Desert Hula

Yes, Bunny, there is hula in the Palm Springs desert! And it’s awesome–2 nights a week each for 2 hours. Karla is a lovely teacher and the group is full of “aloha.” Very welcoming and warm atmosphere. So far: fabuloso! So fun learning to dance with props: split bamboo sticks so far-fun fun fun!

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Leaving Aloha

I wanted to leave Hawaii because it’s so very expensive to live there and because the weather is so humid. I prefer the coolness of the NW. But, SURPRISE, I’m gone just a few weeks and I miss it….I miss the slower pace and the aloha spirit which is fairly prevalent.

I miss studying ukulele, Hawaiian language and hula.  GOOD NEWS–I found a hula class here in PS–not sure it goes in the hot hot summer–but if it does, I am so there! If not, I may need to return soon for an extended visit.

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Leaving Kaneohe

After nearly a year on the island living with daughter Hope, Mark and baby Liam, I leave for the next chapter. I don’t really know as yet what that is but it begins with our annual FAMILY REUNION for 10 days at Lake Shasta-All 30 of us were in attendance at some point, many for the whole time. This is followed by watching after Liam, age 2, while Hope and Mark ready their house in SE Portland for sale. They return to Kaneohe, but I fly to Palm Springs to doggie sit and house sit for daughter Samara until the first of October. She’s off ta lot of one-on-one time.o Europe to celebrate her 40th w/hubby Alan. My oldest grandson, Joshua, is here with me in PS for nearly 3 weeks, doing some house projects for Samara and Alan. It’s a great chance for us to have one-on-one time. There’s no Argentine tango here, but I’ll have a 4 day break over Labor Day weekend to attend Alex Krebs’ THING in PDX. It’s always great. I have projects from Samara to–the first is recovering 30 throw pillows! wow–30. Good luck to me!

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After 12 weeks of weekly hula class at the local Sr Center, I go looking for something more challenging and a little faster. Searching for clues on line, I find a very informative site and a class on Wed. evenings for 2 hrs! Only $30 a month. This Kumu ( teacher) has lots of cds as well. I go to taste and see, buy a cd for children to take to this year’s family reunion and take the class. Coincidentally, five lovely youngish Japanese dancers are visiting for a couple weeks to study. They stand in te front of the dozen dancers to lead. The class is very fast and presumes a high level of dance proficiency. I barely hold on. Some of these gals have been dancing for more than 10 years and have their own studios in Japan! Sheesh! I am very glad when the class ends and wonder if I’ll return. Soon after I discover I have Silver Sneakers on my insurance! I can take free classes galore at certain gyms here. So far I see 24 hr fitness and the Y in Kailua, 15 min from home. AND there’s hula at the Y! So, I go to taste this one and find this Kumu is native Hawaiian(a plus), very large gal, very kind and attentive to new folks too. I love her, and she moves the class at a clip. There are maybe 30 ladies of all ages in the class: 14-80!! Cool. Kumu tells me I need a skirt(the ugly cotton hula skirts that flatter no one save the skinny 14 yr old!). I can get one, I say. But she insists she’ll bring one for me next time and it’s only $20. (I know that’s a good price as that’s what they go for at the flea market.) Next day I return (she has class Fri nite and Sat am) and she has brought me a beautiful dark blue and white skirt! I remember then I had been wearing my pretty white blouse with blue embroidery the night before. Kumu is observant and kind. This Sat class is faster and harder but only one hr. I survive. Then I chat w/Kumu about her online information as another student has suggested. She takes my email address and promises to send the info so I can practice the dances at home. I feel a connection with this teacher and decide to learn all I can from her while I am here.

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Tango Two-Step

I returned to Medici’s in Manoa last night for my second visit to this weekly milonga lasting just 2 1/2 hrs. Could be the shortest milonga on record. I returned having promised to do so after dancing with a charming young man there who has great potential and enough vocabulary to keep me interested. But, alas, he was no where to be seen. So as there were-as per usual–more women than men, I tied on my lead flats and began to dance. I had a couple of okay tandas and was chatting with a new friend, Sue, when I saw him thru the window on his way in. I pulled out my follow heels and took a breath, but someone else came along first…..and second. That’s when I realized there is such a thing as a Tango Two-Step. For me that’s when your lead has very limited vocabulary and is highly predictable. If he’s a smooth dancer and confident, it can still be a nice dance….but this isn’t often the case. It’s okay–just not anything to get excited about and you really don’t mind if that doesn’t happen again. Worse yet is the beginning dancer who overconfidently tries to lead figures he has no control of and can’t figure out how to get out of. Ayeyaeeyaeee! That’s when, after one interminably long song, one says “Yes,” smiles and sits down. Ugh. Then Pugliese begins to play and one cannot allow such an opportunity to pass. So I go to Mr Puerto Rico and present my cabeceo. Ahh. Nice. I could have gone home after this tanda most happily, but stayed to the end. And the end was spectacular: a milonga tanda. Fantastico, but oh dear, my hoped for partner was taken–So, anxiety and frustration mounting, I screw up my courage and ask the hostess of this milonga–a lovely dancer. She accepts and it’s a delightfully fun tanda! We laugh and hug, enjoying the moment.  This moment is topped only by what happened next: My PR guy asks if I might teach him to milonga! I’ve been resisting these requests as I don’t want my tango to become more business than pleasure. But, he’s just watched me dance milonga and is so excited,  my answer in this case: “Yes! Love to!” He enters my number in his phone along with my name and promises to send his schedule so we can make an appointment. Could this be the start of a new tango chapter….?  Time, as they say, will tell.

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Goodness! It appears I have neglected this blog for four months! I haven’t written anything about tango in the islands: Oahu, Maui, The Big Island—-nor did I post anything about dancing in Japan–sweet, for sure. So, more to come. Meanwhile my newest book has arrived and I am loving it: Tango Stories by Michael Lavocah…today I read about the beginning of tango in Japan. The son of a diplomat, Baron Megata, brought it when returning from several years in France. Walla! He brought stacks of records and his love and skill and started teaching upper classes for free. Tango spread quickly. By 1954 there were more than 20 orchestras tipica. Emperor Hirohito wanted D’Arienzo to come to Japan with his orchestra so much he offered “anything,” even to send a submarine! D’Arienzo never went but sent his band which had a very successful tour. D’Arienzo was afraid of flying as his close friend Carlos Gardel had died in a plane crash.

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I Could Have Danced All Day

Actually I did dance all day yesterday-nearly. Went to Alex’s noon practica-arrived late, for the second hour. But it was good an I danced plenty-leading a lot. I didn’t think I’d get a dance with Alex, but I did–a milonga, near the end of the time. I didn’t offer to lead, as I have sometimes when we have danced milonga-I just followed. It was a great set, and after the last song Alex said: “That was perfect!” And it was-an absolutely marvelous, creative-full of surprises and complete connection-just great! Definitely a acne worth $8.00 -the price of admission-and then some. I left happily on errands, stopping off in Beavercreek to visit dear friends and returning to SE PDX to grab a bite before heading to Ventura Park near my daughter’s place where Alex’s Krebsec brass band was playing at 6:30pm. The’d just begun as I walked across the grass -music filling the air with typical umpaas. A happy sound! The crowd was big but no one was dancing yet–so I started. Others cmd along by and by and soon there was a crowd up front of the 300 in the audience-all moving and grooving to the drums and tubas, trumpets and Alex’s tenor sax. Lots of children danced freely and one little boy, maybe 3 yrs old, was really into it-hands in the air, fingers moving in joy. It was a great evening up til just after 8pm. and I was on my feet and moving most of that time. Next-home to change and head to the evening milonga at the Norse. The music was 50/50–50% alternative. But of that 50% only 25% was nicely danceable. Ah so. DJing alternative is a special art, and only a few excel. My favorite dances were with Aja, a dear woman with whom I enjoy dancing milonga. And-a fun set with Michael H. who always laughs in delight and we play on the dance floor with a very nice connection. The milonga ended at 12 so I was home by 12:30…..a sweet-good tired flooding my limbs…..because I danced all day!

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I’m housesitting and doggie sitting for my daughter in Kirkland, Washington. I’ve done this before and so, before this visit, knew about tango venues nearby and across the water in Seattle. So far this trip I have only managed to get to LaVida for one milonga and tonight for an hour of their weekly practica. But tonight was one of those magical nights you didn’t see coming and certainly didn’t expect. Come to think of it, that happens with some regularity in the Tangoworld, and with some regularity we are continually connecting “beneath the surface” with stunning individuals we’d never have met outside of this world. Such was the nature of a comment my friend German made on Skype the other day. He’s from Buenos Aires, but currently teaching in Russia. So he said he’d been talking just the day before with a mutual friend, Chino, about me. So of course I said, what did you say? And he said, “Just that it’s amazing that because of tango, we are now friends.” And not just casual friends, but “heart connection” friends. So it was tonight that magic just descended again–and by the time I left I’d not only had sweet milonga set with Kris (who runs this practice) but had connected with three lovely women and one charming young man. I know I will see again two of these women. One is from Tokyo–where I will go in October–she will be there too–on business–It’s inevitable–we’ll connect there–maybe I’ll meet her 85 yr old mother? This lovely Japanese woman is married to an American and has 3 young children but travels to Japan a lot for business –and–to see her mom. The other young woman has only been dancing tango a few months but is very good–already dancing intermediate level. She’ll move quickly because she’s gifted and young and motivated. She wants to connect again–so… That’s our Tangoworld….connecting and connecting, like no other world I move in. No wonder it’s spreading exponentially!

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An Elder’s Perspective

Okay-so the reality I experience at the PDX Marathon this weekend is not much different than other tango venues in the homeland. There are variations of course, based on the day, but generally-it’s a venue populated by lovely dancers mostly aged 25-40. It’s a young crowd seeking young, likeminded folks. I, and the very few like me, who are distinctly the elders and female, have a rough time getting the dances we seek–some days. This being true I decided to learn to lead, a solution for my desire to dance more than I was getting. Now I lead fairly well-enough to dance every tanda if I want. But I don’t. I really need both. I prefer to lead milonga, because so few fellas can actually lead milonga, misunderstanding the dance to be just a version of their normal tango–but it’s definitely not that. So I like to lead and find women coming to dance with me for milongas occasionally. I enjoy this a lot. What I don’t enjoy is being passed by again and again by fellas who dance at my level, presumably because I’m an elder. I get it–the human nature part–but it sucks. This ageism in Tango I do not find on the salsa floor. When I go dance salsa, I am asked to dance as much as I want to dance. I enjoy salsa and will go to dance it occasionally. Yet, it’s Argentine Tango I love….listen to every day, picture in my creative imagination as I listen to the music…For years now, when I shop my first question is: will this garment work for tango? You might say Tango is a big part of my reality. But I don’t enjoy the sometimes cliquish quality of a tango crowd, though I do appreciate folks needing to reconnect and socialize. The thing is, I know tango venues can be friendlier, because in other places in the world, they are. There an elder female or male are welcomed and appreciated (even admired) for their dancing expertise. Here, I’m afraid, the old “American competitive spirit” prevails, as well as an underlying but powerful worship of youth. You can see it clearly sometimes on the floor….when the dancers seem to be dancing from the ego rather than the heart and joy of the dance. Over the last 10-11 years I have seen many individuals come and go in the tango community. Some leaving because they’ve been hurt, feel excluded or wounded. Some because they just don’t enjoy the ambiance of exclusivity. My favorite dance partner stopped coming completely about two years ago. Big loss to me and many others. I’m not leaving any time soon. And I could probably be a little more assertive in my appreciation of others. So for now, I’ll try to do that, and maybe keep my lead shoes on for good measure.

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I will go to Japan late October/November this year. I have a friend there, a former student and his family. And I’ll find tango there – – – probably. Best guess!

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