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Tango Love Birds – Michael and Margaret

Danger – the romantic kind CloseEmbrace_MichaelKlesert_byAlliNovak2013

Just over five years ago, Michael moved to Napa and became seriously addicted to tango. He began taking classes in Yountville but in order to dance at a real milonga he had to travel further – to the Belrose in San Rafael.

“The best way to do this without succumbing to the terror of asking a stranger to dance was to car pool with other members of the Yountville class,” says Michael. “One afternoon I was introduced to a charming, sophisticated, elegant Russian woman named Margaret, and we discovered that she also was from Napa.  Life is full of serendipity.”

Initially Michael was reluctant to cabaceo the lovely tanguera, thinking she was a more experienced dancer. But, eventually, after much internal debate, he worked up the nerve to ask her to share a tanda with him.CloseEmbrace_MargaretTrachtenberg_byAlliNovak2013

“I was completely embarrassed and thrilled at the same time,” he admits. “She didn’t seem too offended by my leading, so I invited her again a little later.” Soon, the two began dancing more often and commuting to various milongas, first with small groups and occasionally just with each other.

“Danger — the romantic kind — lurked in these long drives back and forth,” Michael recalls.  These interludes allowed them to get to know each better, sharing life adventures and discovering mutual interests as they drove. “Margaret went to university in Moscow where ballet, opera and theater were all very available and top quality, and I conducted musical theater, once aspired to conduct opera and was a symphony orchestra manager at one time,” Michael explains.

The spark ignites…MM-107

The time spent alone together in the car became more engaging and more exciting.  “Neither of us was aware of our growing desire for the other until one night, when I walked Margaret to her front door after dancing. She kissed my cheek, almost melting me in my shoes,” says Michael. “Totally unexpected and searingly hot, this simple gesture led me to admit that I had been wanting to touch her hand in the car but was afraid to scare her off.”

During their commutes Margaret wasn’t thinking about a relationship. “I thought he was a very nice man and I enjoyed his company. I liked not having to drive by myself at night.” Things began to progress more rapidly after Michael took Margaret to dinner to celebrate her birthday at Skates in Berkeley, then to a milonga in Oakland – their first real date.

“Since then, we have danced at my best friend’s wedding in Colorado, in the lobby of several hotels, Yountville and Cabo San Lucas included, at wineries, the de Young museum, outdoors at the Legion of Honor, and on stage in Alma del Tango’s production Close Embrace: A Tango Love Story in San Anselmo.”

CloseEmbrace_MichaelKlesert_MargaretTrachtenberg_byAlliNovak2013

When he knew she was the one

For Michael, the most romantic night of all was early in the relationship. “With a full moon and fog rolling over the ridge in Sausalito, we danced to live music by Seth Asarnow and Marcello Puig, alone on the tiniest of dance floors at Cafe Divino. I knew at that point she was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.”

Margaret agrees, “it was extremely romantic.  Afterward we drove along the Bay and I realized it but didn’t say anything. Tango is a very passionate dance.  Some day we won’t be able to go tango dancing, but in the beginning, tango did its part.”

“None of this would have been possible without our very strong, mutual obsession for tango,” says Michael. “Our next big tango adventure will be a trip to visit Margaret’s daughter in Paris. Any suggestions for great places to tango?

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Tango Love Birds – Tanya and Ilya

Fairy tales do come true

CloseEmbrace_TanyaRokhlin_byAlliNovak2013

Tanya Rokhlin

 

One evening last fall, Tanya decided to go to the milonga at Magdalena in Oakland with Debbie Goodwin. It was a spur of the moment decision as she was getting ready for a trip to Europe, but an evening of tango sounded good. When the women arrived, the room was crowded and dark.

Tanya recalls a man standing by the door as she was trying to make her way to get a glass of water. He invited her to dance but she declined. Later he reappeared and asked again. This time she accepted his invitation. Dancing with him felt very warm and comfortable. “Between tandas we discovered we both speak Russian,” says Tanya.

CloseEmbrace_IlyaMagid_byAlliNovak2013

Ilya Magid

Red flag!

During the evening, they danced a couple more tandas and she noticed he was wearing a wedding ring. Ilya told her he lives in Santa Barbara and has been dancing for many years. On alert, Tanya asked if his wife dances, too. “Yes,” he replied.  “I didn’t even listen,” she says. “I have a rule that if a man is married I don’t waste my time. Whatever I felt, I put it aside.”

At end of evening he asked if she would be dancing the next day, and where. When she responded he said “Ok, I’ll be there too.” Tanya admits she was a little excited by the prospect of dancing with him again, “but I was holding myself in a neutral space, not wanting to get too excited,” she says.

“The dancing was wonderful, he made me feel good. The embrace was incredible.  Later I heard the same from other women.  In tango, it’s not how many moves the man knows, it’s how he makes you feel,” says the tanguera. (Leaders, listen up!)

Tango1Tanya went on her travels to Europe and when she came back, a couple months went by with no word from Ilya. Meanwhile she did some sleuthing on Facebook and friended him. She looked at the pictures he’d posted and saw that everything he told her was true. His life looked picture perfect. “I thought how unlucky I am…I felt all this but he’s unavailable,” says Tanya.

Finally, Ilya called. “He said he was coming to San Francisco to visit me. I thought, why is he coming to visit me? I never asked him to visit me…I said we could dance together.” When he invited her to dinner before the milonga, she thought, “Ok, now I can ask questions.”  Tanya was frank.  She told him, “I don’t want to waste my time, so if you’re married it’s not going to work.”

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Tanya, pictured here, played the lead role of “Angelica”in Alma del Tango’s  “Close Embrace,” February 14-17, 2013

Then he delivered the news she wanted to hear –he had left his wife. “Don’t think it’s because of you,” Ilya told her.  “It was coming for many years.  Living alone gave me time to think and analyze what I want to do.”

“Once he told me he was available and I wasn’t the reason, I completely lost my head,” Tanya admits. “And I’ve never looked back.”  Since then the couple has been inseparable. “Nothing is perfect in life,” Tanya says philosophically. “There is always a spoon of dirt in a jar of honey. Everybody looks at this from their own angle. I look at it as a miracle for me, and he looks at it in the same way.”

After dancing the lead role in Close Embrace: A Tango Love Story, in which Ilya also performed, Tanya moved to Santa Barbara to be with her tango lovebird. Now the couple goes to milongas in Los Angeles every weekend.

“It is a fairy tale that I’m living,” she says with a happy sigh.

Watch Tanya and Ilya dance here:

Video filmed and edited by John Campbell – Alma Video Production

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Tango Love Birds – Kathy and Mark

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Kathy Burwell

The perfect storm

As the final piece of her divorce settlement, Kathy ended up with a round-trip ticket to anywhere United flies. As her mind drifted through various exotic destinations, her best friend said, “If I could go anywhere, it would be Buenos Aires to dance tango!” That was Kathy’s aha moment. She immediately signed up for Debbie and John’s beginning tango class.

Meanwhile…Mark, also newly divorced and new to California, was invited to the same tango class by a woman he’d recently met. They danced, but didn’t date. Then, one fateful evening, Mark stayed to watch the Level 2 class and in walked Kathy, “the most beautiful woman in the world,” he beams, “and I immediately began to think how to get close to her.”

To prepare for her Buenos Aires adventure, Kathy went to Los Angeles to visit Becka, a well-known tango dancer/teacher.  While talking with other tangueros at Becka’s house, one man said prophetically, “It will change your life.”

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Mark Lewis

Are we dating?
Back in Marin, Mark emailed to invite her to join a group that was going dancing together. That felt very unthreatening to Kathy, “not like a pick-up,” she laughs. She began venturing out to dance spots on her own, and one night she called Mark to see if he and his friends would like to go.  They showed up late, and Kathy thought he was dating one of the women.

Then, on a Saturday night they went together to a class in Sausalito but didn’t change partners.  After the lesson, during the milonga, “no one asked me to dance,” says Kathy.  Finally, someone did, and seeing this, Mark decided to leave. “I’ll get my stuff,” said Kathy, and they jumped into his truck. That’s when he told Kathy he had terminated a relationship. “It was a game-changer,” she says.

They headed into the City and danced til the wee hours (not tango). The next week, after Debbie and John’s class, they went out for a glass of wine. “Are we dating?” asked Mark. “Well, we haven’t had a date,” Kathy responded. So he asked her for a date. “I was totally infatuated,” he says.

Buenos Aires bound
“By late September it became clear to me to invite Mark to go to Buenos Aires with me because we enjoyed dancing together so much,” recalls Kathy. “Buenos Aires was a really exciting time,” adds Mark.  “There was the incredible energy of a new relationship.  We were with total strangers and didn’t speak the language. We were both new to being divorced and new to tango. We were empty nesters. Our kids are the same age…we hit the perfect storm.”

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Kathy Burwell & Mark Lewis in All About Tango 2011

“Tango is another way of solidifying our closeness and communication,” he explains. “When you’re in Buenos Aires and totally afraid to dance with a stranger and there’s only one person you can hold onto, it’s the bonding. You want to succeed at being a wonderful dancer, you want to be with that person who you know won’t judge you so you can relax and be who you are.”

Dancing their story
In 2011, Kathy and Mark performed a choreographed dance in Alma del Tango’s student production, All About Tango. They danced a milonga that joyfully expressed their tango love story.
While other priorities have kept Kathy and Mark from regularly dancing tango, they’re hopeful that will change.  The welcome they received at the benefit milonga for Alex Levin was so heartwarming.  “Look at the community we have,” beamed Kathy. “It was wonderful to feel welcome and to pick up where we left off.”

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Tango Love Birds – Auriel and Winter

Winter & Auriel

Winter & Auriel

Love at first sigh…

The first time Auriel danced with her partner of almost 10 years, she felt her breathe out and relax … like her body was sighing with relief.  “I took this as a compliment to my dancing,” says Auriel. “She was seeing someone else at the time who didn’t tango and I was just a year out of a toxic relationship, so nothing happened between us except tango, which can be a healing and satisfying attraction in itself.”

Eventually Winter’s relationship ended and Auriel felt healed enough to ask her out. Tango has been part of their lives and work ever since with festival and milonga production, teaching, performing, competing and community building. “And still, we sigh in completeness when we tango together,” says Auriel. “Tango is something that connected us and completes us like nothing else.”

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Tango Boutique Now Open!

Visit the Alma del Tango Boutique

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A new feature at our San Anselmo studio…Shop for lightly used tango shoes and clothing along with some NEW arrivals. All at very affordable prices.tango-imagen-milonga-3-1Shown below, the Babucha Tango Pants from BsAs.

Accepting donations of lightly used tango clothing, shoes and accessories for women and men. Your tax deductible donations go toward the creative endeavors of Alma del Tango’s sponsored programs such as Tango Con* Fusión

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Fundraiser to Benefit Alex Levin Recovery Fund

Alma del Tango hosts a benefit milonga
in support of Marin resident/tango dancer hit by car    

Friday, April 5 at Alma del Tango Studio, San Anselmo

            (San Anselmo, CA, April 1) The Marin tango community comes together in support of one of its own at a fundraiser to benefit the Alex Levin Recovery Fund. Levin, a San Rafael resident, was struck by a car while traveling in Vladivostok and remains in critical condition in a Russian hospital.

Alex & Karina dancing at La Milonga de San Anelmo July 2012

Alex & Karina dancing at La Milonga de San Anselmo July 2012

 

What:  Milonga (tango social dance) and silent auction fundraiser hosted by Alma del Tango
When:  Friday, April 5. Class by Debbie Goodwin & John Campell (levels 2-4) at 7 pm.
Dancing  8-11 pm. DJ Ashvin Iyer.
Where: Alma del Tango studio, 167 Tunstead Ave., San Anselmo
Ticket price: $15 minimum donation.  All proceeds go to the Alex Levin Fund.

Jessica Lewin, a friend of Levin and his wife Karina, will match all donations during the evening benefit dollar for dollar, up to $1,000.

Silent Auction features private lessons from Bay Area professionals

To show their support, several tango professionals are offering private lessons in a silent auction with proceeds donated to the Alex Levin Recovery Fund. Exciting auction items include:

•    Two tickets to El Arrabal for the May 4 milonga. Includes a 1 ½ hour workshop with Eduardo Saucedo, the milonga with music by Seth Asarnow y Su Sexteto Tipico, and a table for two with a bottle of champagne. From Steve & JoAnn Palubinskas & Adolfo Caszarry.
•    Alexander Technique lesson for tango dancers, from Janet Lott.
•    Private Tango Classes from:
–  Christopher Nassopoulos & Caroline Peattie
–  Pier Voulkos  & Daniel Peters
–  Debbie Goodwin
–  John Campbell
–  Jonathan Yamauchi  & Olivia Levitt
–  David Caditz & Lulu Hung
–  Donna Agoitia
– Homer Ladas

 About Alex & Karina Levin

Alex & Karina dancing in Tango Tales Feb 2012

Alex & Karina dancing in Tango Tales Feb 2012

Alex & Karina Levin, one of Marin’s favorite tango couples, are a joy to watch and a dream to dance with. Born in Russia, Alex and Karina emigrated to the U.S. in 1995. In 1999, they read a newspaper article about Argentine Tango and their passion for the dance was ignited. They began taking lessons, first with John Campbell and other leading Bay Area instructors. Then they made two trips to Buenos Aires to study the classic milonguero style as danced in the salons of central Buenos Aires. This style stresses the improvisational nature of tango and the connection between partners. Alex and Karina enjoy social dancing with emphasis on musicality. “We just love it,” says Karina. In addition to frequenting the milongas, the couple has been known to play a diSarli CD and dance in their kitchen.

Here,  Alex & Karina dance in a featured piece in Tango Tales 2012 produced by Alma del Tango.

 To make an online donation to the Alex Levin Recovery Fund visit www.gofundme.com/2f6zq4
For event information visit our Facebook page

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Buenos Aires Tango Experience 2013

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La Cúpula

 

Debbie, John, Pier and Dan stay in this historical Cupula apartment in the Congreso District in Buenos Aires.

 

Dan brings us fresh pastries “facturas” every morning.

Facturas

Facturas

Here are some of our favorite foods in BsAs.

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Helado de Chocolate y Dulce de Leche!

 

Bife de lomo a la pimenta con papas.

Bife de lomo a la pimenta con papas.

Ensaladas at Cafe Riva in San Telmo
Ensaladas at Cafe Riva in San Telmo

This “fileteado” artist from the San Telmo Market painted Dan’s ukelele and made a sign for our Alma del Tango Studio.

Adrian Clara, the artist painted Daniel's ukelele and and new sign for Alma del Tango Studio!

Daniel Peters, Artist Adrian Clara, Debbie Goodwin

We took 3-6 hours of dance classes a day with a variety of tango masters from Buenos Aires.
Here are the ones we studied with: Fabián Salas & Lola Díaz, Chicho Frúmboli & Juana Sepúlveda, Adrián Veredice & Alejandra Hobert, Lucila Cionci & Rodrigo “Joe” Corbata (Debbie & John’s current favorites) , Christian Márquez & Virginia Gómez.

More photos and stories to come but we wanted to give you a glimpse of what we have been up to!

Abrazos,Debbie & John

Debbie & John with Lucilla and Joe. Our favorite teachers this trip!

Debbie & John with Lucila and Joe

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Debbie & John with Alejandra & Adrian

 

 

Debbie & John with Virginia & Christian

Debbie & John with Virginia & Christian

 

 

 

 

Debbie & John with Fabian and Lola

Debbie & John with Fabian and Lola

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Debbie attends Lady’s Tango Festival in Buenos Aires

IMG_2215Last week I attended the Lady’s Tango Festival in Buenos Aires. “John, I have to leave earlier than we planned because I just found out about a fantastic opportunity! It happens the week before we are scheduled to go.”  I could see that he needed more convincing.   “I want to be the most delightful follower you can possibly imagine. I think these 6 ladies can teach me what you want me to know.” It worked! I left with his full support. 😉

Organized by Johana Copes, the daughter of legendary tanguero Juan Carlos Copes, the festival featured renowned tangueras Milena Plebs, Guillermina Quiroga, Aurora Lubiz, Corina De La Rosa, Juana Sepulveda and Lorena Ermocida along with the male perspectives of Pablo Veron and Chicho Frumboli.

Stepping off the airplane and into the Ezieza airport, the pulse of Tango was under my feet. No other city I have visited even comes close to energizing me like Buenos Aires. The next afternoon I filled my backpack: water, snacks, notebook, pen, and my shoes. 3 pairs of shoes:  flat jazz shoes, tango sneakers with a mid size heel and 3” NeoTango stilettos. I knew I faced a full schedule of daily classes and would have to carefully choose my footwear depending on the exercises and how much my feet hurt. Thirty hours of classes in 6 days and yes, my feet did hurt.IMG_2294

Class attendance ranged from 9 to 36 women. The maestras covered a full spectrum of themes such as posture, balance, axis, pivots, boleos, moving decorations, musicality, dissociation, turn technique and new dynamics. But it was “the art of walking” that I found most interesting. Each maestra was exquisitely clear in explaining “the art of walking”. They were so convincing. But – no two of them described it the same!

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Milena Plebs and Debbie Goodwin

Milena Plebs:
“The leg and hence the foot is neither turned out nor in, but in one line. Your axis is slightly forward from the ankles. You point your toe as you step but at the moment of transfer it is the heel that strikes first when walking forward.”

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Debbie Goodwin & Johana Copes

Johana Copes:
“You stand up straight and natural with your shoulders above your hips. Your heels are together but your toes are open. You walk in two tracks. When walking forward, your heel strikes first.”

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Debbie Goodwin and Aurora Lubiz

Aurora Lubiz:

“Your feet are parallel, not turned out. Your axis is slightly forward. You walk forward and back in the same way with the ball of the foot striking first, followed by the heel. You walk in two tracks.”

Lorena Ermocida and Debbie Goodwin

Lorena Ermocida and Debbie Goodwin

 

Lorena Ermocida:
“You walk in 2 tracks when in front of your partner and in 1 track when walking outside your partner. Your axis is slightly forward and your feet are turned out.”

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Debbie Goodwin and Guillermina Quiroga

Guillermina Quiroga:
“Your axis is upright, your feet are turned out, you strike the ball of the foot first when walking forward and you walk in one track going forward or back.”

Juana Sepulveda:
“Your axis is completely upright with the shoulders above the hips. It is okay to walk with parallel feet but I use a slight turn out for better balance. I try to point my foot and strike the ball of the foot first when walking forward but sometimes I strike the heel first.

 

Debbie Goodwin & Corina De La Rosa

Debbie Goodwin & Corina De La Rosa

Corina De La Rosa:

“When standing in bare feet your axis is perpendicular to the floor but when you put on high heels you need to make an adjustment so that your axis is perpendicular to your high heeled shoes. The heels are together but my toes slightly open. The hips remain over the arches of the foot and the shoulders are over the toes. When stepping try to step with either the heel or the entire foot at once and not the toe.”

 

I truly understand how women become frustrated by all of these discrepancies. After 17 years of dancing Argentine Tango, all I can do is smile. I have come to cherish this paradoxical aspect of the dance.  How delightful that despite all these conflicting methods we can travel around the world and find on the dance floor a communication that is so universal. Tango is a common language danced together using shared vocabulary, but each of us has an individual style, and it works. Here is what Pablo Veron told us. He said that the great leaders of tango came together for a conference and could not even agree on what the “basic” was.  Johana Copes saw it this way and advised “tango is like life, we will not get along with everyone. In the dance we need to search out those who we feel comfortable with and dance with them.”

This festival was a fabulous opportunity and I know that John will be more than pleased. From the variety of new ideas and exercises from this seminar my style will change but it will still be clearly my style. I will share it with my students. Tango evolves and learning never stops. I’m sure that as the years go by, my style will also continue to evolve.
Asi se baile el tango – This is how you dance the tango!

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La Milonga de San Anselmo Honors Two Marin Tango Couples

On July 27, La Milonga de San Anselmo honors Al & Barbara Garvey
and Jean & Charlie Stewart
who
helped build the SF Bay Area Argentine Tango community from scratch starting in 1985!

San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area is one of the largest tango communities outside of Buenos Aires. Today, we take for granted the fact we have the choice of several classes and milongas on Tango Mango to attend every day of the week. This was not always the case.

The first time Barbara Garvey, a Fairfax resident, saw the show Tango Argentino, on a business trip to New York in 1985, she called Al from the hotel to say “I’ve just seen what we’re going to do the rest of our lives.”

Al & Barbara Garvey

A year later, the touring company of Tango Argentino had come and gone from San Francisco, leaving behind a small but enthusiastic group of aficionados. Al and Barbara continued to actively promote all tango activity in the area, developing a mailing list and information center to support a growing community of teachers, students and entrepreneurs. They were joined in this endeavor by Jean and Charlie Stewart, also of Fairfax.

Among the first Norteamericanos to travel to Buenos Aires in search of tango

On that first trip in the spring of 1987, they were fortunate to meet the legendary Fino Rivera and take a lesson from him, only a few weeks before his untimely death. This encounter clarified dramatically for them the distinction between salon-style, or social tango, and the exhibition version, tango-for-export, to which they had been exposed by cast members of Tango Argentino.

Back in the States, looking for a proponent of social tango, they discovered Orlando Paiva, a milonguero of exceptional elegance, then resident in Los Angeles. They invited him to present a series of workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area. After his return to Argentina, they continued to organize seminars in Northern California for Danel and Maria Bastone of New York, and Michael Walker and Luren Bellucci of Los Angeles, Orlando’s proteges.

Studying with the maestros 

On subsequent journeys to Buenos Aires they studied with many other leading maestros, among them Roberto Grassi, “El Pibe del Abasto”, Pupi Castello, Graciela Gonsalez, and Lampazo. In 1991 they met Nito and Elba Garcia in Mar del Plata, Argentina, and, through the auspices of friends Hector & Ana Villalba, brought them to California for the first time, launching their world-wide teaching career. As the Northern California tango community grew to the largest in the US, keeping up with all its activities prompted the founding, in 1995, of the non-profit Bay Area Argentine Tango Association.

The first milonga in Marin

The Fairfax Milonga (1994-2003) was run by Jean and Charlie from 1994-1999 then taken over by the Garveys until 2003 when they moved to Puerta Vallarta. Al and Barbara also hosted many tango parties in their charming 90-year-old house centered around a dance floor and its tango bar. If you danced tango between the years of 1985-2003 you most likely would have attended these wonderful events. John and Debbie missed them so much, they traveled south to dance with Al and Barbara in their new home, again designed around a dance floor and surrounded by yet another budding tango community they have inspired!

Al and Barbara have performed and taught tango for almost 25 years, but they, along with Jean and Charlie, think of themselves as milongueros and tangueros, interested in all aspects of its culture, from the dance to language, literature, music, history and philosophy.

Milonga de San Anselmo Guest DJ’s 

The Milonga on July 27th also features another Marin couple, guest DJ’s Steve and JoAnn Palubinskas. Steve and JoAnn were introduced to tango in the same Mill Valley tango class taught by George Guim that John Campbell was attending in 1994. They have been instrumental in keeping the spirit of tango alive throughout the Bay Area and can be found dancing and DJing at many of the top milongas several times a week.  They hosted the popular Broadway Milonga 1996-2002.

We invite you to come and enjoy a wonderful evening of music, dancing  and companionship at La Milonga de San Anselmo this Friday, July 27th.

La Milonga De San Anselmo
(held 4th Friday of every month)
167 Tunstead Ave, San Anselmo, Ca 94960
Class 7-8pm  $15 Class + Milonga
Milonga 8-10pm  $10 Milonga Only

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Call For Tango Dancers: Close Embrace, A Tango Love Story

Close Embrace: A Tango Love Story follows the story of a romance fiction writer who is working on a novel about a woman’s journey through love, heartbreak and healing. Her character travels to Buenos Aires to immerse herself in tango and leave the drama of her break up behind. Written by Lanny Udell & Jonathan Cutler. Directed and Choreographed by Debbie Goodwin.

Please read more about Close Embrace in the articles below. If you are interested in joining the cast or still have questions, please phone 415-482-7588 or contact Debbie. The adventure begins this September 2012 and will culminate on Feb 14-17, 2013!

Debbie and John are a treasure in the Marin tango community! Their commitment and generosity as teachers is deeply heart-felt. Their love, passion, and dedication to the art of tango is inspirational and contagious!  Their teaching style is fun and playful! Participating in their student production is an absolute blast! Through my participation in their student production, All About Tango, my dancing and technique improved immensely. The experience got me out dancing several times a week and connected with the local tango community. I definitely recommend studying with them, attending their various tango events, and participating in their student production! – Kat Sun

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