Got a minute? Good. You might need a few to get through this post my friends! :-)
Montreal was a blast. I do believe that Sorin enjoyed his birthday weekend present, and I certainly did. We stayed at a small but cozy B&B in The Plateau. Although the room was tiny, we were only there to sleep. Both mornings when we crawled out of bed at 10 for breakfast, we were greeted by a couple who were visiting from France who seemed to get a kick out of the fact that we had been up late dancing. Between my elementary french and the woman's limited English, we did all right in the communication field. I have to mention that they had the cutest toy terrier whose tongue hung out of the side of her mouth, too adorable.
We arrived on Saturday, a little later than we planned, but that's what happens when you go to a milonga the night before you are supposed to get up at the butt-crack of dawn.... didn't quite happen. But after arriving, we unpacked and went for a walk to stretch before Caroline came around to join us for dinner. It was great to meet her, as soon as I saw her walking across the little park by the B&B I knew it must be her, this tall, statuesque brunette with an easy smile. Off we went to dinner at this fabulous little Vietnamese restaurant. We chatted about all sorts of things, including tango, but other topics as well. Then it was off to Royal Tango. The venue was very pretty and intimate, which was nice. And they had a bar there so we could have some wine! I was not feeling so great from allergies, so I just had water, but Caroline and Sorin had some wine. This is one thing I wish Boston would warm up to, serving wine at milongas. No one got drunk or stupid, most people sipped their wine and chatted, like any other social gathering.
It was interesting for me. After learning and achieving as much as I have, I am known in my community and don't have problems dancing. But coming into a brand new place, I was concerned about how much quality dancing I would get. It is almost like being a beginner all over again. Sorin danced two or three tandas with me at the beginning, and I felt like I was dancing really well, so I thought that would help me. Well, not so much. I had one dance with an older gentleman that was possibly the most horrific dance I had ever had. He bent me over at the waist, stole my axis and did all sorts of steps that I am pretty sure are not even slightly related to tango. I thanked him after one song and rushed back to the table. The woman sitting with us at the table turned to me and said in french "He is terrible, is he not? And he only dances with pretty young girls who don't know better."
Great, fabulous, now I am the girl who does not know better. Excellent.
Then another older gentleman appeared and started speaking to me in rapid french. I quickly said in french that I don't speak french well, did he speak english. He switched to english and said "I saw you dancing earlier, you're good, so let me redeem you after dancing with that awful man." How could I possibly refuse. So off I went and it was fun. He was not the best leader, but he was sweet and very complimentary towards me and we had a fun two tandas. Then I went back to sitting. Caroline was up and dancing as was Sorin, so I watched the floor for awhile.
After a bit, I danced again with Sorin, but near the end of the tanda I very quickly felt ill. Between the lack of sleep, the long drive and allergies, I think I developed a migraine. So we left early (around midnight - that is early in Montreal, as opposed to normal in Boston), and I crashed as soon as we got back to the B&B.
The next day was glorious however. And after breakfast, we planned out the time line of tango throughout the day. Yes, that's right, Sorin even drew up the time line of which practicas and milongas were when and where. We strolled around the Plateau for a bit in search of coffee and photographs. Then we headed over to the Tango Studio for practica, which was really more of a milonga, and we met up with Caroline again. That was fun. Again, I did more sitting, but the dances I did have were fine, with one good one. Near the end I was sitting alot, so I tried to cabaceo the leaders that I was interested in dancing with. To no avail. Maybe I was not doing it right, or they did not want to dance with me, who knows. But there was one gentleman whom I cabaceoed, and he came right over to my table. "You cabaceoed me!" I had to laugh, "Yes, I did." "Where are you from? No one here cabaceos!" Turns out he is from Buenos Aires, where he learned tango, and has been dancing for over ten years. Those were a lovely two tandas. And the difference in embrace was immediately recognizable. It was like being enveloped, but not smothered. Caroline put it best, when a man from Buenos Aires takes you into the embrace, you know that he has spent his whole life hugging people. That was worth the time there.
At the end we made plans to meet up with Caroline at La Tangueria later, and we went off to shower and change, grab a quick bite and leave for our second stop on the whirlwind Sunday tango tour.
La Tangueria was a really cool space. Dark wood, long mirrors, dark recessed seating. Pretty awesome. We arrived for the tail end of the practica, had some wine, and Sorin and I danced for awhile. I felt great, I was moving well, and Sorin was leading exceptionally well. Caroline showed up in her beautiful red polka dotted Comme Il Fauts, and then the dancing began. And suddenly, I was getting really good dances. One of whom was the DJ and a local instructor, it was divine. I think I was smiling through the entire tanda. He was clear, he was musical, and he found little moments of playfulness. And he had the BsAs embrace. Lovely. At the end of the tanda he said "I'd like to keep dancing, but after this there is no music!" I had to laugh and told him no worries, music was more important, go take care of the room! Honestly, after that tanda I felt sated.
Caroline and I chatted about this that and the other for awhile, and then Sorin and I decided to head over to L'Academie. We said our goodbyes to Caroline as she was going to stay at Tangueria. It was really lovely to meet her and hang out with her. I am so glad to know that I have a friend in Montreal!
So we arrived at L'Academy and it was packed to the rafters with dancers. And not just dancers, but good dancers. Advanced dancers. Tango gods and goddesses. And I immediately felt out of my element. And I could feel Sorin's excitement at the number of excellent followers and his Montreal favorites who were in attendance. I had to laugh, it was like a kid in a toy store told he could pick one toy and all he can do is stare at the rows and rows of shiny toys. I figured that I would dance with Sorin and most likely that would be it for me. But I was wrong. I got some really good dances, from some lovely and gracious leaders. Near the end of the night, I was tired and figured that I had about one or two tandas left in me and I wanted to save them for the last tanda with Sorin, so I took off my shoes and raised my feet up on the couch in an effort to keep the swelling to a minimum. Now, I had been at L'Academie before, but I did not dance then. And at that time I had removed my shoes to show that I was not dancing, but was asked numerous times anyways. And the same thing happened six months later. I was approached numerous times, despite my shoes being off. I refused all, with one exception. One lovely gentleman came over, saw that my shoes were on the floor, and he sat down anyway and chatted with me about tango, Montreal, Boston, and other topics. He was so lovely that I said I would be happy to put my shoes on as long as he knew that I was tired. His whole face lit up, so on went the shoes, down we went to the floor, and on came..... a MILONGA!! Oi. My poor feet. But we were there and he was so happy I had put my shoes on, so off we went. It was not my best milonga, and he was a very challenging lead as his style was very unique and it took me almost two songs to settle into his style, but it was fun. At the end, I thanked him and hobbled back to Sorin. It was a great night. Sorin and I danced what we thought was the last dance which ended up being.... Piazzolla!! Yikes! The music had been fantastic up until this point, and we just rolled out eyes and tried to make the best of it. In fact, we got a little silly. How could you not. Piazzolla at the end of a night, after we had been dancing for 11 hours.... no way we could stay straight. Then another Piazzolla came on and we both looked at each other and decided it was time to call it a night. So we changed shoes and headed back to the B&B where we gratefully fell into the bed and mountain of pillows.
The next morning was drizzly, cool and grey and we had wanted to hit the road by 2pm to miss Boston rush hour. So we puttered around Montreal a bit, but it was rainy and too cool for me, so we just hit the road home. It was a good weekend, and Montreal is fast becoming my favorite city in the world.