22 January 2010

farewell to arms

So ends my brief encounter with Portland tango.  I was reluctant to get too involved in part because I only had 1 month to spend, but mostly because I didn't have the energy to go out and dance in a place that I knew I was going to be leaving so soon...  

I did end up taking great lessons with Jake and Dana Rae on Monday nights -- two and a half hours of tango lessons in one night!  What I appreciated most was their attention to detail.  For the last hour of the class we worked on front boleos one week, and barridas another.  But for the first hour and a half it was all technique, and all basic technique that most people think they get over and done with during their first year of tango lessons.  On monday we spent an hour and a half on side steps: the balance involved, the subtle torsion, which muscles should move when and in which leg...  A monday before that we walked the whole time, by ourselves.  It was great, because I'm of the opinion that anyone can learn how to do a gancho, but only really good tango dancers ever learn how to walk properly.  I'd rather walk like a professional than make a fool of myself  

So, there are some excellent teachers of tango in Portland.  The milongas/practicas I went to (Bamboo Grove, Berretín) were small, some with an old crowd and some with a young crowd, and it seemed like most people were passing through on their way to somewhere else.  Is Portland a tango transit-zone?  I don't know, can someone answer this for me?

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the milongas.  Bamboo Grove was a beautiful studio and definitely the most creative space of the bunch; I'm biased though because there was a younger group of dancers and Chinese water-colour style nudes on the walls.  But I spent most of my time this holiday going to cool cafés and shopping for shoes:
jade - a café-restaurant in the sellwood district, serving tea, hum-bao, papaya salads, and truffle oil french fries...

ether, a shoe &etc store on nw 23rd avenue. thanks to my sister for trying on the purple boots... i bought them in silver.

08 January 2010

finally, my shoes, and a strike out

Finally, elhamdulillah (!) my tango shoes were made!  Yes, custom made, custom fit tango shoes from Cairo, Egypt. 

Oooh, they fit so well, and look so good!  But honestly, it's just so nice to dance without feeling like I'm going to fall over.  My other shoes just weren't cutting it --- the bottoms had been worn down and the straps stretched to the point of no return and my foot was never stable.

I struck out on the milonga tonight.  I confused the days and the venues from the Portland Tango website and some recommendations I got, and I ended up walking in on a ballroom tango lesson.  When the woman asked, "Are you here for advanced ballroom group tango?" I could not hide my disgust.  Ok, it was a comical kind of disgust, but it prompted her to say: "Yes, this is definitely not Argentine Tango if you're looking for a milonga..."  I hate feeling like a tourist!  Instead I ended up going to a few art galleries and having a hot chocolate.  I suppose bread and chocolate are the only suitable alternatives to tango...
p.s. it was new year's. no resolutions. not one. you?