Monday, April 30, 2007


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.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Video of the Week - Canyengue

Okay, so, sometimes a milonga comes on and people are like, "...the hell is this?", which means it's a canyengue.

Canyengue is the predecessor of milonga, which is the predecessor of tango, which is the predecessor of that scene in Moulin Rouge which was okay at the time but has become the background music for a thousand Smallville fanvids that clog my YouTube searches, and so now I think it's evil.

(Also, if you ever want a laugh, search for "tango roxanne music", and click on one of those random music videos. Look for: hilariously unlikely subject matter - anime, star wars, ice skating (!) - and even better if you get one with terrible spelling. "Kate luvs Sawyer + Jack who will she choose?? song is tango de roxanne from moulin rouge - TRUTH AND LOVE 4EVER!")

Ahem. Sorry about that. Back to my point - CANYENGUE!

Most people dance milonga to canyengue. That's okay. No negative points for doing that. However, if the lady turns her head so it's looking the same direction as the man's head, they drop their joined hands, and they catch the rhythm correctly, it's one million squillion positive Planchadora points.

Here's a demonstration of all the little beats and unique steps that make up a good canyengue. The camera also lingers on their upper bodies, and for two reasons:

1) Their upper bodies maintain the same structure and posture required of tango, milonga, and all the other dances. No shimmying!

2) He has a really kicky little chapeau going on.

So, the next time a canyengue comes on, now you know. Drop your hands, turn your heads, and ric-tic-tic.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Private Dancer.


/ Tina Turner.

Earlier this week I had a private lesson (following), and it was one of those lessons you kick yourself for ever postponing, because if I had had that lesson six months ago I'd be a much better dancer now. It was all axis and balance work, Corina-style, except I look a lot less like Corina than a picture of Corina that's been all crumpled up so the spine is all wonky and twisted and the posture is bad. Not any more, though! Or at least, I have no more excuses, since, you know, I was told how to do it correctly. It's broken down the way I think about walking on a practically molecular level, to the point that walking around my office today is a Karate-Kid-level effort. Come on, Planchadora-san!

With any luck, eventually I will subsume all the blahblah and just walk nicely.

Also, I was so petrified of being socially unacceptable that I went out and bought perfume so I wouldn't smell bad. It went on light, fresh, yet soft and edible. Then it dried, and I smelled like tropical air freshener. Dear Bath and Body Works, reconsider your summer line, maybe. Just saying.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


There's an actual post on the way soon (probably), but in the meantime, AXIS:

Also, the smile on his face is like a kid riding a bike with new baseball cards in the spokes.

(photo from the Berlin Tango Festival; I'm totally in love with their photos of these two.)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

You guys, I have a metaphor!

And I think this one actually goes someplace instead of descending into mumbling and pictures of Julio and Corina!

I hear a lot of people saying that leading tango is like driving a car. Understandable, since the directional/speed dynamic is there, but sort of unfair to the follower, who puts in eighteen hours of ochos a week only to be called either the passenger or the actual car. (Nice chassis! Oh...hay?) So I've been trying to think of something that translates my feelings about leading into a more cooperative metaphor than 'a car'.

And at dinner last week, I found one! Because I like dinner. And by "one" I mean I found a metaphor, not a car. If I found a car I would sell it and buy shoes.

So, I'm of the mind that the leader is a chef in a restaurant for one, whose personal menu is available to the public. The leader asks the follower to dinner, and it's up to the follower/diner to agree to eat a chef's-choice meal off the menu. Once she agrees, she's pretty much bound to eat everything the chef serves, since she could see the menu right up front. However, if the chef doesn't cook carefully and ends up serving a strawberry dish that the diner's allergic to, or trying to show up and flambe her entree and her hair lights fire, you get a big-ass disaster.

Some diners are really picky eaters and choose chefs very carefully; they tend to be pleased with the meals to which they agree. Some diners agree out of politeness and end up eating a nasty, sandy meal that gives them food poisoning. This is sad, but if the menu reads "nasty, sandy roast beef", well, they sort of knew it.

And of course, choosing the chef is a matter of personal taste based on the menu. Some diners insist on the flambe dinner because they like their dining experiences dramatic; some diners are perfectly happy to sit down to macaroni and cheese. Everyone is in search of the perfect chef who will cook them exactly the meal they want based on the offerings on the menu; when a chef seems to create dishes specifically for the diner who's eating at the time, it's the ultimate compliment.

The chef has to adapt to each diner as she comes; some are new to gourmet cooking and might not be able to appreciate some of the funkier items the chef knows he can cook; some have sophisticated palettes that have been trained for years, and if the chef drops cilantro into anything she'll beat him with a stick until he's dead. However, since the chef ASKS the diner to come and eat, he has to understand demands and limitations, and good cooking comes when the chef works within them.

The diner should try to eat each dish correctly and with good form, using all proper utensils, and avoiding faux pas: making sure not to put cheese on seafood dishes, for example. The diner should wait for the next course without trying to second-guess the chef.

The diner has a right to leave at any time, for any reason. She's a guest, not a prisoner. A professional, mature chef will not throw a hissy if this happens, and instead perhaps re-examine his menu.

Unacceptable: molesting the diner, cooking dishes at lightning speed and getting angry if the diner can't eat it all instantaneously in time for the next dish, cooking the same dish six times and insisting they're all different dishes.

You get the idea. I feel like this is a much nicer metaphor than the car one, because the act of cooking itself involves the innate desire to please, rather than to control, and makes the leader's responsibility one of caring for the follower, of providing for her.

Or, I'm hungry.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Video of the Week: Tete y Silvia

This video is nothing fancy.

The thing is, that's not an insult. It's beautiful BECAUSE it's nothing fancy. It's just two people and the music - no flying boleos or crazy flinging or over-the-head hand-tosses, just old-school tango milonguero.

This should be played in all beginner/intermediate tango classes when people start asking to learn figures, you know?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Because I'm not THAT mean.

To the anonymous tipster who left me some links to hilarious tango dresses:

Thank you for the laugh. And the cringe. I'm not really sure what was going on with some of those dresses, but I'm really flattered that you took the time to leave the comment that would be sure to scar my eyeballs forever.

I didn't publicly post it, because it links directly to the frightening frocks in question, and as much as I love making fun of them, I do try not to link directly to them, because I'm sure the person who made them thinks they're beautiful, and I try not to be a total bastard sometimes, so I'm letting them stay anonymous.

However, I might stick one in here and there as I wade through the worst the internet has to offer, so definitely keep an eye open for one of your picks! I'd give you a finder's fee, but come on, I dance tango. I'm poor.

Monday, April 09, 2007

And her bastardy heart shrank three sizes that day!

Welcome to another edition of Bastardy Grump (c)!

1. Things visiting Argentine bigshots are talking about at the milonga when you dance past:
1) Coffee, wanting more
2) Dessert, wishing they had had less
3) Water, procurement of
4) Orchestra, debate over merits of
5) Dancing, debates over merits of
6) Bunions, possible presence of
7) Seafood, possible danger of
8) Sex
9) Sleeping, dire need of
10) Nice shoes, desire for
11) Orchestra vs. Dancing 2: Tango Boogaloo
12) Orchestra, violent fight over

Things they are most probably not talking about:
1) Dancing, your

What they think of you when you approach them, interrupt their conversation, and ask what they were talking about regarding your dancing as you prepare carefully for a compliment:
1) Jerk, total

This is why Argentines stay in Buenos Aires and don't teach in America. Stop it!

Friday, April 06, 2007

You lucked out...THIS TIME.

So, I have a little piece or two of bastardy grumpness I want to get off my chest, but it's bad fung...something to do that on a Friday, so instead I played my favorite Friday game: Planchadora Stalks Julio and Corina!

It's full of pictures. Why? Mostly because I think an essay on how they move would be boring and consist mostly of sentences like: "Oh my God, you guys, SERIOUSLY. SERIOUSLY! Seriously. No, I'm serious."

First, their embrace:

Picture from titango

Gentlemen, this leaders' hand position is cracktastic; when you pull your arm back a little you prevent yourself from accidentaly pressing too hard on the follower's hand, and you leave a lot more room for the embrace to become elastic without making the follower push back.

This is an also excellent embrace for ladies when dancing with tall gentlemen; it keeps you from kinking up your shoulder and throwing your axis off, without giving him the weird side death grip that sometimes happens. Overall, an excellent position. Unless you actually get a chance to dance with Julio, in which case I recommend handcuffing yourself directly to his bicep and dancing that way.

Now, observe the power of technique:

bottom picture from their official site, top picture from titango

From what I can tell, these pictures were taken about six months apart in 2002, and there's a slight difference in the closeness of the embrace, but for all intents and purposes it might as well be the same picture Photoshopped onto two backgrounds. Her arm and his arm are so toned and trained and held firmly, yet gently, like two baby bunnies with little tuxedos on. Gentlemen, when you are dancing, hold your follower like she's a very well-dressed rabbit, okay?

p.s. She dresses really nicely, doesn't she?

Okay, last picture, which I had to post because it's so hysterically adorable:

Corina's the queen of the Winter Formal! She's also the queen of severe hairstyles - let your scalp breathe, girlfriend. She still looks gorgeous, though.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Video of the Week: Jennifer Bratt pwns you.

This video is dedicated to anyone who thinks following is easier. I'm just saying.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Wow, I'm punctual. Also: I talk about tango some more.

Almost a full week without posting! Obviously I've been dancing a lot. Or, I fell in a hole and was only now rescued by municipal authorities. You can decide which one you want to be true.

Hint: since this post is about dancing, it's safe to assume I got some dancing done before I fell into the hole. Place your bets accordingly; no need to lose money because you were underinformed.

This weekend I hit the 50/50 mark, where I led a tanda for every tanda I followed. I learned a lot of things from this. The most important thing I learned was that I can change out of a pair of heels in about ten seconds. I also learned some stuff about dancing, I guess, but come on! Ten seconds to be in a completely different pair of shoes with ties and everything! I'll never miss a song again!

Other things I noticed from all this floor time are the respective lists of demands for leaders and followers:

* Hold the follower in a solid yet gentle embrace.
* Step decisively and strongly without overpowering the follower.
* Lead with the chest, not the arms.
* Navigate the floor successfully.
* Listen to the music and interpret it dynamically and engagingly into your dance.

* Step nicely and with good posture.
* Be psychic.

Followers win, seriously. It is so infinitely harder to follow than to lead, because they have to be relaxed enough to follow whatever lead comes, but they also have to be PSYCHIC and intuit what move the leader was going for, so even if he leads [enter complicated move here] without giving the follower room, she can beautifully and gracefully make it into a [slightly different yet still very slick move]. Guys can laugh here, but I promise you, the women? Backlead.

After a weekend of doing both, the following is much more exhausting than the leading. The leading is more nerve-wracking.

I don't do any of the fancy stuff yet, nor can I see myself ever really doing so - I'm too milonguero to enjoy colgadas and volcadas and all that crazy stuff the kids are doing these days. My leading is focused on the little list above; most of what I'm learning about leading happens as I'm following and think either "I see!" or "...I see."

Recently, people are asking which I prefer, leading or following. In all honesty, it really is like trains and boats - they both take you someplace, and sometimes you prefer one or the other, but in general they're both lovely ways to get around. If there's a decent leader with whom I enjoy dancing, I love following. But I'm a picky follower, and it's just as likely I'll run into a follower I like dancing with, and well, why not lead?

ps. I don't know why this is, but I get all these skeevy guys who are like, "I've always wanted to be led by a woman, you know."


There are a few men I wouldn't mind leading, but these are men who genuinely want to understand following and are willing to follow other men as well and aren't just looking for jollies. There are plenty of men who are willing to lead other men where I am, so there's no excuses, and I am not really interested in being some guy's free dominatrix for ten minutes, you guys. Seriously.

Also, I'll try to post more, even when I have nothing to say. Expect a lot of polls!