Posts

Showing posts from 2009

10 tips for dancing - and enjoying - tango in 2010

I'm not really into NYE resolutions... so here, with reference to Mr Teece's tips for life - are 10 tips that are worth thinking about ...

1. Be understanding and generous with time.
Remember how it feels when you first start to tango and take the time to make others feel welcome
2. Be forgiving of yourself and others.
We all make mistakes but turning them from molehills into mountains does no one any favours. Learn to be humble.
3. Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
4. Persistence, persistence, persistence
5. Commit to constant improvement and quality.
6. Happiness is not based on who you danced with last, - but on relationships with people you respect and love. Similarly, it is not the end of the world if you have a night of few (or even no) dances. It is just the way it happens. Enjoy the company of those around you and make new friends.
7. Be honest and open.
8. Take good care of the ones you respect and care about.
9. Remember that it is not other people wh…

Santa comes to Tango

Image
I've been to 2 Christmas milongas in the last week where presents were handed out to everyone... well almost everyone. At the first milonga which was Tango Embrace at Avalon's RSL everyone got a present! Quite an amazing feat on the part of the organisers Margarita and Guy and a very sweet thought. At the second, last night organised by Sydney's Tango Club, everyone was asked to bring a present worth $10 and mark it for a man or a woman. Well of course not everyone did - there are always those who don't participate for reasons often unfathomable, and even though the organisers chipped in with a few extras not everyone got a present, but it was good fun. This is a first for me in all the years (8) that I have been in the tango scene...a very nice gesture!
Also for the first time in years there is a gap of 3 nights before another milonga - which is the Milonga de Mis Amores for Boxing Day. I have planned a night of pure tango, mostly from the Golden Age, and included a fe…

Great! Sydney Festival - but still no tango

Image
Every year I hope that the organisers of the Sydney Festival will bring out a tango trio, quintet or band...every year nothing! I used to write to the organisers and ask them to consider tango but I have stopped. We have the wonderful Spiegeltent which has been the venue for tango in other cities, but not in Sydney. When you search the Festival website there is nothing for tango! Last year they suggested that it might be part of the dance party - but I didn't find it.
Considering that tango shows in Sydney do well I can't be the only one who would love to have a tango band - not only would those of us who love to dance to the music be over-joyed, others would enjoy it too. I got hooked on tango when I heard a group playing at WOMADelaide in the late 1990s - but I think that is the last time a Festival has brought out a tango band.
I'm so cheesed that I am not going to add a link to the Festival website, if you want to find out what is on you will have to do a Google search!…

Performances at Milongas

Image
As we come up to Christmas many of the milonga organisers are planning special performances and some live music to celebrate the end of the tango year. When I first came to tango I loved performances. I enjoyed watching my teachers and the teacher I had at the time, a young South American, was - and is - a really charismatic dancer. His performances nearly always sent a tingle down my spine. He was also a good milonga host (when he put his mind to it) and his milongas were fun.
But over the years I have sat through some very second rate, drawn out performances. Children playing the violin! cabaret performances and singers who don't know when to stop... and so I am always careful about a milonga that advertises a performance. I should add that I have also enjoyed some outstanding performances by first class musicians and singers as well as dancers. Sometimes however you can get caught out and find yourself sitting through performance after performance at this time of year when you …

What a beautiful blue tango night

Image
A big thank you to everyone who came last night to our Blue Tango Birthday night for the Milonga de Mis Amores. Everyone got into the spirit of the night and it was really lovely - and blue!! My only regret - no Opera (renamed tango) cake left to take home. It was all devoured. As were the Blue Tango cocktails. The Gladesville RSL are fantastic, wish they would let us stay past 12.

Blue Tango Milonga - getting ready

Image
I love organising milongas... and I put heaps of time and energy into it cos I only do one a month(well to be honest I love organising, but when it's something I enjoy it's even more fun). This weekend we are celebrating a year at a fantastic venue - Gladesville RSL, doesn't sound too glam but they have a great ball room which we have exclusive use of with it's own bar and an excellent restaurant in the next room. We feel very fortunate when so many venues have shut down so we are making the most of it.
I have chosen Blue as the theme, simply because I love blue... and have found blue candles, blue lighting and had a blue tango cocktail created especially for the night.
I'm hoping people will really enter into the spirit (not the alcohol) and dress in something blue (prizes will be awarded, including our usual free movie passes). And I've ordered a totally decadent Opera Cake from the local French patisserie - we will call it a Tango Cake of course- it is not blu…

Tango's future

Image
During the week I went to the Twilight Tango concert at the Sydney Conservatorium presented by the Sydney Youth Orchestra and the Sydney Conservatorium - see posting below. If you missed it - you missed a treat!
It was an evening of fantastic live tango music presented by dynamic young musicians led by Maggie Ferguson. Musicians are drawn mostly from both the SYO and the Sydney Conversatorium - and auditions are open for 2010.

As well as the superb TangoOZ which is an associate of the Orquesta Escuela de Tango in Buenos Aires, we were treated to performances of a number of different tango ensembles that have been formed by the students. Outstanding amongst these was the Carlos Gardel band playing 'Por Una Cabeza'.

As a keen follower of these young musicians I am looking forward to being treated to more performances - and to dancing to their music. If you would like to find out more subscribe to the TangoAustralia newsletter or go to Tango Music Australia

A beautiful dancer is in town

On Saturday night as I sat watching the dancers on the floor at the elegant City Tatts milonga - a beautiful dancer caught my eye - and that of just about every one else in the room. She was dancing elegantly, simply and beautifully with one of Sydney's teachers and I was fortunate enough to be sitting with someone who could tell me who she was, as I had never seen her before. Her name is Belen Silva and she has apparently been teaching in Japan, though she comes from Argentina. So I did a little hunting on Youtube and found a video of her.

One-off Live Tango Music Events this Week in Sydney

I've been asked to let you know about 2 great opportunities this week to hear Sydney's tango musicians perform - at very little cost!!

At the Glebe Street Fair tomorrow, Sunday 15thTango Bar quartet will be playing live music from 12-3pm at Junktique. There will be chairs and tables set up on the street as well as around the dance floor, and waiters in costume serving snacks, coffee and wine. Junktique is full of fabulous old chandeliers, furniture and vintage pieces which will help to create an atmosphere of nostalgia and elegance - combined with a fabulous sound system it should be a great space for tango.

The event is free and you will find Junktique at 62 Glebe Point Road, Glebe.

On Wednesday 18 November hear some of the greatest orchestral tangos played from original arrangements by Sydney’s leading tango orchestra musicians at the Twilight TangoOZ concert.

Tango dancers are welcome to join special guests Harry Carr & Chrissy Ynfante from Tangueros and dancers from A Lit…

Glebe Fair in Sydney to launch new Milonga Venue

We've just published a story on TangoAustralia about the launch of Junktique in Glebe as a milonga venue. The first milonga will be a Sunday afternoon - November 15 - when the Glebe Street Fair is on and the band Tango Bar will play.
So it's not all bad news... one door closes and another opens. Check out the full info on TangoAustralia

Another Sydney milonga venue disappears

I'm not superstitious!! but sometimes things to happen in threes (see below).
Just received an email from Sydney's Patio de Tango advising that the Swingtime Dance Studio in Camperdown where they have been holding their monthly Saturday milongas has been sold to a developer...which means that after this weekend - November 7 - they too will be looking for a venue!

Who said we can't call the glorious years of Tango music a Golden Age?

On the Sydney tango forum someone has written that we do not have a Golden Age of Tango because the term 'never existed while the orchestras you are referring to were performing!' If this reasoning had any basis we would not have a Golden Age of Hollywood, a Golden age of Greece, a Golden Age of couture...Golden Age is a term used to describe a period of prosperity and achievement that leaves a legacy long after it is over.
We do have a Golden Age of Tango music - and without it tango would be very poor. Those are the orchestras that so many of us love to dance to and listen to - and the music that so many of today's tango musicians strive to play.
We did some research on Golden Ages which we've published on TangoAustralia

Venues shut down Sydney milongas

Image
Many of Sydney's tango dancers were looking forward to the new El Regente milonga to be run by Jairo and Amy of Tangueros, so there was an audible sigh of disappointment last night at the Copacabana milonga when it was announced that El Regente milonga had been cancelled 'due to a council decision'. This milonga was to run just once a month on Fridays and into the early morning. Jairo (who was my teacher for a number of years) has a reputation as a great DJ as well as being one of Sydney's leading dancers with his partner Amy, so it is sad that they too have been the victims of bureaucracy - and at such short notice.

As well tonight, Friday 30th, is the last night of Tango Pasion's milonga at the Hakoah Club in Bondi. This milonga has run weekly on Friday nights for about 5 years and has a group of dedicated followers who love the music selections of DJ, El Portenito. Tango Pasion are forced to move on because the Hakoah Club has been sold to developers and accordin…

Tangomania - the beginning

Image
On the weekend I ran a very successful milonga (thanks to all those who came and made it a great night) with lots of new music and some happy punters; and also went to Mimi's Pink Tango night at the Artarmon Freeway Hotel enjoying a night of fundraising for breast cancer. I spent today in 1914 because I am immersing myself in history again for a new book. (I am a writer in my non-tango life). Today I was in Paris in 1914. Tango was the dance in that year, it was considered outrageous as couples had to dance in an embrace, and the height of fashion - it was the beginning of Tangomania. This was not the focus of my research but you can't avoid if it comes up and you are fascinated by tango.
War would break out in Europe on July 28 of that year. The shooting of the Austro Hungarian archduke in Sarajevo, Bosnia would set of a chain of events around Europe that would eventually see much of France destroyed - tango was not on the agenda.
However before this awful conflict there was a…

Where have I been

So asked my friend Shayne of blog about romance writers and ocean swimming...I wish I could say I've been to London to visit the Queen, but I've actually been dealing with the sudden death of both my computers! They went out in Sympathy with each other. One is back - well I have one new one, and a new desktop on the way. Just in time as I was busily working on music for the next Milonga de Mis Amores on Saturday October 24. I have just acquired a fantastic new Miguel Calo, a dreamy Demare, another Di Sarli (can't get enough of this orquesta or Canaro) and a Juan Caceres... just out of interest. But transferring itunes to a new computer is another ball game... so that is what I am doing now, and checking playlists.
Thanks for asking Shayne, though I'm glad you missed me! Oh I did manage to fit in one night of dancing in the last week!

Tango's Violin - one chance only

There's a show on this Saturday night at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place (which has some of the best acoustics in town) called 'Tango's Violin'. Not your usual story about the history of tango, this show features tango stars, Fabio Robles and Ana Andre together with Melbourne tango orquesta, red dash black and violinist Sophie Kesoglidis in a story about thwarted love.
An opportunity to be entertained and enjoy tango before heading off to a milonga (as I am told the show finishes in time).
You can find out more and book on the CRH website.

What a night !!- Sydney's Milonga Para Los Ninos

Wow! Sydney turned out in force for the Milonga Para Los Ninos last night at the Marrickville Hard Court Tennis Club and the vibe was warm, friendly and fun! (For those new to this blog, or not following! this is a fundraising milonga held once a year in cities around Australia - and now north America! - to raise money for homeless children in Argentina).
I arrived early as I had volunteered my services as a member of the Tango Synergy Club, and even though it didn't start officially until 8pm there were already 2 or 3 tables of eager dancers and a few on the floor.
The room, which is normally a rather drab club room probably designed and built sometime between the 2 world wars, was brought to life with huge swathes of gold muslin hanging from the central mirror ball, gold table cloths and the most superb gold orchids in dangerously tall and beautiful glass vases which were a fantastic finishing touch. DJ Jean Weiner was already pumping out the music and had put a playlist on ever…

El Firulete - a great read for serious tangueros

The internet seems infinite, just when you think you've found most of them a another great site turns up. Today I discovered El Firulete. Stories are good, well-researched and well-written - and interesting! I found an interview with Gabriela Elia, one of the judges with the Salon section of the recent Tango championship in BsAs very interesting ... for example "This year only young couples reached the finals. That’s wonderful, but they all danced the same way. It is not their fault, it is the style that is being awarded." ..."We should have been 10 feet from the dancers, and not to 60 feet. The salon tango is a reflection of the milonga, and as such it has to be appreciated form a close distance"..."There were too many people in each round, 11 couples dancing three tangos is too much".
And Tango Notation for Step collection...
"Unfortunately the good teaching of tango is underrated. It has to compete with the urge for instant gratification: to run…

TangoAustralia's October Newsletter

We're putting together the last bits into the TangoAustralia October newsletter... if you aren't on our mailing list, you can subscribe now - it's free and packed with news about what's happening.

Dancing for Argentina's children

Image
Begun in 2002 by four tango dancers who had visited Argentina at a time of huge economic and social distress, the Sociedad Para Los Ninos, now organises milongas and other fundraising to "to directly assist ordinary people who add value to the lives of underprivileged children in South America".
Two fundraising milongas have already taken place - in Brisbane on 25th July and in Melbourne on 19th September. Now it's Sydney's turn on October 4 at Marrickville. Should be a great night... live music, performances, auction and raffles - and lots of great dancing - I'll be going - hope all of Sydney turns up!!

TangoOz - quite wonderful

Image
On Saturday at twilight we set off for Sydney's Conservatorium of Music, crossing the harbour in one of our quaint old ferries and making our way to the top of the hill where the Con. commands a corner of the Botanic Gardens. Our purpose was to listen to TangoOz, initiative of the Sydney Youth Orchestra, led by Maggie Ferguson. We were very sad to miss the orchestra when they played in July under the baton of Ignacio Varchausky and were determined not to miss them this time. They only played five pieces, but each very different. Beginning with Carlos di Sarli's 'Organito de la Tarde' which they played more in the style of di Sarli's 1940s arrangements, they followed with Redencion, a work of Alfredo Gobbi's, then one I didn't know 'Absurdo' with superb vocals from a young tenor, Camilo Lascano. Two tango favourites followed - 'Gallo Ciego' composed by Agustin Bardi and a raw 'La Yumba' one of Pugliese's most well-known. We loved …

Tango on the Today Show Channel 9

Image
Congratulations to Sophia and Pedro Alvarez from Patio de Tango on an excellent impromptu performance on the Today Show on Channel 9 this morning. The story was about tango being good for relationships and in usual morning television style was a light weight grab but Pedro and Sophia did an excellent job of presenting their love of tango and its role in their relationship. I know it was impromptu because I received an email yesterday morning asking me to find the show a tango couple and because I was out of the office I was not able to assist! Less than 24 hours notice.

Finding facturas

Image
One of the most satisfying treats I came across in Buenos Aires was the facturas - little pastries sometimes filled with delicious caramel (dulce de leche) which I was introduced to by a Chilean girl who lived with us some years back but had never found in such delicious treats before. My friend Saboo loves these pastries, particularly the media lunas (like croissants - see picture) as much as I do and she has discovered that you can indeed get them in Sydney and Melbourne at...
Confiteria Macel, shop 3, 63A Brennan Street, Smithfield, NSW
El Molino, 3/105 Tangerine Street, Fairfield East, NSW
and in Melbourne at
Cafe Tango, 107 Hoddle Street, Richmond.
If you know of more such establishments please let me know!

Do you read our newsletter

Each month we put out a newsletter about tango events and news from around Australia. One of the highlights this month is a fantastic Tango Show that is coming to Sydney for one night only at the City Recital Hall. If you rely on word of mouth to get your news you can miss out...the latest newsletter will be online in a couple of days, subscribers got theirs tonight.
I hope you'll sign up for the next one!

Will the tango scene come to life in the spring?

I hope so. The tango scene in Sydney has grown ten-fold since I first became involved in learning about the dance and the music - and it is great that most nights of the week there are at least 2 milongas to choose from, sometimes 3. It has been my experience as the owner of small businesses that competition, while it can be scarey, is vital if the industry is going to grow. Lately the scene has been a tad quiet. Whether it's winter, the GFC, tango politics, too many other demands on dancer's time - or a combination of all - spring may tell. The problem with quiet is that the milongas don't have the vibrancy one comes to need. Tonight I am going to one of Sydney's biggest, Patio de Tango's Camperdown milonga to meet up with two friends who have just returned from 3 weeks in the tango mecca and find out about classes, teachers and milongas in BsAs, new shoes - and their experiences this time - including a little goss about the Tango Festival just finished.

New take on a tango shoe

Image
Last night I attended the official opening of an exhibition by tanguera and artist Ursula Kolbe at the Charles Hewitt gallery in Sydney. "When I remember you, beloved tango" is an exhibition of paintings and sculptures inspired by Ursula's love affair with tango over the past few years. If you expect paintings of couples dancing in the half-light of the milongas in Buenos Aires you will be surprised. These paintings are mysterious, reflecting the moods of tango, the words of tango songs and the feelings of this tango artist.
Taking tango shoes, much loved by local tangueras, but no longer worn, Ursula has brought her unique artistic skills to this new medium, provoking emotions that are, in some cases, quite confronting.
If you are in Sydney between now and 15th September do take the time to visit this exhibition - it will have you thinking about your tango experiences.
Charles Hewitt is at 335 South Dowling Street, Darling hurst. Hours are Mon-Sat. 10am to 6 pm.

Wish I was there... Tango Festival y Mundial de Baile 2009

It is with vicarious pleasure that I am following the Tango Festival in Buenos Aires - and here for the pleasure of others who cannot be there are some highlights.
It began on 14th August.
This video is a performance at the Teatro Avenida by Orquesta tipica El Porvenir, which is a youth orchestra made up of students from orchestras around the country and features Pablo Agri on the violin and dancers Gallo Ciego and Agustin Bardi.


I also found this video of Daniel Nacucchio and Cristina Sosa who danced on the 15th August. Many Australians will be know these dancers from their recent visit.

So much happening - check the program - and most of it is free. Our plan was to be there but circumstances prevented it so it is wonderful to be able to catch occasional highlights on Youtube. I'll post more as I find them.

musicality and intimacy or stunts and point-scoring

"What makes me wretched is that all these stunts, acrobatics, point-scoring and flashy displays of sexual availability are what matter. Musicality, phrasing, intimacy and actual sensuousness are what don’t." is the NY Times critic's summation of 'Burn the Floor' a dance performance in Manhattan choreographed by Australia's Jason Gilkison. I find his critique interesting as although I am constantly awe-struck at the acrobatics on shows such as 'So You Think You Can Dance' or the acrobatics performed as part of Stage Tango, I am rarely moved.
He does not enjoy the tango which he describes as using 'every mock-tango ballroom cliche' and describes the performances as degrading the women and making the men look 'crassly manipulative'.
Having not seen this show I can't add authoritative comments, but I do wonder where ballroom and tango are going... and what it will be like in 5 or 10 years time with shows such as SYTYCD promoting the stu…

Rejection and tango

If anyone has ever turned you down when you have asked for a dance at a milonga - without an explanation - you will have experienced some reaction... maybe it was 'what have I done?' 'don't they consider I'm good enough for them?' 'don't they want to be seen dancing with me?' it will be something that voice your feelings of inadequacy - as a dancer and perhaps also as a person. I rarely ask a man to dance, not because I fear rejection (though I do) , but because I get a real buzz out of being asked. This of course can mean that I often sit out much more than I would like to - even though I consider myself quite sociable.
Recently a male dancer I am close to was rejected by a younger woman dancer, someone who, up until then had been quite friendly. No reason given, just 'no thank you'. He was quite taken aback though this is not the first time he has been refused in the 8plus years he has been dancing - and more taken aback by the abruptness …

10 (11) Top milongas

I love dancing milonga... do you? I had enormous trouble finding 10 - as I love so many of them, so please forgive the omission of 'Ella es asi' - Donato, 'el esquinazo' - Di Sarli and 'La punalada' - D'Arienzo - among the more popular ones. A few months ago I had a conversation with a newish dancer who said he thought he had most of the milongas at 50! I said there were a few more and would he like a list? So when he said yes the next week I gave him a list of all the milongas in my music library(243) and said there were a few more than 50, but he wasn't pleased - now he doesn't speak to me! Oh the egos in tango!
If you have a favourite not on the list please add it below - I know I still have many more to collect! and it is great to know what people love to dance to

Good company, excellent music, enjoyable dancing

To follow on from the last post - last night I had a most enjoyable milonga, as I often do at the Bondi Junction Tango Encanto milonga. The music is excellent - DJ Raul has a great collection of the tango greats, some superb Di Sarli that I have still to add to my library and Alfredo Gobbi as well. He plays three pieces to a tanda, which I applaud as I believe that it gives dancers a chance to change partners more frequently - or to stay together for 6 instead of 8 songs. The company is mostly more experienced dancers and though not everyone knows each other it is not unusual to be asked to dance by a stranger - which happened for me last night and was most enjoyable. And it has a warm friendly ambience - and no chacarera (which is just a personal dislike of mine at milongas, others love it!). And a bonus last night - more men than women!
Of course every milonga has its ups and downs as far as crowds go, but this one is definitely one of my favourites.

What do you love about tango?

This morning one my sons popped in for a chat - and we talked about what makes you happy (we've had a rotten year - with the loss of 2 members of our family, sickness and financial woes so it seemed appropriate). Then I read Arlene's blog - Why People Leave Tango/Why People Love Tango... and it made me think that we (myself included) gripe about the tango scene, but we hang in there. Why?
I stay because of music - then the dance!; the opportunity to do something with my partner that we both love; the friends I have made and the new ones I hope to make; the chance to get dressed up and wear beautiful shoes....
Why do you love tango?

New playlist for Gladesville milonga

Image
Tonight I am starting on the playlist for the Gladesville milonga on Saturday. Methinks 45 minutes of canyengue may be too much for most dancers though this was the suggestion at the workshop I went to on the weekend. Since the teacher of this workshop is not coming to the milonga as far as I know, I will keep it to two tandas. Not sure I enjoy dancing canyengue yet. Naturally a tense person, I find I am holding myself in an awkward position - though I do enjoy the music. Just like all tango - it needs practice, practice, practice.
- Love to have more comments on the championship too. Some people have told me what they think but haven't entered the debate! Pity because I think it really needs serious discussion.

Championship de-brief

It's over for another year, the Australian Tango Championship finals took place last night in Sydney and now Australian tango dancers know who the winners are. Both the couples who won are professional tango dancers who make their living from dancing and teaching tango - the couple who came third are a young couple I watched with admiration on the floor at the Wellington festival. Sadly once the competition was opened to professionals it was obvious that amateur couples would not - and could not win, something which you may feel strongly about.
I can now come clean and say that I did not approve of this year's event - partly because they mixed professionals with amateurs. Although it had an army of enthusiastic and well-intentioned volunteers it did not do what I believe it should do which is showcase tango to the general community. There was no publicity outside the tango world - certainly not in the entertainment or media press, or even the Latin American media. Plus which it…

Swine flu and tango in Buenos Aires

Argentina has been severely affected by swine flu - known as Gripe A in BsAs. I am delighted that I have persuaded one of my regular correspondents in Argentina to write a report on how it is affecting the milongas - and the dancers in Buenos Aires.

Championship tango - to be or not to be

As the weekend of July 11 draws closer most of the chatter at milongas or gatherings of tango friends is about the Tango championship - are you dancing/going, or aren't you? and the community in Sydney seems to be divided - as our poll is showing. (If you haven't voted please do).
And the conversations are buzzing with
discussions about professional versus amateur
I am wondering how many people have actually read the conditions of entry - and how many of those who are dancing in the salon section have declared themselves as professionals. A conversation I had last night (not at a tango event) with a dancer revealed that there are many Sydneysiders who had entered the salon section who according to the rules would be professionals not amateurs. The rules state that an amateur is :
"Any social tango dancer, who has not derived income from teaching private tango lessons, group tango lessons (including workshops) or has not given paid performances. Please note, if it is later re…

How I could have spent some of the Ozlotto win on tango!

Just like everyone else (bar the two lucky ones) in Oz today life will go on as normal - without the $106 million that was the latest Oz Lotto prize. Of course just like everyone else who had fantasised about winning - i had a few priorities and one of them was tango. I would have bought a venue in Sydney where tango could be danced regularly until the late hours - Melbourne has them why don't we? I would have brought out some great tango musicians to play in the venue ...and I would spent a heap on shoes! and a lot more besides. Had I won even some of the $106 million - I would have had no trouble getting rid of a some of it on tango. I am quite awe-struck at the amount of money that is going into tango in Sydney at the moment - and at the number of people who appear to have no trouble finding the dollars to spend on it. The GFC does not seem to have hit many tango dancers - which is good news for the organisers.

My tango budget is pretty tight and it means that I am often not ab…

Cabaceo - comments from Facebook

This blog feeds into a Facebook page so I have taken the liberty of copying the comments on the cabaceo across for those who would like to read more about what people think...
Frank...
I think this is a good idea. I hope it catches on. I find it rude to interupt a conversation to ask for a dance. It may be that is dancers were a little more observant during the cortinas that everyone would dance more often... I know there are lots of guys who will just interupt a conversation but there may be others (like me) who will not. I think that, if you want to dance, conversations are while you sit through a tanda. You can still talk and let your eyes wander...
Vince
As long as the lights are on as they normally are in BsAs! Not these dark bear caves we seem to have in Oz
Sophia
One issue often mentioned against cabeceo is that people cant's see because of poor light or short sightedness etc. In BA the men don't always stay in one spot, they move around and position themselves closer to the …

Tango Teacher and DJ reviews - new blog

A huge amount of work has gone into setting up this blog - Tango Teacher and DJ reviews ... and I would hate to moderate it! it is an ambitious project. If it gets off the ground I hope it will avoid the vitriole and self-righteousness that surfaces in some tango forums. Check it out.

Cabaceo - why and why not

The cabaceo is having a resurgence in Sydney at one or two milongas. For those who don't know what this is if you Google 'cabaceo' you will get 2 websites that offer explanations for this tango ritual. Taken from the Spanish cabeza (head) it describes a method of a man selecting the woman he would like to dance with by making eye contact, then when she reciprocates, moving his head to indicate he wants to dance with her. She can refuse by looking away.
Said to have been initiated in the days when young women were chaperoned at milongas, and described as being the best way for men to ask women to dance in a crowded milonga, it is still used in some milongas in Buenos Aires. It can work both ways, according to the experts - a woman can do it too.
Like everything the cabaceo has its place. In large, crowded milongas it is undoubtedly the best way for the best dancers to get together. It is also the best way for those who already know each other to get together. But for the ne…

Australian Tango Championships Judges

The organisers have just announced that the judges will be
Ezequiel Farfaro and Alejandra Gutty.
Some years ago I did workshops with Ezequiel and his then partner Milena Plebs when they were among the masters at the World Tango Festival in Buenos Aires. He has partnered a number of other well-known dancers, including Lucia Mazer, at festivals around the world.
This pair will arrive in Sydney just after we farewell Lucia Mazer who is also here for workshops... There's more on this and other tango happenings around Oz in the Tango Australia News for June - now online

New Zealand Festival debrief

Image
I never got round to writing up the next 4 days of the Festival. When one does not usually dance 3 to 6 hours a day, and go to a Milonga at night, fatigue takes over - and socialising is always more important than writing in this situation.
So... here are my thoughts for what they are worth - and I would love others to write what they thought!
There was so much to choose from - and you don't really know how dancers teach until you do a workshop... so we signed in for 3 workshops with Geraldin Rojas and Ezequiel Paludi, but only did one. For a number of reasons...mostly that they talked more than they let us practise - and they didn't go round and dance with participants and there was so much else to choose from. Of the other workshops Joaquin Amenabar stood out for me... I just loved his approach and his teaching. He involved us all in learning and understanding rhythm and the history of tango music. If there was a curriculum for tango dance teachers this type of course would be…

Tango Championship

Australians who are gearing up for the 2009 Tango championship will be interested to read what TangoCherie has to say about the finals just held in Buenos Aires. The championship has changed its name to Campeonato de la Ciudad. Cherie has also added a Youtube link which you will want to watch.

New Zealand Tango Festival Day 1

Outside the air has a biting chill thanks to the polar front, but in the workshops at the New Zealand Tango Festival the air is buzzing with the warm bodies of dancers who are swapping accounts of the different workshops and practising their new skills. We arrived in Wellington, New Zealand's capital, yesterday and spent the day exploring the city, visiting the Botanic Gardens and riding on the public transport, but today we got down to business.
My first workshop was with Geraldin Rojas and Ezequiel Paludi and titled 'Fundamentals'. It is some time since I have done a tango workshop and I felt it was time to brush up on my technique and learn new skills. And I soon found a fundamental! Many years ago I had been told to keep my knees together - as if I was trying to hold a pill between my knees! I can't say I do this always but it has been behind much of my posture... time to forget this unnatural stance and learn to dance more fluidly. Time also to forget about one emb…

A Milonga can be like a primary school playground

So said someone the other day! and I thought they've got a point. I go to quite a few of the milongas about town - not all of them as I am a dedicated yogi and have just taken up bellydancing! - and that's just the keeping physically active bit. I have noticed that some milongas are more like a playground than others... what did this friend mean by playground? She/he meant that there are little groups that don't play (tango) with other groups either because they are part of a group (tango school) or feel a certain allegiance to a certain person who is top of the class or a good sports person (tango teacher). There are others who don't join in (dance with others) because they are shy or new. And there are those who keep to a small group because they have been bullied or been the victim of a nasty remark or action.
As with a playground where the teachers and those in charge can diffuse the situation, so in a milonga can the hosts diffuse or aggravate the situation.
Some …

Value for your tango money

Interesting to see that, although not many people are voting on the current poll about visiting teachers, a couple of people find that doing courses with visiting teachers is beyond their budget. There are probably more of us now than ever before. There are currently two sets of teachers touring Australia (Fabrizio Forte and Celi Arias; Mario Consiglieri and Anabella Diaz-Hojman) and attending just the milongas where these couples are performing is great value for money. Generally in Australia organisers don't put up the cost of their milongas (or if they do it is only by a very small amount) to cover the cost of having international dancers perform. For $20 one can go to the movies and buy an icecream - for $20 one can go to a milonga in Sydney tonight and watch two outstanding dancers from Argentina perform! and dance with friends. I know what I would prefer to do (though sadly I won't make it tonight because of family commitments).
The memberships of tango clubs are rising …

Tango 'judges'

Sometimes at a milonga there are some bad vibes - and I am not the only one to notice them I discovered recently. A friend remarked to me that she didn't usually come to a particular milonga because she felt it had bad vibes.
The other night I was at a milonga where the vibes were not good. Was it because one couple was clearly sitting on the edge of the dance floor and making remarks to each other about the dancers on the floor? or was it because two couples were doing it - one sitting further away? One is enough I think.
I dance tango because I love the music, I love the dance and enjoy the company of my tango friends. I don't pretend that my standard is anything other than average intermediate. I don't have time to devote to technique to raise myself to another level - and I know enough about to dance to know that I probably need to learn other forms of dance and do regular pilates in order to really know my body better. It makes me uncomfortable when I see this happenin…

Barbara Luna in Oz and more tango news

Image
I first heard Barbara Luna at WOMADelaide in 2001. This is an amazing music festival held by the river in Adelaide, in those days bi-annually, but now annually. Usually the days are incredibly dry and hot and the nights are freezing and just as dry, but the music pumps. With five stages to choose from you frequently find yourself torn between which acts to immerse yourself in and sometimes we will have blankets and chairs at more than one stage. I well remember this dynamic singer who as the press release says ‘captivated the audience’. Immersing yourself in the South American rhythmns of her music will have you smiling for days.
Touring Australia to promote her new album ‘Ruta Tres” Barbara Luna is, bringing to a wider audience her unique mix of tango and salsa, Argentinian and European culture. Beginning at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival on Friday 5 June, where she will play three gigs, she moves onto Melbourne and Brisbane for one gig each on 9th and 11th June respectively, finishing…

It’s official...the tango clique is alive!

How sad that in our little tango scene there are people who make others so unhappy they leave! The poll I ran a couple of weeks ago asked whether anyone had left the tango scene because it was cliquey and 8per cent said they had! I wish I knew who these people are because I would like to make it up to them. Sadly it is not just the tango scene that does this to people. When my children were at school cliques manifested themselves at the school gate, among the mums taking their children to and from school; at playgroup and amongst the soccer parents, to name a few. Parents didn’t take their children out of school though, it was not that easy.
When you take up a dance because you love the music, or the dance or both, or are driven by an unknown force to immerse yourself in the latin passion that is tango, it is very sad to be run out by unfriendly forces. 18 per cent of my respondents said it made them think seriously about leaving tango.
Interesting that only 4 per cent said they had …

Chacarera poll results

A few weeks ago I asked readers of this blog for their opinion on the current fashion of including chacarera at milongas - particularly in Sydney which is where I mostly dance.
Chacaerera is a folk dance and music that is popular in Argentina and Bolivia. If you would like to know more you will find stacks of information on Wikipedia .
Wikipedia describes it as a partner dance with similarities to Chilean Zamacueca and the Peruvian Marinera. Very basically the women are 'seduced' by the man stamping his food (zapateo) and handkerchief waving ending with an embrace.

So we found that:

30 per cent enjoy dancing itNobody enjoyed watching others dancing it3 per cent would like to learn to dance chacarera50 per cent thought it was a waste of time at Sydney milongas5 per cent would like to learn it.

Of course it has its place in it’s places of origin, but in Sydney it seems out of place. We don’t have the teachers or the dancers…

Newcomer's guide to tango in Buenos Aires

At last I will be visiting Argentina again. It is so long since I have been that I am expecting big changes and it will be exciting to see what has changed and what has stayed the same. When I last visited it reminded me of Italy in the 1970s when as a young, impressionable backpacker I fell immediately in love with its crumbling architecture, the romantic language, the history - and the food. For Argentina substitute tango for food!
So I have decided to put together a 'Newcomers Guide to Tango in Buenos Aires' - for Australians. There are stacks of tips on the internet and in blogs of course and I am talking to everyone I can who has visited BsAs in the last 12 months... If you have been recently and have a few moments I'd love to know if you have:
tips about pitfalls - just read about Scott's experience with a fake SIM card at a newspaper kiosk on his Tango Trails blog - but I am sure there are many otherssuggestions on great places to eat - and your favourite dishesd…

Tango on Youtube

Since the birth of the TangoAustralia website I have learnt a great deal about the culture of tango, tango history and tango music - and one of the sources has been Youtube. I am also a student of history so you can imagine how excited I was to discover film clips of the orchestras such as Juan D'Arienzo's playing such classics as 'El Choclo' and Louis Armstrong singing 'Kiss of Fire' (aka El Choclo) or Edgardo Donato's orchestra playing ''Se Va Las Vida". Now they are gone. Apparently the person who uploaded these gems onto Youtube committed some kind of misdeamenour.
Of course I understand about copyright, but I naievely thought these were safe as I also watch Youtube video clips from the Australian War Memorial and the National Library for other projects...
If anyone knows where one can watch old film clips of these wonderful orchestras, apart of Youtube (where they are no longer) then please let me know

A Tango Fairy Tale

As we have a Tango Festival coming up in New Zealand - and Australia - I think many will find this posting from Pantina very interesting. Many Aussies have a Sex-in-the-City image of New York (even those of us who've been there) so we won't be surprised to find that, like Sydney and many other tango towns, there is an IT (I'm Terrific at Tango /I'm a Tango Teacher) crowd who look down their noses at those they do not consider worthy of their patronage. Pantina's story is delightful - and what a plug for the tango scene in San Francisco.

Tango bits and pieces

We published our April Tango News on the tangoaustralia website on the weekend. Sometimes getting news about tango events out of the organisers is as rewarding as finding your favourite milonga has closed down - but we persevere. Guess that's the journalist in our make-up. Melburnians are generally the worst - is it the Melbourne/Sydney rivalry ? or are they generally not aware that any publicity is good publicity. We have a fantastic section on TangoAustralia set up one of our early tireless workers, known as Milonga Profiles. A free listing of your milonga with a photo, contact details, how to get there info... and only one Melbourne milonga thinks it is worthwhile sending us a photo! I grew up in the city of Aussie Rules and I still don't understand. Brisbane is a different matter.-
We are hoping to hear more news on the Tango Championship - and will certainly post that when it comes to hand for those who are interested. I have done a bit of an about face on the Championsh…

Avoiding tango cliques

I just threw the poll about cliquishness up the other day because I was feeling fragile. Life has been emotionally tough for me lately and when you are feeling fragile is not the time to visit tango events where you know the cliques are strong. I am someone who removes themselves from groups when cliques are evolving and thus makes bad 'friends'.
It is my experience that, among others, tango attracts the vulnerable and the socially inept. Of these some will find friendship and new confidence, others will turn their perceived prowess on the dance floor to an arrogance off the floor and form groups of like-minded misguided people. This doesn't only happen at tango - I have seen it happen in other groups for different reasons but for whatever reason it occurs cliquishness creates artificial divides and bad vibes.
Sydney is now such a big tango scene that along with the cliquishness has come another tango scene. If you are not part of, or don't want to be part of, those who …

Australian Tango Championships 2009

Image
It had to happen sooner or later - the Australian Tango Championships return. I only know because I checked my Facebook page and found the announcement. As one who was very closely involved with the first 3 of the Championships I will watch with interest. I do most sincerely hope that this time they are a truly national event. Sydney has a bigger tango community than any other city but this is not a good reason for holding the championships here every time - in fact the venue situation in Sydney makes it a challenge. We used the Sydney Opera House for the first 3 and with the last event our ambitions got the better of us when we used the Concert Hall. Not that it wasn't a successful event in the eyes of those who watched and those who had the unique experience of dancing on the stage of our harbourside icon, it was. For those of us who were closely involved it was not a satisfactory experience.
Do we need the Championships? Are our dancers good enough? Should teachers be involved i…

Positive tango moves

We've been through a recession or two before and I have decided that despite the fact that much of my freelance work has dried up I am not going to let it stop us doing some positive tango stuff this year - what goes down has always in the past gone up!
So we are doing a promotion with the Gladesville Milonga de Mis Amores and running a competition to win a return fare to Buenos Aires with the travel agency, Travel Choice. When you attend the milonga you get the opportunity to fill in a form for the competition (one per person, per milonga) and in June we will draw the winner! This is a joint promotion for the travel agency, tours and packages to South America, and the TangoAustralia website.
And we have booked for the NZ Tango Festival from 29 May to 1 June. I am really excited about this as I have not been to a festival for a long time and this one has an excellent reputation. Overseas masters include Geraldin Rojas and Ezequiel Paludi, Fabrizio Forti and Celi Arias and Tamara …

Facebook questions

TangoAustralia has a Facebook group, but yesterday I was made to think about Facebook when a friend said - "when you load photos on FB they own the copyright"! They do? My understanding of copyright and photographers, from my time as a magazine editor here in Oz, is that the photographer holds the copyright of his/her work unless he/she actually assigns it, in writing, to someone else.
So I did a little internet research and found some slightly confusing stuff... 'Facebook users force 'copyright' plan U-turn' said an article in The Australian. Apparently the concern was very real as their new terms (and by the way they can change the terms anytime they like without telling you) allowed them to use photos, messages and any other content in marketing or to sell to advertisers!! However this does not say that they cannot use your stuff for other things - like making money. I also found a blog by legalAndrew called 'Facebook isn't private and 7 other thi…

Dashing away to tango

Just about to go to the new Tuesday milonga held by Sydney's dynamic tango club, Tango Synergy at Leichhardt - tonight it's in the forum. And it is a beautiful night so am really looking forward to this open air tango. This milonga has swapped with Patio de Tango's Tuesday milonga - and they have moved to Wednesday and new location - this will confuse visitors and those who don't keep up with the news! but they'll soon get the hang of it.
What they won't get the hang of and I still find difficulty with is the arrogance that sometimes creates a bad vibe at a milonga. What gives some folk the right to sit in judgement on other dancers - and to look like they are doing it? It spoilt a milonga I was at recently - at least in the Forum there won't be this opportunity.

Why chacarera?

Recently some Sydney milongas have made chacarera an interval in their milongas - sometimes following or preceding salsa, sometimes on its own. Why? I can understand the salsa as many Sydneysiders dance salsa and those that do love the opportunity to dance it. But chacarera? Most Sydneysiders have no idea how to dance it so, if they are brave enough, they get up and wave their arms around, stamp their feet and dance in a circle... endlessly it seems to me at times. Chacarera is a dance that has no real beginning or end in this form - it is just an endless stomp.
Having seen real chacarera, both here with visiting performers and in Argentina, I know it can very entertaining and is a skillful dance. However I find this interval rather boring... am I alone? What do you think? Does this happen in other places?
In my experience only a handful of couples get onto the floor...please comment - and answer the poll.

Tango News from Tango Australia, March - 1st for 2009

Not much happens anywhere in January - and February was not much of a month round here - so we have finally got round to putting together the first of the TangoAustralia newsletters for 2009. This would never have done when I was a magazine editor - but then you paid for the magazine - this newsletter is free. '
So if you are interested in news about festivals, schools, bands etc. then do subscribe - you'll find the subscription box on the home page of TA!
There's news on the NZ Tango Festival in Wellington which has a fantastic line-up this year and if last year's rave reviews are anything to go by, it should be brilliant. Well worth the airfare to NZ - and it is excellent value.
News on new tango bands too. I love Piazzolla but I do wish they would all play more music for dancing, I like to listen to Piazzolla. You may not agree of course.
And tomorrow night is the last night of the Rose Bay milonga in Sydney, after nearly 8 years. The organisers are moving to a new ven…

Vote for Your Favorite Milongas, Festivals, Tango Dancers, Tango Teachers....

If you like doing polls and answering questions you may enjoy contributing to this one from one of my fellow tango bloggers. It will certainly be interesting to read the results and if you are heading to Buenos Aires you will no doubt find some of the comments useful.

Del Tango, El Amor y Otros Demonios: *Your* Time to Vote: Your Favorite Milongas, Festivals, Dancers, Teachers, Music, DJs and more...! ;)

Terry Kirkpatrick - will be missed for a long time by her tango friends

Image
This morning I opened my emails to a very sad message from Frank, one of my tango friends, to say that his mother, Terry, one of tango's most delightful and dedicated tangueras, had passed away peacefully this morning. Terry joined us when we went to Buenos Aires in 2003 and one of my fondest memories of Terry is of 'losing' her when we all heading back to our hotels after a meal in Recoleta before going on to a milonga. The bus was waiting, but Terry was nowhere to be seen... then someone heard the sounds of salsa. "Terry could be there'', she said - and sure enough there was Terry, not only dancing salsa, but dancing with MC on the stage and having a ball! The photo was taken on that trip - Terry is the lady in red.
She had such a joie de vivre that it was infectious.
We have missed Terry since she became ill late last year - and her presence will be sorely missed by those of us who not only enjoyed dancing with her - and watching her dance - but by those, inc…

Tango traveller looking for a partner

In the last couple of weeks Rod from Western Australia has been posting on TangoAustralia looking for a partner for a number of Festivals in Europe and Northern America as he follows Gustavo Naveira and Giselle Anne. What a joy it would be to have the money and the time to do even half of what Rod is doing. If you haven't checked the forum on TangoAustralia recently and you will be in the northern hemisphere in the latter part of the year - then I suggest you do so before it is too late! The TangoCamps are offering a wonderful lineup, apart from Gustavo and Giselle.

Tango Extravanganza in London

Travelling to London in June? Check this out! Looks like fun.

Capital Tango - cold outside, warm inside

Image
I spent the weekend with my partner and a few friends in Canberra. Apart from the 3 1/2 hour drive and the fact that Canberra goes round in circles and always looks like the entire town has gone on permanent vacation, it was a great weekend. As part of the National Multicultural Festival, Colectivo29, a tango band from Melbourne, were there to perform tango - which they did firstly at the open air concert in Garema Place and later at the Diamant Hotel (pictured at Garema Place) This band has a real feel for tango music and when they played the dancing classics they did it better than any Aussie band I have heard for a while. Like most they have a prediliction for Piazzolla, which when you want to dance is exasperating. The Saturday afternoon highlighted South American music and we were also treated the superb melodies of harpist Victor Valdez, a consummate musician I last heard at WOMADelaide in 2008.
The Canberra tangueras and tangueros were warm and welcoming. The Saturday evening ha…

Dancing tango staves off dementia

Image
Just finished listening to a fascinating interview with Margaret Throsby on ABC radio on dementia and Alzheimers (my father is slowly slipping away so it is very interesting to me). [For those who don't know this morning interview on ABC classic FM combines the interviewee's choice of music - usually about 5 pieces - with the interview about their work or lives.]
The interviewee was Dr. Michael Valenzuela, a Chilean doctor of Psychiatry from the University of NSW. All his music choices were superb - including Inti Illimani and Gotan Project. When asked what we could do to keep our brains active and reduce the risk of contracting dementia ourselves, Dr. Valenzuela said 'dance'. As he pointed out dancing requires one to to think about using one's body, to co-ordinate the body with the brain and to remember how to move - all very important in staving off this disease.
This is fascinating so we may just follow it up with a story on Tangoaustralia.