Thursday, January 20, 2011

January 13-19 Anne & JSE's Excellent Stanford and Egg Adventure

Saturday, January 15, 2011



11:30-1:00 All Levels (not for novice dancers) - Fundamentals of Body Spiral for Leaders and Followers

1:00-2:00 Lunch Break

2:00-3:30 Beg/Int - Get Your 'Pivot' vs No 'Pivot' Ochos Defined with Edgardo Donato

4:00-5:30 Int - Rebotes (switch steps) for Tango, Vals and Milonga with Juan D'Arienzo


2:00-3:30 Int/Adv - The Boleo vs Overturned Gancho Connection with Roberto Rufino

4:00-6:00 Adv Couples Only Seminar - The Body Spiral Explored with a CELLspace Inspired Music Mix

All the videos will be uploaded at


We began with Cristina leading several warm-up exercises to help us do twisty moves to the best of our ability.

Exercise 1:

We all stood in a circle, with feet hip width apart (6-8 inches), with feet parallel, trying to look like the letter H.

Keep knees soft, don’t lock them.

Be nice and tall.

Inhale four counts, raise shoulders, swing arms from side to side like a monkey or May pole.

Exhale, drop shoulders.

Do this twice

Begin again, swing arms, exhale, drop shoulders

Exercise 2:

Turn head to the right.

Keep shoulders parallel.

Turn head a little more, trying to look behind you.

Turn head to the left.

Keep shoulders parallel.

Turn head a little more, trying to look behind you.

Return head to center.

Bring your chin to your chest.

Roll shoulders back.

Lean head back.

Roll shoulders forward.

Exercise 3:

In partnership, with one person's back facing the other person’s front, the person behind has his hands on the front person’s hips. The front person twists to the right to see if he can turn his head to face the other person. Then he twists to the left to see if he can turn his head to face the other person.

Next, the back person’s hands were changed to the front person’s shoulders, and again the front person tried to turn his head all the say way around so that he could see the other person behind him. Again, we did this both ways.

Next, the back person holds the front person’s head up by the ears, so that the front person’s head was more floaty. The front person tries to twist his whole body around, including his feet, to see how far he can go. We did this on both sides.

The freer the joints, the more twisty the body, and the larger the range of motion one is able to achieve.

Exercise 4: Introduction of One-Legged Concepts

It’s hard to be just on one leg.

We began with being 100% on one leg, our left leg. Do not sit on the leg, keep the knee soft. Be upright. Keep shoulders even, ribcage open, and spine long. Be rooted into the floor. We held this for several counts, and tried it on the left foot and the right foot.

Exercise 5:

Next, we stepped forward with our right leg, raised our left leg, and then take our right arm/shoulder and twist to the right, while standing on one leg (our right leg). We held this pose/position for four counts. Keep shoulders level. Try to raise the arms higher. Hold for 8 counts.

We also tried this on the other side, stepping with our left foot, raising our right leg, and twisting to the left.

Exercise 6: Disassociation Exercises Led by Homer

Walking in a line, turn our body toward our forward walking foot with our arms stretched wide like in exercise 5. Try to look all the way behind you. Keep chest up. Stay tall. Be balanced, elegant and controlled. The idea is to do this smoothly and with flow. At the time of collection, you should be looking back.

We also tried this walking backward.

We drilled this for 1-2 minutes. Practice this at home to improve your tango spiral.

Applying the above Exercises to our Walk:

In partnership, we walked, in line or outside partner in open embrace. We should keep facing each other, but the Leader should try to exaggerate his twisting toward the Follower as he walked and changed from inside to outside partner. We should feel the twist in our core and spine.

Building our Simple Walking Pattern to Leader’s Grapevine Footwork:

Next, in partnership, open embrace, the Leader does grapevine footwork, in and out. Here again, the Follower and Leader should keep their chests toward each other, and try not to move just their shoulders, but their entire bodies, with disassociation. The Leader was to hyper exaggerate leading with his spine.

In kettle embrace (leader’s hands at the small of his back, Follower hanging on to Leader’s arms), we did the Leader’s grapevine footwork, and the Follower needed to mirror the Leader’s body. The Leader should focus on the smoothness in between the transitions. He needs to know when to twist his spine, and coordinate the turn with when he steps on the floor. He should keep the size of his steps consistent, so that the timing is also consistent.

The Follower should mirror the twist in the Leader’s spine when she feels it, and keep consistency and good reaction in her own steps. She must not fall into her steps. In walking back, Follower should take care to walk back straight, with one foot behind the other in one straight line (track). Follow the direction of the Leader’s hips, even though your chest faces the Leader.

The point of this class is to maximize the torsion in our body, but still be balanced in our walk.

It’s is not just a twist in our front. The core has to soften a little to allow range. The back has to be soft enough to accommodate the twist and to allow separation from what the lower half is doing from where the upper half is.

Leader: Do not tilt and let your shoulders become uneven when you twist back.

Part I: Going to the Follower’s Cross

In tea kettle open embrace, the Leader tries to lead the Follower into the cross. He does the spiral in his back/body to lead it. Here in class, we were to exaggerate this.

Leader: Keep upright, do not lean forward.

Follower: Do not do automatic crosses for this exercise. Make sure you follow the lead. Be with the Leader. Follower’s cross should reflect how the Leader spirals and how his back twists. The cross should be tight. The cross, shallow or wide, depends on how much your right hip opens out and how well the left foot comes back (it should mirror the Leader’s torsion).

The Leader and Follower should be well connected to make this a very sophisticated, elegant move.

Leader: If you can make this feel good, you are on the right road.

Leader: Keep thigh close to the Follower’s. It might even touch. This is so you line up with Follower at the point of her cross.

Part II: Follower Forward Ochos While Leader Stands in Place

In tea kettle open embrace, the Follower does forward ochos while the Leader stands in place. The Follower should stay close, but don’t bump into the Leader. She should take long, snaky steps around him. The Leader really spirals in place. The Follower should have a good, engaged embrace.


Leader parada on either foot.

Follower can embellish before she steps over with a fan or rulo, but she should always step over long and snaky.

Putting It All Together In A Simple Sequence:

8CB to 5 (cross) to Follower forward ochos, to Leader parada on either side.

Followers: Because Leader is in tea kettle embrace, he can’t hold you up or twist you. The Follower has to amplify what the Leader is doing. She needs to be very smart about where she steps. It is very important. She should have tiger hips and snaky steps. Do not knock the Leader over or off his axis. Be near the Leader. The Follower’s whole body is involved in snaking around. Use your curves.

The Follower’s right thigh should brush the Leader’s pants. That’s how close she should be to the Leader.

The class concluded with a summary review of Q&A.

Maestros did a demo dance to Donato’s Sinsobar.


Leader’s Parada Exercise:

We worked on the Leader’s footwork.

Stretch the right foot forward with no body spiral.

Stretch the left foot forward with no body spiral.

Start in one direction, pivot 90 degrees. The twist is in the abdomen, and is like ringing a towel.

Release it to kick heel around.

The foot is out and curving 90 degrees around. Shoulders are twisted even more, about 105 degrees.


Our music for the second workshop was Donato: rhythmic, playful and sweet.

We began with a review of the simple sequence learned in the Workshop 1, focusing on applying the concepts we learned to be as twisty as possible:

8CB to 5 (cross)

Follower forward ochos

Leader parada, with his hips turning 45 degrees.

Follower should keep her chest turned toward the Leader, even though her hips face away (she can pivot away as much as she can manage it)

Follower’s embellishments to the Leader parada (done on either side):

(1) Syncopated stepover.

(2) Rulo

Syncopated Stepover

The syncopated stepover is used to accent the strong rhythm. The Follower steps a little back, then a little to the side, and then around in front and over the Leader’s parada foot like a little boat. It’s a little like tricking him.

On the close side of the embrace, it’s left foot back, right foot side, left foot around in front and over.

On the open side of the embrace, it’s right foot back, left foot side, right foot around in front and over.


Maestra demonstrated the rulo, where her hip opens out and away from the Leader, and then she draws a circle on the floor with her foot, while she pivots on her opposite foot, so that when she is done with her rulo, her body is oriented toward the Leader at a right angle so she is ready to step over his parada foot.

Parada Pointers:

Leader: Touch the Follower’s foot in the parada. If there is no foot contact, you will trip her. Have contact in the feet, but do not jam her pivoting foot.

The “Rule of the Knee” was introduced. The “Rule of the Knee” is that the Leader’s knee needs to be lower than the Follower’s knee, otherwise she can’t pass.

The “Rule of the Embrace” was introduced. It says that the Follower wants to hold on. She can pivot as much as possible within the constraints of the embrace. Our goal was to have the Follower pivot as much as possible.

The Follower's pasada step over is a forward step, long and around the Leader.

Now, the meat of the class material:

Follower Ochos with Leader Side Step

In partnership, we did Follower ochos, working in a slot, with the Leader doing a side step (versus the earlier ocho with Leader standing in place but rotating his upper body).

Follower: She does a 180 degree pivot, so that she does the ochos linearly, in a slot. She should rotate as much as possible without breaking the embrace. She can adjust her hip so that she is in the line of the Leader. She should amplify the Leader's energy 2-3 times with her hips so that she can get a good pivot. Be good in your embrace, have elasticity and tone, to take the lead energy and transport it into the hip.

Leader: Don't be asymmetrical in your torso rotation. Most beginner Leaders do uneven torso rotations, turning more on one side than the other when leading ochos. Our goal was to have the amount of rotation the same, at 30-45 degrees. The Leader should not compensate for the asymmetry in his torso rotation by cheating and fixing it by using the embrace (his arms). Timing is key with respect to torso rotation. The Leader's energy into the floor helps the Follower pivot. Along with trying to be even in the 30-45 degree torso rotation, he should also keep his axis up (not tilted forward), when leading the Follower ocho. Otherwise he will pull her in.

For the leader, the side step is like a martial arts chop, adding impulse to the ocho lead to make the ocho more exciting. The Leader should attack the floor at the right time, to release the pivot from the Follower's ocho factory (hips).

"No Pivot" Ocho

Leader: Pretend you are rollerblading down the boardwalk in your feet, but have NO shoulder rotation in your upper body.

Follower: Back cross steps with no hip pivot. Open the hips without pivoting the supporting, standing leg so that your shoulders do not rotate.

Vanilla Bean Ocho

In tea kettle open embrace, the Leader does the roller blade footwork while the Follower does no-pivot ochos. The idea for both is that neither should have any torso or shoulder rotation. In the tea kettle embrace, it's easier to be symmetrical. When you add the normal embrace, it's more difficult to be symmetrical. In class, we were to work on the ideal of being symmetrical. At the milonga, you should do what fits in the space.

The Leader's footwork is in cross system. He gets into it with a side step left, holds the Follower's weight in place while he does a quick weight change, and then he roller blades forward.

We also tried this in double time, as it is very fun to do musically. In single time, the Leader collects at the ankles in between the strong beats as he would normally, but in double time he does not since there is not enough time. Instead, his legs are open and it might look more like a waddle-- admittedly not very elegant, but all eyes will be on the Follower anyway. Since all eyes are on the Follower, she should always collect in between her steps.

Pivoted Ocho: Baby Back Ocho

In this ocho, the Follower has a lot of torsion in her core.

Leader releases his right arm so that the Follower's hips have room to rotate. The Leader transitions to open embrace with both Leader and Follower at vertical axis.

We tried doing this in partnership, doing it in normal time and double time.

The class concluded with a summary review of Q&A.

Maestros did a demo to Se Va La Vida by Edgardo Donato.


The goal of this workshop was to continue our work on spiral energy, applying it to our vals and milonga. Thus, the introduction of the switch step, or "rebote".

In partnership with no Leader or Follower, we did forward ochos, pivoting as much as possible, but not breaking the embrace. We were to step toward our partner's trailing leg and really work the spiral in our bodies. Our shoulders should be relaxed and down. Our lats are engaged and support our back. We should stretch and reach our foot, and then go in our step forward. We could also practice this on our own.

Rebote Footwork and Bodywork

Next, we did a solo exercise, where we stepped forward, pivoted 90 degrees, snapped back, and stepped back. So we did it with right foot forward, pivot forward (clockwise), snap back (counterclockwise), step left foot back. Left foot forward, pivot forward (counterclockwise), snap back (clockwise), right foot back.

Tai Chi Tango Exercise

Next, we did the Tai Chi Tango exercise, which is an exercise to help us work on our connection, really mirror and match our partner’s energy, and feeling compression.

Leader and Follower face each other and are hand to hand (or palm to palm). The Leader does a circular motion with each of his hands, and at some point, he stops and gives compression. The Follower's job is to mirror and match the circular motion and to give resistance when she feels the Leader compress.

Next, the Leader's tea pot embrace (with his right hand behind him at his lower back like the handle of a tea pot, and his left arm and hand up like the spout of a tea pot, for the Follower to hang onto) was introduced. Leader should be sure that his left arm/hand (spout) is solid and stiffer. His left arm/hand (spout) should not telescope forward into the Follower.

The Point of No Return

When Leader’s and Follower’s hips face each other, that is called the "Point of No Return." In leading rebotes, the Leader starts compressing before the Follower reaches the Point of No Return. He compresses at the right moment so that the Follower has a wall from which to bounce back off. The Leader should bring his legs together at the point of the rebote to be a more solid wall and have better connection with the floor.

The rebound/rebote can be smooth or snappy/violent.

Adding the Weight Transfer to the Rebote

What happens when we add a weight transfer? The rebote travels linearly. Here, we travel, rebounding forward, linearly. Our hips are turn the same way.

The Leader leads the weight change by simply dropping the weight onto the foot.

This can be done circularly too, with either the Leader or Follower as the axis / center of the circle.

There are four possible variations:

If you can make the linked rebotes with weight transfer go in a line, you can also turn it, with either the Follower as the center, or the Leader as the center. But first, you should start it as a line. The Follower follows the Leader's direction and energy. Usually the Follower walks around the Leader, but the Follower can be the center and do her rebote steps. Maestros demonstrated, but the students did not attempt, doing rebotes using back ochos.

We were to work on getting the first, simple rebote down into our bodies before we attempted the other variations. Again, it was emphasized that the Leader keeps his left arm solid. We also did this in single time and double time. The Leader needs to be able to lead the weight change.

Push and Pull Aspects of the Embrace

In the embrace, there are two sides, or left hand and our right hand. For both Leader and Follower there is push and pull, using the palm of our hands or our fingers, both in our left hand and our right hand. To understand this concept, Maestra demonstrated what the push/pull would look like on a ballet barre. There is push/pull resistance/compression energy. If the Follower pulls the Leader off axis, she is doing the push/pull too strong or at the wrong timing.

"Surprise" Step

The Follower does ochos, and the Leader leads it such that the Follower kicks her leg through the Leaders open legs.

The Rules for the Follower:

The "Surprise Step" has the same feeling as the rebote, with the Leader giving you the wall, but he stops the rebound energy of his hips with the Leader compressing into the floor. This frees up the Follower's free leg to kick through.

Pendulum Leg Exercise

We backed up with an exercise, the Pendulum Leg. Here, the Follower's leg swings from the hip, large and full, not from the knees. Her knees should stay low, but be a part of the entire leg during the swing. It's a controlled leg swing, not a floppy one. Thus, it is a Tai Chi moment where you need to have freedom and also control.

After the exercise, we attempted to drill some more of rebotes with the surprise step kick through.

The class concluded with a summary review of Q&A.

Maestros did a demo to Nada Mas by D'Arienzo.


We began with a review of yesterday's material to warm up our bodies. Today, our focus was to explore the benefits of having good body spiral, which enables us to have better connection, better communication, more technique and more fulfillment in our dancing.

Ocho Exercise

We began in partnership with no Leader or Follower, and we both did forward ochos, stepping around and toward our partner's trailing foot. We tried this doing back ochos as well, which required even more torsion on our partners. In doing these ochos, the hand that goes to the forward foot will use a little bit of the pull energy to help give lots of pivot in the hips and feet. Again, it was emphasized that we should use our back muscles to keep us up, and our elbows should be pointed down.

Switch Step Exercise

Next, we did the switch step exercise in partnership, which is similar to the Ocho exercise, except we added the switch step pivot forward and snap back. Here, our work focused on how we rely on each other in a positive tango way, as we rebound off of each other and are the other person's wall. So we needed to focus on how we engaged, when we engaged, using our back, core, and connection to our floor. We were not to use our arms and shoulders to lead as if steering a bus.

Next, in Tea Kettle Open Embrace, the Leader's were to do the switch step lead. Leader should have symmetrical (30-45 degree) rotation in his chest/torso.

Building The Forward ("With") Boleo

Foot Trace and Caress the Floor Exercise

We began with an exercise to loosen up our hip. We were to caress the floor with our big toe, tracing the shape of the front of our opposite, supporting standing foot. We were to see how much we can rotate the hip, one foot around the other foot. Our feet began in a "V" position with a little turnout. At the end of our caress with our foot on the other side of our standing foot, our feet will look like the top of an arrow "/\".

“Thwack” (Front Boleo Legwork) Exercise

Then we did the "Thwack" Exercise, with our leg going all the way up and hitting the outside of our opposite hip in a whip action. The goal was to get a good thwack so that you can hear the snap of the pants. The Follower controls the shape of the boleo leg, even though it's the free leg. The quality of the boleo is in how well her leg does the whip action. Keep the knee as low as possible, as long as you clear the other thigh. Knee can lift a little at the end. Follower should keep her hips even, with an even pelvic floor. The Follower needs to have a solid standing, supporting leg for the boleo to work.

Leading the Boleo

With the Leader in Tea Kettle Open Embrace, the Leader was to lead this by doing a side step to the left, attacking the floor, changing weight, and then stepping again in a counter step without transferring the weight completely, but keeping it in the middle while sending her past the point Point of No Return.

The most important thing is timing to stabilize the step and the stop energy. Leader should not be too early or too late. The goal of this class was for the Leader to figure out where that point is and how to lead the boleo at that exact moment.

The Follower needs to be able to pivot on her standing leg, and the Leader needs to keep the Follower on her axis and not pull her off as she does her boleo by rushing her through her completion as her leg returns to exit. Thus, he must be patient and wait for the Follower to finish and he must wait for her hips to get back around after her boleo before he leads the next step, which could be a back ocho or regular back step after her normal collection. Leader must not rush the exit, otherwise he will knock her off axis.

Send Energy and Rebound Energy

Every Boleo has a send energy and a rebound energy to varying degrees. It could be 50/50, or 90/10 or anything in between. Maestro commented that Fabian Salas once demonstrated this by throwing a tennis ball at a wall.

Throwing the ball = send energy

Ball Hitting Wall and bouncing back = boleo

Ball Hitting No wall = ocho

The most obvious way to block the energy is through the embrace. The Leader's counter step reinforces the wall. The counter step can be a little away from the Follower.

Timing is key. The place where the Follower is ready to hit the wall is when you want to give her the block energy.

Our music was DiSarli with Rufino on vocals because the music is obvious with a good strong beat where we could employ the send energy, and also a good strong beat where we can feel the rebound energy.


(1) Regular exit is a collection and foot returns back down to the floor.

(2) Knee goes up and around, then back down. Do not knee the Leader. This is for slower, more melodic and flowy music.

We could also do double or triple boleos before exiting.

Maestros showed us the overturned gancho, which is like the idea of the Follower kicking through the Leader's legs from the forward ocho, only it is done on the back ocho instead. The Leader gives the Follower a lot of send energy and also over rotates her so that she does an overturned back ocho and pivots a lot on her supporting, standing leg, such that her toes are pointed completely away from the Leader. Then he creates the wall energy to change it from circular to linear, compressing the energy and being like a wall or statue, as her boleo goes through his legs.

The class concluded with a summary review of Q&A.

Maestros did a demo to Corazon by DiSarli with Rufino on vocals.


Since this was an exploration class, Maestros asked what we wanted to work on, and it was decided that we continue our work on the Overturned Gancho.

Pendulum Exercise

We began with the Pendulum Exercise with the Follower swinging her leg, being really big and strong in her swing, really opening up and toes pointed forward, and the knee only bends when it has to.

At the right moment, the Leader puts his leg behind the Follower's supporting standing foot/leg, with his heel lifted from the floor, and his thigh opening up, exposing the soft part of his leg to receive the Follower's swinging pendulum leg in a gancho. This is called the "Captain Morgan" (of rum fame) position. Again, the Follower's bend in the knee happens at the maximum height of her back leg swing, and she should have good flesh contact with the Leader's thigh.

On the Pendulum Exercise, the Follower should be tall, lengthen the leg, point her toe.

The Leader's foot goes behind the Follower's far away foot, unweighted, with just a little bit of pressure to keep it steady, so perhaps 10% of his weight is on it.

If the Follower is much shorter, the Leader's knee needs to bend, so that he goes down like an elevator.

For the Pendulum Exercise, we had three levels:

(1) Both dancers with both eyes open

(2) Follower's eyes closed.

(3) Leader's and Follower's eyes closed.

If the Follower can do the exercise well, they are almost there.

The Overturned Gancho

The Leader plants his foot, but keeps rotating the Follower so that she pivots a lot and to the point where she can't rotate at all anymore. As he stops and plants, her free leg will go flying. The Leader's right hand needs to let her go so she can go. The Follower will still be hanging on with her left and right hands. The Leader's right hand just provides support on the Follower's left side rib cage/waist. The Follower can drop her left hand, completely letting go of the joint, to get 4 more inches of spiral so she can turn more. If she keeps hanging on, it will be more difficult for her to get around. The Leader's left shoulder joint needs to be relaxed too, to provide space.

Double overturned ganchos can also be done.

Again, as for ochos, the Follower should stay close to the Leader while doing her ochos (including her back ochos). If she needs to lean, she should hang back, not forward. She should not do knee ganchos.

Variation with Leader Back Ocho:

One easy adaptation is with the Leader doing a pivoting back ocho, while leading the Follower to do her overturned ocho so that the Follower ganchos through the back of the Leader's leg, so that her foot ends up at the front of the Leader when she ganchos.

To maintain the connection, the Follower should keep looking at the Leader.

Back Gancho Versus Follower's Back Sacada

The rule of the Follower's forward ocho is that the Leader does nothing at the point of no return, does not do any blocking or any rebounding.

How does the Leader lead a gancho/boleo? You stop turning at the right time to create a wall for the Follower. There is a block energy versus a continuous smooth energy. The Block energy has a suddenness, strong send energy to it.

For the Follower's back sacada, the Leader needs to be able to keep turning smoothly and keep the energy continuous and smooth with no block energy.

For either the Back Gancho or the Follower's Back Sacada, she needs to pivot a lot on the back ocho step, otherwise she will be too far away and hit his foot. She needs to pivot enough to walk around the Leader on the back ocho.

Since this was an exploration class, we drilled a lot to try to figure things out, mixing up Back Ganchos or Follower's Back Sacadas, both on the left and right sides.

Next, Maestros showed us a simple sequence, which we were to replicate in our bodies.

From the idea of the Leader's back ocho Follower overturned gancho through his legs from the back of his thighs to his front, he does a right leg parada. Follower does a reverse pasada, stepping back with her right foot, to a Follower left leg barrida of the Leader's right leg counterclockwise, to a Follower right leg gancho of the Leader's right leg. Our goal in recreating this sequence was the apply all the concepts we learned in all 5 workshops. Leader should drop his knee and keep turning the Follower at the point of his parada/her pasada. At the point of the barrida, the Leader has a soft knee and his weight is on his back left foot so that his right leg is free enough for the Follower to sweep easily and he doesn't block or resist her.

The class concluded with a summary review of Q&A.

Maestros did a demo to White Flag by Dido.


Random Comments about the whole H&C Stanford Weekend Experience

Saturday and Sunday Lunch at The Treehouse
For lunch, I went over to the Treehouse, the on-campus food purveyor just 200 yards away from the Black Center, where the workshops were being held. It has a California-interpreted international menu of burgers/tex-mex/pizzas/rice bowls, with brown rice options. The first day I had a beef burrito bowl with brown rice for around $6. It was good, very hearty and filling and reasonably healthy. The second day I had the Fish & Chips for around $6. For some reason, on Sunday the portions seemed noticeably larger, with plates piled high. The Fish & Chips came with a whopping 6 pieces of fish! Granted, they were of the frozen, processed variety, but they were still tasty enough in all their salty, crunchy, deep fried glory, and the dish could easily serve two people.

Saturday Dinner
After the Saturday lessons, Jr. Scout Extraordinaire, Brookings and I went to her home, where she graciously allowed us to couch surf. Brookings made a delicious dinner of pasta with sauce, while JSE and I attempted to turn her Hard Boiled Eggs a la Tim Ferriss into a square shape using her nifty canape gadget. The eggs were a disaster. For some reason, the shells REALLY stuck to the eggs. So they looked gouged, mangled, and just plain sad after they were peeled. And they were stubborn about being shaped into squares since that was supposed to be done when they are warm. Still, it was an amusing, engaging thing to do as Brookings very charmingly cooked us dinner. It was a very companionable, happy evening, stubborn eggs and all (complete with a discussion on the technique and merits of adding vinegar to the egg-boiling water versus adding baking soda [acid versus base] as Tim Ferriss recommends, and how it might affect the shell's permeability and adhesion of protein, and also wondering why neither of us has ever run into Tim Ferriss at any local milongas. I guess after the World Championships and Guinness record, maybe just plain old social dancing with us Bay Area hacks would be a bit of a letdown.).

Saturday Night Stanford Milonga at Toyon Hall Lounge
The facility is gorgeous, built in the 1920s in the Mission (Spanish Revival) style. Coming from San Francisco, and with my former home of the same genre, I was delighted. To me, it was like coming home, only in a far grander style, with the room's spaciousness and height. To give you an idea of the scale and cost that went into construction, the beams and joists were at least a foot wide. Even the radiators, in all of their cast metal glory, were exquisite. This is what they looked like: I had never been to Toyon Hall, but if all the Stanford Milongas were here, I will be sure to be back, even on non-Homer visits!

The milonga was fun. It was full but not excessively crowded. Lots of students from the H&C Stanford workshop were in attendance, along with folks coming in from as far away as Sacramento and as far south as Monterey, along with the usual San Francisco Bay Area pilgrims and tango gypsies, and a good contingent from the Berkeley Tango Club. The food was good. It was not sophticatedly presented, but was satisfying and ample, with assorted sliced cheeses and cold cuts, veggie platter, sliced fruit, bag of cherries, hummus, pita chips, cream puffs, Hersey's miniatures, and various sodas and water. It was a youthful interpretation of milonga food, fresh in its ease and unpretentiousness. I had a good time dancing, putting in floor time during most of the tandas. By the end of the night, my feet felt like raw, bloody stumps after several hours of dancing after a full day of classes.

The milonga went later than its official 12:30 p.m. end time, and at 1:15 p.m., Brookings and I were ready to call it a night. But because Jr. Scout Extraordinaire is THE social butterfly and hotly in demand, an invitation was extended to the Very Exclusive After Party. So even though Brookings and I were dog tired and really wanted to go, it was clear that Jr. Scout Extraordinaire wanted to stay and keep partying like a rock star. And so, we went to the Very Exclusive After Party, with Brookings and I as the 5th and 6th wheels. Brookings and I couldn't leave because we had carpooled and we were both staying at Jr. Scout Extraordinaire's home, so there we were, virtual prisoners. Not that you had to twist our rubber arms to stay. It turned out to be an extremely fun night.

Now here, I could tell you exactly what went on at the Very Exclusive After Party, but then I'd have to kill ya. ;o)

OK, since you twisted my virtual rubber arm, I will give you a little taste: there was alcohol ("REALLY good $h*t"), cream puffs, more food and more dancing -- only in socks! Carlos Gardel was there in spirit (when was the last time you heard one of his songs played at a local milonga?), and a couple of different versions of Por Una Cabeza were played and the lyrics and movies in which it is played were discussed, along with a discussion on Entropy (but not in the same breath), local current and aspiring Ph.DJ's, and the usual random things people discuss after spending hours and hours together. JSE wanted me to write something about: "The group circle tribal dance jam that wrapped the party (to what music I wish I remembered). I found it to be wonderful that we were all so freely expressing ourselves to music together yet differently with acceptance for all --- deep in the mysteries of the night environment. ... Watching you have a blast was what ultimately drew me in." but her words more adequately described it, so there you see that I just stole them from her. ;o)

We partied like rock stars until the wee hours of the morning, and I was truly thankful that the Sunday classes didn't start until 2:00 p.m., and even more thankful and relieved that I didn't get a parking ticket since JSE's very exclusive town prohibits overnight street parking of any kind, anywhere. When I heard that, I thought it was truly bizarre, me being scruffy riff-raff from San Francisco.

Couch Surfing at JSE's
Couch surfing at Jr. Scout Extraordinaire's was fun. Her couch is long, so I had no problem sleeping comfortably on it. Her home is very nice, clean and efficient. The pièce de résistance is the combined living space/dance room, with a dance floor and full length mirrors along one wall. In short, it is a great dance practice space, which is what we did. JSE asked me about the rulo before the follower pasada that maestra demo'd earlier in class, so that's what we worked on. I explained in excruciating detail exactly what I was doing, showed it slowly a couple of times, and then made her do it, captured on video so she doesn't forget. I recommended that she get a portable ballet barre so she could work on all sorts of embellishments and see how they look, but then I spied a piece of furniture that was a good stand-in, and recommended that she just use that as something to hold on to but also see through to the mirror since it would mean one less thing she would need to get. Much better to give an item she already had an additional purpose. I also showed JSE one of my new tango adorno toys. Funny thing, I used to do this years ago, and for some reason I dropped it, but I picked it up again recently and have been jamming it in non-stop whenever and wherever I could fit it into the dance, much to the surprise (and I hope delight) of some Leaders. JSE was sworn to secrecy not to disclose what that toy is, though you might see her do it on the dance floor one of these days.

Both JSE and Brookings are neat, clean, thoughtful and considerate people, so it's no surprise that we all got along well, as usual. Actually, because we were a little out of our element and yet quite familiar, it felt like we went away for a mini-Tango festival. The workshops were nice in that a majority of folks took all 5 classes, and attended both days. So many of us were quite friendly with each other by the end of the day Sunday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Tim Ferriss Egg experiment, Part 1. I admit, watching the YouTube video had me intrigued. So I boiled the three eggs using my own quick method rather than the one Tim Ferriss recommends in his video (I boiled for 8-9 minutes; he recommends 12. I also do not use as large a pot, nor do I cover the eggs with a full 2 inches of water). To the cooling water (no ice), I added about one teaspoon of baking soda, as recommended. Then I swirled the eggs and baking soda in the water a bit and waited for it to cool down. When it did, I took off the two ends of the shell of one egg. Then I blew. and....drumrolll please... I heard cracks. The shell body started to crack, but the egg did not pop right out of the hole like in the video. I wonder if it was because I used pastured eggs a week or two old. Maybe if I used superfresh agribusiness eggs from styrofoam cartons they might have had thicker shells. I decided to keep the other two eggs for some later experimentation so I put them back in the fridge, not in water. I ended up peeling the first egg normally, and found that the shell almost slipped right off with no resistance or adhesion. So even though the blow part was a failure, I was very pleased with how the shell just slipped right off.

Thursday, January 20, 2011
Tim Ferris Egg experiment, Part 2. Since Tim Ferriss's video suggested that these eggs were to be brought into work and eaten for lunch, that's exactly what I did (well, breakfast). So the other two eggs were refrigerated overnight, and then one made a 90-minute journey at exterior and train temperature (about 55-65 degrees). When in the office, I took off the two ends of the eggs. Then I blew. and....drumroll please... absolutely nothing happened. The egg would not budge out of the shell. The shell didn't crack either. I tried blowing again. Still nothing, nada. I ended up peeling the egg in the normal way, and found a little bit of adhesion on the ends, but overall the egg was very easy to peel (but not as easily as the night before when they were still slightly warmish).

Come Join Me!

February 19-20, 2011. Homer and Cristina Ladas at Stanford Weekend: Colgada/Volcada Lalapaloosa. It's not too late to begin working on building up your core/back muscles before the weekend. :o)

No comments: