Thursday, July 8, 2010

July 1-7

Friday, July 2, 2010
MUSE Insomnia milonga @ City Dance Annex.
I don't usually give ratings for milongas, but if I did, this one would get five stilettos (out of a possible five). Wow. What can I say? I had a blast. Just across the street from the San Francisco Costco, City Dance Annex is a beautiful, modern loft-like space with high ceilings, great sound system, and wonderful sprung maple floor. There were high-quality, fingerprintless mirrors on two sides of the large, spacious room, with bench seating on the other two sides of the box-shaped room. Ceiling fans provided extra ventilation. Howard, the organizer, did a fine job DJing and catering (cherries, organic grapes, plain tortilla chips, red and white wine, Coke, iced tea, and water). There were also carne, pollo, y champiniones empanadas by El Porteno for sale ($3 for 1, $5 for 2), made from high-quality ingredients like organic Prather Ranch grass-fed beef, free range chickens, and locally grown mushrooms. Parking could be easily found within a block or two, which was kind of surprising since it's around the corner from Slim's and other live music/dance venues. The milonga was only lightly attended since there were so many other tango events on the same night (especially Nora's Tango Week). But the Leader quality was superb, and the guys were all of the social, community-building school. I had never danced with the organizer before, and I was absolutely amazed at how well he danced. El Russo is back from the Motherland, so whatever milongas he shows up at are much better places because of his presence, including this one. Because the milonga was lightly attended, we all got to dance a lot with each other, more than we usually do at other milongas, where we'd typically dance one or perhaps two tandas in one evening together. So I got a chance to dance several tandas each with several excellent leaders. It was any tanguera's dream milonga. I will most certainly will be back for future milongas. Interestingly, I got to talk to Chino de Nueva York a little bit...well, actually a lot. It's funny, we've danced together for a while now, but I really didn't know much about him at all, other than him being from the Big Apple. Well, he was in a very chatty mood, and it was nice getting to know him a little better. We reminisced about Omar Vega (one of our mutual favorite teachers), talked about the dance scene in Oakland, and tango, tango, and more tango of course. It was a very fun night.

Saturday, July 3, 2010
Late Shift Milonga with lesson beforehand by Rachel Greenberg.
The lesson was a variation on the ocho cortado (a clockwise turn), and also a counterclockwise turn with mini-volcadas. We began with the ocho cortado. Maestra's variation on this was that on the Follower's forward step, she should have more of a tight front cross step where her right foot is pivoted and pointed toward the Leader instead of the usual forward step more parallel to the Leader. Leader also adds more dynamics to this with more torsion/rotation in his chest. From here, the Leader leads her to continue to go around him clockwise with a Follower left foot side step, at which point he sacadas her trailing right foot with his right foot, sending it out to tight back cross against her left foot, and then her left foot coming out forward then back out to resolution. Next, we tried a turn to the right, beginning with a side step to the left for Leaders, right for Followers, into a counterclockwise Follower molinete of left foot back cross step, right foot side step, left foot tight forward front cross to one or two no-hip-pivot tight forward ocho crosses back out to resolution. Since there were many people who were very new to tango at this lesson, we also did an exercise where the Leaders were to get used to the feeling of controlling the Follower's free leg, and sending it out, and then back in in a tight back cross, right leg and then left leg. It was a good class, and we had ample time to drill while Maestra went around and gave individual feed back to every single couple. The milonga itself was quite interesting. It was one of the Queer Tango Festival nights, and they chose to be at the Late Shift. It was great fun to see so many gorgeous, talented, same-sex and lead-follow exchange couples, as well as the brilliant Brigitta Winkler beautifully social dancing with the locals. As for the dancing itself, the pickin's weren't exactly slim for the straight female Followers, but they weren't abundant either. I still had a good time since I managed to have several good and a few excellent tandas, and lots of fun watching everyone else when I wasn't dancing.

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