Tuesday, January 12, 2010

EVERYDAY A LITTLE DEATH: Osvaldo Zotto Dies at 46

Another great one has left us for the Great White Way in the sky. One of the stars of TangoX2, which I saw in D.C. when I was just learning how to dance was found dead in his apartment in Boedo of an apparent heart attack last Saturday, the same day that Tete died.

At one end of the spectrum, you have Tete, who, for better or worse, lived his life the way he wished. At the other end, a younger artist who was paving the way for the less experienced dancers. In them, one sees the old, with his lived experience of the tango's origins, and the new, with his innovation, energy, and the exportation of modern tango into the world. Both talented, and both gone.

Has the TG turned morbid on you? Well, I have had death on my mind a lot, even though I'm a goddess and all. These two events that rocked the tango world just seemed to be the physical manifestation of the metaphorical deaths and losses I experienced in 2009.

I realized for the first time last year that perhaps one of the big lessons I must learn is the art of letting go. So far, loss has only been metaphorical, but no less painful. From the moment I decided to move here, loss has been a constant companion. I've had to let go of relationships, ambitions, projects, hopes, and ideas about myself that weren't doing anything to enrich my life because they were either outmoded or rendered irrelevant, given my geographical location. Although these things were necessary for the life I had then, they kept me trapped now in who I believed I still was and/or had to be, in a life I believe still existed. So, letting go left some huge gaps that, honestly, were pretty damn scary to deal with.

But, as Julie Andrew says in The Sound of Music, "Whenever God closes the door, somewhere He opens a window." The losses and the spaces they created were accompanied by surprises and opportunities that came to fill in them, including new family relationships and friendships, and a new vocation that merges my interests in health and psychology. These new additions don't replace what I had before. I believe they are a transformation of what went before, a reincarnation of what once was, entering my life to carry me forward into 2010,and, maybe, beyond.

Of course, death and loss sucks when it happens, and pondering the inevitable--physical deterioration and death of loved ones--will either make me want to crawl under a rock, or, hopefully, make me appreciate everyday I have with them and to love them more generously.

Happy 2010!

Friday, January 08, 2010


If you've spent any time in Buenos Aires, you would have seen a white haired whirling dervish on the floor otherwise known as Tete. Though wheezy from asthma with an ample belly, he could dance circles--literally--around younger dancers.

Last night, the security person at El Beso told us that Tete had died yesterday at noon. Lucia added that he had been dancing the night before until around midnight, though he had been dealing with some health problems for a few weeks. She explained that he died of cardiac problems at his home, and that they had found him already dead on the floor. Most people were stunned, including us. One sees them as fixtures at the milongas, and expects to see them sitting there forever. However, as divine as they may seem on the floor, they succumb to death as all of us less-divine dancers will.

I was suprised to hear that quite a few had mixed feelings about this man, this tango legend. I have to admit that the few times I danced with him were torture. When I was his partner, and when I watched him, I always got the feeling that he wasn't dancing with me; rather, I was just along for the white-knuckle ride. So, I never danced with him again. For me, he was an acquired taste.

However, I can't deny that the man had a unique style that will never be replicated, even though one catches glimpses of his creativity and his energy in his young nephew, with whom I adore dancing. Just as the other milonguero greats who left this mortal dance floor before him--Ricardo Vidort and Carlos Gavito, for example--Tete takes with him his tango memories, his knowledge of tango's history which he lived and breathed. I looked around El Beso last night and wondered who would be next. Chiche? El Flaco Danny? These aren't guys who make good health and clean living a priority, which, I suppose, is part of their charm and, ultimately, their downfall. However, their presence in the world leaves an indelible mark on tango and the milonga, and their absence leaves an empty spot on the dance floor that will never again be filled by their own particular, even peculiar, magic. R.I.P.