous Baby Ballerinas of the '30's, used to cry at him: Rome wasn't built in a day! Because even as a teenager, he wanted to soar before he could jump. She knew that he had to put in his time.

Tango too needs time--time to understand, to feel, to express, to hear, to communicate, to learn grace and elegance. It just isn't possible overnight, no matter how many Tango Weeks and Tango Festivals you attend.

When Ruben and I take our foreign students to their first milongas here in Buenos Aires, they are impatient to dance. They see all the tango around them and want to be a part of it. But in the milongas, they have to put in their time. And wait. Wait and watch until people get to know them and how they dance. Wait until they learn the codigos of tango and milonga etiquette. Wait until the tango takes them.

And that takes time. Tango is worth waiting for.

Monday, June 25, 2007

What? Still Waiting?




BUT AT LEAST HERE THE MEN ARE WAITING TOO!






She's not waiting any more, she's done--and tired,
but not tired of waiting!




There is a tango coming. Are you sure you're on the right side?

Which movie was this quote from?

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Night of the Milongueros




Some time ago I went to a practica of a milonguero I've known for many years.
When I walked into the Salon de Fiestas on Independencia. there were six milongueros sitting around a table, smoking and talking. It looked like they were waiting to audition for The Godfather. I was the only woman.

After kissing them all hello, I sat down to listen. They were talking about tango--about the old days, the orchestras, the music, the golden age. They began to argue about steps, and one grabbed me and lead something complicated. "No, no, that's not the way it was," another one insisted, and took me in his arms and said, "This is the way to do it." Pretty soon the two old men were dancing with each other, working out the step.

One of the men ordered the best vino tinto, and they continued talking about tango and how it used to be. But eventually, being men, even if very old, they all turned their attention to me for compliments, piropos, questions, and teasing.

When a couple of women and some foreign dancers finally arrived, the practica began in earnest, but for me, the best part was over. I had witnessed something rare and special, and which would one day soon be extinguished--the living history of tango.

Afterwards, two of the milongueros and an Australian and I went to Celia's and took a corner table in the back. I alternated dancing with the two milongueros, who plied me with piropos. "You are a fantastic dancer, but as beautiful as you dance, it's not as beautiful as you are."

The Australian didn't dance, but ordered another bottle of vino tinto for all of us, hoping to keep the men talking. You could tell he was thrilled and awed to be a quiet part of the old world of tango, and he just breathlessly soaked it all in, thankful to be there, as was I.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Once Again It's Time for the Campeonato de Tango!




TITO PALUMBO'S PUBLISHER'S LETTER edited in
B. A. TANGO – Buenos Aires Tango magazine, Nº 184, June 2007.

Regarding separate categories in the Campeonato Metropolitano/Mundial de Tango.
If you think that the topic is important, please, answer to abatango@yahoo.com

and/or forward it to your acquaintances and friends.


PUBLISHER'S LETTER
Dear reader friend:

Some readers propose the creation of different categories in the dance championships organized by the city government; one category for amateurs and another for professionals. And I am going to give my opinion; I do not think that this proposal will become a fact.

The diffusion and sale of the dancers' filmed
material is a business. And dancers do not obtain any income from
the revenues generated by this business. In other words, videos and
DVDs are sold; rights are assigned for the broadcasting in the
country and abroad; movies are shown in theaters; but the true
main characters, the dancers, do not receive a single cent of the money collected from these commercial activities.

Provisions 35 in the Metropolitan Championship
Regulations and 04 in the World Championship Regulations stipulate
that the General Office of Festivals of the City reserves to itself
the right to record all the phases in these championships and to
retain the ownership of those records –as well as to do any type of
business with them– WITHOUT PROVIDING DANCERS WITH A SINGLE BUCK AS
FEES OR REMUNERATION.

If in the championships it was created a category
for Professional Dancers, then the Argentine Actors Association, the
union which represents these workers, could claim for the right to
the corresponding remuneration. This organization' s additional
interest would be due to the fact that they would receive a
percentage. And in this way, the exploitation of others' work that
the authorities of this city are carrying out in agreement with
pseudo businessmen would be finished.

While amateur dancers and professional ones are mixed up, it is difficult for the union to find good arguments to get involved.
* * *
I feel shame on behalf of others because the
associations that gather dancers –though they are not unions– do not
care about claiming for the image, the interpreters and the
choreographic creation rights corresponding to their members and,
besides that, sponsor and actively cooperate with official
authorities to carry out this dispossession.
* * *
With a tanguero embrace, I remain very truly yours
sincerely

TITO PALUMBO Publisher

Good for Tito, who as usual, is not afraid to make a stand for what is right.
I am fully behind separating the amateurs from the professionals in the Campeonato.
Last year Ruben and I competed, as social dancers, right along side of professional show dancers, who of course, won, even though they did all the moves forbidden by the written rules we were given.

I also think there should be separate categories for dancers under and over 40, because once again, it's not fair to judge a twenty-year-old professional against a seventy-year-old social dancer. Last year a 20 year old won first place (left) in the milonga category.

However all in all, Ruben and I are pleased that we finished #15 in Tango de Salon out of more than 500 couples who entered. We stuck to the rules, weren't on intimate terms with any of the judges, and just danced the same way we do in the milongas.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Spend a Sunday at the Feria de Mataderos












EXPERIENCE THE ARGENTINA OF YESTERDAY

We invite you to go with us to visit an enchanting gaucho fair on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. On a very personalized tour for only one or two people, enjoy live entertainment, learn folklore, ride in a pony cart, watch the horses and the gauchos play traditional games, taste delicacies from all over Argentina, shop for authentic souvenirs.

We invite you as well for a parrilla lunch, and as an optional activity, can take you to the Club Chicago, a popular baile del barrio where there are no tourists, to dance and watch tango, folklore, and tropical--a totally different experience from a milonga in Buenos Aires.

Ruben is an Argentine milonguero, and I'm an expatriate from California--both teach and dance tango in Buenos Aires, and were finalists in the Campeonato Metropolitano de Tango de Buenos Aires.

The excursion includes transportation from Boedo and back, lunch (not including wine), guiding, lots of laughing, entrance and soft-drink at the Club Chicago (optional).

Sundays from 11-5 or ?
Advance registration required.

4932-5027
155-799-20-38

A recent visitor wrote:

I am usually very unhappy visiting markets, like touristy stuff. However "La Feria de Mataderos" is very super nice to be at. There is good quality handywork, there is a stage with good performances (dance as well as musicians), and the general feel is portenas enjoying a party and being argentiniean. Something that is really special about Buenos Aires/Argentina, and something that is rather unimaginable in other countries, is like last sunday: a band of musicians, young people looking like a rockband or a reggeaband, but playing chacareras (with the energy of a rock band with a political message), and the public dancing, grandparents next to their children's children, piercings and tattoos and all. I look at that and cry.

Monday, June 11, 2007


MOST TANGO SPINS IN ONE MINUTE???

Tim Ferriss and his tango teacher, Alicia Monti, on Live with Regis and Kelly, break the "world record" for the most tango spins in one minute. As Oleh Kovalchuke of Tangospring commented on YouTube, (and I can only echo his response), "Huh???"

Tim Ferriss is the hot young entrepreneur who has a best-selling book, The Four Hour Workweek. It seems that at 29 years of age, he can do no wrong and is skilled in many things. I haven't read his book, as there's no way I can "outsource to Asians" the estilo milonguero tango classes I teach with my partner, Ruben Aybar, here in Buenos Aires.

I admire Mr. Ferriss for his many accomplishments, and certainly for his PR abilities and marketing. It's as if he set out with a plan to make himself varied and interesting and successful. And part of that plan was to learn Argentine Tango.

OK, of course I'm all for learning tango. But it's obvious from watching him compete in the Campeonato Mundial that's he's trying to get another Merit Badge, and not dancing out of love and passion. Don't get me wrong, he's not a bad dancer, and being tall, handsome and somewhat graceful doesn't hurt. We're not going to get into a discussion of his musicality or sensuality or connection; who am I to talk? I've never set a Guinness World Record.

But since he didn't place in the Campeonato, he wanted to set the world's record for "tango spins?" I read about this on Maya's SexySpanishClub blog, so I had to check out what the heck are "tango spins." You can see for yourself in the video below, but they are enrosques, and I didn't know there was a point in doing as many as possible in one minute like a wind-up doll.

However I'm happy that I learned at least this one new thing today. And Mr. Ferriss is crying all the way to the bank.






MORE WAITING...
for the perfect man, or the perfect tango?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Line of Dance





Today I didn't dance, I didn't talk about tango, I didn't write about tango. What I did was wait in lines. This is not a tango post, but a post about living in Buenos Aires.

First thing this morning Ruben drove me to the Departamento Documentacion Personal in el centro to get my police clearance. I've been collecting documents to begin my application for a long-term visa, because I'm tired of having to leave the country every three months.

There was a line outside the building around the block, but I didn't have to wait in that one. I waited in lots of other ones, including a locatorio a block away, where I waited in two other lines to get my passport photocopied and a photo taken. Suffice it to say that after several more lines inside the Departamento (where there were hundreds of people waiting in lots of lines), I got my receipt for the application and was told to come back after forty days and wait in line for my document.

The other thing I had to do today was to pay some bills. Here in Argentina you can't simply sign on to your online account and pay by clicking your keyboard. Nor can you write checks and drop them in the mail. Here you have to pay in cash and of course wait in lines to do so.

Today the RapiPago line at the local pharmacy was out into the street with more than twenty people waiting with their bills clutched in hand. Sure it was late by now and it would have been better to have paid the bills earlier. But I couldn't because--drumroll, please--after waiting in many, many lines in as many banks, there was no cash in any ATM machine I tried until dark. And then I had to do the operation three times because lately the withdrawal limit here has dropped. (Yes, I tried yesterday too.)

But I feel good. I waited in lines and finally accomplished what I needed to do, it just took the whole day to do it. This is the way it is here, and after more than three years, I'm finally getting used to it.

Caroline wrote of The Waiting Game recently, but she was talking about tango.

I waited in a million lines today so that tomorrow I can go to a milonga and dance. The waiting is over--at least until Monday!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

My Sexy Shoes





How tall am I ? Honey with hair, heels and attitude, I'm through this dammed roof! --Ru Paul

My sexy shoes are black silk stilettos with an ankle strap. They are also my tango shoes which, depending on my partner and my point of view, can be the same thing. I first realized a few years ago why high heels are so sexy: they make our legs look longer, sure, but the real reason is that they make us more vulnerable. We can’t run away. (Or it looks like we can’t.)

But amazingly we can dance in them, which takes practice and skill. We must remember just how high the heels are so that we can go up on our toes and down again without whacking the heel. We have to learn how to keep those heels 1/4” off the floor, and to put them down with control so that the wood doesn’t clunk and we can spin like dervishes during the Tropical Tanda.

Dancing shoes have a mystique all their own. There’s no way we can dance ballet, tango, jazz or salsa without the right shoes. Well we can, but we don’t want to. If our feet are looking good, well then, we’re going to be dancing great. We’re more than half-way home.

In Cuba, the salsa homeland, where they don’t have the right shoes for anything, they dance in whatever or even in no shoes, but it’s no problem. If fact, our fancy specialized shoes seem kind of silly down there, where the best dancers are torching the floor in sneakers and old sandals.

But in the hot salsa clubs and smoldering tango salons both to the north and south of the Equator, looking the part is part of it. And it all begins with the barest, strappiest, sexiest shoes we can spin in, and if they match our outfits, so much the better.

We pick glittery and jeweled shoes (or white) if we have great footwork and are proud of it. The rest of us go for basic black if we don’t want glow-in-the-dark feet, but also, what is more sexy than black? And it goes with everything.

Soul to sole: what about Reflexology, when pressure is applied to certain areas of the bottom of the feet to promote relaxation and healing in other parts of the body?
Is that why we feel so great after an amazing night of dancing wearing the right shoes?

Your dancing shoes can have soles of suede, smooth leather, felt, rubber—depending on your feet and the floor you are dancing on. If you aren’t happy with the soles you’ve got, you can take the shoes to a cobbler and he can put on a different kind. As for your dancing soul, just let it out!

Unlike soles, which are of light-to-medium interest, heel height is a huge and passionate issue. Whenever a group of women huddle together at a milonga, if they’re not gossiping about a man, it’s heels of another sort that have their attention. (Actually the higher heel helps us to keep our weight forward in tango, so there’s more than aesthetics involved.) Sometimes short women like to wear the highest of the high (over 4 inches) and even platforms, and tall women opt for lower altitude.

I am tall (5’ 7”) and it has actually happened to me that a man has told me I’m a great dancer and he’d love to ask me to dance, but I am too tall! (How rude is that? I’m not too tall, he is too short!)

One night at The Mayan in Los Angeles years ago, a man invited me to dance, and when I stood up in my stilettos, he looked panic stricken as he gazed upward to the top of my head. Then he told me his recurring nightmare was to dance with a woman taller than he. But when we got into the groove, he loved it! Dance after dance, he tried new spins, lifts, jumps and dives. I finally had to beat him off with a clave!! He was overjoyed to realize he could dance well and have fun with a tall partner! He wasn’t exactly my mercy dance of the evening; I had fun, but I looked on the experience as educational for him--he will never hesitate to ask a tall woman to dance again.

A lot of women of my distance from the ground choose low-heeled shoes to minimize any height difference and to perhaps get more dances. I’m sorry, but I think you should wear the shoes that are right for you, that you dance fabulous in, that make your feet even more gorgeous and sexy. If a man can’t handle how tall or short you are wearing them, that’s his problem.

But for hot moments after the dance, we just need to know how to gracefully get undressed with those shoes on. Sometimes we go to bed wearing our shoes, and then we have to not forget that we are wearing stilettos that might get buried in some guy’s torso, or worse.

We have to know all these things about our sexy shoes. And even if we look vulnerable, we must learn not to be. Sometimes we can even take those shoes off.




Monday, June 04, 2007

Me and Not Me Photo Essay

ME AND NOT ME PHOTO ESSAY

There's a photo meme going around, and I can't resist participating.
Michele blogs from Calabria, Italy, on Bleeding Espreso
and Karla writes Tales of a Texpatriate from Austin to Oslo
and posted bang-up Me and Not Me memes.

Now I'll tag you out there in Blogger-Land, and you know who you are!


ME (I wish)


NOT ME

ME


NOT ME


ME

NOT ME

ME


NOT ME


ME


NOT ME


ME


MORE ME


NOT ME


ME


NOT ME


ME


NOT ME


ME


NOT ME



ME


TOTALLY NOT ME


ME


NOT ME


ME, YUMMMM


NOT ME


ME

NOT ME


ME


NOT ME


ME


NOT ME


PHOEBE IS TOTALLY ME


PRETTY, BUT NOT ME