Monday, December 04, 2006

New York, New York - part 2

2PM - The practica is over, and it was a good one. For the first couple of hours I danced with quite a few women, some of them more advanced then others, nothing spectacular but the level seems maybe a bit higher on average then the regular Sunday practicas in Boston. Then, I asked a woman that looked vaguely familiar to dance. Wow. From the first few steps I felt it was yet another of those tango moments brewing ... We danced for a few songs without talking much, almost like we were afraid the magic will shatter. After we got to talk a bit, what do you know, while she is a New Yorker, she hangs out a lot in Boston since that's where her boyfriend lives. And it turns out she frequents some of the same milongas and practicas I do. How come we didn't dance before is a mystery to me... Before we said goodbye she mentioned she's planning to go to the Chelsea Market milonga, a free event held in a public space, a hallway in an indoor market on 9th ave. I was thinking of taking the waltz workshop but, I can take workshops anytime, while in NY I should experience NY events.

So, at 4pm I'm there, at the Chelsea Market. The market itself is quite charming, all sorts of funky decorative elements made with industrial stuff (like bolts and machine parts). The milonga takes place in an open area cordoned off with some string. There were only a few couples dancing at 4PM, but it pick up later so by 6PM it was pretty packed. I had a blast. I got to dance with a lot of people, a few of them quite good, and a few of them quite fun. In a couple of cases, they were both good and fun and it was awesome. A from Yale was very fun to dance with and I'm looking forward to dancing with her again sometime. T showed up and we had a few awesome tangas, she was also gracious enough to tolerate my mediocre milonga skills for which I'm grateful.

At 8pm the milonga was over and I headed to the milonga organized by E1 and his friends. I'm not going to go in many details, but for me that milonga was a fiasco. First I was exhausted, note to self, after 3 hours of sleep, 7 hours of dancing seems to be pretty much my limit. I danced a tanga with my favorite Montreal dancer, who was there with her partner to teach one of the workshops and ... I sucked big time. I sort of felt guilty for wasting her time, which she could've used to danced with some of the other instructors there. I really need to learn to pace myself. E1 came through and he found a place for me to sleep for that night. Sunday at 11AM E1, his wife and a few others we went to a placed called the Turkish Kitchen that served buffet brunch. Very good stuff, and very nice venue, though a bit pricey ($20/person). After brunch I went for a walk through Manhattan and I went back to the practica where everyone was going to be. I danced most of the time, sadly, I didn't get to dance with M (well, I had one chance but they were playing milonga, on a good day my milonga is barely passable, and this wasn't one of those good days). I guess I'm going to have to go to Montreal again ...

Then I caught a cab and I almost missed the bus by about 3 minutes. And now I'm typing this and I'll upload it tomorrow. Funny thing, the bus ticket from NY to Boston was $15 and the cab ride from the practica to the Bus station was $20. I really need to start using the subway when I'm in NY ...

* I've heard many time form leaders that NY is a tough place to "break" into as a leader, my experience was quite different than that.
* I really need to start using the subway, the cabs cost me a fortune.
* I need to plan a bit more, having to worry about where you'll sleep every night is way too much hassle.
* NY truly never sleeps.
* NY is crowded and dirty.
* NY traffic is a nightmare (even on weekends)
* I love NY, I'll be back.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

New York, New York - part 1

Since I was on a roll with the tango, when E(1) mentioned the Tango A La Turca Festival in NY and he said he could get me a 50% discount and he could arrange for accommodations (find a host) I figured, why the hell not, I've never danced in NY and it's been a while since I've been in THE city anyway. Sure, got bus tickets for Friday at 6PM, and even if the trip takes 4.5-5 hours, I'll still make it in time to the Friday milonga to catch the last 3 hours. Awesome.

Then E2 calls and she says she's driving to NY, why don't I go with her, awesome, I think, first with the car we should get there faster and we didn't get to hang out for a while. Even when she said she could be ready to go by 7PM at the latest, I figured, ehh, we'll make up the time. She called at 5PM to say she's getting out of work, she'll swing by home to get her stuff and we'll on our way.

And this is when stuff started to go wrong. First, she caught bad traffic getting home. Then she caught really bad traffic coming to my place. By the time she got to my house, it was 8:30. Then we had heavy rain and since she was recently in a (minor) accident, we ended up driving 50mph for a while. She was tired since she worked the whole night before and I was cranky, since the evening was going the way it was going so the conversation wasn't quite spectacular. Then since she was really tired, she took a nap as I drove. We made it to Manhattan at around 12:45. During the trip I tried to reach E1 a few times to see if he found someone to host me, but he didn't pick up the phone and he never returned my calls. Awesome. I call a few hostels and I find a bed at Chelsea Hostel on w20th. $38 later I have a bed in an overheated bedroom, it must be 85 degrees here. So I go for a walk around the block, it turns out, it is the gay hangout area so I'm getting a couple of comments from some dudes that obviously had a few more drinks then they can handle. Excellent. Go back to the hostel around two, and try to catch some Zzzzzs. Around 6AM, some dude comes in the room, wheezing and caughing, no doubt the 3 flights of stairs when one's 300 lbs is quite a challenge. He settles down in 10 minutes or so, but as soon as he falls asleep, he starts snoring like a farm tractor with a couple of cylinders randomly misfiring. Great, I was missing some sound effects. I toss and turn for a while and then decide I can't sleep anymore, maybe I should take a shower. As I'm thinking if I brought soap, the other guy in the room gets up, he goes into the bathroom (only a shower and a sink, the toilet is in the hallway) and I hear him peeing. Ewwww. So I guess I'm not taking a shower this morning...

9AM Not that I would've stayed another night, but they don't have any beds for Saturday anyway. So, I'm back on the street, dragging behind me my luggage, kind of tired, kind of stinky and a bit down. I'm thinking this weekend could've started better.

Found a cafe, ordered some breakfast and commandeered an unsecured internet connection to check my mail. The battery is dead. Sigh. Wait, there is a power outlet, we're back in business. Since I'm on w20th st and there is a practica on w19th street at 11am, I'll go check it out. The first couple of workshops are not that interesting (to me), maybe I'll take the waltz workshop at 4:30. If I can figure out where they do it that is.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006


"Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it."

 by Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Montreal Tango Rendez-Vous '06 - L'Academy milonga

Last time I was in Montreal a lot of people suggested I should attend the L'Academy, Montreal's oldest milonga held Sunday evening. Since I couldn't make that time, I made sure I made it this time.

The venue is well designed so there is no walking on the dance floor, you can watch the dance floor from the bar, it's intimate and it has a lot of character. Sadly, the floor is a nightmare to dance on. It's either extremely sticky, or extremely slippery. At the beginning of the night it felt like there was glue on it, later is was so slippery, one could "skate" on it. And from talking with the locals, it doesn't seem like that night was an isolated incident. That's quite a shame. I was impressed on the attendance though, it was really crowded and it's taking place on Sunday evenings, with people presumably having to work the next day.

The level of dancing ranged from total beginners to very advanced, unlike "Air de Tango" at Moka Danse where there were hardly any beginners at all. What really surprised me was the apparent inability of some people to take no for an answer. I was accompanied to the milonga by D, she just wanted to watch, but she is not a tango dancer. I explained to her the whole cabaceo thing and despite her avoiding eye contact with men and despite the fact she removed her shoes, she was asked to dance repeatedly. And when she declined, explaining she is not a dancer, they still tried to talk her into it. Repeatedly.

I danced a bit, and under normal circumstances I would've been quite happy with the way it went, but after the "tango moment" earlier that day (see the previous blog entry), none of the dances felt very special. With one exception that is, Sherri, one of the instructors in Montreal (I met her and her husband Stephane when they taught a boleo workshop in Providence a few months back) stopped by at my table to say hi and asked if we could dance the next tanga. I must say, I was very flattered as she is an exquisite dancer and as such, she certainly can get the pick of the litter anywhere, especially in her home town.

I was praying (even though I am not religious ...) for the next tanga not to be a milonga as I still struggle with that dance. The Gods listened and they got me a waltz. I would've preferred a tango, as my waltz on crowded floors is not really something to write home about, but I guess one can't have everything. And for the second time that day I experienced that calm, completely relaxed, warm embrace. Montreal is awesome... I think my performance was overall adequate but a few times during the tanga, when the ... stars aligned (as in, I was able to walk without slipping, or stepping on my own pants, when there was a bit of space to move and I managed to "nail" a few musical phrases), it pretty awesome. My friend D was taking pictures with my camera and from the few shots she got of me dancing with Sherri, I like this one (on the right) the best. I think D caught one of the moments where I was doing some really fast side steps using the shoulders to mark the crescendo in the music. One of the times when I "nailed" it.

So, I guess I joined the ranks of the ... "tango moment" junkies. We spend countless hours practicing, thousands of dollars in lessons and travel costs for that 10 minutes of tango nirvana one gets once in a while when everything just falls in place. Looking forward to the next one...


Montreal Tango Rendez-Vous '06 - a tango moment

It occurred at a practica, of all places. Tango Fabrika, a cozy venue with a pleasant decor, a few couches, tables and chairs, excellent floor and a good sound system. The place is mostly frequented by the tango nuevo crowd and there was a lot of alternative music which I really enjoyed.

I got to practice some of the sacada/boleo combinations taught in the class I attended the day before and while it's fun to dance in open, it's not really my thing. Most dancers there were dancing in open embrace which I found interesting as they were quite advanced (not to mention the two couples of instructors who were there dancing open as well). But the people I danced with were quite comfortable in close embrace so it was all well.

Half way through the practica I asked Marika, one of the instructors at Tango Fabrika to dance with me. Dancing with an instructor and performer is quite intimidating as a leader, particularly for one with limited experience like myself (on Jan 12 it will be a year since my first tango class). In the past, the most frequent feedback I had from dancing with experienced dancers was to relax. From the first second after we got into the embrace, I could feel her calmness ... flowing from her body into mine. She has a very warm embrace, which I've seen a lot of in Montreal. Any tension I might've had kind of melted away. I could feel her being completely tuned into my body movement. After a few weight changes and tiny steps off we went. At practicas I like to concentrate on one element only, this time was musicality. I’ve been working on my musicality for a while now, but this time, instead of concentrating on the music, I just ... surrendered to it. Using mostly forward, side and back steps I played with the rhythm, stepping on different beats and instruments, enjoying the dance. Tiny steps, shoulder movement to mark individual notes, playful moves, whatever it felt natural at the time. It’s amazing to lead and feel your partner responding to the smallest movements, so tiny they are nearly invisible to anyone else but you two. For me, it was an amazing experience, and seeing a dancer of her stature genuinely enjoying the dance, participating 100%, having fun, it's so inspiring.

But wait, there is more. Many instructors talk about the bidirectional communication between the leader and follower, but this is the first time I’ve really seen it at work. I don’t know how, and I forgot to ask, but she always had a way to let me know when she finished a move or embellishment and she was ready to move again. Not once I had to watch her feet to tell if she’s done, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t cut short anything she did. A couple of times, when there was something in the music that she really liked, she somehow made me aware of it (without back leading!), kind of like "hey, listen to this", but without words. That was pretty amazing.

Lessons learned

- steps/figures are irrelevant
- the quality of the embrace is paramount
- surrender to the music rather then concentrate on it
- being tense really is a tango "killer", conversely, being completely relaxed brings one's dancing to a whole new level

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A tango moment #1 - Nov 08 2006

A few days ago I went to a practica in a nearby town. A woman I never danced before with asked me if I wanted to dance and of we went. In the last few months I've been dancing in close embrace exclusively, as I felt the connection is much stronger that way. But there was something awkward in trying to dance in close embrace with this particular woman (she was slightly tilted to the left and I was getting thrown off balance), so I opened the embrace. Once I did, the stars suddenly aligned and the DJ started an alternative tanga. Wow, maybe her posture is not great in close embrace, but this woman REALLY knows how to listen to the leader and the music and the same time. For the next couple of tangas I was leading steps I've never done before, coming up with stuff as I went along. Slow cat like movement, fast milonga style steps, drags, hesitation steps, whatever I was doing, she was responding to it.

So, one can have an incredible connection in open embrace as well. Who knew?


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My favorite tango video

I don't really have other words. Anyone knows who are they?


Monday, November 06, 2006

Tango de los Muertos - Nov 2-5 2006

Tango de los Muertos was the second festival I attended, the first one was in June. As the first one, it was exhausting and a lot of fun. But this time, as I felt a lot more confident in my dancing, I asked and danced with a lot of great dancers. Most seemed to enjoy dancing with me and I must say it certainly feels nice to be rewarded with sparkly eyes, a big smile and warm thank you at the end of the tanga from a woman that certainly has danced with the best leaders out there. The ultimate compliment was when after dancing a whole tanga with an exquisite dancer, she stayed for another one despite the fact that 3 of the very experienced leaders present were available and scanning for partners. That gave me a warm fuzzy feeling inside ... It's true, it happened that I knew all the songs in both tangas and they are among my favorite, but who cares, I rocked!

One thing I learned is that dancing on crowded floors is still a hit or miss for me. Much better then a few months ago, when it was a definite "miss", but even now, when it's really crowded most of my energy is spent on navigation, and I can't really listen and interpret the music, which leads to a boring dance and it's obvious from the reaction you get from your partners. Practice, practice, practice.

I took a few workshops, let's see. The first one was with Tova and Carlos, "Beginning milonga". As usual, their class was a lot of fun and I felt like my grasp on the basics of dancing milonga got better. I even attempted a few milongas at the milongas (this is got to be confusing for the tango uninitiated ...) with a couple of women I know well. I had mixed results (which is certainly better then complete disaster ...) so I definitely have it on the agenda for practicas.

Friday evening there was the Golden Age Milonga, Attire: dress as a 1930s/1940s film star. A lot of evening dresses, some funkier costumes and I went with a gangster look which was a great success. I had a couple of pictures taken with V, but I need to get the files from her. I will post them as I get them. I stayed until the end at 3AM and then I drove home a few friends. By the time me and S we were done chatting and I dropped her off, it was 4:30. I got to sleep after 5AM.

At 11:30 I was back in the game for "
Leaders: Body Awareness and Dissociation" with Luis and Daniela. They are a fun couple and they had quite a few great "tricks" for the walk, weight transfer, posture and the dynamics of the steps. I think I finally got the hang of the back ochos. Not that a leader will do a lot of ochos per se, but the dissociation technique is the same for turns, leading a molinette, etc.

Then it was the " Dynamics, Subtleties and Nuances" with Felipe and Rosa. This workshop was very cool. It was about subtle variations on basic things like walking to the cross. Things that are not necessarily obvious to the outside observer, but the follower will certainly notice it (and by the reactions I got later at the practica, they also appreciated it).

I stayed a bit at the practica and then I rushed home to take a nap, as Saturday night there was dancing until 6AM! Two milongas in a row. The first one, the
Tango Paradiso Milonga with Live Music by Los Chantas from 9PM to 1:30AM and then the Sleepwalk milonga from 1:30AM to 6AM. Attire: pajamas. That was so awesome to see people dancing in jammies. And there was dancing until 6AM, I was very surprised to see this many people dancing until the end. It was 6:30AM when I got to sleep.

At 3PM, I took the " Single-Axis Turns for the Social Dance Floor" with Robin and Jennifer. This is a cool off axis turn, I'm not sure how will it work if I try to lead women that never took this class, but there is a variant when both the leader and the follower maintain their axis, so I'm thinking might be able to pull it off with more experienced dancers. Robin and Jennifer are very detailed when they explain the mechanics of the turn, and got to practice it a lot. I really enjoyed their teaching style.

The next one was "
...Make Your Partner Go Aaaaaaaaaah" with Tova and Carlos. As one would expect, the entertainment alone would justify the cost of the workshop, but they went over some of their signature moves (not figures mind you, it mostly has to do with unusual weight changes, sudden stops, etc), which can make a simple straight walk a lot more interesting. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

The initial plan was to go home to change for the last milonga of the weekend, but I didn't feel like driving home and back, and since I had a fresh shirt and a jacket in the car, I stayed for the "Vals: Musicality and Turns" with Felipe and Rosa. There wasn't anything new in this workshop, but I got to ... "put a name" on the rhythm I was doing instinctively during the vals, and maybe now I can make conscious choices on doing a 1-2-1 or a 1-3-1 beat step.

At 9PM the Milonga started and I danced a bit but I was so exhausted I sucked. As such, around midnight I bailed. Since I was smart enough to take Monday off, I slept until 11AM ...

Now I'm making stew. Yummy!

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

confidence, mojo & tango

Confidence is such a great thing to have. Too bad it's not sold at convenience stores, you know, so you could stop pick up some when you're low. A few days ago I went to a practica and the teachers that taught some workshops during the weekend were there. Since the only follower not dancing already was the teacher, I asked her to practice with me (note that I did not say "asked her to dance with me"). She obliged and off we went.

Now, while still a beginner as it's not even a year since I started, I'm a pretty good dancer. How do I know this? Well, I can feel it and besides, there are quite a few skilled followers out there that asked me for dances more then once. But for whatever reason I could not lead this teacher to save my life. Forget about fancy moves, front ochos didn't work ... I've seen her dance with many people and she's a teacher for crying out loud, so I know it's not her. I suspect she was on purpose not making it easy for me so I can work on my lead, posture and form (all of which need a lot of work) and I always said, at a practica, followers should not "help" leaders, as they will never learn how to lead unless they see what works and what doesn't.

But, those 5 or 6 dances killed my confidence for most of the evening, and even when I got to practice/dance with women I always danced well with, I was well below my level. So now I question my conviction that followers should not assist leaders at all. Because if they get intimidated or frustrated, their dance quality will get even lower then it usually is. So what's the correct answer you may ask? I don't know. But I'm thinking, if you are dancing with someone and you want to help, maybe it would make more sense to pick ONE thing you think they need to work on and assist with that, while "helping out" when they make unrelated mistakes. This way, it's more likely they will improve on that particular thing and still enjoy the process.

What do you think?


Monday, October 30, 2006

Longa Milonga @ Providence Tango - Oct 28 2006

Update: Robin posted the pictures she took here .

Saturday was once again that time of the month. The "Longa Milonga", an all night milonga at the Providence Tango (for those of you still hangover from the weekend, that is in Providence, RI). This was a special one because it was costumed (Halloween being just around the corner).

For those of you who never been to Providence Tango, I'll try a short description (and you can check their website, they have some pictures there as well). It's an old brick building which I assume it was a factory of sorts some time ago. All the tango events I attended took place in a very large studio, which has tables, lounge chairs, love seats, couches and even a ... bed (which comes in handy at some of these all night events. Take your mind out of the gutter now, people use it to take a nap). The wooden floor is perfect for dancing, the decor is tasteful and the whole thing has a warm intimate feeling, quite appropriate for tango.

I was there at opening (9PM) . People started arriving soon after that at and by 10:30 it was pretty lively. That is when I snuck in the bathroom with my bag and change into my costume. It was a "ninja" costume, dark blue silk chinese style costume, complete with two swords on the back, black gloves and a hood that completely covered my head (and mesh covered the face, so I was completely unrecognizable). For the next hour or so I had a lot of fun. Without a word, I asked women to dance, you could tell they were amused and curious about whom they were dancing with. I heard people asking each other "who's that?". It was a lot of fun. Robin took some pictures and I hope I was in one of them. I'll add it to this blog entry later if it turns up.

After about an hour I went and changed back, as it was pretty hot with that hood on. The dancing went on for the rest of the night. I left around 5AM (well, it was actually 4AM because the hour changed) and when I left, there were still a couple of people still dancing. I had a very nice time. I got to dance with quite a few great dancers, from both Providence, Boston and Western Mass, the music was pretty good and the deserts served around midnight were awesome. There is food served at this milonga, but I didn't have any since I ate before I left home so I can't comment on that. People went back for seconds though, so I'm guessing it was pretty good.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Montreal trip report - Oct 19-22 2006

Since I had Th and Fr (Oct 19,20 2006) off, I figured I should check out Montreal since I've never been there. I decided to drive, but I also took the motorcycle on the trailer, the plan being to park the car and ride the motorcycle around, since it should be much easier to park.

Thursday 3:30AM

God I hate waking up in the middle of the night. But sometimes sacrifices need to be made... So after enough coffee to wake up the dead, I managed to get everything loaded up and I was ready to go at 5AM. The ride to Montreal was uneventful, although the sun finally breaking through the heavy cloud cover was quite nice.

I made it to Montreal at 11AM and after getting lost a couple of times I managed to arrive to the hostel around noon. It turns out the "private room" I reserved was in fact a small little cabin located in the yard.
Charming. But the hostel is right in the middle of the old Montreal, so you can walk to a bunch of things easy enough (not that I did, mind you). Parking the car with a trailer attached proved to be the most challenging part of the trip. I finally found a place on the edge of a park, just about 5 miles away from the hostel... So, I unloaded the bike and for the rest of my stay, the car is going to stay where it's at. I am not looking for another parking spot, it may take the rest of the weekend.

By 3pm I was all settled in, with the bike illegally parked right in front of the hostel. They seem to be OK with that. It doesn't look like bikers are hassled in Montreal, as long as you don't overdo it. That's nice. I spent the rest of the afternoon taking a nap and hanging out in the common room at the hostel eating and trying my french. The verdict? Yes, it does suck.

For the evening there was never a question, it will be tango. But where? They have three milongas on Thursdays. Yeah, the scene is definitely more lively then Boston's scene. I picked "Tango Nuestro", a little milonga organized by Lily Palmer. Speaking of that, note to self, when you ride the motorcycle somewhere and the forecast says rain, you may want to take the rain gear with you, as opposed to leaving it in the room. Since I was early I took the opportunity to stop at a bar, have a quick drink and dry myself using half of the establishment napkin supplies.

Thursday 9PM

So, I managed to get there resonably dry. The setup is quite charming but the attendance was quite weak, I'm pretty sure the rainy weather didn't help. Since for a while there was just me a another couple, I took the oportunity to chat with Keith, the DJ. Quite an interesting guy, he's a sound engineer who among other things he re-masters old tango songs (eliminating noise and enhancing the overall sound). And I must say, it sounds really good. The place got more lively after 10:30 PM, and I got to dance a bit. There were mostly locals but also a couple of french girls, one of them visiting from France. She says tango in Canada seems a bit more informal then it is in Paris. I left the place around midnight as I was falling off my feet.

Friday 11AM Montreal Mount Royal park & Botanical Garden

I finally woke up at 11AM and after a quick breakfast I went for a ride. First I ended up in the Mount Royal park which, as the name suggests it's an elevated place from where you can see the entire Montreal . Then as it was getting to be cold up there, I took a ride to the Montreal botanical gardens. I figured I should spend a bit of time outside as it was getting ready to rain. Some sections are very charming, like the vine cover arbor in the picture. Others ... well, they are quite strange ...

I'm sure October is not the best time to visit the Botanical Garden, but some spots were worth seeing.

Friday 3PM The Underground

Around 3PM it started raining pretty heavy and despite the rain gear, I was getting cold. So, perfect time to check out the famous underground pedestrian network. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, Montreal has a network of tunnels for pedestrian access that connect various buildings, malls, subway stations, atc. There are stores, restaurants and even art displays. While some of the tunnels look like subway connectors, some are quite interesting.

Friday 7PM Old Montreal @ night

The Old Montreal area is very nicely lit at night, with most building having accent lights to show off the architecture and details. Since it was raining, the reflections of the building and lights were too interesting to pass up, so I had to go out and take a few pictures. Trying to maneuvre the tripod, camera and the umbrella (my camera is not water proof and it's quite expensive) was ... a treat.

Friday 9PM Air De Tango Milonga

The general consensus was that Air De Tango milonga at Moka Dance was the place to be if you want to tango on a Friday evening. So, since the forecast was calling for low 30s at 3am and it was already raining, I geared up and off I went. If you never saw a fully geared motorcycle rider (winter gear + rain gear) then you can't imagine the looks I got when I entered the door ... ;). Imagine a "Power Ranger" (yes, the cartoon characters ...) lost among evening dresses and suits. To make it worse, to get to the bathroom to change, you have to cross the whole place, including the dance floor... So I made quite an entrance.

Anyway, 10 minutes later after having an interesting time trying to change in the incredibly tiny bathroom, I'm back in the main room dressed appropriately. I have to describe the room as I don't have any pictures due to ... ahem ... technical difficulties with my camera (it turns out, charged batteries are a really good thing to have if you want to take pictures...). As you enter the door, you see a long rectangular room (the door being on one of the short sides). On the right there is a full bar (at ALL tango venues in Montreal they seem to have either a full bar or at least wine), on the left a few tables then the room has the dance floor followed by a lounge area with a few chairs and coffee tables. On the sides of the dance floor there are benches and very narrow tables which makes it very easy to sit and watch the dancers without taking too much valueable floor space. The one downside of this location, between 10:30PM and 1AM (officially the milonga ends at 3am but they were open until 3:30), one really needs navigational skills to dance there. Since there are a lot of very good dancers, I've seen no tragedies, but if crowds intimidate you, you're not going to dance a lot. The place is nicely decorated and it has a homey warm feeling to it. After 2AM I had the best time. There was ample space on the dance floor which allowed me to concentrate on the music and the few dancers that stayed that late were really, really good.

As far as tango level, it's really high. There are quite a few excuisite dancers and while there is really no space for any extravagant figures, the grace and musicality they have is almost intimidating. Speaking of figures, dancers in Montreal don't seem to be very into them. Walks, turns, sacadas is the most you see as far as figures go. Of course you'll see an occasinal volcada or gancho but it seems like most people are focused on the musicality and rithm. Which was really good, because while my figure vocabulary is limited, my musicality and rithm is quite good (or so I'm told). I did spend an hour or so watching and trying to identify the women that would match my style of dancing, because you really want the first few times you dance in a new crowd to look as good as possible. That paid off, and for the rest of the evening I did not seem to have a problem finding people to dance with and since some even stuck around for more then one tanga, I assume they enjoyed dancing with me as well. As far as age, the crowd at Moka Danse was generally in their 30s. It doesn't look like cabaceo is used very often, people that seem engaged in a conversation are routinelly approached and asked to dance and they don't seem to resent it. I don't know if it's because they know each other, but if you're going to try to use cabaceo exclusively, you might not dance as much as you'd like.

I do have to mention one woman in particular, let's call her M. Due to some recent injury she didn't dance much (or at all) throughout the evening, since she didn't think she was able to perform acceptably. We talked for a while and since she seemed like she was missing dancing so much I suggested we could try a song or two and keep it simple. We danced for the next 45 minutes, until they fianlly kicked us out at 3:30. If this is the way you dance M when you are incapaciated, I really have to come back to Montreal to dance with you when you are 100%. Thank you so much, it was a real pleasure to meet you.

Saturday 3:30AM

The ride back to the hostel. Uhh, once again, it's f...g cold in Canada.

Saturday 11:00AM

After a late breakfast (included with the room/bed at the hostel) I jumped back on the bike to explore Montreal some more. Riding in the Old Montreal is not all that fun as the pavement is really bad, and the place looks much better at night because of the light effects, so I headed to one of the more commercial streets (St. Laurent), parked the bike and went exploring.

Then I went to the Little Italy area and I found a real farmers Market. I haven't seen one since I left Romania.

I could not miss the Biosphere, a land mark in Montreal, so I had to do a quick drive by and then I also did a drive by of the Habitat 67. That is quite a place, sadly, it was getting dark and there is absolutely no place to park there, so I have no pictures of my own, but check the link to some more info. If you like funky architecture, this is one place you don't want to miss (and pictures don't do it justice, as it usually happens).

Saturday 7PM

Back to the hostel, getting ready for the "Royal Milonga", one of the more popular tango events for a Saturday night. I was there a bit after it opened and went through the same exercise of morphing from the "Robocop" look to an elegant evening outfit as the night before. The place is elegant with high ceilings, large windows and tasteful decorations. As usual, there is a bar, tables on the sides of the dance ring and even a wall covered with mirrors (so you can check your posture, assuming you can do that and dance at the same time, which I can't).

The crowd is older then it was at the Moka Dance, but once again, the level is quite high and you don't see many beginners. Which begs the question, where are the begginers dancing? As usual, I spend some time watching people dance, familiariazed myself with their style and when the opportunity occured, I asked one of the women that seemed to enjoy dancing with leaders who had styles similar to mine. That went very well and once again, I did not seem to have any problems finding partners after that. I even had to decline some invitations as they were for milongas which I'm still not dancing.

Once again, I have to mention one woman in particular, and once again, let's call her M. Like myself she started tango this year but despite that she is an amazing dancer. We danced several tangas before she and her friend had to leave and I have to say, it was the highlight of my evening. There was no fancy footwork but the musicality and the connection was amazing. Thank you M, it was a delight dancing with you and moments like that are the reason I spend so much time and money and put so much effort to learn and perfect my tango.

Sunday 11AM

All is loaded into the car, the motorcycle is safely strapped to the trailer and I'm off to Boston.

Sunday 4PM

Made it to Boston. It was an exceptional long weekend.

Note: For more pictures from this trip go to my site and check the Montreal folder under Travel.