Friday, December 21, 2007

Victoria Is In The House!

Well, she's at least here in our little milonga here in Confessions. It is with great pleasure I give you Victoria I'm sorry I can't reveal her real identity, but I can tell you I've danced with her before (now let me see, was that in Bs As, San Francisco or Prague?). I can also tell you she's a wonderful person, a delightful dancer, and Victoria has a poetic view of tango and life (one in the same, aren't they?). What I mean by that is she sees things most of us don't see and then expresses the deepest truths of tango that are invisible to me until her words break through the fog and reveal them to me. So, in a sense, Victoria is my tango sherpa--guiding me up the impossible ascent of the Mt. Everest that is tango. Victoria is also very humble, so I know she's not going to be happy with me for saying all these things (she'll think they're exaggerations, but they're not). Anyway, I wanted to give you this background, so you have a sense for why I never gave up hope that Godot would arrive. I know you'll connect with her words as much as I do with her when we tango. OK, I'm going to shut up now and let Victoria talk for herself, which she'll start doing in her inaugural post within a few days. Welcome, Godot.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Her Identity Must Remain A Secret

She's in!! I just spoke with my friend and she's agreed to start posting Confessions, but under one condition: she'd like to use a nom de plume in honor of her great grandmother who loved to dance. So, she's going to go by the name Victoria and I know you'll agree she's worth the wait. I've kind of felt like Estragon in "Waiting for Godot" waiting to see if Victoria would show up, but the great news is Godot is about to arrive. No, seriously--she really is.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Driving Through The Fog To The Verdi Club

I'm driving alone through the dark hills of Marin at night. As I fly out of the tunnel there's so much fog I can't even see the city-I barely make out the top of the reddish orange Golden Gate Bridge as it floats above the Bay. As I cross the bridge, the two towers are tangoing together, their steel arms intertwined in a permanent embrace. I look to my right, but the mist is so thick the Pacific ocean is invisible below. This high up in the clouds the only thing I hear are the lonely notes of Poema*. Feeling my way through the fog towards La Sonrisa*, her lighthouse beckons me as I drift through the cypresses of the Presidio forest. She guides me into safe harbor as I finally see the Verdi Club in the distance and her yellow neon winged harp perched out front above her nest. As soon as she sees me she takes flight in my direction, taking me under her wing and guiding me inside with a knowing smile...I slowly scan the room and through the haze of tangueras* I see her across the floor--she of the great connection. She's talking with a girlfriend, laughing...I forgot how much her smile lights up a milonga*. After a few moments we make eye contact, I cabeceo* and she accepts with a hard-to-read grin. I walk to her, we slowly embrace, I step to my left and she glides with me as we dive into the fog together...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'm Not Above Begging

I'm Not Above Begging
So, I spoke to my friend again about posting here. Actually, it wasn't so much "talking" on my part as it was persuading/hoping/cajoling/enticing/begging (no, I'm not above begging). Anyway, I'll know for sure by tomorrow—I'd say it's 50/50.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Have You Been Infatuated With A Tango Partner?

Is it possible to fall in love with a woman during a three minute tango? Maybe not, although I have a friend from school who went on a blind date and got engaged that evening. Sounds crazy, I know, but she & her husband are still happily married 19 years out with 3 kids. So, while that's a once-in-a-lifetime rarity, I do know I've become infatuated a few times with a follower and it's normally not what you would expect. Meaning, it's usually not the most beautiful woman in the room (although what woman isn't beautiful when dancing tango?). What I'm trying to say is it's more about the connection we have as we embrace, the give and take we have during our tango, her generous patience as I screw up yet another move, and her being present with me and the song during our brief time together. Men, when a woman gives you all that, how could we not be infatuated with her during those few bright, shining minutes?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Will She Write For Confessions?

Well, I asked my friend about writing Confessions and she's going to think about it. God, I hope she agrees to it--she'd be an awesome contributor! It turns out she's written some tango poetry and has an interest in sharing some of it, but she's a bit reluctant to put herself out there in a public tango forum like this. TBD...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Bocce Balls of Monte Cristo

If you know nothing else about the Monte Cristo, know this: they take their bocce ball seriously here. In this gentrifying barrio of Portrero rests the Monte Cristo--your neighborhood milonga. Celebrating their 100 year anniversary last year, the first thing you see when you enter this old school Italian social club is bocce ball postings on their left wall. After you climb the stairs there's an Italian style bar to the left, which has ten bocce ball trophies proudly displayed on top of it. And to the right is the dance room, which feels cozy like tango should. It was packed the night I was there, partly because the awesome Trio Garufa was playing. The first woman I danced with is a very nice doctor in town from Washington (you meet the most interesting people in tango!). Later I just watched in a daze as the couples flowed around the floor like a noiseless river. Noiseless, that is, upstairs. I went downstairs to check it out and was standing next to a bocce ball rack outside the kitchen hearing loud, creaking sounds from above--I thought the floor was going to come crashing down. I realized I was standing directly under the dance floor, but it sounded like bocce balls rolling above. Then I see an announcement for their upcoming stag dinners of saltimbocca, polenta & rabbit--you won't find any foo-foo Cal fusion cuisine here. And now I'm back upstairs watching a hundred tangueros float around again. Where did all that noise go? All I hear are the sweet notes of Trio Garufa as the murmering river flows as one.

Friday, December 14, 2007

How Can I Write Confessions Without A Partner?

As I've written more of these Confessions, I started to realize that something was missing--a partner! Writing about tango from my perspective as a male is fine. But now that some of you have also asked for the woman's view I realize that without it Confessions would be incomplete. So, I have someone in mind whom I believe would be a great addition and I'm going to ask her to write her own Confessions here. Keep your fingers crossed for me--I'm about to cabeceo* my friend to write...I hope she agrees.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Secrets From La Sonrisa

As I started getting deeper into my first year of tango here in San Francisco, I started to realize most of the classes I was taking were in the same part of town. And as I started going to more milongas I was even more surprised to see they were also in the same area. How did we end up with this embarrassment of tango riches all packed into just a few neighborhoods? I'm talking, of course, about the three tango barrios of the Mission, Portrero, & SOMA--an area I like to call La Sonrisa. Why? Well, I did a map mashup and what do those dozen tango hotspots look like on the map? That's right-a smile ("La Sonrisa" in Spanish). I wasn't surprised when I saw La Sonrisa for the first time...I smile at her every night I tango--why shouldn't she smile back?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My First Confession: My Tango With Rebecca

Dancing tango with Rebecca in San Francisco feels a lot like this city--she's beautiful to look at, I fall into a fog when we take each other into our close embrace, and then the last notes of each song slowly jar me out of my trance just like the Sunday night foghorns in the Pacific that wake me from my dreams...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Happy Birthday, Carlos Gardel!

Five years ago I was about to go to Tahiti with a friend for vacation. So, when she had to cancel I was really disappointed at first, but then I realized this was a perfect opportunity to finally go to Buenos Aires (Bs As). I'd been a tango admirer for years--never having the nerve to try it, but watching with fascination from afar. Before I left a friend said "Ah, you're so lucky--you'll get to hear Carlos Gardel!" I told her I'd never heard of him, but that I'd try to catch one of his concerts. Little did I know that was impossible given that Gardel died in a plane crash in the 1935. I came to learn that Gardel was the Sinatra of Tango (although Argentinians would probably say 'Ol Blue Eyes was the Gardel of Pop).

Once I landed in Bs As I was amazed at Gardel's omnipresence not just in milongas, but throughout the city. This was unlike anything I'd experienced since living in Prague where I heard Dvorak not just in concerts, but every day in cafes and through the thin walls my brother & I shared with our neighbor. But that's what great musicians like Gardel, Sinatra and Dvorak do, right?...they express the joy and pain of our lives so truthfully that we surround ourselves with their sounds.

The exact year Gardel was born is something of a mystery--it was in the late 1800s. But we do know that today is his birthday. And, so on this great day, I'm launching this little Confessions tango blog. Why? It's in appreciation of all that Gardel did for tango, for the great Argentinian people and for all of us interlopers around the world that have connected to tango and Argentina through his bittersweet songs and incredible voice. Five years later I still haven't journeyed to Tahiti, but I have discovered this exotic land called tango where "Gardel sings better every day."