Sunday, December 24, 2006


Recently, I haven't been writing much, and a lot of it is because tango is a very insular community - the more friends I make, the less comfortable I am using them in the blog. It's annoying, as I'm a writer by nature and hopefully, eventually, by trade, and the narrative flow of my tango pogress has been hindered by the fact that the people I know might not want to see themselves on this blog, especially if it's not glowing. And often it's not - I've made no secret of the fact that I'm a bastard, and just because *you* think you're good doesn't mean *I* do.

Even when it is glowing, it's awkward. Recently I've become friends with a few really great people, which has been great for my dancing and for life in general since there is always a friendly face at the milonga. However, once you're friends with someone you're in their camp, like tango is an exercise in feudalism. You swear your troth to the saloners or the nuevoists or the milongueros and must remain their vassal thereafter.

Some of the people I'd love to talk about on the blog might, if they found themselves, take it out on my tango friends rather than just on me. This is revoltingly juvenile, but it's the way of things. Insult someone, and no one at your table gets a dance from him again. That's not fair to my friends; many of them are much more accepting than I am and should not be punished for my opinion. Doesn't mean it hasn't happened. Doesn't mean I'm not still worried.

I will try to post more about my lessons, maybe, or technique in general, or the history of tango - things that are less volatile subjects. But of course, the real comedy and the real tragedy of tango is closer to home, and I struggle daily with the balance between a peaceful milonga and a true story. It's a new struggle for me - in my real life I take the opinion that no one can make an ass of you unless you've already made an ass of yourself. The issue now is whether I can take that opinion into the milonga and survive.

Okay, now it sounds all adventurey and exciting. A better take, at least.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Not the video of the week, but hysterical.

The next time someone tells you, "All tangos sound the same!" show them this.

Friday, December 15, 2006


Sometimes I go to a lesson taught by a visiting or guest dancer, because I love learning new styles and flourishes. You'd never know it to look at me, because my personal style is becoming more and more austere, but that's just because I look best that way until I can get good enough to add embellishments without falling over my own feet. In the meantime, I love watching how other people have interpreted the tango for themselves. It's like the moment in art class where everyone turns their canvas to face the circle and you can see how they interpreted the vase and the four oranges that are sitting on a cardboard box in the middle of the room because your teacher is too cheap to hire a nude model.

That metaphor sort of got away from me. Short version: I like watching guest teachers.

It was not good, and as I watched in horror I realized that if this had been my first lesson I would never have come back to tango. This is a scary thought, but typical of me; this is the same mindset that has convinced me I will never ski again.

Except, seriously? Skiiing is evil.

Anyway. Point being: if you've had a bad first experience with tango, please don't think it's all bad. Find a different teacher and try one lesson with them, just to see if it's a teacher thing. It might bring you back to tango - the warm, parasitic arms of tango - and it's important to learn as much as you can, anyway, just so you can pick out a style that is not evil.

Like skiiing is.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tango Video of the Week 12 - Beginner Class

This is an awesome video, because it just is.

The stern faces on some of the students; the tiny microdrama playing out in every partnership; the girl/girl twosome walking ever forward while other couples get in a mash. You'll either cringe or laugh, and if you recognize yourself in these beginners, you'll do both.

Check out the toddler at the 52-second mark as she bolts from the couches to the edge of the dance floor before changing her mind. You can do it, kiddo!

Monday, December 11, 2006

This Weekend in Tango.

This weekend in tango! Imagine that in a nice newsreel voice. "This TAAAANGOOOOOO."

No, really, here's a rundown of a few tango events recently. Enjoy my shame! And my squee.

1. Had a fantastic dance with an excellent lead; I'd danced with him once or twice before, clearly pity dances. This time, he seemed pleased with my overall performance, which I only figured out when he asked me for a second tanda later in the evening. OH HAAAAAAY.

2. Then he stepped on my pants.

3. Nothing happened, though! We didn't fall over, and he didn't even need to adjust the step.

4. I just need to maybe hem my pants some.

5. Awkward.

6. Saw the guy who claimed to have taught me ocho cortaaaaado. He tried to give me the come-on, and I shot him the kind of glare you only see in Lauren Bacall movies. He didn't ask after that.

7. I hope he wasn't watching when the pants thing happened.

8. Near the end of the night, I led Vasquez. I've been leading my teacher, but Vasquez is a whole different animal. I couldn't breathe, and twice I led her in giros and couldn't figure out what foot she was on coming out of it and had to walk to the cross to get back in place, and basically thought I would die.

9. She let me lead her nearly two whole songs before she left to queue up the tanda. I think this is praise, only because I believe that if I were truly terrible she would not have hesitated to slap me in the face and tell me never to dance again.

10. Maybe she just liked my pants.

11. I just like them better than skirts, though! Less risk of pantiness!

12. Yes, pantiness is a word. You hush.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Video of the Week 11 - Close Embrace

No, seriously, you guys. This is one of the best examples of close-embrace tango I've ever seen, and sort of throws a broom under anyone who thinks that close embrace is boring. Her FEET! His tiny, tiny turns!

And this serves as a reminder to any leader (myself included) that it's not about having a bunch of fancy figures. The last thirty seconds or so of this vid is more or less the 8-count basic, and it's still stunning because of the precision of the frame, the length of the step, the attention to the music. Who needs more?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New Year's Eve Milongas

This is intended to be a nice reference post of New Year's Eve milongas. (It's easier to do it here than in a sidebar.) I'll add to this post as I hear of things; please feel free to drop me an email or a comment and let me know of any New Year's milongas in your town!


Berkeley, CA:
All-Nighter Milonga, The BEAT

Denver, CO: New Year's Eve Milonga, Mercury Cafe

Chicago, IL: First Night Evanston, Northshore Retirement Hotel

Boston, MA: First Night Tango, Hynes Convention Center

St. Louis, MO: New Year's Eve Gala, Ballwin Club

New York, NY: Cheap & Chic New Year's Eve Milonga, Dance Manhattan

New York, NY: Tango Party 2007, Stepping Out Studios

Portland, OR: New Year's All-Nighter, Tango Berretin

Providence, RI: New Year's Celebration, weekend event

Seattle, WA: 9th Annual New Year's Eve Tango Ball, Ballard Odd Fellows' Lodge


Toronto: New Year's Eve Milonga, Rhythm and Motion Studios

Toronto: Black and White Ball, Dovercourt House

Montreal: New Year's Eve Milonga, Al Sur Tango

When Animals Attack.

I sometimes wonder if people understand why ugly dresses bother me. I'm not some kind of crazy "everyone must dress like a schoolteacher" antifeminist, I promise. It's's just easier to find something that looks decent. Stunning or showstopping are harder to come by, but decent is everywhere. There's no reason to look as if you've spent a week wandering the forest in a prom dress.

Here. I'll walk you through a dress concept executed three ways, from Attacked by a Wild Animal (AWA) to Decent to Stunner. Let's say the concept is "show off my back".

Let's begin!

It is telling that even the model looks ashamed to be wearing this, and she's getting PAID to do it. Her poses are also unfortunate, as it makes clear that your arms must be positioned across your chest at all times so that people don't get a floor show they weren't expecting. This is neither stunning nor showstopping unless she does a flying boleo and the world sees her underpants. (I desperately hope she's wearing underpants. Nobody disillusion me.)

So, let's shield out eyes from the AWA and take refuge in a dress that makes allowances for bra straps, underpants, and ability to actually use one's arms for something other than protection. Is it a showstopping, New Year's Eve party dress? Maybe not. But it's comfortable jersey, it's flattering on a lot of people, and you don't look like you've been ravaged by pumas. What's not to like?

But Dora, you say, I'm not content to be one of the decent masses. Don't you see? When I walk into a room, I want them to turn and stare. I want them to say, "There is a dancer."

Well, why didn't you say so?

What, you can't ocho en pointe? *sigh* Beginners. Fine, try this instead.

Now this is a stunner. The front hem comes to the knees, the back hem fishtails beautifully; imagine what that skirt looks like on long backwards steps. The back is bare, to be sure, but you did want showstopping.

Admit it, you love it.