Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A website about tango ...

It's rare to find accurate information about tango, information that is not presented as the "Absolute truth". But, I found it. While I admit, I skimmed it, as I'm at work, I believe this would be the link I'd send someone who wanted to read about tango.

Here is the link :

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007


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DJ Shorey Meyers this Friday in Providence

This friday we have a special treat, Shorey Meyers will DJ the Tango Incident milonga at Providence tango. She is one of the best DJ's out there, here's a blurb :

"Shorey Myers got started in tango in Portland, OR and over the years has become an integral member of the most respected and requested cadre of DJs on the U.S. tango festival circuit. She DJs all over the country (Portland, New York City, Washington DC, San Francisco, Seattle, Ann Arbor, Providence, etc). On a recent trip to Buenos Aires, Shorey DJed at Villa Malcolm and Salon Canning, and she has a standing invitation to DJ Monday night at Canning whenever she returns. Shorey can be spotted on dance floors in many different cities all over the US, though she most frequently does her laundry in Seattle, WA."

This Friday Tango Incident has extended hours, until about 2AM. So if you'd like an alternative to the MIT milonga, this should be a good one.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

New blog ...

I found yet another tango blog, at She has a list of favorite tango songs, and they are on my "5 star" list as well. It's always fun to read other tango addicts thoughts, so go read it! ;)

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DJs and captive audiences ...

Saturday I went to the Tango Potpourri milonga. I had a good time and I might go over the details in another post, but right now I want to talk about the music and the DJing. The DJ was Jackie Wong, from Tango Pulse.

Until about midnight the music was fine. There were some uninspired tandas but overall it was OK. After midnight, it's when the alternative frenzy started. If you've read my blog before you know alternative is not my thing, I find the constant beat and the lack of depth in the music boring. But once in a while, a tanda with carefully picked songs can be quite fun. But not three or four tandas in a row and certainly not two hours of alternative songs, all sounding the same.

By the end of the milonga I was quite annoyed, and I'll tell you why. Murat & Michelle were in attendance as they were one of the visiting teaching guests, and around 1AM when a traditional waltz tanda was played, I asked Michelle to dance. This was the first time I had a chance to dance with her and I was really curious if we can connect, she seems quite athletic on the dance floor and I prefer the "calmer" dancers. But once again, the looks are deceiving, she does have that clam quality to her dance, she is definitely an amazing dancer (see my post about the "Perfect Follow") and despite the overcrowded floor I had a fantastic time. At the end of the tanda I was expecting her to say thank you and move on to the better leads in the room. But for reasons unknown, she kept talking through the cortina waiting for the next tanda. Score! When the first song of the next tanda started we sighed and rolled our eyes at the same time. Yet another slow alternative, the absolute same style that was played most of the last hour. Michelle says, "well, let's try it, maybe it gets better". So we start dancing on the painfully slow, constant beat music and despite having such a fantastic dancer in my arms I find myself wishing the song is over. When it was over we looked at each other, shook our heads and without a word we stopped dancing. That music was incredibly boring. She made a comment to that effect, and then we chatted about some other stuff and I was once again expecting her to move on, go back and talk to the people she was talking to when I asked her to dance, or whatever. But no, we kept talking through the rest of the tanda, and through the cortina and the next tanda starts and ... YET again another slow alternative tanda. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, my eyes rolled so violently I thought I was going to hurt myself. Michelle (shoot ooops, no, she did not shoot anything, I need to proof read better ...) shook her head disappointed and in mutual agreement we decided to give up and go talk to some people.

While my dancing got a lot better in the last few months, it's not often when a "Perfect follow" of Michelle's caliber go out of her way to dance with me, so when the music repeatedly screws up my opportunity to dance with such a fantastic dancer, I get really ticked off. But wait, I'm not done yet. Before I move on however, I want to recommend Murat & Michelle as instructors. I took their Sunday class and I loved it. I generally dislike group classes for a number of reasons, but this was great. Murat explained and demonstrated in detail the mechanics of the move, did not get stuck into teaching some pattern, the class was geared towards getting the "feel" of the movement being taught (I used the word "movement" on purpose, as it was not a figure that was being taught, it was a way of moving that one can use to make their on figure and patterns). I will take a private with them as soon as I can, they're awesome.

Marika & Bulent were in attendance as well, and if you read my early posts about my Montreal visits, you'd know she is, like my girlfriend likes to tease me, my "tango crush". She wasn't feeling good that evening, she had a nasty cough, so I wasn't expecting the chance to dance with her, but we were talking and a milonga tanda was just ending so I asked if she feels well enough to dance a bit. She enthusiastically agreed (she is so sweet), and we went on the dance floor waiting for the cortina to end. So what music started? Can you guess? Yeah, yet another slow alternative, the same style as before. Marika is a nuevo dancer and she rolled her eyes, that should tell you something. I had a great time, she is such an amazing dancer, but I had a great dance despite of the music, not because of the it.

So, if any DJ reads this, please, for the love of God, don't play the same style of music over and over again. The fact that people are still dancing is not necessarily a sign they like the music. Especially at one time events, there are people in attendance that you normally don't have a chance to dance with, so chances are, most people are going to dance anyway, but don't let that fool you. You have a captive audience, we don't have much of a choice, but that's not a license to torture us. ASK people, and ask the right way. Don't ask, "do you like the music?" most people are too polite to say "no". Ask "Would you like to hear more alternative, or would you like to hear some classic tango?" A milonga is not the place to "try new stuff", and if you HAVE TO try something, one "trial" tanda per evening is enough. I paid $20 to come to this milonga to have fun, not to be a guinea pig.

Additional note: while I had a big issue with the music selection in the second half of the milonga, the sound system was top notch. Unlike many other events, I could hear the music everywhere on the dance floor and it was not uncomfortably loud next to the speakers either. Good job there.


Friday, March 23, 2007

It's spring ...

It's 53F at 9:30AM, look what came out of the garage!

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

New tango blog ...

I just found a new tango blog here at, the author is quite funny, read it, you will enjoy it.

In one of the postings, she was wondering what are the qualities of the "Perfect follow", as she sees some of these women dancing and it's not clear why leaders consider them perfect. Here is my take on the subject.

I've only been dancing for a little more then an year, but I've been fortunate enough to dance with some of these "Perfect follows". I will make an attempt to describe why are they perfect, as I wish more follows would follow (sic) in their footsteps.

Here are some of their qualities :

Warm embrace - Their embrace feels like a hug you get from a close friend you haven't seen for years. And it lasts for the entire time you dance with them. It's relaxed, unhesitant, and you feel like you have ALL their attention. Once in a while you find a beginner that has this quality, and many (of the better) leads are just happy to dance with them despite their other shortcomings. This rare kind of embrace sucks all the tension out of me and allows me to completely relax and be at my best. I've danced in Boston, NY and Montreal, and I find Montreal had the most follows mastering this embrace. I can't wait to go back.

Grounding, presence, balance - They maintain their axis, they hold their own weight, they don't use the lead for balance and they are able to compensate for a bit of imprecision of the leaders part without compromising the smoothness of their move. I have to elaborate on this as I think it's a quality that is often overlooked. I don't care how good a leader is, he will sooner or later take the follow a little off axis during a turn. The "Perfect follow" will not tense up, she will communicate she is taken off axis by a slight increase in groundness, she will maintain her upper body vertical (as opposed to her tilting her entire body) by allowing her supporting leg to bend at the hip yet not allow her knee to go soft. As a result, she will go off axis but remain light, at the same time communicating to the leader she is off axis so he can correct.

Calm following - This is closely related to "Grounding & presence" but I felt it deserves a paragraph of it's own. The "Perfect Follow" will not get ahead of their leader, they follow through the step (as opposed to step on their own after the initial intent was communicated by the lead) maintaining their presence. This technique allows them to follow any change in the dynamic of the step a lead will make, including but not limited to : stops, sudden accelerations or decelerations, micro-rock steps, marking beats by slight dynamic changes while in a slow move, etc. She steps without hesitation, matching the dynamic of the lead.

Musicality - This one is going to be difficult to explain. The "Perfect follow" often looks to the outside observer like she's merely a passive dancer, not doing anything that wasn't lead, just being a receiver. That is misleading, as this cannot be further from the truth. With the "Perfect follow" a good leader will be able to have a bi-directional communication, in which he leads something, and she responds with her interpretation of the move, by varying the dynamic of the move, without breaking connection. That of course requires the lead to listen and not move like a steam roller. In addition, she never loses connection with the music and she takes the openings the lead offers to adorn or make her own contribution to the dance, As a result of all this, as a lead, you feel like she is dancing (with you, not by herself) and not merely move when the lead moves.

Unclear lead management - As a less then experienced leader I often don't lead as clear as I'd like to, and the follow is put in the situation of dealing with that. A "Perfect follow" will not tense up or start to resist movement as they're trying to figure out what the leader is trying to do. They will move, executing something that is compatible with the unclear lead, not lose their musicality or posture. Fortunately, as I gain experience these moments are getting less and less frequent, but they will still plague my dance for a while, and this is a quality that really helps.

Icings on the cake - The following qualities are for me, the icing on the cake, not required for an awesome dance, but if there, it's magic!

Navigation assistance - Many times when I dance in a crowded space, I make educated guesses on how the other couples are moving and act on those guesses. I cannot play it very "safe", if I did, that would not be a dance, it would me dodging other couples. I'm sure that more experience will help, but unfortunately one cannot buy that at the corner store. So until I can develop eyes at the back of my head, I will make guesses and take some chances, trying to balance the dance and the risk of bumping into others. Some really good dancers I've had the honor to dance with, would gently squeeze my hand, or tighten the embrace as a signal that I'm about to bump into someone, and they did that without tensing up or trying to resist the move, which allows me to gracefully avoid the impact

Playfulness - Too many people are just concentrated on their feet when they dance, they forget they have shoulders, hips and the ability to disassociate one from another. I was lucky enough to dance with dancers who, while following the steps I was leading, they would use their upper body to express something in the music, maybe a stray note, or a playful instrument bite, but at the same time, not allowing that to become distracting (for the lead)

Well, there you have it. I'm sure there are other things I can't think of right now, but someone with all the qualities listed above would definitely be a delight to dance with.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

For guys, about pants ...

La Planchadora has a series of posts titled "attacked by a wild animal" showing all sorts of outfits women wear (but shouldn't) at milongas.

I felt men were shortchanged here, as they didn't get any useful advice, how should we know what to wear if no one tells us? Some may think "uhh, common sense?" I'm sorry to say, common sense passed away a while ago, so don't count on it.

So I took it upon myself to make a contribution (as modest as it may be) to the well being of the aesthetics of the milongas and the world in general.

Without further ado, the subject today is pants. Some think this is a trivial subject that doesn't require any thought. I mean, all pants are the same, right? You put them on, one leg at a time (or if you're really good, both at the same time) and you're all set. Right?

Wrong. First we all know that fashion goes in cycles, so what's hot today might be ridiculous tomorrow. Although, some people CAN pull off cool looks with outdated pieces. But here are a few "looks" you want to avoid at ALL COSTS.

There was NEVER a moment in the history of the world when the following looks were hot.

The "grandpa look". Trust me, no one EVER thought that was hot. EVER. Even if you are a grandpa, please, please don't sport this look. Here's a hint, keep the waist line of your pants WELL BELOW your belly button.

The "muffin top" look. For the love of god, get pants your size. The fact that you can still close the buttons on your pants doesn't mean it's your size (by the way, that's true for girls too as one can see in the picture).

The "I'm wearing my daddy's pants" look. If you are over 10, it is not cute. If you lost weight, buy new pants!

The "after flood" look. Umm, don't do it!

Looks that might've been hot at one point or they look hot on some celebrities, but you wearing them right now makes people laugh behind your back.

The "disco" look. I have to be clear about this, some flared pants are cool if you can pull it off (if you ever saw me recently at tango events, you know that's possible), but not all flared pants are the same and the 80s look (skinny on top with bell bottoms) are particularily difficult to make look cool (for guys that is).

The "rock star" look. Leather pants? Ohh, once again, rock stars might pull it off and so other other people with a flair for coolness, but trust me, if no one ever complimented you on your outfits before you bought the leather pants, they are definitely not going to compliment you now.

Well, I hope this helps! By the way, please show your support for this by posting some comments, so the offenders don't think it's the lone opinion of a crazy european ....

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tango high @ Practica(s)

Despite a mild headache, Sunday I went to the practica, I figured what better treatment could one get then healthy dose of tango induced endorphins ...

I wasn't really expecting to have too much fun though, being loopy from the pain killers and all ... A little bit into the practica L showed up. I only danced with her once before but it was at the end of the night, I was tired and wobbly ;) and she was upset about losing some favorite shoes, so I don't think either of us was at our best. I know I wasn't ... But despite all that, it was pretty awesome, so I was looking forward to dancing with her again.

While I was looking forward to it, I was trying not to be too hopeful, as the connection you have with someone is somewhat elusive and I've been disappointed before. You know, you dance with someone and it's just perfect and next time it's just ... adequate.

Anyway, to make the story short(er), I asked her for a dance and off we went. wow. Wow. WOW. WOOOOOOOOOOOOW!!! I have to explain why WOW...

Lately I've been able to dance with a lot of advanced dancers, teachers, etc. And it's been awesome. But (in my experience) it's quite rare to dance with someone who can completely immerse themselves into the connection. Or, able to make it look like they do. For the first time EVER I was able to successfully communicate to my partner everything I tried to, particularly dynamic changes in the movement. Having your partner match perfectly the acceleration or deceleration into steps, turns, boleos, etc, makes for an incredibly connected dance. I have no doubt that many people I danced with before, have the ability to follow like that, but I don't think I was able to lead it properly before.

We danced for quite a bit, maybe 10 songs or so (at the practica there are no tandas), she even tolerated my rather inept attempts to dance the few milongas they played during that time (for which I'm very grateful, as I really need the practice) so I suspect she enjoyed it as well, at least to some degree. While chatting between songs I found out she's been dancing for over 10 years, a lot of them in Berlin/Germany. We are so lucky to have her in Boston and I'm looking forward to dancing with her again.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A review for the "milonga review site" ...

So the first independent review of my "Milonga Reviews" site is out and ... (insert leitmotif from "Jaws" to create suspense) ... the author tears it to shreds!

First, I would like to thank the author for taking the time to comment on it. I'm not being facetious , I appreciate feedback on my efforts, even if they are not positive. But I would like to respond to some of his opinions. And since the forum he chose to state his opinions doesn't have a way for me to respond there, I'll respond here.

"All you need is one disgruntled jerk to tarnish the reputation of a good venue. Allowing anonymous comments just encourages that."

There is a saying in Romania (where I'm from), in a rough translation would sound like "It takes more then one flower (to sprout) to be spring". One would hope that a negative comment from a disgruntled jerk would not be enough to make a dent in the reputation of a good venue. Besides, you'd think some fans of that venue would jump in and reply to that jerk. And if you think that, you'd be correct, since that already happened!

"If people don't like a venue and the promoters choose not to fix the problem, the customers can chose not patronize that place"

Well, the customers would have to patronize that venue at least once, spending time and money before they realize there is something there they don't like.

"By setting up the website in its current state, it looks like he created the website so he could have a public forum for his *own* opinions."

At the top of the main page my website states "If you'd like to submit a review for an event that is not yet on the list please format the info as it is in the existing entries and email it to me at ...". So far, no one did, but I'm hopeful. It takes time and effort to write a review and not everyone is willing to make that effort. If BW would like to contribute with a review or comment, he is welcome to do so, even if I don't agree with it.

"I bet the webmaster of that website thinks that he shouldn't have sent a second note insisting that I list his website."

My second email I sent to the author of the article, the email where I was supposedly "insisting" he should list my website is quoted in it's entirety below (some of it is in response to a comment he made in the email I was responding to, the relevant part being "If I think your website is relevant to the audience of my website, I will add it."):

"I only sent this email to Argentine tango dancers/websites, so I would hope a (non-commercial) tango events review site would be relevant to their audience. So far, the feedback I had was positive.

Thank you for your consideration



Before I buy a product or a service I usually look for review sites, in particular the ones that allow comments. I belive that is a useful public service. And I will continue to provide it as long as I have readers.

1 comment:

Monday, March 05, 2007

New York, New York again ... #2

Note : You can see all the pictures on my site at under [travel/2007-03 GettoTango]

So I finally made it the Chelsea Market around 3:30, I had a soup from a soup place (wild mushrooms and potatoes, yum!) at the market and at 4PM we were at the milonga. I danced a few songs with D and it quickly became obvious I was tired and/or I had an off day. I only danced a couple of tandas after which I stopped, there was no point in torturing innocent people there and making a fool of myself. At that point, I was wondering if the trip to NY was a mistake. If I was tired at 4PM, how was I going to do at an all night event?

But 8PM came and a bunch of us with Adam leading the way we headed to his place in Newark for the Getto Tango party/milonga. He and Ciko live in a loft, a pretty big space, very artfully decorated, lots of sofas, some industrial sewing machines as decorations (D, as a costume designer, cringed when she saw a sewing machine used as an incense stick holder ... I guess I'd feel the same if I ever saw a classic motorcycle used as a flower pot ...) and a lot of other interesting widgets. It seemed like anywhere I looked there was something interesting to be seen.

By midnight the place was full (not packed, but full), lots of great dancers, most from NY, a few from Princeton, we even had one gentleman from Denmark ...

While I did make an unusually high number of missteps, balance & navigational blunders, on occasion I'd "nail" a few musical phrases in a row and that apparently kept my parters from running away at the first chance they got. As such, I did have a great time but I did learn a lesson. Again. Before traveling 4 hours for an all night milonga, I might want to "retire" early the night before... Yeah, I know, brilliant idea ...

I did get my ego stroked again when an advanced dancer (I think she told me she teaches, I assume she teaches tango, although she didn't say) told me she've never seen someone dancing like this after just one year, except for maybe in BsAs. And then she continued to dance with me for two or maybe three tandas. Purrrrrrrr ....

At around 4AM I crashed on the couch, got up around 7am to get some breakfast, Adam, Ciko and a bunch of others were still up, J was cooking eggs, so after I settled the growling stomach I went back to sleep until 1PM.

We took the train back to NY, we went to the Museum of Natural History, that was OK, but I was not impressed and then jumped on the bus to come back to Boston. I have to say, I might consider the bus again if I'm going to NY alone, as 4 hours of driving is too much for me, but if I'm going with someone that is willing to drive half the distance, I'll take the car. It's faster and just as expensive. Also you get to leave when you want, not when the bus operators want.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

New York, New York again ... #1

I'm on my way to New York, riding the Greyhound bus. I should be there at around 2:30, we'll be heading to the Chelsea Mkt, have lunch, go to the milonga and at 8pm when that ends we'll be heading to Newark to attend Adam's GettoTango party/milonga. That should go all night but I'm guessing at some point we'll pass out in some corner as we didn't get much sleep last night. We went to Ben & Thuy "unofficial" farewell party/milonga and we were there until 1am ... Yes, we are insane!

Last night I followed R again, and then I followed P. I still suck, and I will be sucking for a long time ;), but I love it (dancing, not sucking)! When I expressed my enthusiasm for following, R was like "you will still be leading ... right?" Leading ... Improvise an interesting dance while watching for traffic, as in predict other dancers trajectory (based on what you know 'about them and on what are they doing at that time), predict the next few seconds of the song so the movements are on the music, avoid doing moves that your follower can't do, look good, make your follower look good, adjust your embrace and dynamic to hers and ... oh, yeah ... have fun! Or, embrace your leader, close your eyes, listen to the lead and music and dance. Hmmm ... tough choice ;-) ( P.S. I don't to imply that following is easy, to be really good it takes the same amount of effort as it does to become a good leader, but it's a lot less one needs to do on the dance floor)

To shorten the amount of time I'll be sucking at following, I booked a private class with Carlos Moreno next weekend. I'm hoping I can jump start my following career but learning the right way from the beginning (see my other posts about group classes and the joys of learning tango with other beginners). Forming bad habits that need to be "unlearned" later seems awfully inefficient.

Speaking of dancing with P, last night was lovely (even though I was not in the "zone"). I've danced with her a few weeks ago at the Odd Tuesday milonga she is hosting and I had a very hard time dancing with her that time. It's amazing how one day you can totally "click" with someone and the next day nothing works. Or the other way around. The crowded floor at that milonga really messes with my dancing, so no doubt that was a big factor too.

OK, I need to leave some "juice" in the cell (which is used as a wireless modem right now) so I'll sign off. But I'll post again soon, and I'll try to post some pictures as well.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

2007-02 Yale milonga pictures ...

I uploaded all the pictures I took to my website at (navigate to "travel/2007-02 Yale milonga" from the main page).

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