If you haven’t seen the trailer for “Abuelas” the short animated film I did in 2010, here it is. Its been doing the rounds impressing judges at many film festivals and has been nominated for a BAFTA at this year’s awards. Very excited and happy to have been part of this. Afarin (the director) I will be rooting for you on Sunday night!
The London Milonga & Practica Map has been updated for July 2010. With over 20,000 visits since its creation in 2008 this is the place to go for the lowdown on where to dance Tango in London.
To make the map more useful, a reviews section was added sometime ago, so why not leave a few words about your favourite milonga, or some constructive criticism? Organisers, you have the right to reply so keep an eye on your post! If you're a Tango blogger and have reviewed a milonga in London, post a link or your review and a link to the place you have written about.
Join us for the last Abrazos this summer, we go 'till midnight.
Nos vemos en la milonga!
starts not with a step, but by walking.
World Cup Tango thoughts…
- Chewing gum whilst you’re dancing
- Checking the time whilst you’re in the embrace,
- Forgetting that you’re in an embrace (eg thinking the woman’s arms are extension of your own and checking the time, scratching your head)
- Expecting a yes
- Not understanding a no!
- More than a step backwards
- Ignoring someone you’ve bumped into, stepped on, (what’s so wrong with saying “I’m sorry”?)
- Overtaking (why can’t you use the space you have?)
- Bad body odour/bad breath
- Teaching on the dance floor
- Inviting one woman to get rejected and then the lady sitting next to her
- Inviting a woman to dance whilst still mopping the sweat from your brow
- Taking it personally, if your invitation is rejected, especially if you haven’t used the cabeceo.
- Using the embrace to an unfair advantage.
Off-side (thus taking yourself out of play)
- Not using the cabeceo
- Ignoring the flow of the floor
- Ignoring other dancers on the floor
- Thinking you’re too cool for school (not respecting the rules)
- Fancy footwork with the ball (ie. dancing by yourself)
- A smile
- A bit of conversation between dances on the dance floor,
- A bit of conversation off the dance floor
- actually being interested in what you’re talking about.
- walking your partner back to where they were sitting.
- Not worrying if it doesn’t go according to plan…
- Thinking about the quality of your technique, not the quantity of your moves…
What do you think?
Today Argentina celebrates the bicentennial of the May revolution that paved it’s way to independence. In the past few days Buenos Aires has seen lots celebrations including a parade on its famous Avenida 9 de Julio, I’ve put a pic of 9 de Julio in because it’s just so big!
For more photos, the BBC have a slideshow of Saturday’s parade.
On 9 de Julio, there are a number of important buildings, one of which has been undergoing restoration and is opening in time for the celebrations. The famous Teatro Colón, where Piazzolla played in 1983 and Pugliese gave a historic performance in 1985, where numerous dancers carved their careers and everyone from Pavarotti to Nureyev performed. Now, I could put a load of Piazzolla vids up, but I wanted to choose some Pugliese for you this time because he’s not so known to people outside of Tango, and the sound couldn’t be more Tango.
Pugliese is so relaxed and lovely, not forgetting to pay tribute to his wife and fellow musicians, what a cool cat. The timing of this concert is also important because it was just after the military dictatorship had been ousted and really the beginning of the renaissance of Tango with people coming back to dancing and going to the milonga. With the reopening of the Colón and the bicentennial there’s also a reflective mood, I’m left wondering if there is going to be another renaissance?
Election day is today. OK so I’m supposed to be really excited. But as a little Tango teacher in London, I’m not. Sorry Mssrs Brown, Cameron, Clegg et al…
In fact, I hate it when Tango gets political. How? Maybe it is me being a grouch, but I think that the milonga and Tango should be exempt from all that. “DREAMER!!” I hear you cry. For sure, did I say that I think Tango is a social dance?
All I want to do is go to the milonga and dance, I like to watch people dancing, to talk with my friends about everything under the sun and to relax in the haven of the milonga. I don’t care who is organising it, and if I get a warm welcome that’s a plus. I love great music and a nice environment (one that respects the codes), but I know that this is not the case everywhere for one simple reason, every place has it’s identity and Buenos Aires is unique. Will I get in a grump if the space is not brimming with only the best dancers for me to check off the do-to list, er no… Why? Because the only message interrupting your experience is a change of orchestra or someone who can’t use the cabeceo. Not exactly the stuff of Armageddon.
So the politics comes when people appropriate Tango for their cause, whatever it is. Be it getting you to come to their classes by dancing with you (or not), them thinking that the milonga is a practica, their charity for a yak farm in the depths of Mongolia. I know Tango is hard, but in comparison to this is it so hard to just embrace someone and dance?
I have a picture that I bought in Buenos Aires a few years ago. It is of two girls dancing (Tango) in the street, probably San Telmo. Behind them is a banner which say “no me importa tu revolucion, si no puedo bailar” translated as “I don’t care about your revolution if I can’t dance” Here’s a very bad picture of my picture (i’m still trying to get used to the very nice Hipstamatic app on my now cracked iPhone)
The girls look beautiful and this picture sits in prime position in the garden shed and never fails to attract a comment from everyone who sees it. At the time I bought it, I didn’t realise that this was a quote from Emma Goldman. I looked her up and was suprised to find out that she was an anarchist, “Those anarchists are trouble” I could hear my Mum say. And then some vague memory of East Indian politics also sprung to mind. Actually though, when I read more about her, she was just someone way ahead of her time and who wanted to make a change. So why and since when did the term anarchist become associated with nutcases?
And whilst there has always been a bit of business in the milonga, why has it become just that? I mean I’ve been struck by what people will tolerate all in the name of their perception of Tango? Inadequate spaces, awkward timings, expensive bars and let’s not get started on the toilets. Then there is the business deals on the floor of the “come to my class” or “you need private lessons with me” genre, the burden of two small trees on the flyers table. Then the shoes, the clothes, the workshops. I feel like I need a cup of tea and a sit down.
So on this apparently important day I want to ask, if we are capable of initiating change in the way we lead our lives, the way our Tango develops, don’t we have a responsibility to ‘vote’ for quality of the scene in London or anywhere come to think of it. Surely there’s no point complaining about the level of dancing or the venue, or the music, if you’re not making an effort to change that. Now that would be a cause worth hijacking Tango’s name for.
For those of you who don’t know, I have my own milonga, it’s called Abrazos. I should declare a vested interest in the name of fairness. It’s honest and warm just like an embrace should be, it’s also probably the smallest milonga in London in terms of numbers, but that’s cool, because I can dance in this revolution.
Off to vote now. : )
Teté lived for the milongas, you would always see him and if he didn’t know you, he would make himself known to you. Each time in Buenos Aires, in every milonga, he would say hello and give me a kiss. This was Teté. He even had his own chair at the Centro Leonesa!
Why was he so important? Some people have called him one of the “old milongueros”, but I don’t think that he was part of the group of dancers that this phrase refers to. Perhaps it’s a case of semantics but he was definately a “milonguero”, he lived for the milongas. You would see him without fail, watching the floor, joking with his friends, dancing or having a cigarette outside. He made the milonga social, jovial, even for those who were visiting.
Here are some videos I found on YouTube, one is performance in the states when I think he was really at his best. I love the way he’s bashful at the end when taking his bow.
The other is part of a documentary, he talks about how he feels when dancing, but the best bit is at the end (7:10), you really see the real Teté, how playful he is and how he loves dancing. I will miss him for this, the energy he brought to the milongas, he really was one of the great personalities of Buenos Aires.
Pedro “Teté” Rusconi 7 January 2010, te abrazo maestro, y que tu alma baile para siempre en las milongas.
Floating, floating, you’ve never been apart.
Fused and floating, you never will be…
The feet aren’t stepping, aren’t moving.
They’re gliding, skimming, drawing, talking.
A different conversation for each song
A new subject for each tanda…
A silence in the music inside,
All that matters is the dialogue,
You look in on yourself
And the volume is on mute
But you know exactly what’s being said.
A flourish, a breath, a tear, a smile
All around is chaos,
The couple, you….
quietly making their way,
They look so quiet
in this noisy world
You almost don’t notice
nearly missing their poetry
You almost don’t notice
How together you are
Unti the tanda is over
And that piece of you is gone.