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.


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?


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


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


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


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


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.