We are big fans of Burning Tango, having attended the last two - the inaugural and the follow up. This is a wonderful small festival, with a no-conflict schedule and plenty of milongas. Save the dates of June 27-29 2014 for an enjoyable sojourn in beautiful McCloud, California. Enjoy the views of Mt. Shasta and the array of outdoor activities in addition to your dancing. But don't wait too long, as attendance is limited! --> burningtango.us <---
We are happy to announce that we will be offering a free milonga at the Ballroom (2540 Sutro St #1, Reno, Nevada) Saturday, Mar 1, 2014 8-11 pm. This is in lieu of a March House MIlonga, and also b/c we had to cancel our regular 3rd Saturday Milonga in February. Please bring a snack or beverage to share if you can.
3rd Saturday MIlonga at the Ballroom will be as usual, on Mar 15 8-11. House Milongas resume in April. V & Z classes continue on Thursdays; AJ"s Tues Beginning Class continues at Starlite, and Beth's Beginning and Intermediate continue on Friday evenings. Marius has resumed a Practica on Wednesdays at the American Legion, and V-Z-Marius Practica continues on Mondays at the Ballroom. Please email us with any questions.
See you on the dance floor!
In January we attended another great set of workshops with Oscar and Georgina at Tango By The River in Sacramento. We also took a private lesson and feel that is an experience not to be missed. Oscar and Georgina will be returning for more workshops. (September 13 & 14 2014) We highly recommend them to anyone wishing to improve technique and put the heart of romance in their tango dancing! Watch rivertango.com for details.
We had a full weekend of Tango in Sacramento starting Friday night with Kenny and Chooi's Milonga on their stunning Brazilian hardwood floor at Tango on Broadway. It was Marlene B’s and Diane L’s joint birthday celebration, and we got to see many friends and enjoy some live singing.
On Saturday at Tango by the River, the workshops with Oscar & Georgina (and baby Nicolas - he really wants to dance) worked with SHOKAZORB (or shock-absorb) to refine the weight changes throughout tango. A basic box step and a cross-system outside partner right walk with return to resolution underscored the ideas of attention and connection so vital with Oscar and Georgina. The second class had an interesting take on media luna: inserting a cross after the first side step of the follower with a decisive turn of the leader's torso, followed up with a sacada turn and a cross-system exit. Oscar and Georgina's teaching style is filled with exuberance for sharing the joy of tango.
That night's milonga at Tango By the River featured the dynamic performances of Oscar and Georgina: Tango in their signature romantic style; a rhythmic tango with exceptional flair, and for an encore, a very playful milonga. Before and after there was much fine dancing as many visitors (including us and Larry S, representing Reno) mixed it up with the locals. At midnight the Neo/Alternative tango broke loose, the lights began to move and eventually, we are told, the wings came out. We had to repair to our friend’s houseboat to rest up for the next day's adventures.
Sunday’s workshops began with a delightful back crossing step – R behind L for the follower after 7 followed by a sentada on the L, then ocho cortado. This was done in both bandoneon-esque deeply romantic style as well as in rhythmic style with an added tap of the toe for both lead and follow. The culminating workshop was milonga lisa and trespie - just in case you were not exhausted. Remember, Oscar's motto is: No Vacation! In place box step, box step with a triple-syncopated back step (knee behind knee if you don't want to get worn out); a walking combination of inside, inline, short step – done with and without traspie; and finally traspie to both sides with no walking steps. Whew! Absolutely an astounding weekend.
We also wish to say farewell to our old friend Ron Six and to the rising star Resh Michael aka Naresh. They were much loved and will be missed.
Worse than the ‘Curse of the Un-led Boleo’ is the plight of the unasked follower. The bane of our ladies of Tango, it creates many an unhappy evening. This situation likely stems from the early days of tango, which arose in a class-stratified, male-dominated (and severely gender-imbalanced) culture. But that was long ago and far away, times have changed, as have social mores (somewhat) and legal rights. Yet in tango, it is enshrined ‘tradition’ that followers must be invited to dance by leaders and may not themselves ask. This leaves some followers sitting out tanda after tanda. This ‘tradition’ legitimizes behavior both unfair and unsporting.
If the ignored follower is an un-excised vestige of the murky patriarchal past, why is it such a persistent problem? As with the mistakes made on the dance floor, one must first look to the leaders. (The submissive-follower paradigm is another aspect of this same problem – something to be addressed another time).
At the same time, followers must remember that the road to equality is not an easy one - just ask Susan B. Anthony. The battle for the right to have a say in things has been going on for a long time.
Let’s explore a few of the cures: The simple solution, it seems to me, is to modify the ‘tradition’ that only men (or leaders) get to ask the women (or followers) to dance. As leaders can ask followers, so should followers need no permission to ask leaders to the dance floor.
Additionally, it is possible to encourage leaders through reason (see below scenario) or social empathy via mixer games to ask more followers to dance. Enforcing that is preposterous, of course, as no one wants tango police.
(As a side note: some women who love to tango but have become fed up with not being asked to dance, have turned the tables in an inventive way: they learned to lead, thus changing their role, and outflanking the ‘tradition’. We applaud that wholeheartedly, though it’s only a partial remedy.)
So what are we gonna do about it?
It is hereby declared that at VZ Tango milongas it OK and even encouraged that followers may ask leaders to dance, directly or with the cabeceo. Leaders know that is often no easy task - shyness, insecurity, fear of rejection, etc can come into play for all of us. So followers – brave up and ask!
BE AWARE: Other venues may not be accepting of this idea - test the waters gently when visiting other milongas. Milage may vary.
It is hereby declared that at VZ Tango milongas, cabeceo is not required, especially for dancers whose visual acuity may not extend past 23 1/2 feet. It is OK at VZ Tango milongas to go up and ask; however, be prepared to be turned down on occasion. (That is what the cabeceo was designed to avoid.) Again, other venues may not be accepting of this idea - test the waters gently when visiting other milongas. Milage may vary.
It is hereby further declared that our VZ Tango 3rd Saturday milongas will introduce some mixer elements, such as ladies' choice tandas or waterfall tandas. This is as far as one can reasonably go to ‘force’ the issue. Participation is still optional, of course.
And just to remind leaders: Dancing with less experienced followers can only improve your dance as it requires that your lead be clean and clear. The dance floor is a social occasion. Communication is the core of any community, and not communicating (or dancing) with someone also communicates. So how do you wish to be regarded in the community? Rule of thumb: Take care of each other! Your behavior does not go unnoticed. Although challenging one's skills with a better dancer can be good for your dance, endeavor not to focus exclusively on your favorite dancers at the expense of the community.
Scenario: An experienced leader chooses a newbie follower who is not very good from the Bench Of Idle Dancers and is very careful and compassionate on the floor, adapts to any hesitancy, misstep or imbalance. The dance is not elaborate or larded up with fancy show moves, and the lead is kept clear, each of the follower’s steps is cared for, and there are no surprises. Is this a boring dance? Far from it! An experienced follower may well regard such a dance as a beautiful relief from frenetic move-meisters. To an inexperienced follower it is a confidence builder, and may even provide early ‘tango moments’. And what then happens to this follower who was seen successfully navigating the floor without stumbling through a complicated performance? She gets asked to dance again, gains experience and becomes a stalwart of the tango community. And how will this follower regard you in the future? Have your own fundamental skills improved? Enough said.
House Milonga in Reno!
We enjoyed a very nice milonga on Aubrey's custom sprung dance floor last night - a birthday milonga of sorts, as his mother turns 96 today. We had a visitor from Ashland, a dancer new to our community, and the return of Harriet to the dance floor. Victoria DJ'd a mix of mostly traditional music and the festivities lasted to nearly midnight. A pretty good turnout for a holiday weekend. And quite a spread of treats: Romanian Asparagus; Deviled Eggs with Caviar; Truffle Pate; Red Rooibos Tea; and a counter full of other taste sensations.
Next House Milongas will be:
August 3 at Blythe's
September 7at Tom and Sue's
Next 3rd Saturday Milonga will be:
July 20 at the Ballroom.
All start at 8pm unless otherwise noted.
Please check the VZ Tango Calendar for details.
What a great weekend!
Burning Tango was great fun! We rented a house in town and shared the expense with friends and were able to barbecue a steak dinner Sunday night and trade stories on the porch with views of Mt. Shasta. The weather was much cooler than last year, and the air was clear.
The workshops were excellent and the milongas well attended with high quality DJs and exquisite dancing. We went to nearly all the workshops and found them to be well chosen and insightful. The concert/lecture by Grisha Nisnevich was inspiring and beautiful.
I made a little video of some short clips of dancing from a couple of the milongas to give those unable to go a sense of the incredible venues. The main room, the
Thanks to all the instructors, DJ's, organizers and volunteers for a wonderful festival, it is much appreciated.
Our website is in it's infancy, as it was created just over a month ago. The big obstacle is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which is essential for appearing at or near the top of searches for terms like "Tango Reno". The more visits we get, the more facebook likes, the higher we will rise in the search results.
We decided that we needed some updated photos for the site as well as for a flyer for a performance and lesson in Tahoe in July. Not wanting to do the whole camera on tripod with delay circus, we asked our dear friend, professional expatriate and graphic artist Col. Mike Shields (ret.) to wield his 12mp Kodak at us, as he would soon exit his houseboat and be in town. He readily agreed, so V and I went on a location and lighting scouting trip to various background destinations in Reno and vicinity, looking for that which would speak to both our obsession and our geography.
A few days later, when M was in town we did our photo tour. Here are some of the results:
(Click for larger images)