Sunday, April 1, 2012

February 21 - March 31

I was away on vacation in late February/early March, and while the place I went to had tango, the directions were something like: "Take the subway to XYZ station, leaving from exit #5. Walk 5 minutes until you get past the Dunkin' Donuts, and we are three storefronts past it. Go down two flights of stairs and down a long corridor. Ours is the second door on the left." So it was just way too complicated to get to, in the dark of the night, so I didn't go dancing at all, despite schlepping some dresses and tango shoes to the other side of the planet.

Saturday, March 17, 2012
It seemed every Irish person in the tri-state area was on the train into NYC. Still, I decided to brave the crowds and go into town anyway with the goal of hitting three milongas.

Mariela Franganillo’s La Practica at Dance Manhattan

It was a lovely afternoon, as usual. I got to dance with some of my favorite leaders, though the warmish weather made things a bit humid.

Afternoon Milonga at Triangulo
I spent the couple hours in between milongas just wandering and shopping. At the milnoga, I met and danced with a beginner who shows lots of excellent potential, so that was exciting and inspiring. During the milonga, I tried to just stay curled up in the corner and not dance too much, since I wanted to save my energy for the La Argentina Milonga @ Dardo Galleto, but people kept dragging me onto the dance floor. So it was fun, but very exhausting and by the end of the milonga, my feet felt like raw bloody stumps. So I was just too dog tired after that to make my way over to Dardo.

I really need to rethink the Saturday tango thing. On one hand, I adore Mariela's practica. But on the other hand, I get too exhausted staying in the city either shopping or dancing at Triangulo (or both), so that by the time the night milonga rolls around, I have absolutely no mental or physical energy left.

Sunday, March 18, 2012
Roko Milonga.
I skipped the lesson, but had a great time dancing and volunteering. I met a new-to-me dancer, who has been part of the community for years, then left, and is now back. He's a great dancer, and we are well suited in height, so we have a lot of fun on the dance floor.

Sunday, March 25, 2012
Roko Milonga.
The lesson focused on connection and the ocho cortado. I had a great time dancing and volunteering. Stevie from San Francisco was there, so it was nice to see a friendly face. He’s improved a lot since I last danced with him! And lucky for the NY and CT tangueras, he will be here for couple more weeks!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Milonga in White Plains
with lesson beforehand by Ney Melo.
Vintage Milonga with lesson beforehand by Ney Melo in White Plains, NY ($17 for lesson, milonga, and light buffet dinner). Since I don't know the area very well, I circled for parking, completely missing the fact that there was a municipal lot right across the street. Then I had to dig around my purse for enough change to feed the meter until 9 pm. I didn't quite have enough, but decided to take my chances. Vintage is a nice restaurant with a bar, and a separate room in the back where the tango event was taking place. The room was very spacious, with a nice hardwood (maybe high quality Pergo?) floor, high ceilings with a copper-painted faux tin ceiling) and contemporary lighting. There was ample seating and tables on the edge of the dance floor, and at the front part of the room where people could comfortably eat dinner. The full bar and attentive bartender was there to satisfy people's lust for libations (wines were $5-7, bottled water $2, beer $?, cocktails $?).

I had already eaten dinner, so didn't want to partake in the light buffet of Italian food (the main dish was a very thin slice of meat [I think] rolled with ricotta inside, then baked in a cheesy tomatoey sauce, with sides of steamed mixed veggies heavy on the carrots, cheesy rigatoni, mixed green salad, bread and butter). But the bartender was kind enough to give me a small to-go container so that I could enjoy the fare at a latter time. Other Followers had decided to sit out the lesson as well, and they were having dinner and wine.

For the lesson, there were more Followers than Leaders so I decided to just watch and take notes, especially since I got there a little late. The lesson focused on the rhythm of tango, with the Follower's adorno of tap footwork in the cha cha cha rhythm. Maybe the Leader had cha cha cha footwork too, but I wasn't paying close enough attention. Ney was assisted by Viktoria, the lovely and friendly co-hostess of this event. They did a lot of drilling to D'Arienzo's Pensalo Bien, with the Leader leading the Follower to do forward steps, and the Follower embellishing with cha cha cha footwork. Maestro made the point that you can't adorn if you are not on balance, and that the whole lean thing was BS. He also commented that there are two points of embrace in tango: (1) the head and chest area and (2) the Follower's right hand in the Leader's left hand. The students also worked on going in to the cross, and the Followers were instructed to really make the Leader block your cross by him going inside. The Leaders and Followers were all to be on the beat, and not rush into the cross (as is done by a lot of dancers, but is incorrect). Then they added the Follower cha cha cha adorno footwork as she is in the cross. Maestro said that at the point of the cross, it is a ball of foot to ball of foot technique (not flat footed on either foot). Again, they spent a lot of time drilling to Pensalo Bien, for the Follower to get used to doing the cha cha cha in her cross.

Then, to work on the concept of realizing how much time we have in the cross, the music was changed and we were to dance plain vanilla to Remembranzas.

Then, to work on our connection and embrace, there was a class exercise with men in circle formation in the middle of the dance floor facing out, and the women rotating among them, embracing them only with eyes closed and no steps. This is for the men to realize that the Follower IS a woman, and the Follower to really embrace the Leader with an attitude of no foolishness, ad we are going to be on the beat, and he is going to take care of me. So Maestro put on the music, and the couples embraced for about 20 seconds, and then switched partners so that all dancers had a chance to embrace different people with different physical characteristics and be open and accepting of them.

Next week, the lesson topic will be: "The Secret of Love, Life, and Relationships" and at the milonga we will celebrate Maestro's birthday.

It struck me once again how Maestro is an excellent teacher, teaching real, fundamental tango concepts like connection, musicality, physical expression, and women having a voice in shaping the dance, much like those concepts strongly emphasized by Los Dinzel. There are some teachers who just teach steps, while other teachers truly teach you how to dance. I believe Ney is in the latter camp (along with Los Dinzel).

The milonga itself was fun and entertaining. There was a raffle with three prizes: (1) brunch for 2 at Vintage; (2) a bottle of LoTengo wine; (3) a bottle of Sensual wine. Though there were more Followers than Leaders, I didn't mind sitting out as much as I did, as my time warming the bar stool was punctuated with some very nice tandas, with Maestro (fantastic!) and Carlos the organizer (also fantastic!) and a few locals from the community.

I am kicking myself that it took me so long to make it to this event, as it fun and an excellent value. But it's great that they had Maestro there as that was the final pull that I needed to get me out of the house on a Wednesday night. Thankfully, this event happens very efficiently at the dinner hour (and includes the buffet), and ends around 10 pm, so getting up refreshed and inspired the next day was not a problem. Carlos and Viktoria are wonderful hosts, with Carlos having a very busy night dancing with all the ladies so that no one felt left out.

Saturday, March 31, 2012
All Night Milonga at Stepping Out.
I don’t usually go to this milonga, but since I had a dinner engagement beforehand that was somewhat nearby, I decided to give it another go. It was full, but not insanely crowded, which was nice. Still, it got quite warm in the main room, which means I spent most of my time in the now-larger alt room. I had a good time in that room since the fan was blowing, and several windows were open, letting in the refreshingly cool night air. Stevie was there, too, so we had a nice time dancing. I also had a chance to dance lots of alt tandas with dancers I usually dance traditional with, so that was a nice change. I was stuffed from dinner, so didn’t even look at the snacks table. There were shoes for sale, and they included a brand I had heard of, but not personally checked out in BsAs: Soy Porteno. The shoes appear to be well made and style wise comparable to NeoTango, so I think they are worth tracking down in BsAs on a future trip. Here’s their web site: , which shoes an address in BsAs of Adolfo Alsina 1886, so it appears to be nearish La Vikinga.

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