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 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 !

joey_wp2

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

cheers

“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 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 digital-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.

Arce-Montes_resized

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!

#bajesupulgar

ds-jb-subway-shot_blog

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’. ;-)

“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 . (https://www.facebook.com/events/544249758963382/)
__
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 milonga.ca refuses to acknowledge that her evenings are at La Tangueria! She simply gives an address. (http://www.milonga.ca/tangonuestro/intro.html) 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 ‘www.tango.montreal.qc.ca’.
__
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.