Wednesday, June 23, 2010

June 10-23

Thursday, June 10, 2010
Verdi Club Milonga with lesson beforehand by Christy Cote and Adolfo Caszarry on Milonga.
I sat out the lesson since there were a few extra Followers. The lesson was based on the style of Facundo Posadas, who had spent several weeks here, and was heavy on musicality, naturally. The milonga itself was fine. Floorcraft was decent. It wasn't excessively crowded, but it wasn't empty either. I had a good time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010
Tapas specials at Caffe D'Melanio
(1314 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco). As some of you know or may remember, this is coffee roasting place / coffee shop / restaurant near CCSF that had tango dancing on some nights years ago. Well, I spied a sign about their World Cup mania events. Since Melanio is a Porteno of Italian descent (like so many in BsAs), I was thrilled to see there was a happy hour W-F, 4-7 p.m., featuring Argentine Favorites, special from mid-June to mid-July until the end of the World Cup. Pablo and I shared the Camarones a la Plancha (grilled shrimp) $9; Carne Empanadas (beef and egg) $4.5 for two; Lamb Burger $6; Mussels $6; glasses of Malbec, Pinot, and Torrontes ($7.5-10 per glass). It was all very yummy, carefully and lovingly prepared and elegantly presented, reasonably priced and reasonably proportioned. Melanio himself came out to greet us after the super-friendly waitress told him what Buenos Airesophiles we were, and they even put on tango music for us. Check it out before the end of World Cup! I had always wondered about this place since I've passed by so often; I've seen their regular dinner menu and was a little hesitant about having milanesa for $16, so I was very glad that there was this special going on so I could try out a variety of their food offerings. Prior to the World Cup, I think the most I ever ordered there was a whole roast chicken to-go (around $10, if I recall correctly).

Saturday, June 19, 2010
La Otra Milonga de Nora @ Etz Chayim w/Nito & Elba Garcia. The lesson was, as usual, fantastic. Maestros are incredibly gracious teachers. The lesson began with Nito's usual floor exercises. Then we did the figure with lots of individual attention and technical commentary. The milonga itself was fun. The floor is a nice hardwood, and the room is reasonably spacious. It was a very warm night, and so the doors were open onto the courtyard. They also had the a/c going, as well as the fans. So there was good ventilation. Food was OK, lots from Costco (the veggie platter with dip, the mini brownies, strawberries and grapes, crackers, turkey coldcut). There was a hotel, conference-style coffee dispenser filled with ice water, and normal-size paper cups (not one-ounce dental cups!). Emilio did a find job spinning the tunes. There were a huge number of different tango events that night, so this one wasn't overly crowded. But it had a nice number of people. Floor craft was pretty good, with people generally respectful and no frenzied dancing. It was a very pleasant night, and it's nice that there is a Saturday night South Bay milonga option.

Monday, June 21, 2010
La Cumparsita Milonga with lesson beforehand by Alex Allende and Luz Castineiras on Creativity: Sacadas.
This was a good lesson, and began with a weight shift exercise to get the Leader to feel the feeling of being absolutely in control of the Follower's direction and weight change. He was to imagine she was a 50 kilo sack of flour. The figure began with the 8CB to 5 (cross), then a Follower right foot front cross step in a clockwise molinete, with Leader left leg sacada of her trailing left foot (cross system). Then he would try it with his right foot (parallel system). Then we added another Leader sacada on the Follower's left foot side step of her trailing right foot, using his left foot and then his right foot. We also added a Leader embellishment between his two left foot sacadas with a right foot tight back cross step with weight change, so that he can step out again to do the sacada with his left foot. It was a very good lesson with lots of technical detail, and lots of individual attention by both maestros to all the individual dancers. Maestros emphasized quality of movement, and really challenged us by changing the speed at which we did parts of the figure -- going fast from the 8CB to 5 (cross), and then really slowing it down during the sacada. It is important to be able to do this very slow in particular since balance becomes much more important, and really owning the movement becomes much more apparent when dancing slowly. It is also important to be able to go fast during some parts so that you can be on the music and have fluidity, responsiveness and elegance.

Preliminary mini-shoe review. I bought the Sansha Helium H74M dance sneaker from NY Dance Store online.
The Good: The styling itself is gorgeous. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of care in execution in the detailing, and the shoe came with its own nifty mesh bag. The shoe is very springy. It almost feels like I am dancing on bubbles.
The Not-So-Good: The Helium is kind of a clunky shoe. It's inelegant. The profile is a bit too hefty. I should have gotten something more delicate, with a leaner profile to my foot like a jazz or modern dance shoe. Also, the Helium has a lot of rubber parts where it would have been better to have suede. So when I have run my toe across the floor, it almost felt like dribbling a basketball depending on what the floor texture was.
I tried the Helium sneakers at CellSpace, where the floor texture was much too rough and so I had a hard time pivoting and gliding. My second dance floor was on the Verdi Club, where I could pivot and glide OK, but that's also where I had the dribbling sensation when running my toe tip across the floor. My third time was at La Cumparsita, where I felt the shoe performed reasonably well, but were a bit clunky.
Regarding sizing: definitely follow their sizing guidelines. I think I might have been better getting one size larger. It said to get one size larger than street shoe, and for some reason, I had it stuck in my head that I am a 6. And I AM a 6, in CiF, NeoTango, most every other tango shoe I have. BUT in sneakers and hiking boots (from Nike, Merrell, Salomon, North Face, Vasque, New Balance), etc., I am a 6.5, often a 7, and sometimes an occasional 7.5. So I should have gotten a Sansha 8. But I got a Sansha 7, and they fit like a glove without socks. However, when I wear dance sneakers, I prefer to wear them with my normal athletic socks. I ended up getting some extremely thin profile socks, and they work OK. Next time I will get an 8.
The one thing I like about Sansha shoes is that there is a variety of options with respect to style and materials (mesh, canvas, leather, suede, etc.) and different bottoms (rubber, leather, mixed).

Customer service at NY Dance Store was not the greatest. I had originally ordered two shoes, the other in a similar style (Hibiscus), but with leather sole. It showed as available on the web site, and I had no reason to believe that I would not receive it. However, when I received my Helium shoe, the purchase order showed that they were out of the leather-soled Hibiscus. Had I known that, I would have ordered a comparable shoe with leather sole, as I really wanted to try them out and compare them side to side, and since they charged me the same price for shipping ($9) whether I ordered one or two shoes. I was never informed that they were out of the other shoe, and so had no option of placing an order for a replacement shoe. So at this point, would I buy Sansha shoes again? Yes, but I would pay much more careful consideration to the styling and what I need in terms of a tango sneaker. I would also call the 1-800 number and place my order with a real human instead of just ordering online so that I could make sure that the style and size I want are available, rather than have expectations that the company would deliver as expected, when in actuality that may not be the case.

And I admit I find it extremely irritating and unprofessional when expectations are managed poorly.

I think the Helium shoe would be an excellent shoe for Hip Hop and Zumba. For how I dance Tango, I am eyeing the Salsette-3 V933C, or the Dyna-Sty, the Dyna-Mesh, the Buzz-1, or the Blitz-3.

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