27 June 2009

Has Johanna gained weight?

After two weeks of eating her way through kilos of beef I think it is beginning to take its toil on Johanna. Correct me if I am wrong but isn't she gaining weight?
Compare the two photos below and please let me know what you think. In any case she seems a bit heavier to dance with and if it carries on I will have to stop all volcadas as i don't want to risk back injury ;)

Fixing game!

Dancing with intermediate level dancers has taken on a new meaning and has become much more fun - as I now incorporate the 'fixing game'.
OC said to me that a couple of years ago he danced a tanda with a relative beginner and had fun (what he meant was - she was young and good looking) so later he asked her to dance again and she said NO. he found out from a friend that she said she didn't like his dance to which he said 'WHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT THE F**k'. The reason was that due to her low level she made a lot of mistakes and didn't like to be seen making mistakes, so she blamed him. What he should have done and what he does now is 'FIX' and so he incorporated the 'Fixing Game'.
The idea is to correct the mistake before it happens. To not let the girl know that they have made a mistake but instead make them believe that they have invented a new step/move. This is very difficult and taxing on the brain but when it works it is great. Before I would get stuck and be making lots of pauses trying to get the follower back on track or be stopping and wondering what the hell is she doing. Now I am alert to her every move, knowing at every moment where she is, being alert, ready to implement the contingency plan at any given moment - or at least that is the idea. My 'Fixing' skills are at an elemenary level but something I am know working on extensively and it has brought a new element into the dance.
Sometimes, however, no amount of fixing can repair the dance. Last night at La Viruta,or this morning at 0552 to be precise, I had just come off the dance floor after a tanda when I heard the start of the last 2 songs. I quickly looked for a new dance partner to dance the last 2 songs with (at La vriuta the tradition is that the second to last song is played in the dark and the last song is played with all the light on). In the dark I found someone who wanted to dance but as soon as she walked to the dance floor I could see from her body language that she was a beginner. OK, I thought time to play the 'fixing game'. But, NO NO NO this girl was broken and could not be fixed. Her left leg was constantly in the air trying some strange form of voleo, I could not for the life of me get her to put her left foot on the floor. it was like dancing with a one-legged girl. After what seemed like an eternity the song was over and I quickly said 'muchas gracias' and ran away before the lights came on and somebody saw us hopping around, shame on me!!

26 June 2009

All quiet on the blog front

We have now been here 2 weeks and e-mails have been dropping in complaining about the lack of blog activity. Well, to keep you all happy I promise to upload a few posts this weekend.
The schedule is very hectic here with tango classes, private lessons, practising in the studio, pilates and all the milongas until the early hours. We have taken lessons in Milonguero style, Villa Urquiza style but have now settled with our original choice of teacher and style as it suits us more and is more flexible for us. So until futher notice OC will be our chosen maestro, it is still close embrace but with a slightly modern twist - if we now have to define it and put a label on it!
Johanna is alive and well eating like horse, sleeping like a log and dancing non-stop.
Current shoe score:
Johanna 3 Simon 2
Stay tuned for more updates...

22 June 2009

El Beso

Sunday is the best night at El Beso - one of the most traditional milongas. Once you arrive you are allocated a seat depending on your gender, the company you have arrived and whether or not your face is known. Seating is everything if you are given a seat in the wrong place then it is like starting at the back of the grid in a formula 1 race. After each tanda of 4 songs everybody returns to their seats and the charade of making eye contact with possible dance partners for the next 4 songs starts all over again. The milongueros here abide by the rules nobody asked Johanna to dance until I had got up and started dancing. And at the end of the night one guy came over shook my hand and thanked me for letting him dance with her. You can imagine what she thought about that!!

Two of my all time favourite milongueros were on the dance floor tonight. We shall call them CD and T, who has been dancing over 60 years. I will be taking private lessons with both of these icons as they are both very old school but have different styles. One main difference is that T weaves his way like a snake through the mass of dancers on the floor while OD always stays in lane patiently dancing behind the couple in front.

Here is a quote from one of OD's famous essays on tango:

"The milonguero dances level with the floor, managing space is essential for him, he follows the “ronda”. His steps, turns, and walks are always aimed forwards, he never overtakes another couple, he takes care not to cross other people’s path. He will do his thing (milonguea) in whatever space is left. He dances for himself and his partner, not for the spectators. He does not exhibit."

And a quote from T:

"Kids these days tend to dance in the air. You can do many nice things, but please do them on the floor. Great Masters did all those nice things but mostly on the dance floor. The music, the beat of Tango is very beautiful. It’s a shame to ignore this."

You will probably hear more about these two gentlemen later...

21 June 2009

Parillilla - The Hunger Returns!

And so normal service is resumed, Johanna has got her lust for life back and her appetite with it and the cattle farmers on the pampas are dancing for joy as she is in tango heaven and back to ordering humungeous plates of beef.
I see Johanna when we come into the milonga and then at the end and maybe sometimes in the middle standing at the bar munching her way through media lunas. The rest of the time she is being whisked around the dance floor as well as being subjected to Argentinian (and not forgetting Ecuadorian) chat-up lines. Johanna has a lot of favourite dancers but some more than others. I cannot say anymore on that subject as I am sworn to secrecy, so I will just say that 'Lima' is the new 'Footloose'. All will be revealed in my tango memoirs!

OC lessons

The best teachers are not always the ones who look like the best dancers or at least not until you look closely. I am now back to taking lessons with the C family after having lessons previously with the father I am now having lessons with the son.
OC is a great dancer, not in a showy way but in the essence of all that is tango. There are lots of small details in his dance that the eye doesn't always catch but his partner surely does, loads of variation and energy. As a teacher I like him best for the following three things:
1. Critical eye - he has a nack of finding small (sometimes big) personal elements in my dance that with fine tuning or ajustment improve the whole experience.
2. Telling it straight - if you are not dancing well with OC then you he tells it to you straight. None of the empty 'buenos' or 'muy biens' that some teachers give you even when you know you are not performing. OC will shout out 'NO, NO that was horrible do it again' or 'Don't be a chicken make the step'.
3. Own Style - The simplest and best way to fix the dance based on your own ability/prerequisites. For example, at 190cm tall and almost 100kg I do not really have the physique of a ballet dancer and so planeos and enrosques when in a Giro affect the balance and axis. OC showed a host of variations of 'simpler' but equally or even more effective giros with energy whilst maintaining 100% balance an axis in close embrace, extremely useable.
More about OC and others later!

Breaking in

What a difference a week makes. Last Saturay we went to Milonga 10 and sat most of the night. This week we went and danced almost every tanda. The milonga scene can be difficult to break into and if you come to Baires be prepared to go through an initial stage of sitting and watching with an icy atmosphere around you. On my first 2 visits I found this extremely frustrating, but this time I was resigned to my fate and knew that this ritual would soon be over.
The locals do not dance with people they don't know or who they have never seen dance, and tango tourists stick out like a sore thumb in this low season for tourists; especially if they are 190cm tall with blond hair. The good dancers sit together in small groups at tables and dance mainly within their group. You have to somehow break into these small groups of good dancers by prising one away from the group. Almost like a lion stalking a pack of buffalos, patiently waiting until one separates itself from the pack and then attack. Once you have one from the group others tend to follow and you slowly become accepted. It is also the case that people need to see your face around a few times before they accept you into the circle of people to dance with. We have also know refound some of our old favourites to dance with as well as many new ones and so the circle grows.

Pilates - Bodyzoom

We have found a great Pilates studio at Corrientes 1878 1º C with equipment including - Reformer,Combo Chair,Ladder Barrel, and Cadillac. It costs 100 pesos for 4 sessions and as there is a maximum of 3 in each class you get lots of individual attention. Most of the clients at the stuio are professional dancers and the instructor Melina is a dancer in the show Tango Porteno.

15 June 2009

Johanna's tango depression

High expectations and great memories from Johanna´s last visit have built up into unbelievable expectations for this visit. So far the expectations have not been met. La Viruta, Johanna's number 1 place failed to deliver and in her words "the level was low and it was a total mess on the dancefloor".
Strangely enough when Johanna hits a tango depression her appetite disappears too, she went from a dinner of picture number 1 her regular 400g bifé de chorizo to photonumber 2 a cheese and onion empananda in less than 24 hours. She also becomes quiet and withdrawn almost sulky. Simon is just enjoying the peace of the silence and making the most of it because tonight it is Canning.
Canning should put Johanna back on track and tomorrow she should be eating her way through the cattle farms of the pampas again and driving Simon insane with her babble.
Stay tuned for the next update.

Boutique del libro

A must visit is the cozy book shop/cafe in Palermo "boutique del libro" which is on Thames 1768. It is like stepping back in time with small wooden ladders to reach the top book shelves.

14 June 2009


Only in Buenos aires can demonstrators run onto the motorway with burning branches from trees and old car tyres and block off all lanes and just as we are in a taxi on the way from the airport to the city. All the cars came to a standstill and then one by one they turned 180 degrees and drove the wrong way back up the motorway. Chaos, with a capital C and a great start to our visit.

Krishna Revisited

Saturday lunch in Palermo Viejo at Krishna - heaven! Palermo has something for everyone these days from the cosy eco veggie restaurant of Krishna to brash yankee coffee chains - which would you choose?

13 June 2009

Blog versus Diary

Some people think the old system of writing a diary is a better way to keep a record than using a modern day blog. Johanna is one of these people still stuck in the 60s. Here she shows her diary that she started writing on her last visit to Buenos Aires. The idea is to present it to her grandchildren. As you can see it won't take them long to read it.

09 June 2009

The heartbeat returns LMDC 2

La Milonga Del Corazón returned in abigger and betetr version (was that possibl?) for the May Day holiday weekend with our guests this time being Pablo Rodriguez and Noelia Hurtado. Our action- packed tango weekend in Malmö offered 9 workshops and 4 milongas including our extravagant Saturday evening ‘La Noche De Los Campeones’ complete with show by Pablo y Noelia at the magnificent venue of HIPP.

Tangomagia, Amsterdam!

26 December - 31 December 2009 Tango magia is a perfect way to send the days between Christmas and New Year, you miss all the crazy sales and save loads of money as you are not tempted to buy rubbish just because the price has been reduced.
Tangomagia is one of the biggest festivals in Europe, the only downside was that the after milonga only let in 130 people so you had to leave the offical milonga early or run between the milongas to be sure to get in.
We stayed at Stay OK which was modern and clean and breakfast started at 7am, perfect, just as we were getting home from the after party milonga - it couldn't be better!

La Milonga Del Corazón

21 - 23 November 2008 was the premier of our event la Milonga Del Corazón with special Guests Diego 'El Pájaro' Reimer y Claudia Jacobsen

The highlight of the weekend was our Grand Milonga at the exquisite venue of the Mayfair Hotel.

The arriving guests were greeted by the sound of our signature tune 'la mionga del corazón' accompanied by the popping sound of champagen corks. El Pájaro & Claudia treated us to an exhibition as they danced to Donato, Rodriguez and Tipica Victor, if you weren't lucky enough to be there on the night you can click on the video links (www.lamilongadelcorazon.com) to see the performances. After the show we brought out the media lunas and coffee to give the guests the energy to get throught the last hours of dancing. A great night was had by all!

Workshops packages were held over the weekend in both Milonga and Tango, giving our guests the chance to learn the dance of El pájaro & Claudia.
*Belén was originally booked to dance with El Pajáro but the Argentinian authorities had other ideas - so Claudia stepped in and was a wonderful substitute.