Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Interview with Daniela Pucci

I found this interview very inspirational.

Performance at Chicago Tango Week 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tango Fab or Tan-ghetto Fab

Our Sitemeter indicates there's been a lot of people searching for "tango dresses" online. So I figured I'd google it today to see what I would find. The first three websites that popped up were Edressme.com, Tangoleva.com and Ekclothing.com. Aha! Just as I thought... the usual suspects; halter spandex with asymmetrical hems, frilly wedding cake tier numbers and, let's not forget the infamous, "when animals attack" shreds. What makes one think of metallics, gold lamés and sequins when designing "tango" dresses for the masses? I mean... sure, we usually spot one or two tan-ghetto fab victim(s) at milongas. Is there really such a big market for these looks because it seems that's all I am able to find? What's a modern tanguera to do? I mean come on ladies! I know you want to look the part but unless your dance skills scream louder than your dress, I would think twice about sporting it. Leave the sequins to the pros! Yes, even the pros occasionally fall victim to tan-ghetto fab. I've seen one tanguera repeatedly perform in the same ill-fitting corset. It really boggles my mind... isn't one wardrobe malfunction enough??? The whole corset twisted in mid-performance and she literally had to finish the dance with one hand covering her left boob. Que pasa chica?

This topic has been covered by many of our beloved blogueras. My all time favorite is La Planchadora. Who can forget those outrageously funny tango-dresses posts? It's really unfortunate for us she's not blogging much these days.

I figured I would post a few today in honor of her. Enjoy!

All this tango couture love can be yours for the small price of $950 (Sorry ladies, the headband/strap piece is not included.) The model looks pissed.. can you blame her?

When animals attack your hair, too.

Hey, you know there's something not kosher, when they offer you a free mask to go with the dress.... or was it the other way around... free trash bag with purchase of Halloween mask?

I don't know about you but I sure wouldn't want anything dangling between my legs when I am dancing.

Well, this hot number speaks for itself but is that a loose thread or is it really her stocking? Why? WHY??

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tango-licious Dresses

Bluebee is having a 60% off sale and there are quite a few tango-licious dresses. Have fun shopping ladies!

Foley Tube Dress with Tail Back

Karanina Polka Dot Convertible Dress Red

Dina Bar-El Roushed Dress Forest

Foley Sandra's Tube Dress Jade

D & G Rouched Red Dress

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Love and Tango

Malena's last post "What is love?" got me thinking.

I was in love... it had ended several months ago. It'd been difficult to adjust to the way things were before I fell in love. To have had it and then to wake up without it made my world a little colder. I tried to pick up other hobbies like Pole Dancing. It was definitely a good distraction from the pain I felt inside. I was sore for several days after each class. In some ways it was comforting to feel the pain and feel it dissipate with each passing day. Perhaps I needed the reminder that this pain inside will also eventually lessen with time.

More than I like to admit but I did dance less when I was in love. Words of my maestro ring loud in my head, "Most women dance, then they stop when they find boyfriends... then they come back when the relationship ends." I disgreed at the time... I guess it's because I was so in love with tango that I couldn't see life without it... boyfriend or not. If I had met someone with jealousy issues, I'd probably end it because it would conflict with my tango life.

I hadn't wanted to dance since the Miami Tango Festival. I was disgusted with what I had witnessed there. Quite a few tangueros were standing around like flies hovering around a piece of fruit. Poor Malena had trouble fending them off. Even a famous well respected older teacher, whose name I will not mention, had acted inappropriately. I believe he had a few too many to drink and took the opportunity to "accidentally" fondle her during their dance. Not to mention our mysterious stranger who masked as a "friendly fellow tango dancer" had an agenda up his sleeve. I guess it is human nature, men will always be men. It just upsets me that some of these men use their skills and tango status to prey on unsuspecting women. This left a bad taste in my mouth and I wanted to be far far away from the tango after that milonga.

It's been three months and today is the first day I decided to dance again. So I made an appointment with my maestro. I'm sure he will ask me where I've been and why I haven't been dancing. Perhaps it's this love-hate relationship with tango that keeps me going back. Not long after I had abandoned it, it was calling out to me. I miss and long for that high again. The feeling of being completely lost in the music... that sustained loving hug/embrace with a total stranger... and the ultimate ever changing roller-coaster ride, it just never gets old. Perhpas maestro was right... maybe love and tango is more closely linked then I'd realized. Perhaps all single tangueros and tangueras secretly long to find love on the dance floor. Even when they go home alone... there's still the promise of love in that 3 minute embrace. Is it possible that we sometimes feel more security with our dance partners than we do with our partners in real life?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What is Eva up to now?

As usual, I decided to do this on a whim. The studio so happens to be right next door to my office building. The class starts right when my workday ends. I wanted to find a way to incorporate fitness with fun. And to be quite honest, I've always wondered what it feels like to be one of these sexy divas. Well, It's only been two weeks and I already have a new found respect for them. I have bruises on both of my knees, burns on my wrist, palm and ankle and my body is aching in unusual places. Yes it can be painful but when you are making that first perfect spin.... with controlled speed and multiple rotations .... it feels like Disney (but only the adult version).

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Seduction Of the Unknown

Opening night. No high hopes judging by the scarce number of people present. We were determined to have a nice time, dancing or not. As Eva was quickly swept by an unknown dancer, I looked around. I was vaguely aware of a man in a dark suit making his way to our table. A few minutes later, as a new song began, he appeared as if out of nowhere and asked me to dance. I knew it instantly. From his very posture, from the very first sensation of his embrace. Divine. No more, no less. After a few tandas, he walked me back to our table, then disappeared.

We continued having very good dances. It must have been the newness of it all. After the showcase, Eva and I decided to arrange for a private lesson with the chacarera boys that performed (what a better way to learn this enchanting dance). We stepped out of the ballroom to sign up and on the way back we saw the dark suited man carrying a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket into the room. We looked at each other and giggled with regret - how did we not think of that?! Apparently other people agree that champagne is the best companion to a milonga night.

As we were sitting down back at our table, we noticed the chilled champagne and three glassed placed right in front of our seats, as if awaiting our return. Hmmm... Thinking that someone mistakenly took our table for available we continued dancing with a few strangers. Before long we saw the tall man approaching us, then softly addressing us, "Ladies, champagne? It's a night of celebration." Of course it was! Just past midnight, it was already Eva's birthday! But how did he know that?! He asked for permission to sit with us and without delay started pouring champagne. We started talking and we got to learn a little about him. That he was an amazing dancer, we already knew. The bubbles were already making us feel happy and radiant. Eva danced with our lovely stranger in turn. Her eyes were closed, she was in a state of dreamy surrender. At the end of the night, more champagne outdoors by the beach, with the moon shining on us...

He insisted to take us to dinner the next night for Eva's birthday. Everything was planned to perfection. Stunning restaurant with extraordinarily decadent food. Fountains of champagne. Pictures. Slowly we are becoming aware of how all this was coming across. We feel the surrounding glances intrigued by the scene. At our remark that we were probably too crazy for him, he replies with a mysterious smile, "Not crazy enough..." We are beginning to realize what our less of a stranger is after (Funny! Is this every man's fantasy?!)...

Perhaps because of this, perhaps because we had already gotten to know him a little, that night at the milonga the magic was gone. Same dancer, same skill, but with the romance of the unknown gone and with his agenda right on the table, next to yet another bottle of champagne, we felt an empty dance.

It seems the magic in tango is this very special and fragile combination of a multitude of aspects and with even one missing, the magic vanishes, the embrace becomes confinement, the steps just units of movement... Can we define the magic, can we capture the emotion? The closest we got is the realization that the mystery and an anonymous face are key. You don't have expectations, you are at the edge of all possibilities. But after the masks are down and the faces acquire outlines, we come back to reality and disappointment settles as everyone is eager to assume their sharp individuality, vanity, pretenses...

Tango anonymous?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tango on the Beach

In exactly 7 days, we will be on a plane heading to Miami, Florida.

Top 5 things on my packing list:

Tango wear
3 pairs of CIFs

We were originally planning to go to the Denver festival but, at the very last minute, the visuals of zipping champagne by the pool and tangoing by the beach won us over. So Miami Tango Fantasy 2008 here we come! This will be our first tango festival away from home. Interestingly, it will also be my birthday. I used to spend my birthday in Miami every year with a group of single girlfriends. Our vacation included staying at a fancy hotel, dining at the trendiest restaurant and dancing at the hottest nightclubs. Awww... so much has changed since I started tango. I've had to rack my brain to come up with good excuses why I can't vacation with them anymore. "Ohhh that sounds wonderful but I'm so swamped with work.".... "I would love to but I just don't have the funds right now." or "I wish I could but I think I'm coming down with the flu." It took me a long time but I think I can finally confess to them... "I don't want to go because I'd rather TANGO." To be honest, I've lost touch with a few friends because my idea of fun and relaxation no longer revolves around drinking and dancing with hot men. Well let me rephrase that.... it's more about the dancing.... with much less drinking and there'll almost be room for hot men (if they can dance that is). So I'm going back to Miami and, for the first time, I do not plan leave the confines of my hotel. It'll be all about the beach, the lessons and the milongas.

...and maybe we'll finally get to tango on the beach.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Open Air

He loves me. I am his hopes, his dreams, his life. He wants us to start a life together. He says he dreams of the time when he will learn to dance. So that I am his in every way. And not dance with anyone else.

Suddenly I am struggling for air. I am terrified. I felt the space rapidly closing in front of me. I can't do it.

I never had to think about this before. I longed to belong. I always thought that my desire for openness was a means to an end and would ultimately lead to a sweet surrender. Now I just need to feel the limitless space around me... Indefinitely. To have any possible tanda I want, any impossible tanda I dream of... Is there a successful union of love and our tango identity?

Is tango an expression of freedom? Does it represent our spirited nature, that side of us that refuses to be tamed??

I want it to be open, so open that the horizon can contain anything... So open that if I set my spirit free, it can go anywhere...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Time for Tango Rehab??

On the night of my usual milonga I am leaving the house for the airport to pick up friends from out of town coming to visit me. After a few seconds of hesitation, I run back and throw a pair of CiFs in my bag. Just in case.
Ok, wait! In case of what??? The plane having a three hour delay so that I can go dance a little?! I start realizing, for a thousandth time, how irrational this is. Have we gone too far? Is this normal?!

I dream about tango several times a week. I suffer withdrawal if I don't dance for a couple of days. I hear tango music in my head most of the time. I have 30GB of music on my ipod, but end up listening to about a hundred songs 90% of the time (yes, tango). When I hear tango music unexpectedly my heart skips a beat. No, several beats. On the way to a milonga I am more excited with anticipation than when going to a first date. I cross as I stop at a traffic light. I cannot even walk after hours of dancing, but I can surely do another tanda. I would (and do) cancel any other plans to dance. I get by on 5 hours of sleep on a regular basis. I pity people who have not experienced all this.

Even if normal for a beginner who is still in the tango honeymoon bliss, for me this has been reality for about a year and a half. Relentlessly.

Is it time for a Tango Rehab? Or should we just be left to our obsession? Has life ever had more colors...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Short Film About Love & Tango

I stumbled upon this adorable short film by a tango couple today.

The video was shot at the South Street Seaport by Pier 16. It really brought back fond memories of last summer for me. The relaxing atmosphere attracted dancers of all levels and all ages. Most people dressed casually, some wore dance sneakers and I opted for tango shoes with a slightly chunkier heel. No matter how practical it may seem..... I'm just not a sneaker girl. So ladies, please leave your stilletos at home. Your heels will definitely get stuck in the gaps between the old wooden planks.

I think this historic waterfront is the perfect backdrop for a milonga. The old ships... the smell of salty air... and especially when the DJ plays earlier recordings, it can really transport you back in time.

Tango Porteno should start again sometime in May and we'll be checking the schedule on Richard Lipkin's website.

(BTW, you can spot Malena dancing in this video.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Places we'd like to tango

The Airport
We thought of this one on our way back from Buenos Aires while waiting for our flight. We just might have to write the (Ezeiza) Ministro Pistarini International Airport and suggest a Tango Lounge. Last tanda in Buenos Aires anyone?

The Grand Central Terminal
Ahh.. the hustle and bustle. Wouldn't it be beautiful to dance to a live tango orchestra playing in that grand space?

Subway platforms
I'm usually listening to tango on my ipod waiting for the train. While trying hard not to let my foot tap too much, I often think to myself... "If only I can find a tanguero right now, I would totally do it right here."

The Yoga Studio
I love yoga but I can't help thinking about tango everytime I see that perfect wooden floor with candles lit in all corners.

I must admit... I will never look at another shopping cart the same way again... thanks to that italian short film Perdizione.

The Staten Island Ferry
Trip time: Approx. 25 minutes. That should be enough time for a couple of tandas... right?

The Boardwalk at Sunset
Who wouldn't love to tango with the warm ocean breeze?

The Empire State Building Observatory
Imagine tangoing on top of the world.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I need to dance

I need to dance because I had a stressful day at work.

I need to dance because I'm feeling lonely.

I need to dance because I want to feel the power of zen.

I need to dance because I want to practice what I'd just learned.

I need to dance because I'm feeling rusty.

I need to dance because I just had a fight with my lover.

I need to dance because I want to breath in the different scents of random men.

I need to dance because I want to let my inner diva come alive.

I need to dance because I want to feel sexy.

I need to dance because I want to live in the moment.

I need to dance because I need a hug.

I need to dance because I want to feel the warmth of a stranger's body press against me.

I need to dance because I need to be someone else for a while.

I need to dance because I need to in a room filled with tango music.

I need to dance because I feel like crying.

I need to dance because I just want to forget.

I need to dance because I need to break in a new pair of CIFs.

I need to dance because I want to feel beautiful.

I need to dance because I just bought a new tango dress.

I need to dance because I know he's going to be there.

I need to dance because I want to feel him adjusting his embrace mid-dance so he can hold me closer.

I need to dance because I could use the exercise.

I need to dance because I want to meet "the others".

I need to dance because it makes everything more beauti-full.

I need to dance because this is my life now.

Friday, April 04, 2008

A book, ideas of freedom and tango championships

A friend of mine mentioned a book that appears to be quite popular, "The Four Hour Workweek" by the guy who wrote the blog post "How to live like a rock star in BsAs". I hadn't heard of it, but I stopped by the bookstore today and picked up a copy. The concept is that if you regroup your views of life and manage to conquer you fears, or unplug and reset as the author defines it, you can escape the 9-5 grind and do anything you want anywhere you want to do it.

At first I thought, oh great, yet another self-help book that offends intelligence more than it achieves anything else. However, was it because the author turns out to be a BsAs Tango World Championship winner, the whole idea started to resonate with me (funny how any life change plan I would consider at this point has to involve the prospect of being able to dance as much as my heart desires...)

As I am reading the first few chapters, it almost sounds doable, until the the necessity to be reasonable and 'realistic', with which we have been programmed, hits. I sure do hope that one day I will have the strength to pause this pseudo-reality and go... And to all of those that have actually challenged themselves and followed their bravest dreams, my admiration!

Inspirational read so far. What I found interesting, however, was that Timothy Ferriss, an American, had only danced tango for a year before he won the competition. Guys, is this possible?? I am not doubting it, but just a year?! Here is a video from the event:

And btw, the whole idea of a tango championship seems odd, doesn't it? Since tango is nothing else more than it is a passion, how do you judge a feeling...

I missed you all and Besos,


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Otros Aires in Canada

We got an email from our friend Andy Kamienski several weeks ago. He is a teacher specializing in close embrace at El Abrazo (Toronto), DJ and organizer of TangoLoft, a monthly milonga in Toronto, Canada.

We met in Buenos Aires back in Nov and had one of the most beautiful tandas at an alternative milonga at Saloon Canning. This is very exciting news ... he is bringing one of my favorite electronic tango bands Otros Aires to Toronto on April 26th and 27th. Malena and I will try our best to be there.

Here's some info if you're interested in attending.

Otros Aires Concert & Dance
Saturday April 26, 2008 9:00pm
The Dovercourt House
805 Dovercourt Road
Toronto, Canada

Sunday April 27, 2008 8:30pm
Lula Lounge
1585 Dundas St. W
Toronto, Canada

$45.00 at the door (if available)

For physical tickets or information please call Andy at (416) 767-0033
or email us at info@tangoloft.ca

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

To new beginnings...

"How do you do an ocho again?", I asked Malena. "Oh stop! It’s like riding a bike... you never really forget." she tells me. We hadn't danced for two and a half months. I can hardly recall the warmth of the tango embrace. The excitement and joy I once felt seemed to have abandoned me back in Dec. Dancing tango was always my escape from reality. For the past 16 months, it'd been my way of life. So when I woke up on that cold winter morning and didn’t feel that urge to dance, I was confused and sad.

I tried going to a few milongas but had the most miserable time. I sat most of these evenings with only 2 to 3 invitations. Perhaps it was self manifestation or maybe I was dancing like Elaine from that Seinfeld episode and didn't know it. It brought back bad memories of high school dances; all dressed up and sitting pretty. The boys giving me the "once-look-over" then rejected me for the prettier girl next to me. It didn't seem to make any sense. I hadn't felt this level of rejection before, except for that one bad night with the tan-ego. For the past year, I rarely ever sit for more than a tanda. I've danced with many tangueros, from true beginners to seasoned instructors. What's puzzling to me is that I was asked to dance more often as a beginner than I do now with a little more skills under my belt. Malena and I tried to come up with some explanations. A) We appear to be snotty because we are often engrossed in conversation and may have appeared at times not interested in dancing. B) We danced too many tandas with certain individuals and they may have appeared as our exclusive partners. C) We haven't been going to milongas as much as we use to. It will take some time for people to warm up to us again, the old and new faces.

We decided mid-week to venture out to the Yale Festival for the All Night Milonga. Malena was very excited. The first words out of her mouth were... "OMG we have to try this pizza!!!" Apparently, she had watched a special on the food network about New Haven's two famous pizzerias Sally's and Frank Pepe's. We checked into the hotel around 6pm then set out to find Sally and Frank. We drove by Sally's and there was already a long line outside the restaurant, so we moved onto Frank's, which was two blocks down the road. Line was slightly shorter there. "Frank Pepe it is!" I honestly didn't think I’d ever wait more than 30 minutes for dough, sauce and cheese but the wait proved to be worthwhile. The pizza was delicious, even though our waitress was a bit rude, she demanded to take our order immediately and rolled her eyes a few times when she realized we hadn't picked out our toppings.

On the way back to the hotel, we picked up a bottle of Veuve Cliquot. We had a glass then decided to take a nap before the milonga. When we finally woke up, it was 11:30pm. Still sleepy, we rushed to get ready. We asked the hotel concierge to direct us to the Harkness building (where the milonga was held). She gave us a map then off we went. We didn't realize at the time there were two different Harkness locations. We stumbled into an old building hoping to hear faint sounds of tango music... but nada. When I gently pushed the large wooden front doors and it swung open automatically. The loud sound of the door hinge squeaking echoed in the corridor. Not a soul in sight, it was now midnight. Out of nowhere I see a boy wearing a black hoody rushing out of the adjacent door. As he walked past me, I tried to stop him for directions. "Excuse me..... excuse me!", I hollered. As if he couldn’t hear me at all, he kept walking and disappeared though the door. I looked at Malena, "Hmm... I think we better get out of here!" We rushed back to the car and looked at the directions printed off the Yale Fest's site and realized we were on the other side of the campus.

By the time we arrived at the milonga, it was already 12:30pm. We were really hoping to escape the NYC tango scene but was a little disappointed to see many of the dancers there were from NYC. Not sure why we were surprised, New Haven is not that far away. My first dance was with a student from Yale. We shifted our weights for a few seconds preparing for our first step. He then paused and he said, "let’s start and take a step to the right." Bizarre! Is he planning to give directions throughout our dance?? Everything just went downhill from there... I soon learned after our first song, he's only taken a few classes and this was his very first milonga. He had a sweet round face with large brown eyes, so I decided to suffer through a second song before thanking him for the dance. Our dear TP came to the rescue soon after. It was comforting to see him. He always has a warm smile and his enthusiasm for tango is quite contagious. We chatted a little bit and we shared a few tandas. He inspired us to check airfare first thing this morning for OUR next BsAs pilgrimage.

So Malena and I sat watching the scene for a while. After 30 minutes went by without an invitation, we decided it's probably not going to get better. We left the milonga at 2:30am and tried to find a local bar to have a few drinks but nothing was opened. We went back to the hotel and finished our left-over pizzas and champagne. While watching the history channel, we dozed off to sleep.

During brunch the next morning, we decided to take group classes again to get back into the mix of things; with tango and the people of tango. Perhaps, this is all part of our tango journey and we're just entering into the next phase. A dancer must decide at some point whether to invest in further education and become better dancers or to stop learning because they feel they have sufficient skills to enjoy an evening of social dancing. Well, I am ready for the challenge of becoming a beginner all over again. Bring it on...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Buenos Aires - Day 8 (El Fin)

Unplanned last lesson with maestro first thing after we woke up. I wore sneakers and sweatpants for the first time in the history of my tango lessons. While one was having a lesson, the other packed. To save that precious time that was already racing... Then ready to go out for a nice lunch and some last minute shopping at the street market in Palermo on Plazoleta Cortazar.

We had caught a glimpse of a charming restaurant with a beautiful chandelier on the way back from Bar Uriarte in Palermo a few days ago and meant to go back, so we figured now might be a good time. But on the way there changed our minds on a whim and decided on Olson, as we never made it for brunch there on the weekend before. Amazing! The place was so nice, modern Scandinavian theme and food. We were seated on a very low and comfy leather couch in front of a Scandinavian open fireplace (not working on such a nice summer day, thankfully), which was perfect, as we were really tired from last night and needed to relax. I then spotted the bartender preparing this very soft green smoothie-looking drink. Since Olsen is known for its over 50 vodka selections, it was not hard to guess what was in it. But we had to have our champagne first and get into our usual giggly mood. Sure enough, we hadn't so much had a few sips each, when it started. We couldn't stop laughing. Again. Our cute waiter (they were ALL cute) tried his best to help with the food selection, but his looks were far better than his English, so we were still in the dark when we ordered - I decided on something with eggs and shrimp, and Eva chose some kind of chicken dish. But when the food came (by which time we were getting progressively merrier and more relaxed and were almost lying on the couch) - it not only had great presentation, but was absolutely delicious! Crispy potatoes, eggs and shrimp bruschetta (who thought this could taste so good?!), chicken milanese, chicken salad with walnuts, and fresh bagels. After this feast, it was time to try the green drink. Some back and forth with the waiter later (I was trying to explain that we want to try the bebida verde!), it came and let's just say it was so strong that it got both Eva and I pretty tipsy in no time! We started on our laughing kick again, and this time there was no stopping us. We let ourselves be in this wondrous oblivion for a while, savoring our last Buenos Aires moments...

We left Olsen and tried to find the market. Not easy. Try to sort out where you are going on a tiny map after champagne and green vodka drink... We couldn't really focus on the task at hand and kept walking in what we thought was the right direction. All of a sudden Spanish was pouring out of Eva, it must be true that everything you learn does come through at some point! She was naming whatever we saw on the way, including a homeless dog - not without a significant sense of revelation she exclaimed "Pero!!". We couldn't really walk, we were laughing so hard. We almost lost one of her flip-flops, twice. Then all of a sudden, we found ourselves in front of the chandelier restaurant - Bardot! Snapped a picture of the cross streets, why bother remember… We will definitely come next time. Wandered about a bit, then finally saw the market. We did pretty well for the 20 minutes we had left before we absolutely had to head back to the apartment to meet Eugenia and leave the keys.

We did the last bit of packing left and Eugenia came. She said “You tried our ice-cream, no?” No. We hadn’t gotten to that, there is only so much time in the day, you know... So she suggested we go get some from Persicco across the street to eat on the way to the airport. We had to! The best ice-cream in town. I ran over there while Eva was taking care of the last details with Eugenia. Little did I know what I was in for. This has got to be the biggest ice-cream shop/cafe I have seen. With countless flavors and unknown to me rituals. Some of which I was just about to learn. The hard way. Somehow I managed to pay for a quarto of helado and was then pointed in the direction of the counter where they prepare yor order. You take a number and wait for it to flash on a screen. Who said that ordering ice-cream would be easy? I patiently waited browsing at all the flavors listed (most of which I was clueless about) but was confident enough as I knew we wanted dulce de leche. Simple enough, you would think. The second I pronounced dulce de leche (I must have said it the Italian way ) the guy who was serving me looked at me with disbelief, then burst out laughing uncontrollably. He had to then go and tell the rest of the guys working there what he had just heard, by which time I was beet red with embarrassment and lost every hope that I will actually walk out of there with what I came for. So they had a good laugh and still giggling he started to ask me a series of progressively harder questions - nuts or no nuts, brownies or no brownies, more flavors, strawberry with cream or strawberry with water, cover or no cover, should he pack it with dry ice if I was going far, spoon, how many spoons? I wanted to scream 'Just give me the damn ice-cream and let me go!', but I couldn't so much as shake my head for a yes or no in response. I must have had the most bewildered look in history. He must have taken pity on me - on my way out I noticed he had actually given me a much bigger box that I had ordered. Lesson learned - I have to learn that language, there is no way around it. If nothing else was a motivation strong enough, that did it. I have got to be able to order some ice cream without being utterly embarrassed! Granted it's a ritual over there, but still!

Eva was already waiting in a cab in front of the building (poor thing had to lug down my enormous suitcase too), wondering what happened to me... Hugged Eugenia good bye and got in the car, holding the precious box of ice cream, starting to feel sadder by the minute. We rode in silence, eating dulce de leche con nueces, strawberry and lemon ice-cream as we were watching neighborhoods change on the way to the airport. Sad. Really.

We got there on time, unfortunately. As we were waiting in the check-in line, I turned to Eva and said, "I wonder why there isn't a milonga at the airport - in some small corner, while waiting for your flight, you could go for a last tanda..." Everyone else would of course have marvelled at how one can come up with something like this, but Eva simply looked at me and whispered, "I was just thinking that."

Friday, January 18, 2008

Buenos Aires - Day 7

Cafe con leche and a bite for breakfast at our cafe across the street. A bite meaning dulce de leche tarta and a medialuna for me, two sandwiches for Eva. Off to CiF in Recoleta. Exciting. Not really expecting to buy yet more and more pairs of shoes, but we did, of course. Eight in total for the trip for me. This can't be normal. Eva was good, only four. Not counting the first four pairs she got on her previous trip only a few months ago. On the way out of the little alley where Cif is hidden, we decided to take pictures of Eva jumping in the air. Then twirling. We gathered a bit of a crowd from the surrounding shops, but hey, we don't go CiF shopping every day, plus we were in the mood. Happy happy pictures...

Next was Hotel Alvear for afternoon tea, but on the way there a lingerie shop caught our eye. An hour and a half and 6 lingerie sets between the two of us later, we strolled down Avenida Alvear. The hotel was delightfully elegant, with beautiful architecture and decoration. The classic tea service offered in L'Orangerie Restaurant consisted of kir royal (we needed our champagne, how else), followed by an exquisite selection of teas and endless courses of finger sandwiches, scones and miniature desserts. What a lovely afternoon... It was all about what we wanted out of life in that moment - tango shoes, lingerie, champagne and dulce de leche in various forms.

Lesson. We made a dinner reservations for 10pm at another brand new restaurant a block away from our apartment building, Francesca. It was their opening night. And, unfortunately, our last night in BsAs. It had a very modern and spacious look, at the same time the atmosphere was soft and airy. Sirloin and ribeye steaks. The maitre d' wanted to start us with one wine then bring a bottle of another kind, so when we explained we had to be at least somewhat sober to dance later, he introduced us to one of the waiters, who had allegedly been a tango performer in the past. He was known by Mel Gibson, although the resemblance wasn't striking. Cute though. We made tentative plans to see him later.

We had decided on two local milongas and La Viruta in the end. Damian took us to Las Mareados, a small, intimate milonga, thankfully not visited by tourists. The space was beautiful, with open windows letting the warm early summer air in, candles everywhere. A beautiful performance – a tango, then a dance with handkerchiefs called El Gato. Off to Villa Malcom for an hour. More of a practica environment, young people. La Viruta next. We were pretty tired at that point, but stayed for an hour or so, it was our last night after all. Serendipitously, Eva danced her last tanda with the old argentine guy with whom she danced her first tanda in BsAs here at La Viruta while Color Tango was playing 7 days ago. On the way out we bumped into Mel Gibson. Eva asked me if I wanted to stay for a little longer and dance with him, but at that point I was so tired that I had forgotten he was a performer and decided it was probably not going to be worth it, so we left. Ugh! I could have ended the night with a nice tanda. But, as every dedicated dancer is well aware of, if you feel you must call it a night after long hours of dancing, you are trully at the point of collapsing.

Last time to enjoy the early morning bird songs...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tagging along

We were tagged by Tango Pilgrim and Dazarin.

I am supposed to share 7 random and/or weird things about myself, tag 7 people at the end of my post (include links to their blogs.) then let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. Well, considering we are joining so late in this blogger-tag-game and most of the bloggers have already been tagged 2 or 3 times, I'm going to skip this part.

1) I can moonwalk. (yep... really.)

2) I hate scallops because they remind me of the little round white pencil erasers I had in kindergarden.

3) I can sing and act on the stage but never felt comfortable making an impromptu speech.

4) When I moved a few years ago, I decided not to get cable TV and I still don't miss it.

5) I used to flip my eyelids to scare my sister when we were kids.

(I'll spare you that photo.)

6) After I sang for my college commencement ceremony at Radio City Music Hall, I received a letter from the president of my college, telling me I should consider a career in music instead of fashion. (Till this day, I still wonder if I'd made the right choice.)

7) When I was a teenager, I used to carry a bright red condom in my wallet because it made me feel grown up. That same condom stayed in my wallet for several years until one morning. While I was waiting on line at the subway station during rush hour (this is before they invented metrocard machine), the bright red condom fell out of my wallet and onto the freshly washed floor. I thought of picking it up but didn't want to confirm ownership of the damn thing. I was also running too late to get on another line, so I decided to stay and endured 10 minutes of bright red embarrassment while I listened to the people laughing behind me.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

From Tango to Fencing

We've been trying to cope with our post BsAs tango withdrawal. We figured maybe we just needed a little temporary distraction from tango. So Malena decided she would give fencing a try, while I would take up ballroom dancing again. I thought fencing was a great idea for Malena, because I could totally picture her as Catherine Zeta Zones in that fencing scene in the movie The Mask of Zorro. So this was the week she was going to start this new craze. Malena sent me the link for the fencing school. I told her it looked like fun. "Class starts tonight. Do you have plans tonight? Would you like to come with?" she asked. "Hmm, Moi? Fencing? " I thought. "I suppose I could go since I didn't have any plans, plus I'd do anything to work off the few extra pounds from the holidays." So off we went, from tango to fencing.

We walked into the class. Almost everyone was in full gear, white fencing jackets, knee length fencing pants, long black socks and dark sneakers. I was fascinated by the clothing. One guy actually had his pants custom-made to look exactly like the ones worn in the 16th century. He was an obvious fencing addict with very intense eyebrows. He must have thought I was a nutjob because 65% of my questions were about clothing and not fencing.

The fencing academy operates out of a great little studio near Chinatown. I was told by the maestro that no street shoes were allowed because the space is a dance studio during the daytime. "Should I wear my tango shoes then?" I asked with a straight face. He didn’t answer me but gave me one of those looks, "Did she really just ask me that? was she being funny or is she just plain stupid?" It was fine because Malena got it and immediately laughed out loud.

Maestro went over the proper attire for students in a fencing class. There are strict color rules. Rule #1. The maestro, and ONLY the maestro, is allowed to wear all black. The would-be-masters-in-training wear white jackets and black pants. All other fencers can wear any combination of white, black and grey. Newbies can wear any gym clothes (provided it's not all black). I luckily wore a grayish t-shirt and black gym pants, while Malena?... she wore head to toe all black. "I am sorry. I didn't know." she said to the maestro with a little smile.

There were so many styles. This academy specializes in Italian, French and Spanish. We were shown the following weapons, the Foil (technically not a weapon but a practice tool), the Epee and the Sabre. They all looked the same to me, except for the different blade lengths and size of the handle guard thingy. There are names for every part of the sword, even the sections along the length of the blade had a different names. It was overwhelming and intimidating; we were beginners all over again. I felt like a sponge trying to soak up everything thrown at me. Some students were very helpful, while others ignored us. I guess they figured we probably wouldn't come back. Everyone from different levels worked together in the same space. We started with a few different en garde positions. There were lots of turnouts and pliés, very much like ballet, except you don't lead with your toes. It definitely brought back memories of the couple of years I spent in ballet school back when I was in high school.

On our way out, we chatted with a ballet dancer who's been fencing for 14 months. She gave us the low down on what to expect as a beginner and told us about how much fencing has reshaped her body. Aside from the workouts she received with her already strong dancer legs, she couldn't believe how ripped her arms and upper body got. She even saw results after just one month. Those were the key words I needed to hear. I hate the gym and have been looking for an interesting sport to help tone up abit. Each class is three hours long and doing that twice a week? My body better show some changes. She also advised us to take the advil before the soreness starts. I must admit I'm really looking forward to the pain. Bring it on baby!

We promised to give ourselves one month to explore this further. It's only been one lesson and I am already loving it. I like the fact that fencing is just as much a mental game as it is a physical challenge. The art of it involves learning how to strategize your attacks, as well as learning how to read and understand your opponents. It's the perfect combination of chess, geometry and dance?... all wrapped up in one very sexy cool outfit!

* Buenos Aires to be continued...

Buenos Aires - Day 6

We got up late today. We were hungry and wanted something good, so we went to Novecento in our hood. It was nice to have good Italian for a change. Unfortunately, we were running late for our tango lesson and had to inhale our food. Malena wanted to hit a mall to do some shopping before we leave BsAs, so we decided to go to the Alto Palermo mall. We were tired and cranky and didn’t find anything worth buying. How do the portenos afford these prices??? We left and went straight to our local patisserie for some café con leche and sandwiches. We also picked up a good selection of cakes and alfahores to go with our champagne. We rushed back to the apt for our massages. Sebastian was an hour late today because.... he forgot. I was annoyed but was glad he did show up…hoping he would iron out our crankiness. He started to tell us in Spanish … something about his job with a priest and an architect. Trying to sound like I actually understood what he was saying, "Ahhh... you massaged a minister and an architect? You must be mucho cansado!" He gave me a puzzled look then started waving his hands, "No, no, no masaje el ministro." We all broke out in laughter; it was the release we needed. We later figured out that he has several jobs. He is a Nurse Assistant at a hospital, also freelances for a minister, helping with local contractors for the construction of a new church and he is an aspiring painter.

Dear "Massage Therapists",

Please refrain from telling your clients the following, especially right before their massages.

a) You are late because you simply forgot.
b) You have multiple dayjobs and giving massages is what you do to earn a few extra bucks.
c) You are exhausted because you just came from your multiple dayjobs.

(Pop!) We needed to open a bottle of champagne before heading out. We're still tired but a little less cranky now. Can’t believe we'll be leaving this beautiful city in just two days. We decided to check out the "New" milonga Eduardo(the taxi dancer) mentioned, as he promised to meet us there so he could give me my video. I was under the impression we were going to the grand opening of a new milonga. We soon realized "new" meant "alternative" because the first thing we noticed when we walked in was two men dancing together. As we surveyed the room, we saw many more same sex couples. It was hard to tell at first because everyone looked so androgynous. Yes, it was different but people seemed very relaxed and were having a good time. It was beautiful to watch, especially two men dancing to a slow tango.

Eduardo spotted us right away when we arrived. He came by and we made some small talk. I didn't want to appear rude so I waited a little while before bringing up the subject of the video. When I finally asked him, he casual said to me... "Ohh, I forgot to bring it but I am sure I'll see you both again before you leave." It was so blatantly obvious to me right then that this slime was using the video as bait, just so he could see Malena again. Mind you he runs his taxi dancing business with his girlfriend and just a few nights ago, he told me they were still happily together. Maybe it was obvious how annoyed I was because he didn’t ask me to dance once. Eduardo danced several tandas with Malena and tried to work his "I'm a teacher, let me show you a few things" magic on her, but it didn't quite work this time, as she was fully aware of his unwelcomed advances.

We stayed a little while and danced to nuevo tango with a few tangueros we met from the previous nights. We left there a little upset that we were misled but on the other hand we were glad we had the chance to experience this milonga. We watched a father dancing with his little baby girl. It was adorable to see but babies should really be sleeping at 3am, not dancing to loud music at a milonga. We learned from our maestro that many tangueros there use their babies to impress the tourists.

Ugh! The hell with you Eduardo and your dumb video!