We all worry about what we look like on the dance floor. We also worry that our partner will be pleased with us. It is only natural. The fragile egos of tango dancers are easily damaged.
So we see women sitting waiting to dance and men to frightened to go and ask them. In the past I have often blamed the men for not having the guts to just go and ask, but I wonder, are the ladies also to blame; I have been dancing long enough now to realise that the women who criticise my dancing are themselves unsure of their abilities, but many men are put off from asking again.
I will never forget my first tango festival in Amsterdam, so many women picked on me and made me feel useless that in the end I would not dance with anyone else, even in the classes.
Tango is a great dance, but also a great experience. We dance the music, we dance close, and we dance every dance differently.
So next time someone criticises your dancing, forget the obvious arrogance that they think they are better than you. Forget that this is a milonga and they are not your teacher. No just remember this; Do they really want the same dance with you as they had with the last person they danced with? Or do they just want every dance to be the same?
You are unique and so hopefully is your dance. For anyone who wants to dance every dance the same, or just wants you to conform, I can recommend some very good sequence dance classes.
I saw her sitting alone, and as no men were asking I walked over and asked her to dance. Strange that someone young and attractive should not be dancing, so I explained that I choose to dance with women that I have never danced with because that is how the community grows. After the first tune of the tanda she criticised my embrace, “too close” she said. “I do my dancing in Buenos Aires” I told her that is how we dance there, “It is called Argentine Tango, the clue is in the name”. I think she wanted me to dance at a distance and lead with my arms, that was not going to happen. So she spent the rest of the tanda with a face like thunder and left without a “Thank you”.
She got other dances, but I suspect that they were all people she had done some open classes with. I never saw her in close hold again. I also noticed a lot of men sitting out when there were women who just wanted to dance.
How sad that men are put off by women like this and that both sexes are denied a good dance by a few thoughtless people.
After what was a great break in the Lakes, we took a couple of days rest. This gave us a chance to pop down to Upton Magna for their saturday milonga. It was however a bit on the run as we had only just driven back and had barely unpacked. Still we got some tango in.
We did give a bit of a demo at the goodbye party, so we had actually tangoed two nights on the run. Ok we rehearsed the day before so we had tangoed three nights on the run. But to be fair we only really danced with each other.
I can heartily recommend HF Holidays at Monk Coniston, the food was superb, the room with a view was almost out of this world, and the guides were knowledgable and friendly. It was a joy to be in a house of Beatrix Potter and to explore the walled garden just like Peter Rabbit. All things must come to an end though and we were now back home again.
We rested a couple of days and were ready for the off again; this time we planned to walk The Sandstone Trail backwards. Well what can I say, it all went well except for a few blisters and my annoyance that we could not find budget accommodation anywhere. It is little wonder people no longer holiday at home, for the price of my three nights away I could have had a fortnight in Benidorm.
Still we achieved what we wanted; covered a quarter of the distance of the camino and climbed more mountains than we would ever see there, so I was happy.
Now we had done all this, it was time for some tango. As luck would have it my break coincided with the Rudolfo y Miho weekend in Wilmslow. Saturday night we attended the Milonga and had a great time. I have to thank DJ John Tan for some wonderful music. He also introduced me to some D’Arienzo milongas that I did not know, these are now in my list. It is good to find another DJ who really understands what being a tango DJ is all about.
We had a good night in the Premier Inn as well. There was a live singer in there when we returned. A few drinks with friends, a raucous group at the bar and Bob does Modern Jive(untrained), all created a great night. No idea what time we got to bed, but we were all up again in time for a hearty breakfast.
Sunday and we went to the social colgadas workshop. Rudolfo will never teach anything you cannot do in a Milonga, but in this case I think he taught something we can never do! but we will keep trying.
So there was just our Monday practica and then it is back to work again for Bob. Still this is the last break I will have officially, but I suspect with my rundown to retirement there may be times when I have so many free days we may get away again.
Well the last three weeks have been some of my best for tango. The vagaries of my rota means that it moves forward one day every week. So when we hit the Wilmslow stepping out milonga on a Thursday I was overjoyed to find Tango Stafford had a milonga on the following Friday. I was late finding out and almost missed it, but we arrived there with friends and had a great time.
Dragging friends with us has become our trademark although the group we managed for Wilmslow was not repeated. The third week on the run we had a milonga to go to, this time it was Stokies on a Saturday night. We only managed to drag one extra woman along but that did not detract from our enjoyment.
For the great nights we have had, I must offer my thanks, to Atilla for Wilmslow, Pauline and Geoff for Stafford, and last but not least Essie Joe and Nath for Stokies. To manage three milongas in three weeks is something of a record for me, but, of course, we have had our regular practicas to look forward to.
Unfortunately for the next couple of weeks we are away, so the tango has to stop for us, but we will be back with a bang on 14th October.
We are off walking, trying to get into shape for our marathon walk next year. So we are having a week in the lakes, and hopefully a return to The Sandstone Trail. Where we expect to not only walk the trail but with luck and a following wind, walk to and from it. Wish me luck, I’ll need it.
On the subject of getting fit, I cycled home this morning in the light rain and I am starting to quite enjoy it. The trouble is this will probably be the last time I cycle to work. I refuse to loose any more sleep than I have to, so I only cycle when I am on nights. Five in the morning is just too early. I only have eleven night shifts to go and I suspect when I return from holiday the weather will be too inclement for me to cycle in. So there it is, the end of another era.
The hot summer weather did not last, we have had period of awful weather that curtailed some of my activities. On such a day, we had intended to go out on the bikes and get some miles in our cycling legs. I am, I’m afraid, a fair weather cyclist. I can wrap up against most types of weather when I walk, but on a bike it just gets through everything. I sat there wondering what to do and decided that I would finally decorate the spare bedroom. Once started it did not take that long and I felt satisfied that it was done at last.
The day was not totally lost though, we decided to go for a meal at The Crown. The Crown is about a mile and a half away with some strenuous hills between. So we wrapped up and braved the atrocious weather. It felt good to get out and we felt we had deserved the meal when we got there. By the time we had finished, so had the rain and we left the waterproof trousers off for the walk home. The air was clear and it was just starting to darken. Then we heard a strange noise that we have not heard for some while. We looked up and our eyes were delighted by ducks flying over in formation, a sure sign that autumn is really here.
Appropriate really, my personal autumn matches the seasons. We have also found activities that match the season and for a while all is good.
We have managed to get some tango in as well, for the last three months I have been able to get to Wilmslow for Atilla’s stepping out milonga, and surprisingly I think we can make Stokies next weekend. Then unfortunately we are back to missing all the events again, still the two weeks without Gresford Tango have passed and a quick check shows that we will only have to miss one after my holidays. We will then be clear until May, when we must curtail the tango in favour of pilgrimage.
Because we are going on a pilgrimage I have been asked if I am deeply religious, it is, I suppose a strange thing for an atheist to do, to go on a pilgrimage. It is said every pilgrim has his own reasons and it would be hard to define mine. Just let’s say we all need to be tested at some time in our lives and I love Spain. Anyway, I will be writing a lot about the Camino de Santiago in the coming months and with luck I will be carrying on the blog from Spain next May.
Stick with me though, tango will never be that far away. We are tango vampires and not just because we only come out at night, but also because once bitten, the affliction is eternal.
It comes always at this time of year. I sit for hours reading my old blogs. Not just any, you understand, no, I read all the blog entries from my time in Buenos Aires. As I read each entry I am transported back for just a short while to the city of tango again.
Viv never really understands why I put everything down while we are there, but for me it is therapy. When I am missing the place most, all my experiences are there for me again. The more that I write the more I have to read in the times when I start to really miss the place.
All the characters are there and all my friends. Jantango is on almost every page. Pericles makes at least one appearance a trip and the wonderful people from Villa Crespo who attend Fulgor are there twice a week. Luba and Philippe, Juan and Mariela, Jose and Lili along with their dog Ochi, then there are all the milonga organisers and staff who always make me welcome, the list goes on.
I am sure I have missed someone out, but it is now the middle of the night and I should be working, so if it is you please forgive me.
All the idiosyncracies of the Argentine system that infuriate Viv (and even me at times) are there in the blog along with all the things that make me love the place as well.
This will be my longest time away now since our first trip, but I look forward to being able to spend much longer in our second home after next year, so the wait will be worth it. In the mean time I have things to do here, work to attend, walks to do, dances to go to and trips away in the caravan.Not forgetting, of course, our practicas and the now famous Gresford Tango.
It all brings colour to our lives, but nothing stops me missing you all and I cannot wait to see you again.
There are rules in Tango. I believe they are there for good reason. This I suppose makes me a purist, some have even said a fundamentalist, but I stick to my guns. The Cabeceo or nod, is there so that Jonny foreigner is not embarrassed by being refused a dance and then having to do the walk of shame back across the floor. We do not dance to Cancion, because the tempo changes to suit the singer, not the dancer. Most of all we do not dance tango to non tango music, because it does not speak to us in the same way, and anyway, it’s just not Tango. These are the rules I stick to and the things that make Tango unique for me.
Sunday night was the fortieth anniversary of the day Viv and I met. I had struggled to find some suitable way to celebrate. It seems everywhere that was around then is either shut for good or just on a Sunday night.
In the end I elected to hire the services of a great local artist johnnydevents.co.uk and arranged a bit of a do at the local, The Red Lion Marford. He would be performing hits from the 70s to celebrate the era in which we met and married. By eight there was no one there, but then suddenly they arrived in droves. I had asked John to start at eight but he decided he would delay for half an hour while everyone settled.
OK, it was a strictly not ballroom night, but we did get in a few jives and there was a great deal of “chair dancing” especially for the “Time Warp”. It was a truly great night and Jonny D never let us down.
For his last number he did a special request “Yesterday Once More” an old Carpenters number that has a bit of special significance to us.
At this point there was a demand for the organiser of this fine evening to get up and dance. Now I am always eager, but Viv got up somewhat reluctantly. The question is, what do you dance to Yesterday once more. It ain’t Cha cha, or Rumba, not waltz, so I decided I would just do social Foxtrot around the room.
When I got up, I could not feel the quick quicks, the tempo was all wrong, so I just defaulted. We danced Tango, Tango to pop, fortunately there was no one there who would notice.
Jonny D performed beautifully. I swear there was a tear in Bob’s eye. You may think he is just an old softy, but I say it was tears of shame of the tango purist.
That’s my story and I am sticking with it.
Sometimes you have to break your own rules, rules made for good reason but reasons change. Such was the case with Ian,he wanted to dance for his wedding.
The rules of Tangobob state that the basics must be learned first, nothing is routine based and the woman should not know what is coming and anticipate.
When someone wants to dance a demo with no previous and only a few weeks to achieve this, the rules needed a complete rethink.
OK the basics had to be learned, but there was no time to refine or perfect them. A routine of sorts was devised, basic though it was, it had to be kept simple as there was simply not enough time to learn anything complex. Then there was the ending, if Ian missed it then sure enough Claire was going to do it anyway.
My biggest worry was that it would all fall apart in the middle, I never really expected the leg wrap to work at the end. They had the music “Vals de Verano” by Alberto Cuello they just had to learn how it finished and hopefully all would be ok.
Most tangos are about lost love and sorrow, so I thought that this best suited the situation. Viv wanted “Mi novia de ayer” “She was his girlfriend now she’s his wife” I’m afraid she did not quite get the meaning. Truth is though I prefered the tune, but even though most would not understand the significance, I could not let them dance to my girlfriend of yesterday.
Anyway I have filmed it and I think that they did very well, let me know what you think (please be kind). Maybe, just maybe we will have some newcomers to tango.
We at Gresford Tango wish them all the best in their life ahead and I promise the dance was much better than Claire seemed to think it was.