Thursday, January 31, 2008

10 Tango Rules Every Man Should Know

1. The woman is always right. Yes, always.
2. Don't give "constructive criticism" to your partner about her tango unless asked. And even then be careful!
3. Walking well with your partner is more important than trying to lead a bunch of moves.
4. Only take a woman into a close embrace if she's open to it. Some women simply prefer dancing in an open embrace and others don't feel comfortable in a close embrace. Either way, it's the woman's prerogative.
5. Be respectful of your partner's body. Sure, it's fun to try more advanced moves or maneuver in tight crowds, but please be careful not to bump into other couples or unintentionally jar your partner with certain moves or dips.
6. If you need to get off the floor & the next tango has already started, don't walk across the dance floor. Instead, walk straight to the outside of the floor & then around.
7. Personal hygiene, men. And don't forget the Altoids.
8. Don't step backwards unless you're 100% sure there isn't anyone else within 5 feet. If our heel lands on the ankle of a woman we can't see behind us, it's very painful for her.
9. Dance with beginner's, not just more advanced women. We were all beginners once, so we should remember all those generous women that danced with us back when we thought an ocho cortado was an Argentinian burrito.
10. Have fun! We tango the world's greatest dance to the world's best music in a close embrace with wonderful women. What more could a guy ask for?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Las Metaforas Del Baile: Spill



my heart spills into yours—

molten gold we merge.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Trio Garufa at the Metronome Fundraiser

So sorry I didn't post this at the time of their much tango, such little time. I'm referring to another great performance by Trio Garufa, this time at the Metronome fundraiser not too long ago. You can see in the photos above how packed it was--one shot is more literal, the other a little "Renoir-esque" (I wish I could say that was intentional, but I accidentally bumped my camera). Trio Garufa was in a particularly playful mood that night playing songs from Amelie & their signature tango, Hotel California. So often it seems orchestras are playing for tango dancers from a distance, but this night it felt like Trio Garufa was an intrinsic part of each tango. They played as if inviting us into a move and then we returned the favor. I'm not sure how they've developed this special talent (perhaps because they're excellent dancers, too?), but their songs feel incredibly organic and danceable. And to top it all off, Michelle & Murat were in town giving tango workshops & they gave an excellent performance. Their style is romantic to begin with, but it felt doubly so watching them because their love for each other is so obvious. At the end of their performance they endearingly deferred to one another as to who deserved the most credit for the loud applause from the adoring crowd. I'm not sure who appreciated whom the most this evening...was it the men and women thankful to each other for the tangos, was it the crowd so happy to get to see Michelle & Murat perform, or was it both so grateful to be able to dance to the terrific Trio Garufa late into the evening?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Las Metaforas Del Baile: Ocho Cortado*

Ocho Cortado*

You will be my golden sun,

I will be your crescent moon.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My Cruel Temptress

Just when I thought I was making some progress with tango, I have a night like this past weekend. I was at a milonga & my timing was off, I bumped into 3 people during one song (I never bump into people!), and I couldn't feel the music to save my life. And here I thought La Sonrisa was smiling at me so sweetly. But now I don't know...I'm taking a closer look at her and starting to see the faint traces of a cruel smile. How did I miss that before...was she teasing me the whole time? My temptress had me thinking I could catch her, but as I lean forward to embrace her, La Sonrisa only tauntingly laughs. She dismissively whispers in my ear "you won't ever hold me--how silly of you to even try!"

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Las Poemas

These poems are inspired by the many wonderful and generous leaders who have invited me through the threshold of Tango-and shown me new vistas, new insights into themselves, myself and this way of life called the Tango. For all the times I’ve stepped on your toes, missed your lead, or just plain screwed up---forgive me. Thank you for your patience, playfulness and willingness to explore new ways of moving together as we wander down the intricate and amazing path of Tango for a tanda or two. You are all my teachers.

Rumi speaks of the Divine Lover behind the veil of each of our lovers.

If the Beloved is everywhere,

The lover is a veil,

But when living itself becomes the Friend,

Lovers disappear.
Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks

These haiku and poems are dedicated to my dance partners- each a veil behind which I catch a glimpse, feel the embrace, inhale the intoxicating fragrance of the Divine and Dancing Presence of the Beloved at play in the universe.

Close Embrace

Dancing cheek to cheek

our bodies melt and glisten,

I fall into cloud.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"I Didn't Know It Could Be Like That": Carlos & Maria Rivarola

What a blessing we had last fall with Carlos and Maria Rivarola visiting from Buenos Aires and giving one incredible class after another. If you haven't seen Carlos dance before, check him out in this Tango movie. One of their classes at Allegros (milonga photo above) was best summed up by two of my partners. I was having trouble, so Carlos came over to help & lead her through the move. After the song ended my partner turned to me as if she'd seen a burning bush and said "I didn't know it could be like that". Five minutes later the same thing happened, but with a different partner & after Carlos walked away she was barely able to speak "I...danced...with...Carlos." Seeing a real maestro tango like this was both inspirational & humbling.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Your Divine Invitation

Wow, Victoria--thanks for an awesome post! I'm sure tango folks understand now why I was so excited that you were going to write Confessions here. And for our readers who haven't started tangoing yet, please take inspiration from Victoria and jump into this wonderful world.

What are you waiting for? Your life will be richer after you dance tango--I promise.

If you live in the SF Bay Area and want to try tango, we're here to help. If you haven't tried it yet because you feel you have two left feet, don't worry--if I can learn tango, anyone can! If you don't have a ride, we'll pick you up. If you don't have a partner, we'll dance with you. If you're shy about meeting new people, let me introduce you to the nicest tango dancers you could imagine.

Your new friends are waiting for you here in tangoland. Please join us...although you don't have to come to us on a stretcher.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

How I Came To Tango...

One year ago I was reading the following poem while out for a late dinner…

A Divine Invitation.

You have been invited to meet The Friend.

No one can resist a Divine Invitation.

That narrows down all our choices to just two:

We can come to God dressed for dancing


Be carried on a stretcher to God’s ward.

-Hafiz (translation by Daniel Ladinsky)

As I read the words, I resolved that I would enter the New Year dancing after one of the most challenging years of my life - one that encompassed having surgery and living with the unknown of a possible cancer diagnosis for awhile ( fortunately it wasn't cancer), the painful ending of a relationship, and several family medical crises.

The poem's message was emphasized even more to me when I fell 5 minutes after reading it and fractured my knee cap. I thought I was through with stretchers, but apparently not. The fall felt like a Universal exclamation point to the poem’s message.

At the time, I certainly wasn't envisioning myself dancing the Tango in 3 inch heels while struggling with crutches and wondering whether I'd ever be able to bend my knee again and return to Bikram yoga classes.

Once gain I was reminded that life is short- so now was the time to do those things that brought me joy. I realized I didn't want to have any regrets at the end of my life over paths not taken. One thing was clear, dance has always brought me joy since I was a young child, and I knew that I definitely wanted to learn Tango before I passed from this earthly plane to the next (where I'm sure everyone is Tango dancing at the Great Milonga in the Sky).

A month after I was out of my leg brace and off crutches I was taking my first Argentine Tango lesson. (My orthopedic doctor would have thought I was crazy if she knew.)

So I guess you could say I came to Tango on a stretcher ….

Dressed for dancing now,


Thursday, January 3, 2008

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

Dear God, what have I got myself into? What crazy, unknown step has Mark led me into this time? I should have known- he once tried to convince me I missed instruction on tango "flips" after I briefly stepped away from a class for a short break. Well, here goes, I guess I'll follow- I do like surprise and mystery. Let the dance unfold......