Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October 14-27

Friday, October 15, 2010
MUSE milonga at City Dance Annex. I had an excellent time at this milonga, which had a nice turnout, the most it's ever been. There were a few more leaders than followers, so I thought it was my volunteer duty to dance with as many different leaders as possible. :o) Since they were all fantastic, needless to say, I had an excellent time. I got to dance with a few leaders that I had never danced with before, though I had been eyeing them for quite some time. The lovely Rochelle made some delicious, luscious desserts: mini lemon and raspberry tarts and mini strawberry cheesecakes, which you can see at the Tango Sitio facebook wall. All in all, a very nice night.

Thursday, October 21, 2010
Verdi Club Milonga. I skipped the lesson, taught by Jorge Nel. It was one of those nights where during the day I mentally really wanted to go dancing, but when I got home, fatigue started to seep into my bones and I felt very emotionally drained from the day's events (client drama). I also wanted to try out the new Homedics chair back massager I got at a church rummage sale recently ($10 for a $100 massager-- woo hooo!!!) So I got massager set up on my chair, and then surfed onto YouTube and watched some tango videos. I kept looking at the clock, first wanting to go to the Jorge Nel lesson, but the massager works well and pretty soon I became one with my chair.... aaaaahhhhh.... I watched more videos, seeing that it was getting later and later, missing the Jorge Nel lesson and knowing that I had to be up the next day for an early morning meeting. And so I was torn. Should I go to the milonga? Or should I stay home and get a good night's sleep before my early day? It was as I was pondering this question that I came across a recent video of Jennifer Bratt and Ney Melo in Turkey. That was enough to get me inspired, dressed and out the door in no time flat. I just HAD to dance after that.

When I got to the milonga around 10:00 p.m., it was nicely crowded, with more followers than leaders. Floorcraft was a little challenging at times. Jorge Nel and his partner did an excellent performance of milonga, with the both of them wearing technical athletic clothes. My goodness, how fit, agile, and comfortable they both looked! ;o) It was a busy birthday night, with three cakes: one for El Jefe, one for Nikki and one for some other gal whose name escapes me and who left before the birthday dance. There were several people at the milonga that I hadn't seen in quite a while, so it was nice to catch up with them. The dance area opened up significantly after 11:30 p.m., which improved the floorcrafting. I stayed until the end (1:00 a.m.), which I had never done before. I also tried on a few pairs of Jorge Nel shoes, and I continue to be impressed with the selection and responsiveness of maestro in terms of shoe design. I was sorely tempted by a pair of low-heeled patent stilettos, but I just couldn't justify the purchase (or find any more room in my closet to accommodate them). Still, a tanguera can always dream...

Friday, October 22, 2010
Monte Cristo Milonga with lesson beforehand by Jorge Nel.
I missed the lesson, but got there reasonably early for the milonga. There wasn't a huge amount of people there at first, but eventually it got nicely crowded. The dancers were mostly of the social bent so we all danced with each other for the most part. It was a very pleasant evening and I stayed until the very end, although I did completely bonk about two tandas before, crashing and burning, so I really should have called it a night at that point. But I soldiered on, unfortunately feeling sloshy, weak and kerplunky physically and tired mentally.

Saturday, October 23, 2010
The All Nighter at the Beat.
I skipped the lesson, taught by Santiago Croce and Amy Lincoln. This was my first time at the All Nighter, and I didn't realize the lesson started later (9:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.). Why did it take me so long to try it out? Well, I am less keen on paying the bridge toll if I am only going dancing by myself with no one else to carpool with, and in the past there were other 4th Friday tango options in San Francisco. Since that has gone away, if I want to dance tango on the 4th Saturday, I have no choice but to cross a bridge or drive quite far down the peninsula (which is unappealing since I do that for at least 5 days a week). As I cooled my heels in the lobby, waiting for the milonga to start, I got a chance to catch up with a local tangero who I haven't seen in a long while, listening admiringly as I witnessed him woodshedding, and I also met a visitor from Portland.

What was nice about the milonga was that people came from amazingly far away to dance there (from as far north as Sacramento and as far south as the South Bay and perhaps beyond...), so it's a good cross section of the Bay Area tango community, much like some Thursdays at the Verdi Club and some Wednesdays at CellSpace. It got to be extremely crowded at times, with very challenging floorcrafting. Maestros did a very fine performance to two songs, with Amy having a stronger, more evident voice in their dance than she had previously. You can see the vids at and It was very inspiring to watch them. I only stayed until 1:00 a.m., as I had danced every tanda since the start of the milonga.

I did see one very odd thing that I had never seen at any other milonga. A gal climbed through the window to get to the milonga. It seemed very strange, and she was not exactly dressed to be climbing through windows (though I am not sure what one would wear to a milonga if they intended to climb through a window to get there). She was breathless and disheveled as she plopped down onto the floor, her hair accessory perched haphazardly askew, feathers a-flyin'. The leader I was dancing with and I both though she was trying to avoid the entry fee, but on further reflection, it just might have been that the front door got mistakenly locked and she was too alpha and impatient to knock on the window to get someone's attention so that we could open the door for her. On this rainy night, the windows were wide open to alleviate the heat of the crowded dance conditions. was a very bizarre thing. But to each, her own.

Sunday, October 24, 2010
Studio Gracia milonga with lesson by Pulpo. The step was not easy, but not overly pretzeled either. The class began with a warm-up dance to a non-tango song. Then the class built on the earlier class of the day on Trap Sacadas. Basically, the Leader does a right foot back step (Follower left foot forward step), and then the Leader does a left foot side step (Follower right foot side step). We were to do these two steps together for one minute to a tango song. Then we did another simple step, of just the Leader's rock step of left foot forward, right step back (Follower's right foot back, left foot forward), to get a kind of attitude in dancing (done to a nuevo tango song). During this song, we were to work on expressing attitude. Also, we were to exhibit control, with every piece of the body being controlled. Our weight changes together were to be simultaneous so that anyone watching us would see only one body, not two. Then we did the Leader's right foot forward trap of the Follower's left foot, to bring it diagonally backish of him. This is a small movement, and the Leader brings his knee in toward his other leg. Then he steps side left with his left foot, after which the Follower must follow by stepping right around him with her right foot. This is not a simultaneous step. The Follower must wait for the Leader to do his side step, and then follow with a side step with her right foot as a consequence of the Leader leading the weight change and bringing her over. Connection is key. Also, the dancers must keep their axis and not lean into each other. We spent a lot of time just doing these two steps (the trap with the Leader step back, then his side step followed by her side step). The Leader can't pull the Follower in, otherwise she won't be able to do it. Also, her right knee and leg need to be straight as he hooks her left foot and pulls it back, setting it back diagonally behind him. We also worked on other variations o fhis right foot-- the paint brush sweep in and out to lead the Follower to do alternating ganchos, or of the Leader doing a left foot gancho. The Leader must control the weight shift at all times. This step involved a lot of opening and closing of the Leader's hip to get his knee to open and close to lead the Follower gancho in various different wraps, with a simultaneous rotating of the Follower around his sacadaing leg. It is very important to note that Maestro made special emphasis to begin the class with musicality, connection, and weight transfer exercises because that is the foundation on which all of tango is based. He also emphasized later on the need for control of every body part (upper body, legs, feet). It was an excellent class, as usual. I have various single lessons with Pulpo in the last three years, and they are always challenging. There were more Followers than Leaders, so there were times when we got rotated out...which was fine with me because Maestro would be such a good sport he would lead the out Followers in the material while the rest of the class was partnered up. Toward the end of the lesson, I got to dance some regular tango (without Pulpeadas) with Maestro. That was a truly amazing, super fun experience. Maestro was his usual charming self, social dancing with many Followers at the milonga.

The milonga itself was weird to me. My first tanda out during the first song, I felt a sharp shooting pain in the ball of my foot. I managed to dance that one song completely, but then I had to stop because of the pain, of course apologizing profusely to the leader I was dancing with. I rested for a while, and then dance the milonga tanda with Jodel, one of my favorite milonga leaders, but my foot still felt a little sore and tender, so I was more tentative with my steps. I attempted to dance with more of a whole foot rather than being on the ball of my foot so much....but that wasn't an easy thing to do since this was the milonga tanda. After that, I rested and chatted with Jr. Scout Extraordinaire. I danced very little, only 3-4 tandas from 8:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m., and then decided to do what I always tell other people to do...that is, stop and rest, which for me meant going home.

I came to the rescue of one gal who wanted more holes in the strap of her stiletto. She was amazed when I whipped out the hole punch that I had put in my purse earlier this evening, and it occurred to me that I never wrote about it. It's a wonderful watch strap hole punch, which can punch tiny, precise 1.5 mm holes into shoe straps.

I bought mine originally off of ebay and got tipped off on it by the Tango Shoe Divas May 17, 2007 blog posting of the same product. So a big thanks to Tango Shoe Divas.

I love this product, and as I rack up the mileage at the milongas, I get fussier and fussier about how the shoe fits on my feet, especially how the strap feels across my ankle. I've had my hole punch for a while now, but after this last trip to Bs As, I realized that I really need to bring it with me on trips and to the milongas.

So what am I excited about?

All the Halloween milongas coming up. Come on now, I KNOW y'all LOVE dressing up for those!!! So I will definitely look forward to seeing you in costume. :o)

Tomas Howlin. Totally genius teacher. Really. We are very lucky that he will be teaching in the SF Bay Area.

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