Action Packed Tango Week

Action Packed Tango Week

Gentle Reminder of the week’s activities. See you there!

TuesdayGraciela Gonzalez will be teaching at Practicando.

ThursdayGraciela Gonzalez will be teaching the tango class prior to Mijana Milonga.

ASU TANGO 101: AN IMMERSION FOR THE BEGINNER with Momo Smitt from Portland, OR.
Classes begin promptly at 6:15pm on the Main Campus of ASU in Tempe in the Physical Education Building East.


Friday – 9:00pm-2:00am at Tempe Woman’s Club
Saturday – 8:00pm-12:00am at ASU Art Museum 51 East 10th Street  Tempe, AZ 85281
12:00am-6:00am at ASU Gammage Promenade
12:00pm-3:30pm ALTERNATIVE MILONGA at Memorial Union (Student Union)
8:00pm-12:00am at Memorial Union (Student Union)

There is a lovely Pasta Dinner on Sunday night catered by the Memorial Union which includes your choice of pasta and sauce, sides, salad, cake, and beverage. This will keep you close to the dancing and must be purchased in advance.

ParkingParking Sign

I know that this is often a complaint coming to campus. And we do understand the frustration that is sometimes involved. ASU Tango Club Board and myself are doing what we can to communicate clearly about this.

The link to the festival map is to be updated soon but in short:
Parking for campus and for classes is covered on the link to the map. Remember to read the signs or to avoid meters.
Friday’s milonga there will be additional parking at the Church on Mill at 1300 S. Mill Ave.
Saturday and Sunday there will be a lot of activity on campus and at Gammage. We will have further recommendations in the upcoming days so check the ASU FESTIVAL WEBSITE.

Enjoy the weekends events and remember, ASU Tango Club can produce this event only with your support.

Oh, and one other thing, remember you milonga etiquette and try out your cabaceo!



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Naming. Renaming. Breaking the Fairy Tale.

I had a wonderful conversation this weekend with some students about Tango, of course! The conversation zigzagged in and out and around  etiquette, milongas, teachers, community. But one topic seemed to have struck a chord with me this week. At one point there was a comparison of tango and its milonga (the social dancing space) to a fairy tale within a video game.Cinderella

I love the idea of a fairy tale as I know many of my dreams growing up were invaded with prince charming  and wondered if I would ever live one! But I also reflected on the many aspects of tango as being like a fairy tale. Our shoe fetishes always remind me of Cinderella and her Prince Charming. Some tango couples I think help promote this idea of falling in love and dancing off into the sunset, happily. But it seemed that this particular student saw the fairy tale similarly but with another layer to it: the rules of a video game!

I am not a gamer so I have had very little experience with this aspect of our culture but this idea that in order for the fairy tale to come alive a set of rules need to be applied was appealing to me. I don’t plan to set out on a true analysis of tango and video games in this blog, I’ll leave that to one of my ASU student’s final project, but I want to comment on the idea of the structure of the dance that is what helps to make it magical.

Certain things need to happen or need to be in place for the fairy tale to come life.
For the follower: dressing up, wearing beautiful shoes, smelling good, hair, nails, makeup – or whatever it is that makes a follower feel feminine.
For the leader, and not being one, I can only imagine it is very similar (minus the makeup) but also includes whatever makes the leader feel confident and “masculine”, if you will.
The milonga is set up as an environment to envelop these beautifully dressed people. But without the structure of the music and the etiquette it could just be a bunch of beautiful people hanging out, maybe like in a bar in NYC. So we add the music; organized in tandas, with cortinas, playing romantic, playful music of the Golden Age of Argentine Tango, we add the infamous cabaceo, and get those beautifully clad dancers moving in a line of dance, doing movement that we associate with Argentine tango and we start to have a milonga.

I do know that in a video game you have to play by the rules otherwise, well, you die, or you don’t amass points to get to your next level.

The rules and the structure in Tango help to keep the culture alive and I think it’s the Tango culture that is so appealing to people. We are Milonga en Buenos Airesstill attracted to beauty, to connection, to the possibility of falling in love forever or for 3 minutes. We are attracted to being held and to hold someone close. And yet some people who see the dance and experience it are drawn to change it or perhaps to make it “more fun” or to make it work for them in some way. I hear students often complain that it’s “too slow”.

This is often what happens to dances over time. A dance form leaves its place of origin, is acquired by a new place, a new culture and often is highly influenced by that new culture that chooses to dance it. And this is also what happens within communities: you have divisions based on “traditionalists” and those who choose to do something else or to change “the rules”.

I like to believe that when this happens it is a sign of growth within a community. More people are being exposed and more people want to try it regardless of their understanding of a dance’s “origins”. Education becomes important. I was recently amazed or maybe it was more like shocked that in 1 of my university classes on dance and culture a student claimed that belly dancing originated in Colombia. (Thanks to media and videos today, Shakira has helped out dance and culture. Sarcasm intended.) I digress – Back to tango…..

Argentine Tango as a social dance is just that and it does come with a set of rules that help to keep the fairy tale of tango magic alive. Maybe it’s time for renaming or maybe it’s long overdue that if you are not going to have the rules than change the name of the event. We have heard for many years now, probably since I started tango, the terms alternative tossed about or mixtures of milonga and practica: practilonga. But I think the minute we use the word milonga we are expecting a certain setting, a certain milieu, a particular ambience with certain codes. So if you get rid of the rules, the etiquette, and you dance tango what is it called?

Sounds like a riddle….

And lastly, I know that people in a community start to feel like they have to choose where they go or what event they are seen at as that might influence how they are perceived or labeled. I know for me, as a tango teaching artist, that I often too feel torn because I know that I want people to dance and yet, I am truly invested in the traditions and the magic that draws people to the Argentine Tango.




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Tango and Love

Just in time for Valentine’s Day I am compelled to broach this topic.

How many times have you fallen in love on the dance floor? How many dancers do you know who have met through tango or even married because of tango?heart-shaped shoes

One of my first tango teachers said, “you fall in love for 3 minutes when you dance tango”. And I remember giggling and feeling excited about this prospect. Who isn’t looking for love? At the time I was single, doing my Masters, feeling ready for Prince Charming to make an appearance, and I guess I was thinking tango might show me the way or at least introduce me to a few viable P.C.’s.

But for me there was a confusion between falling in love for those 3 minutes and wanting a lifetime romance. It took a few (million) tandas to realize that I can fall in love for that tanda and what happens on the dance floor stays on the dance floor. What happened to those amazing people off the dance floor? Or possibly what happened to me off the dance floor? It seemed like all the magic disappeared. Sometimes 2 people can be very attracted to each other and have a terrible dance or the other way around, not be attracted to each other and become very attracted after the dance! I soon began to understand that the context of the dance was important. The context of the dance, in the milonga space, creates this electrically charged environment. Those exciting tandas where I felt attended to, taken care of, playful, interesting, and interested often disappeared off the dance floor as I was reminded by a life coach friend of mine that the dance is a context for those emotions. And thus back to the idea that you do fall in love just for 3 minutes.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”  ― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
And I definitely think I found and lost myself a few hundred times since those beginning days! And I still am finding myself within this art form.

I think most people have a love – hate relationship with the dance. Some still mistake their lust for their love. We get angry at the dance for giving us such great tandas and some bad ones too, for allowing ourselves to become too vulnerable or too this or too that. And yet, all this is part of being alive and human, isn’t it? To say that you have felt something?

Teaching a bunch of sexually blossoming and hormonally active 20 somethings (and sometimes not just 20 somethings) I find that the etiquette of the dance provide a structure and can serve as healthy boundaries for the couples in the dance. Where the arms go in a proper embrace? how to ask for a dance with a cabaceo?

And I think the roles help to guide the tango- is- like- love metaphor  in the sense that regardless of the gender the roles in tango are what we are drawn to. And the idea that there are identifiable roles is very appealing.

The Roles

To guide, direct, suggest, invite, protect, be confident, attentive, patient, playful, attune, musical, flirtatious, to dance.

To be invited, protected, taken care of, reassured, attended to, to be waited for, to feel beautiful, to flirt safely, to feel safe, to dance.

Our loves in tango, our love for tango, reminds us that we are alive and capable of the emotion.

On this St. Valentine’s Day may you all fall in love during your next tango dance.





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A Few Announcements!


Saturday February 4th 11am – 1pm I am hosting a Lunchtime Practica at Plaza de Anaya Fusion Studio at 524 W. Broadway in Tempe. This is an opportunity to involve my new 8 week fundamentals class to the idea of Practicing and to other dancers. I am looking forward to integrating them into a positive experience of social Argentine Tango.

I have 40 brand new students in that class and they are enthusiastic and very focused. I look forward to introducing them to everyone who joins us. SO come on out and get some practice in!


I want to continue to encourage people to register for the ASU Experience. And if you have never danced before TANGO 101 will be just for you. I can’t stress enough the quality of instruction, the new format that will be explored, and the good time we will have. Here is a list of highlights:

The TEACHERSGraciela Gonzalez

*Graciela Gonzalez will be in town for the festival and for a week. She is available for private lessons. She is the teacher most responsible for changing my dancing. I am honored to have her with us again. Don’t miss out.

Tomas Howlin and Shorey Myers*I had the pleasure of taking a Tango Teachers course with Tomas Howlin last year and respect him highly as a teacher. He has lots of great stories and incredible information to share.

*Jaimes and Christa run the 8th Style School in Seattle. They too come with a breadth of knowledge and in-depth understanding of the dance form. I am happy that they will be joining us!Jaimes and Christa


* There are only 6 classes during the festival. Each class slot is designed with a different concept in mind. For example: the first class on Friday is conceptually about “Walking, The Embrace and Connection”. The teachers who will be teaching at that time have been asked to design a class around that concept. AFTER each class there is a 30 minute PRACTICE slot for you to spend time refining what you learned, dancing, playing, meeting new people OR asking the instructors on hand for more assistance on that particular class.

* Take advantage of this new design. We know you’ll love it!

The MILONGAS and the DJ’s

* 5 milongas – plenty of dancing time over the weekend. These include Friday night at the historic Tempe Woman’s Club, Saturday night at the beautiful ASU Art Museum and the all-nighter on the Gammage Promenade, Sunday will be in the Memorial Union with the option of a pasta dinner. There is also an alternative milonga planned for Saturday afternoon.

* Our DJ’s have been chosen by the Tango Club as some of their favorite DJ’s. Mike from Portland milonga scene, Michelle from Albuquerque, Shorey from San Francisco, and our very own Acacia. We love these DJ’s and know how important it is for them to keep us dancing. I know they will.


* This is one of the most economical festivals. ASU Tango Club created the festival for a love of the dance and not for a business. A full pass is just $185.

* Registration is through google checkout. There have been some glitches with it but don’t despair. Just send a check or let me assist.


Those people we enjoy dancing with. We have lovely dancers joining us from Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; Minneapolis, MN; MA; CA; DC; and all over AZ!

Keep dancing!



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Tango Coaching

This weekend Rommel and I were in Flagstaff and Sedona teaching. We had a wonderful time as always. I enjoy just how friendly everyone is and how willing they are to share their experiences and their eagerness to learn.

As a part of the weekend we conducted a 3 hour coaching session in Sedona for  5 couples. We were told ahead of time that what their core group needed and wanted was some very specific guidance and some 1 on 1 time for corrections.

Rommel and I created a 3 hour session for them beginning with simple bare bones exercises and some revealing connection exercises then building to each couple picking the 1 thing in their dancing that they would like to address in front of the group. “What’s your beef?” We framed this session by asking the couples to show and to keep the language as factual as possible as we all know that there is always 2 truths, 1 for each person.

We were able to dig deeply and to address each couple’s “annoyance”. These range of “annoyances” I feel are very common in tango: the molinete, the embrace, back ochos, working on the closed side of the embrace, and stopping the follower where and when the leader wants to!

Do any of these ring true for you in your dancing?Sculpture of Embrace

For this courageous and hard working group, we were able to hone in on the leaders right arm, the “bucket handle”, the “regulator”, the “fence”, the “gate keeper”… all the affectionate words that we have given to this particular part of the embrace. We spent some time speaking about the relationship of the elbow in connecting to the follower in the embrace. Remember that if the leader raises that right elbow there is now more space for the follower to creep into and if that elbow is positioned more to the side of the body or even more towards the back of the body, the follower will be hanging out there too. This side of the embrace usually forms based on comfort, the shape and how comfortable the follower is when she is in the embrace, also how much tension is in the leaders pecs probably also plays a part. Correcting it also seems to be very challenging and practically unique to each couple. How much tension does there need to be in this side of the embrace was also addressed. As the nicknames suggest, there needs to be enough tone in that side to assist in keeping the follower where the leader would like her to be and within range, meaning with relationship to the leaders body.

I do not want to get into a discussion about the wide varieties of leads through this leaders right arm but there does need to be clear information transmitted through that appendage!

Working with this group also put all the tiny details of creating back ochos into a spotlight! And as we know there is cause and effect at play, all those things you learn in a lesson go out the window for the follower if she is struggling with her embrace or connection to her leader in those back ochos. Understanding the relationship of the leader to the follower in the timing of the ochos definitely helps the mechanics of the movement. The relationship of the followers pivot to the leader, the relationship of the leaders step to the followers as well. It is a constant informational circuit between leader and follower. Giving and receiving and giving information throughout the dance.

I am looking forward to more tango coaching sessions in the near future. Let me know if you and your partner would like to be a part of the next coaching session.

Thanks to those dancers in Sedona – keep dancing!

And for those of you who will be in town – come join me and a new batch of dancers on February 4th from 11am – 1pm for the First Practica at Plaza de Anaya World Fusion Studio in Tempe. Rommel and I will be there to answer questions and to assist in your practice.
Plaza de Anaya is located at 524 W Broadway Rd Suite 107, Tempe AZ 85282
Practica fee $7





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