I can't remember exactly what year it was I started to dance tango. I think it was 1998. I lived in San Francisco. I was a salsa dancer. I used to call myself a "Salsa Slut." I danced 5 - 7 days a week. After my relationship ended with my Colombian boyfriend, I was up for a change. It was either swing or tango. After seeing "Forever Tango", I set my sights on Tango.
I was a horrible tango dancer to begin with. I didn't exactly feel comfortable in the tango community. I came dressed as a salsa dancer. Short tight dresses. In those days, tango dancers were still into elegance. Forever Tango had made San Francisco their second home, and they brought the elegance of Buenos Aires with them.
I tried various milongas and various teachers, but I still had not found a place where I felt comfortable. I drifted back and forth between salsa and tango. Then one Saturday I found the milonga of Valorie Hart and Alberto Paz. It was held in an office building in Downtown San Francisco. You can say what you want about those two (and I have had plenty to say about them myself), but Valorie definitely has a talent to transform a space.
It was here in their milonga in San Francisco, I first began to feel comfortable dancing. Through them I went to their Reno weekend and met Daniela Acuri who was then partnered with Armando. You might say this was the turning point in my tango life.
I am not going to tell you that I had an incredible friendship with Valorie and Alberto from that point on, because it was not true. At first yes. But then, like many, I fought with them. Then ignored them. It wasn't until I moved to Buenos Aires that I could begin to appreciate Alberto. He was an Argentine. All the way. He never changed. He lived most of his life in the US and he never really adapted. His sense of humor, his manner, and the whole way of his being.
I renewed my friendship with Valorie through my blog. She picked up on my fibromyalgia and offered her support. Alberto became one of my favorite Facebook friends. Now, strangely enough, we mostly agreed on things. Mainly because my viewpoint is mostly from an Argentine point of view now, more like his. He would kindly correct my Spanish in emails and explain to me the corrections. Our debates were fun. He may be crazy at times, but you cannot argue that he is not intelligent and well informed.
On the day the Ex-President of Argentina died, Nestor Kirchner, I saw a post from Sandra Miller that Alberto Paz had suffered a massive heart attack in the Calgary airport when he and Valorie were done with customs. They were in Calgary to teach. When I got the news about Kirchner well, let's just say I never celebrate the death of anyone, but I was not on the side of the "K" block. When I got the news about Alberto I cried. "Please God, let Alberto live."
Alberto is in Calgary and needs open heart surgery. He needs a bypass. His health insurance does not cover him in Canada and he needs to go back to New Orleans. He cannot travel on a commercial airline. He needs Medvac assistance and his health insurance does not cover it. I am asking all of you who read my blog, whether you dance tango or not, to please donate something. Instead of paying $25 to go to dance this week send it to Pay Pal. The account is firstname.lastname@example.org.
For updates on Alberto please refer to the following site of Sandra Miller who has been absolutely wonderful in supporting both Valorie and Alberto. http://epicureantangosociety.blogspot.com/