2008, January 17

The process took less than one second. I mentioned the impending trip to Bs-As to my thursday partner and before I finished my sentence I could see sparkles in her eyes. Also she had grabbed my hands .

“Hey! You know what? I’ll give you the money and you’ll buy shoes for me. I’ll look at all the models on the internet and I’ll let you know next week.”

Damn, trapped. Was too slow. With the next partner I was more alert. mentioned Bs-As, saw the sparkles in her eyes…

No, no, no I won’t buy you shoes if that was your idea.


Tag game

2008, January 9

As it happened I was harpooned. It’s all explained here

So here goes my contribution.

1. All my tango shoes are too large for me.

2. I like the posts by Pichi de Buenos-Aires

3. When in a hotel in Bs-As, there are always 50 TV channels but the tango one never works.

4. Same goes for the 2×4 tango radio (92.7), I can never catch it with an actual radio.

5. I did not read the Da Vinci code.

6. Among the 23 teachers who will be at the CITA 2008 there are 5 with whom I never took any class.

7. I usually grow a beard in Winter.

Now for my seven victims.

obscure tango
tango DJ
tango nero
moje tango

Aha, seven dead links, or dust bunnies at best, no need (and no way) to let them know that they’ve been tagged.


2008, January 8

Our teachers are finalizing the 2008 trip to Buenos-Aires. 15 days, 12 (group) classes, 11 nights in various milongas, one day with the gauchos, one mini-trip to Uruguay. I won’t go, non bis in idem as they say.

But last year only one of the two teachers had come with us, the other one remaining here to give the classes. This year both of them will go, there won’t be classes for two weeks. I’m already feeling abandoned.

yet another partner

2008, January 7

This was her ad:

“Seeking a tall and dynamic male partner!
Woman, 31, 173, 2 years of tango, ten years of ballet and modern-jazz, perfect movements, highly mobile, sensitive, musicality, elegance. Seeking one or more partners to attend the classes by teacher X… on Tuesdays and possibly for practicas, milongas, workshops. Motivated to improve! See you soon!”

Apart from being a male I was not exactly matching the required profile. 15 years too old, 15 cm too short. As for being dynamic… well my opinion is that in A.T the woman is doing the dancing while the leader hardly moves at all.

Still I wanted to take classes with this X teacher. So I posted my own ad.

“Seeking a follower for teacher X’s classes on Tuesdays.”

No need to mention my age, weight, heigth or skills of course. One week later there was a message for me: “Did you find a partner?”. Now all my deficiencies were irrelevant because she was the one who was answering an ad.

That’s how we’ll have our first class with teacher X tomorrow. I’m not sure that we’ll do just fine though. After we met in a practica Friday, I felt that there was more truth in my ad than in hers. She does not look like a ballet dancer, not even like a dancer by the way. Her body is not a silent invitation to dance. More likely you’ll imagine her patiently queueing for hours in front of the mall. She only danced with me at the practica, so I did not see her dancing and can’t tell whether she has some elegance or not. But her movements were far from perfect, she wasn’t that easy to move and her musicality was nil as far as I can judge; she merely followed without adding any musical embellishment. Let’s hope she’s motivated to improve.

Tango sieve

2007, December 27

Attended one milonga on Dec 16th and did not dance because
– There were much less lone followers (or groups of followers) than lone leaders and among the couples I did not know anybody well enough to borrow the lady.
– And I wasn’t enjoying the place because it was cold.

Attended another milonga on Dec 17th and did not dance because
– There were much less lone followers (or groups of followers) than lone leaders and among the couples I did not know anybody well enough
to borrow the follower.
– And I wasn’t enjoying the place because of the tobacco smoke-filled air.

Attended another milonga on Dec 24th (Milonga hosts here tend to remain open during the holidays, while the teachers tend to close their studios. I wish it were the other way.)
Here the lone leaders were only slightly outnumbering their female counterparts yet I did not dance because
– The followers were worse than me (well as bad as me but for a longer time; advanced bad dancers, sort of).
– And I wasn’t enjoying the place because of the tobacco smoke-filled air.

Strange phenomenon by the way, this lack of acceptable followers (read: can dissociate, has balance, lets the leader know where her weight is, can hear the beat, knows what a free leg is) and this persistance of so-so ones. It’s like a sieve pan which would keep the gravel and would let go the nuggets.

I’ll have another try tonight. I know the place, I’ve been there a few months ago. There were three of us, the DJ, one lady and me. I carefully let him invite her. She’s not a nugget but he’s a good dancer, he managed to do something.

Some like it hot

2007, December 24

A kind guy had brought a basket of roses at the Friday practica. Plus, one of my class partners was here, she knows me well and is not surprised any more by all the stupid ideas that can come to my mind. And by the way she’s not too serious either in her approach of the dance, definitely not in a Quest for Perfection. Or she would have chosen another partner.

So she made no objection when I told her that I wanted to find out whether the rose thing in Some like it hot was a special effect or not. Like, when the camera is not filming, Tony Curtis spits his rose while an assistant brings a fresh one and puts in into Jack Lemmon’s mouth.

The roses brought by the kind guy were perfect in this respect, not too heavy or fragile, red of course, and last but not least, without thorns.

I took the first turn, holding the rose just under the flower to leave the main part of the stem available. After a few steps we did a half-turn, I said “Ready?” (We discovered that it’s perfectly possible to talk with a rose in the mouth. ) and when the turn was over the flower was in her mouth. It’s not difficult at all.
After a while I asked the rose back but miscalculated somehow my jaw movement and chomped on the stem, almost breaking it and making any further exchange impossible. We stopped for a second, she threw the stem away while I adjusted the flower in her corsage.

Now, if I ever become a movie director (for a toothpaste ad maybe) I’ll know that it’s perfectly possible without any special effect.

ten-buck cold

2007, December 16

With most of my partners gone back to their distant homelands (Peru, Italy) for X-mas, I could not attend any class this week. So today I tried a milonga instead.

“Quick, close the door, it’s cold!” were the welcome words by the host. Below zero outside, and not so hot inside either as there was no significant heating and the ceiling was high.

10 bucks for entrance, ok I’ve seen worse.

Only couples, and lone leaders. I counted twelve of them. None of the followers here knew me either so there was no danger of being invited. No free hot tea here but at least I had brought my current favourite book. After two hours I had read 5 or 6 more chapters while listening to tango music. Only problem, I was almost shivering because of the cold temperature combined with the lack of motion. On the floor the leaders were showing no sign of being ready to loan their follower, and around the floor the situation had not improved, there was still a shortage of followers. Definitely no chance to warm-up.

Finally one friend entered the milonga. A guy. He saw me and came by.

How long have you been here ?

Two hours, I came when it opened.”

…like beginners do, he added mentally.

He was happy to see me, and also happy to see me leaving, I was eliberating one seat and improving the leaders/followers ratio. I hope he enjoyed his night, there were three hours left and an orchestra was announced. As for me, basically I bought a 10-buck cold.

In milongas, we move counter-clockwise because left-handers are a minority.

Ok that was the abstract, now let’s explain a bit.

We move counter-clockwise because it’s a legacy from older dances coming from older countries, like the viennese waltz. Of course saying this is only shifting the problem one inch further.

Now, why are people walking counter-clock-wise in the viennese waltz? Because when doing all these clockwise half-turns (1-2-3 to have your back to the LOD, 4-5-6 to complete your turn; and the opposite for the lady), moving counter-clockwise will make your life much easier when you arrive in a corner. Instead of a 360° turn you’ll have to execute a mere 270° . Walking clockwise on the other hand would force you to overturn each time you meet a corner.

But then, why did the waltzers of the past choose to (half-)turn to the right? They could have walked clock-wise and turned to the left instead. But not with this slight offset that puts the lady slightly to the guy’s right. The partner on your right is on the way and makes the turn to the left quite complicated. It’s no wonder that just anybody can waltz to the right, while waltzing to the left requires some technique.

All fine, an offset helps the pivots, but why to the right? Because the princes, generals, emperors, officers attending the imperial balls had not only a snazzy pomp uniform but also a snazzy pomp sword in its snazzy pomp scabbard and this sword being at their left side, it was only natural to put the lady where there was some space left, i.e to the man’s right. Sure they may not dance with the sword but they’d keep the scabbard and belt, if only to hold the trousers.

And why was the sword here and not on the other side? Well it’s the only possibility when the swords are drawn from their scabbards with the right hand, because of the length of the blade. For colts it’s different (unless the rifle is
long) and if tango had been invented by cow-boys then we might very well be walking clock-wise nowadays.

Finally, why were all these officers from the past time taking their sword with their right hand? Because most of them were right-handers, and all the armies in the world having this tendency to want their soldiers look all the same, even the unfortunate left-handers had to follow, thus wasting precious time during battles to draw their sword and dying at a younger age than their right-hander counterparts.

Browsing the tango section in a otherwise Salsa forum I found this old post by someone I know, a follower who within a year or two switched from salsa to tango.

“September 2006 – 10:18 Your salsa shoes will be just fine. And wear them as soon as you arrive because the leaders look at women shoes before inviting them…

Later you’ll find real tango shoes with higher heels (8 to 12 cm) but many followers use mere 4 to 6 cm shoes.”

This words rang a bell somehow, though it was not precise yet. “Yes”, I thought, “we leaders we fall too often in this cheap trap”. And reading further on I found another post by the same lady:

“When a leader sees a woman with dance shoes he thinks she’s a dancer.
Just ask S… who has yet to learn the tango. She once came and see us at a milonga, wearing her salsa shoes as I had told her, and it worked, she got invited. When I met the guy afterwards he told me ‘Ok smart girl, your friend with the pretty shoes, she’s a salsera uh?’.

I could not stop laughing.”

And only here did I realize why it sounded so familiar. Here

is my own side of the story. Damn salseras and their high heels, trapping the naive, unsuspecting leaders…

Damn Miles

2007, November 17

So, all his belongings during his one-year trip in the realm of tango were a pair of dance shoes and a laptop – which by the way had to be sold at some point. Sleeping in a trunk, eating every other day, all this to save the money for yet another private, now that’s dedication. Congrats, Miles.