Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Last notes from BsAs + how to get a BsAs cell phone number for your phone

Thursday, 24 de Abril
Men's Technique @ Mariposita (Carlos Calvo 950). Another great class focused on speed and quality of movement. They worked on walking; tapping; walking with fast taps and fast back crosses; walking with fast ochitos, back and front boleo, ending in back cross to twist to other side to alternate feet; big lapices; balance exercise -- kicking one leg while weight is entirely on other straight leg, and doing this in a square, taking 4 kicks to get all the way around; same twirl thing only with feet locked in a cross so movement is in the hips with legs following with force.

Milonga @ Mariposita. This class was very challenging, and focused on canyengue and milonga lisa. For canyengue, we did the footwork/bodywork for the basic baldosa. For milonga lisa we did the three step stutter step left foot back diagonal for Follower, and then side right for Follower (opposite feet for Leader).

Friday, 25 de Abril
Hugo Daniel class on axis, equilibrium, and balance @ EAT Galerias (they raised their prices, now 19.50 pesos per class). Another great class where we did many of the same exercises as last week, and some different ones as well. I really enjoy these classes where we do exercises only.

Gachi Fernandez class on technique @ EAT Galerias. As usual, we started the class with relaxation and stretching exercises. The rest of the focus of the class was exercises to illustrate the concepts of (1) starting change of direction movement in the back of our chests and having our bodies (legs) move around as a consequence of the chest movement. And (2) our feet, with the trailing foot propelling you forward as it pushes off from the floor. Her classes are excellent, but sometimes mentally brutal and physically frustrating. I know...stretch goals and all that... :::sigh:::

Saturday, 26 de Abril
Sebastian Tango show @ Borges Cultural Center @ Galerias Pacifico (35 pesos). This was a tango modern dance dramatic performance of a love triangle gone bad with gender role reversals and partial nudity. Narration was in Castellano, but plot summary was available in English and the story line was easy to follow given the dramatic presentation of the dancers. Caliber of dancing was high, but extremely modern in its flavor; those hoping to see traditional tango might be disappointed. It was about an hour, with no intermission. I give it a 6 (slightly disappointed by lack of male dangly bits), my roommate gives it an 8 (thrilled by the female dangly bits).

Sunday 27 de Abril
I spent the day doing not a whole heck of a lot except watching the movie Tango (bought at Tango8 for 40 pesos) with Carlos Rivarola.

Monday, 28 de Abril
Hugo Daniel & Aurora Lubiz Tango lesson @ EAT Galerias. For whatever reason, this lesson was obnoxiously packed with too many beginner followers, so much so that it was unproductive. The teachers were good overall, so maybe that was why it was so popular.

Gabriela Elias Milonga @ EAT Galerias. Another great class. She is an excellent maestra who teaches fun little sequences in easily digestible pieces. Highly recommended for milonga.

Carlos & Maria Rivarola @ EAT Galerias. This class was lightly filled, with twice as many followers as leaders. We continued work on the same sequence from the last few classes, again focusing on quality of movement and expression. Maria worked with the followers, again focusing on her variation of ocho movement, which is more of a hips forward and straight (no pivots or turns away), with the just legs going behind each other in the ocho movement. We also worked on smoothness and elegance when doing spiral cross changes of directions during the molinete, as well as the follower embellishment of back beats to the right side of the foot. Carlos was happy to autograph my roommate's Tango movie DVD, which he choreographed and starred in, with my chosen words... with "Para mis estudiantes favoritos" but added a tongue-in-cheek question mark after it.

The Peso weaks, prices go up a smidge
In the last several days the Peso weakened markedly against the U.S. dollar and Euro, and prices have gone up a little bit accordingly. The price for classes at EAT Galerias is now 19.50 pesos (up from 15 pesos), and food at the little empanada shop near my apartment and at the restaurant on Lavalle that I eat at daily went up as well. Don't get me wrong, it is still dirt cheap to stay here, but higher prices for the locals is not a good thing.

A word on technique classes (for the ladies):

Flat shoes are highly recommended for technique classes. They could be ballet slippers, dance sneakers, etc. But to wear your spikey stiletto comme il faut's to these classes are a complete waste and could be a danger to you and your fellow students (especially if you are not the most balanced/stable/strong in the ankle or spatially aware).

Follow-Up from the custom shoe order at P.H.
My roommate's shoes were all made on time, and all fit a little differently since they were all hand made. Overall, my roommate was pleased with the product, but especially the service (Lilliana is a doll, and extremely patient with him, an especially finicky dancer with unusual feet/foot problems, and who decided mid-order [after being told by a local maestro] to really spread his toes when he danced. You should have seen Lilliana's expression after that visit; her eyes rolled to the back of her head for a split second but she managed to keep her composure). My roommate asked her if she could make a shoe based on his custom mold if he brought her the ready-made skin from elsewhere. She said she could do it, and gave him the shockingly low quote 44 pesos (dunno if prices have gone up in the last couple of days). As a side note, while we were there, and since we are leaving soon, it was my turn to buy my shoes. For whatever reason, the store was slim on inventory, and she was out of my size in the shoes that interested me. She convinced me to go ahead and have some made in my size of the shoes for which she had ready-made skins. The total time it will take for her to make these shoes (which just requires assembly at this point) is 4 working days, and I got to choose the specific type of heel. She put all the parts of the shoe in a box for me to inspect and approve. It was wild. Kind of like a do-it-yourself shoe kit for the aspiring home cobbler. When I went to pick up the shoes, they weren't there yet, but were being delivered by Lilliana & Rodolfo's son. When they got there, they were still on the mold. So I got a chance to watch them finish the shoe -- add the bottom plastic bit to the heel, install the foam padding, and glue on the inside of the sole, and touch up paint. One pair came out perfect, the other had a weird pimple in the heel, so I swaped it out no problem with an even more gorgeous pair off the rack.

Thumbs up for LOLO GERARD (Anchorena 607) shoes - you MUST go here!
I went to a great shoe store in Abasto, near Tango8 and Artesanal, called Lolo Gerard (Anchorena 607). I was extremely impressed with the exceptional quality of the materials, finish, construction, and stylishness of the shoes. They had plenty for the gals and guys, all reasonably priced. The two pairs I bought were normally 270 and 240 pesos each, but they gave me a discount to 230 each pair. The gals in the shop were super nice and fun. The women's shoe fit is more forgiving than Comme il Faut, suitable for average and slightly wide feet. Even Lillian at PH thought the shoe I brought into her for additional holes were really beautiful and well made (I was so happy and lighthearted when I bought the shoe that I forgot to ask Lolo Gerard to punch more holes! Lilliana at PH happily did it for me free of charge since my roommate and I ended up buying a truly frightening number of shoes from her).

How to get a Buenos Aires cell phone number (instructions courtesy of Jeff Schneider, because most of y'all know what a luddite I am):

Step 1: Have a phone that takes GSM 1900 SIM cards (needs to be unlocked)
Step 2: Go to Personal (The cell phone store with Blue signs) and buy SIM card (between 5 and 10 pesos). Bring Passport.
Step 3: Buy top up card (Tarjeta Personal) from any kiosko. Follow instructions
Enter *151
Then 1
Then the number from the Tarjeta Personal card xxxx xxxx xxxx #
Then 1
Finally 2 to exit

or you can go online and add to your phone
Serviocos para personas
Mi Personal
Gestiones Online

Here are the other functions
*111 Atención al Cliente *200 Autoconsulta (*CAS) *227 Consulta casilla de mensajes / Información
(*PLAN) *7526 Consultas nuevas características de tu plan
(*CLAVE) *25283 Modificación clave personal (*CLUB) *2582 Club Personal *555 Contestador Personal *150 Consultá tu saldo Personal Light *151 Cargá crédito en tu Personal Light

OR, you can rent a cell phone while you are here at
Last words about travel to Buenos Aires:
Always look behind you after you get up from a seat (especially in a taxi). It is amazing how much stuff falls out of pockets, even when you are careful.
Don't put any valuables in your checked baggage. Stuff gets routinely stolen out of there (you can google it). Getting your luggage wrapped in plastic at the airport for 30 pesos ($10 U.S.) might act as a mild deterrant. If you must have furs, computers, cameras, etc., etc., keep them on your body or in your carry-on bag so that they are with you at all times.
You will buy more than you thought you would, so bring extra empty luggage and a minimum amount of clothes (which you can get laundered while you are there).
For those of you who remember Giovanni Garcia, please be in touch with him while you are there. He gives privates and can also take you around to milongas. If you are lucky, you might even run into him at a lesson (likely at Tango Brujo as he needs to work on his nuevo tango since it's in demand from his clients). He dances like an angel, even more so than he did last September.
Try to go see Tango x2 if you can (Linda!!!!). The show was playing while I was there, but I couldn't get it together schedulewise to go. Word of mouth gives it raves.
And now, back to our regular program (a.k.a. my tentative dance plans this weekend, so you can join me...)

Wednesday, April 30 - CCSF classes
Friday, May 2 - maybe Monte Cristo Milonga. Lesson topic for this month is colgadas, and since mine truly suck, I guess I know where I will be if I go dancing.
Sunday, May 4 - Negracha & Diego workshops at La Pista; maybe Studio Gracia fundraising milonga that night though it does later than I'd like.
Monday, May 5 - La Cumparsita Milonga @ Slovenian Hall with my favorite maestros Negracha y Diego
Wednesday, May 7 CCSF classes

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