Sunday, September 14, 2014

The 2nd Coming of Adam Hoopengardner

               Tango in Madison this weekend was great and it was all because of Adam Hoopengardner. He wasn’t even there, nor was his partner, Ciko.  Just the fact that they were coming to Minneapolis on November 7-9 was enough to make a normal tango weekend in Wisconsin’s capital city, 300 miles away, into the best one I’ve seen since I arrived 10 months ago.
               Throughout my entire eight-year tango education Adam and Ciko have always been in the background.
               At the NYC dance studio You Should Be Dancing on 8th Avenue, where my favorite tango instructor, Dragan Ranitovic, taught for many years, they host an alternative milonga that is always well-attended.
               Of the many tango festivals I’ve attended all across the country, Adam and Ciko were frequent performers as well as teachers.
               For three years I attended the Tuesday practica of the Penn State Tango Club and I was always asked if I’d be attending an Adam and Ciko workshop which was always in the not-too-distant future.
               When they were teaching in Media, PA, at the Sangha Space tango studio, I just had to go. It was such an experience that I blogged about it when I first began writing about tango regularly. It wasn’t my greatest piece of writing but it was an awesome event!
               The teaching duo’s events are more than instructional sessions; they are religious revivals! That is because their charisma generates an enthusiasm that motivates their followers to get out and spread the word.
               This weekend, three of those infected with AdamandCikomania, came to Madison to proselytize. This trio of college students were very well-versed in the art of dancing tango. Their demeanor at both milongas they attended was the epitomy of what is known around here as Minnesota Nice. They made every man and woman with whom they danced feel special, including me and I have to say that I am overwhelmed!
               This is not a new phenomenon. Everywhere Adam and Ciko go there is a fervor in anticipation of their arrival. I experienced it in NYC, in Philadelphia and on Penn State’s main campus in the heart of PA.
               Having participated in several of their workshops I can say the expectation is not mere hype: these guys deliver!

               I had a great time this weekend and I am looking forward to the Adam and Ciko festival in November, I hope to see you there so we can all 'pray' together!!!

For more of the Kayak Hombre, read my books Fear of Intimacy and the Tango Cure and River Tango. Available at in paperback or Kindle editions.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Ties that Bind

                Women and men are different. The disparity between the sexes is a fact that is often ignored. Recognition of a partner’s distinction is the glue that binds in the tango connection. 
               Girls think about getting married; guys think about getting laid. Ladies pray for peace; men prepare for war.  
                I live in an apartment. It is a cottage house divided into two apartments: upstairs and downstairs. A young man lives in the upper level. He has two trucks, a fishing boat and a motorcycle. 
               This is a lot of stuff considering that he is the estranged father of a two-year old baby girl.  
               The young man’s mother arranges visitations for her son with his daughter because he won't do it on his own. She is making sure her grandchild gets to know its daddy. 
               It is interesting to watch the events unfold as the toddler inevitably brings the father around to the idea that he’s got to grow up and start providing for his offspring.
               The father and child getting to know each other is a bonding process and a very strong one at that.
               Entire societies revolve around this paradigm: sex, babies, responsibilities. Not everybody chooses this path but its existence shapes our worlds and the education of the sexes. Women seek commitment and men resist it.
               I meet many tango dancers who refuse to adhere to the status quo but it still makes up a big part of their perspective, whether they like it or not.
               In tango we must accept that there are things we can never understand, primarily the opposite sex.
               I don’t understand the words to most tango songs because I don’t speak Spanish. I would never tell someone I speak their language when I don’t. This would be an insult, as it would be if I claimed to know what it is like to be a woman.
               To admit to yourself that you don’t understand is a humbling experience. Humility is the beginning of all learning and that is where the couples must begin when they make contact.
               When you join in the tango embrace you are dancing with a stranger from a strange world. You must always keep in mind that you know nothing about that person. Every move your partner makes should be unexpected. If it is then the unexpected can happen.
               This is tango, a dance like no other. Every encounter is a gamble. For some, the outcomes of the unknowns are devastating, but for others the results are beyond their wildest dreams. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Tango's Unforgivable Sin

           Memories are events recorded in our brains based on emotions experienced by our entire bodies. An idea is a person’s interpretation of memories. Music is the acoustic expression of an idea.
           When two people join in the tango embrace they attempt to make something unique and pleasurable; they endeavor to convey in movement the emotions that became a song.
           This is not always a harmonious union; sometimes one of the partners is more worried about appearance than connection.
           An insult shouted at you from afar is not as hurtful as one spoken to your face. An injury inflicted when two people are connected physically, emotionally, mentally and possibly even spiritually can be extremely painful.
           We think not just with our heads but also with our hearts, our hands and much, much more.  
The dancer who gives 100% to the endeavor experiences 100% of the disappointment in the the couple's failure to connect, not just with each other but to the song as well.

           The unforgivable sin in tango is to join in the embrace and then to dance alone.

For more of the Kayak Hombre, read my books Fear of Intimacy and the Tango Cure and River Tango. Available at in paperback or Kindle editions.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Women Tango Arousal and Men: All Natural

               My readership has been declining lately so I’m going to fall back on a well-worn topic to increase circulation.  I'd like to talk about arousal and the game some women play with men when dancing the tango.  
               The ability to attract a man is a symbol of power for a woman. An erection is a good indicator that a man has been affected.
               Every so often I dance with a woman who does a pretty good job of appealing to my libido. A compliment or an invitation to dinner will do but sometimes I think she’d rather have some other kind of evidence.
               It took me a long time to realize that my arousal was the end of the game, not the beginning. The road to this epiphany was filled with frustration and self-doubt. I now suspect that the opposite sex may not even be aware of their role as the instigators in this adventure.
               Ladies, in case you don’t already know, a woman’s appropriate reaction to a turgid appendage should be a blush and avoidance. You may be tempted to ‘knock a few coconuts loose from the tree’ but you must resist or you’re going to have a lot more than coconuts laying on the ground!
               It used to bother me when women played this game but now I suspect that this is not something they can help. 
               For a man, being aroused in public is embarrassing in the very least and illegal at worst. A lot of mental and emotional effort goes into managing our sex drive. Men are not normally thoughtful nor do we like to employ emotional restraint. We are in fact big babies.
               You must understand this in order to comprehend why anger is the flip side of arousal. We work hard to keep our thing under control. When an overly sensuous woman comes along and throws all our efforts out the window, we become upset……or fall in love with her. This is enough to drive a man crazy!

               Here is my observation of how this game is played out on the dance floor at a milonga:

-                                        Each woman has her own tricks to get manwood to grow: exhaling at just the right time so that her breath rushes onto his neck/ear/face; releasing an audible gasp, whimper or squeal; eye contact; body contact, etc., etc. 

-                                       It is possible that some stimuli are carried out innocently enough but others are definitely crimes of passion.

-                                       The unwitting/devious tanguera keeps her partner going all through the tanda, bringing the hapless tanguero to the edge of ecstasy and dropping him off a cliff like seagulls breaking clams on a rocky beach.

-                                        Her trophy comes at the end of the tanda, his condition apparent. She always walks straight away from her victim, never to the side and never looking back to let on that she may know.

-                                      She feigns naïveté but her posture says otherwise, like she's proud of what she's done; her smitten partner is veritable proof of her potency for all to see.

               This is a part of tango that is never taught in group classes. I have to guess that it is something that is discussed between women in private or during private instruction.

               Guys, if it helps, try to think of the experience as tantric sex: all foreplay and no climax.  
               There may be more to this game than women proving to themselves that men still find them desirable. These flirtations may help them overcome obstacles they encounter when learning how to follow.  
               It is possible that flirtation is the key to opening the door for a woman to understand the men with whom she dances. Her efforts give her confidence and help her to make sense of the awkward, yet somehow appealing creature within her embrace.
               Guys, this dance is all about the woman, the most sensitive and sophisticated machine ever devised. She needs to be comfortable in order to feel free to move as the music inspires her and in harmony with you.
               I don’t just write to drive up subscriptions; I write to let other men know how to act in such situations and to assure them that this doesn’t have to be an embarrassing moment.
               Suck it up and walk back to your chair, big guy. So she got you aroused and left you standing there; admit to yourself that, at this very moment, you are totally intoxicated with her and that this is a good thing.
               So don’t be insulted when she leaves you high and dry. It’s all part of what makes tango tango. Take her actions for what they truly are: a compliment.

For more of the Kayak Hombre, read my book Fear of Intimacy and the Tango Cure or River Tango. Available on in paperback or Kindle.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Eloquent Tanguero

I was dancing with a tanguera last night when she asked, after the tanda ended, “Have you ever been to Buenos Aires?”
“No,” I said, feigning disinterest, “and I don’t think I ever will go, to tell you the truth.”
I should have lied but for some reason I was feeling cocky. Telling the truth is always a mistake when I am talking to women I don’t know.
“Why not?” she inquired further.
When I heard the follow-up question I should have known that I was in the process of breaking the number one rule of being the Kayak Hombre: keep your big fat mouth shut!
Who is the Eloquent Tanguero? Not me, that’s who!
The cortina began to play so we still had a few moments to vacate the dance floor and find new partners. I proceeded to stick my foot in my mouth as far as it could go.
The reason I try to adhere to the codigo de silencio as my number one rule of conduct is because my words, both their selection and the volume, often ruin what could have been a pleasurable experience for my partner.
In my heart and soul there is a raging river. I often speak as if I am trying to be heard above the crashing waves.
Like a kayaker navigating dangerous rapids, I choose my words from the stream of my consciousness, reacting to the moment, and either regretting what I’ve said or basking in the glory of a well-received expression of a thought.
I learned long ago that some of the women who dance tango are hoping to encounter an educated man who inspires confidence on the dance floor and provides eloquent conversation if called upon to do so.
Sometimes I am that man...until the moment I start speaking and then it’s all downhill from there!
So full of myself that my eyelids were nearly shut from my skin stretching so tight, I said so loud that everyone could hear me, “There’s no reason for a man to go to Buenos Aires. I’m sure there’s great tango there but other than that there’s nothing else to do unless you’re a woman looking to get laid by a six-foot Argentine soccer player and buy a lot of shoes!”
I can’t recall just exactly what she said but I do remember with painful clarity that her opinion of me burst like a balloon pricked by a pin.
On the long ride home, thinking about this weekend’s most salient event for a new blogpost, I realized that was it and I was not too happy to put it to words.
As I sit here in my apartment in Wisconsin Rapids, I wonder why I am forgetting myself and the rules by which I engage other dancers. Is it the lack of alcohol? A runner’s high? Maybe my behavior is a subconscious resignation to living here permanently (another winter at the very least) and I want to see if I will be accepted for the loud child that I, and no one else in Wisconsin, knows that I am.
Oh well. Life here in America’s Dairyland goes on. I am alcohol free for six weeks now and I am jogging three times a week.
I’d like to say the next job contract I get after this will be my last but I think I need to continue working as a contractor for a few more years. Wherever I go next, I hope there is lots of tango; maybe there I will be given a chance to start anew and be the eloquent tanguero, if only in the imaginations of a few wishful tangueras.

For more of the Kayak Hombre, read my book Fear of Intimacy and the Tango Cure or River Tango. Available on in paperback or Kindle.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Suicide Bombers and the Tango Wolf

               It occurs to me that women know how to manipulate men but they don’t really know why they’re able to do that. Why we are so easily controlled is a big reason for the explosive chemistry that often takes place when two members of the opposite sex engage in the tango embrace.
               The reason there are so few female suicide bombers is because a place where fourteen virgin men are waiting is not a girl's idea of heaven. A young man’s libido is so overwhelming that he is willing to forgo the rest of his life just to get to the happy ending.
               When we dance tango, primal forces are disturbed. I can’t say what ancient powers lay buried in the body of a woman but I know for certain that inside of every man is a ravenous wolf.
               In order to avoid jail or being killed by an angry mob, each man must find a way to get his wolf to lay down. How this is done is different, I am certain, for each man. He doesn’t tame the beast and the man who thinks he can control it is a fool.

               I have to wonder that women somehow know the nature of the beast within the man and that a part of them enjoys the thrill of tip-toeing past Cerberus as he guards the gates to the underworld. In tango it is best to let sleeping dogs lie but then it wouldn’t be called Tango now, would it?

For more of the Kayak Hombre, read my book Fear of Intimacy and the Tango Cure or River Tango. Available on in paperback or Kindle.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tango: A Guide to Living

               In Tango there are no mistakes. This is something you must learn in order to move on to other levels of proficiency. To dance tango is an ATTEMPT by two people to choreograph movement to a song SPONTANEOUSLY. Turbulence is to be expected.
               This is also how we should live our lives, without fear of failure, making our decisions on how to proceed by listening to the rhythm of the universe and moving to it however we feel is best.
               Tango teaches us that we are one half of a couple in a crowd and that how we move within the group affects the mood of all who surround us.
               So it is in life: how we interact with the people we meet contributes to the general feeling of the population.
               The fundamentals of tango are front, back, side, pivot, in-place and pause. If tango is a metaphor for living, then there must also be some elemental rules for conducting ourselves as we travel through our lifetimes, however long or short they may be.
               I don’t understand fully just what the basic movements of life are, even at fifty-four years of age. Maybe they are to move towards sustenance and away from danger; to move with the others around us.
               I do know that there is a compelling force within us all to stay alive and this must be a clue to our existence.
               As I move I must not get too carried away with the music. When I do this on the dance floor it always ends badly. To do this in life, to shy away from the fight I can win only to end up in the jaws of the lion, to bet it all on black, to leap without looking, is a sure way to crash, burn or die.
               Life is not fair. Even the event of our conception is a struggle for survival among the sperm; the egg awaiting the victorious swimmer is, hopefully, just one of many that made the descent into the insemination chamber each month.
               From the vaginal dismount the newborn cries for breath and cranes its neck to find a nipple and nourishment. It is fragile and at risk every moment it is alive, yet, surprisingly, many survive.
               Tango is a healing force. For those of us who manage to stay alive in the Grand Milonga of Life, no matter how battered we are by the forces of mother nature and the violence of mankind, the universe will work to heal us as long as we can draw another breath.
               Some people might read this and surmise that I have a pretty dismal view of our existence. To them I would say that I disagree. I believe in a loving God and a nurturing Universe because I have found love and nourishment: physical, emotional and spiritual.
                I believe there is a reason why we exist because I seek one. I know that I am alive because I struggle to stay so.
               From what I’ve read, life is difficult for all of us (Plato) and that it is important not to judge others (Jesus). It is this kind of thinking that makes me believe that life and tango are one and the same.

               I cannot say with certainty that anything I do is correct or incorrect, only that it is incumbent upon me to do something. If I make the attempt to the best of my ability, regardless of the outcome, I will have succeeded because life is a tango.

For more of the Kayak Hombre, read my book Fear of Intimacy and the Tango Cure or River Tango. Available on in paperback or Kindle.