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


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)


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


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


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.

Why do women want to lead?
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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.)