Tales of Tango Addiction

Are you hooked on Tango?  I know just how you feel.  In fact, many others have felt the same way!  After extensive research I have found that, although Tango is not incurable (like crack or heroin) most Tango dancers just don’t want to be cured! And most of us are likewise not willing to toss out all those gorgeous shoes!

Tango dancers get strung out on the endorphins produced by dancing. But I’m not talking about just any kind of dancing. Jumping up and down by yourself in a crowded room full of people jumping up and down may be a great cardio workout, and it closely resembles all those Grateful Dead shows I went to in another lifetime,  but it’s not going to make your body produce endorphins. No, for that you need the close physical touch and embrace of Tango. Listen to the words of Graciela López, and you’ll see what I mean.

“Dance, surrender, recreate the leader’s moves, send him silent messages, take advantage of this tango to say the impossible, to speak words that no man will ever understand, a message that no woman can say with words.  Pass secrets to him, … allow him to feel the mysteries of your body wrapped in diligent giros, in tiny steps… Do what comes naturally, don’t think about what others will say.  Play tranquilly, surrender to each other, that’s what tango’s all about, this celebration that puts your heart in your legs and your head in heaven.”  – Secrets of a Milonguera (my rough translation)

“Bailen, acepten, recreen el baile de su compañero, mandale mensajes en silencio, 
aprovechen ese tango para decir lo imposible, lo que jamás ningún hombre entendería,
lo que ninguna mujer podría decir con letras. Pasale secretos…
últimos misterios envueltos en giros diligentes, en pasos minuciosos.
…Hagan lo que se les ocurra, sin temor al que dirán. Jueguen tranquilas,
entregadas, que para eso es el tango, ese festejo que pone 
el corazón en las piernas y la cabeza en el limbo.” Fragmento del libro Secretos de una milonguera, por Graciela López

Now do you see why Tango has an Extreme Addictive Potential? Maybe you’re not sure you’re hooked on Tango.  I totally understand!  After all, I’ve been trying to decide for 9 years.  Since I’m not sure if I’m really addicted, I have to keep dancing so I can continue my investigations. Here are some signs that may help you to evaluate your condition:

TOP 10 SIGNS OF TANGO ADDICTION

1.  YOU CONSCIOUSLY COLLECT YOUR KNEES AND FEET WHEN YOU WALK.

2.  YOU NEVER LEAVE FOR A TRIP WITHOUT CHECKING TO SEE IF THERE ARE ANY MILONGAS WHERE YOU ARE GOING..

3.  YOU HAVE A NEED TO TURN EVERY CONVERSATION INTO TANGO.

4.  YOUR SOCIAL ACTIVITIES (IF YOU STILL HAVE ANY) REVOLVE AROUND YOUR TANGO CALENDAR.

5.  YOU HAVE REARRANGED YOUR FURNITURE TO MAKE MORE ROOM FOR PRACTICE.

6.  YOU WOULD CHOOSE TANGO OVER A HOT DATE.

7.  YOU BOLEO WHEN YOU THINK NO ONE IS LOOKING.

8. YOU DON’T MIND MEN/WOMEN SWEATING ALL OVER YOU IF THEY CAN DANCE.

9.  YOU KEEP A PAIR OF TANGO SHOES AT WORK AND IN YOUR CAR.

10.  YOU HAVE YOUR OWN TANGO BLOG AND SPEND ALL DAY READING OTHER TANGO BLOGS.

hey, what about food and tango?

Now that you have some guidelines to focus on, perhaps you’d like to hear what others have to say about their Tango Addiction:

“Regarding your request about my tango addiction…….I think I am more of a folk dance addict, really, but married to a tango addict.  I love doing the tango but I do not think about it 24 hours a day like he does.  Truth be told, he supplies the clothes and shoes.  Most of the time I just approve the offerings.  Call me lucky and spoiled for sure, but I find myself wanting a respite from all the intense concentration that consumes my partner’s time.  However, I am sure you have noticed that I go, and go and GO to almost all the events.  It is my partner who does all the work of learning and teaching…. he makes it fun and they [the students] all seemed to drink in the first week’s lessons.  It’s a good class and they are catching on quickly. There is a difference in the speed at which young people learn things and it is ever so obvious when dancing with the students.  They already have a good sense of the basic walk and rhythms of tango, vals and milonga.”

Café Tortoni

“But oh, the embrace, the music, the gliding steps. Though I am very budget-conscious (especially right now), there’s something about Argentine tango that makes me want to throw my budget to the wind and just dance to my heart’s content!”

a Tango-related Addiction?

Yeah, she’s addicted!  She wears mostly black and red, she’s enrolled in a Spanish class, hosted a milonga at her house, her vacations are all tango-related, the amount she spends on tango clothes has hijacked her budget, and she knows a sandwich is not just something you eat.

ooh-la-la!

“I am fairly new to Tango and I am indeed addicted. However, at this stage, it is neither the dance moves or the music that has captured me. I do hope to become a better dancer and develop an appreciation for Tango music. But for me, these things are secondary to the fact that I am sometimes having profound transcendental experiences while dancing Tango. This does not happen every time or with every partner. It depends on my frame of mind, who I am dancing with, if we have good resonance, and whether or not both parties are energetically open to the possibility of an extraordinary experience. I believe the reason it happens has to do with true energetic connection (not solely dance or musical connection alone). In this sense, I regard Tango as its own form of beautiful and elegant Tantra, the height of which is to give and receive pleasure.  This all started for me very early in my Tango journey.  At first it happened during class. Then it happened at Practicas and Milongas. Once I had a taste of the prolonged ecstatic bliss that is possible through a deep Tango connection, I knew I was in trouble. When it happens, it is like a drug, capable of stimulating all kinds of natural endorphins and also opening the door to expansions of consciousness. One dance a night like this is better than five or ten dances in the same night without it. While I do understand the need for good technique, I find myself more interested in authentic heart level connection and genuine, intimate rapport which is a people-skill independent of Tango itself. But Tango is a powerful doorway for this. And I am hooked on the fulfillment those experiences provide, when I am fortunate enough to have them.”

“I was at a the US Open Swing Dance Championship weekend in about 1995, bouncing and kicking and lindy-hoppin’ my brains out, when a startling couple came out on the floor for a tango exhibition. They were sleek, elegant, dramatic, vibrant, and oh so tactile and connected. My skin flushed, my heart rushed.  I couldn’t believe this dance, where two pairs of eyes and the heat of two bodies swam into each other and every one surrounding them on the floor. I had only seen the rose in the teeth version where there was the glare away from the partner, looking as if they hated each other…. and I certainly had no desire to do that! This style of Tango, which I later learned was Argentine, made an emotional impact on me that was very conflicting. Immediately I knew that, as a dancer, I wanted the experience of “knowing” this dance in my body (and soul…if you will), and on the flip side, I just wanted to absorb it from afar, because I couldn’t imagine coming close to grasping its powerful essence. Fast forward to a performance in Santa Barbara of Tango X Two…. so exquisite, so complex, with intricacies that seemed beyond human capabilities. That was really fascinating. How do they do that, without ripping each others’ legs apart?  And this music that I didn’t want to stop….ever. It was still several years before I began the baby steps: ‘Just walk,’ he said.”

helping her learn to walk?

“We started out with Ballroom and then concentrated mostly on West Coast Swing and Salsa.  Some time later I saw the end of a National Geographic commercial that had the most intriguing dance that I THOUGHT was maybe Argentine Tango. What were all those fantastic quick leg kicks that intertwined into each other?? That was the beginning of my quest. I even tried to look for that same commercial again. I think I went to their website but no luck…

Several years must’ve passed by… and then the movie TANGO LESSON came out!  That scene where Sally sits mesmerized watching Pablo Veron dancing portrayed me for the next few years. We had asked our local teacher to teach us some, but we needed more. Nothing else was available to us in our small town! Finally I ended up having to drive a good distance on a work night to take lessons. Later I also travelled with other teachers around the world and of course, to Buenos Aires…

My hubbie liked Tango also because every step is led and you didn’t have to memorize steps, routines, etc!  It took me about 2 years to feel comfortable dancing in public. I used to be the one dragging him onto the dance floor…. but it became the opposite scenario: he’d be the one getting me on the floor!  Now it’s like 2nd nature!  Glad to say after many years I’ve been complimented many times as a one of the best followers ever danced with!

My favorite instruments are the strings: VIOLIN especially. Tango music drew me in.  Tango also gives the lady a lot of fun ways to play around and embellish to the music which is a definite attraction…

My most exciting dance was in another foreign country….where the lead was ever so LIGHT but it made my legs swing into POWERFUL boleos and ganchos!!  It literally at first SCARED me to death!! BUT IT WAS THE RIDE OF MY LIFE!!! Since then I have been searching to find how to be taught this!!…

We are not HOPELESSLY addicted to Tango, though we are close! There are some things in life that keep us from dancing as much as we might like.  However we do look forward to when we can TANGO into oblivion!”

“Here is the story of how I became addicted to Argentine Tango. For many years, A— and I attended a Folk Dance Camp in the Woodlands at Mendocino, CA, an idyllic setting in the redwoods. One year, Richard Powers, a master of vintage dance, offered a “special”  afternoon class on the Argentine Tango. The class lasted for two hours. When it was over, A— & I headed back to our cabin to shower and dress (ball gown & tails) for a Ragtime Ball that was scheduled for that evening. A— suddenly stopped on the trail and said: “N—, for the rest the night don’t talk to me, touch me, or ask me to dance. For two hours you have pushed, kicked, and man handled me! This was the start of my Tango addiction.”

do you think she's pissed?

“My personal Tango Addiction was first noticed when I completed 365 Consecutive Days of Argentine Tango on June 18, 2011.  I continued driving an hour or more every night in search of more satisfying Tango! The icing on the cake of confirmation was when I flew to Buenos Aires and got seriously hooked dancing milonga with my friend, Ramiro – our connection bonded great energy while exploring momentum, suspension, musicality, and timing….

As my experience grows, I do not see Argentine Tango as just a dance – it is a lifestyle, and I have grown to be passionate about medialunas, Malbec, milongueros, Gardel, ganchos, Troilo, tangueras, Biagi, bandoneons, blood sausage, boleos . . . and I see dawn much more often than I see noon!”

she's lost her head over tango

“To be a great lead, do not love the woman you dance with; rather, listen to the music and love it!  Beautiful tango is a process of transference – your love for the music will be transferred to the follower, and she will be enchanted.”  – John Vaina, blogger

have to have it every day!

“I started going to Soho Dance Club about a year ago. I go three times a week. It is a windowless basement in Soho, next door to Dunkin’ Donuts. I don’t go there for social reasons any more than you would go to an opium den for the conversation; I go for the addictive, incomparable high of the dancing….

From the first lesson with Santos, I was not so much hooked as harpooned. The novelty of the symcopated timing, my clumsy attempts to embellish, and the soaring, gliding joy  I felt when he shifted up a few gears to demonstrate close embrace, could only be called spectacular.  He clamped me to his chest, thrust a thigh between my legs and drove me across the dance floor with incomparable power. My pulse raced and my feet scarcely touched the ground. I had never felt anything like it: my Tango experience was about to reach the level of Addiction….

Santos and I have developed a warm rapport over time. He is like a friendly drug dealer. My eyes light up when he holds out his arms in the dance position. I spend more time with Santos than with my best friends. You notice intimate little things, such as when he has the sniffles or a hangover, or wears a new shirt. Physically, Santos reminds me a bit of John Travolta, with his immaculate slicked-back hair, luxuriant chest-hair and snug slacks. His booming, strutting manner betrays his Porteño background….

During the past year our tango community has collectively endured three major hair-cuts, one very ill poodle, two work promotions, three romantic break-ups, one father-son rapprochement, one love-match and four deaths. Yet when we are at the Club, these events concern us less. For an hour we concentrate on the finer points of the ocho cortado or the volcada…. Non-dancing friends do not understand the addiction. When not laughing at the mere idea of it, they smile pityingly, thinking it eccentric to go alone to lessons and to give up weekends to dancing. Although I agree with them up to a point, it is now beyond me. I simply can’t help it….

We have a milonga every Friday night and I pretty much have to go. It is not that other Tango dancers expect me to, but I feel withdrawal pains if I don’t. It affects my romantic life too. My last boyfriend wanted to come to milongas with me, but I wouldn’t let him until he had completed a beginner’s course.  So long, Charlie.” – anonymous blogger

obviously & fabulously addicted!

Here’s the tale of a close friend: “I was attending an annual Christmas party with my service club.  It was a very nice event with some very fine friends, dinner and then dancing.  I knew there was a small local milonga going on that evening.  I can remember watching the dancing and trying to get into the evening, deciding if I wanted to dance at the party.  I finally gave up the battle and left for the milonga.”  Yeah, he’s addicted!

dancers in the subte

Uh-oh, can’t pay your bills on account of all those tango shoes you bought?  Here are a few possible solutions to a Tango budget crisis:

•   Sell all your earthly possessions (except tango shoes) and move to Buenos Aires (you can buy more when you get there, they’re much cheaper!)(rents are cheaper here, too)

•   Open up your own Tango Club (you need a tax write-off)

•   Take Mario Orlando’s DJ classes and become a professional DJ (hope you have a trust account)

•   Import Tango clothes and CD’s (a good excuse for all those trips to BAs)

•   Set up shop as a Tango Teacher in the states (they have a joke here about levels of Tango dancers:  1) beginner 2) intermediate 3) Tango Teacher!

must-have Tango items

Still not sure if you’re addicted?  Maybe you aren’t the addictive personality type?  Would that be a Left Brain dominant person, or a Right Brainer? Hmmm, how would I know? If I thought I knew the answer without even checking online, would that make me a Right-brainer?  You know, those annoying people who create their own realities;  they’re so creative, they live in a complete fantasy world! They have no conception of logic, they think facts are a conspiracy created by wacky scientists, and their relationship with the concept of linear reality is like that of a dog running circles investigating every bunny trail while it’s owner takes it for a walk from Point A to Point B. Would this type of personality fall for Tango right away? Would you?

Maybe you’re a Left Brain dominant type. You’re logical, detail oriented, and you believe in facts. You like math and science, you know about rules and can follow them (unlike the right brainer who makes their own); you can comprehend, altho you don’t always get the big picture.  But thank the gods of Tango for you left brainers, because you are so practical and focused. I mean, you’re the ones who list your milongas on-line, so that the rest of us can find them! You think ahead, plan ahead: guest instructors, workshops, Tango festivals… You are so reality-based! You brought us Barbie & Ken, Big Wheels, iTunes, the internet and high heels, not to mention indoor plumbing, electricity and hot showers!  How could the rest of us continue our collective hapless existence without you?

I am the left brain.  I am a scientist, a mathematician.  I love the familiar.  I categorize.  I am accurate, linear, analytical.  Strategic, practical, I am always in control.  A master of words and language.  Realistic, I calculate equations and play with numbers.  Order, logic.  I know exactly who I am.

left brainers make great Tango leaders!

Whoa, not so fast!  What about the artists, the filmmakers, the dancers… those who live in a world of symbols and images, where creativity is the highest holiness, where Writers and Artists are the fallen gods of a supreme Creator? Sure they may be impulsive and impetuous, but haven’t their achievements provoked the rest of us to higher consciousness for the last thousand years, kicking and dragging our heels?

say hi to Salvador Dalí

I am the right brain.  I am creativity, a free spirit.  I am passion. Yearning, sensuality.  I am the sound of roaring laughter.  I am taste, the feeling of sand beneath bare feet.  I am movement. I am vivid colour, the urge to paint on an empty canvas. I am boundless imagination. Art, poetry.  I sense.  I feel.  I am everything I wanted to be.

right brainers have more fun!

It occurrs to me that this Right/Left brain concept just might embody the very essential nature of our universe.  I don’t think I want to mess with that!  That would be like cracking the cosmic yin/yang. Seas would part, we might all be walking on water with no water wings. Maybe these contradictions are what Dark Matter is made of, you know, the invisible ruling force of our universe. The Chinese figured this out a long time ago. The I Ching describes this delicate balance of opposites.  I’m beginning to think that it may also explain the addictive power of Tango, despite (or because of?) its stunning, mind-wrenching contradictions!  Without our very own Tanguero duality there would be no Pugliese, no Piazzolla, no bandoneón, no tango shoes! What a sad dark silent universe it would be!

Geez, do I sound like a Right-brainer?  No kidding!  Glad you finally figured it out!

Alright, end of discussion.  You’re addicted and you know it.  You’re secretly quite pleased with yourself. In fact, you wouldn’t trade places with anyone!  Like Shakespeare said, “Tango is the illness and the cure.”  (my neighbor’s cat Shakespeare)  This next quote you can print out and pin on the fridge, dangle it recklessly on top of your work computer, wear it in a locket close to your heart:

THE RULES OF ADDICTION  (from Astrid, SF Tanguera/blogger)

1:  you keep doing it
2:  every time you do it you feel happy
3:  it turns your life upside down but you don’t care.

worn out shoes

And not to worry, friends, yet another solution to your little problem is available here in BsAs:

Tango Therapy classes

FELIZ AÑO NUEVO!!    

Thanks for reading my blog!  I hope each of you has a wonderful 2012, full of LIGHT & LOVE!  Let your light shine!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Over and out from Buenos Aires!  

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Just for Laughs

Buenos Aires

20 December 2011

Dear Miss Runninghawk,

You don’t know me but I represent a gentlemen in Nigeria who is quite wealthy and finds himself with quite a dilemma. First, he needs someone who is part American Indian/ American/ Italian/ Spanish or Spanish speaking who shares a great passion for Tango.

He accidentally came across your blog during the process of checking every single e-mail address in the world for possible business interests.

He is stunned by your beauty and writing style and would like to meet you. Secondly, he can tell you are a world traveler and believes there is good possibility you could further his business interests in many of the areas of South America.

Miss Tangohawk?

Needless to say, you could make a very large sum of money if you agree to work with him. While I can not tell you his name, his father is one of the richest men in Nigeria. His immediate need is to deposit $100,000,000 in a foreign account in order to keep it from the Ministers of Finance in Nigeria. He is willing to pay you a 3% fee for this.

One word of caution however, this gentlemen has never done the Tango and is not quite sure if it is some sort of “scam” as they might say in your country.

Consider his offer. He plans on contacting you shortly.

Also, the dark-haired man in the photos on your blog- is he connected in any way with law enforcement?

 tall dark-haired guy

Willow replies:

Hey baby!   Quite the man about town, aren’t we?  or are you the Boy Friday?  please send pix of this fabulous Gentleman… especially pix of his chateaux, his villa, his horses, his cars, his yachts, his bank account #s.  Remind him that I require the Bentley for shopping, and the Rolls for touring and traveling from villa to villa, unless we’re in the yacht.  And the first mate had better look like Giancarlo Giannini in Swept Away!  I prefer an Italian crew, but NO communists, per favore!  Have them put in a supply of fresh cucumbers for my morning eye compress, plenty of ice, Habana Club, coke and limes.

As far as his dancing ability, not to worry.  I will lead.

I can assure you that I am certainly in a position to further his business interests in South America.  We have a saying here in Argentina:  there is a financial solution to every bureaucratic problem.  Just show me the money, honey!!  

Perhaps a vocabulary lesson would be helpful?

devaluation:  when you need to print more cash

barter:  most useful shopping technique for when the bank has seized your assets.

looting:  tax-free shopping

corralito:  when the powers that be impose a limit on bank withdrawals.  this is like a doctor trying to stop the patient’s bleeding, but it leads to anemia and pretty soon you’re in intensive care, like Greece, Spain, Italy, Argentina… also known as:

economic restructuring:  not my favorite as I like to support the local economy by shopping!

crisis:  from the Greek: a series of changes in the equilibrium of a structure, leading to its modification.

crisis:  from the Argentine: opportunity for shady politicians to seize power (happens every 10-15 years)

crisis:  from bankers point of view: opportunity to cash in on debt relief & bailouts

crisis:  from employer point of view: opportunity to lower costs by cutting jobs and a “humanitarian” excuse for rollbacks on labor conditions

crisis:  from developer’s point of view: opportunity to buy properties from disaster victims

cacerolazo:  urban inter-tribal rite-of-spring-cleaning ritual signifying “Adios, hijos de la chingada!”

Please let your boss know that I accept his offer of 3%, and I will take half the cash in the form of a wire transfer in US dollars to my savings account with Banco de la Nación, Buenos Aires, acct. no. BEECHWOOD45789, code word CRISTINA, (or just send it by Western Union; code word: SCAMME) and the other half in cash cards in denominations of $100 each, preferably Target, Wal-Mart, Costco, Safeway, Home Depot and NeoTango.

As regards the tall dark-haired gentleman, he is my chief of security and goes everywhere I go.  He requires black coffee at noon, 4 pm and midnight, a Tango shoe charge account, custom-tailored Italian suits, and an unlimited expense account.  He gets a few evenings off for soccer matches.

Please let me know if the terms are agreeable, and I will have my attorney contact your client’s attorney.

Che bello!  Ci vediamo!  Un baccione!!

Willow

the rich Nigerian replies:

Dear Miss Willow Tangohawk:

Thank you for your consideration of our proposal however after careful review my client has decided to rescind his offer to you. His reasoning is he fears you are, how do you say in your language, “testy”?

Personally, I think you would be a good fit, but what else can I say – he is the “bosses” as you people say.

Also, he does not understand what Tango is and I think it scares him a little.

With Warmest Regards,

Akkar Mozabe, Esq.

oh darn! she got away!

¡Felices Fiestas!

The famous Teatro Colón in early December: not a holiday decoration in sight!  Likewise all over town, a few Xmas decorations in shop windows, but not much…  here it is just a few days to Christmas and Santa and his merry Elves are still lying low.  Apparently Argentina hasn’t yet caught on to creating a mass marketing spectacle of their holidays. Let’s hope they keep it that way.

Teatro Colón

On my birthday Ben took me to the opera!  We saw La Viuda Alegre, a light, romantic operetta by Hungarian Franz Lehár (1870 – 1948).  A fine production, a full house…beautiful costumes, live orchestra, superb singers… thanks, baby!  I’ve always loved opera, and to see one in an exquisite, historic and richly decorated opera house… (where Maria Callas performed!) well, it just doesn’t get any better!  Considered one of the top five opera houses in the world for its phenomenal acoustics, the Teatro Colón’s latest restoration and technological modernisation began in 2006, and it reopened on May 24, 2010 — the Argentine bicentennial. However, the sidewalk facing Avenida 9 de Julio is still all dug up, looks like a lot of pipes are being replaced.  So many illustrious composers have directed the productions of their own works in the Teatro Colón:  Camille Saint-Saens, Igor Stravinsky, Manuel de Falla, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, to name just a fraction…  And the singers: Caruso, Callas, Joan Sutherland, Leontyne Price, Plácido Domingo, Renato Scotto, Beverly Sills, Luciano Pavarotti, José Carreras, José Van Dam, Renée Fleming… the few names I’m familiar with, amongst a host of others.  Not to mention the dancers who’ve performed there, the operas and concerts…. WOW!!  I’m a lucky girl.

6 levels of balconies

the gorgeous stage

During the two intermissions we wandered about, found a little upstairs café, and enjoyed people watching.  Spying on our own kind, you know, look at what she’s wearing!  (I wore green) and peeking into the back of opera boxes.

After the opera we wandered over to Sin Rumbo and danced till 3.  We sat next to a couple we always seem to sit next to, and I hate to admit I don’t know their names, and haven’t taken their picture, but they are a couple who has been dancing tango together for 60 years (when they met and married!) and they live right around the corner!  They look so good dancing together, they move really nicely around the dance floor. True Love Tango style.  Does it qualify as an Addiction?  

Last blog I promised a photo of the other cátedral…. not Sin Rumbo, la Cátedral de Tango, out in Villa Urquiza, no.   I mean the OTHER Cátedral that I wrote about in my last blog; the young, eclectic, wabi-sabi hip hothouse of nuevo:

La Cátedral en el barrio de Almagro

I think a lot of you Central Coasters recognize this tanguera: our good friend Arlene from Santa Barbara!  She’s a lifelong dancer and dance teacher, and has been coming to Buenos Aires for many years.  Her daughter and family are my neighbors in Santa Margarita.

Arlene

Arlene flew in for 5 days and nights of tango!  Here we are enjoying the Japanese Gardens:

a beautiful day at el Jardín Japonés

We milonga’d with Arlene five nights in a row and then she had to fly back.  Those darn tickets you get for your miles, you can never get the flights you want!  Here she is with one of her dance partners, Adrian.

the AA Club: members only

A couple of days before Arlene arrived we took the ferry ride to Colonia. A sweet one-night getaway!  The weather was gorgeous, in the eighties, calm waters and blue skies.

A

the pool is on the lower terrace to left

You know, renew the visas again, the expat shuffle.  Our B&B, Posada San Antonio, was really nice and there’s a pool too, over by those umbrellas.  You can see the river Plate in the background.  El Río de la Plata.  Go look at a map!

Viva Uruguay!

I’m decked out in seashells to honor Neptune and his platoons of sirenitas (mermaids).

our B&B in the evening

We took the ferry ride home the next day, relaxed and feeling like kids.

Back at Niño Bien!

Speaking of kids, this cute mini belongs to a kid on our block.

You can't go wrong with basic black and white.

Yeah, I photo-shopped these pix.  The light was so bright!

love the grille

And since it’s almost Christmas, please please everybody remember your families and loved ones, appreciate them, be thankful for them. Yesterday I was reading the paper and saw these pictures, one of a 30 year old woman, an attorney, who disappeared; the other of a young man in his twenties, also disappeared.

In Argentina back in the 1970s under an oppressive military government, tens of thousands of children and young people were “disappeared.”  Most of them were murdered, some of the littlest ones were handed off to other families and they were raised without knowing about their real families.  You’ve probably heard of Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, the mothers, sisters, wives, grandmothers of the disappeared.  They have never quit protesting ever since those times, demanding the return of their loved ones, banging on their pots and pans throughout the city, demanding information, demanding justicia!  A couple of blocks from us is an old house that’s been turned into a school of the arts, and kids are out there from time to time painting the wall.  They’ve turned it into a beautiful and touching collective space for remembering their loved ones:

hijos perdidos 1- lost children collective

lost children 2

lost children 3

lost children 4

Let us not forget.

* * * * * * *

Food for thought:  is Tango the dance or the music?

Listen up, Readers!  For New Year’s I’m going to publish the Tango Addicts Anonymous Post.

I’ve received some great stories, but I NEED MORE!!!  I guess some people just can’t get anything done WITHOUT A DEADLINE! (myself included).  SO, write up your stories, make it 30 words or less if you’re a minimalist, but just GET IT DONE and SEND IT IN!  ANONYMITY GUARANTEED!  I PROMISE!

Send it to <runninghawk.willow@gmail.com>.  Thanks a bunch!  Ü

Merry Christmas from Buenos Aires!

Back on the radar

Greetings from Buenos Aires!

Springtime in the city could not be more beautiful than it is right now.

Jacarandas in the Palermo Bosques

The city is blooming, blossoming, growing and greening up everywhere.

a favorite corner of our barrio

los Jardines Botánicos

People are outside en masse.  On the weekend bikini-clad girls catch rays on the “beach” grass at Parque Las Heras, which means the boys aren’t exactly in hiding, either.  Our neighborhood Latin lover in the cute French mansion across the street struck this pose one warm day: (click to enlarge!)

have a nice day!

Do I have a view or what?

Meanwhile, the tango scene shifts from chilly to hot!!  and whether or not your favorite milonga has a substantial AC system becomes a major comfort factor.  Milongas with plenty of cool air:  Sin Rumbo, Sueño Porteño, la Catedral, La Milonguita, Porteño y Bailarín, El Beso, La Viruta, Niño Bien.

What a wild ride we’ve been on lately!  We dropped off the radar due to an unforeseen medical crisis.  My tango partner is much better now, and healing up from surgery.  In fact he’s watching his favorite tv show as I sit here and blog: the soccer channel.  The weather lately has been humid and warm, in the low 80s, with frequent warm tropical thunderstorms.  What delightful weather!   How spontaneously it transforms this great city!

our street blossoms!

The nice weather is perfect for vintage vehicle viewing:

This clean baby blue Fiat is tinler than my Mini Cooper! My ex-mini, that is.  Don’t you hate it when your car makes it to almost 150,000 miles and then gives up the ghost?  Yes, it happened to me. So sad. But, what the heck, who needs a car here in this public transportation paradise?

Red Isetta

Anyhow, when I get back to the states I think I’ll look for an Isetta! If it breaks down I can probably hitch my horse up to that front bumper. And if the obsolete post-industrial technology of a 1-cylinder gas motor really pisses you off (you tree-hugger you!) how about a multi-tasking red trike?

dolly parking?

Oops!  wait a sec….  I almost forgot to upload this one-of-a-kind Isetta RV:

can we be camp hosts at Legoland?

Your house mouse could drive this!  Didn’t Stewart Little leave Central Park in one of these, on his first excursion?  His first brave blast-off into the unknown?

We have seen some great music lately, though we have not been dancing as much. A temporary setback, friends, not to worry!  Sometimes you just wake up one day and find yourself on a strange bunny trail. Or you were already on the journey without realizing it. Turning back is not an option, so you keep going, and if you find yourself at “the garden of forking paths” (great story by Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges), it’s a good sign, because you begin to see new options peeking through doors A, B & C, opening to adventures you’ve never even dreamed of!  All of a sudden you’re looking at the world through a remarkably different lens.  The universe has gifted you a re-positioning of your cosmic road map!

Here’s the happy guy, after the doctor told him he could leave the hospital the next morning:

I'm outta here!

Ben wanted go dancing his first night out of the hospital.  How can you say no to a guy who just got out of lock-down?  We danced a little… and enjoyed just being together with no medical staff in sight.  Here he is in the doctor’s office, helping buy another Ferrari:

he loves Italian food, cars & women

The other night we saw Los Primos Gabino with Fado/Tango singer Karina Beorlegui at Catedral. Their music is an inspired mix of tango nuevo and fado. I don’t mean a melding of the genres; some of the songs were fado (no one danced to those, except for a beautiful demo), and some were tangos (people danced). We liked them very much. And Catedral? I love that milonga, not for its dance floor, which is hazardous, but for its essential wabi-sabi nature (I see the sabi, but where’s the wabi? says Ben). Very funky to say the least, but also glorious in that transcendent industrial-artsy-chic sort of way. I’ll try to get in there early one day and take some photos while there’s some natural light. The massive inflated red plastic beating heart the size of a volkswagen hanging from the rafters could be the photo of a lifetime. Looks like someone borrowed my old vacuum cleaner hose to make the arteries running in and out. I’m not kidding!

Another cool spot about town is La Esquina Aníbal Troilo. It’s a café-restaurant full of art and memorabilia of the famous bandoneon player. Troilo kind of turned into a toad when he grew up — an Argentine Diego Rivera, full of genius but not a looker!  — yet he recorded some of the best music of Tango’s golden age.  The café is downtown, on the corner of Paraná and Paraguay.  There’s a bust of Troilo across the street. Don’t go there for the food, but the coffee’s good and the decor is priceless.

who is that guy?

Troilo with bandoneon

lotsa stuff on the walls

a few familiar faces?

tortas y empanadas, vino y queso

my favorite - Troilo with his dog!

Esquina Aníbal Troilo is a block from Corrientes, and only a couple of blocks from Zival’s on Callao and Corrientes: the holy shrine of Tango CDs!

On Halloween my dear friend Roxy arrived from California.  We sure had some catching up to do!

hanging out in the apartment

We explored tango shoe shops, focusing on those with working AC units:  NeoTango, Darcos, Flabella.  A week later another friend from California dropped in:  la divina tanguera  Lynne from Santa Cruz.

So little time, so many shoes....

And Roxy, aka 365 Days of Tango, a seriously addicted milonguera from Los Altos (hey!  that’s where I’m from!), at Darcos:

I think I'll take all of them!

How hot are these?  NeoTango has a definite edge!

bendito glam!

Our first night on the town with my homegirl, we went to Café Vinilo to see Orquesta Victoria, one of our favorite young up-and-coming tango orchestras.

Orquesta Victoria at La Milonga del Bonzo

The singer is Augustín Fuertes, of the Fuertes-Varnerín duo.  Besides being a really good tango singer, he has a streak of stand-up comic that’s too funny!

unveiling their new CD

They just got back from their 3rd European tour.  Here is the other half of the duo, Ariel Varnerín.  He has his own style, great voice, not as flashy.  The two of them could be Don Quijote and Sancho Panza!  I love their fast-paced duos with guitars and voices in harmony.

Ariel Varnerín

After La Milonga del Bonzo we took Roxy to Canning.

I can't believe I'm finally here!

to the nines!

Roxy and I had an adventure the day we went to check out Pulpo’s apartment.  You’ve probably heard of him or taken a class — Norberto Esbrez, el Pulpo (the octopus: known for his slinky leg wraps and other sinuous tango moves).  We picked up Pulpo’s good friend Marcela. She’s an awesome tango dancer, teacher, judge of tango competitions, and the keeper of the keys to the apartment.  Since Pulpo is usually away teaching tango, his apartment is empty most of the time, and he offered it to Roxy.  Well, we sure had a hard time getting inside. The door had three different keyholes, and we couldn’t get the various keys to work.  After about twenty minutes we were praying and singing and finally… poof! like magic! … it opened.

Marcela surveying the broken lock

We went in and surveyed the mess, the apparent emptiness and piles of unwanted stuff left behind by someone who had broken in.  The vibes were wierd, disconnected, discordant.  We opened up windows and the doors to the balcony to let some fresh air in but the breeze didn’t seem to help… the street was noisy, the air was full of exhaust fumes and dust from Puyehue, the volcano in Chile that’s been spewing ash all the way to the Atlantic. Luckily Pulpo’s box of tango shoes was still there:

and you thought girls were shoe-crazy?

it looks better in the photo

We decided the place was not going to be ready for the girls to move into any time soon.  We thought we could just leave and lock the door and be done with it, at least for the time being.  Wrong!  We couldn’t even get the door shut!  It was really heavy and the top hinge pin was broken off. The door was hanging away from the frame and dragging on the floor. We tried to push it up and back into place but it was too heavy.  I began to think we had morphed into a scary movie!  We couldn’t get out of there!

where's the crowbar?

Roxy thought she could lever the door up with a plastic squeegee. You go, girl!  At this point we were all desperately hungry, and desperate to get out of there!  Not to mention laughing hysterically like zombies on auto-pilot.  Just look at them!  Twinkling like a pair of house elves!

we tango and work on doors!

Roxy and I finally got away but Marcela had to stick around until the locksmith showed up.  A few days later Lynne and Roxy found a sweet apartment a few blocks away from us.

lounging streetside at VoulezBar

We had a some really fun all girls’ days…

jacked up on coffee

and girls’ nights out!

Roxy finds her Romeo

So sad they had to go home so soon!  So lucky I can stay here in this beautiful city of a thousand nights!

Ciao from Buenos Aires!