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.

Sunday, June 26, 2011



Before leaving on a trip to Buenos Aires in 1999, when I still lived in Los Angeles, I had been worried about my sore and painful feet. So much so in fact that I went to a podiatrist for the first time, and told him I was going to Argentina to dance, and he MUST make my feet stop hurting!

Thus I deserved the painful shot of cortisone in the ball of my foot. But with that and the skillful wrapping of my foot, going home in the surgical shoe was pain free and my only worry was about missing the local milonga that night. Which I didn't do, as I borrowed a bigger size of heels from my neighbor, one that would accomodate the bandages, and went and danced at the milonga anyway. There was a standing joke at that time that if Cherie wasn't there on Friday nights, I was either in the hospital or the morgue.

It was only later I learned the cortisone was temporary, and could not be repeated. So when I returned from Buenos Aires, I went to another podiatrist who specializes in sports medicine. He diagnosed my problem as--not bone spurs, arthritis, or bursitis as other doctors had told me--but “Dancer’s Foot.” Oh thanks. It’s genetic, and dancing ballet on my toes all my life hadn’t helped.

My foot is square and tango shoes are a triangle. A classical dancer must dance in pointe shoes and a tango dancer in pointy heels. Those are the working conditions. But if you wear only leather shoes and have them stretched (and you can do this more than once), it’ll help the squished toes problem.

It’s the women who mostly suffer from foot problems and it’s because of the high heeled shoes we wear. According to the L.A. Times (June 1, 1998), 87% of operations performed to correct acquired foot deformities, such as bunions and hammer toes, are undergone by women. In the United States, women visit the doctor for foot problems four times more often than men. In societies where people go barefoot or wear flat sandals, these problems are rare, and their frequency is the same in both sexes.

Luckily my new doctor was able to carve out supportive pads from my Dr. Scholls’ material, which really helped. My feet still hurt after three hours of dancing, but at least it wasn't agony.

For normal feet sore from dancing, wearing gel or cushion inserts in your dancing shoes can make a difference. Also using ice when you get home keeps the swelling down. If you’re injured while dancing, get some ice from the bar or use a cold can of unopened soda to rest your foot on. Taking your shoes off and massaging your feet every so often as you sit out a dance can give your aching feet a new lease on life. Then later soak them in hot water with plain or Epsom salt, and file down those calluses with a pumice stone. If your stomach can stand it, take anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen BEFORE going to dance.

Remember RICE--Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation for injuries.
I haven’t tried alternative medicine, but I have friends who swear by chiropractic, acupuncture, and Rolfing.

A professional dancer in Buenos Aires also gave me some exercise tips: flex and point your feet hard while you’re sitting down every day. And stretch out your toes by making a “fist” with the fingers of one hand in between the toes of one foot, and just holding it while you watch TV or talk on the phone. Then switch. When you get more stretched, try to use the fingers of both hands for one foot. Walking barefoot at home and on the beach is great foot exercise. Some people swear by expensive orthotics which are fitted to your foot by a podiatrist. But hopefully you won’t need them.

Usually it's the woman's right foot and/or ankle that is the most painful, because during the salida we spend quite a bit of time with all of our weight on just the ball of the right foot. In other steps as well--the cross, carousel, colgada--it's the right foot more often than the left.

But you know what? After dancing for so many years, now it doesn't bother me any more, even with the super spike heels I wear. Perhaps with the improvement in my technique, I've learned to handle it differently, I really don't know what happened. But I'm glad that here's one example of something that can get better with age.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Los Reyes del Tango!!

The first time I heard them was in 1998 or 1999 in Torquato Tasso in San Telmo, and I went crazy. Now many years later I still am crazy for The Tango Kings, even though some of the orchestra's members have passed on, most notably José Libertella. But Juan D'Arienzo's fabulous music lives on through the eight-member players and singer of Los Reyes del Tango.

The occasion was to mark the Second Anniversary of the milonga Nuevo Chique, organized by Ruben y Marcela on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Casa Galicia on San Jose near Alsina.

 And celebrate we did! What a night for anyone who loves Juan D'Arienzo, and Ruben and I certainly do! People couldn't help dancing to the fabulous music, but I couldn't pry myself away from my front row center view of the musicians in action. The audience went crazy for them, and the musicians gave it back to us, with encores.

Me and The Kings

Marcela y Ruben
It was a super duper fabulous night, one which I won't forget any time soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dancing With Cigars 

I hate to mention it, but in all fairness probably Bill Clinton should be included in this collage.

I am overjoyed that I never had to dance with anyone smoking anything!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Book Crazy

I am a trained information specialist, a librarian. I worked all my life with books and the organization of information. I have advanced degrees. Why then am I stumped with how to arrange the books in my one bookcase?

Showing half the biblioteca with Ruben and lovely student

Do I put them by size--the bottom shelf is the only one that will hold oversized art books. Do I put them by author? Those that are signed to me by the authors? Books that I've read vs books that I've yet to read? Books by country--I've got Argentina, Mexico, Cuba, France and Brazil--with a few about Italy, China, India, Guatemala, and Afghanistan. Books by subject--dance, writing, memoir, cemeteries (yes, I have lots of those), travel, art (generally the oversized ones), music, biography, children's, history (heavy on WWI & II), or as decorators sometimes do, by color?

I only have five shelves. If I get a new book, an old one has to go. Do I keep the really good ones I've read and hope to either reread or to pass on to someone else? If I can't remember I've read them, shall I read them again? If I haven't read them yet, what's the cut off time--how many months, years, decades should they hang around?

Today I emptied the five shelves to organize and to dust. Books accumulate dust like nobody's business and boy am I allergic.

Now I've filled the bookcase and there is still an equal number on the floor. Have they multiplied like coathangers in the back of a closet?

Bringing my books with me has been a tema in my life as a traveler and expatriate. Wherever I've lived there have been books in every room of my house. Just knowing they are there makes me feel good. Having collected books throughout my life, it was painful to pare down when I moved from Los Angeles. But there is nothing heavier than a box of books. And the books I have with me today I brought one by one on the plane with me each trip I made back for visits. I had to leave even more behind in my son's garage. But now he's moved, and I don't ask what happened to all of those books.

Some books I brought to Buenos Aires are quite valuable--so then what happens when I'm gone? No one here will know their value, or care. And realistically, why should I?

Since the living room is also our dance studio, the bookcase is the only area I have to display my tchotkes, and I've got a lot of those too.

No, I'm not ready to start over with a Kindle, thank you very much. But maybe one day.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Volcanic Eruption in Chile Affects Bariloche

El Nahuel Huapi May 29, 2011

Timing is always everything, isn't it? And fortunately the timing for us to visit the spectacular scenic area of Argentina's Patagonia, was perfect. Because one week later it is a disaster of volcanic ash, polluted water, closed airports, and empty supermarkets.

So we were lucky to enjoy the clean air and waters, but the people there now, especially those suffering as I do from asthma and bronchitis, are paying big time for living in God's country.

I never worried before about Acts of God or natural disasters such as earthquakes, being used to them in Los Angeles; severe shakes as I'd experienced in '71 and '94 never frightened me.

However, after a severe earthquake I still had clean air to breathe if not any china dishes or antique pottery. Air is the number one ingredient for survival, and in a quake, if a falling building doesn't get you, you are probably ok.

I was always philosophical about Acts of God because, as insurance forms are quick to point out, they can't be helped and are nobody's fault.

One thing about living in Buenos Aires is that there are no earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, or volcanic eruptions. No Acts of God in particular, just lots of acts of people, for better but often for worse.

El Nahuel Huapi from a boat one week later
When I saw the videos on the news last night, of cars buried in ash in Bariloche, of day turned into night, of hospitals full of those who couldn't breathe--and with the week-old memory of the pristine skies and waters, I am heartbroken. My mind filled with images of Pompeii.

I believed that scientists could tell when a volcano was about to erupt, and people could be warned to leave the area. I guess not.

For nature, these events are not disasters, just things that happen in the scheme of the natural world. But for man--building his house on sand and damning the mudslides (as they do in Pacific Palisades, California), we need to have more respect. And appreciate when Mother Nature doesn't remind us who is the boss.

El Volcan Lanin, asleep for 3 centuries (it's covered in snow behind the green hill)

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Patagonia--Land O'Lakes 'n Chocolate

Plaza in San Carlos de Bariloche and Lago Nahuel Huapi

 Pristine waters, snow-capped mountains, fresh, clean air, piney forests--I had been dreaming about it for so long.

So when  DescuentoCity had a promotion for a week's trip for two to Patagonia and the Lake District, including air, at half price, we snapped it up.

Beef fondue just like in Switzerland

Our first stop was in San Carlos de Bariloche, the main town and the hub of most activities, including tango--we found a milonga downstairs in the Casino.
Espejo or Mirror Lake

 We passed along the Ruta de los Siete Lagos on the way to San Martin de los Andes, a posh ski center with wonderful restaurants and ski and chocolate shops. (No one leaves Patagonia without a box of chocolates!)
The most famous and pricey of chocolates is Mamushka

Santuario Nuestra Senora de las Nieves, Our Lady of the Snows, in Junin de los Andes

The windows all had scenes of local life

Lago Escondido

 Being low season and between foliage a month ago and snow next month, it felt like we had all Patagonia to ourselves!

I had heard so much about Bariloche and its Alpine architecture and chocolates that I expected it to be kitschy and Disneyesque. Instead, the chalets are charming and the region indeed reminded me of the Swiss and French Alps, where I have spent a lot of time in the past. The landscape and flora are reminiscent also of Lake Tahoe and Taos, New Mexico, and, in places, even Palm Springs.

Villa La Angostura was our final stop for two nights at the luxuriously peaceful country inn on the lake shore, La Posada. The quiet little town doesn't have much of anything to do, and so finally we just relaxed.

Shopping arcade in Villa La Angostura

view from our room
We toured National Parks, ate lunch at a Mapuche lodge in the woods, and snapped away because every moment was a photo opp. We also picked up the occasional piece of trash to carry back to town, as the whole area is super environmentally conscious. If you fish (with a license, of course) you can only keep one fish per day. But the restaurants are full of trout and Patagonian lamb. The good food and the pure air made me feel wonderful.

I can't wait to go back!