Sunday, October 24, 2010


One follower reminded me that I have been remiss in posting, to put it mildly. While I have not posted in ages, the tango has been pursued and imbibed in full measure without pause. And to top it off, I have opened my bookstore LIBRERIA again.

Having a bookstore has always been a dream, and while it came true for awhile in 2004, I decided to close it down in 2006, reality came knocking and the store was not good for the pockets, mine at least.

So why open another one? Because every time I step into a bookshop, I remember the thrill of choosing which books to order for sale, and the fresh smell of a newly opened box of books. Because books provide a common ground to share, to discover and to build new friendships. Because a bookstore is a haven I hope to share with kindred spirits, and a home for fellow bookworms who love nothing more than the cozy embrace of books amid the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Because a bookstore is home to me.

The scheme is distressed white and caribbean sea blue. The floors are old duckpin bowling alley lanes complete with a motley set of fill-ins. There is a plump and welcoming 3-seater to accommodate readers and a folding cedar table in the middle for instant coffee talks and impromptu discussions.

The tango lives on, and if things go well, the upstairs could be another mini tango studio right above the bookstore.

Here's to living the dream... not just one but all of them!!!

If you are in the area, do drop by LIBRERIA Bookstore, Cubao Expo, Gen Romulo Ave, Araneta Center. Daily from 3pm up. Books, coffee and conversation await you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Finding My Center

All this time, it was just right there. Amid the teetering and the toppling over and the uncontrolled extra steps, it was just there, waiting to be tapped and channeled.

Like a first love that never went away, finding my center is like unwrapping the basic and the essential in me. Once found, it just opens so much more inside.

My journey to find my center has come to that point where I can feel it, where it offers glimpses of itself, where I am at home and solid in the whirl of boleos, saludos and ganchos. It is inside me, not anywhere else, just waiting to reconnect, to be acknowledged as center and core.

While I have read about this journey of self-discovery and the epiphany of getting in touch with oneself, to actually experience the process is at once exhilarating and humbling. There is no formula, no set way to find it. It will happen, but it comes with focus and commitment, and a willingness to quiet down, to shed the layers of a sedentary lifestyle and an inhibited environment.

Like a string it is, I have been told. One that traverses from deep in your gut to the top of your head. One that steadies you, and anchors you, and keeps you standing tall despite the motion and the energy that comes with dancing and pretty much the rest of what we do in life.

Find it in you, in your own time, focus on that singular point, that will steady you, and anchor you, and keep you standing tall. I would say it is much like getting in touch with your inner self, as you search and explore, for to me, the center speaks not only of balance or energy but also direction and vision and heart and soul.

So am I finding my center or am I rediscovering everything else inside me. Or am I going through both. Getting in touch with my core by letting go of the old ways and the self-consciousness. Even as I must acknowledge that the serenity in my heart and the unflinching readiness to take on the future  comes from the certainty of connection that has been there since way back when.

For it seems that parallel to my self-discovery is the fruition of another journey that has come full circle in recent days.  All these years, it was always there, a connection so basic, time or distance never diminished that togetherness, that certainty in the soul. All this time, it never died, just got pushed into a far and hidden corner, waiting for that time when it would be right and we were ready.

Finding my center is not a done deal, and much like rediscovering a connection that feels like home, it is a journey that taps into the heart of the matter: am I brave enough to trust in what I feel and what I see, to let go and let my discovery change the way I dance and the way I live.

And in the glimpses I have of how liberating that discovery is, I see glimpses of how simple things really are. It is all inside of me, the question is am I ready to trust and be free.

Am I ready to accept the leader's challenge, to play the game of tango, to bait and bite, to step forward and embrace the passion. Am I ready to dance and to take a chance. I am. Ready for both.

The tango its passion invites. The heart its meaning finds.
The dance it mirrors life.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's All About the Dance

Vacation is over, back to the regular routine again, well almost.

Welcome back floor exercises, repeat and again, and again. Welcome back, higher saludos, repeat and again, and again. Welcome back, caminadas and boleos, done in rhythm, done without hurry.

Rediscovering the little adornos I learned before, but forgot along the way. Especially one favorite that requires a little spin on the upswing after sweeping the floor. Still trying to get back that snappy spin with a twist.

Practice, practice, practice.

But beyond applying every lesson that has been taught, and letting these lessons flow into the limbs and the muscles, it really is all about letting tango flow through you, from heart and soul to torso and leg. It just flows if you let it, and you get to dance, dance, dance like you were born to tango.

And it doesn't matter whom you dance with, as long as you let the tango lead you, let the music take you, let your leader take you through the journey of a song or a tanda. If you let it, the tango in your soul will lead you, no matter who the leader is.

What makes it even more enthralling is that after I stopped thinking and just let the tango in me breathe, I danced with more ease, and I followed with more trust. As a Manhattan Transfer song goes, Nothing you can do about it, relax, enjoy the ride.

What a ride, this tango I have fallen for. What a giddy, exhilarating journey, and I have only just begun.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Frozen Shoulder: No Frozen Delight

Another sleepless night, not as bad as the Holy Week incident, but still a night of deprived sleep. The cause: shoulder pain, selective ache at certain angles, less mobility once more.

Having learned from my previous ER visit, I refrained from having a massage and instead waited to see the doctor this afternoon. The sports clinic at the Moro Lorenzo gym was packed, apparently the good doctor I was referred to was a rock star of sorts.

The minutes ticked away, as I tried not to move, lest I trigger another bout of pain. There was no specific angle or path of pain, it would come and go. Sometimes when the left arm is left hanging. Sometimes when you attempt to raise the lower arm. Sometimes when a sudden jerky movement is done. It just came and went, the pain, the growing immobility.

Turns out to be frozen shoulder, early stage. The good doctor said it comes with age and hormonal imbalance. Great. So, it just happens, and now I have to do therapy. A frozen shoulder this hot hot hot summer. Is there an irony there that I am missing?

Frozen shoulder. But not a cause to weep without let up, as I can dance, I can tango. Of course, that was the first question I asked. To which the answer was in the affirmative. I asked again before I stepped out of the clinic, and again the answer was positive.

I have yet to understand this pain, and its source. I will find out when therapy starts later in the week, just how long it will take, and what level of therapy I will need.

But having clarified that the tango will go on, I will live with the frozen shoulder, and be patient with the therapy. Since it has not frozen my delightful tango, then the rest of what it means to my body is manageable and acceptable.

Slowing down this week, as real life intrudes in many forms. Home study as in practicing ochos and caminadas on my own will have to do for now.

The tango goes on, even if it means having to dance at home, nursing a frozen shoulder. The passion of tango will surely thaw that one too.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The heART of the Ocho

The ocho or figure-eight pivot step has been my continuing concern, to put it mildly, since I started learning the Argentine Tango.

Over time, my lessons have shown me that there is the all-essential pivot, which distinguishes the ocho, from the ocho-like movements that dot the tango floor, my own version included. But teacher after teacher had tried to impress the importance of the pivot, only to finally make sense, as the maestro said it would, one fine tango lesson day.

And yet as my pivot improved, albeit still entirely dependent on the balance challenge that I have, it has not been as effortless or easy on me or on the eye as I believe it should be. There are rare days when I get it, like yesterday afternoon at Savannah.

It is step that requires lightness and balance, even as one stays within the spirit of the sultry dance. I have been coached about using my torso not my shoulders, bending my knees, having softer knees, not locking my knees, and just finding my balance to get it right.

I think I am getting there. When I do the ocho right, the pivot is flawless, easy, and as the leader said yesterday afternoon, there was no unnecessary jerk in my movement nor a discernible change in my weight as would happen when I force the ocho using my hands and arms.

I will test that art of the ocho again tonight at Bureau. And with the help of this very insightful and clear video instructional I found just a few moments ago, I think the heart of the ocho is well within reach.

Drawing the figure eight is the heart of the ocho, and it is with this new bit of information that I will tackle the pivots tonight. How to pivot right and draw a sexy eight, that is the question.

The lady in the video is Gabriela Schaffer, a known tango dancer and instructor. Her explanation of drawing the ocho makes the learning much much easier. Catch her on this Argentine Tango series of basics at eHow.

The tango floor beckons and soon the ocho will be done with mucho gusto.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

That Old Familiar Feeling

Back in the rhythm of my tango life again. Lessons, Tango Nights, home-based exercises, stretching.

Back to the aches and pains of tired feet, stretched muscles and a taller posture.

Back to that old familiar feeling of this tango addict.

Getting back to the feel of the music, the intensity, the getting lost in the dance. Again, learning to do that, on my own.

Once the poignant strains of a slow traditional tango begins, the enchantment takes hold and the dance takes over.

In the firm yet light arms of the leader, the signals are felt inside, the energy, the emotion, the passion moving back and forth.

And in that singularly intimate circle, the tango heart beats, two as one. Within that embrace, there is but one thought from two souls: to let the music play in every step, in every taunt, in every sacada and boleo.

Getting back into the lyricism of the dance, knowing that it is inside me, no matter who leads the way.

That old familiar feeling. The tango in the soul is burning bright.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tango Break: Proud Mama

Sharing a post that made my day. This is all about my daughter, she makes this mama real proud.

my daughter, the photographer
If I told you it all blossomed from one drunken night at the house of a photographer taking pictures of her vain friend, you might not believe it. But that’s exactly how Daylight Saturday, an indie portrait ...