Saturday, July 16, 2011

June 30 to July 15 - tour moves from SF to NYC

Friday, July 1, 2011
VHS viewing: Bridge to the Tango: Followers' Technique by Carolina Zokalski. I watched this VHS after I went through my entire bookcase to get rid of books, DVDs, and video tapes to donate instead of pay the shipping cost to move. I have many Bridge to the Tango VHS tapes from one of the Tango Con*Fusion fundraisers, and this was one of them. I admit, most of the other videos have remained unviewed, even though I've had them for more than a year. This particular Followers' Technique video is a good one, with Maestra teaching in Castellano and Daniel Trenner translating to English, packed with lots of tips and specifics about Followers' Technique. That being said, at times, I had trouble keeping my eyes from drooping during the entire 75+ minutes of the tape. So excellent bang for your buck, if you are one of those students who is able to stay awake while watching videos (and this, for me, is a challenge, even for the 30-minute videos).

Saturday, July 2, 2011
Tango Universe at Lake Merritt Dance Center.
I had such a good time at this event the week prior that I decided to go again. I was not disappointed. I had a lot of very nice dances, and nice goodbye conversations, too.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Pampa Cortes at Villa Del Sol.
Ditto for this event (had such a good time last week that I went this week as well). The lesson built on last week's topic, and we did a few interesting variations on it, including the Follower's boleo, and also the Follower gancho after the Leader sacada. It was nice. Dinner this time was steaks all around. It was very yummy. One of the really nice things about this event is having dinner with everyone afterwards and conversing bilingually. Such a pity that I didn't attend this event more often. It is super fun and I would definitely make a point of going to it when I visit. I am very sad that I will miss Pampa's Pena on the 16th. :o(

Thursday, July 7, 2011
I had a few local tangueros over for some wine and nibblies on this night, what was supposed to be my last in SF. It was all very casually thrown together at the last minute, but everything came together nicely. The six of us were a perfectly gender-balanced group, and the conversation was lively. The potluck was mostly Mediterranean, with a sprinkling of dim sum, gourmet French cheeses and locally baked artisanal breads, rounded out with little bits of mint Its-Its for all, all well lubricated with some fancy California and Argentine wines.

Friday, July 8, 2011

There I was, miraculously packed and ready to go, when I got the call that the red-eye had been cancelled. What to do, what to do? Well, fish out a dress and a pair of tango shoes from my carry-on luggage and go dancing, of course! My options were the Nora Tango Week milonga or Elaine's Palo Alto milonga. I chose the latter, using it as an opportunity to return a few items at a certain local tanguera's home since it was on the way. And lucky for me, I also got a chance to bid adieu to her regal feline.

My errand caused us to be late for the lesson, which was unfortunate because I wanted to take it since I had heard good things about the teacher, Eric Lindgren. Since we were early for the milonga, we were able to go next door to Mango Caribbean to have dinner. They have the most delicious Ginger Beer I have ever tasted (it's homemade). I am no expert on Jamaican food, but what I ordered (a goat burrito-like thing, bone on), was delicious, albeit on the hot side (I asked for "medium" spicy; maybe I am a lightweight).

The milonga was nicely attended, but not excessively crowded. I had a good time dancing there. Sheri was also there, so it was super-fun to see her again before I left.

Friday, July 15, 2011
I thought about going dancing earlier in the week, but it was just too freakin' hot and humid for me to be bothered with putting forth the effort to go dancing. I don't live in a city where there is tango every night of the week (think once a month), so getting out requires a little more effort, expense, and planning.

Tango Lounge Milonga at Dancesport in NYC. There were several milongas on this night; I chose this one because it was within walking distance to Grand Central and because Ney Melo, based in New York again, was going to perform.

When I got to the train station to buy my ticket, I was a little surprised that the round trip to Grand Central was $18.50! I guess there will be no dancing 5 nights a week in these parts for me, even after my car arrives, since gas prices seem a little higher out here, and parking rates in NYC are astronomical (more than the train ticket!). Really wanting to go dancing, I just sucked it up and bought the ticket with my credit card.

Since I was early, I took the non-Express train, which took a little over an hour. The ride was pleasant and extremely air-conditioned. So i was thankful that I had the sense to bring a shrug so that my shoulders and arms weren't bare.

The walk to Dancesport from Grand Central was an easy 10 blocks. I walked mostly on Park Avenue, so it was safe both going and coming, very busy and bustling on this warm night. Before going to Dancesport, I spotted a Duane Reade that was open 24 hours. Remembering that there was a drugstore cosmetic touted by HollyAnn that I wanted to buy that I could never find in the SF Bay Area, I decided to pop in. I was not disappointed, as they had the exact item just where it was supposed to be, for the whopping $2.99. I was thrilled. I was also delighted that Duane Reade had a selection of gourmet to-go food items (sushi, sandwiches, salads) that could be purchased.

The facility has a very lovely hardwood floor, and is wonderfully air-conditioned, which I appreciated on this warm, humid night. The bathrooms had ample clean stalls, and extremely powerful commodes.The milonga cost was only $12, which I thought was reasonable. But then I figured out that they did not provide any nibbles or libations; those had to be purchased at the bar/cafe, which had wines, beer, coffee, teas, Italian and American sodas, and baked sweet carbs--cookies, brownies, biscotti, that type of thing. So foodwise, it wasn't my cup of tea.

When I got there, it seemed to me that the dancers were of pretty good skill. There were lots of folks content to just sit and watch from the cafe area, and others on the perimeter of the dance floor who didn't dance at all the entire night. There were more followers than leaders, and plenty of couples who did not switch partners, so I was worried that I would not get much floor time in. Thankfully, one of the locals gave me a whirl, and then others followed. I ended up dancing a good bit, and the Leaders were very kind, charming, and appreciative. It never got excessively crowded, and people seemed to come and go throughout the night. Floorcrafting was generally OKish, but at times not the greatest, as there were some couples a little more performance oriented, or a little more speed oriented than everyone else, and some leaders who liked to step backwards or stop traffic, or who thought the line of dance was more of a suggestion rather than rule. Or maybe everyone was just thrilled to have an open floor try try new things.

When Ney came later on, he recognized me and called out my name, which caused me to wave and smile at him from the dance floor. Alex P (who I had met in San Francisco during his lesson as Aneta's teaching partner) was also there, and he recognized me, too. We were able to give it a whirl later on (after he had danced his fill with taller dancers), so it was a nice treat to see a couple of familiar faces. Ney and performance partner for the evening, Elinor Westrup of Sweden, did a great two-song performance. She is very technically skilled. I tried to focus more on what Ney did, and it's clear that he is an extremely gifted leader with wonderful musicality.

The milonga went until 3:00 a.m., but I couldn't stay that late. I kept an eye on the clock since I didn't want to miss the last train (a few minutes before 2:00 a.m.). Factoring in the 15-minute walk to Grand Central, I decided to leave at around 1:00 a.m. I was starting to bonk since I hadn't eaten or drunk anything at the milonga and had been dancing through most of it.

So it was definitely time for me to go, and I was hoping at least one of the food carts that I had passed by on the way to the milonga was still open. Unfortunately, all of them except the pretzel guys, were closed. There was a McDonald's that was open 24 hours though, and spotting the drink machine with Dr. Pepper in it, I decided to give it a go. Either I hadn't been to a McDonald's in a long time, or their menu in NYC is different from the SF Bay Area, because they have Angus burgers out here. That's what I got. It was only OK, not as good as Carl's Jr's six-dollar burgers with Angus beef. Still, I was appreciative because it was going to be an hour or more before I got home and able to eat something there if I had waited.

Arriving at Grand Central, it was full of people and really bustling. The gals all looked very stylish and the guys all looked very appreciative of the gals' stylishness, There was a visible police presence to keep us all in order, so everything felt very safe. I managed to arrive a half hour early before the next train, which was an express. So I plopped down on the floor to eat my bagged meal from Mickey D's (my other choice was the stairs but that was quite far away from my track), next to a stylish young woman who had her head in her hands and was speaking into her cell phone, telling whoever it was that her head hurt.

The train ride was just OK. Unlike the first ride, which was quiet, this one had a couple of guys on it trying to pick up a couple of girls, who were having an amusing time of it, but from my view it was obvious they had already decided "no, thanks." They were all speaking obnoxiously loudly, and the the gals said something like they were not into sandwiches -- no baloney and no cheese. Still, the guy were doing their best to convince them to give them the time of day, which just irritated the other passengers around them and caused a few to move to another car and/or complain to the conductor (with a comment of "Thank God this was not a game night" with the implication that it would be even worse). Other folks just put on their headphones, turned up the volume to whatever they were listening to, and pulled their caps over their eyes.

It was a zippy 40-minute train ride home. Since it was so late, afterwards, I decided to take a cab since I wasn't sure about the walk back home and didn't want to risk it. I probably would have been fine, but was only a $5 fare, and I was grateful that it took a mere 3 minutes instead of 15 to get home.

1 comment:

tangobrat.com said...

I am enjoying immensely the new adventures of "Anne in New York", though I know I will miss you much. Looking forward to seeing New York tango through your eyes...