Monday, November 24, 2008

Catalyst ...

A recent message in my "Honesty Box" on Facebook helped me understand what it would be my next challenge in dancing tango. While it wasn't really anything new to me, it did help articulate the thought.

The problem is that for me to dance well, I need a catalyst. It could be music I really like, a partner I connect with really well, the phase of the moon, who knows what else it could be. It seems rare, if ever, that I get inspired when none of these elements are extraordinary.

While I have little to no clues on how to even start, defining the problem is the very first step ...


Friday, October 24, 2008

New York Tango Festival pictures

are online at my newly revamped website :

The new website has a shopping cart, RSS feeds, search, ecards, guestbook and some other goodies. Some of those may malfunction as I get everything up, so if you see something wrong, please email me.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Done! (ish)

A few years ago, before the tango virus bit, I saw a posting in the free section of craigslist from someone that was giving away some used hard wood flooring. I picked it up thinking I would use it in one of the apartments in my house to replace the carpet. I put it in the garage and it sat there until last year in the fall. That's when I thought about converting my garage into a studio. A "photo" studio with ... ahem ... hardwood floors.

So I started to lay down the floor. But it got cold, and I didn't feel working in sub-freezing temperatures. Sometimes in the spring I found another post on CL for really cheap R13 insulation, less then $5 per roll. I got that one too. Then another post for free 4x4 masonite sheets. About a month ago I decided it's about time to finish this by putting all of this together. And now it's almost done, to be inaugurated soon!

As with any other project, it took a lot more work then expected. Here's a list with stuff that had to be done, just in case you consider doing this yourself.

* remove all the junk from the garage (that was painful)
* break sections of the concrete floor as they were highly uneven and cracked
* transport all that broken concrete somewhere else
* pour concrete (5' x 20' )
* pressure wash the rest of the concrete
* replace one garage door as it was falling apart (luckily I found a used one on CL for $50)
* lay down the hardwood floor (on 1x2s set up about a foot apart) (400 sq ft)
* paint the concrete blocks that form the "foundation"
* remove all electric wiring (as it was a hack job)
* remove all shelves and everything that was attached to walls
* install insulation
* use the 4x4 masonite panels to cover all walls
* extend the window frames using leftover hardwood flooring
* paint the window frames (this was Debbi's doing)
* paint the walls linen white (this was Debbi's doing)
* paint the two garage doors inside
* paint the side door (this was Debbi's doing)
* Install a deadbolt in the side door
* install rubber seals on the bottom of the garage doors.
* install foam seals on the top of the garage doors
* re-install electric wiring, power panel, hookup to the electric system with a suspended wire
* clean garage attic to make space to store all the crap that used to live in the garage
* Install spot lights & wiring to provide indirect light
* install speakers on the ceiling
* install the tv on the ceiling
* install amplifier and wire all audio & video stuff
* install fan on the ceiling

And I'm sure I'm forgetting something. Here's what I learned from this project.

* Make your budget (time & money) and then multiply the time by 3 and the money by two.
* Don't expect to dance (or walk) the day after you're laying down 400sq feet of flooring. Not going to happen.
* There is a lot more crap in the garage then it looks. A LOT MORE.
* If you're planning to paint your walls white, don't cover the walls with dark brown stuff. You will need A LOT of paint.
* Masonite is prone to warping and you need to use a table saw to cut it. Unless you are totally broke, just go buy drywall.
* Thank God (if there is one) for power nailers, can't imagine installing a floor with a hammer & regular nails.
* A garage door spring is VERY powerful, make sure you don't let it decompress abruptly, it may rip your head off.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Tango "Gods" and manners

I make occasional references to tango "Gods", and there is a good reason I use the double quotes for the word God. While in most cases I appreciate their skill and dedication, I don't put them on a pedestal, mostly because they are just people who happen to be good at what they do.

When however one of these people starts considering themselves "Gods", I'm less then impressed. At a recent event, I asked a visiting aspiring "Goddess" for a dance. In my two year tango "career" I asked for dances many elite dancers and some said yes, some said no. But the answer I got this time was unique in it's rudeness, and I quote :

"No, I can't do it. I ran out of patience for tonight." When my face showed the obvious "Huh?" that was going through my mind, she continued "If you did anything that would test my patience, I'd flip out".

It should be noted that when I ask people to dance who are "above my grade", I always formulate the question with a built in "escape clause", to make it easy for them to say no if they would rather not dance with me, as I don't want to make it awkward for them. In other words, that remark was totally uncalled for.

What's my point? If you are a tango "God", especially if you are making a living by being one, keep in mind that the people who you are talking to are potentially your clients, not your "minions" (even if some behave like they are). While you may be a God to some people, that is only true in the tango world, in "grand scheme of things", aka "real life", the people you talk to are possibly much smarter, more powerful and not likely to be intimidated by your diva fits. In fact, the only possible result of you being an ass, is getting less business. How much less? Well, it depends how many friends the person you've been an ass with has, doesn't it?

And to be crystal clear, it's not being turned down that outraged me, it was the way it was handled. There is one tango "Goddess" I can think off who declined all my invitations since I've known her (maybe 5 invites made over a year and a half). I will always support her as a tango teacher as I think she is good at what she does and she is a decent person.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Good or bad?

I was talking with a beginner follower last night and she mentioned that she can't tell yet who are the good dancers. That is an excellent point, because I distinctly remember the people who I thought they were good dancers when I started, and in some cases I am ashamed ...

The woman in question obviously had more common sense then I had, because she was aware of her inability to tell. So, if you are a beginner follower, how can you tell, and, does it matter?

I'll tackle the "Does it matter" question first. In my opinion, yes it does. Dancing with a leader who doesn't respect your axis, who will push/pull/shove instead of leading, who steps with absolutely no relation to the music (and sadly, there are many of them), not only will not help you get better, but it would likely make you a worst dancer. Also, most of these people are also dangerous (to dance with/around). Another beginner follower who I advised to accept dances only from select people she said "but, then I will sit most of the night". And you might, but your dance will be better for it. In addition, when you accept dances with these clowns, those are also the times when the better dancers can't ask you, since you are on the floor. Many advanced dancers will dance with beginners for various reasons, the most common being to better the community. But it's unlikely they will go out of their way to seek out the ones that are never available. Also, an advanced dancer will be more likely to ask a discerning beginner.

How do you tell who is good? Hmm. OK, look for the following :

a) Elegance of movement
b) Their movements are correlated to the feel of the music (not to mention the beat)
c) They pause, savor the moment
d) They look stable, balanced, always in control of their limbs

How do you tell who is bad? Well, in addition to not having any of the qualities above, they also :

a) execute a volcada/colgada/sacada every 500ms
b) look like they will be crashing into walls or the floor any second now
c) cause their followers have a panicked look on their face
d) look at their feet
e) bump into people every minute
f) anyone executing ANYTHING that has their follower with both feet in the air at the same time at a milonga (as opposed to a performance).

So what do you do when one of these clowns are asking for a dance? Just say "No, thank you". If they have any class at all, they will not ask you again. Sometimes it may take a few "No, thank you" to fend them off completely. Conversely, do not say "No, thank you" to people you may want to dance with at some point in the future.

Feel free to come to talk to me about this. Obviously all the statements above are my opinion only, others may disagree. So ...

g) anyone who disagrees with me

just kidding!


Friday, May 23, 2008

Montreal NeoTango Festival 08

I'm on my way back from the NeoTango fest in Montreal. I had a pretty good time, despite my thumb hurting like hell most of the time (I managed to fuck it up pretty good about a week ago in an incident involving a table saw).


I haven't been writing a lot lately, for a number of reasons. One of them was/is being in a tango slump, or feeling like being in one. Boston has been very quiet in the last few months, I don't know what is the reason but many of the better dancers sort of stopped coming out. As a result, I kind of lost the drive to go out dancing, so I didn't dance as much. The quality of my dance went downhill and the depression uphill ... So, since I didn't want to make my blog a whiners forum, I kind of stopped posting.

Tango moments

I danced quite a bit at the festival, and while for the most part I wasn't moving great (pain medication, being a bit rusty, crowded dance floor), I had a few moments which alone would've made the trip worthwhile. I'll write about two of them, for reasons I'll explain a bit later. Saturday night we made it to the milonga very early so I had the chance to dance with Kyla a couple of tandas which were ... well, to call them awesome would be an understatement. She is in my opinion, in the highest tier of dancers I've ever had the chance to dance with, and she started dancing tango relatively recently. Another memorable couple of tandas were with Shorey. Every single time I danced with her since we met, I had a tango moment, and every single time it was better then before (except once at TdLM when I was moving like a drunk bear). One of the things I really appreciate about her is her unwillingness to compromise. She will not dance with someone unless she really wants to, and I will gladly take a gentle rejection then a pity dance. But if she decides to dance with you, she will make you feel like she is giving everything she's got (even if that's not true, I for one am nowhere near being able to handle everything she's got ... Not yet anyway).

I am not going to write about every single tanda I had, first because I'm too lazy, and second because there's no point in that, but I wanted to mention these two because both Kyla and Shorey teach, and I can't think of many followers who would not gain something by learning from any of them. And if you wonder why the "free advertisement", it's just my evil plan to encourage the creation of followers with (any of) their qualities.

About the festival

I didn't take any classes so I can't talk about that. The music preferences are highly subjective so I'm reluctant to talk about that, but I will mention that I really enjoyed the music Robin and Shorey played when they DJed. I liked the table arrangement at the "Espace Del Arte", which allowed people to walk around without walking on the dance floor. There was live music Saturday night, and while they sounded pretty good to me, they played mostly Piazzolla which I don't consider danceable, obviously other opinions may vary. I just used the time to socialize. During the all nighters there was always coffee which was very useful, I wish more organizers would do that. One suggestion I'd have for the space at the Fabrika is to create a two foot wide cordoned off space along one of the long walls to allow people to walk from the front to the back of the room without stepping on the dance floor. I almost punched a couple of morons who were walking on the dance floor like they were in their living room. One other thing I found rather puzzling was ending the Sunday milonga at 3am, when the energy was still really high and Monday was was a holiday.


- Slicing and dicing a thumb on the table saw before a tango festival should be avoided whenever possible.
- I'd much rather dance with good dancers who really like dancing with me then with fantastic dancers who are indulging me. While the latter would likely a much smoother experience, it generally feels rather unsatisfying.
- While I didn't progress (much) lately, I don't think I regressed (much) either, which is something I was afraid happened

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

First shot ... Again!

When I purchased my large format camera I was planning to use it with Polaroid film, as I posted in the original post about it. But since, I found out the Polaroid film is being discontinued, so I dusted off my old Jobo rotary film processor, ordered a 50 sheet box of Efke 100 film (this is an eastern european film made using an old film recipe, which I prefer over the modern emulsions). In order to test the process (and see if the chemicals which were stored in the garage for the last 3-4 years are still good) I made a test shot. Turns out, they are fine even though the shelf live it's supposed to be about a year.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Why festivals are great and awful at the same time ....

Last week I went to the Tango Marathon in DC. I had a great time. By Sunday afternoon I was moving incredibly well, and it seemed I reached another stage in my tango career. A week later, at the LongaMilonga, all of it was gone. I was (barely) back at my usual level.

I guess at a festival, after dancing for days/hours, one reaches the "sweet spot", all warmed up but before exhaustion hits, when they are at their absolute best. As awesome as that feels, it gets equally depressing once I get home and revert to my usual self. Kind of like drinking, fells good when you're drinking, but the headache next day is proportional with the "fun" one had. Yet I can't wait for the Yale festival next week... Nuts!

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Busy weekend

The weekend started early when I left work at 3PM to drive to Yale, for the Leap Year Milonga (on Feb 29th). We made it there around 6PM, had some dinner (pretty yummy pulled pork from the cafeteria) and since a practica/exchange was going on we started dancing.

We were expecting a lot more people from NYC to show up but there was a snow storm going on and the turnout was less then expected. It was a fine evening though, I had some fun dances, even though I was kind of tired and not very perky.

Around midnight Deb wasn't feeling well, and although we had someone to host us for the night, we decided to drive back home. In hindsight that was a bad idea, as I was tired, it was snowing, the road was covered in slush and despite the 4x4 being on, the Jeep was sliding all over the place. Once we got home around 3AM we crashed just to be woken up an hour later by a call from the office about some systems not working as they should... Grrrr

Saturday afternoon Korey & Mila had some workshops at MIT, one of them on single axis turns sounded interesting so we went. I liked the workshop very much. Korey & Mila are working a lot on the technique elements of movement ( and not that much on figures or sequences) and they build it up with exercises and games. I have to say, it was definitely worth going and I highly recommend their workshops. We also went to one of the workshops on Sunday called "Small & beautiful" which concentrated on fun things done with weight changes. One of the best thing about the workshops is that they were fun and useful for everyone despite the wide range of skill levels.

Saturday night we went to "Tango Paradiso" milonga. Sadly this milonga like most other milongas in Boston lately was sparsely attended. Mila & Korey were there though and I had one amazingly fun tanda with Mila (well, it was amazingly fun for me anyway ;) which made my evening. During that tanda, at some point she slowed me down and sort of took over the lead for a couple of steps, which was awesome! I'd like to believe she did that because she thought I can handle it but maybe she was just bored ;)

Sunday at the workshop Korey lead me for a little bit to show me something. Hmmm ... so that's how leading should/could feel like ... Crap, I have a looong way to go and I'm grateful to great dancers (like Mila and many others) for putting up with my shortcomings as I figure stuff out.

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Friday, February 29, 2008

About the allnighter and a rant on appologies on the dance floor

Saturday Deb and I went to the monthly all nighter in Providence. The place was livelier then it was in the last few months, not in small part because of Robin Thomas who managed to convince a NY contingent to show up.

After opening the night with Debbi as usual (we did have a lot of fun with a milonga set) I danced with Kayla, Robin's partner. Despite a cold, she was just as fun as always. The music was great, Robin is one of my favorite DJs and 3 tandas passed in a blink of eye. At some point between tandas I mentioned that in my effort to correct my posture my back tension is ... well... back. She suggested I don't bring my chest forward when I dance, but rather widen my shoulders. That's something I will be trying, as it makes sense to me.

I danced with a couple of women who despite being good dancers kept apologizing for their (perceived) mistakes. This is something I strongly discourage people from doing (unless someone got hurt of course). First, you don't really know if whatever you thought you done wrong was wrong to begin with, second, it's a partner dance, a hiccup in the dance is rarely caused 100% by just one of the dancers. It's generally a shared responsibility. Even if something gone wrong is the fault of one of the dancers, apologizing not only it doesn't help with anything, but it makes things worst. Let's say the hiccup lasted for a second or two. If you keep silent and concentrate on the dance, that's all there is to it. If you apologize you take another 2-3 seconds and then if your partner feels like they are to blame they will take a few seconds to reply. So, instead of a 2 second disruption from the dance, now it's a 10 second disruption. My advice is, don't apologize unless someone gets hurt/hit. If you feel like you really have to apologize, wait until the song is over.

Overall it a good night of dancing, we stayed until 3:30am I think.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

First restoration project

The camera I used to take the picture I posted a little while ago it was in a deplorable condition. Chipped paint, oxidate and dirty metal components, moldy & ruptured bellows "fixed" with electrical tape, etc. While it was sort of usable, it bothered me (and I'm not obsessive-compulsive about cleanness and order).

Since I had a brand new workshop available to me, I took the whole thing apart and :

* stripped all the paint from all the wooden parts
* sanded and polished most of the metal parts
* sanded, treated, stained & coated the wooden parts
* fixed the broken bellow edges with textile band and painted it with flexible rubber paint (we'll see how well that holds up).
* put it all back together

Sounds simple, right? That's what I thought when I started, but it turns out, there was a lot more work that I expected. But it's more or less completed now. There are some things I might do in the future, like plate all the non-brass metal with brass and polish it (why they used mixed metals is beyond my ability to understand), refinish the wooden parts to get a smoother surface, make a new bellows, but for now, I will use it as it is. Here it is, with pictures (you can click on the picture for a bigger, more detailed image) before and after.

By the way, for the younger generation, yes, this is a camera, it uses something called "film" to record the image and there are good reasons to use such a camera ;) To give you just one of them which is easier to explain, when properly used, the camera can produce an image with detail equivalent with a 200 mega-pixel camera.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Coffee Maker open "heart" transplant ...

When my coffee maker decided to stop making coffee a few days ago I got really annoyed. It was less then a year old. It could've been in warranty but I could not find the receipt.

Without any other option, I decided to diagnose the problem. I opened it up and shortly after it became clear that the heating element was gone. Grrrr ... Buying parts for things is nearly impossible for a regular person, and even if I could, they are usually half the price of the new item. But, I did have an old an ugly coffee maker in the basement which was left by a tenant. The heating elements can't be that different, right?

So I opened that one up and sure enough, the heating elements are almost identical. Here are the coffee makers ready for the transplant.

15 minutes later the transplant is completed :

And 10 minutes later it was confirmed the patient was alive!


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Guerrilla Milonga

A cool concept, everyone agrees. Pick a public place (indoors during the winter) with a decent floor surface, bring some music, and start dancing. Should the guards/cops ask you to leave, you just move to the next designated spot.

Too bad no one comes to these things. Today I had to cancel the third one in a row as I only had two other people "confirmed" (aside from me and Deb) and a couple more "maybe"s.

I'm throwing in the towel.


Monday, February 11, 2008

First shot ...

Since I purchased my first serious digital camera my photography taking process changed. It went from a Zen experience to a rush. The cost per picture dropped to zero (if you don't count depreciation) so taking hundreds of pictures in a few hours is not uncommon.

But I forgot about the experience of carefully composing and making a picture. Recently on a whim, I purchased an old view camera, in pretty bad condition. The plan is to restore it and then use it to regain some of that lost feeling of building an image. I will likely use Polaroid film (for as long as I find it, as they just announced they will stop all instant film production over the next year, what a great timing I have) as it gives the instant gratification I grew so fond off :-)

Using a Polaroid back I made my first image yesterday, and while it was a test shot (to test the lens, light leaks in the camera, the function of the Polaroid back, the Polaroid film which was expired), I figured I should make it, if it comes out, count. So, image no 00001 is of Deb having her morning coffee in the old rocking chair in front of the window. For those of you who care and know, it was shot at f8.5, 1/25 on Polaroid type 57 (3000 iso)with a Graflex Optar 203mm f7.5.


Friday, February 08, 2008

The tale of the workshop (no, this is not about tango)

A few weeks ago I found a box with parts of a wooden view camera I started to build a few years ago but never finished. I decided I'd like to finish it, but I quickly remembered why I never finished it. I had no good place to work. You try to use a table saw in the kitchen, especially if you have a girlfriend...

At the same time, on the side of the house there was this room which used to be a solarium a long time ago. It had glass panels on one side, access from the outside and inside of the house. Sadly, it's been in a horrifying state since I bought the house. The glass panels were damaged so the prior owner covered them up with plywood panels, the floor was dirty concrete, the walls had wall paper decades ago, but now all the was peeled and smelly. The door between the room and the house looked like a legion of rats chewed through it (it was missing about a foot by a foot of one of the corners.

So, it occurred to me I could make myself a workshop in that room. But being on a tight budget as I'm trying to paying my debt it needed to happen quite cheap.

So I gathered stuff I had around the house :

about 10 2x4s
a couple of 1x2s
some partially broken sheets of glass
screws and nails
two partial boxes of vinyl tiles
a few partial cans of paint
a door lock
commercial grade floor sealant

I bought a few things from Home Depot
4 sheets of 4x8 sheet rock ($22)
tile adhesive ($12)
patching compound ($7)
3 sheets of plexy ($9)
A cheap door ($22)
a 2x4 sheet of pegboard ($5)

Then, I removed most of the wall paper and sanded down the walls a bit and installed the panels over it. I used one of the glass panel frames which was damaged beyond repair to fix the others, sanded down the frames and painted them brown along with the door frames. Out of the paint I had I combined them into a nice shade of beige (with Deb's help I managed to avoid having my workshop painted pink as that was the color I got on my own ...) and I used it to paint the walls and part of the glass frames.

I replaced the door, luckily I already the door handle/lock. I then used the tiles to cover the floor, and amazingly after I was done I was left with two tiles (quite miraculous considering that I never really counted to see if I had enough). I finished painting the walls and the trim, filled gaps with caulk and coated the floor with the sealant.

I removed the panels with were used to board the glass panels and I used two of them along with the 2x4s to make a worktable (the plans I used are here). Since I will need to use a router I made the table so it can easily accept the router table and while I was at it, I made it to accept a miter saw and of course I had made a panel to cover the surface back to a flat table.

I brought in the table saw I bought at a yard sale a few years back and brought it back into shape. Brought in the drill press I had in the garage. At work we are converting a storage room into a "war" room so there were a lot of shelves which were removed, so I asked and got them for free. I installed some of them. Took a little time to organize my tools and other gadgets and ...


It's not finished by any means, I still have things to paint, to clean, to repair, but it's a functional workshop!


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Back from NYC ...

This weekend Deb and I drove to NYC to attend the Nocturne Saturday and the milonga on Sunday evening. As it usually happen, we both had a great time.

The "perfect 2nd dance"

I had many good dances Saturday, but the one that stands out was with Ms. AmazingEmbrace. I only danced with her once before, at Seaport in the fall and I remembered those tandas as amazing. So I was really happy to see her, but I have to admit, I was a bit concerned. Many times, the second time you dance with someone with whom you had a "perfect" first dance is more or less disappointing. There are many reasons for this, some of them objective (it happened that the first time both of you were "in the "zone", you were warmed up, the music was just perfect, etc), and some of them subjective (one tends to idealize a great experience). Well, I'm happy to say that my fears were completely unjustified. I lost count how many tandas we danced non-stop, but it was over 45 minutes. I know this because one of our friends (jokingly) complained to Deb "Did you know that Sorin it's been hogging X for 45min?"... ;-) And every one of those 45 (or so) minutes was as good as it gets. She has an absolutely amazing embrace (hence the alias), the right amount of playfulness and great technique. And what's really cute is that she doesn't seem to realize (or believe) how great of a dancer she really is. If this was the only 45 minutes I danced the whole weekend, it still would've been worth the trip.


One of my favorite dancers (and I'll call her Ms. WackyKid as it fits her personality) in NYC left the city for 7 months. The way some people have birthday dances on their birthday, she had a "good bye" dance. Based on people's response when the "good bye" dance was announced, everyone really likes her and she will be missed. I know I will miss her and I'm glad we got to dance before she left.


I am happy to say I am getting much better at navigation. Both nights were pretty packed and I did OK. Not great, but not bad either. I was thinking I should maybe set up in the garage a "training field". Tie to the ceiling a number of sand bags and have them swing around randomly as I try to "dance" with a pillow. Keep doing it until the sand bags never hit the pillow (and preferably never hit me either). Hmmm, I'll think some more about it...


I think I discovered why I have upper body tension with some followers and not with others. The times I don't, it's because the follower is "immune" to my tension. Sometimes I get tense (a near collision, a brief balance loss, etc). Some followers respond to that tension with some of their own, to which I respond with more, so it keeps escalating. Some followers mastered the art of absorbing the leader's tension and they are solely responsible for my "tensionless" experiences. The challenge now would be to work on this skill myself, to never respond to tension with more tension, but rather absorb it. Of course, I should start by not initiating any tension in the first place :-)

When you have to say no

At one of the milongas as I was sitting on the edge looking for someone in particular, a woman came and sat next to me. She payed me a compliment on my dancing and she asked me if I would dance with her. So far, nothing wrong with that. I happened to see her dancing before and I didn't think we would dance well together, so I said "I am not dancing right now, but thank you", I smiled and then I looked away. After which she asked "Well, maybe the next tanda then?". I didn't want to flat out say no so I said "Thank you for asking, but I am now looking to dance with someone in particular" and I looked away again. At which point she replied "How about later then?" and waited for an answer. So I answered "No, thank you". She asked these questions loud enough so anyone in the immediate vicinity could hear her. Some people use this "technique" to coerce people into dancing with them by using to their advantage the tendency of most people not to embarrass the "offenders". Obviously, the "technique" can easily backfire ...


My milonga is getting better, albeit very slowly. It makes sense though, since the usual milonga to tango ratio played at milongas is 1 to 6, and it took me two years to get where I am now, to get to the same level in milonga I would need then 12 years? I clearly have to do something about that as I'm not prepared to suck at it for another 10 years ..;-)

The embrace, the embrace and ... the embrace

We were staying with friends, tango dancers themselves and when we got back from the Sunday milonga, despite being exhausted, we talked for a while about the ever elusive "perfect embrace". Some people have it, but no one can seem to explain why it's perfect. That is very frustrating, how can one try to achieve that perfect embrace if no one can define it? Grrrr ....

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Too good for your own good?

This post debates the wisdom of perpetually trying to improve one's ability to dance tango.

A while ago someone told me she doesn't want to get too good (at tango). When she saw the perplexed expression on my face, she explained that she lives in a small community and if she got too good she would not be able to enjoy dancing in her community anymore. At the time I thought it was just silly, but I'm not so sure anymore.

As I got better, the number of people I enjoy dancing with reduced dramatically. Most people's experiences seem to be the same. So one can't stop wondering, will the list get smaller and smaller as one gets better and better? There are a few people I know, all reputed to be fantastic dancers, whom I've only seen dancing with just a handful of people. It seems like anyone else just doesn't do it for them anymore. So, why try to get there?

One can argue that if you are better, you can appreciate the subtleties of tango. True, but I still remember my first "tango high" I had when I was about 9 months into tango, and I remember the last one I had. While the level of dancing was certainly higher on the last one, the intensity of it was similar. The only difference is that now I require dancing of much higher quality to get "high". But the quality of the "high" itself was pretty much the same.

I can see one benefit of getting better, more of the good dancers will dance with you. But if one is already at the point where most good dancers will dance with you, what is the point of getting even better?

The big question is, is there a point of diminishing returns in one's tango development ?