Thursday, November 3, 2011

October 27-November 2

The Providence Tango Tricks and Treats Weekend with Homer & Cristina Ladas:

Friday, October 28, 2011
"Something Scary Spins This Way"I (Int)

For class notes and video, go to

The drive to Providence was much easier and smoother than the drive to Northampton the week before, so I managed to make it to the place where I was staying right on time.

Thanks to, I snagged a room (in the home built by the Gorham Silver Company president back in the day) for a very modest sum, with just a week’s notice. Located in downtown off the main street and now nestled among very modest track homes, it served as an ideal location. On-site parking was provided, which is important in Providence since you get ticketed when parked on the street after midnight.

The home, in short, was love at first sight. It has a wonderful presence, patina and proportion (though slightly out of context for the current surrounding neighborhood). It reminded me of my former home in San Francisco, though mine was far more modest and 50 years younger. Still, there is something about homes with creaky old bones that I find extremely charming and comforting. It just really resonates with me and makes me feel as though I have arrived *home*.

The owner of this Victorian mini-manse is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, has a wonderful eye and sensitivity toward furnishing and remodeling it with period-appropriate details with a few dashes of spunk to keep things lively and interesting. And what a treat to be shown to my room with a welcoming afternoon snack laid out (cookies, sliced seedless orange, poppy seed cake, carafe of whiskey with period shot glass, Perrier, ice bucket filled with ice).

Though the bathroom was shared, I never noticed anyone else’s presence, and there was also a small kitchen area with minifridge, coffee pot, microwave and sink, which was perfect since I prefer to take my meals at home if I can while on the road.

The room itself is clean, slightly on the feminine side as it is sweetly decorated (but not overly so), and the bed extremely comfortable. And though the house is quite old, modern technological amenities were provided: wifi, cable TV with remote control, Bose sound system. It was the kind of room where I could stay for a very long time and be extremely happy, extremely alone.

In the morning I was greeted with the smell of freshly brewed coffee, and there it was all prepared for me, seemingly by an invisible elf who knew exactly when I woke up to have it at the perfect temperature and state of readiness to be consumed. Sadly, since I don’t drink coffee, it went untouched. Still, I was floored that the effort was made.

Going downstairs for breakfast, I separated the very heavy Eastlake pocket doors to the Morris-papered dining room, where I found the Federal dining table already formally set for just me, with a small jug of cranberry juice, French pressed coffee, butter, toasted bagel underneath a cozy, softened cream cheese, and a bowl of sliced fresh honeydew melon and strawberries. It was cold that morning with snow in the forecast, but a fire in the wood stove was already at full blaze, making things cozy and bathed in a warm amber glow.

Having a fetish for all things tabletop, I could not resist turning over the plates. Needless to say, I was extremely impressed by the Limoges and Rosenthal pedigrees I saw, which complemented the Community silver flatware perfectly. It was just one of the many, many lovely meticulous details that made my stay here so wonderful.

It was one of those magical experiences where if you could write your own story about how you wanted to live and the kind of environment where you wanted to live, and actually do it, well, for me, this would come very close. That’s the thing about people in design: they are masterful at creating vignettes for people to actually live in, albeit sometimes just temporarily.

And what, exactly did all that have to do with tango? Well, not a whole heck of a lot, actually. But it was a wonderful, beautiful refuge, sanctuary that I called home for the weekend.

* * *

The Friday night milonga was fun. The food was all provided via community potluck, so it had a wonderful family feeling to it. The food was very gluten-free/vegan/vegetarian oriented, so it was an extremely progressive crowded. The water was filtered, and mate, along with gourd cups and metal straws, as well as an assortment of coffees, teas, and hot chocolate were provided.

Saturday, October 29, 2011
"The Art of Surprise - Part I" (Int)
"The Art of Surprise - Part II" (Int/Adv)

For class notes and video, go to

All during the workshops food was provided: breads and quick breads (pumpkin, banana with and without chocolate chips), along with spreads (peanut butter, nutella, almond butter), chocolate-dipped anisette biscotti, chips and cheese cubes, and my personal favorite: hard-boiled eggs.

The workshops were excellent, as usual. But afterwards, I decided to go back to the house since it was a few hours before the milonga.

After resting for a bit, I made the way back to the facility for the milonga later on that night, driving in snowy weather. On the way over, I thought I was truly out of my mind. But when I got there, it was kismet that I snagged the last spot in the parking lot, trudging gingerly through the snow in flip-flips.

The food provided at this milonga was mostly made by Ellen, although some folks provided potluck items, and it was all divine. Lots of salads (loved the green bean with wild rice one—so New England!), and quite a few quick breads (pumpkin, banana with and without chocolate chips). Someone even made whoopie pies, which of course were a hit!

Sunday, October 30, 2011
"Cool Tricks and Traps for the Social Dance Floor - Parts I" (Advanced)
"Cool Tricks and Traps for the Social Dance Floor - Parts II" (Master)

For class notes and video, go to

Again, before and during the workshop, ample food was provided, more breakfast-oriented in nature with toast and a toaster appearing, along with items similar to yesterday.

I did not stay for the practica after the workshops as I wanted to get home to catch up on chores that went undone while I was on the road the last two weekends.

Dancing in NYC this weekend.

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