Archive for the ‘New Orleans’ Tag

Life is about learning how to dance in the rain   Leave a comment

Vincent Sylvain, Publisher

Learning How to Dance in the Rain

Why people live in New Orleans Despite the Hurricane

By Dr. Andre Perry

Dr. Andrew PerryThe recovery phase of Gulf Coast hurricanes means more than cleaning up debris caused by intense winds and torrential downpours. Recovery also means addressing insistent questions of “why do you choose to live in New Orleans?” While askers obviously have not thought deeply about this question, I do think it’s philosophical in nature. So, I offer a philosophical response with special considerations for lukewarm transplants, newbies and temporary residents who have not embraced the idea of being New Orleanian.

Living is less a question of where than how. I make a plot in New Orleans because living with storms is a way of being that I trust leads to peace. Being New Orleanian means actively deciding to live with the inevitable. I’ve reached this conclusion because the psychological concept of denial never worked well for me (or for anyone else for that matter). When one accepts the idea that storms are inevitable, a more operative and important question I wish skeptics would ask is “how do you prepare?”

Whether its hurricanes, divorce, getting fired or death,storms leave with much less fan fare than their anticipated arrivals. Life is horribly anticlimactic. Most storms come and go like Isaac. Yes, there are days-long power outages, but you struggle through it. Troubled times are eventually replaced by joyful ones.

Living with the good and the bad is about acceptance. It’s about learning how to ride out a storm. The day before Isaac’s landfall, my friend in D.C. asked, “Why don’t you evacuate?” I replied, “If another storm comes next week and the week after, do you leave again and again?” The social and fiscal costs are clearly impractical. Likewise with the storms in our lives, do we pack up and leave every time there’s trouble?

Certainly, there are events when no amount of personal preparation will do. Evacuation is often necessary. However while it was the anniversary of the U.S.’s worst natural disaster, Isaac was not Katrina. We shouldn’t equate all hurricanes to Katrina, whose devastation should have been avoided. Her disaster revealed our policy and social inadequacies. Bad education, housing and levee systems hurt us more than the storm itself.

In the hours before Hurricane Isaac’s landfall, I didn’t ask myself “why am I here” because my city and family were better prepared. In fact, my day of preparation ended with a nighttime hurricane party. After a day of securing yard stuff, filling gas tanks, and completing other practical chores,my wife and I went to Irvin Mayfield’s I-Club. You know it’s a hurricane party when Soledad O’Brien, Anderson Cooper and Dee Dee Bridgewater are watching the band take shots a day before landfall.

But that’s what we do in New Orleans. We’ve learned how to accept and prepare for the inevitable challenges of life. One of my favorite sayings is, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” That’s what it means to be New Orleanian. So when asked, why do you live in New Orleans, you can pass along my thesis and share that learning to live with the inevitable is a lot more fun than denying it exists.

Andre Perry, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Education Initiatives
Institute for Quality and Equity in Education
Loyola University New Orleans
6363 St. Charles Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70118
Phone = 504.865.2782
Email =
Follow on the web at

It feels like 2000 again   Leave a comment

Alberto Paz and Valorie Hart teach tango in New Orleans at this studio – photo by Alberto Paz

To say that Alberto and I are excited with the way the upcoming Thursday Argentine tango sessions are shaping up, would be a major understatement. Really. Can’t tell if the moon is in the seventh house and Mercury aligns with Mars, but it really feels like 2000 again…For those of you who might wonder why 2000 is significant, it is because that is the year Alberto and I moved to New Orleans and became the resident tango teachers and promoters. We had our own dance studio (The House of Tango), taught several weekly classes, and over the course of the years right up until Katrina, hosted five acclaimed tango festivals in New Orleans. We also produced tango shows, and performed in many showcases.

Highlights in the tango career of Alberto Paz and Valorie Hart

After Katrina, things changed, even in our happy little tango world. But now, with Alberto’s health restored, and the city’s rebirth in full swing, we are ready to resume where we left off. We will be teaching weekly classes again at a beautiful ballet studio on Canal Street.

Fundamentals are not something we learn today and then discard tomorrow. Accomplished musicians do scales. Accomplished athletes do drills. Accomplished ballet dancers do daily classes at the barre. Accomplished artists draw every day. Accomplished writers write every day. This is how we use our fundamentals. They are the tools that we use every day as tango dancers. The more experienced we become, the more our fundamentals will look so spectacular that they will not be recognized as such by the untrained eye.

Our classes will be two hours long. Every week we will begin with a warm up, something we call Tango Fitness that drills technique. This session will be led by myself. Then, Alberto and I will introduce a particular aspect of technique which will be pertinent to the topic chosen for the evening’s lesson.

Tango is the ultimate touch dance between a man and a woman. It is a safe form for experiencing human connection three minutes at a time. It is an exercise in mutual respect and consideration for both partners as they both embark on a journey that requires full participation and cooperation from both ends of the partnership. No partner needed. Multiple lesson pass don’t expire unless we do first.

with Alberto Paz and Valorie Hart
Lelia Haller Dance Arts
4916 Canal St., New Orleans, LA

STARTS THURSDAY AUGUST 4, 2011 (and then every Thursday thereafter)

8 pm – 10 pm

$15 per person, $25 per couple
5 lesson pass $50 per person, $90 per couple

For more information, 504.535.3614, or email,

It ain’t there no more   Leave a comment

Sam and Kathy were part of the regular crowd at Le chat noir on St. Charles Ave where on Tuesday night the downtown dancers met for a few hours to massacre the tango.

Dispense the evocative image but consider that in 2000 we were newly arrived hardcore militants from the mecca of tango in North America, and not used to see middle age women wearing tight corsets, skirts with slits up to their navels periodically landing on their rear ends on the checkered tile floor.

They sure made a splash of lace, feathers, and white flesh as they struggled to get up while Oblivion was playing on the speakers.

The deal with Sam and Kathie was that they owned the Canal Guesthouse on Canal St. just a skip and a jump from the French Quarter.

The building was reported to have been a bordello way before David Vitter was of age to become a client.

We heard that the premium ticket to the Guesthouse was an invitation to watch the Endymion parade on the weekend prior to Mardi Gras. By February of 2001 we had already made our mark in the New Orleans tango scene, and we got invited to watch Endymion. That was a big deal, being on the balcony perched over the parade route experiencing for the first time the full shock effect of the mega krewe that Endymion is famous for.

The years went by and we didn’t see them around anymore, except maybe once or twice a year at some fund raising event. Then Katrina hit the city and the levees breached, and the city flooded, and life as we had gotten fond of enjoying came to an end.

We spent the next three years dealing with survivor’s guilt, providing shelter for dear friends who lost their homes, and giving one on one moral and spiritual support to many who were lost to the world of sanity and walked with an empty gaze in their eyes.

Gradually we returned to the sparse dancing events others were trying to keep going, and one day we read on a flier that Sam and Kathy were opening Canal Place, a mini dance studio on a former flooded garage at one end of the Guesthouse‘s ground floor.

One of our former dancers started holding classes there, and soon we suggested that he go ahead and moved his Friday milonga there.

Breaking a time honored tradition, we went out on New Year’s Eve fearing the bullets falling from the sky, and received 2010 at the Canal Place. It was a very important moment because we got to reunite with strayed friends.

We held classes there for a while, and the day I was released from the hospital after being rushed there because of a severe cause of anemia, the phone rang around 9:30 pm and when I picked it up, the Friday crowd at the milonga had stopped dancing and were singing happy birthday to me. That was April 16, 2010.

Of all the places we have danced in New Orleans, not counting the ones we hosted, the Canal Place was the most nurturing and non partisan place to dance tango. The long benches on one side instead of segregated tables perhaps discouraged the gossiping, evil eyes and tongue slashing that are so toxic to tango dancing.

So imagine how heartbroken I was the other day when driving by the 1900 block of Canal Street  I noticed something odd. There was an empty lot where I had become used to see the Canal Guesthouse.

The state of Louisiana wants to build a couple of hospitals on historic grounds on what New Orleanians call Mid City, and the plans have been on a fast track despite alternative proposals and citizens’s protests. Earlier this year, the process of expropriation went into full speed, but somehow it seemed that we had been in a deep state of denial.

As I kept heading to the foot of Canal Street, I found myself mentally giving thanks to Sam and Kathy for all the memorable opportunities we had to replenish our life memories with wonderful experiences, and channeling Benny Grunch.

Photos courtesy of Canal Guesthouse
Aerial photo by Jackson Hill courtesy of Inside the Footprint Blogspot

“I hope to dance like you when I grow up”   Leave a comment

We have been in New Orleans now more time after hurricane Katrina hit than before. The way time squeezes through our mind resembles the way the flood waters came in and went leaving very little evidence of the biblical disaster that washed away lives, property and hopes during the hot and humid first half of September 2005.About six months ago I had a close encounter with my mortality that left me with the unsettling feeling of realizing how fragile life really is and how quickly, with the speed of light, the flame of life can go out. I don’t know if things happen for a reason, but I know that they happen. Deep rooted values, prejudices and attitudes have changed, like for example the hope that sooner or later people will give us public credit for all the wonderful things we have brought to their lives. The reality is that everyone is busy with their efforts to fulfill their own needs and desires.

Just the other day a wonderful young woman asked Valorie if she was the person who recently danced at an exhibition because she had recorded the dance and sent it to her mother. She was one of many young people having a good time at a home dance party. We know that on a good day, we can mix it up with the younger set, and go on like the energizer bunny while a lot of young feet, relieved of their shoes, throb laying on a couch.

The secret of course is that we know what we’re doing, and have worked very hard over the years to dance tango, milonga and vals cruzado, the way it has been danced in Buenos Aires since the 1940’s. As a matter of fact, we are too modest to remind us that we can teach anyone how to do it, and that we even have written a reference book on how it is done. We didn’t invent it, we learned it from authentic teachers, masters, only a handful of them, avoiding to fall by the mistaken notion that diversity makes up for better dancing. That’s why we don’t laugh nervously to hide the fact that we really don’t know why we’re doing what we just saw somebody else do. I know we don’t. Our happiness is because we love, respect and cherish the ritual of the tango and all the exhilaration that comes with it. And we’re ever so grateful that we have opportunities to dance, and that we can still dance.

I wonder what the lovely young girl would say to her mother when she sent her the video of our dancing. “I hope to dance like that when I grow up?” Of course not. I joke, I smile, and I say to myself, wouldn’t have been nice to document, archive and file away many of the wonderful memories pre-Katrina to be able to show it to those who came much later? To even remind us that no one can take away what we have danced. A poet once said, and I paraphrase, that a populace who doesn’t have myths is doomed to be frozen to death, but a community that is not aware of its past, myths and legends included, is already dead.

A couple of years ago, Buenos Aires cable channel Solo Tango commissioned a documentary about tango in New Orleans for broadcast in the Spring of 2007. They choose us to produce a living testimonial of the wonderful tango life we brought with us to the city of New Orleans in the year 2000. To show how things were before the levees breached after Katrina, flooding the city, and washing away lives, property and hopes.

Inspired by the candid question of the beautiful young girl, and excited by the desire of a group of youngsters to get involved in promoting tango activities in the region, we share this living testimony as a loving tribute to all those who never came back and also to those who have yet to come. To the ones who were part of those wonderful pre Katrina days, thanks for the memories.

Watch video in You Tube HERE

Mañana de carnaval   Leave a comment

Mañana de carnaval

Since our first year in New Orleans, we have honored a yearly tradition on Mardi Gras.This year made it eleven years that on the day before Ash Wednesday, on Fat Tuesday, we wake up, have breakfast, dress up for the occasion, and head for the French Quarter.

Every year we shop in our closet for something original to wear

We walk up St. Ann from Jackson Square and make our way to Pere Antoine on Royal and St. Ann. We put our names on the reservation list and proceed to enjoy the last of the St. Ann parade. Music blasts from upstairs, and the street is a cacophony of voices, laughter and happy Mardi Gras wishes.

People know where we hang out for lunch, but they don’t know how we’re dressed

After lunch we make our way to Bourbon Street, and look out for some of our friends wandering around until the sun begins to go down.

Everybody loves to be photographed with intriguing characters

We make one last stop at Quarter Past Time on Chartres where we dance a tango on the sidewalk.

The sidewalk on Chartres St. where we dance before going home

Then we head home to watch the Rex and Comus Balls with all the pomp and circumstances that is expected from royalty.

Words are not enough to describe what is like to be part of the sea of bodies that flood the streets of the Vieux Carre where alcohol and levity rule the day. Remarkably, in eleven years we have never seen or heard of a fight, an altercation, or rowdy behavior. Everybody is on their best drunken behavior, and everyone contributes to the common desire to have a good time.

Our video memories contain adult off color humor, political satire, and artistic displays of normally hidden body parts and suitable for an informed, adult mature audience…

The black and gold house party   Leave a comment

House tango parties are a rarity in the largest cities of the Northeast, Midwest and West. The critical mass of dancers makes almost impossible to dance in a living room. Not so in the Deep South where the culture of tango dancing has not caught up with the global explosion. From Birmingham, to Tallahassee and all across the South, somebody’s home is likely to be the center of tango activities. Tango dancing visitors must go sometimes through extreme maneuvers to find out where the social gathering is, and wondering if, as strangers, they will be welcomed.  It seems difficult to keep the tango from getting tangled into the complex social mesh that has been called the Southern hospitality. Not so in New Orleans.

In the five years before Katrina we managed to get people to like coming out dancing to a variety of public places to dance tango, and by the time the waters flooded the city, New Orleans had a prominent presence in the national tango scene because of weekly Saturday night milongas, a couple of weekly practices and monthly dances, and an annual major festival.

In the five years after Katrina, there has been a slow recovery process where former students have taken upon themselves to offer possibilities to dance, at least once a week and a couple of times a month. But something is still missing , and it is probably somewhere where the receding waters finally went taking the life and joy of a city that care seemed to have forgotten.

That’s why we welcomed the open invitation to a Black and Gold house party at an East New Orleans home that has been rebuilt on a site that had remained submerged under 6 feet of water for weeks after the breaching of the levees. The actual invitation read, Aaron’s Black and Gold Milonga (pre-pre Saints season), 8:00 PM – till,  Aaron’s house. There’s a pool, you can bring anything that will make the party better!

The key word is “party.” And that is something we know how to do with flair and style around here. Grant you, we all had in common our dedication and personal way to love the tango, although there were a few acquaintances of the host, curious about this tango thing he talks about all the time. There is really nothing mysterious or secretive about what makes New Orleanians drive across the lake, cross the river, or get in a car and head out of the city on I-10. It is a simple formula, free food and free drinks, and of course, as host Aaron says, being with people one likes…

The Black and Gold house party New Orleans style

Posted August 16, 2010 by Alberto & Valorie in HOME, NEW ORLEANS FUN

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Reflections from the podium   1 comment

There was no New Orleans flag being raised, and no band to play the Saints, but the tears and the emotion were real when Sid Grant announced that couple number 20 were the 2009 US Salon Tango champions. The capacity crowd at the Stepping Out studios in Manhattan exploded in loud cheers and applause and the organizers and remaining finalists surrounded the winners in a sea of hugs and congratulations. Couple number 20 locked eyes and shared an emotional moment of pleasurable intimacy. We had never been so proud of each other. People we’ve never seen before seemed to be beaming with pride and joy.

True to form, we took the second place couple to dinner and at 4 in the morning we walked into our Brooklyn host home and left the First Place Cup on the kitchen counter and went to sleep. When we got up late the next day, we were treated to the first honest, sincere and overwhelming display of joy and admiration for what we had accomplished. This was coming from the other half of our set of friends and acquaintances, what some call the non tango friends and others consider a touch of reality.

The trip to New York in July was planned around three purposes. Valorie‘s birthday, Valorie‘s meeting with a publisher, and my secret desire to put our lifelong devotion to the tango out in the open for everyone to see, judge and criticize. Up until the moment our number was called in the semifinals, Valorie had humored me, from secretly “training” while dancing the full length of a huge dance floor in New Orleans, to showing off to friends on the outdoor deck of a magnificent estate in a remote corner of the hamlet of Kerhonkson in Ulster County, and on to the treacherous salons of Manhattan. She might not realize how good she is, or how I was betting on that to handicap and craft a come from behind victory. The much touted US championship was almost a family affair rudely dissed by the popes of New York tango who seem to have a high opinion of their dancing as long as they are not asked to put it on the line for others to judge. While the mostly local participants tried to outdo each other to show us out of towners a thing or two about dancing in the big city, we read the rules of the competition, and our winning strategy was to be the best at complying with them in every aspect.

The last few days of our New York trip we walked the city with one foot on the tango sidewalk and the other on the sidewalk where our friends in the publishing, interior design and financial world live their power point driven lives. Our friends from a pre-tango time, all immensely successful in their endeavors, treated us to delicious meals in their sumptuous mansions and made us feel so important in front of their friends that we began to like the celebrity treatment. In contrast, our best tango friend and his sidekick dutch treated us to a diner before running out like most New Yorkers do to pretend that they have something important to do.

At one milonga during a miserable rainy evening we were asked to dance after having paid the cost of admission and introduced as simple dancers. Before and after the dance, we were treated to a litany of complains from one of the organizers of the championship. We heard that people had complained about people who knew how to dance entering the competition, that it wasn’t fair to have an all Argentine professional panel of judges, and that very likely next year they’ll have American judges because the talkative senior citizen lady had perennially placed second during her ice skating days. What?? STFU.

At another milonga, the host we’ve known for years barely said hello. That evening we had the first of many puzzling acts of secrecy that followed us into our home city. People coming to the table and whispering things like, You opened a completely new side of tango for us! It was a pleasure to meet both of you! or, My teacher, my friend and I were impressed the way you dance. At home, people behaved much in the same way one approaches somebody who has had an irreparable loss. A hug, a faint Congratulations and a kiss. This in a city where people jump into spontaneous second line dancing when a crawfish makes it across the highway without being squashed. To be fair, a former disciple turned teacher and promoter managed to write in his newsletter that New Orleanians tangueros should be very proud of our beloved teachers becoming the US salon Tango champions . Later, he invited us to dance at a milonga he was playing the music for.

When it came time to crack the nuts, an eclectic number of our students and friends, plus a couple of strangers sponsored us with real money, and we went to Buenos Aires. Eventually we began to have a really great time being a part of the whole world championship there. We have our fans, both young and old. The young ones were fascinated by us. The old ones respected us. Valorie thinks that they should surround the stage with panels so the audience only see bodies from the shoulders down, showing the legs and feet of the dancers and not their  faces. Our lower half looks much younger, she says, adding that the government of Buenos Aires who funds this event is trying to brand tango. Like any advertiser, they want young, attractive faces as the poster children for the tango. They are packaging it for glamor now, trying to elevate the tango from the neighborhood social club image of the working middle classes.

Regardless, we had a blast. Valorie wore a classy black and white outfit both days, red shoes on the second day. I wore light striped trousers, white shirt with a tan tie one day, a golden tie the next. Black jacket. Red socks ala Fred Astaire, and my lucky burgundy and black shoes. We looked spiffy if I may say so. Our outfits really stood out as different, not trashy, and not corny and we were very comfortable in them too. Our look was one of classic salon dancers in the 1940’s. The first day we danced well, but the second day was even better. We worked the simulated dance floor on the stage very well. The music was great on both days. People gave us our fair share of applause, and when we came out the stage door, a whole flock of strangers congratulated us. Later we came to the realization that the strategy of following the rules to the letter in the cradle of tango that worked so well in New York, flew in the face of the alleged desire of the government to use fancy lipstick on the lips of… well you know what I mean, but…

I found out to my chagrin that the anxiety and nervousness of actually dancing on command in front of people resulted in chest pains as we took the stage on both days. It  must have been scary for Valorie fearing I might die me in her arms but she stayed in form cool as a cucumber trying not to shake in her Comme il fauts. She was my rock and I know she wanted me to have this moment, and for us to have it as the devoted tango couple we are, having dedicated our lives to preserving and fostering the tango for all these years, and doing this, seemed fitting. What’s amazing is that we were troupers and acted our parts very well, because no one saw the distress we felt sometimes. They said we looked like we were having a great time on stage (and we were!).

For us, we have already accomplished so much to be proud of and happy for but we want to go back in 2010 – thinner and healthier – we feel it is important that as mature dancers we don’t give up and keep showing our stuff. We made a statement in the preliminaries, and inspired many people. We would do it again, because we had a blast. And even though the public party line is that these championships are “fixed” and are less relevant than crawfish crossing the road unharmed, we garnered a lot of admiration and respect for even stepping up. It takes a lot of guts to show your stuff. And we are still the US champions, a fact that was proudly acknowledged by everyone we met in Buenos Aires. People were very proud of us, and we are very proud of ourselves for taking on this challenge. Oh, when the saints, oh when the saints go marching in…

The essence of giving thanks   13 comments

Thanksgiving is as foreign to Argentines as tango is foreign to Americans. They are traditions that need to be learned before they are understood and adopted. For Americans Thanksgiving Day is a time to sit down together, count their blessings, and give thanks for their families and their loved ones. Families in America are a reflection of the diversity of this great nation. No two are exactly alike, but there is a common thread they each share, and the traditions and rituals of Thanksgiving have been passed from generation to generation.

Tango is not that sacred for Argentines, but for those who consider it their way of life, it is a sociocultural phenomena rich in rituals and traditions that is celebrated all year around with the extended families that are formed with those who share the same love and passion for the music, the poetry and the dance. Likewise, the rituals and traditions are passed from generation to generation. Thanksgiving has not transcended to Argentina the way tango has been inserted into the American culture. But it ever does, you can rest assured that the traditions will be respected and preserved, and no turkey will be replaced with ostrich for an alternative Thanksgiving dinner. No High Five Giving Day either.

Imagine if you can, one who makes the decision to become an American as an adult. The discovery of a tradition such as Thanksgiving Day takes time to absorb and understand, but when it does, it takes on a special meaning of its own. Blame it on worn out neurons but I have little recollection of Thanksgiving Days before 1995. This was the year Valorie and I spent our first Thanksgiving together, less than a week after she moved from New York to Sunnyvale. We were the guests of an Argentine couple in San Francisco. The turkey was cooked in brandy. Then we danced tango.

The next year I was in Los Angeles and Valorie in New York. The year after we both were in New York, and in 1998 we gave our first Thanksgiving Grand milonga with turkey and all the trimmings at the Dance Spectrum in Campbell, CA. Then in 1999 we spent Thanksgiving in a corn field outside Champaign, IL. This started a tradition that continued in New Orleans, first in the French Quarter, then Uptown and the Irish Channel. Our devotion to the spirit of the holiday has been super sized by our love of the tango and everything good that it inspires.

Valorie and I are busy preparing Thanksgiving dinner, and setting the table to share it with loved ones. We’ll remember everyone who took us into their homes and those who came to ours over the years, and be thankful for the memories. We will toast to all of you, count our blessings and give thanks for having you all in our lives.

A Thanksgiving to Remember

Women who listen don’t’ cry   2 comments

Rumors and lies propagate around the world before the truth even gets out of bed.

We don’t know who started the rumor that “Alberto made women cry,” and we assume that it wasn’t that sex starved matron who can’t take no for an answer. Maybe it was the naive stubbornness of Gisela, may her soul rest in peace, who went around dishing out back handed compliments comparing our ethics when it comes to taking your money in exchange for your responsibility to listen and learn, with a penchant for making women cry. Or it could be… well never kind.

Over the years some people felt mortified hearing the repetition of the chant, “Alberto makes women cry” as a blanket excuse to justify lack of money, talent or self esteem. The ill conceived rumor has become one of the most often whispered maladies to virgin ears who are just joining the tango scene in New Orleans.

Eventually, the truth finally got out of bed and found its way into a Canadian blog.

By Cafe Girl
Published by courtesy of Cafe Girl Chronicles

I used to think my dance lessons were all about timing, steps, musicality, and technique. Lately I have come to realize that that there’s more too it than that. The more I dance, the more I learn about life. According to my teachers – dance is life.

And nowhere was this more apparent than on my recent trip to New Orleans where I managed to squeeze in a two-hour tango lesson with the very elegant, “man in black” – Alberto Paz. He was gracious and patient, and I immediately felt at ease with him despite the usual stage fright I feel whenever I dance with someone for the fist time.

“There is no test,” he said. “You’re here to learn.”

Lesson #1: “Dance is like life. You have to understand that it’s not about pass/fail; it’s about getting the most out of it.”

Alberto was surprisingly complimentary at what little technique I had managed to pick up in Buenos Aires. (Ah, me of little faith.) He liked working with beginners, he explained, because there were few bad habits to correct.

Doubting myself – as usual – I told him that it was his excellent lead and clear direction that enabled me to dance well

Catherine,” he said. “It’s a compliment so take it and just say thank you,” he said.

Lesson #2: Dance is like life. You have to give yourself a little credit.”

I decided that the next time someone paid me a compliment, I would own it.

I would say: “It’s mine. I worked for it. I deserve it.”

As the lesson progressed, the steps started to feel different – they started to feel “right.” Alberto’s small tweaks were making a big difference to my comfort level. But just to be certain, I asked, after a particular sequence of moves, “Is this right?”

He tossed the question back at me, “Does it feel right to you?”

“Yes,” I said. “I can definitely feel a difference.”

“Then, it’s right,” he said, then added: “Never ask a man his opinion. He’ll never tell you the truth. If you ask him if something looks good, he will always say yes.”

As naive as it sounds, it came as such a revelation that I actually asked Alberto if I could write that piece of wisdom down before I forgot it.

He laughed, put his arm around my shoulders, and gave them an affectionate squeeze . “But you already knew that!” he said.

Lesson #3: “Dance is like life, It’s about how you feel and not how someone else makes you feel.

Probably the hardest lesson of all was just learning to slow down. Tango, more so than any other dance, requires the dancer to be in the moment, wait, and savor each step. However, I sometimes I approach tango as something “to do” rather than something “to dance.” I want to make sure I do all of the steps whether I enjoy them or not.

As Alberto so eloquently put it as I rushed through my steps of our last tango together, “Slow down, you always have time to make a step, but once it is made you can never take it back.”

Lesson #4: “Dance is like life. Make every step count!

Posted November 18, 2009 by Alberto & Valorie in HOME

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Ghosts, skulls and pumpkins signaled the arrival of Halloween to the city as the sun set down Saturday evening on the last day of October. Valorie came home earlier and waved her magic wand to transform the front of our home into a trick-or-treater’s magnet, then we sat on the porch to greet kids, parents and grandparents from the neighborhood.

I read somewhere that the origin of Halloween comes from the well-known Celtic celebration Samhain, that means “summer end” and marks the end of the harvests season in Ireland. For old Celts, the door that separates this world with the one beyond opens with the arrival of the Samhain, allowing the spirits to pass through. The familiar ancestors were welcomed whereas the bad spirits were driven away with masks and costumes. With the passing of time, the Celts belief  was mixed with the Christian celebration of the Day of All the Saints, and thus Halloween was born.
Anyway as the night grew older it was time for the adults to party and celebrate so we headed for the Vintage Room on Magazine where a Halloween tango party took place. We enjoyed ourselves very much, dancing to our content to pretty good music, and staying to the Cumparsita set (for the tango impaired, this song signals the end of the evening and the moment when those who want to go home together seek each other for the last dance) knowing that in the witching hours of the night we would get an extra hour to rest our bones, an event popularly known as “fall back” and consisting of turning the clocks back to 1 am when the time strikes 2 am.
That’s what I wanted to talk about… It seems that the excitement of the evening (a.k.a. early vodka tonics and late pinot noirs) set a chain of events as I entered our living room which can be described as unload your sorry rear end on the couch and do a thorough inspection of the interior of your eyelids. Sometime later I opened my eyes, or not, I turned back the clocks or not, the thing is that as some part of me seemed to be tampering with time, the hands of all the clocks kept turning counterclockwise and somebody kept yelling, “play that funky music!”