Notes on Montreal tango players

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Graffiti Tango did something in Montreal that no other tango organization or city in North America has ever duplicated, neither then, nor now : it launched a professional contemporary dance company based on the Argentine tango, that was sustained by a social dance school, regular dance hall activities (our milongas!) and immense public popularity. We began our tango efforts here in 1990 but the undeniable success of these three combined feats are what put Montreal on the international tango map beginning in 1993. The quality of our artistic work and the interest it stimulated propelled us onto the cultural pages of Montreal newspapers. And the world noticed! …as much as it noticed other aspects of Montreal’s ‘new-wave’ dance/theatre culture at the same time (Lalala Human Steps, O Vertigo, Carbone 14). We made tango the talk of the town

The following are brief notes on past and present tango (dance) attempts around town, as well as notes on well-known contributors. Many of these efforts would never be acknowledged or recorded except for this listing. Some of them were pretentious ragtag operations that did not last, or had a curious ‘input’ on the community in general. Virtually all of them were hobbyist-driven and hobbyist-oriented. In any case, no other Montreal tango entity ever became the talk of the town with the influence and importance of the professionals affiliated with Graffiti Tango. And certainly there has never been a dance couple or business partnership in Montreal tango on the level of Danielle and Joseph in terms of excitement, quality of movement, innovation chorégraphique, artistic flair, organisational continuity and solid, timely, continuous accomplishments! Graffiti Tango was the rising tide that lifted all boats, then, and indirectly even now.

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“Salut Joseph!

Je me suis beaucoup amusée à lire ton histoire du tango, tu es très caustique, mais c’est l’histoire du tango à Montréal la plus honnête et la plus véridique que j’ai lu jusqu’à présent… Je n’ai pas terminé la lecture de ton site mais je trouve que tu es très lucide (et baveux).
La version de l’histoire du tango à Montréal par Daniel Saindon est une version très partisane (Tangueria), très réduite et incomplète.
Tu as l’honnêteté de nommer et de souligner de la contribution de tout les protagonistes de la “communauté” Tango. Bravo.” CB

commentaire d’une contributrice tango originale (1990)

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“Hi Joseph!

I had a lot of fun reading your tango history, you are very caustic, but it is the most honest and truthful history of tango in Montreal that I have read so far … I haven’t finished reading your site, but I find you are very lucid (and a bit provocative).

Daniel Saindon’s version of the history of tango in Montreal is a very partisan version (Tangueria), very small and incomplete. You have the honesty to name and recognize the contribution of all the protagonists of the Tango “community”. Well done.” CB

commentary by an original tango contributor (1990)

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Mon Tango
Andrea Shepherd is no Sylvi Belleau, but she certainly tries. She managed to squeak out a job for herself in dance. Good for her. And now she combines another interest of hers: writing. Here’s her blog – http://lifeisatango.blogspot.ca/  although with this important caveat as to the veracity of her perspectives (nevermind her indolent, pedantic writing style). Also, she now administers a duplicate Montreal Tango FaceBook page (?!?) where she can employ “cancel culture” tactics to make sure her opinions and perspectives are #1 on her page and never challenged by other gerlz. (oh, now I see) MonTango is a simple ‘suburban Mom’ operation such as is seen all across the global dance industry. Sometimes these have an effect on the overall local market, but not this one. The Montreal tango market began to diminish in popularity over the lifetime of this studio; and frankly, so did the quality of its participants. Consequently the interest in tango in Montreal is nowhere near what it used to be. Good luck though.  http://www.montango.ca/

Jay Shapransky
Disclaimer: I have never met Jay Shapransky, nor have I ever spoken with him. But one evening he came right in front of my table at a Joseph Vignalou Grand Bal event exclaiming in a loud voice (to a table behind mine) that he had three changes of t-shirts with him to accommodate that evening’s ‘pressures’ of dancing with all those women!! (and he happily took the evidence out of his bowling bag and held it up for all the ladies to see – good gawd) Jay wouldn’t be on this page except that he is now a ‘participant‘ in Montreal tango because of his two (count ’em) FaceBook pages. So what’s the point Jay? Why the 2 pages? On one you say that you (now) accept FB tango pages as members and yet when the FB page Graffiti Tango Productions requested admission to your group – it was denied, without explanation. The GT page received only ungracious silence. Well Jay, now that you’re a self-stylized ‘player‘ on the ‘scene’ (such as it is) and chose to make a statement through your silent disrespect, I want to give you my impressions of my first encounter with your brash, overbearing, soon-to-be-perspiring presence.

You stink. And that pretty well sums it up. But allow me a few further interlocutions… probably you never noticed that in Buenos Aires the summer temperature often exceeds 30 degrees. And we’re going back to the beginning of tango here Jay. Probably you never noticed that in the nascent days of tango men wore elegant (2 & 3 piece) suits, women wore exquisite dresses throughout the year in dance halls with limited ventilation and NO air conditioning. The concept of a t-shirt (as a ‘sweat-sponge’) in a Buenos Aires milonga would have been abhorrent to them, as it is to me. Men and women in those days danced in an elegant manner without soiling their best clothes in the way that you rapidly soil your multiple t-shirts. Do you know how? I can show you. If you had experienced a sophisticated (masculine) tango dance teacher like me when you began to learn, you would have been taught this. In fact Jay, when I purposefully stopped teaching tango I knew that your ilk would emerge. (And you’re not alone; ilk is a collective noun.) You simply don’t realize how maladroit it is to chase after tangos, rarely sitting down, sweating and drooling like a dog, and effectively forcing women to abide your bodily waste products. Am I making myself clear here Jay? You stink.

We could “get together” for private consultations, if you wish. Cheers!
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Jean-Sébastien Viard  …is a mouth-breather; just look at the photo the ‘sophisticated’ studio operators chose for him. Still, I thought one of the best ideas to come from this new generation was J-S’ single malt Sundays – too bad it didn’t last. OK, let’s get to it! FaceBook Messenger 2015, after my conciliatory offer to anyone offended by the truth of my writings, J-S wrote to me – 1) “Hello, Joseph, Please remove my name from your site and refrain from commenting further on me or my dancing in the future. Thank you. 2) – M. Bain, You didn’t pay attention to this message and kept on posting derogatory comments about me and my dancing on your site. For the second time, I have to ask you to remove all comments about me, that is,… if you still want to pretend that you have any decency. Thank you in advance.

In spite of J-S’ impatience that I heed his command within the hour, I removed this page in 2015 because of constant whining by crybabies like J-S, Eric Chartrand and Marika Landry who cannot abide an honest description of their public ‘work’ in this cultural appropriation of theirs. This is what I wrote about J-S that he found lacked “decency”: “This guy dances like a piece of wood. His recent performance with Corinne at the Rialto was just about the saddest thing I have ever seen in performance in Montreal. You can watch it here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhrbVeL3Sag.” As much as he contested the comment, apparently my observations had the intended effect. And I’m happy that this type of commentary/criticism/performance-notes (known by professionals in professional environments) contributed to his marked (amateur) improvement!! Thanks for proving me right J-S.  :-)

Jean-Sébastien Viard has a degree in theology awarded to him by a capitalist learning institution. I’m not sure to what extent this man has made (and continues to make) money from his degree, but I can say with certainty that neither Jesus (nor any other religious deity) ever gave this man permission to make money from his/her name. In the Bible, Jesus chases away the money-changers and decries their capitalist objectives. Yet somehow Mr. Viard is fine with how capitalist institutions use Jesus’ name to sustain their money-changing objectives of ‘theology’, for which Mr. Viard is now an ‘accomplished’, ‘accredited’ adept.

In English the biblical edict is “never take the Lord’s name in vain”, which is to say don’t use it for your own vanity – ne jamais prendre le nom du Seigneur en vain – vain = qui est vaniteux, prétentieux, sans avoir de bonne raisons de l’être – Still, this man had the temerity to speak to me of “decency”!? Heaven help us! In the name of God sir, heal thyself of thy hypocrisy!! and “Thank you in advance”.  ;-)

Montreal Gotan
“I love Corina, tell the world I do” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thAbnp5EC-U  ;-) Cool venue (Café de Lima – oops, no more). They did some good community initiatives there in the past though; like with Victor Simon. One day this ‘team’ (?!?) could maybe define itself and what it wants to represent to the community. But it seems doubtful. Rudderless (à la derive) has been their defining characteristic over all these years. (And now their old website address has been abandoned too.) Corinne is one of the MANY single women in tango who can’t seem to grow or retain a partnership with a man. She has to chase after ‘rent boys’ to try to give herself some kind of ‘professional’ status, or credibility in a sport where “it takes two…”. Funny thing about that, she never approached the one man in Montreal who coached and trained (in both teaching and performance) the most successful women in the tango community here. Oh well, too late now girl. Bonne chance!  http://www.tangobellanima.com/

Las Piernas Tango
Manu brought sincerity and an interesting background in communications to his efforts in tango here. He tried to think like a dance pedagogue, but from what I witnessed in person he needs some structural coaching for his course planning as it pertains to the mechanics of learning/teaching dance movement. Jean-Philippe Dupéré and the rest of the studio team I don’t know. But J-P recently (2014) revealed his character on the FB Montreal Tango page when someone suggested he has no passion when he dances. In defense of his over-reaction I posted on FB that his young colleagues would forgive him (which they did) but the old guard would not (which they haven’t, but who cares?). I also pointed out in my FB post that Jean-Philippe is one of the few here in Montreal that is capable of invoking the waltz ‘feeling’ when he dances one. What I like most about this guy is that he has the balls to say what he thinks! There’s a lot of ‘soft players’ out there that think they won’t be able to suck from the tango teat if they are honest. (hoh hum, those be dull-dull-dull) Anywaze… Las Piernas is a fun place, if small. At least it attracts a younger energy than most places in Montreal.   http://www.laspiernastango.ca/

Tango Rico
One of the more successful hobbyist teaching couples for the first few years of the new century was Bernard and Caroline. For years Bernard was one of the more significant contributors to the overall Montreal tango community thanks to his milonga.ca website. But this site and his interest in it has waned over several years to become Tango Express. It seems that Caroline is now the sole proprietor of http://www.tangorico.com/

Tango Coach – this is new, and news! (as of 2015) I appreciate that people try to reach beyond their (recognized) abilities as Bernie’s doing here. Bernard Caron is a proven social dance teacher, so he can “coach” you to dance socially. If you want to engage him as a performance and/or choreographic coach, well… check out his videos, credentials and performance history in this realm. If you like what you see, then go for it. As to ‘event concepts’… well, I think he’s bringing in an old girl friend (A-L Lamarde) to help him here. She may (or may not) prove to be an asset in this realm. Time will tell. http://tangocoach.ca/

La Tangueria
Don’t get me started on this one. Here’s a couple of things though: the chairs and tables were the most uncomfortable imaginable – to be generous, one could propose that this was a ‘clever’ purchase designed to keep people on the dance floor. (NOT!!) The movement in the room was physically stifling, but people will insist this was part of the ‘charm’ of the place. (NOT!!) They used to ‘wash’ their single-use plastic beer glasses at the end of the night, and used these same ones for years! Good gawd. This is the type of goblet you get at a sporting event, with an over-turn at the edge, meaning that all sorts of bacteria was stored up and under this over-turn. Achh-ouash… I never ever put one of these things anywhere near my mouth. I guess a lot of people fortified their immune system there tho’. Édith and Julio were the best things about this place; one day they both left, at the same time. That was the end of the St-Laurent Tangueria… in an instant! Anywaze, best to let Paul tell his own story. We used to be friends, or were at least friendly… back in the day. By the way, can anyone name a past or present female teacher/performer of Montreal tango with whom Laura was friendly?  just sayin’… ;-)  http://www.tangueria.org/

Francis Pancho Cloutier
This guy is my hero! He challenged FREAKING CREEP #2 (Pierre Charbonneau) at a “Grand Bal” and with the help of Joseph Vignalou got him booted from those evenings, by the police! Too bad I missed that incident. ’Love you for that man! Other milonga organizers take note of this man’s courage to stand up to the arseholes who willfully ruin other people’s evenings. Pancho and Joseph have standards (where other organizers clearly don’t) as concerns their client’s rights to a peaceful, secure evening of social dancing. A friend of mine recently told me that she remembers Pancho cleaning the first dance hall/studio that he was associated with. (I can relate man; I was the guy that cleaned GT studios, dance halls and toilets over all those years, no one else… certainly the princess Bobby Thompson NEVER offered to soil his precious hands in this manner!) In the beginning, Pancho just wanted to be part of the scene in any way he could; to make himself useful and productive. Good work ethics and a tenacious commitment paid off for him! Here’s where he’s at now… panchotango.com/

Tango Libre
Sylvi Belleau has always been the rudder for this organization, and you’re not likely to see her much. I admire that this woman stuck with the original plan to build a studio business with her partner and (now ex-) husband, even though he surely brought her a ton of grief, year after year, fling after fling, pitoune après pituoune. Somehow she found a way to make sense of it all and get something for herself out of it. And good for her! And good for their boy (now a young man). Can you name any tango venture in North America that owns (or ever owned) their building? I can’t. As a business model, even with all she’s up against, Sylvi alone has made (and makes) this studio successful. NEWSFLASH (January 2014) – TL is back on Marie-Anne; in the end they couldn’t sustain the initiative on av. Mont-Royal. http://www.tangolibre.ca/

Tango Arte GC
Anybody good with animals is perfectly suited for the social tango scene here. ;-) ’Love ya man! Well, maybe not so much in performance. And come to think of it, I’m not a fan of the posture you chose to emulate, and teach; with yer butt stickin’ out and all. But keep at ’er! If you keep hangin’ out with Jessie Faye and Bryant, good things should come of it!  https://www.facebook.com/tangoarte.gc

Air de Tango 
It may be difficult for the general public to understand why Mylène, after her 20-odd years in the business, was never able to sustain a professional working relationship with a man that would compliment her skills and help them grow to fruition. The reason is that she’s quite immature. I know this from years of personal experience with her. She’s effectively child-like, or under-developed in a few pertinent intellectual realms that are necessary in business and artistic development. So her skills never grew to fruition – ergo “it takes two…” was never her modus operandi after her first two and a half years of training.

But she’s not alone in her ‘femme fatale’ dilemma; lots of gerlz here think they’re spankin’ the tango all alone, without a partner. (!?!?!! Corinne, Sonia, Alyson, Mireille, Laura, Élizabeth, Chantal, Diane, et al, et al, et al… phew! after ten I have to take a shoe off to keep counting! ;-) In any event, this gerl Mylène has a wonderful, talented husband, lovely children, fine parents and I imagine super bo-parents, so surely she is grounded in her private life. And good for her!

However, the ‘politics’ of the social dance tango that she made for her selfish over the years, got in the way of her ambitions as a (let’s say ‘artistic’) dancer, choreographer and director/business owner. She finally couldn’t take the social pressures and left, supposedly. Oh gawd – she’s back! OUATE DE PHOQUE !!!  March 16, 2020, if you can imagine, she made this announcement… https://www.facebook.com/AirDeTango/videos/520602222207549/  …da fook!

So, October 2017 Mylène quits (apparently she had another child on the way, her 3rd). Some were sad, most were not. Then November 2018 she announces that she’s back, operating from her home. In two years I haven’t seen any announcement on the Montreal Tango FB pages… but that’s because the (female) admins of that page don’t like Mylène because she’s prettier than them, and she’s prettier than the old admins for that matter. And I’m sure the other ‘cancel culture‘ Montreal Tango FB page run by Andrea Sheppard didn’t announce her return either. The last thing Andrea and those other gerlz want is competition… in physical appearance, teaching skills, performance attraction, writing, social popularity, etc. Ahhh women! ya can’t live with ’em, and ya can’t live with ’em!  ahahahahahah LMFAO

So obiously we have another ‘suburban Mom’ on the scene (like Andrea with the concomitant children, animals, subservient man, etc. – isn’t that the real suburban tango?!  woof woof wolf  ;-).

In June 1996, before anyone else, I saw Mylène’s talent. She came to me directly from her Italian restaurant story-line as a rhythmic gymnast without any dance training. From August 1996 (through to February 1999) I first taught her how to dance. Then I taught her to dance tango. Then I taught her to perform tango. Then I taught her to teach tango. Then I taught her how to organize evenings and special events.

Have you ever known Mylène to publicly celebrate this HUGELY significant aspect of her nascent development in tango, of which she is so very proud? No? Did she ever mention that she was trained by a former dancer with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet? No. And right there is the root of her emotional and intellectual immaturity. That is why “some were sad, most were not” when she left the scene.   http://airdetango.com/

Air de Tango – Rive Nord
The AdeT site links never really worked for me trying to get to this ‘off-island’ initiative. Diane and Christian were one of the best teaching couples in Montreal. Best to find Diane (alone) on her self-developed Ste-Thérèse initiative; Christian is no longer there, so another adjunct suburban Mom to the scene: https://www.facebook.com/groups/196488127078687/ .

Avenue Tango
Nancy Lavoie is a daring girl. After eXtempore danse, Avenue Tango pursued the most interesting efforts in contemporary tango dance expression. (Although neither has done anything in years.) Those two are the only performance-oriented entities that understand what a movement motif is, what to do with it, and what it can bring to a choreography or staged show. Too bad Nancy’s 2012 Rialto show got ‘smugged’ (or ‘snobbed’) by most of the community players here. (Marika showed up after the show! …fookin’ cu_t) But that’s the way the Montreal players are for the most part, predominantly insecure and very much disrespectful of their contemporaries. Those players could have learned something from Nancy’s daring-do! Truth-to-tell though, even after all these years of Nancy teaching both lead and follow roles, Avenue Tango has never produced one stand-out male dancer. https://avenuetango.com/

Marika Landry
2020, Marika is celebrating 5 years since she last did a show – here’s the video of it – https://vimeo.com/152664364?ref=fb-share&1 – I left this show at the end of the first half because I was really embarrassed for Marika (and her accomplices LL & CH). The dancers were non-professionals (as Luis Lopez is quick to point out on FB) so apparently we should celebrate the effort. (ok..?) I agree, sort of. Bravo. (pleez note: Marika is non-professional too). I don’t want to be too hard on her show, but there are no program notes with this video. The ‘story-line’ is such that Marika tried to enter into a politico-theatrical realm strictly Argentinian, that was so far beyond her talents… I was embarrassed for her. She should not have tried to tell this story onstage.

About 8 years before this show, she did her first show. That was a slightly better effort, although the very last dance piece simply killed all the energy developed during the entire show. Wow, what a bummer! But that’s what a lack of experience brings. Also, it was a huge mistake that she and Jonas did not dance in that show. I have my own experiences with this emotionally fragile community participant… which I may talk more about…

Tango Fabrika
What? Bulent left town??! And he didn’t take Marika with him? And I didn’t even get a chance to say good-bye… LOL! (Just kidding.) Bulent is one of the best/worst examples of hobbyists entering the social dance industry and calling themselves ‘teachers of dance’. And he never cut it in my books as a performer… dull, dull, dull. He did some pretty good off-the-cuff organizational/marketing work before he left though. The Nuevo Tango Festival had a few past highlights, sort-of. In any case, after years of scheduling mayhem, this studio’s efforts still garner big doubts as to what the heck is really going on there? NEWSFLASH: the old link does not work; I guess they’re gone.  https://www.facebook.com/bulent.karabagli.1

Tomas Howlin
more coming soon – but for now here’s his website – https://www.tomastango.com/ – he picked a great picture for the header; notice the thumb on his left hand and then remember this – https://graffititango.com/2017/11/21/polissez-la-saucisse-thumbs-up – There was only one other pedagogue (ever) in Montreal tango, that was me. I first saw Tomas in Bs. As. in 1998 working with Graciela Gonzalez; this is good pedagogic lineage. He’s versatile and can adapt to many styles of partners, but I’m not a big fan of the way he chose to dance with his new wife at the time (Chantal Dauphinais). They both are tall and long; a busy-body, highly rhythmic style does not show them at their best. It’s great that he has a teacher training program. I wonder why Studio Tango never adopted or promoted it.

Pablo Veron
more coming soon – https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/tango_lesson – I very much enjoyed much of the movie, especially watching this amazing dance talent! But I agree with the Rotten Tomatoes critics score on this one; I just about puked over the ‘religious’ input in this film. Imagine me giving you a lecture on intrepid apartheid perpetrators of the Middle East in a tango blog.

We almost brought Pablo into our studio as a guest teacher in 1994. We tried for months to contact him, but he wouldn’t answer his phone or his phone messages. Two days after contracting someone else, he phoned – too late. It would have been interesting…

Pablo has a child with a life-long friend of Carol. He was an invited guest at Studio Tango for years and years. But where’s his influence on Montreal dance floors? Is there any community (that someone could inform me of) where Pablo and his style have left an indelible mark? There are peculiarities with “Nuevo Tango” that I’ll comment on soon.

Dance Conmigo
Cheryl Williams is a fairly talented and easily like-able girl with a background in ballroom dance. They did some pretty good work in the west coast swing scene. Forget the Latin dances though, especially tango; her guy is definitely “white bread”. http://www.danceconmigo.com/NEWSFLASH – this vendor is no longer operational – http://www.alaininternetmarketing.com/started-ended-profitable-dancing-business/
NEW-NEWSFLASH – they’re back! (go figure)

Tango Comme Il Faut
Wow. “Tango as it should be”. Was there ever a more pretentious name??! Cute story to open his website, about a six year-old and his grandpa… NOT!!! Good gawd. This is the type of character that has the temerity (like Gerardo Sanchez) to write himself up as a “master”!?! (They’re both ‘masters’… of self-delusion, I would say.) http://www.eliasnavas.com/

Tango Social Club
Popular night out for many! Cool. People have fun. Seems like a fun couple too. In her bio Kristen says she studied exclusively with Horacio Rodriguez during her first stay in Buenos Aires and considers herself lucky. Yikes! Look him up on YouTube. If you don’t mind me saying dear (and you will) I think you lost a whole bunch of time with a pretty lame guy, in a great city, filled with superb tango talents. Burak is now a doctor! Man, is that impressive or what??!!! Then he ran away, leaving the child…? But hey, I want the name of your hairdresser. ’Call you for it!   https://www.facebook.com/tangosocialclub/

Tango Outremont
If a friend of mine hadn’t told me in detail about this man’s professional career and hobby/sideline, I wouldn’t like him one bit. He was never, in any way whatsoever congenial to me in social settings, even in my own milonga – pas-pas en toute! But he’s one of those types that I didn’t try to figure out. There’s not time for that type of bullshit. As a service industry professional, I instinctively ‘got his drift’, right-quick… just as he intended. (yeah, I got it weirdo, I’m not from Québec.) Still, André Carrière is (or was) something pretty unique before tango. He’s back in Montreal to stay now (apparently). Good for him. And good for Montreal’s senior old folks too. Quick note from a professional coach André: stand up and dance your height; it’s not too late.  http://www.tangoutremont.com/

Grand Bal Tango
“Big Joe” as I affectionately call Joseph Vignalou, even though I have him on camera sitting on his fornicating hands after a stellar performance at Lion d’Or in 2004 by one of my neophytes in tango (Kim Levy). Oy-yoye! (L’arrogance des Français des fois…) I liked Big Joe’s Grand Bal community mandate. (And no, I haven’t yet read Paul Montpetit’s ‘lettre de plaint contre lui’ – one day, maybe). Best of all (for me) is how Joe responded to Francis Pancho Cloutier’s courageous resolve to challenge Montreal’s ‘FREAKING CREEP #2’ (Pierre Charbonneau) and bring in the police to settle a long-standing, wacked-out, dance-floor mis-behaviour situation. (Pierre karate-chops and/or sucker-punches men on the dance floor when their back is turned to him!) Go Big Joe!! But iron your shirts fer gawds sake man, or put on a jacket; sometimes you look really frumpy (mal fagoté). Anywaze, I’ll be at your events because you’re a unique organizer… in that you consider your client’s right to a pleasant, safe and secure evening, by barring (at least one of the) known creeps of Montreal from entering your premises. Now everybody else get to work on FREAKING CREEP #1 (Victor Hernandez).  http://www.grandbaltango.com/

Tango Canyengue Montréal – Nice old folks; doin’ a really old style of tango. Gawd… the music. I just can’t take it anymore. It’s similar to how I love swing music, but I just can’t take some of the old Dixieland schtuff anymore. It’s nice that some DJs give this couple a tanda or two from time to time though. Cheers. (these guys aren’t around anymore)

La milonguita
“Trash Tango” (Nicholas Lavoie) ’love you Nico! The Gainzbar on St-Hubert is a really cool joint. And Nicholas has a harem of lovely girls that he’s willing to share too! Wahoo!!! One of these dayze I’m gonna get me the courage to introduce myselfish to Sonia della Romalita!! ;-))) …if she ever takes a break from ‘playing the lead’ and asking women to dance.  https://www.facebook.com/nicolavoie

Le festival de tango champêtre à Saint-Placide – Yves Mayrand
My nickname for this guy is “Mr. Dressup”. And I use the excuse of my ‘second language’ skills when I pronounce his name to make it sound like ‘Yves Marrant’. I have an unspoken empathy with Yves because we have both known our lives to have been affected (afflicted? ;-) twice each, by profoundly disturbed women. I don’t feel sorry for him; or for me for that matter. Don’t get me wrong, this guy is pedigree: in family, education, career! Wow. And once a year for many moons now Yves has done an outdoor gig, way out west in Saint Placide. Check it out. As a one-off annual outdoor event, he came up with a winner. (’Love you back the same man! And just as much too!! Je t’embrasse.)  ;-)

Radio TangoMélanie Bergeron is a truly delightful performer as a musician and as a dancer. I saw her with her man Gabriel Gaumond for the first time in 2011, in a small festival at Atwater and Ste-Catherine. Gabriel, if you seek me out I’ll tell you why the clown’s red-nose (milonga) thing definitely did NOT WORK (first guess: the music can speak for itself; n’est-ce pas Mélanie?). Then I would explain to you how you killed your partner’s stunningly beautiful smile one minute into your first improv, and then how you made the rest of your improvs look all the same. You guys got TONS of potential. Please find a qualified coach to take you further. And keep the silk pants Gabe, they’re killer! :-)  https://www.facebook.com/Radiotango-219006148111814/

Sandra Naccache and Alexander Richardson – are a new couple on the tango scene. And wow!!! Great potential. (note: this is the original 2015 text, things change) They already made an impressive start because their ballroom background has given them a work ethic that many hobbyists in tango simply never achieve. And Alex’s bio goes way beyond ballroom; when this guy hones in on what he really wants to do, watch out! Sure, you can maybe see their ballroom training in their approach to tango, and yeah, you can see from the length of Sandra’s legs why there isn’t any ballroom ‘championships’ in their CVs. I don’t mind. These two are good choreographers and excellent performers with what appears to be a genuine dedication to each other; ya gotta love that! Good for them. (And too-bad-so-sad for Mylène, Corinne, Mireille, Alyson, et al… yep, all those singular ‘femmes-fatales’ that can never attract, steal or develop a competent, dedicated male partner like Sandra has done. ;-) NEWSFLASH – Sandra’s now working with this guy Jorge. And Alexander is here: https://pointetango.wordpress.com/portfolio/alexander-richardson-director/

Dominique Wang, Espaces des Arts – hot! hot!! hot!!!                                         https://www.facebook.com/dominique.wangiiand check this out! She and Jean-Philippe Dupéré got a thing goin’ on!!! https://www.facebook.com/jpdupere

Radio Tango – Daniel Saindon
He’s a keeper! He found tango as a hobby at Graffiti Tango in 1992 and he’s going to keep it. I gotta give it up to this twit, he’s persistent and consistent… as a twit. Maybe for some people in the Montreal community there was something of interest in his radio initiative. Not for me. Since when did a radio host’s voice NOT matter??! And worst of all, Daniel allowed that clown to bring on FREAKING CREEP #1 (Victor Hernandez) as a guest to speak about dance hall etiquette. WTF??!!! This is the creep that thinks he’s macho by punching a man in the back, while that man’s back is turned, and while Vicky hides behind a skirt! Go figure. On top of that, Daniel completely disrespected the original tango pioneers in Montreal with a sham “25 years” ‘historical celebration’ (??!) of the most pretentious, miserable, and talentless character in Montreal tango. The word is history Daniel, not her-story. Get it?

Guy McCrea Tango DJ – I only met him once; wonderful man! https://www.facebook.com/guy.mccreahttps://www.youtube.com/user/passiontango1

Michel Auzat, DJ – This guy has made some really good tax-free coin over many-a-years as a DJ and he’s quite good at it! (Making coin that is. ;-) At one time, early on, he was the President of SCQAC. That gave him a taste of “community”, for which he soon abandoned and never went back. The most impressive thing that I see about Michel is that he has never, not once invested a single penny in any dance show, individual artist, tango couple, tango production, or musician’s event, not ever. He’s one smart cookie in that respect! Not much of a PQiste tho’ if he’s not paying his share of taxes into the ‘country’ they’re all hoping for…?! On a positive note, I LOVE the fact that he and Lise are hot-air balloon pilots!!! Is that not cool or what??!


Comment from a client“Even though my opinions diverge from yours on some (many) aspects of what you are commenting on, I love your writing style. It is hugely entertaining. And there are comments you make that I would never make publicly but that I agree with. You are the Lone Ranger, Batman and Dr Evil all melted into one person. Scary and thrilling at the same time.” RB


Studio Tango
Seduction. Sensuality. Passion. Ever hear those adjectives used when people talk about dancing tango? Yes. Ever hear those adjectives used when people talk about Bobby Thompson’s qualities as a tango dancer? No. Never. Imagine this – his choreography for Nico Archambault’s all-male “Ils dansent” project got voted the absolute worst (read: most embarrassing) of all 12 episodes.

The truth for me is that I got interested in tango in 1978 as an aspiring ballet dancer because I was amazed and enamoured at how vital it can be for two men to dance together. I’m straight; Bobby’s gay. With the choreo gig for “Ils dansent” Bobby had the opportunity of a lifetime. He had a full-on mandate to demonstrate the type of vitality that men, dancing together, can create in dance! Considering tango’s history it should have been the hottest show in the series. Yet he blew it. (pun intended)

Do you know why his televised choreo was all chopped up in the editing room? so that you could barely see more than 2 seconds of sequence, before it jumped to another angle/image? The choreo sucked; big time. It said nothing, it went nowhere. And all the production tricks in the world couldn’t save it. Oh gawd, I was so embarrassed for him (and especially for Nico) that I couldn’t get thru the first viewing; I had to force myself to watch the entire episode sometime later on, so that I could comment on it.

For about 15 years Bobby and Carol lied in their bios, stating that they were choreographers for Graffiti Tango. Many years ago, I asked them politely to correct the error. They didn’t. They had to be publicly shamed (finally, by this blog) into removing that misrepresentation. In any case, Bobby’s value as a choreographer can be determined by the “Ils dansent” project. You decide. Carol has essentially nothing to show in this realm. But in 1993, long before “Queer Tango” was ‘invented’, Les Ateliers Tango presented a weekend of performances at its milonga featuring women choreographers; Carol’s piece that weekend was stunning! (she danced it with Bobby)

For me, Bobby’s best qualities as a social dance teacher closely resemble those of a car salesman; well, maybe a ‘used-car’ salesman. That’s because (like many in his industry) he just a ‘re-seller’ of social culture. He’s a pretender that never found a self-made identity in tango. Worse yet, he’s not gay or straight in tango – he’s undefined, nulpart, no-where, androgynous, non-descript. Because of this Bobby has never added anything original to the tango community in Montreal. But “he’s a nice guy” (so they say).

Besides his deep-rooted jealousy of my professional accomplishments in dance, and the fact that I have successfully transitioned in-and-out of the dance industry twice (and could easily transition back in a third time) Bobby hates me because for five years as a dancer in the Graffiti Tango troupe (1992-1996) he was directed to dance like a man with passion. He did OK during that period of time. However, I can tell you that Danielle and I made specific artistic decisions to sometimes partner him with her (and me with Chantal) in order to get some sense of passion into our stage performances with these two. But Bobby’s been without artistic direction since 1997; so you be the judge – I can see for myself what is lacking in his own dancing. However, he did successfully coach a choreography by Corinne & Pancho that I really likehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ol7Vi0LGgvE – a note to aspiring performers of tango… go out and get some professional coaching! It will show in your work!!

But hey, imagine if it was only the enduringly endearing Ms. Horowitz (re-) selling this studio’s ‘product’ and/or services. Oy vey! Carol’s best qualities… whahuh?!? Is that a trick question? ;-) Good venue though, for some; competent staff (well, those that actually show up and actually contribute, from the interminably LONG LIST of absent ‘teachers’). Speaking of actual contributions… why is it that for years Raphael was never accorded the professional courtesy of ‘official status’ at this studio? He’s certainly done his time… Well, that’s the way they are there, the owners I mean. They’re more self-serving (on a personal basis) than courteous or gracious professionally. NEWSFLASH spring 2015 : Bobby is no longer associated with Studio Tango. Raphael is listed as a teacher, but without a bio. I heard recently that there’s a gaggle of dysfunctional females arguing about how to run things there now, with another one being added in the autumn (oops, that one wasn’t kept on, you can guess why). But don’t expect the website info to change… as mentioned previously, the enduring characteristic of this endeavour has been dishonesty and deception. Longstanding community support says a lot… I suppose.   http://www.studiotango.ca/

__

Obscure efforts

Émilie & Louis
Who?? http://www.eltango.qc.ca/

TC – Tango Com
Yikes! This clown scares the beejeezus outa me. http://milonga.ca/tangocom.pdf

La Gitane
Nobody saw Antonio for years and years. He was a nice guy; but likely embarrassed by his old partner’s attachment-disorder to his nationality. He’s gone now. RIP (Clean up your site Bernie.)
http://pages.infinit.net/milonga/home.html

Keith Elshaw – too bad he never learned to speak French ’cause he’s got some talent that’s being ignored in this city/province. http://totango.net/

Tango Urbain
I watched your video. And so the question springs to mind… after all the tricks and wha-cha-wanna-call-it, where’s the tango? Cool piece of music though.  http://www.tango-urbain.com/video.asp

Stéphane and Sherri
Good gawd. Il n’est pas un Français cultivé, on dirait. Eh ben… Last time I saw this dork on a dance floor he was bobbing and weaving a paranoid eight-foot wide swath across! the floor at Tango Social Club; respectful linear dancers don’t stand a chance against this twit! However they do it, these two regularly bring new people onto the tango scene; albeit with an aberrant style and total lack of tango aesthetic and dance-floor etiquette.

Concordia club de tango
Outdated site? Yep. Obscure? Oh yeah baby. Interesting? Ummm… if that’s your cup of ‘yogic tea’. Still, Richard Sagala is a truly gifted and thoughtful man. It seems to me tho’ that he tries to set himself up to be some kind of tango guru. (I got the same impression from our first tango teacher Ernesto Carmona.) Hey boys, I dig it; the effects of dancing tango can be momentarily profound and even resonate for some time after. But cheezus, do you really want to make it so ‘intense’ before I even get started? “Respirez profondément, détendez-vous”… a portion of this tune used to be one of my cortinas; it’s from “Dimitiri from Paris”. Check it out.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20HMpZSAHHg

oh yeah, Richard’s site – http://www.rsagala.com/concordiatangoclub.html

Fleur d’asphalte
No tango here anymore, since long ago (take note Bernie). Karine Rathle and Armand Martel were two of the three founders of this dance studio. Marjolaine Auger was training Pancho at the time. Karine is now doing contemporary dance in far-off places; Armand Martel is similar to Richard Sagala in how he perceives the ‘transmission of culture/knowledge in tango’ (let’s say). Listening to Armand, I can’t help but wonder if at one point in his life he imbibed a few too many recreational substances. Although, I gotta say, in the fifteen years that I have known him, I have never seen Armand angry. http://fleurdasphalte.com/fr/fr/humans/armand

Tango Lab – here’s Armand Martel’s website – no-more-site

Academie Tango
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Try to fool everybody continually… well, now you see what I tried to tell you for many years old man. Santiago is a dreamer of ‘Olympic Stadium proportions’. He wanted it all… and at no cost, and with the least amount of effort. Frankly, I trust him about as far as I can spit. http://www.NO-MORE-SITE.ca NEWFLASH – He finally built himself a place at one of his Daddy’s buildings – https://cosy-montreal.com/

Al Sur
Well, if it weren’t for Lyne, this venture might have been successful. (LMAO) “The community didn’t support us” – wake up girl; it’s BUSINESS!!! After closing Al Sur, the last thing they did was a really nice one-off event at the Rialto… they brought in a fabulous harmonica player (whose name I forget). It was a delightful evening! Maybe they’ll have more success in one-off events.  http://www.NO-MORE-SITE.ca

Tango Nuestro
Poor old Lily (ma tante Louise). We were saying that same exact phrase back in 1990. And that’s about all there ever was/is to say about her.  http://www.milonga.ca/tangonuestro/

Les clefs de la danse
Forgot your “dance keys” maybe? You won’t find them here. http://www.lesclefsdeladanse.com/

La maison du tango
David Dugas is a living, walking, dancing rendition of a passive-aggressive nature. (Much like Daniel Saindon.) Try to make a business and/or gentlemen’s arrangement with this guy and see for yourself. Run away!!! http://www.lamaisondutango.com/

One thought on “Notes on Montreal tango players

  1. Hi Joseph, I have to say I had a lot of fun reading your “Kamikaze” opinion on Montreal scene. I obviously wont endorse all you said there but I have to say that you are a quite interesting character. By the way, I had been in a couple with Marina for 11 years, but i started tango 6 years before the said performance. ;) Cheers, and good luck! ;)

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