After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tango Salon Winners in the Mundial 2009

We just saw this on television from Luna Park and the winners are a Japanese couple, Hiroyi Yamao & Kyoko Yamao (photo by Daniel Carreira.) This couple placed third in the Tango Escenario competition in 2007.

Many congratulations to them; I'm sure they've worked long and hard to win this honor.

I just have three questions:

1. How do the Argentines feel that a Japanese couple won the world prize in tango?

2. Why was there no one in the final 45 couples over 43-45? There were old milongueros competing, but none made it to the Finals. Don't they dance well enough?

3. None of the finalists used the standard embrace of the lady's arm around the man's neck; is this now over, out of style, dead?

Pleae comment if you can answer my questions. Thanks.

Monday we are invited to Luna Park to see the Finals of the Tango Escenario competition, but I'm not sure I want to go.
Especially as I will be spending the day in Inmigraciones with a Guillotine over my head. And it may fall that afternoon.

Garage Night at the Konex

The Teatro Konex (a recycled old warehouse on Sarmiento in Abasto) is a great venue! Maybe not exactly for tango but we enjoyed seeing it and a few friends who also attended this Garage Tango event of the Tango Festival. Summer nights they show movies here in the courtyard!

I've got to hand it to the government this year for creating a very interesting Festival, with something to appeal to everyone. If it were me, and I were here on vacation with plenty of time, I would have liked to attend the lectures, music workshops (I play the piano) and the tango films--good or bad, I'd like to have seen them all.

But as it was, we went to events when we could--the final one is the Finals of Tango Escenario in the Mundial de Baile this Monday at Luna Park.

While in a sense the Campeonato Metropolitano kind of fell through the cracks this year, and is now called the Campeonato de Baile instead of tango (there's no tourist money to be made from locals competing against locals), the powers that be coughed up quite a lot of plata for the elaborate bilingual program books on quality paper, and the renting of venues all around town for the events which were all free! Congratulations to all of the organizers who did a great job!

It must be said that the events were designed to bring in foreigners. The milongueros who dance here every week just continued dancing at their favorite milongas and didn't pay any attention to the Festival. They just want to dance--as they always have.

But the government saw the Festival as an opportunity for good PR, and on that score, I think succeeded very well.

What fun to run into Catrin Strong and share a bottle of champagne!

Here's Ruben dancing with the beautiful Hsueh-tze Lee.

This Festival event's calling card was a performance by Milena Plebs y Ezequiel Farfaro, which was real mas o menos, whether because of the floor (concrete) and many columns or lack of ganas, who knows. But they could have phoned it in.

The rest of Thursday night's program, which started with a short beginning tango class, was a performance by a trio, Guardia Hereje, two singers ("ringside tanguero"), and the Orquesta Tipica Misteriosa. Then there was a milonga. But we were gone by then.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Another Farewell Tour--But At What Price?

I'm a Charles Aznavour groupie, it's true. I went to every concert he made in Los Angeles, starting in 1965, and until I moved to Mexico in 2001.

I was very disappointed to have missed his Farewell Tour here in Buenos Aires because I was out of town. (You can read my previous post on French Appeal here.) But yesterday I found out that he's doing another one with appearances here in September at the Teatro Gran Rex!

So now there's one more chance to catch this fantastic chanteur francais before he hangs up his pipes for good (if he ever does.) But I can't go--and why? I see why he--and others--keep doing Farewell Tours as long as they can walk the ramp onto the First Class section of the plane.

The ticket prices, especially here in Argentina, are just outrageous. I don't understand who can afford to go to wave Adios to M Aznavour. Check it out here.

Unfortunately, I can't. I'll just have to play the ton of CDs of his that I have and imagine the women climbing on stage to grab his handkerchief after La Boheme.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Celebrating 200 Issues of Tito Palumbo's B.A. Tango!

In honor of the 200th issue of his tango magazine, Tito Palumbo invited us and tout Buenos Aires tango to a cocktail reception in Almagro at the Casa de Tango.

I would like to have included here highlights from that issue, or at least a picture of the cover, but there were none to be had at the party.

It was a very nice event, with unlimited white and red wine, and a plenitud of hot and cold canapés. No music or dancing, but lots and lots of catching up with old friends accompanied by flashes of the paparazzi.

On the stage was a small grand piano, with this inscription.

With Pedro Sanchez

Our dear friend Angel

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Timing is Everything II

No matter how well someone does a "step," if it's not with the music, it's bad. My idea of hell is to dance with someone who hasn't a clue that he is way outside of the music and is off the beat. Torture for me: do I follow his bad rhythm or do I do what comes naturally and dance on the beat?

(This post is part 2 of the preceding, The Circle of Tango.)

And I'd just like to say that how one navigates their own personal Circle of Tango has a heck of a lot to do with timing.

Like many of us in tango, I've been a dancer all of my life: beginning ballet at age 3, continuing on to be a Dance Major at UCLA, co-directing a cabaret dance company, The Perfumes of Araby, soloist in a large professional international folk dance company, Anthony Shay's AVAZ, teacher of line dancing, choreographer of musical shows for amateur groups, student and performer of flamenco in Mexico and Argentina, Dance Librarian for the Los Angeles Public Library, dance critic in Los Angeles for the Times, student and dancer of Argentine tango since 1996, teaching tango in Cuba, and dancing tango in the milongas of Buenos Aires since 1997. In 2005 I met Ruben Aybar and we began teaching together the milonguero style of social tango that is danced in the milongas here.

I think if Ruben and I had met before then, before I was getting bored with all of my various partners in the milongas and how they tended to dance the same way every time with me (Jorge for the Tanturi tanda, Juan for the vals, Osvaldo for the milonga, Hector for Pugliese, etc.), I might not have been "ready" for him. Although I continued to attend the several milongas where I was a regular every week, I began to feel that it was all just so predictable.

Before this moment, I used to think--and say--that I didn't want to dance with only one person, even if it was Gavito (!!) I wanted a variety of partners to keep me interested and on my toes.

Well, after all of these years, I saw Ruben dancing at Club Español. I could see that he danced like I felt; that he expressed the music with his body in a way that I wanted to. So after two months of staring at him in an attempt at cabeceo, finally we danced at Los Consagrados, in early 2005.

Ruben is always inventive, always has a surprise for me, is never boring--and is ALWAYS with the music and on time. Sometimes he dances to the bandoneon, other times to the violin, other times to the piano or the singer. Ruben is a lot of wonderful things, but first is his natural sense of rhythm and love of the music. He never dances the same tango/vals/milonga twice. When we do an exhibition, we never practice, because he wants to be spontaneous and dance as he feels to the music at that time. Which makes is always interesting to me.

So because we met when I had almost completed my own personal Circle of Tango, I surprised myself by only wanting to dance with him. For quite a long time I kept my independence by going to the milongas where I always went (and he never did)--Canning, Gricel, I don't remember where all. Soon I started going later and leaving earlier, with my mind's eye on the entrance, hoping against hope Ruben would come that day, even though I knew better. He used to tease me that one night he'd come with a fake mustache to spy on me (right, no one would know him then), but I was disappointed that he never did.

We would meet at Lo de Celia, Club Español, and Los Consagrados, where, in order again to keep my independence, we sat separately, across the dance floor. When we did share a table for special occasions, it was so much fun, so much laughter, that when I was back on my own on the women's side, I was missing him and the great camaraderie.

Finally we decided to sit together, let the codigos go hang. Of course, he as a milonguero, can dance with anyone he cares to. I am perceived as "his property," and out of respect for Ruben, the other milongueros don't invite me to dance.

But you know, that's ok. I occasionally dance with foreign men, and have a good time enjoying their styles and different tango. But then I am happy once again to be in Ruben's embrace, especially when the music is Miguel Calo.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Amazon Tango Download Promotion

This is my 500th post! I can't believe it. I wanted to write something "pivotal," but I also want to let you know about this deal while it lasts.

Here is a music promotion that begins tonight (Thursday).
I wrote back to ask if it's possible to do the Amazon downloads from other countries, because in other cases it hasn't been possible. But I didn't get a response. (See Note below)

Also, this collection of "Essential Tangos" really is not at all essential for dancers; it's not dance music but rather the same old Gardel and Piazzola and no Golden Age.

But check it out. The price is certainly right.

Here's the info:

tarting tonight, and for a limited amount of time only, MP3 and Milan Records are offering "50 Essential Tangos" for $1.99.

You can download the entire bundle for $1.99 here:

The bundle includes a comprehensive collection of Argentine Tango beginning with the mythical years of Carlos Gardel and evolving to the rebirth of “Nuevo Tango” with Astor Piazzolla. It continues on to classic post World War II compositions revisited by the Tango virtuosos of the last quarter of the 20th Century such as Richard Galliano and Nestor Marconi. It also includes Roberto Goyeneche, the unmistakable voice behind Piazzolla’s "Vuelvo Al Sur", Susana Rinaldi and many others.

Enjoy the Tango!

Stefan Karrer
Milan Entertainment, Inc.
6725 Sunset Blvd Ste 320
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Phone: (818) 849-3349
Fax: (818) 849-3341


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yet Another Tango Survey

They just keep on coming!

There must be something about tango that makes people desperate to understand the phenomenon--the why and wherefores of its aficionados. The tango mystique is huge in terms of blogs, books, articles, internet mailing lists, and yes, surveys. (Is it the same with ballet, flamenco, ballroom? Somehow I don't think so.)

This latest survey request, Correlation between cultural identity and tango, was posted to the Tango-L by
"" I took the survey in about 7 minutes, but don't know who it's for or what will be done with the results.

The survey's goal is to relate one's culture to one's approach to tango. I could say plenty about that!

The survey is in three languages: English, Spanish, and Japanese.

You can take it anonymously or give your email address to receive the compiled results.

Someone should create a survey about the people who create tango surveys!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tango Festival y Mundial de Baile 2009

Today begins the Buenos Aires Tango Festival, with free classes and shows around the city and in the old Harrod's building downtown on Calle Florida. There will also be lots of vendors so you can do your one-stop tango shopping there as well.

The Festival will end with the World Championship Finals in Luna Park.

Even if you don't dance, it's a great place for people-watching!

(The truth is that the milongueros of Buenos Aires don't pay attention in the slightest to these kinds of events and just continue dancing as usual at their regular favorite milongas. It's a great tourist attraction, though, and that's why the government puts it on every year.)

For more info, click on the pink logo or here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gardel Awards 2009

Capif (Chamber Producers’ Argentina of Phonograms and Videogramas) announced the winners of the Gardel Awards
on July 22. (Thanks to Burak Ozkosem for posting on Tango-A.)

Celeste Carballo with her album CELOS, was the winner of Best Female Tango Artist.

Daniel Melingo with his album Maldito Tango, was the winner of Best Male Tango Artist.

Sexteto Mayor with their album Vida pasión y tango, was the winner of Best Tango Orchestra.
(This is my favorite modern orchestra; you can read my post about their concert in Homero Manzi here. Of the original Sexteto, only the two violinists remain.)

Tanghetto with their album El miedo a la libertad, was the winner of Best Electronic Tango Music.

In the 11th edition of the Awards there was a whole of 183 artists
nominated, distributed in 42 categories. This year the ceremony
was canceled due to the situation of sanitary emergency for the swine
flu pandemic.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Uniting and Reuniting

After two weeks in Los Angeles, I couldn't wait to go to the milonga. Holly brought another blogger along to Los Consagrados, Esther Hartwig, who I had the pleasure to meet for the first time in person; I've been a fan of her blog, Not Just Another Brick in the Wall, from the beginning. Esther, or Coogie, was passing through Buenos Aires before leaving today for her home in Germany. She hopes to return one day to Argentina.

My L.A. visit also was rich and full of reunions. I feel so incredibly blessed. Here are some photos so you'll see what I mean:

My librarian friends always meet for our traditional Mexican dinner whenever I'm in town. I've had the pleasure of working with all of them in one library or another and they are the best people, real good folks, whose friendship I treasure through the years and over the miles. (From the left are Roy, George, Pearl, Cathy, me, and Sheila.)

Another day, another reunion, this time of bellydancers who performed together in The Perfumes of Araby. We are all still active dancers (MaryAnn on the left is also a librarian), despite the passage of several decades since we first donned our veils. (To my right are Donna and Denice.)

Here are my dear L.A. tango friends who I see in Buenos Aires whenever they are in Argentina, and in California when I am there! (From the left are Flo, Howard, me, Dee, and Manley.)

Gorgeous Marita and I first met at our apartment building in Los Feliz in 1994 and have had lots of adventures together through the years. Here we are with her new husband Noah and her parents, Manuel and Helga, visiting from Arizona.

Of course a big Chateau Rodney reunion was inevitable. We ex-tenants and good friends met for a Sangria Sunday at ChaChaCha on Hyperion close to our fabulous old building in Los Feliz. When our apartment building was sold in 2001, we all had to go our separate ways, but we bonded forever during the years we lived there. We were one united family whose doors were always open to each of us; we shared Thanksgiving, celebrated Soltices and Equinoxes, birthdays, went on rafting trips and art walks, had barbecues, supported each others' performances, and cried together when our "family" had to split up. It was so good to be with them again! It was like we had never been apart.

Chateau Rodney Forever!
(The building is featured in the new film, The Ugly Truth; in fact, my old front door is shown clearly with the address, 1930 1/2.)

(Front row from left: Marita and Noah; second row: Mitch, Steve, Jessica, me, Steve; back row: Chris, the Virgin, Daryl, and Jason.)

But the main reason I went to L.A. just now was my son Jason's 40th birthday--that's a big one and I had to share it with him as it's a big day for the mom too. And I'm glad I did. His older brother Adam drove down from Sacramento and we saw each other for the first time in over three years!

Adam, Connie, me, Jason

Naturally it was also wonderful to reunite at home in Boedo with Ruben and Mirasol the cat! And with all my friends in the milonga.

I am very blessed indeed.