Accueil/Welcome post


photo: Francine Gagnon

English greeting below.

Premièrement un p’tit mot à mes amis québécois et « français de l’autre bord »… Vous le savez, dès que je suis arrivé au Québec j’ai tenu à respecter la langue d’usage et de travail d’ici. Nos programmes, affiches, dépliants, revues, etc. étaient exclusivement en français. J’ai tenu à mettre en vigueur cette politique dans le cadre professionnel de Graffiti Tango. J’aimerais VOUS remercier, du fond du coeur, toutes et tous qui m’ont encouragé à apprendre le français!! Je me souviens de la patience et de la grâce que vous m’avez accordées, et ce à travers les années!!!

Comprenez chers amis, que mon projet d’édition d’un site Web aurait représenté une tâche bien trop colossale si j’avais du le rédiger moi-même en français. De toute façon, c’est un site historique, et là, vous allez trouver votre langue bien représentée par la collaboration généreuse et précieuse de vos compatriotes, qui étaient les amis de Graffiti Tango à l’époque. Je me souviens. Je vous embrasse tous! Merci.


There are so many people that contributed to the early development of the Montreal tango community! As one of the forerunners, Graffiti Tango engaged a fair number of these individuals in its activities. If you’re looking for a simple, documented presentation of some of the early history of Montreal tango, then I encourage you to review the sections “Sur les traces du tango”, “GT Show Programs” and “Press” in particular. There you will find unbiased documentation of the names of many fine collaborators and contributors to tango’s early development in Montreal. Graffiti Tango would not have been what it was without their precious contributions!!

Graffiti Tango (even its name) was born predominantly from my bias and disposition as a dance artist. I led the initiative that established the standards, protocols and pedagogy for its artists, teachers, collaborators and clients. Although, truth be told, I would not have been so inspired to define Graffiti Tango’s mandate if it were not for the allure of the city of Montreal, the extraordinary warmth and welcome that I sensed from cultured Montrealers, and certainly not without the intimate collaboration and support of my former co-director Danielle Sturk.



And oh, that is such sweet karma

In 1990 my vision for the fledgling Montreal tango community was founded on creating multi-faceted employment for professional dancers. This grandiose initiative worked very well for several years, until it was undermined by the very professionals within the organization that had been trained to dance, perform and teach tango. Danielle, Carol and Bobby went their own way. For Carol & Bobby there was immediate success because they were recognized Graffiti Tango company dancers who remained in Montreal. As time went on though, and until this day, they never returned my generous gestures to offer me a single opportunity in tango, such as the multitude I had offered them for so many years. But let’s be realistic, those two never envisioned community development and artist employment like I did. Carol & Bobby simply wanted a studio to make money for two people. Nothin’ wrong with that.

And that’s life. However, the truth is that those two were never able to regain the artistic recognition realized for them as members of Graffiti Tango. That’s karma. (The one big chance that Bobby had with “Ils dansent”, he blew itBIGTIME!) It didn’t take long until Carol & Bobby became simple social dance studio operators like a hundred million others on the planet – nothin’ special there folks, let’s rotate the Argentines in and out because we’ve appropiated their culture, ‘we have no creativity ourselfish’ and ‘we don’t mind seeing the money go out of the community’.

In my opinion this is (and was) a short-sighted approach to artistic and business development within the community. One of the reasons QC never became a country is because of self-serving individuals like these two, and many others like them in Montreal tango. Another is because the PQistes never made friends with separatist Anglos (like me) found on both sides of Canada, who would like nothing better than to stick the fornicating monarchy right up the federalist’s ass! But that’s another story.

This website/blog was created in 2013. It was created because someone was trying to alter the true history of Montreal tango.  I looked after my 1992-95 client Daniel Saindon and his hysteric aspersions with my first post. But there had already been long-time ‘alterations’ of this history published in previous years for which I never reacted or responded.

By 2013 Carol & Bobby had falsely marketed themselves as choreographers of Graffiti Tango for 15 years. See for yourself. Did I complain publicly? No. I politely asked them to correct their Internet-marketing mendacity, but they contemptuously ignored my professional requests with an indifference that was breathtakingly unconscionable. Only after being exposed as liars by the creation of this blog did they reluctantly alter their website. I know why they lied for so many years about being choreographers for Graffiti Tango, my work was quite good, but that doesn’t make their actions and attitudes against me any less insidious.

For years I brought a plethora of Quebec/Montreal citizens to new heights of truly interesting social accomplishments in their lives. And that was followed by years of them going along with the ‘Tangueria PQiste crowd’ treating me as some sort of (anglo) pariah!? Explain that please. Explain how a uni-lingual English-speaking person comes to Quebec, creates all sorts of employment and opportunities for all sorts of QC individuals in a super popular socio-cultural activity, launches the city into a cultural realm that it had not known previously, learns and then works in the language of the province, and yet somehow is the villain in all this. OUATE DE PHOQUE?! (This is a phonetic bi-lingual joke that = WAT DA FOOK?!)

Nope. I’m not ready to make nice.

Cuba 2016 - evil eye 2

“Here’s lookin’ at you kid.”

“C’est bon d’avoir ton point de vue sur cette époque. Comme le dit André, ça ramène de nombreux souvenirs. Par contre tu finis ton historique au moment ou les Ateliers tango et Grafitti tango entraient dans leurs plus belles années. Ce serait un vrai cadeau si tu continuais ce travail.” RB

The similarities of tango community actors like Andrea S, Corinne K, Marika L, Elias N, Paul M, Laura S, Gabriel G, Jean-Sébastien V, Geraldo S, Allyson B\M, etc., etc., ad nauseam, is that they permit themselves to appropriate a foreign culture for their own financial objectives and then expect to be treated as some kind of ‘dance’ expert too! Huh?! How does that work? Mine was a different perspective because of my verified dance background: “We (Graffiti Tango) had no pretensions of trying to represent Argentine/Buenos Aires tango culture in any way“.

Yeah, I’ve lived through all the various disgruntled, jealousies and petty aspersions of self-made ‘tango experts’, nationalist QC’ers and wacked out Latinos. Many years ago I decided to not participate in their precious tango “community”. Yet it seems they all think that their “community” is on an equal footing as it was when the freaking “anglo” was involved. Well, it’s not. So get over it. Your pettiness, jealousies, lack of honesty, lack of talent/creativity and lack of respect have demeaned your own community to the point where no one will ever repeat or equal my accomplishments. And oh, that is such sweet karma!  ;-)  LMFAO

Thirty years later I’m happy and still successful here in Montreal. I’m quite content with my professional, personal and social accomplishments, which keep adding up, far beyond the period of time covered by this blog. I’m also happy with my transition out of the social dance industry. As you can well imagine, a man of my various talents, generosity, and distinctive work ethics is much appreciated by many people… in other fields. It’s good, and very rewarding.

The Quebec slogan “je me souviens” became the underlying motif for this website without my specific intent. Dans le passé je me suis toujours distingué comme Montréalais, et non Québecois. Mais là, je crois qu’il faut que ça change. Vive le Québec !


The comments section is open to those with a real identity.


“Polissez la Saucisse” Thumbs Up!

A few years back I found this hilarious translation:

polissez la saucisse_resized

I swear, I pissed my panties laughing!

Phonetics and translations… what fun! Polish Sausage as a noun, and then in French they use the verb form – in the (polite) imperative – polissez! la saucisse – polish the sausage – (phonetically in English it sounds like pawlish) If I were still on the scene teaching tango I would take it upon myself to ‘police’ what I view as an aberrant (& abhorrent ;-) physical deformation found pretty well everywhere in Argentine tango these days. This is the only partnered social dance where this deformation occurs with such ‘enthusiasm’. Gawd, it’s almost a virus; a pandemic! ;-)  As it is, I just amuse myselfish with the above phrase when I see pictures of Montreal tango teachers extending their ‘sausages’ in public in such a provocative manner as this. Check the look on Bobby’s face when a girl grabs his seasoned sausage! woot !!  ;-)

Originally I thought I could limit the backlash from this post to a few of the men teaching in Montreal (i.e. those pictured above, and a couple others). But no, as it turns out, I’m in deep shit. Here in Montreal, the protagonists presenting their perky pickles for polishing, by their potently passionate practitioners of digit-rub are extensive. Yep. After researching all of the boyz presently teaching tango in Montreal, I can confirm that there are only (four) three men in town that do not proffer their erectile digits for public postulation. These (four) three are: Paul Montpetit, Geraldo Sanchez, Clémont Lafond and Bernard Caron. Chez Coco_Thumbs Up

So congratulations to those (four) three gentlemen; it may not mean much to some, but to me this is a mark of sophistication in your embrace and (overall) poise in your dancing. Bravo!

I think I know where this pettish peter portrayal began: ‘the Coke Brothers’. The so-called fathers of neo-tango (Gustavo, Chicho, Fabian). Nowadays, those guys are more like atrophied grandfathers, wasted shadows of their former selves – check out their latest YouTube vids at recent events. (Aside: for decades people attempting to guess my age would miss by at least ten years. When asked what was my secret I told them “moderate abuse of recreational substances”. A word to the wise bro’, a bit late as it may be. ;-)

So this prodigious digit presentation is now world-wide. Even one of my favourite dancers is culpable in its propagation. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… Sebastian Arce.


So it’s not just the boyz in Montreal. Clearly this peculiar pecker parade is simply a conspicuous ‘nuance’ that has little to do with marketing success. So be it. Hey, it’s just one of the first things I notice in a photo, improvisation or choreography; but that’s me (a freaking ballet dancer fer gawd sake).

Recently Endré Szeghalmi posted a short blog about the leader’s left arm in tango; she entitled it “The Dangerous Embrace“. In the blog she publishes a “good 4” photo where the man’s weathercock is in the wind, presumably assessing his evening’s portentous possibilities. In the article Endré mostly talks about comfort for the woman, and differentiates between show and salon tango dancers. She does not address the obvious… like, who teaches this shit?! And, is this ‘dumb-thumb’ craze the result of people’s downward gaze, endlessly fascinated by the fornicating figures they’re performing with their feet and legs, while neglecting the finer points of connection?!! You tell me.

Speaking of teaching, Andrea Shepherd recently wrote in her “Twenty tango lessons: Part Two: It’s all about that embrace” she writes: “On a technical level… what I tell my students these days: Use your hands more and your arms less.”

Yikes! Wat da fook is she talkin’ about? I don’t like this at all, because I’m certain she has beginner dancers that think ‘how do I make my hands more active? …after all, it was the first thing she mentioned’. (Andrea goes on to describe how she teaches the embrace. Disclaimer: it’s hard for me to read her blogs, she’s such a suburban wine-Mom (& whine-Mom too) and kaka karen, cancel culture creature.)

For me, a teaching principle that I employed to auto-correct (i.e. improve & evolve) my own methods of teaching social dance came from Albert Einstein who speculated: “I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” The initial elements and examples, both verbal and visual, that are given to beginning social dance students are exceptionally important.

Ernesto Carmona provided GT with a wonderful imagery that we gratefully passed on to our apprentice teachers and students. It is this: imagine that you are holding a tray of food (while standing); we all know how to walk and turn as needed in any direction while holding our tray, without spilling the contents. The forearms are raised to 90 degrees at waist-level and extend directly in front of the body. Holding our tray in this position requires a minimum of muscle tension to maintain. To squeeze the tray serves no purpose, neither does moving the elbows behind the torso.

To allow one hand to flay to the side that deforms the original support position makes the tray fall. This was our imagery for initial arm placement in tango (and it provides the basis for the dissociation of upper body and lower body that occurs as we advance into molinetes). Holding this tray position for the first time, we would ask our students to turn and face their partner and move until they were standing toe-to-toe in front of them. We would then exclaim “Ça fit!” (It fits!) Because it does. There were only minor adjustments and explanations of where and how to place the (four) hands for a comfortable, elegant position.

This ‘tray imagery’ allowed us a relaxed and purposeful initial embrace for arms, hands and upper body. Over time of course we advanced from there to get to the close embrace, but the ‘tray’ foundation is always viable and reinforced.

Here’s an article by two long-time tango proponents Valerie Hart and Alberto Paz that speaks to the new wave of female, or follower arm positions: “The Weird Hold

In my blog here, I’ve mostly limited my remarks to the presenters of this dirty digit phenomenon. It’s fairly evident in the photos provided that a leader’s lack of full awareness of his embrace “stands out like a sore thumb“. But in many other photo/video examples of tango couples there are countless followers who are effectively ‘grooming’ these projected ‘phalli’. It takes two to tango, as the saying goes; so ladies, when you “feel it” (your tango) make sure it encompasses the whole experience (visceral, emotional, mental & physical) and that you’re not made to succumb to an unintended symbolic pleasuring of a singular digital extremity. Cheers!



DS & JB 1996

There’s one special perpetrator of this aberration in Montreal. His clients/friends on FB even comment ‘there’s that thumb!’ Here’s a montage of Jean-Sébastien Viard’s ‘crimes against palm-manity’. ;-)

Inception Tango – Women as Midwives and Nurturers

The metaphoric adjective known as “chicken-and-egg” is used to describe situations where it is not clear what event came first, or what was its cause and effect. To me, this does not apply to tango. It is clear that the dance came first. Moreover, that women were (both) the cause and effect for the socio-artistic enigma that followed. Men of course were instrumental (pun intended) in tango’s future development, but men did not initiate or conceive tango.

Gustavo Benzecry Sabá recently published a book: “Los Legionarios del Abrazo. Historia del Tango Danza 1800 – 1983“. In English: “The Quest for the Embrace – The History of Tango Dance 1800-1983. (C’est déjà disponible en français aussi.) I have not read his book so I’m not sure what Gustavo’s claims are, as to the origins that date back to 1800. His chosen date for tango’s inception precedes (by 50 years) any other renditon I’ve encountered, yet it is in line with the proposition I present here.

If we accept the long-held premise that tango was first revealed in the brothels of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, then there is only one feasible conclusion: women conceived this dance in brothels where they were (both) the proprietors and operators. Over time, those midwives and nurturers subsequently encouraged men to participate in its further development.

Obviously men were sufficiently stimulated by their initial encounters with these women that they enthusiastically sought to repeat and (then) romanticize the events. Men contributed effusively to the music, poetry, song, dance and its general culture (for example Lunfardo). Tango didn’t have a name at the time of its inception; I believe it got its moniker in the early 1900’s. Recording devices in the early 1800’s were limited to cerebral memory, word-of-mouth, urban ‘folk tales’, artist renderings and the written word. (Photography began to be available after 1850.) Imagine this: if Benzecry is accurate in his origins timeline, Carlos Gardel was more than a hundred years away and the “Golden Age” of the great dance orchestras was even further.

Let’s examine another fairly obvious fact, although I’ve never seen it proposed anywhere: women spawned tango in brothels operated by women. Their ‘nouveau pas de deux’ was purposefully conceived in order that their brood learn how to treat women with respect and dignity, specifically during the time (before-and-after) the available services were tendered. I imagine that as the operators of a brothel women related to their service providers on an instinctual basis. Effectively, all the women involved in this enterprise wanted to realize two objectives: 1) making money, and 2) achieving the #1 goal in a pleasing, cultivated environment. That’s herstory; simple yet multi-faceted, elegant yet entrepreneurial, adaptable yet goal-oriented. (Also mindful, compassionate, generous and prescient.)

History shows us that in brothels operated by men women are demeaned, derided and degraded. Women are treated as chattel, sex slaves, and made to suffer the most primal impulses of the (male) clientele in a debasing, often abusive manner. I imagine that the entire ‘services’ aspect of brothels run by men is simply based on a ‘get-in, get-out’ premise. That’s history (in this case). Forceful and self-serving, uninventive and obsessive, undignified and short-sighted. (Also contemptible, ignoble, amoral and intolerant.)



The proposition here is that we accept there were specific elements at play during tango’s inception: men and women, desire and need, enterprise and sociology, music and dance. Other elements, the most romantic and nostalgic of all, progressed in alignment with women’s directives of the era; hence its prose, poetry, art and song that, combined with the music and dance, formed the socio-cultural roots of tango that many hold so dear today.

Please note that I am not a historian or sociologist of any kind, and I don’t pretend to be. And I imagine that tango’s original setting is not the first time in the human experience when women devised this music and dance prelude to ‘the sale of goods’. After all, it has been one of the roles of women throughout time and across the globe to inspire men to behave in a civilized, refined manner, at least while they are in the company of women. It’s simply the nature of things.


THE SEED – let there be music!

What is the most cultivating element or endeavour ever conceived by humans? After language, I would suggest that it’s music.

Many of us have musicians as friends or family members. Sometimes we witness them exploring new hybrid rhythmic forms while they’re just ‘playing around’ in search of a new avenue of inspiration or discovery. Tango musicologists will likely tell us that this was part of the process (of human curiosity and creativity) that developed  into the form of music we now know as tango. The original inspiration came from somewhere though, and that inspiration was surely the new movement and etiquette quest that was playing out before their eyes.

Tango music is written in 4/4 time. But so is blues, salsa, swing, tons of jazz, a mountain of classical, as well as many other styles/forms of music. I invite you to ask a tango musician what makes a tango tango.

In any case, dance and music are undeniable primal forces within us.


A FERTILE COUPLING, THE NEED – embrace the moment!

Before it was given a name and evolved into a socio-cultural entity, the tango was mothered by ‘professional’ women of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Apparently the ratio of men to women in those cities (for a certain period of time in the latter half of the 1800’s) was astoundingly lop-sided, something like 8 to 1. So women were a precious ‘commodity’ (if you’ll excuse the term) and were purposefully treated as such. And I’m certain they would insist upon this respect and recognition in an environment or enterprise of their own making.

Social partner ‘touch dancing’ is relatively new in the human experience. It first became known to peasants in Germanic countries around 1750, via variants of the waltz. So it’s feasible that as early as 1800 knowledge of how to approximate a physical movement relationship with a woman in a social setting arrived in Buenos Aires and Montevideo during the first half of that century. But the big economic and building boom of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, where we see the influences of the great cities and cultures of Europe taking form in the architecture, fashion, music, industry and business developments, took place much later in the 1800’s. The overall energy within these emerging cities must have been tremendously exciting, despite the political and economic turmoil of the first part of the century.

The fundamental elements of the dance tango are to move in elegant harmony with someone, in a close embrace. To be sure, the men being inspired in these settings were not aristocratic dandies. They were companions of the diverse tradesmen building the cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Imagine the natural gait of those men; it had a characteristic purpose specific to their lot in life, their trade. Elegance in movement was not a quality innate in them. However it became a learned and sought-after skill when a woman showed them why, how and when this ability would be useful to them. Women introduced them to a sophisticated ‘ritual’ that could touch upon their basic needs and indeed their very souls!

Such is the power of tango, its embrace. Such was the vision of the midwives and nurturers of the dance that became tango.


THE FRUITS OF LABOUR – romance me ’till the end of time!

Many women seem to possess an inherent aptitude for movement in dance. They also possess an intrinsic ability to recognize the needs of men and how to couple those needs with their own. So it’s not surprising that they would create a social dance activity that is overtly intimate and sensual. One that, in the grand scheme of things, responds to women’s needs first, and then  acknowledges the needs of men in its enactment. Brilliant!



Milena Plebs gave me and Danielle Sturk one of our most cherished compliments: “You have a very authentic tango”. The year was 1995; we were in a private session with her, and following her and Miguel Zotto in a public tango congress in Evanston, Illinois (just outside of Chicago).

We understood what Milena meant with her comment. She meant that we were true to our individual selves while dancing together. We had connection and communication without pretensions or distractions. We had respect for the general form of dancing tango, as well as individual and combined creativity that complimented our dance artist backgrounds.

Not everyone in tango is as thoughtful, talented or open-minded as Milena. For some, “authenticity” means that you must be a) Argentine; or b) imitate a particular style, or era; or c) that you categorically fit in with their particular definitions of what is “real tango”. Some Argentines view it as their birthright to impose a tango identity on others. OK. I won’t deny them their point of view. I have my own.

Over time however, when reflecting on authenticity in tango as a dance in the actual, physical sense, as opposed to the literal cultural sense that some are consumed with, I considered at length what it must have been like when tango music and dance were spawned in the brothels of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. The above text represents some of my thoughts on this matter. If you got this far, I thank you for allowing me to share those thoughts with you.


“25 years of tango”, and one rare gem

Gavito was a magnanimous ambassador for tango. Beyond his inspirational stage performances and milonga presentations, he was always generous in his gratitude to the tango communities that invited him as a guest teacher, speaker and representative of his beloved culture. More than any other travelling tango professional that I ever encountered, Gavito voiced his appreciation, again and again, to those individuals and communities (beyond his homeland) that foster the growth of tango as social art. Gavito chose to see the BIG inclusive picture of tango. And when he spoke of his gratitude it seemed that he was speaking on behalf of all of his travelling tango contemporaries who enjoy a livelihood doing what they love. Professional gratitude voiced with grace and sincerity; Gavito was a rare gem.
Next to Gavito, those people (Argentinian or otherwise) that seek to define for others what is “real”, “genuine” or “authentic” tango seem small indeed. Those people seem to want to reduce the growth of tango communities, by using exclusive definitions of “authenticity”. (Reality check: is Uruguay ever mentioned by these people?? I’m humming La Cumparsita at this moment for some reason. lol!)
Daniel Saindon has convened a round table discussion on 25 years of dancing “ARGENTINIAN” tango in Montreal. He has also indicated on his Facebook page that one of the talking points he wishes to explore is ‘what are the elements that go into building a tango community’. Daniel is going to hold his event at Tango Libre’s premises. Apparently the discussion will be broadcast on Daniel’s radio program – Radio Tango de mi flor / Montréal Buenos Aires  Montevideo vice-versa . (
I was here in Montreal as tango was taking root. I was among people who could see the tango ‘bandwagon’ approaching by virtue of the travelling show “Tango Argentino” and the music of Astor Piazzolla. I was among people like Ramon Pelinski, Richard Hunt and Quartango, Denis Beauchamp, Pierre Monette, Mecha Gomez, Jose Maria Gianelli, Karen Simon, Paul DeStrooper, “El Bruga y la Susana”, to name some of the most earnest and honest tango fans of the era.
I value honesty and truthfulness.
Twenty-SEVEN years ago in 1986 in Vancouver I saw Argentinian tango danced by the Montreal performance couple Robert-Philippe Babin and Francine Riopel. They were dancing with the newly formed Montreal music quartet Quartango. It was an excellent presentation, in music and in dance. Robert-Philippe told me that he taught Argentinian tango in Montreal as part of his repertoire as a professional in dance at the time. This simple truth does not serve Daniel Saindon’s round table ‘hug-fest’ that Argentinian tango did not arrive here until Lily Palmer. The fact of the matter is that over the past 27+ years of tango here in Montreal the tangible contributions by Lily Palmer to the tango scene here amount to the same value as a fart in a wind-storm. But she’s got a piece of paper now, from a present-day politician, no less. Can we expect to see/hear any accolades from Montreal Argentinians from “25 years” ago, or even now? After all, she did it ALL FOR THEM, n’est-ce pas?!
I don’t mind congratulating Lily for being a Montrealer for 25 years. It’s a great city! However, I take issue with her dismissive, mendacious position that she brought “authentic” “Argentinian in mind” tango to Montreal. Here’s a promise: the day that Lily Palmer admits in a public forum that Argentinian tango was alive and well in Montreal long before she arrived here, I’ll seriously redact this post.
Let’s move on to another talking point: “community” building. I don’t remember the word “community” being used much until 1993 or ’94. And when I first heard it in the context used, I immediately likened the concept to ‘the community of the hamburger‘; meaning that MacDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, et al, have no sense of common purpose among them. They just happen to do the same thing. They make hamburgers. Those companies singularly go about their business as best they know how. And that’s the way I see it with the business of tango. Please realize that most people in tango are hobbyists. Very few make a living from it. Still, the rules of business apply to hobbyists.
But let’s not explore Lily Palmer’s tangible accomplishments as a hobbyist in tango; that might be too revealing for this ‘hug-fest’. I remember going to Lily Palmer’s evenings in restaurants, at Centro Gallego, at Angels nightclub, at the Argentinian banquet hall on St-Laurent near Beaubien, and at the flamenco studio on Mont-Royal. It may sound like a lot of activity, but I assure you, we used to joke about how often she had to move; plus these evenings (for the most part) were exceptionally un-attended, even though tango was quite popular and very much in the spotlight. I also remember never seeing Lily at anyone else’s evenings. Imagine this, actually you don’t have to imagine it, you can check it out yourself right now: to this very day her Tango Nuestro webpage on refuses to acknowledge that her evenings are at La Tangueria! She simply gives an address. ( That’s the kind of person Lily is; she acknowledges no one but herself. What a sad, forlorn creature she can be. If she had not gone out of her way for so many years to diminish the work and actual contributions of SO MANY people in the tango scene here, I could have been kinder to her. Such is not the case.
At the beginning of tango in Montreal Lily never went to a Cercle Tango de Montréal evening or event, and Le Cercle was the first-ever registered tango entity in Montreal, with the first-ever milonga (dance evening)! Did she ever perform at the Argentinian Club? You tell me. She never came to Graffiti Tango events or milongas when we were in the basement of 4848 St-Laurent from 1991-95. And from 1995-99 I think she maybe came once (in 1998) when GT occupied the second floor ballroom at 4848.
Moving on in the “builder” category… Gerardo Sanchez never stepped foot in a Graffiti Tango dance hall. Not ever. I believe that he never went to see any of Graffiti Tango theatrical productions either.
For the record, I went to see several of Tango Libre’s productions and to dance in their dance halls, and to participate (to a lesser extent) later on in their festivals. I saw Denis Plante’s first-ever show at TL as a bandoneonist. Bravo! The Tango Libre theatrical productions I remember seeing were: a piece on the writings of Discepolo (yes Sylvie, I remember you on stage!), Amurado, Deux-ports-deux villes-un tango, and I went to see their show Sens. (In this age of YouTube, Vimeo, etc., one could expect posted videos of these productions… n’est-ce pas?!)
In speaking with a friend of mine (and former Tango Libre client in the mid-90’s) about me going to see TL productions and how Gerardo never came to any Graffiti Tango events, she said to me: ‘You two are fundamentally different. Gerardo is a Chilean immigrant who struggled with a job at a CLSC and was looking for any kind of supplementary entrepreneurial outlet to help him survive in his newly adopted country. He thought tango might do it for him; and he guessed right. He’s a business-first person and is more akin to your ‘community of the hamburger’ descriptor. You on the other hand are an artist. It’s in your nature to explore, to seek out and appreciate what’s going on around you . You want to be involved, and to seek inspiration from a variety of sources.’
This person left Tango Libre as a client years ago because Gerardo (then, and even now it seems) insists that his clients DO NOT go to other tango venues in Montreal. I have heard this same story from countless people over all these years. And (from my perspective) that is one big reason why TL’s numbers never seem to grow at the rate they should, in direct defiance of the (annual) Herculean marketing efforts of Sylvi Belleau. (btw, Lily used to say she would allow her adepts to frequent events that she sanctioned. Although I have never encountered a Lily Palmer tango ‘adept’ on any dance floor, ever.)
I truly admire Gerardo that he never gave a shit about anyone else in the “community”. He simply did not want to know, or see first-hand, what was going on around him; and he certainly didn’t want his efforts compared with others, on stage, video or otherwise! I admire the fact that he just went about his business as best he could, putting aside the “politics” of the so-called “community”.
Oddly enough, Graffiti Tango started out with a sense of community. GT’s first theatrical show in June of 1991 was in fact a community effort. And since we were dance professionals with specific aspirations, we invited the Canada Arts Council to adjudicate our first production . We knew that it took three adjudications (of three full productions) before a professional company could even apply for funding. The CAC representative who came to that show told us afterwards that (although she enjoyed the show) there were far too many non-professionals in the cast. She advised us to retract our request for adjudication of that show because the “community” aspect would not work in our favour. We did as she advised. And from that moment on the tango “community” deemed us as snobs. That ‘moniker’ (per se) persisted in certain circles for decades. Good grief.
It ended up that Graffiti Tango did lots of shows that involved our studio clients over the years. However in 1996 Graffiti Tango once again reached out to the “community” at large. The first was a Milonga Kings show that involved Paul Montpetit from La Tangueria and Antoine Latte from SCQAC. (I have the program but not the video of this show.) The second effort was “La soirée de la Cumparsita” where we invited every tango entity in Montreal to present an improvisation or a choreography on a version of that famous tune. Neither Gerardo or Lily responded to our invitation.
I should mention that Tango Libre has participated in a few “community” evenings in the past; although (in my time) Gerardo sent others to represent his studio. Lily of course is still a beginner dancer (even after her “25 years”) and I have never seen her in any kind of demonstration at a “community” event. (Hey, here’s an idea! Wouldn’t it be perfect for this “25-years community” hug-fest if Lily Palmer and Victor Hernandez performed at a Tango Libre festival evening? It would be like “two peas in a pod”. Man, the place would be packed!! LMAO!!!).
So what does it take to build a tango community Daniel Saindon? Well Mr. Moderator of this auspicious event, let me (first) congratulate you on your past and present contributions to the “community”. And allow me to say how impressed I am that you state on your Facebook page that you seek to find value in everyone in tango here, and to avoid confrontations, in direct contrast to your stated ‘economics’ personality type.
Daniel Saindon launched a Montreal tango “community” website in 1996. When he was preparing to launch, Daniel generously invited me and Danielle Sturk into his home to present his concept: he wanted to collate by popular vote the ten most favoured tangos in Montreal. So he proposed that each Montreal tango entity render him a list of their ten favourite tangos. Upon leaving his place, Danielle and I said to each other ‘it sounds like a high-school project’. As it turned out, if you did not submit a list to Daniel, then your Montreal tango entity DID NOT EXIST on his site. I didn’t and don’t have a problem with that; it’s just business. The only problem I see is pretending (now, or then) that it was “community” building. After all, by taking on the all-inclusive Internet call-sign “tango.Montreal”, one could argue that there’s some sort of community, commercial or social responsibility with that type of expansive advertising. Apparently not. It was just false, or at the very least mis-leading marketing on his part.
In July 1996 I was put in a tenuous position with Graffiti Tango. Subsequently I never got around to submitting to Daniel a list of Graffiti Tango’s ‘ten most-ever favourite tangos’. So from 1996 to 1999, even though he came to my milonga most Sunday nights, Graffiti Tango had no value and did not exist… according to Daniel Saindon and his website ‘’.
In the new century Daniel chose radio broadcasts as his contribution to his “community”. I don’t know when he took on the current host, but I have a problem with her. First of all, her voice IS NOT suited for this medium. But that’s just me. Secondly Daniel, you allowed this host to bring on Victor Hernandez for a show to speak about tango dance-floor etiquette… are you freaking kidding me!!! Well Daniel, I’m here to tell you that you lost MAXIMUM credibility with that directorial oversight. Hernandez is the ORIGINAL CREEP of the entire Montreal tango scene. This is the guy who ‘devised’ punching men in the back on the dance floor while he hides behind a skirt. And in case you missed it, he passed on his creepy trait to the necessarily-medicated Pierre Charbonneau. (Thank you Pancho and Joseph Vignalou for putting FREAKING CREEP #2 in his place!!!) In any event Daniel, that particular show notification completely turned me off your radio initiatives FOREVER… with one exception. My friend Manuel Soto asked me to listen to his interview with your host and I obliged. During that show I couldn’t help but notice how Manuel’s second language (French) was FAR SUPERIOR to your host’s first language (also French). Go figure. Manuel sounded polite and educated, your host sounded clownish.
Good luck with your hug-fest, one and all!
And rest in peace Gavito. You set a fine example in your time.