Monday, October 01, 2007

Aww.

My grumpness continued unabated through the weekend, to the point where I spent most of my time at home, trying not to think about anything tango-related. Which, of course, means that I have spotless bookshelves, color-coordinated colosets, and hand-stenciled miniatures of the Taj Mahal framing the walls in my kitchen.

Okay, no I don't, but I was really committed to avoiding tango.

This morning, I pulled up a snarky news website I enjoy and saw this:




It took me a long time to realize this was an ad for something, because I was trying to decide what song they were dancing to.

It doesn't solve anything, but it's kind of adorable.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bastardy Grump.

You know, sometimes I just want to give up.

Not tango itself, but...a lot of people show up every night, dance around, go home. They tango Tuesdays, waltz Wednesdays, salsa Saturdays, swing Sundays. They do it to get out of the house, to have a good time with friends, whatever.

They don't sit around breaking their feet to the ground until their heels bruise, working on getting feet like Geraldine. They don't agonize over the length of their back step, over their embrace, over their inability to properly lead to Biagi. Tango just doesn't hurt for them, and none of my snark will make them care as much as I care.

So, what's the point?

The tango-blog-as-personal-journey has a much more lenient expiration date, since the chronicle of a life tends to make a good story no matter the subject, but this blog is anonymous, and there's only so much I can say that applies to everyone. My meaningful experiences with tango tend to happen far away from this blog; the generalities are wearing thin, especially as the internet fills up with "man, I hate it when the leader smells" posts.

So, what can you do? How many times can you say something before it stops being funny and just gets strident? How long before you turn into some asshole who blogs a thousand words a day just to listen to the sound of his own keyboard (Miles)?

Yes, I'm in a bad mood, and I'm sure my bad mood will lift in direct proportion to the number of hideous tango dresses I can find online in the next week, but for the moment...nada.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Dinner of champions.

Okay, I'm soliciting comments on foods that are wise to eat before a milonga, in the hopes that some misguided person will realize that garlic pasta is not the best thing they could eat before going to a milonga and asking people to dance in close embrace?

(It's not me. I promise.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Pretend I'm in an outpost somwhere!

Work has me swamped right now, so unfortunately there hasn't been enough time to go dancing and attract some trouble worth blogging about. Pretend I'm in an outpost somewhere and my internet is being supplied with a piece of string and some eletric shocks.

I did dance a little this weekend, and was pleasantly surprised by two things:

1) My acceptance as a leader in the community is growing; women ask me on a semi-regular basis if I'm "dancing this one". I'm gratified and relieved that people no longer take it for a science experiment and accept me as one of the leaders they can choose from, the same as anyone. That...that's a very special feeling. It's the "let's dance TWO tandas" feeling.

2) My progress as a follower is...well, let's put it this way. I have a pair of suede heels that I am only recently wearing. I wore them out dancing for maybe an hour this weekend. When i got home, the nap was already worn down on the instep of the ball of the foot, and the scuffs on the bottoms of the shoes were two concentric circles, one under the big toe, one on the instep of the ball of the foot. I only remember listening for the lead and trying to stay on balance; according to my shoes, my technique is coming along on its own.

I could have cried with joy, you guys. I'm not totally hopeless as a follower! Feel the magic of totally ruining my shoes in a single night! Feel it!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Line of Dance: A Field Guide

If you recognize this diagram:


you probably dance tango in North America (and yes, not in Denver, we know, we know).

This is because leaders were issued a field guide, except in Denver, because they ran out just before the Colorado border.

SO YOU WANT TO LEARN ABOUT THE LINE OF DANCE

Congratulations, tanguero! You've been to class, you've watched the vids, you've bought the shoes, you've showered almost daily, and you're on your way to greatness.

So you find yourself at the milonga, and joy of joys, a woman accepts your invitation! Now all you have to do is put that hard work to use. But don't forget that any dance can be ruined by just one fatal collision. Check out these rules of the floor to make sure your navigation is as smooth as your pick-up lines.

1. Line of dance is counterclockwise, unless you feel like going clockwise, in which case, by all means do.

2. If the guy in front of you is too slow, that's his problem. Let the music move you right past him! It's just like driving; they have two lanes for a reason.

3. If you're going to pause, then really pause. Take all the time you need. The guy behind you knows about the two lanes; if he wants to move, he'll move.

4. Sometimes you'll see a break in traffic across the room. Sieze the moment and make a break for it. The people in the middle will understand, nay, envy you.

5. After-dance bathroom break? You've played Frogger before; dodge yourself some dancers and get to the restrooms in half the time.

6. Remember, there are no slow songs, only slow dancers. Rev it up, tangueros!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Oh no he didn't!

So I had another post all planned out for today, but then this happened and I wanted to write about it because HAHAHAHAH oh my GOD.

I'm leading more than following these days (I know, I know, contain your shock). As I go along, I'm discovering all the tiny adjustments that I need to make for each follower for maximum dance enjoyment. One of my favorite followers is about four inches taller than I am, and the way I hold her is completely different from the way I hold another favorite follower, who is about five inches shorter than I am (sans heels). In fact, in the beginning the only way we could dance comfortably was by taking the embrace and then taking it again, using our joining arms to gently nudge her arm up along my shoulder to a place near my clavicle where it fit. We've since found two or three other positions that work, but as two close-embrace dancers with Teh Boobs, it started out needing a little adjustment.

Oops, two more paragraphs until we get to this guy. Bear with me!

So my point is, I understand that the embrace needs to be adjusted according to physicality, preference (a couple of guys I know can't stand the fashionable open-hand semi-Urquiza embrace, and so I go for old-school milonguero embrace with them, etc etc), and what you plan to do with the song. You can probably skate through a Pugliese tanda without ever seriously opening the embrace, but if you hit D'Arienzo, you'd going to want a little more room to play.

To sum up: I am all for adjusting the embrace in the beginning of the tanda, at the beginning ot each song, in the middle of a song. I'm pro-adjusting. HOWEVER (yes, you reached it), hypothetically, I would guess it is not okay to take the embrace and then grab hold of the back of the follower's neck and try to push her head down so you're cheek to cheek. I mean, I'm just guessing.

First of all, your hypothetial follower is about six inches taller than you and doesn't want a faceful of your scalp, hypothetically.

Second of all, your hypothetical follower immediately brands you "Serial Killer" and walks off the floor to tell everyone she sees what a skeeze you are.

Thirdly, insisting the woman drop her head is forcing her to give up her axis, which makes it harder for her to dance and harder for you to lead her. Not that you'd care about this one; hypothetically, it's not really the dance you're after, you idiot, now is it?

Hypothetically.

Also, note to self: this is what comes of being nice to someone. I can't believe I went against my own advice! Then again, serves me right for stepping into Category B. If I'm not excited by the person extending the invitation, I should just decline. It would help me preserve some kind of hope for the future of tango.

Yeesh. How soon can I go to Buenos Aires?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

LOLtango.

Unless you're living under a rock, you probably know about LOLcats, the anthropomorphic wonders who have taken over the internet. The phonomenon is so prevalent it has its own glossary, accompanied by semi-academic thesis. It has spawned the immortal LOLTrek.

I think you know where I'm going with this.




















Friday, September 07, 2007

My Internal Monologue.

Preparing to go dancing tonight.

I have already gotten a couple of followers on my dance card, which I think is really awesome, because they are very nice and they asked me at the end of the last milonga I went to, sort of, "Oh, I didn't get a chance to dance with you tonight - I'll be there Friday, though, and I'd love to vals with you!"

(Nobody should love valsing with me yet, by the way. I'm not very good at it. This lady was probably tired. Or a little delusional. Very sweet, though!)

A lot of the reason it's nice (besides having tandas set up already and therefore a reason to go) is because it saves me from the Leader's Internal Monologue, which goes something like this.

"Ooooh, D'Agostino/Vargas! I love this orchestra! Hmmm, is there anyone around? Oh, there's Anne! I love dancing with her, but I wonder if she - wait, wait, did she just cabeceo me? She did! Oh awesome! Wait, no, there's something in her eye. Wait, no, it's the cabeceo! Wait, not, it's something in her eye. She's sort of getting up! Oh, she's just crossing her legs. Okay, I'll look away, no good staring. Wait, now she's staring at ME! She looks hurt! Oh no, did I hurt her feelings? Maybe she just hates this tanda. Maybe that thing is still in her eye!"

Of course, by then its song #2 of the tanda, and when Anne finally comes over I feel like the world's biggest nerd.

Anyway, I am reluctant to take a lot of intiative as a leader, since I've had one or two VERY strong rejections from women. So I guess my point is: followers, if there's a woman leader in your community and you like dancing with her, ask her to dance.

She'll love it, even if it might take her a minute or five to catch on.




Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Waaahnesday.

Dancing last night was not great; as soon as I get nervous once, it's tough for me to recover, and unlike more seasoned tangueras like Holly, Tina, and Caroline, I still can't think, "Eh, that was a dud tanda." Instead think, "Oh GOD, my tango stock has PLUMMETED, my technique is RUINED, I will NEVER DANCE AGAIN."

I am a little bit of a pessimist.

During these times of Horrified Followeritis, it's nice to be able to lead. I find leading relaxing - there's a certain watchfulness for floorcraft, obviously, but when I am the leader I feel I am able to make a deeper connection with my partner, because I rarely trust a leader not to lead stupid shit, and my leading is so simple that my follower knows she doesn't have to worry about anything but embellishments.

(That said, sometimes I do trust a leader not to lead stupid shit, and then I'm all over the connection from the follower's side - a week or two ago I reached the end of a tanda with a leader and realized I was crying. That was pretty awesome, you guys, no lie. Except that when I cry my eyes get really red, so I look like a vampire, which sort of takes away the romance. Oh well!)

I do find it interesting that some leaders ask for a dance now by saying, "So, are you past following?"

It's asked as if following is a lesser stage of dancing that one goes through in order to reach the more enlightened and elite plateau of leading, and I find it weird and off-putting.

I totally understand asking, "Do you still follow?" because that indicates a preference and is a totally valid question to which the answer is, "Do you lead ganchos?"

But to ask (and always with a tone that's a little...defensive? Challenging? I dunno) if I'm "past following" is sad, mostly because I personally find leading a hell of a lot easier than following. Following is the hard part, you guys! Haven't you seen the shoes?!

Ah well. These are the same guys who refer to women as "follows" and not "followers", even though a "follower" is a human being and "follow" is a present-tense verb. Stop turning perfectly good humans into gerunds, people, seriously! (And before you ask, no, saying someone is a good "lead" is not the same thing; it's also wrong, since "lead" is a verb and "leader" is a noun, but the implications of a brain-dead shell in nice shoes is not present.) So I guess I shouldn't expect much from this particular breed of guy. And yet, I get a little annoyed every time, half because of the implied misogyny and half because it's just bad grammar, and there is never an excuse for bad grammar.

I'm going to try again a little later this week and see how the following goes, but je ne sais quoi.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Bugs.

I HATE bugs. HATE them. I just spent ten minutes in a war with a grasshopper that involved a broom, a vacuum, girly screaming, jumping around, scolding the grasshopper, and the throwing of shoes. Not tango shoes, of course, but still.

I was planning to go out tonight and catch a dance or two, but killing the bug totally wore me out and I am still not sure if I can relax enough to dance. Bugs wind me up THAT much.

Tell me a pretty story that involves tango and NOT bugs.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Aww!

I love seeing a woman strap on a new pair of shoes for the first time; the gleam in her eye as she crosses her legs in her chair and subtly checks out her own feet.

I am totally jealous of that woman, whoever she is, wherever she is. I want some new shoes, dammit!

Though I might as well actually go to Buenos Aires, since by the time I bought all the shoes I wanted at the American import prices I will have paid for airfare and approximately fifteen weeks in the Hilton. I have a serious lust for shoes, you guys. It's like zombies and brains.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

When Animal-Attacked Dresses Attack!

The online tango storefront is a treacherous place. You can be swimming along, clicking through pictures of strappy shoes, Pugliese CDs, not-so-strappy shoes, that print of two people dancing that is some kind of tango government issue. You're enjoying yourself. It's good times.

And then, you click on 'Apparel'.



Not bad! you think to yourself. Sure, she seems a little awkward in this pose - maybe she doesn't like pink? Neither do you, but if someone paid you you'd wear it. And the skirt has a little flair, the waist a little interest, and it looks very comfortable and easy to move in. You wonder if it comes in black, and you scroll down.

That's when it happens.


A vicious, pixelated attack on this poor model, whose blue velvet dress was violently ripped away until nothing remained but a neon foundation garment and a ragged slip of skirt that can't avoid revealing the high-waisted, lacey, monokini granny panties that lurk beneath! Your only consolation is that her fishnets obviously have plenty of animal-repellent control-top action, and that she will be able to walk for help without her legs freezing. She will make it through this. She will, in time, forget.

Can you?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Boiling down, boiling over.

Okay, people.

I've witnessed two fundamental approaches to tango, beyond differences in style and ability and geography and family legacy and dietary requirements and tectonic plates and whatever else:

A) Dancing with you is a pleasure for me.

B) Dancing with me is a pleasure for you.

The rise of tango blogging has brought these two mindsets into sharp relief, and there could be college papers written on how these mindsets are split almost exactly along gender lines, with women in category A and men in category B. (In fact, I think I am the only female blogger bastardy enough to be lumped with the males. Go me?)

However, I'm putting aside all the gender implications etc etc. because I graduated college a looong time ago and have no wish to go back. We'll do this in general terms.

People in category A understand that when you ask someone to dance and they accept, or when someone asks you to dance and you accept, some accomodation might need to be made. Tango is not (supposed to be) stage dance. You get four songs for a reason - tango's a conversation. You can spend the first song introducing yourselves, the second song finding a mutually agreeable topic, and the last two songs listening to the music.

Most good leaders and followers are in this category. We like these people. They're nice. They say hi. They like puppies!

People in category B think that they're so good that people are lucky to get to dance with them.

People who would be in category B for a good reason: Julio, Corina, Gustavo, Geraldine, Javier, Graciela, Firpo, Dany, Natacha, Tete, Silvia, Samantha, Pablo, Silvina, Sergio, Alejandra, Fabian, Carolina, and company.

People from that list who are actually in category B: probably Pablo. He seems like kind of a poop. Everybody else is very gracious in declining, or very gracious in dancing, which puts them back up in Category A.

People who are in category B and shouldn't be: almost everyone besides those people.

When someone agrees to dance with you, you're enjoying the dance together. It's not a one-man show, it's not an embellishment class, and it's not a practica redux. It's a conversation set to music. If you want to be a stand-up comedian, a debate-club member, or a lounge singer, go for it, but tango is not a solo act, and the person dancing with you is not a prop. If she's trying to feel Fresedo and you're hitting the traspie, you're not listening to her.

Huh. This was supposed to be gender-neutral, but come to think of it, I've danced with women way out of my league and they never made me feel like they were doing me a favor (even though they obviously were), so it's back on the dudes. Get the hell out of category B, man!




Monday, August 27, 2007

It's not you, it's me.

Recently I've thought about some projects for the blog that might be funny, or useful, or good for picking your teeth with, or something. The problem is, I hesitate to turn this blog into a Real Project. I get caught up enough in this crazy tango blog world without attempting a serious endeavor, and I'm pretty sure I could be putting energy into my job or my house instead of contemplating a parody of Jennifer Bratt's embellishment series, you know?

On the other hand, I have these hilarious tango shoes I could use...

See? See what happens?! *sigh*

Friday, August 24, 2007

Fridaywheee!

Oh, how I love Jorge Firpo. He's part of my tango crime-fighting team! In this clip, he's doing a class demo with one of his students, and as usual when Firpo dances, he's awesome.

This is what a weekend should feel like. Dance, my moustached pretty! Dance!



Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Where's my Cure CD?

Was feeling a little emo earlier this week about my leading plight, and even wrote a post to that effect before I realized I sounded, by turns, emo and arrogant. No one comes here for the emo, and if you want blogs from arrogant tango leaders, I think any tango blog written by a man is pretty much taking care of that, so have fun! (Exception, as always, for Tango and Chaos.)

Instead, I have decided to bring you another installment of "The History of Tango Music." Part 3 of 34,985.

3. "Umbrella", Rihanna and her eight million ghostwriters

Lyric sample:

No clouds in my storms
Let it rain, I hydroplane in the bank
Coming down with the Dow Jones.

I have no idea what this means. Any takers? Okay, so that's not fair, it's from the intro rap. We'll try something from the body of the song:

Now that it's raining more than ever
Know that we'll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella
You can stand under my umbrella
(Ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella eh eh eh)


Oooooookaaay.

What makes it tango?: Not a thing. I just don't get this song whatsoever, and you guys all have to suffer, too.

Playable?: I don't know. Let's ask the eight million people driving around with their windows down and their subwoofers shaking the ground under your feet who have been playing this song on repeat for six weeks.

Actually, there are acoustic versions of this song that are "tango" in that they keep 4/4 time, but the eight-count phrasing is missing, so dancing to it would get boring, and seriously, nothing is sadder than a soulful, earnest, acoustic version of a terrible song. Nothing.

If you, lucky soul, haven't heard this song yet, the video is here.

Things to note:

1) They're not even trying with the en pointe stuff. It's the legs of an en point dancer, and Rihanna's top half. They do not even try to fool you on this.

2) Good girl + top hat and shorts = bad girl. Warn Liza Minelli!




Monday, August 20, 2007

Milonga

Campeonato, baby!

Second round of the Milonga division. I have my favorites; do you?

(I also have some least favorites that make me question how they managed to squeak through into the second round, though what I can find of the first round is inconclusive and so I can't see how good the pool was prior to this.)

(This is, of course, on the context of Best Milonga Couple in the World; any social leader could look like any one of these guys and that would be absolutely fine with me. Aaaaabsolutely fine.)

PS. My favorite couple won. Yay! (I had no idea what their names were, and had to identify them by their outfits. I am clearly very knowledgeable. They're the couple in tan/leopard.)

PPS. These guys had to perform for the judging panel of: Marta Anthon, El Flaco Dany, Aurora Lubiz, Julio Balmaceda, Graciela Gonzalez, Teté, Gachi Fernandez and Juan Fernandez.

HAHAHAHAHAAHA how did they manage to even dance in front of that panel? If confronted with all those people, I would have a heart attack and die. And then worry they would critique my death technique. I am having a panic attack just looking at that list of names.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sigh.

Every once in a while, it all comes together.

I played hooky with a project yesterday - just got fed up, grabbed heels, and ran for the door without spending half an hour debating my outfit, debating if I should go, what it would mean if I led first rather than following for a while first.

Ended up having one of my best following nights ever. My weird head thing is magically fixed, I was able to relax and wait without trying to second guess my leader, and the music was perfect (well, there could have been a little more Di Sarli, but you could play nothing but Di Sarli all night and I would still be like, "There could have been a little more Di Sarli..."). And apparently, putting no thought into tango is the best thing you can do for it? I mean, I have a solid axis all of a sudden! I'm getting amazing compliments on my musicality and feeling!


This is not me, but it felt like that! Photo by Nadasdy, click to go to the Flickr.

I had the option to stay longer, but after a while it felt like tempting fate and I packed it in and left.

In conclusion: best night of hooky EVER. It's like playing hooky from school, except that instead of you spending all day sitting around watch TV and then your parents finding out and grounding you, you play hooky and end up meeting a rock band by accident and they take you on tour with them.


Friday, August 17, 2007

With Wolves, I Say!

I have found another charming gentleman in the tango blogosphere. "Milongas/No hay luz/Ask Aleandro" (yes, that's the actual title) features, among other things, Ask Aleandro, where Neil's alter-ego Aleandro answers tango questions "from readers". Except, he sort of doesn't answer them at all.


Aleandro,
Why do women want to lead?
Gracias,
Sampson, a strong man with long hair

Dear Sampson,
If she chooses to dance with women that's up to her. But for me, it's better to dance with wolves than to dance with a woman who leads other women.
I'm old fashioned . . . like an Old World Gentleman . . . like a Milonguero from Buenos Aires.
Be careful. Don't let your guard down or fall asleep. She may cut your hair or other parts of your body that keep you strong.
Chau,
Aleandro



Okay, a few things.

1) The English major in me is totally stressed out that he didn't answer the question. Address the topic! Your "reader" wants to know about the motivation, not your aversion! It's like Composition 101 over here! Gah!

2) Dude has a castration thing going on that I don't really understand. Ew.

3) I am going to start using the "dance with wolves" thing everywhere I go, in all situations. It's priceless.

"Planchadora, would you like a second helping of potatoes?"
"I would rather dance with wolves than eat more of your potatoes!"

"You should come out with us!"
"I would rather dance with wolves than stay up significantly past my regular bedtime!"

"Welcome to Macy's! What can I help you with today?"
"I would rather dance with wolves than wear your casual career clothing!"

(This all must be said in Bombastic Renaissance Faire Nobleman Voice, obviously.)


ETA: I'm seriously practicing it. "I would rathah dahnce with WOOOOOLVES than wear your causal careeah clothing!"

ETA 2: The one pointed out in the comments is even funnier. These are the fakest "readers" in the land.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Guide to Invitations, by a Traumatized Dancer.

Ways Guys Should Maybe Not Ask for Dances, with Commentary Entirely in Punctuation:

"Hey, you're a lot thinner than the last time I saw you!" (!)

"Have you worked on your volcadas any? We could try them out." (??)

"Hey, for a second I thought you were Jake! New haircut?" (...)

"Let me just rub your shoulders." (!!)


Now look, I am as sensitive to anyone else as to the horrors of making conversation with people from whom you want something. It's why I am a terrible salesperson, because my mindset is: why the hell should I make people buy something I'm not enthusiastic about myself?

However, hearing all of these things within 24 hours of each other really makes me despair as to the level of conversation people can expect at milongas. Two of these are embarrassing, one is sort of hilariously challenging, and one is just creepy. When you walk up behind someone and rub their shoulders, you had better be a blood relative or a romantic partner of that person, you guys. Seriously. I should not have to spell this out for anyone.

(Can you tell I got the fourth guy? Still shuddering. No touching without express permission, people; it's common courtesy.)

Best part? He was surprised - nay, hurt and confused! - when I declined the dance.

Gentlemen! When asking for a dance, maybe something a little more innocuous? When in doubt, please feel free to print out and refer to this handy guide.

TOPICS TO AVOID:

Weight loss, weight gain, visible cleavage, extreme youth, extreme age, skirt length, our inevitable mortality, your desire to rub her shoulders, body odor (hers or someone else's), how much better you are than her chosen partner, this great new move you learned in class and wish to try out, your desire to rub her shoulders, politics, your cousin Bob who's doing 3 to 5 for car theft, this weird rash you have on your knee, your desire to rub her shoulders.

ACCEPTABLE TOPICS:

Shoes, the weather, the music, the crowd, puppies, personalities of recent guest teachers, anticipation of upcoming guest teachers, ice cream, YouTube tango videos, and economics.


QUIZ

Name the unacceptable topic in the following invitations.

a) "I love this orchestra! Would you like to dance?"

b) "I'm on my way to dance at the moment, but I would love to have a vals tanda with you later, if you'd like to?"

c) "This lighting is really flattering to you! Would you like to dance?"

d) "Nice to see you! Would you like to dance?"








Monday, August 13, 2007

Funny story.

"So, you guys will never believe what happened to me! I got all dressed up for the milonga in this adorable red dress, and on the way over I was like, I'll walk through the zoo! Because I just love animals, you know I do, like seals and kittens and all the other animals that dont' smell bad. Anyway, so I was walking through the zoo and I passed the big cats; apparently cats don't like the color red or something? Like I was supposed to know, right? Exactly! They pulled it off me right away, though, so not even a scratch - oh, well, the dress. But whatever, right? It's still totally cute! Anyway, I'm here now. Who wants to dance?"


Thursday, August 09, 2007

I have a magic power.

I have a magic power.

When I'm changing into my tango shoes, I take off a street shoe and grab the first tango shoe I can get hold of inside my bag. (It's a big bag, not your normal shoe bag.) No matter what street shoe I remove first, I pull out the tango shoe for the corresponding foot.

Magically.

I mean, sure, it's not levitation or anything, but being able to blindly change tango shoes in under thirty seconds is pretty cool when you're switching shoes all night. I consider it a power, much in the way there was an X-Men miniseries comic where Dazzler's powers overwhelm her in a huge metaphor for drug addiction, and she goes to mutant rehab after burning out, and some girl at rehab has the mutant power to change the color of a flower she's holding, and Dazzler thinks about how nice it is that not all mutants have destructive crazypants powers.

Yeah, I didn't leave the house much as a kid.

P.S. I think Dazzler, whose power was turning sound into light, should probably not have been quite so pensive about useless mutant powers, is all I'm saying.

Anyway, that awesome mutant tango power aside, the tangocoaster continues to roll along. I have a great axis! Oops, I have no axis. I have steps like Corina! I step like a duck. My leading's amazing! Except when it's not. I'm totally awesome! Oh, wait, no, I'm The Suck.

That rhymes, but I didn't notice until I was finished with it and I'm not changing it. We'll all just pretend I'm Dr. Seuss.

It's been a little while since I posted, and there are two things in the Bastardy Grump category I feel I need to address:

Firstly. Followers, when you are doing a back ocho, you really need to collect your feet. If you don't collect your ankles and swing your straight leg backwards, you are not making an ocho but a shallow planeo. And if it's Pugliese, or space and the music allow, a nice shallow planeo looks beautiful. (A deep planeo looks like stage tango, or, if poorly executed, like you're ducking a low-level aircraft.) It's a very nice adornment. But I know you're not doing 16 planeos a tanda as adornments, and the people you're tripping know that, too. Ankles and insteps, followers. Take all my other snarking with a grain of salt, but you really can't go wrong with this one. Ankles and insteps.

Secondly. Leaders. I understand you know how to do twenty great moves. The thing is, you don't need to know twenty great moves. You know what a follower is fine with? This:







This is the best of both worlds. You get to look smooth and confident and still show off your cross-track and sacada skills. She gets to walk nicely, do a few little adornments, and feel like she's listening to the music with you, not just following because of you.

(Seriously, people, tango is not driving a car or directing a follower. Tango is a conversation. The language is music, and the topic is whatever you two decide. It's not a monologue with an audience. The follower is half the dance; don't forget her.)

This is a much calmer point than it could be, because I had the pleasure of thinking about this while appreciatively watching a leader with this style, as opposed to my normal M.O., which is watching (and wanting to strangle) guys who insist on gancho/sacada combinations all the time.

I'm traveling on business tomorrow, so there's no tango for me this weekend unless I can find some in Town. (Not the same Town. Town B, I guess. I'm bad at this game.) However, given my luck with finding tango in capital-T Towns, I'll probably just spend the weekend YouTubing.

What did sequestered tango people do before YouTube?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

O RLY? Redux

So, apparently if a woman can't get dances and isn't willing to go around asking for them, she should learn to lead so she doesn't sit out.

1) Upbraiding a woman for not seeking out leaders is sort of hypocritical coming from a guy who complains about having to dole out "gift dances" to women, no?

2) Learning to lead is something you should do because you want to experience the dance a different way. It is as much a learning curve as following. To suggest that a woman leads because she can't get dances sort of devalues all the work, which is again a little hypocritical coming from a guy who takes multiple privates a week (for all the good it does him).

3) Who still says "bug up your butt"? Is this The Waltons suddenly?

4) Seriously, "gift dances".

5) Also, apparently he doesn't like Ney Melo's style of embrace and is headed to Buenos Aires.

...

...ooooookay.

Of course, this is just my two cents, since Caroline's response is delightfully profane and direct and took care of all the major points. Click the link above, scroll down, and enjoy.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Now That's Skill.



They're kissing mid-dance.

1) Now that is skill.

2) Now that is connection.

P.S. That is also really good disassociation, no? She's like a Gumby!

(Picture taken by Thaddeus Harden.)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My First Dance

So, I just realized I've been dancing tango for about a year.

In all that time, I've really danced three times.

Now, I'm a picky bastard, so if I don't feel a human connection with someone I'm not dancing with them. (Not romantic, mind you, just human. For instance, are you a big jerk? Do you kick puppies? Do you pick your nose in public? Are you one of those people who takes up two seats during rush hour? Well, guess what.)

Even if I feel a human connection and the person's dancing is crappy, I'm still not going to dance with them. So really, my amount of comfortable tandas is really high. (Let's ignore back when I was a baby beginner and I would dance with anybody. Those were dark days.)

However, I'm usually too nervous to really relax and find that elusive, awesome Followerland. My own fault, I'll relax eventually, etc etc. I know that eventually it will happen. *cough* Buenos Aires *cough*

In the meantime, I've had dances three times where it ended and I didn't really remember what had happened in the middle. It was just that good. It was like the pistachio-ice-cream-covered, dark-chocolate-brownie of tango.

Had one of those this week. I'm good for, like, a month. Mmmm, tangostachio.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

YOU GUYS.




IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DREAM. A beautiful, shiny, dangerously-pointy dream! A punched-leather, asymmetric, perfectly molded open-toe dream!

If this place isn't real, please don't tell me. I just want to sit back and imagine that if I'm a good girl, when I wake up tomorrow, my closet will look like this.

This coronary brought to you by this person, who I still like very much even though her pictures wouldn't blog and I had to fiddle for, like, twenty minutes to get that one picture to work.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Alejandra y Sergio.

Recently I attended the New York Summer Tango & Film Festival; I wasn't going to say anything out of the ordinary about it, because while it's nice, it's not the kind of festival I would tell people to go out of their way for; I will be making the trip back if the rumors about the October festival are true (JULIO Y CORINA OMG), but otherwise New York can mind its own business.

However.

I took a few classes with Alejandra Arrue & Sergio Natario. They taught intermediate/advanced level classes in vals, milonga lisa, milonga traspie (eee!), and musicality. I didn't catch them all, because I'm stupid and I sleep late, but they are some of the best classes I've ever had. They yell at you, they kick your feet into the correct position, they call the class "children". They've been dancing tango together for years -- 22 years? 23 years? I didn't catch it, I was busy trying to place my foot before they came over and kicked me again -- and it shows.

If you are in Seattle, or going to Seattle, TAKE A PRIVATE WITH THEM. For my sake, if not for your own. They are taskmasters, they are passionate, and they have given me things that will change the way I dance. If I had known, I would have taken two hours a day with them, and I am not even kidding. It would have been worth the money three times over. I've already been complimented on the way I hold my axis now, after two days of group class. *kicks self for not taking privates, envies anyone in Seattle right now*

Here's them dancing Morena, and you guys - you know that Julio and Corina are my SVF (Stalking Victims Forevah!), but Alejandra and Sergio might be creeping up on them. Seriously.

(This isn't the version I saw during the Black and White Ball, but still! Morena!)



Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ten Things You Will Probably Not Overhear at Your Milonga.

1. "These Comme il Fauts are okay, I guess - do you have anything less flashy?"

2. "You know, I really enjoy dancing with beginners."

3. "Musical leads scare me."

4. "I don't know - Biagi just doesn't move me like Tanturi does. I'll sit this one out."

5. "This line of dance is looking SHARP!"

6. "I don't know - she's a little TOO thin."

7. "When a guy leads that sixth gancho in a row, my heart just melts!"

8. "I prefer a woman with a really stoney embrace."

9. "There's not enough room on the dance floor - let's save the nuevo for later."

10. "Let's just dance."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Video of the Week: No, Seriously.

Milonga is my absolute favorite.

People who can dance actual Milonga instead of just Fast Tango are my double absolute favorite.

Women who can follow Milonga instead of just Fast Tango are my triple absolute favorite.

Men who can lead Milonga instead of just Fast Tango are my quadruple favorite. (There are, like, three in my community! THREE! WHITHER, you guys, seriously!)

People whose feet move like little hovercrafts are my favorite, favorite, favorite.

This is Flaco Dany and Silvina Valz. When I make it to Buenos Aires I'm totally taking his milonga classes as a leader. He allows it without fuss, which makes him a cool cat.

I've already taken a few classes with Silvina, and she's one of the few people in front of whom I got absolutley starstruck and tongue-tied. I mean, I'm a bastardy grump, we all know this, but usually I can summon a "Oh, hello!" if someone greets me. The first time I saw Silvina in a social setting after class went like this:

Silvina: Hi!
Me: ...............

I just couldn't think of anything to say that didn't involve me leaping on her and shouting wildly, "SHOW ME THAT THING YOU DO WITH YOUR FEET!"

Not that it would make much difference; I think she could show me for the rest of her life and I wouldn't get it.

ANYWAY, ignoring my crippling social problems, here's the video.




Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dancing on the Ceiling

Nothing like realizing you have a milonga to get to, and no time to make it home, so you're in businesswear with one pair of shoes on you.

Naturally, like any tango-obsessed person with half an hour to hit all the necessary retail outlets, I fled. Managed to run into a store and grab a shirt without looking - just running my hand along the rack for fabric and drape (I used to sew; this molesty little method is foolproof for me, and my friends are consistently amazed). It's my favorite shirt now, by the way; classy, not revealing, and more comfortable than pajamas.

Stop 2 was the pharmacy, where I snagged thosee Dove wipes that make you smell like baby powder instead of Dirty, Sweaty Hippie. My partners were probably more excited about this than about my nice shirt.

I had a fantastic night. Every time a tanda came on that I like, one of my favorite leaders asked me to dance, so it constantly sounded like this:

Oooh, I LOVE this orches - "Oh, sure!"

It was totally the shirt. It wasn't even a skanky shirt, either! Double awesome! (What? It really wasn't! You could wear this shirt in front of your mom!)

I even enjoyed a tanda of alternative, mostly because it was danced in close embrace far, far away from the flailing nuevoistes. (Flee, milongueros; their colgadas will topple us all!)

This was all great - right up until the last tanda of the night, when a guy in my circle of friends asked me to dance and proceeded to stage-tango me all over the room. After two dances I cut it short, said I was too tired for his kind of tango, and went home.

He knows my tango preferences, and can dance in the simple way I prefer, I've seen him do it with other followers, but with me, for whatever reason, he chooses to try out all his stage moves. I'm tango-breaking-up with him.

Next to come: that weird period where he asks all our mutual friends what the matter is and leaves notes in my locker between classes and cuts in front of me in the lunch line.

(It was totally the shirt.)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Pet Peeve.

Okay, you know what? Part of my grump of the last few weeks is that when tango blogs come up in conversation with non-dancers the next words out of that person's mouth are, "You know this one guy....?"

I'm sure you all know the guy I mean; his incessant self-promotion makes certain you know him. (Though apparently he's always emailing friends and all those blanket posts are an accident? Which...he must be emailing tango-laura, tango-lorraine, and tango-lulu a ton, I guess.)

Luckily, for real tango dancers, he posts regular video evidence that he's nothing but badly-written hot air, so there's no danger of them taking him seriously. They look, they laugh, they move on.

Unfortunately, for the layperson, it might be harder to distinguish someone who has a lot to say from someone who has something of value to say. So I usually end up saying, "For insight into tango, ask an old Argentine, please."

I don't offer any, because I don't have any beyond "I like to dance with you" or "I don't". I have opinions, obviously, because everyone with a blog has opinions. But insight? Ask Tete. Ask Osvaldo. Ask Corina. Sit down to dinner with the Disparis. Don't look to me, and seriously, don't look to him.


Now, if laypeople want to talk about dresses, that's another story...







Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Have you seen my funny?


I lost it somewhere.

It's not like I haven't been dancing, either; I've just fallen into that scary trap of thinking about dancing. Danger, Will Robinson!

I have been leading a lot, but there is no point I can see at the moment in describing leading, since tango is not a math class. You either do it badly, in which case you lose your follower, or you do it well, and you and your follower make it to the end.

There's technical things I can talk about (like the fun of finding out my favorite hand position in the midst of adjusting my embrace to the best hand position for every follower. I try to be an accomodating leader, since I'm still a beginner, but I love finding little pieces of a personal style), but really, you can either cut it or you can't. Right now, I'm just trying to cut it.

I have been following (not as much, since it's much easier to find a good follower to lead than a good leader to follow). I am picky. I am not sure how much I will be following in future, unless I go to Buenos Aires, where I am predisposed to think well of leaders.

It's even more hopeless for me to talk about following, since all the emotions that make up that deep, unshakeable core of following are too complex to articulate and too personal to quantify.

It probably does have a universal term that I just don't know; like, somewhere in Amsterdam and somewhere in Peru and somewhere in Tokyo three women are sitting down at their friends' tables and saying, "Lamkrix!" and everyone's nodding knowingly.

I had a comment from my tango teacher that upset me so much I was unable to dance for a week.

I had one compliment that made all the rest of this worthwhile.

This week, I'm going dancing.

(Probably not in these.)



Thursday, July 05, 2007

Grump.

As my life gets busier, I get less and less tolerant of tango, and at the moment I have a few things I'd love to write about, but they would be through bitch-colored glasses, and I'd just rather wait until I don't want to strangle anyone. So when my life quiets down and I can hear myself thinking, I'll try to spell some things out with less vitriol than right now. For now, sleep.

Monday, July 02, 2007

And now: a private lesson with Planchadora.

[Scene: a dance studio.]

Players:
Me, a hapless tango dancer of one year
Bailarina, a tango dancer of approximately one million years

[The lesson begins.]

Me: I'd like to work on leading turns.

Bailarina: Bueno.

[She demonstrates the turn she'd like me to do.]

Bailarina: Begin.

...no.

...no.

...no.

...better.

...no.

...no.

...no.

...no.

...no.

...yes, almost! ...no.

...no.

Me: [falls over dead]

Monday, June 25, 2007

Happy Lazyversary!

I've been dancing tango for more than a year. For exactly five days more than a year, because I was too damn lazy to update on the one-year mark. Oh, the passion I bring to the dance!

...makes me tired and so I sleep through whole days of blogging opportunities? Something like that.

A year ago, I danced around a little and knew immediately that I sucked.

Today, I think I suck even more than I did when I started, because that first day I had nothing to lose, and now I know how far I will have to go to be a real tango dancer in my own eyes. (Other people's expectations of me have not been factored into this post. To document outside pressure on my dancing is the last thing I need.)

I have improvements to make, but publically cataloging your list of things to work on is pointless and indulgent. If you are not good enough, then get better.

So, I plan to get better.

Ideally, I will make it to Buenos Aires this year and get verbally abused by disapproving Argentines whom I have paid to abuse me in the hopes that I will improve. (Probably because my sobbing tears will have make the floor slippery so my steps are nice and long.)

Hopefully, the verbal abuse by the Argentines will only be in the classroom and not so much on the dance floor, because man, would THAT be awkward.

Plus, I will buy about 85 pairs of tango shoes, because that's pretty much the only thing to do until the afternoon milonga starts! Well, that and eat alfajores, but man, that's the last thing I need. At least tango shoes have no calories.

Until this hypothetical trip takes place, however, I will just be dancing, and planning to get better.

...any day now.




Thursday, June 21, 2007

Time to Stalk, Vals-Style!

When you're stressed, I highly recommend a little Julio-and-Corina-stalking. Less fattening than chocolate, and twice as full of feet!

(Metaphor, you win again!)

I normally do not like vals. I think they're pretty, but the mood just isn't me. However, Julio and Corina make a strong case for it.

Things I like about this video:

1) The fact that a minute into this video they start grinning at each other and don't stop.

2) The fact that even though this is a stage performance, Corina still shoots him one or two looks like, "Uh, what's with the turns, buddy?"

3) The "dramatic" lighting makes them look like Smurfs.





Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Following.

Someone posted a comment on Leading, linking me to his thoughts on followers and their necessary traits. I didn't read it, since being both a follower and a leader leaves me with plenty of fodder for my own posts, and if anyone here thinks I don't have as many opinions on following as I do on leading, they clearly have never been here before.

Here's the "Following" post that was originally going to go up tomorrow until I found this amazing video clip and couldn't wait any more.

The four walls that a follower needs: patience, balance, a good embrace, musicality.

I'd say these are more or less in order of importance, mostly because patience refers both in waiting for the lead and in learning how to follow well. While a man can build the walls of his house in six months, a woman has to learn how to stretch her leg out fully behind her in a four-inch stiletto toe-first, and maintain perfect balance freehand, and if you think that takes less than a year you're an optimist and also a little delusional.

Clearly, the balance has to come next, and the embrace, because, though it's sad to say, a nonmusical follower with good technique will get dances over a musical follower who feels heavy or wobbly.

Followers, you cannot anticipate the lead; if he leads it badly or muddily, don't do it. To not follow a bad lead will embarrass him, but to anticipate a move and guess wrong embarrasses you. Just because he did something six times in a row doesn't mean he'll do it the seventh time. Wait and see.

Balance is more important than extension, embellishments, or attitude. At the end of a giro, you should be collected; a beautiful, off-balance boleo is not worth it.

A good embrace is not a vise, and it is not a hovercraft; find a comfortable position, and know that it will change as you move. Adapt. Don't use his shoulders as a prop, or his shoulder blade as bread dough. No kneading, no gripping, no holding on for dear life. If you have to hold on for dear life, don't dance with him. An embrace is just that; hug the guy and go with it.

Musicality in a follower is not appreciated as it should be, but if you are musical, so much the better for you. It might not benefit you with leaders who don't know how to wait or give space to the follower, but it will seep into your dance nonetheless and turn you from a follower into a dancer. All the other walls you build for your leader. Musicality is a wall you build for yourself.

This is a demo done by Natalia Hills and her partner; she has flawless balance, supported and relaxed posture, musical embellishments. Perfect long steps. She doesn't follow; she dances.











Leading.

Okay, this is the bastardy grump post I did not post before, but it keeps coming up and I figure I might as well post it instead of boring all my tango friends with the same grump endlessly.

If you are a man in tango, you probably: are a man (sounds obvious, but bear with me, I have a point), walk foward, dictate the dance.

Despite what a lot of you guys seem to think, none of this makes you a leader. It just makes you a man in tango.

What makes a leader: a good embrace, intent, musicality, ability to pause.

These are universal constants. Now, you don't have to move like Zotto, or have the musicality of Julio, or pause like Gavito; they are masters, and you need only be competent. Take a breath, back away from the YouTube, and relax.

However, to be considered competent, you MUST have all four of these things. There is NOTHING that will make up for a lack of these things. No pattern or cologne or pair of snappy shoes will make up for any of these four things, much the same way as really gorgeous furniture will not make up for the fact that your house only has three walls. You need all four.

If you have great musicality but no intent, you'll step on me. If you have musicality but no ability to pause, you'll artfully dance me around but be unable to collect me. If you don't have a good embrace, I won't have confidence in anything else you do.

These four things take dedication and some time to develop, but by six months of any kind of class or practice whatsoever you should be able to listen to the music, walk nicely without stepping on your follower, and collect without wobbling.

Your followers need it. Really, we do. We don't need sacadas. We hate ganchos. Boleos injure other dancers. Just listen to the music and walk nicely. Let us know you're there. If the music allows, stand quietly with us for a moment; balance us, check in on us. We just want safe houses, really.

If we say no to a dance, and you ask why, we may say a lot of things, but what we're really telling you is, "Your house only has three walls."

If you think you can't do it, or you can't imagine what I mean, or you want proof it looks cool enough, this is Jorge Dispari walking with his daughter Samantha.


Online Videos by Veoh.com


Just saying.





Monday, June 18, 2007

Frightening.

When my feet hurt before I started tango, it was an annoyance. I hobbled around for a day or so until everything got better, or until it didn't get better and I just decided to use the powers of my aching metatarsals to tell people when it was going to rain. No fix, no problem. If I could walk from my desk to the fridge, I was still fine.

This weekend I danced on a suboptimal dance floor that made pivoting difficult; the leaders, not noticing or not caring, lead exactly the ochos and giros they would have led if we had been dancing on ice. I had been so starved out from two tangoless weeks that I didn't care, and when I danced I threw my heart and my feet into it. My embellishments scraped the floor like nails; my shoes laid rubber when I turned.

Two days later, my right foot is still killing me, and I'm walking carefully around the house, insoles shoved into a pair of bedroom slippers, annoyed that I might be another two weeks without tango, quietly terrified that I've done something to my foot that can't be fixed.

I sit at my desk and bend my foot this way and that way, slowly, ignoring the painful pull. This has not happened. This will not happen.

My bones scrape against one another.

I look at my shoes.



Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Video and Grumpness Digest.

I had a big long entry I was going to post about the difference between leading and leaders, but I'm sitting on it for the moment because it's a little grumpy even for me.

I have to remember sometimes that very few people are taking tango as seriously as I take it, so when they see a bad leader they think, "Man, he sucks," and go on with their day. Meanwhile, I feel physically pained that the guy is corrupting the dance with his awfulness and have to resist the urge to immediately eliminate him from the dance pool. Perforado, bitches!

I'm getting all worked up just thinking about it. *takes a deep breath*

Tango was supposed to be my therapy, not drive me to it. Hahahah WHOOPS.

In the meantime, enjoy Samantha Dispari and Andres Moreno as they prove that they are way better than you.



Thursday, June 07, 2007

Still. No. Tango. OMG.

Still no tango stop.

Going insane stop.

Am seriously on the verge of teaching a stranger just to have something going stop.

Tellingly, would rather teach the stranger than look for nuevo or alternative stop.

Situation critical stop.

Send Julio and Corina at once stop.



Observe the incredibly long, yet incredibly fast steps stop.

Situation much better now full stop.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Starvation.

I thought this business trip would involve tango - I was so sure of it, had heard such good things about tango in Town, that I brought my flashiest shoes just so I could work off excess energy on the dance floor. I worried about whether to present myself as a leader or to just anonymously follow. I had decided to do the former, because at this point my pleasure in tango comes from switching roles depending on my mood, on the orchestra, on how my feet feel, on who's available. To lead in a city where I am a stranger was scary stuff; I'm a bastardy grump, sure, but no one wants to make an ass of themselves in public, and the decision was a big one. I worked up my courage, put on my signature scent.

Not meant to be. Tried two nights in a row, and all possible tango venues were closed or otherwise empty. I got restless, and last night I found myself going out fully prepared just in case I passed someone who could dance. My shoes banged around in my empty bag; Di Sarli played mournfully through my headhpones; I looked at every face on the street thinking, Do you? Can you?

I never used to look for anything in anyone. (It is difficult and humbling; I propose all tango dancers have something inscribed on their foreheads.)

I give it two days before I'm wearing my stilettos to the meetings here. Someone in Town is going to see my nice shoes, dammit, I don't care who it is.

This afternoon in my free time I flipped through Flickr for soothing pictures of tango dancers, and got this:



Did we still need to talk about wild animal attacks? About VISIBLE UNDERPANTS? I really tought that was over. If a cougar eats your skirt, no mantilla will do, okay? You have to buy a whole new skirt. That's the rules.

Luckily, a few pictures later, I found this:



This is what I am missing. Not the visible underpants so much.




Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Finally!

There's been a tango festival in Denver going on for the past, like, month and a half, and NOBODY had pictures of Julio and Corina until just now! How can I stalk them when I have nothing to work with, I ask you?

I am still in Town That is Not My Usual Town. I haven't had a chance to dance yet, but my stilettos are on my desk so that I look at them and get wistfully antsy, so I think tomorrow I'm taking the plunge.

P.S. I have nothing as nice as Corina does to wear, either. Where does she find these great clothes? In every picture and every clip I have ever seen, she has on this fantastic, classy outfit. Does she shop at Amazing, Flattering, Flowing Clothes, Inc.?




Picture by Alex.Tango.Fuego


I could not love this moment more, when he's committed his full intent to the step, and the axis is shifting and she's moving with it. Plus, her forehead against his cheek is like a painting. Just, awesome, awesome stuff.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Okay, what?

Am I wrong, or do these shoes have a belt?




I really don't think I'm wrong. That's a belt, you guys.

*screams*

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bulletin: Feet!

Still traveling, sending you this report from the field:

Alicia Pons has some of the most amazing feet in the world. (This means the expression of the two feet she was born with, and not some disembodied collection of feet in her basement or something, that's not what I'm implying.)

For women wondering about alternatives to the Geraldine style, check this out; just as skillful, and probably a lot easier to use on the social dance floor since a lot of it is about musicality and pointing the toes and not so much about the kicking. I love the kicking, don't get me wrong, but this stuff is a lot less risky, and it's so elegant. I mean, just look.




Friday, May 25, 2007

Traveling.

I'm leaving town for a few days and headed out to explore the wilderness. And by "the wilderness" I mean "another town."

My first week of tango, a girl came in from another city. (Not that I could tell, I was so new to tango I didn't know anyone, but I asked her where she usually danced and got a different city. Behold my deductive powers!)

She was like an exotic bird with her comme il fauts (the first pair I ever saw), her ankles glued together, her perfect balance. When she told me she'd been dancing two years, I was ravenously jealous that she'd gotten so good so fast. I was totally ready to throw down, except that she turned out to be extremely modest and nice, if a little afraid of a clumpy beginner in character shoes who wanted to talk about where her butter-yellow satin shoes came from.

She's not going to be in the city I'm going to, nor do I have plans to wow anyone with my flawless technique, as that would require flawless technique to begin with, and hahahahah!

I am, however, taking my flashiest shoes. If I'm going to suck, I'm going to suck proudly!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Stalking gets me through the week.

No fooling.

It's everyone's favorite victims-o-stalkin', Julio y Corina!

My favorite thing here is the musicality - with the exception of a few awesome back sacadas that Julio can do because he's Julio and you're not, it's all just walking/crossing/ochoing/giroing, but the way they both clearly know the song, they way he comes back to refrains in the steps, and the way he bobs his left hand around like he's having SO MUCH FUN he just can't hold still, which would make me want to smack anyone else, but since he's my BFF I'll let it go.



Sunday, May 20, 2007

Tango - A Photo Essay.

Okay, a brief photo essay about tango.



This is social tango.





This is stage tango.

The End


The difference? Visible underpants. I don't want to see any underpants, people. I mean it. It's not that kind of dance floor.

All photos from Flickr: here, here, here, here, here, here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

My Two Cents on the Geraldine Debate.

Dear everyone in the world,

You are not Geraldine. Quit the kicking.

Yours sincerely,
Planchadora

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A History of Tango Music.

...not really, though. Come on. Is that the kind of thing I do? That requires research. And I have done some research, but most of it was pizza research (conclusion: I like mushrooms).

Nevertheless, I am in possession of the following facts:

1) Tango songs are generally depressing.
2) There are usually instruments involved.

As evidence of these facts, I offer any tango lyrics ever, and the fact that a capella tango is kind of thin on the ground.

(No, seriously, tango lyrics. Canaro's "Poema", pretty much the sweetest, most profoundly romantic tango song ever recorded, that has as its pivotal lyric:

"And at my sad goodbye, you too will know the sensation of my pain!"

I mean, seriously.)


So, I'll work on a little history of tango music looking only for songs that are 1) depressing and 2) usually accompanied by music.

A History of Tango Music, Parts 1 and 2 of 34,985

1. Corpus Christi Carol, 15th cen.

Lyric sample:

"Lullay lullay, lullay lullay,
A falcon hathe borne my mate away...

By that bedside there kneeleth a maid,
And she weepeth both night and day."


What makes it tango: Somebody's dead and/or borne away by a humungous predatory bird! Sounds like tango to me.

Playable?: Dunno. Does anyone have a lute hanging around?



2. Alf Leyla Way Leyla, Arabic trad.

Lyric Sample:


"The night and its sky, its stars, its moon, and keeping awake all night.
You and me my sweetheart, my life."


What makes it tango:
Are we sure this isn't a tango? Can someone check up on Echague on this?

Playable:
No, seriously, are we sure this isn't a tango?

Monday, May 14, 2007

My Dancing.

I'm not sure how much to talk about my dancing anymore - when it's good I don't notice because I'm listening to the music and not worrying about it, and when it's bad it's just a laundry list of things to practice in a not-funny way. Plus, I'll never set the Thames on fire, let's face it. Do I love tango? Oh, yes. Does it drive me nuts? Oh, yes. Am I ever going to be awesome? Oh, no. Does it stop me rattling on?

Oh, no.

I notice that I'm much less nervous about my leading than about my following, because following is asking yourself, "Can I?" and leading is saying, "I can." As a follower, if you accept a dance with someone you pretty much have to be prepared to follow whatever they lead- a huge unknown quantity. As a leader, you know already what you can do, and chances are you know what your follower can do, and it's much, much less stressful.

When I manage to get a really sharp follower it brings home the fact that my tango vocabulary is not huge - I'm a big fan of the walk, basically. At the same time, the volcada/colgada/gancho thing isn't my style as a follower and kind of as a human being, especially volcadas - give me my axis back, dude! I worked hard for that! I'm in stilettos! Give a girl a break!

Ahem! ANYWAY. I shouldn't be surprised that I don't like leading those, is my point.

history is littered with the evidence of men who loved volcadas too much

Also, tangent: what man in his right mind leads a gancho on a woman in stilettos? Just...is that wise? I'm asking. (Not talking about professionals here, they are very spicy and sexy etc., but for your average social leader and your average social follower, it's kind of flirting with disaster, I think.)

That being said, my following is actually much nicer than it was before I started leading, which is half the passage of time in general and half because I'm more relaxed about following. Also, another half is because I'm much pickier about my dances now, having an attitude of, "If you can lead this better than I could, I'm happy to dance with you. If not, please excuse me." So, that's three halves. Good thing I'm not an accountant. I'd be rich!...and in prison.

To sum up: following is fun. Leading is fun. My feet hurt. Those Italian engineers really never lived that one down, did they?





Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Planchadora Rips Into Commenters, Part 2 in a Series.

So, a gentleman posted in a comment to a video of two women dancing, qualifying women leaders on criteria other than "ability" and "body odor". And he had the very bad judgement to do so on my blog.

I think you'll agree with me when I say: Mistake!

For those who don't want to go scrolling all over, the comment in its entirety is pasted below:

"She leads very well, she have great musicality (in milonga!), and she is hot... I dont know if i have to feel threatened by her (and her kind of girls) or just excited about such dancers.
But I know one thing: I REALLY want to dance with her sometime. Probably it will be a little difficult, because I find that women who often leads aren't "flexible" (I can think in a better word) in her follow. But it sure must be a pleasure =).
I use to think that women who leads don look good, but some girls I knew, prove me wrong.
Great video!"

Now, this gentleman commented to an earlier post and made it known he's Argentine, so I'm not going to ding him on grammar or anything, because let's face it, I can ding his content plenty.


1) The "hot girl" in question is Silvina Valz, frequent and favored performance partner of Flaco Dany. I've been lucky enough to take some of her classes.

Dude? You should feel threatened.

2) Who else loves the idea that because she's hot, she's not as threatening as some more mannish women leaders? That's pretty awesome. (See #1.)

3) Women who lead aren't as "flexible" if they lead regularly. Interesting thought. I'm not going to conjecture the word he meant, because I think he means "pliable" and that would make me spitting mad, so we'll give him a pass here.

I would like to point out, however, that 99% of professional female tango dancers know how to lead, for teaching purposes if for nothing else, and they're probably flexible enough to suit most people. If this isn't enough, I'd like to refer the statement about "frequent female leading = bad following" to Fabienne Bongard, Sharna Fabiano, Rebecca Shulman, Valeria Solomonoff, andBrigitta Winkler, members of the all-female tango troupe Tango Mujer, and not bad as followers go.

Dude? See #1.


Eeeee!

Yeah, yeah, I'm all videos and no talk these days, I promise I have really haunting revelations soon that will change your life, mend the hole in the ozone, and get the red wine stains off your shirt. (You crazy klutz!)

But I had to post this, for obvious reasons. Pointed out to me on Fishnets and Fedoras by one of my favorite followers, who is now trying to get me to lead in heels. She's funny. And delusional.



Monday, May 07, 2007

Video of the Week: Holy Poo!

You guys, this girl is SIX. YEARS OLD.

I would have shown you earlier today, but I was in the fetal position crying because I will never, ever, ever be as good as THIS SIX YEAR OLD.

I mean, she can also probably read and build sand castles, which means I can't beat her in ANYTHING. This six-year-old has left me in the dust. Thanks a lot, small person!

I should have made this a shout-out on Father's Day, but my father never taught me to tango, so I'm all mad and don't want to wait.



Friday, May 04, 2007

Stalktacular!

You can pretty much name this clip "How to Take The Embrace, Walk to the Cross, and Look Good Doing It. And Some Other Stuff." Because that first thing is about twenty seconds, and the clip is longer than that. But really, this is Tango 101 type stuff. Plus, the longer it goes the better it gets; the elasticity from close embrace to slightly more open; the embellishments for her and him, the musicality...

...I seriously wish these guys would adopt me. Then together we could work on tango a lot. And fight crime! I'd end up being the snarky sidekick who gets captured a lot, I recognize that, but sometimes the snarky sidekick ends up getting her own comic book where she gets to explore her origin story at the hands of mad scientists and stuff! So that would be fun, too, if the tango part didn't work out.



Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Embrace: A Field Guide.

New to tango? It can seem like a wasteland, I understand. So many disciplines, so many things to remember, so many things that define you as a dancer, right down to the embrace. But never fear: whether you're a gentle beginner, or someone just looking for a style to call your own, there is a handy field guide to the embrace.

THE EMBRACE: A FIELD GUIDE

Milonguero
Close embrace, the woman's arm around the man's shoulders, torsos pressed together or tilted slightly to form a small "V". Man's left hand close to the body, tilted upwards; woman's hand resting on man's hand, elbow towards her body.

Salon
Close embrace, the woman's arm around the man's shoulders or with the left hand on the man's shoulder blade, torsos in a "V" shape. Man's left hand close to the body, sometimes slightly raised above the shoulder, palm tilted slightly towards the woman; woman's hand resting on the man's hand, the tilted angle giving her a little resistance.

Nuevo
Open embrace, the woman's left hand lightly gripping the man's right arm, the man with his hand on the woman's spine. Man's left hand a little away from the body, palm to the woman; the woman's hand mirrors this.

Villa Urquiza
Close embrace, with the woman's hand low on the man's back, fingers spread. The torsos form a slight "V".

Inestable (The Unstable)
Slightly open embrace, marked by a vise-like grip on the woman's back that robs her of her axis and makes her lean backwards, so the dancing pair forms a human letter K. The man's hand is usually pressing forward; the woman's arm is mostly achy.

Pluma (The Feather)
Close embrace style notable for its trust in the follower to do whatever is led without any guidance or support from the actual embrace. Look for a soft, yiedling hand on the man, and am ebrace loose enough to stick a fist through. Also traceable through a succession of nervous followers.

Lanzar (The Pusher)
Open embrace; the man's right hand i sholding on to the follower's armpit, and the woman's embracing hand grabs the deltoid. The man's left hand is held out from the body parallel to the floor, palm facing her, making it eaiser to fling her. The woman's right hand is her only lifeline; followers of this style tend to have extremely toned forearms.

Lobo (The Wolf)
Extremely close embrace; the man's embrace is firm and his head as close to the bosom of his partner as possible, the woman's arm wraps around the man's neck tightly; for a particularly long-armed follower, wrap two or three times around. The held hands on the open side of the embrace are firmly jammed into the man's collarbone.

Exquisito (Exquisite)
Marked by a firm, yet elastic embrace, hands helf comfortably and with dynamism, and proper axis. This embrace is almost extinct, and can usually only be seen in capitivity. For in situ observation of this rare creature, a trip to Buenos Aires is recommended.


Monday, April 30, 2007

Stalktastic!

Okay, this is cheating and I'm planning a big post later, I swear, but who can resist a little stalking?





Oh Julio and Corina, if you knew of my existence, which you don't, would you love me as much as I love you guys? Think it over and get back to me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Videos for every week until the end of time.

Some totally awesome person has uploaded a series of clips from tango classes given by Carlos Gavito. They should be required viewing for everyone in the world, including kittens.

Possible Reasons Why I Am Not Tangoing Lately.

* I have decided to take up the polka. Beginner classes every Wednesday at the Senior Center! oh HAAAAY!

* The news that Irishman Jonathan Rhys Meyers has gone into rehab (for drinking, shockingly) has left me too upset to concentrate on anything.

* My day job eats up a lot of my time and energy.

* I've been abducted by walruses. (Walrii? But don't think my ignorance of the plural means this isn't a viable option. You never know.)

* My residence was a big fat mess and I had to deal with it.

* Someone else's residence was a big fat mess and I had to deal with. (What? I'm very helpful!)

* I haven't had much to write about, tango-wise.

Take your pick. They're all about equally true, except the walrus one, which is triple-true.