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Friday, November 30, 2007

Breathing Lessons

I have never been very comfortable dancing with other women. It happens through necessity: due to an excess of followers in class, being picked as a helper during a lesson, and on very rare occasions at a milonga.

Upon pairing with another woman: First, there is the sisterly giggling, usually over where the collection of breasts will arrange themselves in an embrace. That relieves some of the tension but still doesn't allow for a completely relaxed embrace. With a woman, the smallness of stature, the curve of the hip, the tiny hand in mine; I don't have the usual anchors I am used to in a leader--the broad back, the height difference, the wide palm. Strength is missing.

So dancing with another woman, I am off. I am tentative. I don't move with the confidence I normally would. I feel more fragile and my partner feels more fragile than me. I am afraid of crushing her. It's hard to seriously dance.

Until my first class with Shorey this week. I was really nervous for some reason, and immediately upon meeting her I realized I didn't have to be. But on our first dance around the floor, I could feel myself stiffening up. So did she.

Breathe, she says after the song is over, you forgot to breathe. You were holding your breath for almost half the song.

So then I tried to pay attention to my breathing. To make sure I was remembering to breathe. At times, it seemed forced and artificial. But with every exhalation I could feel a loosening up: in my hips, in my legs, in my mind. As the hour progressed, those layers of separation I have in my mind when I dance with another woman started to peel away, like the layers of an onion. She was so encouraging, so completely genuine.

I am starting to see tango as a dance between humans, not merely between sexes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"You Have 1 Friend"

My memory was jogged yesterday when I read a post on Sorin's blog. Apparently he, like many others, has an addiction to Facebook.

Which reminded me that I have a Facebook account too. A little friend in NY invited me to join recently, so I did. And then was completely mystified by the whole thing. I mean, I do get the concept of social networking. (Except for the part where you can throw sheep at people, slap them with trouts, etc. Then I feel like Mr. Spock: That is not logical.)

Mostly, Facebook must be like the electronic equivalent of passing notes to your friends in junior high biology class. The whole business makes me feel like I should get myself a Hello Kitty backpack before participating. Whereas blogging feels like working on the school paper.

The sad thing about my Facebook life is that I don't have one apparently: I can't participate during the day, which happens to be a large part of my day. And that to me would be the purpose of Facebook: to interrupt the workday (not that I have anything against that).

Our firewall at work blocks the site with an imperious warning: "Pornography: Access Denied by Server" so as a result I cannot send growing gifts and take movie polls instead of doing my boss' reimbursables or writing secret blog entries. I would have to do all of my Facebooking at night, which when given the choice between that and other activities, just ain't gonna happen.

So as a result, last night I went back to my Facebook account, where I am solemnly told that I have one friend. Sheesh. That's harsh. Since the best analogy to Facebook I have is high school, out of curiosity I decided to look up my high school alums to see who participates.

I found:

  • The creepy kid who sat behind me in Madame August's Honors French class who always wore fatigues and carried well-thumbed copies of Guns and Ammo magazine in his Pee-Chee folder (anyone else remember Pee-Chee folders?).
  • One half of a popular cheerleading twin sister set, who now has gained at least 50 pounds and wears her hair like Rachel in Friends, but with more obvious highlights.
  • Another guy who's name is familiar but nothing else. Apparently he is married and has a lovely wife and three children.
  • Three other random people of whom I have no recollection of whatsoever.
So it looks like I will continue to have one (Facebook) friend for the foreseeable future. I will not be looking up old co-workers next.

ps... I do recommend that you check out stumbleupon. It allows you to find really cool websites and I don't know if it's considered social networking (I guess it is) but I have met some interesting people there and found some cool stuff.

pss...I have a private lesson (my first) with Shorey Myers today as a late lunch. I like the idea of interrupting my work day with tango. What I wouldn't give for a lunchtime milonga in Union Square...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Time Travel, Part Two

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival is having a one-day special showing of some classic films.

I would like to see all three presentations; it's just a matter if I can sit in a seat that long (if I have to pick one, I guess it will be Flesh and the Devil with Garbo and John Gilbert--real-life lovers on the silver screen):

2007 WINTER EVENT DECEMBER 1 at The Castro Theatre

Program 1--11:00am VITAPHONE VAUDEVILLE (1926-30)
Program 2--2:00pm INTOLERANCE (1916)
Program 3--8:00pm FLESH AND THE DEVIL (1926)

This past summer was my first exposure to the SF Silent Film Festival. It was an incredible opportunity to see these movies with live music accompaniment, lectures on film history and restoration (completely fascinating!), and the beautifully restored films on the big screen.

Here's my first post about the festival. I'll be a regular attendee from now on. It's amazing to see how some things are truly timeless and connect with people in many eras.

Monday, November 26, 2007

For the Jacques Cousteau of Sleep

Think about this poem next time before you fall asleep. You will have sweet dreams.


Emily Dickinson (1830–86). Complete Poems. 1924.

Part Four: Time and Eternity


Ample make this bed.
Make this bed with awe;
In it wait till judgment break
Excellent and fair.

Be its mattress straight,
Be its pillow round;
Let no sunrise' yellow noise
Interrupt this ground.

Dance and Danceability

What wild imaginations one forms where dear self is concerned! How sure to be mistaken!

Sometimes I will be sitting at a milonga and can't help but compare what I observe to something exactly out of a Jane Austen novel. It is curiously fascinating to me to watch people through this filter of Recency manners. It is where I would rather watch the interactions silently than dance sometimes.

I don't do it all the time, but there are some milongas that bring out the inner Jane in me. Certain dances have a much more observable differentiation of the levels of people and a certain stratification of the attendees.

I am still trying to figure out which character I am. I must be one of the country cousins. I am certainly not one of the first tier of grand ladies.

Studio Gracia last night was a perfect example. My new Willoughby was there (or I like to think of him that way), throwing me overboard for the Miss Sophia Greys and her ilk.

I am still waiting for my Mr. Darcy, Colonel Brandon or Edward Ferrars, though. I don't think those types go to Studio Gracia.

I seem to find more of the Mr. Collinses at this particular place, which is probably why I don't go very often. And then there are the young officers on leave from their regiments. *sigh*

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Zooing the Baby

Today was a play day.

My niece came with her mommy (my little sister) and her daddy to see Auntie Tangobaby and Uncle Boy in San Francisco after their Thanksgiving holiday in Chico.

We had a day of firsts:

First big real day at a zoo.

First meerkat village. (Johanna, I told them you said hello.)

First giraffe feeding and first baby giraffe sighting.

First lemurs (all colors).

First owl, peregrine falcon and eagle.

Some lions real close up. We waved hello and they looked at us!

We also roared like they do.

We said "hi" and "bye" and waved to everyone, including the flamingoes, the gorillas, the donkeys and even the Little Puffer Train.

But then!

First cotton candy. Even though Uncle Boy was told not to buy it, he did it anyway when no one was looking.

Now we know that cotton candy is actually crack for babies (although we ate it too).

Here is baby getting a hit from her grandma.

It didn't take baby long to figure out where to score the good stuff.

Carole Lombard Never Made You Mashed Potatoes Like Mine

Just say you love me.

You still owe me a quart of egg nog.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Letter to Olivia

Even though I've been at my desk all day today, I can't really say I've been working a whole heck of a lot.

Emails, some random phone calls, a couple of blog posts, catching up on other favorite blogs...and now the next thing on my To Do list: write a letter to Olivia de Havilland.

I guess I should explain first. Long story short, The Boy and I have a new acquaintance in Paris, a Canadian-born chef who we've been in correspondance with regularly, now known as Our Man in Paris. Somehow last week, he and The Boy got on to the subject of Errol Flynn, and Our Man in Paris drops the fact that he knows Olivia de Havilland personally.

In fact, he doesn't just know her. He's friends with her. He goes to her house and cooks for her and hangs out with her.

The Boy called me at work to tell me this, and I pretty much had a little crazy (quiet) fit at my desk. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll probably get the idea that I'm a huge classic movie fan. I can't say I'm a movie buff because I'm not that educated, but I adore old films and always have.

To say that I haven't admired Olivia de Havilland in several films is an understatement. She was a talented actress and was also the first person to take on the formidable Hollywood studio system, resulting in a landmark case ruled in her favor against the Goliaths of Hollywood.

But to say that I haven't daydreamed a million times of being her as Maid Marian in The Adventures of Robin Hood, with her fabulous succulent lips and lush fake lashes and wearing tight bias-cut silk gowns and crowns and wimples and kissing Errol Flynn in glorious Technicolor--do you have any idea how many times I've seen that movie since I was, like, eight or nine years old?! She's kissed Errol Flynn more than any other actress, I'm sure of it.

This afternoon, I went out and bought a really beautiful card. I want to send the card to Our Man in Paris and have him give it to Ms. de Havilland in person. But I'm afraid to put pen to paper, either because I'll crap up the card and waste $5.00, or probably more likely that I'll write something really stupid.

I'm really stuck though. How do you start writing a letter to a two-time Oscar-winning actress that you've admired all your remembered life? I have no idea what to say.

Because this is what I really want to ask her:

"Dear Ms. de Havilland,

You don't know me, but can we just cut to the chase here? You're so beautiful and all, and I loved you in Gone With The Wind, Captain Blood, The Charge of the Light Brigade, and of course The Adventures of Robin Hood, but what was it like to kiss Errol Flynn A LOT? Please tell me NOW!"

Do you think she'll write back?

Next Stop, Venice Station

I take the N-Judah train to work every day. Today the train was almost deserted except for the few poor souls (like me) who actually had to work on the day after Thanksgiving.

There is one stop on the line called Van Ness (for those of you who are interested in San Francisco history, James Van Ness was an early mayor of the city, and there's a fascinating little webpage devoted to the names of some San Francisco streets for my fellow SF history buffs out there.)

One of the train drivers, when this particular stop approaches, pronounces it "Venice Station" instead of "Van Ness."
Yeah, don't I wish!

I sure wish I could get off at "Venice Station," leaving the grubby terminal underground to see this sight when I emerge to the street level. (Well, since they're making me work today, the least I can do is blog a little and daydream, right? You understand.)

(Plus, there's a street singer outside our building who has been singing O Solo Mio and other Italian favorites on the corner of Grant and Maiden Lane since 8:30 this morning (it's now 1:49pm). The fact that we can hear him on the 9th floor of our building is very impressive but I may have to kill him soon.)

A month ago I was in Venice, exploring to my heart's desire. Now all the half-written posts I have been meaning to finish are getting pushed down the line in favor of more current events, which I haven't gotten around to either. So for the time being, I'll put up some more photos and that will help me get to 5:30, when I can pass by Venice Station again and smile.

(Yes, Venice really is this beautiful.)

The Food Baby

The Boy has a friend named Dan who publishes a funny cartoon called Bizarro.

Last week he was telling me about one cartoon in particular that made him crack up. I don't have it here so you'll have to imagine it from the description.

Two women are sitting and talking. One woman has a pregnant belly. The other woman says to her friend: "Congratulations! When is the baby due?"

And the other woman says, patting her tummy, "Oh, I'm not pregnant. I just had lunch. This is my food baby."


Let's just say we had some nice Food Babies at our house yesterday on Thanksgiving. I'm hoping to give mine up for adoption today.

For those of you who don't spend enough time on the internet already, here is another fun place to hang out (if you like to cook): The epicurious video website!

PS. I'm never organized enough to brine my turkey ahead of time, but this is the first year I injected it with butter, broth and spices...and let's just say this turkey was my best so far. Plus, you get to use this gigantic stainless steel syringe and you look like a crazy veterinarian. It's fun!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~Thornton Wilder

For you, may this Thanksgiving holiday be filled with all of the goodness and abundance that life has to offer.

For those of you who I am fortunate enough to love as family and friends, for those of you who I'll hope to meet someday, somewhere in the future, and for all of my newfound friends from around the globe who meet me in cyberspace, I am thankful that all of you are in my world.

Happy, happy Thanksgiving.



Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Tango Prayer

Oh Goddess Advil,
Mistress of Ibuprofen,
I pray to you.
Deliver me from these throbbing (and possibly broken) feet,
So that I may hobble towards another day
Full of tango--
But not tomorrow.


I just took three Advil. Is that bad?

It was so worth it though: a last private lesson today with Ney before he leaves for Italy, then another great group class, and then the milonga at El V.

I think I've changed my mind about El V. Tonight was full of all good-feeling tandas, a couple that were extraordinary. One new leader (wow) and a goodbye dance with Ney. That was the whipped cream AND the cherry on my tango sundae tonight.

For A.

My wish for you:

Happiness always.

And a lifetime of dancing. Don't stop.

And remember this:

When twilight drops her curtain down and pins it with a star, remember that you have a friend though she may wander far.

You have a friend in me.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Clair de Lune

Tonight I had to stop after work and look at the moon while I was on my way to buy Brussels sprouts to make with our dinner tonight.

It's possible that I might have gazed up for a second on my own, but the old man beckons me to stop for a moment and look at the night sky at the corner of 9th and Irving, where people are waiting to cross the street or are getting off the streetcar to destinations homeward.

I'm glad to see the old gentleman. I haven't seen him on the corner for a while. I ask him where he's been and he matter-of-factly replies, "It's been foggy." Which is true.

I remember the first time I saw this man, maybe sometime back on a cold February night: frail, with white hair combed back into a ponytail, dressed in somewhat shabby clothes that didn't seem quite warm enough, standing next to a Radio Flyer red kid's wagon with something that looked like an assemblage of coffee cans in the wagon. He was asking people to come over to him. The Boy and I were just leaving our favorite neighborhood sushi bar to walk the two blocks back to our house.

When you live in San Francisco, it's pretty much an everyday occurrence to see street people who want your attention (i.e., money), and so as an automatic defense mechanism, you learn not to look at them. Sad but true.

But this guy was snappy. It was obvious he wasn't a derelict, and he was alert and commanding in an interesting way. So we came over to him and his conglomeration of coffee cans in the wagon which, to my surprise, wasn't a hunk of junk at all but a telescope. A Dobsonian telescope. The old man wanted to show us the moon through his telescope. What a delightful surprise.

What was even a more delightful surprise was the crystal clear image of the moon as I looked through the viewfinder. You could see every little crater on the moon's surface, sharply illuminated by the bright contrasty light of the sun's rays traveling through the void of space. It was such a clear image, and large too, that you felt as if you could reach out and touch the moon. I've grown up looking through a telescope and I've never seen anything that crystal clear.

The most delightful surprise of all is that this old man is not just out for a lark on the street corner. He's actually a famous astronomer: his name is John Dobson. The Dobsonian telescope we were looking into--you guessed it--it was named after him. He invented it.

Anyway, long story short, over the past year I've seen Mr. Dobson and his telescope, enticing people walking by, engaging them in conversations about the universe and astronomy. Because of him, I've seen Saturn and its beautiful delicate rings that make you sigh because you can't believe you're standing on a random street corner in San Francisco and looking at something so beautiful. I've seen Jupiter and its great red spot. I've seen Venus and Mars and the moon in its different phases. (One of his disciples was out one Saturday afternoon with a different telescope that has a special filter so we could view the solar flares erupting from the surface of the sun.)

John Dobson is one of the most interesting people you'll ever want to meet. According to his bio, he was born in 1915, which makes him 92 years old this year. He takes his little red wagon with his telescope onto the streetcar to our corner for these impromptu astronomy lessons. He was born in China, educated in California, spent three decades as a monk, and three decades gazing at stars on sidewalks.

He's referred to as the "Pied Piper of Astronomy" and the "Star Monk," and when he's not here in SF, he's traveling around the world with his telescope. He also teaches classes on how you can make your own Dobsonian telescope.

If you can't make it out to the corner of 9th and Irving, here's a link to his website, and more about him here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

You'll Have to Answer to the Coca Cola Company

Because I'm still sleepy from last night's milonga (which I'll be sure to tell you all about later, and the private lesson with Ney and Jennifer on Friday night, and Red Shoes' play), let's just watch a movie in the meantime. Okay?


I can't say that Dr. Strangelove is my favorite movie of all time, but on certain days it surely is.

Is this my favorite scene?

Or this one?

But maybe it's this scene. I'd be a secretary like this!

Damn, this is a great film. Every detail of it is perfect. Stanley Kubrick + Peter Sellers + George C. Scott = Pure Genius.

Now I'm going to have to watch it again! Anyone coming over for Movie Night?

For Tango with Wings

Dear Psyche,

I saw this website and thought of you.



Saturday, November 17, 2007


Why is it when you are running out the door (late) to go to a milonga and you need a Band-Aid to put on your thumb, the only ones you can find in the medicine cabinet are Toy Story Band-Aids?

Well, at least it matches my top.

That's what happens when you let The Boy be in charge of picking out the Band-Aids.

When people ask me if I have any kids, I say Yes, I have a son. When they ask how old he is, I tell them he's 41.

Just Hanging Out

It's a lovely Saturday afternoon, the sky is robin's egg blue, people are out shopping in Union Square, cable cars are running up and down Powell Street, and where am I?

At work! Waiting for my boss to show up. I'm supposed to help him do a very important spreadsheet for our biggest client and he doesn't know how to use Excel. And he's late! Ugh.


Our "30 minutes, just a quick spreadsheet" turned into 4.5 hours. My Saturday afternoon is gone for good.

But the reward for my sacrifice is that I now have 4 hours of comp time next week, which will be put to good use for a last private lesson with Ney before he leaves for Italy!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Hugging Story

Johanna's recent post, Hugging Is Now Illegal, and Alex's Free Hugs inspired some thoughts of my own. I think most of us who read Johanna's post had a sinking feeling of what's going on here?!!

The story described in Johanna's post unfortunately is not the first incident in Illinois. Apparently other states have tried to avoid "harassment" by banning holding hands and hugging in schools ("inappropriate displays of affection"), as further detailed in this article published in Time magazine. One would think that school districts had more important things to worry about.

On the flip side, a study published by the BBC outlined the physiological health benefits of hugging. Of course, for those who are used to and enjoy a regular embrace, and I'm definitely including a tango embrace in this as well, this information shouldn't be much of a surprise. Other studies and books written on the effect of Hug Therapy and how important it is for infants to receive hugs is common knowledge.

So how can governments, both local and national, decide when a hug is not beneficial? Or that the danger of harassment is more serious than the friendship and comraderie displayed in a junior high school setting?

Our priorities seem so sadly misplaced.

Which brings me to the subject in the photo above, and a vibrant memory and experience of hugging.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine invited me to go with her to an ashram in San Ramon to see her guru, Amma. I had no idea who this guru was, or really what I was going to see, but my friend really wanted me to go, so I did. My only instructions were to wear a skirt, and preferably dress in light colors, which I did.

We drove for at least an hour to get to our destination and the traffic to the place surprised me. When we drove onto the property, the beautiful wooden buildings, gardens and the crowds of people surprised me even more. We walked past several immaculate gardens, some full of roses and others full of vegetables, and all were obviously tended with a lot of care and attention.

We were directed to a large barn-like building and we sat amongst a lively but orderly crowd of devotees. Hundreds of people were there--and everyone was so happy. There was a definite buzz in the air. But for what? I seemed to be the only one who didn't really know what to expect.

We were really packed in to the place. Everyone sat cross-legged (or as best they could) on the floor. Overhead fans whirled in the summer heat. After a while some Indian musicians came onto the stage and played some ragas, and everyone in the crowd began to chant in unison. The words were repeated over and over, so even I was able to join in the singing too.

And then, finally, maybe an hour or two later, Amma appeared. The electricity in the air of the big hall was all around us. A middle-aged, motherly figured Indian woman, all dressed in white and surrounded by attendants, made her way down the main aisle to the dais in the front. And the orderly procession for the hundreds of people in the room to receive their hug from the Hugging Saint began.

We all waited patiently for our hug. We waited a long time. Even while I waited, I was wondering why so many people would endure the long hours of sitting and waiting for a few seconds of an embrace? I didn't understand until it was my turn.

Amma is a woman. A human being, whom some believe is a saint. I have no opinion on the matter and am not a devotee or disciple. What I can say is that this soft, warm person wears an easy smile and smells like the most delicate flower, despite sitting for hours in the heat without moving, just hugging every single person that comes before her.

She holds you in a way that can only be described as how your mother held you when you were born and you've forgotten how that feels until now. She rocks you, she sings softly into your ear, and then she releases you. Her assistant gives you a blessed Hershey's kiss as you leave Amma's embrace. You leave the dais woozy and blissful and a little discombobulated. And then you wish you could get back in line again and you'd wait for another hour just for that hug. That night all I dreamed about was Amma, her voice in my ear and I could feel her hugging me all night as I slept. I awoke the next day full of wonder.

The following year, you bet I was back again.

A tango embrace is different but brings a similar feeling of fulfillment. I'm happy for those of us who can receive a hug daily, whether from a loved one, a dance parter, or a saint.

But I worry about the children who can't, or aren't allowed to, embrace. What kind of world are we creating for them?


For those of you who are interested, here is an article about Amma in the Christian Science Monitor.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Young at Heart

Fairy tales can come true,
it can happen to you
If you’re young at heart
For it’s hard, you will find,
to be narrow of mind
If you’re young at heart

You can go to extremes
with impossible schemes
You can laugh when your dreams
fall apart at the seams
And life gets more exciting
with each passing day
And love is either in your heart
or on it’s way

Don’t you know that it’s worth
every treasure on earth
To be young at heart
For as rich as you are
it’s much better by far
To be young at heart

And if you should survive to 105
Look at all you’ll derive
out of being alive
Then here is the best part
You have a head start
If you are among the very
young at heart

Debbi of An Ever Fixed Mark wrote a wonderful post last week about an encounter she had with an elderly gentleman at a milonga. It brought tears to my eyes to eyes to realize again through her writing the extremely emotional and human side of connection through dance, and how this vital this connection is to all of us no matter what our age is. I hope you enjoy reading about her experience.

It also just dawned on me where Debbi's lovely and sublimely named blog title stems from: Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 (perhaps her favorite?)--

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

A grateful thank you to Debbi for sharing her story, and for inspiring me to brush up on my Shakespeare once in a while.

Tango Mom

Last night was the group class again with Ney. Larger crowd, some different faces. Jennifer Bratt was there and it's so great to see the two of them teach and dance together. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to learn from Ney and Jennifer.

After class, Ney encouraged all of us to go with him to El V for the milonga. As you might remember, it's not the place I feel the most comfortable. But Ms. Wellspring and I had mulled over the possibility earlier in the day, and she was really excited to go. This was going to be her first milonga. Talk about jumping into the deep end of the pool...El V is where the big kids play.

There was a nice crowd there and Ms. Wellspring had barely put her new shoes on when she was whisked off onto the dance floor. It was so fun to watch her dance. First milonga, first shoes.

I was sitting with a friend who I haven't seen for a while, and we were catching up on what he's been learning in tango and what I did on my trip to Venice. It was great to see him and chat. I've missed talking to him.

From the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of Ms. Wellspring dancing and looking fabulous and really, really happy. Look at my friend, look at her! I told the guy I was sitting with. She's just started tango...like a month ago!

He didn't believe me. She looked so great. I was so proud of her.

I felt like...her mom. Her Tango mom.

As for me, I had some nice tandas and some nicer conversations. Perhaps I was wrong about El V? We'll see. I should know by now that everything in life has its good and bad days, including milongas and people.

But I'd go again just to see my Tango daughter dance.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Playing Hooky

Today I played hooky from work.

Not all day... just for a couple of hours.

I *cough* had a doctor's appointment. (Ms. Wellspring, you won't tell on me, right?)

Actually, I had a private lesson with Ney Melo.

Last Tuesday, I took a group class with Ms. Wellspring at La Pista. I have to tell you, honestly, this was the best group class I've taken in recent memory. Maybe ever.

The class had a good gender balance, and everyone was about the same level so rotating partners was not one of those dreaded events we've all experienced. But that's not what made the class exceptional. It was all about Ney.

Seriously, he taught something that I've never seen addressed so completely, clearly and with such honesty, fun and creativity: how to embrace your partner. First, he got us all on the right foot, literally, by making us walk. And walk. And then walk with each other. And then walk closer together.

Taking us by baby increments and with really fun and imaginative exercises, Ney taught us how to feel comfortable with close embrace. Really comfortable. But not intimidated. That was the best part.

Now, I know you're thinking why we would need a class on this when we already know it, but the truth is that close embrace is never really explained well. Or at least it has never been in my dance education. I started out with salon style, thought that was tango, and then went to Buenos Aires and felt like I hadn't learned a thing at home.

It was the only class I've ever taken where parts of it felt like a milonga. You learned but the classroom feel was missing. Everyone seemed to be having a great time, and right afterwards I signed up for my private lesson.

I knew from listening to Ney very closely that I'm going to have to unlearn some things I've been doing for a long time. And actually, I'm really okay with that. I feel like my first teachers got me to a great place with my tango, and now I'm ready to move forward.

Ney's teaching, to me, is very natural. His dancing looks very organic and effortless. He's already given me a lot of food for thought, and what he's shown me so far makes a lot of sense. I'm excited to see how his influence will help me develop and grow because I've been looking for my next teacher and now I think I've found him.

If you ever have the opportunity to take a class with Ney, please do. I think you'll get a lot out of it, and really enjoy yourself in the process. He's at http://neymelo.com

Sunday, November 11, 2007

And a Good Time Was Had By All!

Oh, what a night. Bellinis everywhere. Still on my Venetian kick, of course.

Adolph and Leonard were up to their usual tricks. Errol made all of us swoon, Cary clowned, Clara made eyes at me, William and Myrna charmed, and Asta spilled a few drinks but the boys made more for us.

Max personally came out to do my makeup, and my gown was by Irene.

George played some of my favorites, Buddy made us bop, Django strummed, Fayard and Harold tapped to Glenn's tunes, and little Michael stole the show. Even though all the ladies wanted to throw their panties, Tom looked at me when he sang.

Nikola sent word that my mysterious present is almost finished. The Turk astonished the crowd, even though I know its secret now and wish I didn't. Ricky had all of us looking on in amazement.

Carl wore his corduroy blazer, as usual, but he always looks great in it. I've missed him terribly. Jim and Gene always have the most amazing stories to tell, and my favorite world travelers, Sir Richard and Michael, were just back from their latest adventures. Madeleine was as spry as ever, and David kept us all in stitches with a retelling of his elf story again.

My first love Jacques supervised the souffles, my new love Thomas prepared the foie gras and caviar sampler, and my favorite bad boy Anthony provided the delightfully snarky commentary. Joel made the lamb chops just the way I like them.

Harry is having my trinket delivered tomorrow. I can't wait to see what he's designed!

Oh, and how could I forget! Danced the chacarrera with Hugo, tangoed with Javier, and milonga'ed with Thierry (thanks to Alex!).

What on earth will I do for next year's birthday?!

(But I missed you. Promise you'll come to my party next year?)

And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. --Abraham Lincoln

Friday, November 9, 2007

Layla Before Bed

This has to be the best version I've seen/heard yet. Pattie Boyd was one lucky gal.

Okay, I'm really going to go to bed now. After I watch this one more time...

Kiss Me Daily

Just came back from a lovely time at La Pista. My first milonga since returning from Venice.

Tucked in The Boy, and am a little too wired to sleep just yet, but too tired to write anything interesting.

Found this site. Who doesn't need a kiss everyday?

This site has every kind of kiss. I hope you like my little discovery.

Good night.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Blogging Brilliantly in Britain

Two of our Sisters of the Spirit have started some beautifully written baby Tango blogs across the wide Atlantic in the UK.

Already I am entranced by the musings of Psyche and her gentle, introspective blog: Tango With Wings. I am following her inspirations and journey through her dance.

And then there is the talented Ms. Hedgehog, our resident hedgehog expert, expert knitter and photographer extraordinare. And tango dancer. Let's not leave that out.

Happy reading! I know you will enjoy these blogs as much as I do.

A Birthday Addendum

My lovelies:

Thank you, thank you for the pre-Birthday wishes so far! You were very quick to toot the party horns and throw the virtual confetti!

I believe that I may have confused a few of you...my birthday is on Sunday. 11/11.

So feel free to make repeated wishes--that's fine with me. And if you haven't wished yet, don't feel like you missed the boat. I will pretty much take good wishes 365 days a year.


Oh, and you Tango Angels out there: Operators are standing by. Call now.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

I have always really liked the actual date of my birthday: 11/11.

I've always thought it was a kick-ass cool number with all of those 1s. (Plus, it's a national holiday and when I was little, I just assumed we all got the day off of school because it was my birthday, not realizing that we owed an enormous debt of gratitude to those who had died in the service of our country. Now I know better and am more appreciative of people and events other than myself. Or I try.)

But, back to me.

For my birthday, I do not want a cake made out of tofu.

What I really want for my birthday is my own Tango Angel. Practicas, milongas, whatever. Someone fun to dance with on an occasional/regular basis. Is there a Tango Angel in San Francisco for me?

CALLING ALL TANGO ANGELS: I hope you will grant my birthday wish.

If not, I may assume one or all of the following:

  1. Tango Angels do not read this blog.
  2. Most of the people who read this blog are women.
  3. You are shy.

Out-of-town Tango Angels may also apply, but that means I have to take a raincheck unless you have a pending visit to San Francisco. Or if I end up in your hometown someday.


If you are an interested local Tango Angel, please don't keep me waiting. I will wear a white carnation in my lapel if you want.

Or maybe a gardenia.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Postponing the Inevitable

I still have colorful Euro bills in my wallet. I also have Euro coins (and some smaller denominations thereof) in my coin purse. I also have a few postage stamps left in my wallet.

I finally put my passport away in my desk drawer. As much as it made me happy to catch an occasional glimpse of it in my purse, I don't want to risk losing it.

On Thursday, I took the well-used Italian-only map of Venice out of my coat pocket. I think I accidentally stole it from someone but it was a better map than the one I brought with me. I also threw away some receipts.

I still haven't dealt with my laundry though. I haven't put away my clothes and I'm still figuring out what gifts I bought and who I meant to give them to.

And sadly, my reveries of Venice are becoming less frequent and less vivid already. And it's only been a week. Usually I last longer. I'm still reading Venice, by Jan Morris, to keep the images and feelings alive in my mind for a while longer. It makes me sad to see that I'm returning to "normal" life again so soon. Mostly it's the sense of wonder and appreciation that I miss more than anything.

Yesterday, to stem the slowly seeping-away feeling, The Boy and I watched two films in which Venice is a primary character. One was recommended by two different friends: Summertime (1955), starring Katharine Hepburn and Rossanno Brazzi (man, is this guy good looking!), about a lonely American secretary who finds love in the arms of a gorgeous Italian man (um, why why why did I not see anyone in Venice who looked like this guy?!! It's probably a good thing that I didn't or else I might not have returned home.)

The other movie, A Little Romance (1979), was recommended by none other than The Boy himself, who still is in love with Diane Lane based on his seeing this film when he was twelve. I was lucky enough to find a used DVD of this film.

Both movies were filmed on location in Venice (A Little Romance was filmed on location in Paris, too, so that's big bonus for me right there) and both movies do capture the look and feel of Venice to some extent.

Katherine Hepburn was more tolerable to me than usual (sorry, I'm not a huge fan), although we couldn't help wondering why the guy was interested in her in the first place. David Lean, the director of Summertime, took great aerial views and sweeping pans of Venice (maybe not in Lawrence of Arabia epic proportions, but still genuinely breathtaking) and edited the film in such a way that you believed that Hepburn had every imaginable pictoresque view of Venice from her budget pensione balcony.

Both films captured the grandioseness of Venice and the romantic otherworldness of it, especially in the canals. It was fun to pause the film and exclaim occasionally, "Ooh, ooh, that's the Basilica de S. Maria della Salute! I was there!" or "That's the Doge's Palace, and across the water is the church designed by Palladio, oh, and see those columns...I was talking to you on my cell phone right there when I ran out of batteries!" Rather than holing up on the sofa with Rick Steves in Italy (I already did that anyway), I got to relive Venice in glorious Technicolor and set to lovely background music.

I'm sure there will come a day soon when I'm tired of sorting through the Euro coins in my coin purse to find an American quarter, and when the stamps in my wallet get grungy and torn. Just as there was a day when I washed the last carnet ticket for the Paris metro I had in my jeans and the little muslin teabag from Mariage Freres fell out of my coat pocket. But I'm going to try real hard to postpone that day for as long as I can. Venice is too amazing, too vibrant, too dreamlike to lose it so soon.

Today, I found this Anaïs Nin postcard through StumbleUpon.

I'm sure you can't possibly read the text but here's what it says:

You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book...or you take a trip..and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure.

That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children.

And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song and it awakens them and saves them from death.

Some never awaken.

I will be sure to read this quote to myself whenever I feel the onslaught of hibernation coming over me. It is inexorable and one must be vigilant.

On second thought, I have decided that I will never take the Euros out of my wallet. That will help a little.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Ready? Set?...Read!

Hi everyone!

The Tao of Tango Book Club was not a figment of your imagination. (Okay, so we're off to a little bit of a late start but I'd like to go easy on this type of extra-curricular education anyway. Plus, we've got lives and dancing to do, too, right?)

My idea behind the book club was pretty simple: A few months ago I'd purchased The Tao of Tango and was having a really enjoyable time reading it and thinking about it. I wanted to have some fellow dancers to talk with about the ideas in the book, which brings us to this post.

Since this is a virtual salon, everyone is welcome to participate and jump in at any time. To keep things simple, I will start us off with a reading selection every couple of weeks, and you can feel free to comment at any time. You can also comment on past readings, too, as sometimes our ideas need to percolate a bit before they're ready to share. And of course, you don't need to have the book to participate, even though you might want to. Hopefully the running commentary will give you enough information that you can add your thoughts, too, if you'd like to. We don't want anyone to feel left out.

And best of all, we have our author, Johanna, who will be adding her voice to the conversation as well. How many book clubs get their own author, too?!

So, all of that being said, let's start reading!


For our first installment, let's concentrate on the Preface and Chapter 1: The First Step.

Although these chapters are short (which is ideal for us in this venue), there is a lot of food for thought.

I will be posting a brief summary of points in the next day or so to kick off the conversation and then let's all join in and chat!