Friday, September 29, 2006

I swear the shoes help.

I will soon be recieving this pair of tango shoes.

No, I won't fall down in them. No, really, I'll be fine. WHAT? Stop looking at me like that! I said I'm fine!

It's sad that shoes like these actually do help keep balance; you'd fall out of regular shoes, and the heel helps you keep correct foot position so you don't roll out. They also have footbeds designed for pivots. You can snap your ankle on a pivot if your foot gets stuck - I cringe just thinking about it.

I wore through my first pair of tango heels in a little more than a month; you can see on the footbed the exact placement of all my toes within the shoe, where the suede has been worn down to nothing and the sole is so glossy it reflects light. From Jupiter. Seriously, these puppies are well-worn.

From there I got my sparkly blue shoes as a gift, and they're absolutely amazing shoes - they kill if you're walking forwards, but walking backwards is easier than breathing. Much harder than breathing is doing an ocho cortado without slicing off a toe.

These shoes won't help my slicing problem. I'm pretty sure that shoe is even more open than my current shoes, which means I'm going to have to either get better or tip these puppies with a little steel.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Because I'm a giver.

In case you actually read this blog (waves to three people), I wanted to point out the sidebar action I've got going. There's been enough navel-gazing on this blog, and I have been totally remiss in getting anyone else interested in tango. And so, behold! Links!

There are headings for upcoming tango events, cities with active tango calendars (and Web communities), websites for tango dancers and musicians, and additional tango resources. Have a look around; it's good stuff.

If you know of any upcoming tango events in your city, or want to know about any, drop me a comment. If I haven't heard of anything, I'll ferret out some information; anyone who wants to dance should be dancing!


Tango is not known for the most demure dresses. I understand that. However, I really feel like some companies are getting the wrong idea. It looks like some kind of reasoning game - "Tango Dress, or Attacked by a Wild Animal?"

Go on, you make the call.

Tougher than you thought it would be, isn't it?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tango Video of the Week #1

It really doesn't get better than this.

That's not a matter of opinion. It's Geraldine Rojas and Javier Rodriguez, who were the world's most innovative and popular tango couple for ten years. When they broke up in 2005 it was viewed on the level of a national tragedy; the art of tango had lost something great.

They are both still dancing, and both their new partners are wonderful dancers, but the magic is gone. Watch the clip and see what I mean.

(Technical detail: they dance Villa Urquiza style, which is defined by the womans' s hand low on the man's back, the woman stepping on the whole foot rather than just the instep, and the woman stepping straight back rather than making a point of brushing the ankles. I'm sure the man does some stuff, too, but I'm a follower, so.)

p.s. If you have a video you want to recommend, or have made a video of yourself, point me to it! I love watching tango almost as much as I love dancing it.

Friday, September 22, 2006


I dropped off my laundry yesterday, and the young couple who run the laundry service took it and weighed it and handed me my little yellow tag marked carefully with 7pm - RED, and the whole time in the background a language tape was playing on a little boombox. (You could tell it was a tape; it still crackled.)

"I already submitted my paperwork," the tape said, the voice repeating in Chinese.

"I am here to apply for citizenship."

"I am taking the test for citizenship. I already submitted my paperwork."

"These are the forms you requested."

"Detergent allergy?" she asked me, and I wondered if these were the only two things they ever talked about; beaucracy and laundry.

It's interesting how quickly someone's vocabulary can change, and the gulf that opens up between people when their internal dictionaries are different, how the words you use define you.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Down the Rabbit-hole.

It's been a while since I posted; things other than tango have taken my time (what is that, I ask you? Outrage!) and I am only now settling back in to a routine.

Highlights of the past three weeks are below, more or less in the order they happened. Lowlights of the past three weeks are sort of a dark chesnutty color on the lower layer, just to give the hair some depth.


I'm sitting at a table at a milonga, near the dance floor and therefore Vasquez the DJ, who has warmed to me enough that she criticizes my posture directly instead of ignoring me. My partners are constantly complimenting how balanced I've become, however, so it's clearly worth it.

"Excuse me," I hear, and look up. It's an unassuming, slightly scraggly man who was in the beginner class. I'm too advanced for him (it looked like his first lesson, and at this point I have to play politics to maneuver for good partners), so I smile politely and prepare to refuse him.

"I like your shoes," he says, and gestures.

I like my shoes, too - they're blue and sparkly and four inches high. "Thanks," I say, and smile. Nothing unusual so far; the style and condition of one's shoes is an indicator of one's seriousness about the dance, and wear four-inch heels means you're in it to win it. (Wearing dance sneakers means you're either tired and dancing with friends only, or you're such a badass that you can wear whatever you want and you're still more awesome than anyone in the world.)

He grins and reaches down as if to touch them. "Beautiful," he says, and now he has the distinctive Voix de Pervert.

I slide my feet under the chair and say in a distinctly cooler tone, "Thanks."

"No," he says, "really," and bends over as if he is going to crawl under the chair and forcibly remove them.

I stand up like Iv'e been shot and am just about to prtoest on my own behalf when the man is assaulted, and it takes me a second to realize that Vasquez has left the DJ station to drag the guy off the dance floor for a very vibrant discussion in the corner. There's a lot of hand waving, and twice she points a finger in his face and he recoils.

He wanders away a minute later, a broken man, and as Vasquez walks back to the DJ booth she says to me, "It's not polite."

I sort of wish Emily Post worked that way, too.

"At a dinner party, it's polite for gentlemen to stand when a lady leaves the table. If they do not stand, beat them severely so they have a real reason to stay seated due to busted kneecaps. "


A legendary tango couple comes to town, and weirdly there are not enough men to go around. I end up leading.

Women leaders can sometimes be an annoyance to traditional milongueros, as roles in Buenos Aires are more conservative and tango lessons are taught as man and woman, not leader and follower. However, people are so generally execrable at this particular lesson that their hands are full, and I'm free to practice leading the basic step with proper dissociation, posture, and purpose.

Towards the end of the class I'm walking my follower in the line of dance - on the beat, dissociation, strong steps, giving her space and time - and the teacher says to me, "Es so."

I win at life.


Four days later I'm at a milonga, and the legends are there as guest performers. She watches my technique as I go by, and I decide I'm going to have the best technique of my life.

He leads an ocho cortado, and I slice my four-inch heel across my toes in the process.

I keep tango face and make it to the end of the song, but there's a bright white line across my toes that turns increasingly red as I watch it, and I hobble back to my seat to change my shoes.

I wonder what that guy thought he was going to do with four-inch heels. I'm armed in these things, dude. I can take out an eye.

Probably my own eye, but whatever.