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Showing posts from 2011

Wow... Fabulous end to a sad week

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I've been meaning to post this all week but haven't yet got my head around the loss of one of our most revered tangueros. Eduardo Massey was much loved in the tango community as his funeral showed - the chapel was packed! He left this world suddenly after a brief illness and we will miss his smile, his friendship, his jokes, his knowledge of tango music and his deft footwork on the dance floor (a skill learnt playing soccer at the top level in his youth).

Eduardo would have loved to have seen the skill and the passion that a young couple who have been dancing in Sydney for some years displayed on Saturday night at the Tango Entre Amigos Milonga in Marrickville.
Matias Conca (son of Karina and Fabian who are 2 of the principles of TEA) and his partner Janna Lopez danced a fabulous version of 'Tanguera' and an even more awesome milonga 'La Cicatriz' and wowed the crowd. I have watched this young couple since they first danced at the Australian Tango Championship…

The Smallest of Dance Floors

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Floorcraft - or the lack of it - comes up frequently in conversation. As a follower I don't have the issues of having to deal with the swoopers and blockers and I do feel for my partner when his frustrations are spoiling his enjoyment of the dance. Sydneysiders have been told by many - including Jorge Dispari and Javier Rodriguez - that their floorcraft needs work.
We also need to work on our manners. A little consideration goes a long way on the crowded floor, but many dance like they drive, swooping into the safety zone cars have left on crowded highways, and stopping in no stopping zones because it suits them. 
We also need to learn how to dance in a small space - so that when the milonga is 'crowded' (in our terms not as it is in BA) we are able to dance. A friend told me about this performance today. It is amazing, not just because of where the dance takes place, but because the dancers are clearly relishing the small space - and using it to its best advantage -  and …

New to tango? - please stay awhile

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For a while there it looked like the tango scene in Sydney would keep on growing - new people came and more left than stayed but those who got hooked just couldn't stay away and became part of the scene. But this year it seems that the tango scene has gone rather quiet… some might even say stale. Few new people have come along and if they are women they will frequently go back where they came from when they find how difficult it is to get a dance at a milonga where there are many more women than men. Or worse they find themselves sitting out at a milonga where even the man they have been learning from does not dance with them.
The arrival of new babies, the break up of partnerships and the disillusionment of one partner with tango have all taken their toll.
As with any activity in Sydney cliques have evolved. Frequently these are people who learn from one tango school and stick together at milongas as well as in class. These groups sit together, dance together and socialise - and…

Bad manners in Tango

There's a thread on Tango-L that goes way back to 2003 and begins with  the following:
"tango seems to attract some of the rudest people in the world. I have NEVER run into such rude behavior in any other social situation. Why is it that tango tolerates it?"
I couldn't put it better.
How do you describe the DJ who abandons his partner and dashes across the dance floor when he thinks he sees someone is looking at his playlist on his laptop (which is in a public spot on the way to the bathrooms) and slams down the lid without a word, stopping the music? His partner stood there bemused. Later he mumbles something about it being his 'intellectual property' - really? and ignores the explanation of the 'culprit' that he was looking at the amplifier settings (because the music sounded like it was being played through a row of kettle drums)! 
Or the man who brushed off my request to him (it was not a request to dance) as though he was brushing off a bir…

Shazam - an almost magic way of identifying tango music

Would you like a friend who could identify just about every piece of popular Golden Age Tango music for you - and even tell you the orchestra and sometimes the year and the CD you will find it on? I have such a friend and he is Amazing! I love listening to tango music with him because I learn so much.
However when my friend is not around he has recommended an iphone App which is almost as good. So I downloaded it. I threw in a few curly ones - and a bit of classical to see just how good it is. It got all the old time jazz right, so then I thought I'd ask it about tango. It recognized Demare's 1946 recording of 'Dos Corozones' and Synergy Percussion's performance of Ross Edward's 'Dragonfly Dance' (one of my favourite classical pieces). There was no problem with 'Loca de Amor' (Rodolfo Biagi) and Anibal Troilo's 'Malena', it correctly identified Di Sarli's 'Tu...El Cielo y tu' and D'Arienzo's ' Milonga Vieja Mi…

Tango in the Chateau as it snows - so beautiful

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I started to write this post the night after the Tango Ball in the Chateau Tongariro on New Zealand's North Island, but for some reason those little gremlins that work in mysterious ways in a Cloud were not going to allow it - so it has had to wait until I got home.
It was a wonderful night... and I hope for the sake of all the Aussies who cancelled - or just weren't interested - that they do it again! The Chateau Tongariro is a beautiful hotel watched over by one of New Zealand's most famous mountains, Mount Ngauruhoe (aka Mount Doom from the world of the hobbits) and it was showing off it's finery on Saturday. Snow-capped, it shone in a golden light as the sun set and the red vegetation in the foreground provided a perfect stage.  Later in the night it snowed - and the cars in the carpark were covered in a dusting of snow which melted early in the morning.
The Chateau has a picture window that frames the Mountain and the top dance floor was just in front of this win…

Terrible dearth of hand washing

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I just heard a radio announcer say  that there is 'a terrible dearth of hand washing'! I suspect this applies to tango dancers at times.
Apparently I'm too late for Global Handwashing Day - it was October 15. But given the information it seems that Global Handwashing Day should be Everyday.
A search of the internet will reveal that washing hands with water alone before preparing a meal substantially reduces the chance that diners will contract diarrhoea! Other studies that show that when medical practitioners and staff wash their hands the chances of infection are substantially reduced. Washing hands after blowing your nose or sneezing or coughing into your hands is also important.  You will also discover that many people do not wash their hands when they go to the toilet. Studies have also found that when a washroom has a poster pointing out how important it is to wash your hands, more people do the right thing.
Hand to hand contact is fundamental to tango. We hold our…

Elegant - and not elegant - tango dresses

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Could someone tell me why the short tight club dress is being worn for tango performances? Perhaps they could also explain why some tangueras dress as if they are doing a latin ballroom performance, or even worse are working as a nightclub entertainer? Dresses that look as though they are held together by safety pins, or there is so little of them that not much is left to the imagination, detract from the performance.
And this is not just the opinion of  an older woman. The men around me at the last performance where a little tube dress, not much bigger than a large headband, rode up the performer's legs until her crotch was visible, cringed. So unnecessary. She was a very attractive woman with a superb partner, she did not need to wear such a dress. She also found herself hitching up the top part and tugging down the hem at the end of the first performance - not a good look!
A few nights before we had witnessed a performance by another tanguera wearing a similar dress - so tigh…

Where were the Sydneysiders at the Tango Festival?

I've already said it, but I say again, thank you to Anonymous (could you come up with a better pen name please?) has made some very interesting and pertinent comments in his critique of the Sydney Salon Tango Festival on my post about the tango music - you won't agree with them all if you went - hopefully you will tell us what you thought.

One comment Anonymous did make was about the attendance. He (well 'he' did do the asking for dances) mentioned that most of the teachers attended - though he left out Teddy and Mimi from A Little Buenos Aires, Margarita and Guy from Tango Embrace and the interstate teachers, Andrew and Adrienne from Adelaide's Southern Cross and John and Cheryl Lowry from Brisbane's Comme Il Faut.... but where were the locals?
My theories are...
1) Sydney has not had a good run with Festivals - and the last Championship (I will say no more!)...A really well-run festival such as the NZ Tango Festival in Wellington makes all the difference.
2) …

Hidden Treasure at the Sydney Tango Salon Festival

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I missed Sunday night at the Festival because a friend I don't see often enough was in town. Big Mistake! Because I also missed the performance by Dante Sanchez and Angelica Avalos. Since like most of my tango friends I didn't know them - I had no idea what I was missing until I watched a few Youtube videos. But fate has played into the hands of those Sydneysiders who like me missed out - because their Melbourne visit has been cancelled at the last minute and they are now staying in Sydney.
They will be doing workshops with Mauricio of Ruedisima this Saturday in Newcastle and next weekend they will be doing workshops and performing around Sydney (details below.
Dante Sanchez was World Tango Salon Champion in 2007 - and you can see why. His footwork is simple and beautiful and worth watching just for the lápices (which translates as pencils and is used to describe the circular motion on the floor with the toe or inside edge of one foot while maintaining balance on the other foo…

Two very different nights of tango music

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Here we are into our fifth day of the Sydney Salon Tango Festival - and I'm writing this for those who have missed out for one reason or another! It would take too long if I wrote about the classes - so I am concentrating on the milongas.
Tonight the Milonga will be held at the South Sydney Juniors club in Kingsford as it has been for the last two nights. A vast area never before used by the tango organisers of Sydney it is reminiscent of Club Sunderland (for those who've been there) with a lower roof - or an aircraft hanger! But it has a huge floor, a stage for the musicians and plenty of space for tables. The organisers have done a wonderful job of making the space work and mixing the tables of people from different parts of the world. And the food has been outstanding - for those who like to enjoy a little sustenance while dancing. In fact the food at last night's Gala Milonga was excellent - and plenty of it. Given that Sydney Festivals in the past (not organised by th…

Ask a stranger to dance - please

This is a plea to Sydney's tangueros! Here we are in the middle of a Festival that has brought tangueras from far and wide and we really need to show them a touch of how friendly Sydneysiders can be. This is not Buenos Aires - it is Sydney - and we have some of the best tango dancers here teaching us - and performing for us and a wonderful opportunity to embrace the community.
Last night a visiting tanguera, who is a beautiful dancer, told me sadly that she would love to dance with some of the men she did not know - but that they did not seem to be asking! And a FB friend remarked that last year Sydneysiders were noticeable in their cliquishness! and his friends weren't going this year because of it!
So I am hoping that some of the men are reading Angelina as they get ready for tonight's milonga - with the bandoneonist Joaquin Amenabar and his musicians - and will ask a stranger for a dance...

Sydney - a town of tango cynics?

Sunday night was a horrible night - weatherwise. The temperature dropped something like 16 degrees (C), it was windy and wet - and the previous day it had been a balmy, sunny spring day... great for the charity running the Stay in Bed all day fundraiser, but not great for the Milonga Para Los Ninos fundraiser. Just over 70 people turned up for the event held at the Marrickville Hard Court Tennis Club which has one of the best dance floors in Sydney.
The door price was a bit high too - is that the reason barely half the number turned up as came last time Sydney did this event? Noticeable in their absence were a few of the bigger tango schools and a couple of the smaller ones (though one, A Little Buenos Aires had the flu, so their absence is understandable,  where was the school run by one of Sydney's one-time tango champions?)
Organising a tango event for charity has a mixed reception in Sydney and this event showed just how cynical Sydneysiders can be - even when two of the wor…

What makes a Wonderful Playlist

Last night at the Milonga de Mis Amores we were treated to the music of my Favourite Tango DJ. This person has been my mentor since I began djing out of necessity (you can't run a milonga without a DJ!) and it was a very steep learning curve at the beginning and one that I keep climbing. He played tandas with many of what he calls the 'top pops'  - but that is what people want to dance to. And he is extremely generous with his playlist, putting a copy on each table. It is not set in stone though, if changes are needed because of time or birthday dances - that happens easily.
My Favourite DJ has music I don't have - and he probably has the most extensive collection of Canaro in Australia, having spent a number of years seeking out all the music of Francisco Canaro from a particular period, then making sure he has it.
He is also quite playful (!) with the music - last night he included two popular pieces twice - the first was 'Silueta Portena' - one of the best m…

The Tango Dress

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With the Big Sydney Tango Salon Festival only days away I am probably among many (women) wondering what to wear. I can't wear what I wore last year (can I?) I can't wear what I wore last week to the milonga at City Tatts - or last month to the milonga at the Russian Club... (no question)... and the tango budget is Tight. What with spending most of my tango income on updating the TangoAustralia website and buying CDs there is little left for a dress - and nothing for shoes.
Last night my tango friend,  Miss Willow and I pondered the dilemma of dressing for tango. We both love the elegant fashions of the 1920s and 1930s, the long dropped waists and hems and the elegant slinky look - and I love the turbans (though I have only one to tango one or twice).  I love the longer hemlines - I wouldn't wear a dress that came half way up my thighs to tango even if I could, they lack the necessary elegance and are more suited to salsa!  The beading and feathers that were fashionable I al…

Fabian and Lorena are coming to Sydney

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And I can't wait! These two are superb dancers and excellent teachers. They will be here for the fundraiser - The Milonga Para Los Niños on Sunday September 26 (the day after our Milonga de Mis Amores at Gladesville) and will be staying here for almost 2 weeks so they can be part of the faculty of the Sydney Tango Salon Festival. . We have published a brief interview with both Fabian and Lorena - which we did by email a couple of weeks ago - on TangoAustralia. . If you are still wondering whether you will come to the Festival - or do any workshops - consider the opportunity to see and learn from these two remarkable dancers. Below is a video of a performance at Club Sunderland, one of Buenos Aire's most well-known milongas. Here they are dancing to the absolutely beautiful 'Invierno' played by Francisco Canaro with cantor Roberto Maida.

Tango Cup or Tango Championships - the results are in

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It's over for another year! The Tango Championships, now known as the Tango Cup have been won. The Salon by a Colombian couple Diego Julian Nenavidez Hernandez and Natasha Agudelo Arboleda from Colombia after a tie-breaker with a Venezuelan couple, and the Stage by an Argentinian couple, Max Van De Voorde, and Solange Acosta.


Until this competition gets itself a set of rules like the Soccer World Cup, or the Rugby Cup or, the Blackpool Dance Festival - and a committee which has to answer for not following these rules, it is likely that it will continue to be fraught with accusations of bias and mismanagement - but that doesn't take away the magic. Even though I knew that the dancing had been choreographed, and even though I was just watching it on my laptop, I got goosebumps from the performances!
You can read a really good, balanced account of the whole event up to the winning of the Salon Tango Championship, aptly titled 'The Only Champion is Tango',  on Cherie'…

New TangoAustralia website

It's been a long haul - and we must thank antfarm for a brilliant job helping us with the backend... but we have a new look TangoAustralia website - after about 7 years of the old look! Our first day we went live our lead story was an interview with Ney Melo and Jennifer Bratt some 7 years ago!
So check out our new look TangoAustralia... and let us know what you think - and if you like us use our Facebook page!

Milonga Para Los Ninos

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The first weekend in August saw the Milonga Para los Ninos weekend in Brisbane. John Lowry organises on an elegant and classy weekend with workshops, milongas and a Grand Milonga with live music - this year featuring Joaquin Amenabar and his Australian quartet. The Milonga Para Los Ninos is an event held around the world to raise money to assist underprivileged children of Buenos Aires
John has just posted this video on Youtube of the Grand Ball at City Tattersalls in Brisbane.

Sydney will hold their Milonga Para Los Ninos night on Sunday September 25 at the Marrickville Hard Court Tennis Club with a star performance by Fabian Peralta and Lorena Ermocida.

TangoAustralia has just done an interview with Fabian Peralta - so watch the website for more news on this event - and of course the Sydney Tango Salon Festival which is happening on the following weekend.

Harem pants, comme il fauts and an international tango jetsetter

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I laughed at this because it is funny! But it is also sad because there are women in Sydney who actually behave like this... and even make similar comments. A regular partner of mine, who is a beautiful leader, once asked a new tanguera to dance - and got a similar response!! Thanks again tangocynic.

Hosting a milonga

In the last few weeks I have been emailing a tanguera who is a long way away about the role of the host at a milonga - her problem began when she went to a milonga that appeared to be hostless and had a horrible time. She has since got involved with this milonga, which is run by a community organisation, and is giving it a face and a direction which is bringing in more and more dancers. So today when I spotted Arlene's posting about the role of a host it seemed opportune to write a few words here. As one who hosts a milonga I know firsthand the organisation required before you even announce your event - finding a venue - then keeping the managers sweet - organising the night (music, refreshments, table set-up, lighting, door prizes....) and making sure you have the right insurance and licences.
Then there is the question of hosting. I think of my milonga as I would a party at my house. The dancers are my guests (albeit paying otherwise I wouldn't be able to afford to do it) a…

Sydney gets a new tango band

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Tangolo is the name of the Tango Quintet that debuted last night at the Concord RSL milonga hosted by TangoSynergy, Sydney's tango club. As well as being top calibre musicians most of this tango quintet also dances, which gives them an insider's understanding of how dancers feel their music. These musicians all have diverse backgrounds ranging from classical, folk, jazz and opera and I was told all came from Sydney's Conservatorium where it is possible they belonged to TangoOz, a tango orchestra established by Sydney bandoneonista, Maggie Ferguson.
The quintet consists of Emily-Rose Sarkova on accordion/voice, Susie Bishop on violin/voice, Owen Salome on guitar/flute/voice, with Amy Putt on  grand piano and David Groves on double bass.Tangolo describes itself as being "on a mission to create a fresh and danceable energy in performances of both popular and lesser known tangos from the golden era to more contemporary nuevo."
They opened with a stunner - I wish I…

The problem of Beginners in Tango

How do you keep beginners interested in tango? How do you encourage those who have done a beginners course (usually 6 to 8 weeks) to stay on in tango and move up to the next level - or at the very least to attend a few milongas? Does putting on a graduation give them the confidence to continue? I have just got off the phone to one of Sydney's leading tango teachers and this was the gist of our conversation.
The attrition rate in tango dancers in the first few months is high. I don't think this is peculiar to tango. I am a passionate yogi as well and I hear yoga teachers saying the same thing. I did belly dancing for a couple of terms then I dropped out - is this a clue? How do you keep students coming to class? You can of course charge them upfront for a course - this is pretty basic, most people do this. But this doesn't ensure they will stay.
Yoga and belly dancing are solitary pursuits, i.e. you don't need a partner. You don't need a partner in tango either, b…

Hosanna shines

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I first saw Hosanna Heinrich dance at the Club de Tango milonga at Sydney's Glebe Town Hall, probably seven or eight years ago! She had just returned from her first visit to Buenos Aires and she shone in a quiet, elegant way. She was outstanding among Sydney dancers, and, in 2007, together with her partner Federico, she won the Australian Tango Championship.
Hosanna has come a long way since then, running her own tango school in Sydney, hosting workshops and teaching at international festivals. She has just returned from New Zealand where she taught and danced with Argentinian teacher Anibal Montenegro - and where I hear they did a brilliant job helping to fill in for the teachers from Argentina who couldn't make it because of the Chilean ash cloud.
This is a video from that Festival

Getting into the rhythm of Tango

I have just come back from a workshop with Joaquín Amenábar in which we tapped and sang and listened carefully to some of our favourites as he explained about the basic tango rhythm and melodies. I spend hours listening to tango music - and hours dancing to it - but there is always something more to learn. I also spent hours learning to play a musical instrument, studying music theory and supervising my childrens' music practices and I have done this workshop before - and it was still inspiring and exciting.
When you sing to the music as you dance it is very difficult to dance out of time - though if you concentrate too hard on obscure things as I did a couple of times it can be done.  Professor Amenábar uses popular and well-known orchestras such as Di Sarli, Canaro, Orquesta Tipica Victor - songs every one of us had danced to many times. At the moment he is travelling around Australia giving workshops and performing at some of the milongas.
You can read more about these workshop…

Tango and Sleep

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After years of writing about health I have heard this before but it still helps to remind oneself of the importance of sleep. A recent study has found that up to 10 hours sleep is ideal (not the 7 to 8 that most of us aim for!). Researchers at Stanford University persuaded 11 basketball players to aim for 10 hours every night for 5 to 7 weeks  and though they only averaged an extra 90 minutes a night, the study found their performance improved markedly. And it wasn't just their basketball  - their memories improved too.
Babies, getting older, noise - and tango - all conspire against getting even the 7 to 8 that many of us crave - I certainly do! And it can be impossible to get this time with work, things that have to be done at home, social life and exercise routines... so what do the experts suggest. The good news is that too much sleep can be just as bad for overall health as too little - and we should just continue to aim for those precious 8 hours. And as we get older the afte…

Ash Cloud gets in way of Wellington's Tango

Wellington's Tango Festival is wonderful - but this year the elements have got in the way and the Ash Cloud from the Chilean volcano has stopped flights from Australia to New Zealand for many. There was a little window earlier in the week... but not it looks like many won't make it. Soooo disappointing.

Here is the latest from the Festival organisers who earlier in the week announced that Federico and Ines were unable to make their flight...
"There is some unfortunate news, Carlos and Maria and Alicia Pons have been turned back because of the developments in New Zealand, they are now stuck in Santiago and we have no more options to try to get them here for the festival. Believe me they and we have tried everything.

Alicia's post festival course has been cancelled, there is the possbility to switch to Fabio and Ana's course however, if you wish to do this please email us or we can sort it out when you are here. There will be a refund for this course, which we will …

Tango in Wellington, NZ, given reprieve from the volcanic ash

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Apart from the daily news I have been getting a blow by blow account of how the volcanic ash cloud from the volcano in Chile is affecting air travellers from the Silver Fox, who is a travel agent - and has a few clients heading off to Wellington next week for the New Zealand Tango Festival. He was hugely relieved to tell me last night that flights have resumed  - and so of course are the organisers. It is a fabulous festival - I'm not going this year, though I wish I was - apart from the great tango, it is superbly organised and the Kiwis are so friendly. We wish them well! and hope that there are no more disasters to get in the way - the New Zealanders have had more than their fair share.
Flights in and out of South America have also been disrupted and Qantas cancelled flights last week - I believe that their flights remain under review, though other airlines are flying again after 10 days of chaos.
Last year we visited Patagonia - it is such a beautiful, clean wilderness - or wa…

Good Floorcraft and Beautiful Dancing

I'm not writing this just to balance the earlier post about floorcraft - I am writing it so that those who don't dance in Sydney, Australia - and those who do - know that we are capable of good floorcraft. Last night I went to a milonga held on one of the most beautiful floors in Sydney. The Bexley RSL has a parquet ballroom floor which has been kept in excellent condition and it is beautiful to dance on. (Visiting teacher Anibal Montenegro remarked on it to me - and I am sure he's seen some great floors!)
And the floor flowed with some very elegant and precise dancing, not just from Anibal and his Sydney partner Hosanna but also from some of Sydney's good dancers, who were clearly enjoying the music of resident DJ, Pedro. Even the boleos I saw executed were done with elegance and the multiple enrosques did not slow up the line of dance. I am a bit wary of complimenting any one dancer after reading Irene and Man Yung's blog on compliments! So suffice it to say that…

Cold, cucumbers and tango

It's that time of year again when numbers are down at milongas because the nights are cold (for Sydney) and wet (torrential is an adjective created for our rain) and unless you can drive to the door in a warm car sometimes it is just too hard to go. And then you get a cold! Or your partner does - and rather than go to a milonga and pass germs around the dance floor, you decide to forgo it and stay home! At least that what's you hope those with colds will do. The Silver Fox has a cold this weekend so we will be staying home! Or maybe he will - I'll see.
Which brings me to cucumbers! There has been a horrible outbreak of e.coli in Europe - a bacterium that hits suddenly and can kill. It is usually sourced to someone who didn't wash their hands after going to the toilet and before handling food. The poor old cucumber has been made the culprit, but now a bit of commonsense is coming into the media stories and it appears that cucumber could not be the cause.
The link betwee…

Crazy floorcraft... again!

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Javier Rodriguez noticed it... so did Jorge Dispari, Ney Melo, Sergio Cortazzo... and numerous other visiting teachers to Sydney - our floorcraft is generally Bad. And last night was no exception.Why? Good floorcraft is basically good manners and following a few simple rules about proceeding in line of dance. Sydney is sometimes described as brash - we are not known for our good manners. My daughter who has recently returned from living in the USA remarked recently that manners on Sydney's roads were worse than those she had experienced in nearly 3 years of driving in LA!
Last night's milonga had a busy floor for Sydney, the music was excellent - as always at this milonga - and dancers from beginners to those who had been dancing for 10 or more years was there. Sadly it was a handful of the more experienced dancers who were causing many of the problems. You can't blame beginners for stopping as they work their way through the steps they are bravely trying to master. A goo…

Tango shoes and still more tango shoes

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Why do women love shoes so much? Why do so many find it necessary to have more than one or two pairs of tango shoes? And why is the search for the perfect shoe never over? As a woman with only 12 pairs of tango shoes I can't answer any of these questions.
I love looking at, dreaming about and buying shoes - especially tango shoes. I have a shoe cupboard that takes up a whole wall in my bedroom and it is overflowing! I know a beautiful pair of shoes makes one feel special - and that when someone comments on your tango shoes you feel even more pleased!
An article in Psychology Today suggests it may have something with making a woman's legs look longer than her torso. Apparently "a person of average height (5ft 4in tall) was rated most attractive when their inside leg measurement was 30.5 in, which is 5% longer than the average leg measurement for a person that size.  In other, words you could be more attractive if you could lengthen your legs by a few inches..." and wh…

A Tango Treat for Easter from TangoEncanto

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If you missed Thursday night's TangoEncanto milonga then you missed a delightful Easter treat! No it wasn't chocolate, though there were certainly chocolate eggs for everyone... it was a fantastic tango danced by Chris Condron and Jennifer Wood, principles of Tango Encanto
The first time I ever saw good tango dancers take tango to a different dimension with some very clever humour was Eduardo Cappussi and Mariana Flores in Buenos Aires in 2003. It was fabulously entertaining as well as great dancing.
On Thursday night, Jenny and Chris performed the 'Chicken Tango' with the same passion, humour and skill. The music was written by one of Australia's alternative bands who perform in nightspots for those in the know such as Quirkz. Bordering on the burlesque this delightful piece was totally suited to the theatrical side of both these dancers - and the fact that Jenny is pregnant made her chicken even more believable.
So if you missed it I'm sorry! because it was ab…

Choosing music for a milonga playlist

Last night I finished putting together the playlist for Saturday's milonga at Gladesville. Putting together a playlist is rather like putting together a magazine, something I did for many years as a magazine editor, a memory that was refreshed this week by the ABC's program Paper Giants on the rise and rise of Ita Buttrose. Sitting around at an editorial meeting deciding the content for the next issue has an affinity with sitting with dancers at a milonga and listening to their comments about the music and their likes and dislikes. As with a magazine editor, so  with a tango DJ - I  am responsible for the success of the magazine/milonga - and for whether the buyers/dancers will return.

I have a list of the orchestras from the excellent guides on the Tejastango website of Stephen and Susan Brown. This is one of the most authoritative and thorough sites on tango music and a great resource for all tango DJs; among their many guides is their annotated List of Tandas..
I also kee…

Sex and tango

You can spend all day trolling around on Tango Blogs. There are some excellent written blogs, with incisive and interesting postings - today I found Melina's two cents... and I found this post about sex and tango. Timely as only the other night I was talking to a fellow tanguera about relationships that come and go on and off the tango floor - and how at times the tango scene has all the elements of a soap opera! Some folk seem to be amazingly naive about the tango scene as a ' hunting ground' (Melina's term)... I won't steal Melina's thunder. Read her blog if you have ever thought about sex and tango in the same moment!

The bored look will get you nowhere - or will it?

At Thursday night's Tango Encanto milonga I was intrigued to watch a tall, good-looking girl with great legs, move around the floor with her head awkwardly on one side, her eyes wandering all over the room and one of the most bored expressions I have seen in a long time.She didn't just do this with one partner - with whom she could quite possibly have been bored - she danced most of the night and she did it with every man she danced with - many of whom were experienced dancers.. She was clearly a beginner, but this is no excuse to look as if she would rather be anywhere but on the dance floor. She was moving in time to the music, so maybe she was concentrating on following.  However I think one needs to be aware that the  look on your face can be a real turnoff.
Perhaps  teachers need to tell beginners about this. I would certainly find such a look a turnoff if I was a man looking to ask someone for a dance. Or do men just assume that the girl is only bored with her current p…

Music for dancing and music for the DJ

Music maketh the milonga - is the title of a piece we posted on TangoAustralia last month and once again this past weekend I was reminded of how the music can make or break the milonga for dancers.
 I went to one milonga where the music was excellent and the dancers filled the floor - highlights including an excellent Di Sarli tanda , a fantastic Donato milonga tango with the great 'Sacale Punta', the superb 'Poema' leading off a beautiful Canaro tanda - and at least 2 great rhythmical D'Arienzo tandas. It didn't matter that there was a little candombe, and a couple of tandas that didn't urge me to dance - that's par for the course.
Then I went to another milonga where there were only 2 milonga tandas all night and only 2 waltz tandas, and for me, no memorable tango tandas. The most memorable thing about one milonga tanda was the way it opened with a very fast candombe, then went to a obscure milongas which were not complimentary to the first - I feel…

Pot calling Kettle Black

My mum passed away in October and among other things she left me with is a legacy of her old sayings and words she concocted when she didn't have one for the occasion. One of these was 'pot calling kettle black' a comment she frequently used when someone criticised another for things they do themselves. Last night at the Milonga de Mis Amores I committed such a thing... I played 2 tandas that the dancers told me they found undanceable! (regular readers will remember that I criticised another DJ for playing undanceable music last week) One of my mistakes was a tanda of De Mare milongas... particular 'Chatero De Aquel Etonces' and 'Senores, Yo Soy El Centro' which I put with 'La Esquina' - a milonga I love. "Garbled rhythmn" was one comment. Point taken. The other was a tanda of Gobbi - 'Orlando Goni', 'A Media Luz' and 'Racing Club' - all favourites but not apparently when recorded by Gobbi for this dancer - though a…

My daughter is ''dancing' with the stars

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Not a great fan of DWTS (as I believe it is referred to by those involved!) but I will be watching the US version on youtube if I can, because my daughter has been working on it. I am not a celebrity watcher and have only heard about one of two of the 'stars' on this year's program (apparently the celebrity watchers were not impressed with the line up!). Having spent a couple of weeks learning ballroom (and coming out with only the cha-cha-cha and the slow waltz) I have great respect for these people who learn complicated dances in a very short time.
My daughter is not dancing in the show ... though she was a dancer for a number of years and she tells me that being involved with this project has made her want to go back to it.   She has always resisted learning Argentinian tango - because it is my thing! - but I know she would love it if she ever did.
This a clip from last year's US DWTS of Jennifer Grey, dancing to La Cumparsita - though I knew her as the star of '…

What's happening - and not happening in tango in Oz

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We've just posted the latest TangoAustralia newsletter on the website...


This newsletter is a round up of what is coming in the rest of 2011. Of course there will be more - and some may not happen, but it will whet your tango appetite and help you to plan your holidays...
Already there are a number of tango teachers coming back to Australia to workshop with their followers, old and new; Joaquin Amenabar, a favourite already with many Australian tango lovers will visit us twice - performing and workshopping; the line-up is out for both the New Zealand tango festival in Wellington in June and the Sydney Salon Tango Festival later in the year and this is just a start.
Of course there will be more teachers and musicians touring and workshopping - TangoAustralia will again do our utmost to bring you all the news - we rely on the tango community to tell us about their events
It is great to have teachers, performers and musicians visiting and most are the nicest people, but it is def…

Old tango friends

Last night we took ourselves to one of the Sydney's most popular milongas and probably the best dance floor in town - Marrickville Hard Tennis Club. (yes a tennis club with a great dance floor, you never know where you will find them). This milonga is run by Tango Entre Amigos, one of Sydney's well established schools and generally it is crowded - last night was no exception.
DJ was Anthony from Tango Spirit. Anthony's music is generally fantastic, he is committed to the Golden Age, though at times he plays tandas where the performance is all about the singer not the dancer. One of my partners and two of the men at my table find it very difficult to lead to this music and I, for one, find it hard to follow. There is such a huge choice of tango music - as we learnt last year there are 20,000 recordings in regular use and about another 80,000 still to be passed on, and it is the DJ's job to make sure that all the music is danceable. As a DJ I have made the mistake of pla…

There's nothing like tango

In the last few days I have had the pleasure of listening to some great swing bands and watching people dance to swing. I love the old jazz and swing but have never felt compelled to learn to dance to it. However on this holiday I have decided that I will give it a go as there are free ballroom classes on offer. So yesterday we took a jive class (afraid today we couldn't stand to go to ballroom tango!!) and tomorrow we'll do cha-cha... and then do a private lesson to see if we can get these steps in our brains. But though the music is great and the atmosphere here in the beautiful ballroom is superb... it just isn't tango! In fact today we just had to turn my iphone tango playlist on at lunchtime when everyone had gone - and we snuck (great word!) into the disco and danced a couple of tandas while no-one was watching! I'll keep up the lessons because I would like to be able to get up on the floor and feel half-way competent at other dances... but there's nothing li…

Sweaty Tango - getting personal

We've had the longest hot spell on record in Sydney - and in some venues the air-conditioning had failed or simply couldn't cope! It makes for hot sweaty dancing (see previous post) but it shouldn't make for wet tango. Recently I have had a couple of what I can only describe as wet tandas. My partner was not just perspiring it felt as though he had just got out of the shower...
I know some of us sweat more profusely than others and for these people it is a problem...but if it happens to be you don't you think it might be kind to your dance partners to bring along a couple of clean dry shirts - and a packet of wipes? Usually these wipes will not only remove the sweat but leave your skin feeling dry and it is so much nicer for your partner. When a man is very wet! it definitely detracts from the pleasure of the dance...

Steamy tango

Saturday night in Sydney was the city's hottest night in recorded weather history (for much of the night the temperature hovered around 30 degrees Celsius)...and everyone was out and about. The streets were jammed with traffic, even at 9.30 when we were on our way to tango in the air-conditioned car, the footpaths and roads were packed with scantily clad people looking for relief from the heat. At least we are going to tango in air-conditioning we told each other. But Sydney's electricity system is not set up to handle huge demands by air-conditioning equipment - and much of the grid is old and prone to collapse. And the Bexley RSL is not exactly a new club - new clubs don't have beautiful big parquet floors such as this one has. You guessed it, the air-conditioning was not working - and we danced in 38 degree+ heat. Reminded me of a trip to Buenos Aires one March! without the smoke and pollution. But I had some beautiful dances with some of Sydney's best tangueros... …

Dirge to Mis Amores?

Milonga de mis Amores is a piece I am very familiar with – it is our signature tune and we play it at the end of most of our milongas. Last night was the first time I had heard it played as a dirge! The slowest version I have is by Francisco Canaro recorded in 1937 which is played at 95 beats per minute – the version played by Fuego Lento  last night cannot have been more than about 70 - which completely destroyed the song's character  - maybe it is something to do with their name which means Slow Fire. Slow Fire are regular performers at the irregular milongas organized in Sydney the Sydney tango club, Tango Synergy. They are all good professional musicians, one I was acquainted with many years ago when he taught and performed in a jazz band with a member of my family, but tango musicians they are not. Their music sounds like they are rehearsing – and that they have never listened to a recording of the tango music from the Golden Age that we all love to dance to. Their repertoire …

TangoAustralia dancers raise $740 for Flood Appeal

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What a buzz! Last night we ran our monthly Milonga de Mis Amores at the Gladesvillle RSL and after hearing so much about our fellow Aussies - including some dancers - suffering in the biggest floods in decades we decided that we would make it a fund-raiser. We put $4 from every entry into the Flood Appeal (we raised $224), plus we had a donation box ($84.05) and we created a few CDs which we sold ($60) - and we rounded it off to $370. We were delighted! But even more so when Francis, one of our favourite tangueras, told us that Woolworths were matching flood donations. So today we visited our local Woollies and deposited the $370 (see receipts) which will be doubled and given to the Salvation Army Flood Appeal! How good is that?
Thank you so much to all the dancers who came and enjoyed the music of our fabulous DJ Geoff, who has to have one of the very best collections of Golden Age and Old Guard music in Australia, munched on the lamingtons and alfajores and gave so generously - and t…

Friendly - and not so friendly tango

''You watched them on the dance floor to find out if they could dance, and if they couldn't you kept away"...is this person talking about a milonga floor?  no it is a comment from an 84 year-old in Thursday's Sydney Morning Herald about dancing at Sydney's Trocadero, a popular ballroom in the heart of town, that was sadly demolished in 1970. "You depended on your partner to make you look good. You were up there to show off": She is talking about dancing lindy hop, jive and swing in this glorious venue which operated from 1936, but the same applies to tango dancers - once you are past the beginner stage and consider that you can dance tango, you begin to check out the men as they dance, just in case they should ask you.
At a recent milonga however I was shocked when a friend who is considered a very good dancer, was told by a woman who considers herself a very good dancer, that she was not sure she wanted to accept his invitation because she hadn'…

Flood Appeal

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The floods in Australia are spreading their tentacles into every corner of the lives of those who live in the affected areas. I have been to Brisbane many times but I just didn't think about the places that would have been affected This morning's paper reported on the State Library in Queensland and the Art Gallery and the media is bursting with stories about the horrors and disaster of the floods that are affecting not just Queensland, but NSW and Victoria. I just received an email from the TangoNuts in Queensland who are, of course, right in the middle of it and it galvanised me into sending a small donation from TangoAustralia to the Queensland Premier's Flood Relief Appeal. 
I have never seen the devastation such as we are being shown by the media, I have never smelt the stench that I am told comes after a flood of this kind, or known the despair of losing everything. I hope others will join in contributing something to this, and other appeals. I fouhd this video among…

Milonga at the Newcastle milonga

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On Saturday after the workshops we explored the beaches of Newcastle then had a late siesta before getting ready for the milonga at night in the Adamstown Senior Citizens centre. From the outside this is an ugly brick and fibro building with one shade tree outside and bare, uninspiring buildings around it. Inside there is a good parquet floor, it is airconditioned and has the feeling of centre that is used and cared for by its owners. On Saturday night, Mauricio and Wendy of Ruedisima turned it into a milonga.
When we arrived about 90 minutes after official start the only others there were some of the Novocastrian dancers and a smattering of Sydney people, but within the hour a huge contingent of Sydney dancers arrived together with Jorge and Maria.
I wasn't expecting great things of the night, maybe one or two nice tandas and a chance to practise some of the things I had learnt that afternoon. But as the night progressed I was very pleased to be asked to dance by my regular part…

Very beautiful tango

Today I did two workshops in Newcastle with visiting teacher Jorge Dispari and his wife, Maria del Carmen Romero. This couple is visiting Sydney, running workshops and performing at milongas and we are truly lucky to have the opportunity to learn from them ( you'll find info on the TangoAustralia website). In the first workshop we walked. Jorge explained that he did not teach figures, he taught technique and that is what we did. It was hugely rewarding and very challenging. There is always more to learn about tango and big and little things one needs to work on and we worked hard. It was also very rewarding to be praised by the great master. He is an excellent teacher who does not stint on his praise! but both teachers are also quick to point out areas that need improvement.My partner and I were delighted to be told that we, especially he, danced beautifully with passion and that with some work on our technique we would be great!!
Floorcraft is not known to be good at Sydney milo…