Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A tango weekend ...

Wow, this weekend was ALL tango. Saturday the Longamilonga in Providence, Sunday the milonga at Yale (New Haven) and Monday the practica in Providence.

Let's start with the beginning, the LongaMilonga. We got there around 10 and it was already full, maybe not packed, but full. Since Thuy & Ben are leaving for BsAs soon, it was their last LongaMilonga and people came from all over to celebrate.

Until that night, it was a while since I had a memorable dance, so when I stepped in I was hoping for something really good, but I was not holding my breath. A bit into the milonga I asked for a dance from of the women I've never seen before, she seemed really good, but you never know how you click with someone until you dance with them. WOW! She is one of those really calm dancers, she was getting ALL the nuances I was putting into the dance and at the end of the tanda I was really giddy (on the inside, one needs to keep composure, you know). As we were dancing it was immediately clear to me she was one of the best followers in the room, so when she kept talking through the (what seemed to be an interminable) cortina I was waiting for the "thank you" ... which didn't come! So there we went, on the second tanda. And then on the third, and then a forth! When we finally stopped, I felt like skipping around like a little girl! The Gods were smiling in all sorts of ways because they delayed the milonga tanda (milonga still being my nemesis, although I'm getting better at it) until were were done. Thank you kindly dear Gods, I really appreciated that!

In the past year I've been getting my share of dances from really good followers, but it always felt like they did it as an ... "investment", since I'm promising, you know. I've been a "good dancer for someone that's been dancing for n months". This time, the amount of time I've been dancing only came up after the second tanda, which in some way was the first sign that I'm graduating from "good dancer for someone that's been dancing for n months" to just "good dancer", that really make me feel warm and fuzzy inside! ;)

Then, later in the night, I got to dance with a few more great dancers, like C and J, some of them even sticked around for then one tanda. Yes!

By 4AM I was exhausted, and knowing I was going to Yale in the afternoon, I called it a night. What a night!

Sunday I sent an email to a few people to see if they'd like to go to Yale together, P responded and he offered to drive, so around 2:30PM off we went. The drive was uneventful and around 4:45 we made it there. After walking up and down the block for a few times looking for the building, another dancers "rescued" us and we went in. The place is really cool, check out my review. I uploaded all the pictures I took to my website at http://www.bostonphotographs.com (navigate to "travel/2007-02 Yale milonga" from the main page).

Once I got in, the first really pleasant surprise was to see R, my favorite Princeton follower. It was going to be a good day. And it was. My first dance was with R and it was even better then the last time we danced together which was fantastic! She also brought with her a few friends, all of them exquisite dancers, with whom I danced throughout the evening. I don't know what they feed them in Princeton, but whatever it is, it works! ;)

As I was sitting on the sofa resting, I noticed a couple dancing, they looked magnificent. I've seen the leader before, and he's really good, but I've never seen her, so as soon she became available I went and asked her to dance. And yes, it was fantastic. Well, the first song anyway which was a song I really like, after that I kind of lost my inspiration as I didn't like the music that much and my exhaustion was starting to take a toll. But don't get me wrong, it was not her, it was me that lost it. She did dance with me a couple of tandas despite my less then stellar performance which was awesome for me, but I doubt was as much fun for her. As we were chatting between songs, I found out she started the Yale community years back and now she lives in NY where she DJs regularly. I'm looking forward to dancing with her again when I'm not exhausted. One more reason to go to NY soon!

I pretty much danced until 11PM, and even though my dancing suffered due to exhaustion, people still seemed to enjoy the dances, which was great! Toward the end of the night R wanted to lead a bit, and despite the fact that both of us are absolute beginners at the other role, we had a blast as we were changing roles back and forth mid song. I really wish I could do this well (following that is), as it would be a lot of fun.

Monday I went to the Providence practica and the highlight of the evening was following R. She led me for a few songs, and I can get used to that! In absolute terms I definitely suck at it, but relative to my experience (which amounts to about half an hour as a follower) I do rather well. I need to take some private classes, so I don't develop bad habits which are so difficult to break.

So after this tango weekend I feel much better about my dancing, I think it's still improving and I'm very happy about that, as I would hate to plateau ...

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Travel mug ... finally!

I finally found a travel mug (Oxo) that is spill proof. And I don't mean spill or splash resistant, I mean SPILL PROOF! I fill it with hot coffee, use the click button to close it and then I just drop it in my bag. Sideways, upside down, it doesn't matter. The stainless steel version (which is what I have) is a vacuum sealed, so it insulates a lot better then any other plastic mug I ever had. (They also have a plastic one, it's just as spill proof but heat retention sucks). The lip on the side you drink from is thin, making it very comfortable to use (I hate drinking from fat lipped containers).

I love it!

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Hosting for festivals?

I'll host you for the Boston festival, can you host me for any of the major US/Canada festivals?

In an effort to lower the damage tango inflicts on my finances, I'm looking for people who are willing to host me (and potentially my girlfriend) during 2007 festivals in exchange for me hosting them for the Boston/Providence festivals. Anyone? I should say that as far as sleeping arrangements go, I only need enough space on a floor to put an air mattress (which I can bring with me). I'm well known in the Boston/Providence tango community, I can provide references upon request.

I live 15min drive south of the Boston, 30 north of providence, a 5 minute drive to the Boston's subway red line (which goes to MIT where I suspect the June festival will be held). But since I'll be attending all local festivals, you would definitely get rides to/from all milongas and potentially some workshops.


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Thursday, February 15, 2007


At 9pm last night I pull in the parking lot at Springstep, looking forward to dancing after a long day at work. But, the whole building is dark. There is a sign on the door, "Due to the storm, the classes are canceled".

Hmm. The storm? You mean the two inches of snow we got in the last 24 hours? The 10mph wind? Yeah, the government should've declared a state of emergency, after all, one can't be expected to function when the ground is barely covered with this white substance so unusual in the New England's winters. But I think people missed another danger, since anthrax is apparently a white substance, the terrorists could've taking the opportunity to camouflage large amounts of the deadly substance in plain view. I think would should instate a curfew every time it snows. Because one cannot be too careful.

Good thing we spent almost a million dollars to make sure a bunch of LED ads are not bombs. Money well spent! Those people asking for money to look for cures for cancers and AIDS or people asking for money to feed starving children are just idiots. We all know that terrorists kill a lot more people then all of these things combined. The US government already told us that almost 2000 people were killed in 2006 by terrorists worldwide. So spending 400 billion dollars for the war in Iraq was nothing. But, I believe the government is not cautious enough. I mean, there are all sorts of things along the highways and bridges that could conceal bombs. Haven't you seen along the highways tires, cardboard boxes, old shoes, even PARKED CARS! I mean, cars are already used to blow shit up in other parts of the world. Oh my GOD. Every car can be a ticking bomb! We need to ban all the cars! Because we can't be too careful!

But wait, the terrorists strap explosives to their bodies and walk around and blow them selfs up! Damn, we need to be more careful. So, maybe we need to make a law that no one can get closer then 50 feet of nobody else. Because we cannot be too careful, it's a dangerous world out there.

I think I'm going to run home, dig myself a bunker and wait until Bush makes the world safe again. Yeah, I'll get right on it!


Monday, February 12, 2007

On dancing tango on "alternative" music ...

For the most part I don't like dancing on what is usually referred as "alternative" music. Just to be clear, to me there is a big difference between nuevo tango music and alternative music. I call nuevo tango music the music that was intended to be tango, regardless on how it actually sounds. I call alternative the music that was not composed with tango in mind, but it's being danced tango on regardless.

Why don't I like dancing on (most) alternative music?

Because most of the music played as alternative is boring to dance on. Either boring or painful. Mind you, I didn't say difficult, I said painful. I'll explain in a bit. But let's get back to the "boring" part.

Tango music has a number of things happening at the same time. It has a main beat but it has so much more. No matter how advanced one is in tango, there is always something challenging in every song, yet it's simple enough to be danced by beginners. As one gets better at feeling the music, it becomes possible to dance on several layers at once. Maybe your feet dance on the main beat and your upper body dances on the violin. Or the other way around. Then there are the little playful sounds the piano makes. Tango music is written for dancing tango. Non-tango music isn't.

I enjoy moving on any music, and on occasion, I have fun dancing on some non-tango piece using tango vocabulary. But it doesn't feel like tango, because it's not.

Some pieces are simply painful to dance on. There is no main beat, or if it is it's drowned in a cacophony of other sounds, it has random sound effects that are impossible to lead on, as one can't predict them without being VERY familiar with the music. I've been known to apologize to my partner and get off the dance floor when one of these songs is played. So, DJs, please remember, you are not DJing to showcase your music, you are DJing so we can dance!


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

New tango events review website ...

I'm in the process of creating a new site for tango event reviews. Temporarily is organized as a blog at http://milongareviews.blogspot.com

Here readers can comment on tango events they attended, hopefully the organizers would read the comments and use the information to improve the event. I will soon post my own reviews to the events I attended.

Please feel free to submit your milonga/practica/tango festival review as a comment. If you'd like to review an event that is not listed yet, please email me the info about the event along with your review and I'll add both the event and the review.

While so far I only listed Boston events, the plan is to make this a global site, so please feel free to submit your own favorite events.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Give it all you have or say no ...

In my opinion, but I doubt any leader will think otherwise, when you, a follower accept an invitation, you owe to your partner (and to yourself) to give to that dance ALL (the attention and emotion) you are capable of giving.

I've danced with some really advanced followers and it was heaven. Then I danced with some other real advanced followers and it was ... disappointing. Not because it was a bad dance, but because it was not as fantastic as it could of been.

Look, while I am a pretty good dancer, especially for the amount of time I've been dancing, I understand that for a very experienced follower dancing with me will not be an earth shattering experience. But thinking about your laundry while dancing or working on your posture or saying hi to your friends that just came in WILL NOT contribute to the quality of the dance. It will certainly make it disappointing for me.

You see, because I am not very experienced, my lead, while there, might not be as clear as it can be. But if you REALLY pay attention, you can "hear it". If you're just going through the motions, while your checking out the rest of the dancers or thinking about what you're going to make for dinner tomorrow, you WILL miss it, I don't care how good you are.

So, please, do me a favor. If you don't think you can tune out EVERYTHING but the music and the connection while dancing with me, don't accept the invitation. Just say, "I don't think I can give you my best tonight". I'll know exactly what you mean and not only I'm not going to be upset, but I will be grateful.

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