Archive for the ‘HUMOR’ Category

The only one missing is the bearded lady   Leave a comment

The only one missing is the bearded lady

“Elephants, clowns and dancers, tamers, camels and polar seals, but have no doubt that the bearded lady is the one who sweats to see the circus succeed.”

The bearded lady, at least until early in the twentieth century, earned her daily bread in traveling circuses that went from town to town. Drums and rattles introduced her with: Come, have fun, marvel! Learn about the misfortunes and miseries of our monsters. Enjoy the authentic, genuine, the amazing bearded lady, and if you dare, for a pair of coins you can touch her beard and talk to her.

Alongside the contortionist who played the violin with his foot and the juggler who was doing stunts on horseback, the bearded lady was the cornerstone of a classical circus that smelled of elephant dung and urine of a tiger. She embodied the horror, suspense and monstrosity, she was the main attraction of the circus. The public, watching the stellar show, covered their mouths and eyes, filling the tent with voices of admiration and awe: Ah …Oh …! Yeah…!

Early in the twenty first century, more people outside of Argentina than inside of Argentina are dancing the tango. Those who are not natives of Argentina are confronted with a culture that is not their own, and some are trying to make it a meaningful experience. Regardless of nationality, the tango lifestyle requires great effort and commitment. It is difficult to learn to dance, to learn the music, and to socialize. People should be aware of those who, while outwardly banging the drum for the Argentine dancers, devise ways to remove most things Argentine, the essence that once nourished them. The great majority may not be aware of what they are doing, so a friendly reminder might help.

There is a high standard for dancing Argentine tango. While it is a dance of the people and for the people, it has a level of difficulty that must be reckoned with. There is a structure of the dance from whence improvisation is created. There is a learning curve and a developmental curve that comes from putting in hours that lead to weeks that lead to years of taking classes and dancing socially. Even the uninitiated eye of a newcomer can look at a room full of tango dancers and see various levels of ability. Most important is that those who dance Argentine tango hold themselves to their own standards of excellence. The judgment of self is the most rigorous!

In the world of Argentine tango, sometimes it seems that there are more social dance “teachers” than students and dancers. The odds for a new woman showing up at a tango dance party and being given express tango lessons right on the floor are very high. Nobody can dare tell her how unsightly are her open legs being dragged around the floor by a selfish “teacher.” Why mediocre to average dancers renounce to take the long road to improvement in order to become express teachers of unaware newcomers? Besides the backhanded disrespect for established teachers, some experts on human behavior may suggest that creating a layer of really bad dancers is a way to elevate mediocre to average dancers to a higher perceived level of proficiency.

As newcomers, one of the first lessons we all received for free was the suggestion to going to Buenos Aires, sitting at the milongas and watch for weeks at a time. Believe it or not, we did. Many like us did. The thrill of being able to step on a dance floor like Almagro and Sunderland for the first time, knowing what to do, is indescribable. So, when we go to a milonga, we still expect to be the ones dancing, and the visitors and newcomers to sit and watch. We don’t expect to see mediocre to average dancers taking new women to a dark corner of the room to “teach” them the “advanced” leg wrap taught before the milonga.

As a matter of fact, dancers with good mileage under their feet should expect to be able to move around the floor without having their path blocked by clumsiness and verbal “teaching.” They should expect not to fear for their safety because some clown practices You Tube videos on the floor using some woman as a prop. We would advise women in that situation not to smile as they’re made to look their worse.

Above all, we suggest to new, mediocre, and average dancers to respect the tolerance, effort and dedication of the milonga hosts, who see the attendance to their milonga dropping week after week as the number of circus acts increase infringing into the dancing expectations of those who knowing how to dance, come to dance.

Photo courtesy of Universal Studios, Salma Hayek as Madame Truska

Posted November 14, 2011 by Alberto & Valorie in EDITORIAL, HUMOR

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Lessons your mother never taught you   Leave a comment

Lessons your mother never taught you
When it comes to social activities such as tango dancing it’s unusual to share a binding shame. As local tango scenes are what they are, advanced adults should be grateful that others dedicate a lot of their time to offer opportunities for them to dance. If you’re lucky to be in a compound where you are not the target of age discrimination from the immature crowd that see tango venues as a convenient playground to have fun while seeing in every adult figure the reincarnation of a judgmental father figure. Without a doubt, the glory days when adults welcomed with open arms the young to the milongas may be a thing of the past, simply because time inexorably passes, and the young of yesterday are getting old, and the kids grow up.

Females seem to fare better as father time makes its yearly trek to add wrinkles around the eyes and little blue streaks of the sexy legs. There is the story of this veteran of the international traveling circuit who blew into a small town on her way home, and ran into some old acquaintances.

During her brief stay they managed to go dancing twice, before they were saying their long goodbyes over beer at 1 o’clock in the morning. The usual regrets were exchanged about not having been able to offer her a chance to teach while she was here, when she surprised everyone by saying,”Actually, I did have a chance to teach.”

– You did? When, how, what did you teach?
– Well, I taught about poaching…
– Poaching? You mean the process of gently simmering food in liquid other than oil, generally milk, stock or wine?
– No, no!
– Poaching as in the illegal taking of wild plants or animals contrary to local and international conservation and wildlife management laws?
– No, what a couple of the friends you introduced me to, did before we even let go off the handshakes and hugs. They offered to organize classes for me, and one asked me to teach with him.
– Well, we use the word “friend” with kindness but very loosely in the South.
– Well, the lesson I taught them was that they were “poaching” a teacher who was kindly introduced to them by you and Valorie. That they should respect the fact that Alberto and Valorie were my hosts, were standing right behind me, and that if I were going to do any teaching it would be under their sponsorship.
– I bet you got the deer in headlights look, didn’t you?
– Actually one of them offered to take me home.
– Attaboy!
– Speaking of deer in headlights look, there were several guys who came running to ask me to dance when they started playing some very strange music. What I taught them was that they should wait until they played a tango. Their jaws dropped in incredulity. “But I thought this was a tango, a new tango,” one said. No, I said, you need to learn what a tango sounds like. Go sit down and watch this guy here, he’ll give you a signal when they play a tango and then you can come and ask me to dance.
– That’s what the doctor ordered!! More reasons to demonize poor old me…
– Ha ha ha! By the time they egg your home I’ll be gone…
– So, anything else you taught?
– Another guy asked me to dance and I told him if he could you play tango music? His feathers were ruffled, as he went back and played a Pugliese. Another Pugliese? We danced one Pugliese and right after came one De Angelis. Ever heard of Tanturi, D’Arienzo? By now I had already told him several times to loosen up his grip, to hold his own balance, and to stop trying to bend me. He was not a happy camper, but I doubt he learned the lesson.

By the time they got the check, vampires and ghosts were cruising the dark neighborhood. They hugged, kissed and promised to stay in contact. Of course she forgot who she had been with by the time the 777 was over international waters.

Posted November 14, 2011 by Alberto & Valorie in HUMOR

Without tango, there is no bordello   3 comments

At the height of the summer season, the Attorney General of the resort city of Mar del Plata, 250 miles south of Buenos Aires, has received complains about sexual exploitation and forced servitude of women and adolescents in ten brothels of that city. Testimonies and the evidences were filmed by hidden cameras.

Three brothels working under the pretenses of being a dance hall or a drinking hole, with names like “Friend’s,” and “Tequila,” were also identified by patrons as a place where drugs are sold. The other seven are openly promoted as brothels in street handbills and paid advertising in a local newspaper.

According to the video recordings, in some locals the young women are forced to provide sexual favors 24 hours a day, without being able to step out the locked grated doors. In all the cases it is a pimp who collects from the “client,” pocketing at least half of the money. According to many taxi drivers, the women are rotated through different brothels and cities (many come from Paraguay, Brazil and the Dominican Republic); and in almost all the establishments there are underage girls.

American born detective Sherlock Gomez, a well known Internet expert in tango history, and author of the much quoted bible of tango styles, vacationing in Mar del Plata, offered his services to the owners of the affected businesses, guaranteeing that the charges about operating a bordello were without merit.

Responding to a question by a reporter about how he can be so certain about that, Sherlock replied,
“I have been to all ten establishments in question, and not a single woman wanted to dance tango. That can’t possible be a bordello.”

Based on a real story published by daily La Nacion on 1/25/10

Posted January 27, 2010 by Alberto & Valorie in HUMOR

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Tango conservativo
Sanford and Sin Productions
Religious Hypocrite Label
Music by Maria Belen Chapur
Lyrics by Mark Sanford

You have a particular grace
and calm that I adore.
You have a level of sophistication
that’s so fitting with your beauty.

You have the ability to give
magnificent gentle kisses,
I love your tan lines,
I love the curve of your hips,

The erotic beauty of you holding yourself,
two magnificent parts of yourself
in the faded glow of the night’s light,
hey, would that be going into sexual details ..?

While all the things above are all too true
at the same time we are in a hopelessly
or as you put it impossible
or to combine and simply say
hopelessly impossible situation of love.

How in the world this lightning strike
sneaked up on us, I’m still not sure.
As I have said to you before,
I certainly had a special feeling about you
from the first time we met,
but these feelings were contained
and I genuinely enjoyed our special friendship
and the comparing of all too many personal notes …

I also suspect I feel a little vulnerable
because this is ground I have never,
certainly never covered before
So if you have pearls of wisdom on how
we figure all this out, please let me know…

In the meantime please sleep soundly,
knowing that despite the best efforts of my head
my heart cries out for you, your voice, your body,
the touch of your lips, the touch of your finger tips
and an even deeper connection to your soul.

The Luv Guv’s Tango bango

Read more about MARCO, international man of mystery and suave god of sex and tango, HERE and HERE

Posted June 25, 2009 by Alberto & Valorie in HUMOR

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It was supposed to be just another day at the tango class.

He was practicing the shopping cart lead with a new follower, her hands on his shoulders, her gaze on his hairy chest. He was wearing his unbuttoned to the belly regulation black tango shirt. As he pushed and pulled, he repeated what he had said to so many followers, follow, feel, move beautifully, knees together, don’t wanna look ugly, do you?

But there was something about this follower that just didn’t jive. He tried very hard to focus on his long expertise as a practice post for followers but he couldn’t figure out what was unusual about this particular one. Then just as they passed the Cosmetics and Personal Hygiene section he stopped in disbelief.

The motion around the follower’s mouth was the unmistakable sign of gum chewing. He had never seen a follower chew gum and walk at the same time! They were now staring at each other, their breath intertwined in an ethereal mist of Altoids and Clorets. His brain was at warp speed searching for speech. You are…, his mouth felt like the bottom of a bird cage, you are…, he was feeling real stupid now, you are a WOMAN, he finally blurted out. Yes, I am, she said. My name is Sue, how do you do?

For the next half hour Sue and Narciso conversed. By the end of the class he had buttoned up his shirt and he was thinking, what an experience! Thank you very much maestro, Sue said. Was it really true? Had she just called him maestro? Holy boleos! And before he could grasp for more air she asked, any words of wisdom before I leave, maestro? He gave her a gentle tango kiss on the cheek and whispered in her ear, stay away from the dulce de leche, it goes straight to your butt.

Posted April 21, 2009 by Alberto & Valorie in HUMOR

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A Manifesto by Nena Pezonchico
(Agitator, troublemaker and a mistress of exaggeration in the rarest of thin air)

Tango is in trouble. Living in our own world of music and dance, we are failing to see it. The milongas in Buenos Aires are full. And when they are not, the practicas are (100-300 people). But in the real world, outside of the milongas, the picture looks very different.

Argentines, essentially, are boycotting the tango. Many even hate it. Out of 100 radio stations in Buenos Aires, only one plays tango music. Argentine companies do not use tango music in their TV commercials, preferring rock, foreign or national. And Argentine people that love tango music are in despair. They no longer have hope that the young Argentines will embrace the tango. Many also have lost hope in the Europeans. But they have a lot of hope in the Americans and their belief in how stupid Americans are at dealing with things they don’t understand.

Many Argentine people that are involved with the music of tango, such as tango historians, taxi drivers and pizza delivery guys, who may not even dance themselves, feel that the Americans have a genuine interest and love for tango music. It appears that many people from the US are buying a lot of tango music, and not just the most obvious selections, but things that are rare, and they know what they are buying because they have been looking for it. These Argentine tango historians look at the American dancers and DJs with respect and hope they don’t wise up. They believe that if anyone can save the tango, it will be the Americans that love it.

There are many young people (18 +) in Buenos Aires, who dance beautiful traditional tango with great style and energy, and they do not dance “nuevo” or dance to electronic tango (both of which seem to be the domain of dancers outside of Argentina). Instead, they love to dance to Donato, Canaro, Lomuto, etc. But there are not enough of them to keep tango from oblivion. That’s where the Americans come in.

This complexity demanded a great skill from the DJ when there was recorded music in the milongas all those decades ago. It is that same special quality that we bring to you at my milonga.

Our DJ does not DJ from a play list. Instead, he creates his tandas in advance, which allows him to match all the songs according to singer, date of recording, ‘mood’, tempo and key. He never selects consecutive tangos that are in the same key. He insists that it is the job of the DJ to maintain proper sound and volume at all times. He is a sound engineer at heart with a laptop choke full of mp3s.

We hope that you will come and enjoy this beautiful music. We hope that the men will learn what music makes them the best dancers in the world. For the ladies, we wish that every dance reminds them how beautiful, alive and happy they feel in this music. And we hope that every one of you, who loves tango, accepts the monumental challenge of keeping it alive by dancing it and knowing well its poetry and music.

Come to my milonga because you don’t want to be held responsible for the death of the tango.

Posted March 12, 2009 by Alberto & Valorie in HUMOR

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HOW DID THEY DO IT?   Leave a comment

by Andy Doubt Raiser
London, November 2008

The claims that the population of African origin in Argentina was exterminated in an act of genocide are absurd and they deserve a place next to extraterrestrial kidnappings and the staging of the moon landing in an Arizona undisclosed location, under the heading of looney tunes hoaxes. Currently 10%, around 1.4 million of the population of Buenos Aires has African heritage. In 1810, black and mulatos totaled 9,615 [42% of the population], therefore, in 200 years, the number of individuals with African ancestry in Buenos Aires has gone up 142 times!!!!! This confirms the claims of those who attribute the “disappearance” of blacks to consensual interracial marriages among other things.

The slave trade was made illegal in 1810 with independence from Spain, Then in 1813, came what was known as the “Ley del Vientre”, declaring free anybody who from that day onwards landed on Argentine soil, whether from abroad or from their mother’s womb. Clearly it made no difference to those who were already slaves at the time, who had to wait another 40 years, until slavery itself was made illegal, in the Constitution of 1853 to acquire their freedom.

The Constitution of Argentina, to this day, has a racist foundation: Article 25. “The Federal Government shall encourage European immigration; and may not restrict, limit or burden with any tax whatsoever, the entrance into Argentine territory of foreigners who arrive for the purpose of tilling the soil, improving industries, and introducing and teaching the arts and sciences.” Imagine the audacity of these people wanting to attract laborers, artisans, artists and scientists. What’s next, restrictions to terrorists, or tango teachers like the US and the UK have done?

There is a precedent out there. Domingo Sarmiento, abhorred blacks with their candombe processions because he was painfully aware that white men can’t wave and shimmy. His dream was to populate and civilize like the British Empire and the rising US had done. To that effect he toured extensively both countries to copy their educational system and their immigration policies. Natives and Negroes were systematically eliminated, and Argentina was the success story of genocide, well in front of Custer and the 7th Cavalry, Apartheid and Adolf Hitler. If you think this is absurd wait until I tell you about the yellow fever epidemic.

The yellow fever epidemic of 1871 started in 1871. Biological warfare had already been used against the Indians; indeed, in the first 100 years of their occupation of the Americas, the Spaniards eliminated at least 80% of the native population, with the diseases they brought with them. The authorities encircled the Negro barrios with the army holding hands after releasing a swarm of mosquitoes and mowing down anybody trying to escape with a blunt instrument called the bandoneon, invented by Hitler’s grandfather in a white supremacist region of the Bavarian Empire.

What does this have to do with tango? Probably nothing. The tango doesn’t come from Africa.

With so much persecution, genocide, extermination, chemical warfare, and every known or to be invented methods of extermination used against them, how did the black population find the time to go dancing? With such impossible living conditions how did they manage to develop such a unique and complex choreography? How was it possible to create such a alluring music with their typical drums?

Not only that but how did they manage to impose their cultural preferences to the great majority of Europeans and Creoles who were so busy exterminating them, yet couldn’t help stealing their dance moves and cultural roots instead of using their power and wealth to create something on their own.

How did they do it?

Andy is a fiction writer specializing in the inclusion of fantastic elements in a self-coherent setting where any location of the fantastical element is possible. In addition, he is the European record holder in Conclusion Jumping and Tall Tales category.

THE CHACARERA WARS   Leave a comment

It all had come down to a cultural war. A struggle for social positioning, and another exercise on the politics of exclusion. It was latte versus mate, rock and roll versus country. At first no one saw any harm in bringing a popular milonga to a halt to allow the espadrille wearing boys from the countryside to have a few foot stomping and hee hawing hoedowns to the tune of the chacarera, the rural counterpart to the cosmopolitan identity of the tango.

For visitors this was another example of the incomprehensible behavior of a world they didn’t understand but wanted to imitate very badly. Soon tango teachers added chacarera lessons to their bag of tricks. Following on the heels of a visit to the area by a teacher who taught chacarera workshops people were allowed to dance the folkloric music during breaks at the weekly practicas. Having chacarera breaks at the practica led
to some vigorous complaints from several people who belonged to the extreme tango sect known as the Cabezeos.

The head of the Cabezeos disliked the disruption of the practica to allow a very small number of people to do the dance and was quite adamant about it, explaining in a terse text message that it was not fair to those who come to practice Tango. As the conflict escalated into an all out survey, the Zapateos, as the rural dance aficionados became to be known, were mostly nonchalant and many added a “gloss” by way of comments that indicated that although it was fine with them if it continued, they were also OK if it did not. Some said they would like to see it done “once in awhile,” or only at milongas.

Seizing upon the non militant attitude of the Zapateos, the Cabezeos argued that allowing chacarera at practicas could set a precedent that would be difficult to break if, for example, another folk dance was brought in, and proponents of that dance then asked to add it to the practicas. The hodge podge of dances would turn the practicas into a ballroom social. What if people who want to dance chacarera start dancing tango steps to it? How that would impact the use of other “alternative” music?

The governing body of the Supreme Council caved in to the nasty complainers banning the Zapateos from converting the practice breaks into a foot stomping, finger snapping hoedown.

Posted October 24, 2008 by Alberto & Valorie in HUMOR

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A table at a coffee shop seems the ideal place to solve the problems of the world, to catch up with the latest gossip and to passionately chat about The Tango Lesson; after all who better than those who have had their share of tango lessons to Siskel-and Ebert Sally Potter’s dream come through.

Dick saw it in Sweden and can’t stop talking about the tango valseado that Pablo and Sally did by the Seine, reminiscent of an unforgettable scene from An American in Paris.

Samantha was at the showing of the movie at the Venice Festival and now laughs at her emotional outburst of contempt for what she considered an arrogant attempt by Sally Potter to portray her movie as a love story. That’s not how love stories go on the dance floor, she wrote in a letter to the editor of an Italian newspaper, but then she reasons, not every fifty something Brit lady gets the chance to do a movie about tango and makes it look like half way decent. At best they get to start a war in the Islas Malvinas or to be featured in a Monty Python film.

Another round of cappuccinos, cafe lattes and Kalua makes its way to the table. The perky waitress has caught up with the conversation and she is eyeballing Jake Manzana who looks dapper in his blue blazer and gray flannel pants. He’s quick to say that the Tango Lesson is the kind of outing to which I could bring a date without fear of getting her bored. “Perky” bends over the table and gives Jake two good reasons to make him stare at her for a moment before he turns his head and gazes at the rain falling beyond the windows of the cafe.

She’d love to learn the tango and a flurry of business cards fall on her tray. Best tips she ever had…

Woody snaps, I guess the special effects budget ran short because in the scene where they dance a milonga in the rain on the streets of Buenos Aires, I can see that 100 feet away it’s not raining.

Come on, says Camille, a contra-artist who is always on the leading edge of creative ways to mix tango with art, you probably have enjoyed your quota of wet T-shirt contests in your life. Dancing in the rain? Don’t knock it until you try it.

Matt is patting his hair into place, enjoying his own reflection in the window he’s using as a mirror. He speaks to the group, but never takes his eyes from his reflection, or his hands from his hair. The real star of the film is Buenos Aires, the scenes at Ideal are just as authentic as they can be. Sally, he continues with the authority of a connoisseur, I can’t stand because she is so self-centered. On cue, everybody looks at Matt, with a quizzical question mark in their eyes.

Suzy is about to lash out something vitriolic, everybody can see that, but then thinking that they‘re gonna have to ride back together she just rolls up her eyes and deliberately opens the New York Post and reads aloud, The Tango Lesson doesn’t have legs.

What does the writer know? Tammy, jumping up from her chair, snaps, I dare him to prove that! She is in town on a grant from the Tango Cheerleading Federation visiting local hoofer Darren, serious, scruffy, with a trendy new growth of beard. Sit Tammy, sit. He’s a dancer; he’s born again; a single tear rolls down his face.

Milenita confesses that the look Alicia gives Carlos in the scene where he is hustling Sally is too close for comfort. Hay miradas que matan, rebuts Juanita with an air of complicity, using an acquired Spanish accent that drives everybody crazy. Indeed if looks could kill.

Do you think that Veron is French dipping in the airport scene?, asks Tito with a lecherous look on his face. It’s French kissing, you dirty old man!, snaps Margarita, his embarrassed wife.

I think Sally committed an act of wild hubris by assuming center stage in her new film about dance and love, says Janet, who writes for the New York Times. There is a moment of silence as everybody ponders the depth of Janet’s statement before everybody burst out laughing.

Come on you guys, give the old spinster a break. It takes a lot of guts to put in black and white a poignant story about the lessons of tango capturing with a very subtle sense of humor and irony the egocentric and chauvinist subtexts of the Tango scene both in Buenos Aires and abroad. Heads turn in disbelief to a bearded guy who’s tap dancing by the table, clad in a long dripping overcoat.

Can you guys spare a quarter for a cup of coffee?, he begs extending a paper cup with his right hand.

Outside the rain continues to wreck havoc with the traffic.

Margarita’s eyes have turned to the window where the capricious raindrops and the reflections of the street lights have drawn a smug image of Sally Potter’s face. Ave Maria purisima, it’s a miracle, she mutters as she slowly crosses her chest…

Posted April 8, 2000 by Alberto & Valorie in HUMOR

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