Jacqui

We said goodbye to a tango friend today. It is always sad to see someone go but especially one so young.

It was nice however to see so many old friends, who had taken the trouble to attend. At times like these you realise who are true friends and who are into tango for the love of tango and each other.

Due to the tango politic, we had not seen so much of her in recent times, but then, more recently she had appeared again at venues we attend.
I loved dancing with her and enjoyed her company. The local tango world will be a lesser place without her.

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We all have a duty

I sat between two very unhappy ladies. Both had suffered at the hands of the same man.
He would ask for a dance, before he knew what the music was, and expect them to dance to whatever was playing.

Now neither of these ladies is what you would call advanced but then if this carries on they are never likely to be.

Now the first lady was asked to dance, then when a milonga played, she was told she was not advanced enough to do milonga and told to sit down.
The second lady was asked to dance and when something non tango was played, she was accused of bouncing “I can’t dance with you ” he said and sat her down. This despite the fact that the music was in fact bouncy, and the lady had never before danced “tango” to non tango music. (To me this is not in fact a failing)

I have said before, and I will say again, as often as it takes; “men your job out there is to make the women happy, make them believe they are the greatest dancer out there”. If you cannot do this, or the dance does not work, you and you alone are to blame.

If you watch those who know what they are doing, they never invite anyone to dance until they know what the music is. You will never see them, drop a woman mid tanda, or give any criticism. The lady in my arms is there to enjoy her dance and I will do everything in my power to ensure that happens.

A week previous to this, I danced with a relative beginner. After the dance was over she said “thank you, you made me feel like a beautiful dancer” I cannot start to tell you how good that made me feel. I could not care what anyone else in the room thought at that time. Her thanks made me feel top of the world.

We all have a duty, a duty to tango, but most of all to each other. We have a duty to make each other happy, to make our partner enjoy the dance and to ensure that it is such a pleasurable experience that they will come back time and again.

The old adage “If you cannot say anything good, then say nothing at all” is just as true in tango as elsewhere in life. If anything I would say it is more true.
You want great dancers? Then Coax, Compliment, aid the beginners on their way. They will become great dancers the sooner because of it, and that great dancer will remember you fondly and forever choose you for her next dance.

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Soy Jubilado

Don’t you think that the Spanish for “I am retired” sounds so much better than the english?

Well, everyone said “You will wonder how you found time to work”. As you can tell, I wonder how I ever found time to blog. Life is hectic for the newly retired Bob.
I seem to be out dancing every day, not always tango, that is true, but out just the same. My biggest problem now will be the fuel bill. You see there is little if any Tango near me so I spend hours in the car travelling to other milongas.
I have to say they are all making me welcome and the trend is definitely heading towards more traditional music, so I am happy.
My monday crowd are less so, although they have had an unbroken run now for four months, it will soon come to an end as we embark on our great trek.
Talking of which it is only four weeks now before we go. My rucksack is packed. I know I normally pack last thing, but I have been out walking with it all. I need to know I can carry it.

Tonight we are off to another dance, on another night when I should have been working. I know that any time soon I am going to receive calls to retitle my blog. How can I call it “The life of a frustrated milonguero” when i am out dancing so much? Well I suppose we will just have to say it is historic, best to keep the title to remind me of the days when I worked nearly every weekend and so many nights.
If life starts to get me down I can look back and say “actually things are much better now”.

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New Toys

I have finally given up on my smartphone. It will never be the device I need for the Camino. So I am now sitting on the floor with a tiny notebook.
I must say initial impressions are good. I have only had it long enough to charge it and now on first switch on I am writing this blog.
Hopefully now I can keep you all updated as my journey progresses.
Viv said it looks cheap and nasty, cheap it was, but then that makes it less attractive to thieves. It is certainly small and light lets hope it lives up to expectations and does not become a burden.

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Roller coaster

Listening to comments from the ladies reminds me of my past times in Tango. After a night sitting getting no dances, they just feel like giving up. I guess it happens to us all, but then we have that great night, when we can do no wrong and everyone just wants to dance with you.
You are not alone. We had a lay off of many months, where the costs of all the workshops and the travel could not be justified against the meagre dances we got. To be fair we had an advantage, in that we had each other. We could carry on dancing at home. Many do not have the luxury of a partner as much into tango as they are. But as I have said before “once you are bitten, there is no escape”. So one way or another we all come back.
It is easy to say “Don’t get downhearted, it will all get better” but in time the bad times do just seem to diminish in their significance. The main thing to remember is that your problems are not unique to you, we have all gone through them, some worse than others, maybe, but we all have our own rocky road to travel.
My own roller coaster continues: At every venue we visit, you will hear someone say “I need to give up work and spend more time doing the things I love” (for this we read Tango, of course). I have been in this situation myself for many years and have planned the date of my retirement, to the day, for about eight years now.
I finished with the night shifts in December and am now well into my rundown period. Then my company decided to have a reorganisation and there will be redundancies with quite large pay offs.
They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Well our personnel department offered me the chance to stay on. “One would have to be mad to refuse this offer”. I had already decided to go and discounted the pay off, but my mind was thrown into turmoil.
Mad, I may be, but I simply could not go back onto night shifts. Many of my now free days I have made arrangements with friends, who I feel I cannot let down. I turned down the offer.
From being quite happy with my lot, I now have sleepless nights and yet nothing has really changed for me. It was just someone trying to do their best for me.
As one old sage said to me “There are no pockets in shrouds” and we will need little money when we walk the camino. But I can’t help thinking that some day when I need something or we want to go off on a cruise “That money woud have been handy”.
Right now I am happy with my free time, lets hope I don’t live to regret it, when the roller coaster hits the bottom.

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Rocket Science it ain’t

I have just been to an afternoon tango tea dance. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. I took some more women with me to help boost the numbers.
It did involve over an hours drive each way, but it was worth it. I only travelled this far because I knew the DJ, he plays a great mix of golden age music. He also manages to dig out some stuff that I have never heard before. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. Of course there were those there who don’t appreciate great tango and would dance to anything, so they would have enjoyed it anyway. However those of us with a taste of Buenos Aires in our blood loved every minute and I for one will seek out any venues where he is playing.
As my title suggests though, to play great music is not that difficult. Some have even said of me, that I play great music, and I never professed to be genius. You do not need to be an impresario or possessed of some great talent. What you do need though is work nd time. Playlists like this do not come by just grabbing a load of titles and slinging them in your computer.
You have to spend time listening to the music, listening to great tandas, and listening to the advice of other DJs. Then, and only then, spend hour after hour compiling your own tandas.
For those who do not bother with this effort, there is always the get out clause “There is only so much traditional tango you can play, so we play alternative”. John Tan, I think proved this wrong once and for all with a four and a half hour set, including many tunes not heard at other local milongas.
His set was truly great, and I agree difficult to match, but how about trying. Instead of throwing a load of rubbish tracks, sticking on a bit of Gotan (for the traditionalists LOL) or just saying “Good dancers can dance to anything” try listening to the good DJs and see how many pack their floors.
Then ditch the alternative rubbish and play Argentine Tango as it is meant to be, as it is played in Argentina and keep us old misery’s happy and give me something worth travelling for.

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Curtains to you

Here in the UK, tango is taught as a series of moves. The music takes second place. There is also the assumption that Nuevo Tango means you can dance to pop music. This leaves me with a few things to get off my chest.
We were in a milonga the other day,DJ’ed by one of the best around here. Viv was dancing, as she does with a man she had asked. At the end of the Tanda the man said that he did not want to leave the floor, as he would decide when to stop, he did not like the DJ dictating to him.
At another milonga, DJ’ed by yours truly, I asked a lady to dance. “This is one of my favourite tracks” I said. To which she replied “how do you know? they all sound the same to me”.
So, I may be preaching to the converted, but I will say it just the same. The cortina is there to divide up tandas of music of the same style and by the same orchestra. So that when we hear an orchestra we like we can choose to dance it, or if we do not particularly like dancing to this tanda we can have a rest.
Each orchestra has a unique style, although sometimes (because they had such long careers) it changed over time. The cortina is not a dictate, it is what it says, a curtain between tandas that should be quite different.
When we take the time to get to know the music, it brings its own rewards. We know when it will change, we know the tempo and we can feel the difference between the melody and the rhythm. Best of all we can hit that last beat, trust me it impresses far more than throwing wild ganchos.
I am not the best Tango Dj in the world, I have to put in many hours to arrange a good set. It is all worth it when people compliment my music, but I do wonder at times, how many really know what is going on?
There is hope on the horizon. There is a new teacher in the area, and searching, as I do, I commented on Desde de Alma, thinking it was Color Tango. “No this version is Pugliese” she said. I stood corrected and impressed.

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