IdeaChat #2: Straight Women in Queer Tango with Helen LaVikinga

IdeaChat2: Straight Women in Queer Tango with Helen La Vikinga from Sasha Cagen on Vimeo.

For the second installment of my IdeaChat series, I spoke with Helen LaVikinga, an accomplished Icelandic tango dancer who lives and teaches tango in Buenos Aires. Helen leads and follows (check out her performance in San Francisco this month) and she designs comfortable and elegant shoes. Helen is straight and she was one of the first to organize Queer Tango milongas in Buenos Aires. It’s more common for women to lead and men to follow in San Francisco and Northern Europe than in Buenos Aires where tradition and a sometimes-annoying and sometimes-delicious machismo holds sway. We talked about the growing popularity of Queer Tango worldwide, which could equally be called open-roles tango since it’s not so much about sexuality as it is about openness toward mixing up the roles. We spoke at the San Francisco International Queer Tango Festival, 2011. Helen has an extra-sexy voice because she was recovering from a cold.

Among the highlights:
–advice every foreign woman should bear in mind when she comes to Buenos Aires with hopes of tango bliss
–why women dancers should say no to dance offers from men more often (the men would be forced to learn more, for one)
–why more women are taking up leading worldwide and getting into open-roles tango
–why tango is both cruel and wonderful

IdeaChat #1: Befriending Your Inner Critic with Tim Desmond

Idea Chat #1: Befriending the Inner Critic with Tim Desmond from Sasha Cagen on Vimeo.

I’m excited to be kicking off an intuitive new project: IdeaChats. Intuitive in the sense that there is no grand plan, I’m excited to just let this evolve. That’s how I roll with most of my projects, letting them unfold into places I may have not expected.

I love discovering new ideas. A new idea that turns my mind and makes me see the world (or the self) in a new way. I am rolling out a series of interviews with friends and strangers about their ideas.

First off I am starting with the brilliant friends I already know and then will broaden to others. The first idea chat is with my friend Tim Desmond, a Buddhist psychotherapist. In this conversation, we delved into Tim’s approach to working with the pesky “inner critic,” so pervasive in Western consumer culture. When you are beating yourself up for not being good enough, how can you stop?

Tim believes it is best to not ignore the inner critic but instead to soothe it and ask it what it needs. I’m developing my practice as a coach and am integrating various theories of how to work with the “inner critic” aka the “saboteur.” Enjoy and stay tuned for more. Who should I interview next? I have ideas and would love to hear yours too. I am curious widely.

Staying sexy and connected in a phone-obsessed town

At long last, here’s the Commonwealth Club’s panel discussion on “The State of Sex and Dating in San Francisco.” I took part and so did three other insightful San Francisco thinkers Ethan Watters (Author, Urban Tribes); Nicole Daedone (Founder, OneTaste; Author, Slow Sex: The Art and Craft of the Female Orgasm) and N.W. Smith (Contributor, The Bold Italic).

One big theme was the sense of disconnection that people often feel in a big city now that we are all staring into our iPhones on public transportation. The moderator Violet Blue joked that’s how geeks flirt. I miss good old-fashioned eye contact.

After the panel a woman came up to me and told me she wanted to start a movement where people identify themselves as available for human contact and chatting in some way on BART trains (BART is the Bay Area’s subway system). As in wearing a feather, a handkerchief, a button. Something like that.

I’m open to all kinds of ideas because I think random contact with strangers is the most effervescent part of living in a dense area.