wicked tongue

2012, March 20

“- Shall I say something not nice about someone? You’re sworn to secrecy of course.
“- Guess so…”

This lady had come to me to report one of the dancers on the floor. “He sat there waiting for the prettiest girl around to be available, and now look he’s dancing with her. Me, he never invites me… ” and so on.

As she had spoken softly, I failed to understand the name of the said dancer, and as she kept looking deliberately at the wall I could not lock him either. The prettiest girl… None of the women on the floor was in position, to my mind, to claim the title hands down.

Short-listing the leaders whom I know are given to inviting sometimes cheesecakes rather than technicians, I reduced the possibilities to four.

J. who was multiplying the corte-quebradas with a nothing-special-but-under-25 chubby beginner
K., fond of deep, static ganchos, who had invited a teen doted with this kind of deceptive innocence found in pictures by David Hamilton.
N. whose massive partner would have delighted the readers of Crumb comics.
G. tight-glued to a young tango beginner, but proficient in salsa and already making good use of her legs flexibility.

I tried to get clues to identify the girl, the first name, maybe something about her clothes or shoes or hair color …

“- The most beautiful, really, you’re sure?
– Yes, by his own standards at least.”

And with this said she returned to her table. As none of those leaders invited her afterwards either, the mystery remains unsolved.

1963 – 2010

2010, January 10

During my third trip in Buenos-Aires I took privates with him and Lorena, for two weeks. It did not go too well, I was so much fascinated by the quality of Osvaldo’s steps that I instantly forgot the explanations and the sequence. We were always four people in the room, the teachers, the assistant and me, I’ve never been alone with Osvaldo.

Except once. One day I hurried because I thought I was late, and rang the bell without checking my watch. As it happened I was ten minutes too early and only Osvaldo was there. Now what to do with this hopeless pupil while we’re waiting for Lorena and Fatima, he may have thought. Poor guy, these classes are a lot of stress for him, he has no gift at all, he comes alone and we’re three teachers surrounding him.

Without saying a word he put me into an armchair in front of the TV, gave me the remote control and brought a drink. This is the kind of moments that I shared with my father. He too would remain silent, having all the answers to my questions but not trying to force matters.

Sum up

2009, August 23

June: nothing special, attending classes and going to milongas.

July: the town hibernating under ten feet of Gripe A. Everywhere I go I find closed doors and empty places.

August: Tango is back in town, but I don’t care and I stay at home reading comics, Marvel (Wolverine, Superman,,,) and Mafalda.

Not enough to write Tangobeginner though

Not enough to write Tangobeginner though

Countless times I’ve read reports about the shortage of change here in BsAs. “Why do all the coins disappear?” “Where do they go?

For the other coins I dunno but for the one-peso species, they’re in my drawer. It’s not that I like them. On the opposite, I avoid carrying even one of them in my pocket, they’re heavy, one banknote of two pesos is lighter. Therefore,  each time I’m given one by a merchant, it then remains forever in my drawer.  

As in my previous trips here, I’m ending up with one glassful of these horrible coins. I have no use for them and they will be thrown in the dust bin.

Private thoughts

2009, August 16

Or better said, thoughts about privates.

Only here for a few more days now, and realizing that, with my muy debil hand, leading the average porteña was still impossible, I signed up for a few private classes.  A pro is easier to lead, and also it takes less time to explain the situation (the tendinite, the splint) to one person only.

Now a private class can be a curse too. You may think that it will be a hand-made lesson but way too often the teacher only pretends to be listening to your needs, and actually delivers you the very same  stuff  that he/she delivered the day before to another pupil.

Yesterday’s teacher started by asking me what I wanted to work on. One point. Then she told me that we would dance a little, to allow her  to know me a bit. One more point. That we would dance two tangos. Minus one point. She is gaining time. After the little tanda she announced that to reach my goal (I had asked to work on the art of listening to the music) I needed first to correct my terrible posture. Minus one point. There are as many correct postures as there are teachers. And so we worked on my terrible posture until I reached her correct one (butt sticked out backwards, heels up, knees bent). Needless to say I will be back to my usual posture very soon,  after all these years it’s too late to modify anything. Oh and one more minus point, because she knows that it is too late, she asked me how many years of tango I had. The second step to my goal, was my terrible walk. Minus one point because it is totailly irrelevant with what I wanted to work on. Like postures, walks are very numerous, often one teacher has two, the one that he teaches and the one he uses himself when he dances socially. The walk can be on one line, on two lines, you can land with the toe or with the heel, you can project the leg or go with all the weight, you can do some counter-body with your shoulders or not. You can place the beat on the impulse or and the landing. Asking something about the walk on Tango-L is like opening a can of worms and usually brings you an instant ban by the mods. Minus one point. But well, another fifteen minutes of hard work and I was walking the way she liked, heels first, two lines, no weight transfer, and going up and down, reverse counter-body. Here too and for the same reasons I will remain faithful to my own walk (one line, toe first, weight transfer, no ups and downs, regular counter-body).

“Oh there is no time left to give you deep, valuable explanations about your musicality question, but I think that posture and walk are the most important things for you. Let’s dance two more to finish the class.”

How do you think I danced, using an unfamiliar posture to walk in an unfamiliar way? To me it felt like a monkey walking on eggs during a moonless night. 

 “Much, much better Pablo, congratulations!”

Back to business

2009, August 13

Thanks to (or maybe despite of) pills, various creams, a splint (the fun part with the device was the inner iron blade, which could be shifted out a little, reaching a “Wolverine” configuration),  and thanks to two weeks resting on my bed  reading comics, my wrist has recovered somehow, not yet enough to lead but enough to type.


2009, July 31

So the little me was perfectly healthy last week, then disabled, and today I was in the cemetary of Chac…

Hmmm this sounds like the end has come. No, I mean, having free time since I cannot do any tango, I went to the Chacarita cemetary for a temporary visit. 

Unlike in most cemetaries in the rest of the world, there is not map of the celebrities at the entrance, but as large as the place may be, its dimensions are finite, so having all the time in the world and walking methodically (type-writing monkey method) I was bound to find. The other method, like for the milongas, is to phone first. Hi Carlos, are you still there, and in  which section…

I found Francisco Lomuto first, but finally arrived to the place. The statue is smaller than I thought, and the cigarette in his fingers was not lit, but the flowers are fresh and there are tons of messages.

Before getting there I had read a book (another thing I can do now that I have vast amounts of free time) about his birth and life. The author was not from Uruguay, but as he says, “if I stick to the documented version then there is no material for a book”. Here is the summary:

The 14 or 15-year-old teen Berthe Gardes decides one day to leave everything (family, home) she has in Toulouse, France to start a career abroad. Lawyer? President of the United States? Nope. She wants to wash clothes in Tacuarembo (Uruguay).

In Tacuarembo there is a colonel  too. His first name is Carlos and he likes to have children with every female he can see. In his whole life he’ll have 50 of them, all (well, the boys) named Carlos, like him.

One of the female who gave birth to a Carlos is a bit under-aged and the baby is given to Berthe, as well as 3000 pesos. Not much to take care of someone for his whole lifetime, I’d say, after all 3000 pesos is more or less what I am currently spending here in BsAs each month.

And Berthe comes back to her home town. With the baby? No. She gives him to a couple of friends, as well as 150 pesos, saying that she will be back. In Toulouse she does nothing special, except, some years later, giving birth to her own baby (father unknown). For his name she chooses, among all the possibilities, Charles. Oh and she registers the baby three years after his birth.

Then she remembers that she is supposed to look after Carlos too, and she embarks again in a ship to Uruguay. But this ship stops first in Buenos-Aires and Berthe, now aged 22, mistakenly thinking that she’s in Montevideo, stops here too with her little 3-year-old Charles, whose name will soon become Carlos. 

Then Carlos walks all the way from Tacuarembo to Buenos-Aires and they all live there together, Berthe, Carlos-Carlos and Charles-Carlos, the two boys going to different schools. Private schools, owned by monks. Berthe can afford it easily with the remainings of the 3000 pesos, plus her clothe-washer wages.

Somewhere between the age of 16 and 20, Charles-Carlos is kidnapped by aliens from outer space, who also hypnotize Berthe so that she completely forgets the child.  Carlos-Carlos takes all his belongings, but as he’s older the clothes are too small for him and he just keeps the birth certificate.

A few years later,  The world War is taking place in the old Eur0pe, every german or french male who is not dead yet is given a rifle and sent to the battlefront. Carlos-Carlos decides to get an uruguayan passport.

Once he is a famous singer, Carlos-Carlos realizes that the artists usually die young (see Mickael Jackson) and that Berthe will probably outlive him.  On the other side his father the colonel, now dead, has no need for this fortune. That’s why he writes a testament where he kindly pretends that he is french, deliberately lying, just to be sure that Berthe won’t remain pennyless.

Every part of the story makes much sense and is highly credible. The author goes even further, ensuring that following some oral witnesses, the dead body found in the burnt plane ( June 24th, 1935) was not El Zorzal, and that he’s still living, hidden in the jungle.  Wow. That will make another marvellous book.

Math impaired

2009, July 30

Yep, my math level is not what it used to be… 😦

Not being able to dance any more (nor, even worse, to take classes) because of two tendinites  – wrist, elbow-  that appeared this week on the same arm (I put the blame on the local followers. It’s not only that they don’t follow the lead, they resist it.), I went to La Ideal again, to at least hear some music.

And of course I ordered a tea and medialunas. Four of them. When the waiter came back for the payment, I had already prepared 13 pesos, an amount based on smart calculations after having paid 11 pesos for one medialuna less, some weeks ago.

– Nueve.

I thought that I had heard it wrong. How much did you say?

– Nueve pesos.

Now that’s higher mathematics, with imaginary numbers or something. Everything else (same place, same day, same hour) being equal, and if one tea plus three medialunas is 11 pesos, and one tea plus four medialunas is 9, then my elementary knowledge of maths brings me to the conclusion that the price of one tea is 17 pesos while the price of one medialuna is minus two. Weird, even by argentine standards.


2009, July 23

Practica Me rio de la plata, Monday 22:30, end of the first session of Raul’s seminario.  Untypically it was balanced (Typically it can be 7 guys for 1 girl  – Tango Brujo –  or 15 guys for 4 girls -DNI), the followers were girls  – not ladies -, they  were dancing in estilo salón, with two exceptions they were familiar with nuevo steps, and as we were changing partners very regularly (except for the last three songs where my then partner asked to stay with me),  I could see that all of them were good dancers.  Young? Good? Open style? Dedicated? Of course there is a trick: with two exceptions they were all foreigners.

The fee of the afterwards practica was included in the amount paid for the class, my last partner asked me whether I was staying, walking back home very late ( even with the North Pole and rainy climate we’re enjoying here)  was not a concern because we were very near from my place, and talking about my place I knew that it would be very noisy until 2:00 because the local students who live here were just starting  a party when I was preparing to go to the class.

I left. My routine with unknown tango places is as follows: first time is for a brief look, if I like it then the second time I  sit and watch, the third time I’m more or less familiar with the place and I may invite someone (or not, because I also have a routine for this). Now in this particular case there won’t be a third time because there are only two sessions in this seminario.

Which, incidentally, is about improvisation.

What next?

2009, July 10

Besides the cheeky mood of the teachers  (we are now in Montreal, Canada, for 2 weeks. We received a last minute invitation to take part in a Tango Festival here. We canceled everything in BA until july 27.
Saludos, see you in two weeks)
, besides the influenza panic, argentine history now joined the conspiracy to prevent me from attending classes. Everything was closed yesterday because of the independency. The same way as everything was closed  on June 21st because of the nation. The same way as everything was closed  on June 15th, also  because of the nation. What comes next? Evita’s birthday? Astiz-Videla’s 1000th “asado” at the Navy school?

At least, December 11th is on December.