Monthly Archives: February 2009

A class on the hoof

As we prepared for our night in Chester, Viv had the radio on, much to my annoyance, I prefer to listen to tango music, to get myself in the mood. The local radio station announced that the A453 was closed, by an accident, on the way to Chester. I know that Sharon needs to pass us on the way, so I immediately phoned her, it was too late, she had already left, and I did not have her mobile number.

Not having any way of knowing if she was caught up in the chaos, we rushed to get out of the house, throwing my laptop into the boot. We took the back route to Chester, which although considerably longer, missed out all the traffic. When we arrived there was no sign of Sharon. I have not been for a couple of weeks, I had no lesson plan, and did not know what was being taught. I put the music on and just asked everyone to practice what they had been learning. Viv and I helped a few of the beginners but things were not going that well, ochos seemed to be the order of the day, so we concentrated on them.

When Sharon finally arrived, she had had time to rethink her class for the night, and decided to do an hour and a half for beginners and intermediates. All praise to her, after being stuck in traffic for two and a half hours, she did a wonderful class. Everyone from the Chester class is now doing ocho cortardos with confidence. Even an old timer like myself learned something new, I have never done the cortardo in the milonga before and quite liked it, I think that will definitely be added to my repertoire.

A final word about teaching: when I dance with someone, I never stop mid floor, and say “you are doing that wrong” if something I do goes wrong, I just addapt my style and try it again. If the lady does not follow at all, I will simply do something else, so imagine my horror when I find a woman doing exactly that to me, stop mid floor and tell me what to do. The same woman has done this twice to me now, and so I broke another of my rules, I walked off the floor. I am not the best dancer in the world, I have never made that assertion, but bad manners on the floor I cannot stand. I won’t dance with her again.

The drive home was interesting, Sharon is unfamiliar with the Chester area, so I said she can follow us home. She had no desire to be caught up in the traffic again, not knowing if it would be clear or not. I think the great traffic god was no on Sharons side, because we ended up stuck behind a tractor. Normally I would have dived past, but the back road is quite twisty and difficult if you do not know it, so I was unsure if Sharon could follow. So Sharon had a nice slow view of Aldford, it would have been better in daylight, but hey it was another mini adventure. We sent Sharon back onto thA483 at Wrexham, shouting at each other out of the windows.


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Keeping it Simple

I just read this email from someone to my freinds Bert and Brigitte at Tango Tensity in South Africa. I thought how perfectly it illustrates what we are trying to achieve around Shrewsbury, so after seeking permission I thought I would post it here:

Hi Brigitte,


Yep,  I’m still dancing Tango  but ……………….,  and there is a big but…….  


Brigitte, you see, I just love the Tango music, and the passion of the Dance, as well as the fascinating History of Tango, but by the time I come home from a dance session, I’m stressed out, and running for the Xanor!  (heh heh)


I remember a teacher in one of the classes I was attending said that to be a good dancer, you have to be able to dance with any partner, (this applied to the boys as well as the girls)  and if a Man leads well, a Woman should be able to follow……..     I agree fully, because when I have danced with good, firm leads, I can feel I am dancing well, I follow well, and I relax,  but when some clumsy-clod gets hold of me, I’m pathetic.  I almost want to lead HIM, but that is a huge NO-NO, isn’t it!    


But Guys on the dance floor have lost the plot somewhere along the line, and want to run before they can walk (no pun intended!)  The leads are not strong and firm and definite.  “Au contraire” they are clumsy leads, in fact a “non-lead”.


Why can’t the partners just keep it simple, you know? But no, they just “rush right in”, they are all over the place, instead of sussing out their partner first, seeing her level, getting the feel of the balance of movement between them and their partner, I’ve been subjected to some clumsy non-leading,  from jerky plunging into hectic ganchos, to dizzying giro’s which never seem to end (because they are thinking of their next trying-to-impress move)  and then into some mad back breaking lunges and boleo’s – how I haven’t broken my back or my neck,  I have no idea.


And to add insult to injury, some seriously bad halitosis or bad breath – so foul at times, I could die, and depending on his height, or how he is holding me, there is no escape, I am right in the line of fire!!!   So all in all, NOT a good combination!!!!!! 


What I would really like (and tell me if I am being unreasonable here) is to dance with a partner who is mature enough to realise that fancy-footwork beyond his level is not what Tango is about. Would you agree, or disagree with me? (tell me, I can take it!!)


Are partners not content to just feel the music, live the music, let the music wash over them, and dance more simply, less complicated? That way, surely to goodness, I can just be guided around the dance floor, with a good, strong, firm lead and be allowed to enjoy the wonderful music of the Tango?


In a way, I wonder if the teachers are not at fault here?  Is their aim to just keep teaching a new step each lesson and are the dancers “ready” for these steps?  What’s the point in knowing 100 steps, if you can’t do them properly? I’d rather know 10 variations, and be able to do them properly, than dance with partners who are showing me how many variations they know. 


When I first started learning the Tango, I learnt the names of the steps in Spanish, now it’s “grapevines” and “pencils” and “the cross”, and the “Sandwich” – sounds awful!  (grin) and the Spanish names are so beautiful, why can’t we learn the step names in Spanish????? 


By the way, please tell Bert that I’m not hitting on the men!  It’s just that the partners I dance with are men partners, not women.  I’m sure the guys have plenty to say about us too!!!!”

 So you see guys, the women really do prefer you to keep it simple.


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Gobowen Milonga

Saturday night saw the most sucsessful milonga yet. I think that there were nearly forty people there, all intent on enjoying themselves.

Sharon, as usual had done a wonderful job, making the scout hut look like a dance venue. I did not see anyone try to dib dib dib all night.

Gobowen may be a bit out of the way, but it seems it is close enough to Chester and Shrewbury, to attract dances from both cities. Sadly though we were the only ones from Wrexham.

I did not get a chance to dance with all the women there due to time constraints and the large numbers, I can only appologise and hope to make it up some time in the future.

I did spend more time dancing with Viv, as May is rapidly approaching, and we need the practice before we hit  Buenos Aires.

This is a further extension of Daves drive to keep tango traditional, and I was glad not to see a single gancho, and no fantasia.

Keep your eye on the monthly pages, for more milongas.

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Blackpool Weekend

The weekend started badly, with a trip to the dentist, always a favourite. Fortunately I needed no work doing, so I was soon back home, to finish packing the car.

I had a mad scramble to find some dance music, as we did not know if there would be any afternoon dancing. I had nothing organised, and so I was hoping that it would not be needed. There is little worse than a disorganised dance. I have made a note to organise some dance music in my computor for again. Fortunately it was not needed this time, but it is always best to be prepared.

The car was not fully packed when we got the call from Sharon (Steves wife not the tango teacher). She had to work in the morning and so was also not able to get the coach that was organised. So car loaded at just before two we were off to Blackpool.

The bus, we had heard, was already there, so we would miss the mass check in. All the people who were making ther own way had been instructed to arrive after two, so hopefully we would miss them too.

We finally arrived at about quarter past three and were soon installed in our room, and resting ready for the nights activities.

Steve excelled himself again and the entertainmnet was first notch. He was helped out by Dewi who played a few CDs allowing Steve time to dance with Sharon. The night was all too soon over and we all left for bed exhausted.

The following day Saturday, was Valentines, Steve and Sharon had spent the day decorating the ball room, with balloons and cards lovingly made by Jan. The walls were covered with Valentines banners hearts and flowers. The format of the night was similar to Friday, with Dewi once more allowing Steve time to dance.

Time was given for a few party games, and as usual I failed to win anything, but it was the taking part that counts.

It was decided during the night that we would have a tea dance the following afternoon, again hosted by Steve and Dewi. This kept us all occupied, but in truth the weather was much better and I think some decided to make the most of it. Thanks to The Kimberly Hotel for the tea and coffee, instead of paying for them donations went to the local animal rescue.

Sunday night and Steve went into his full crazy mode, we had visits from ex presidents, Dolly Parton, Jordan, Mae West, even Elvis graced us with his presence. All too soon it was over, and I must return to work again. Roll on the next time.


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Feast and Famine

Life as a dancer forced to work for a living is never smooth. some weeks go by without opportunities, and then like this weekend, there is not even time to catch up with my writing.

I have just come back from a weekend dancing in Blackpool. It was advertised on this site under February, but it will take it’s own posting. I have many photographs to post, all of which need downloading, editing, and generally touching up,  so for now I must leave that subject until I have more time.

Being off midweek allowed me to attend the Shrewsbury tango again, and enjoy the good company that is always there.

Dave has asked me to comment on the fact that it is a team effort that keeps the place going, and I am happy to do this. The efforts of all the people there are what makes it such a great venue.

This week Sharon was unable to attend, and we had the return of Mishka. Mishka was one of the originals and it was a welcome return for her. She is doing little teaching at the moment, as she prepares a home for her forthcoming Marriage. We all wish her well and look forward to the nuptial Milonga.

As usual Sharon had left instructions as to what was required. Valz was the order of the day, and the class were shown how to do a Valz turn. In the end there was not enough time to complete the turn on both directions, and I got completely confused, did we learn the end of the first turn or the beginning, and all the first? There was nothing for it but just to do the whole turn in both directions and hope that the ladies could follow it. It is to the credit of the way that they have been taught, that none of the ladies had any problem following me.

I love this place, such a shame that I cannot attend more often.

After the class, the usual group reconvened at the Coracle. Viv was adamant that we should have a rain check, as we had a busy day next day, picking up Steve’s wife, going to the dentist, and finally driving to Blackpool. The good company however was irresistible, and as soon as we got in the car she changed her mind. So we finished another great night with a drink.

One of my regular readers from Argentina (I don’t want to name drop but if she asks I will name her) has told me that she is coming over later in the year, Dave has greeted this news with excitement, and we are all hoping that she will attend a special Milonga in  her honor. ( this is sort of an invite, I hope she agrees to come)

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Salon Dandi

Getting a comment from New Zealand, has prompted me to comment further on one of my photos. In moments of boredom I may well tell the story of all of them, but for now just the one.

It was our third visit to BsAs, and by now feeling that we knew the place, we were not averse to giving others the benefit of our knowledge. I had also come with a pocket full of money, in the vain belief that I could buy a place here.

During our second week Luba went into panic “I have double booked” she said ” I have two people coming, Keet and Ann, and I only have a single room left” All things work out well in the end, Luba went to her sisters and let the Colombian girl stay in her room, leaving the two singles free.

In due course Ann and Kieth arrived (forever now to be called Keet), they came together but not as a couple. Kieth said “I am just a body guard”. Both English but now living in New Zealand, the only other common denominator is the dance classes they attend in NZ.

Ann and Keet

Ann and Keet

They took Tango lessons with Juan, did touristy things all day, and at night we showed them the milongas.
Salon Dandi (us in the foreground)
Salon Dandi (us in the foreground)

So this is how we ended up together at Salon Dandi. I have precious few photos of us dancing together, so I am grateful to Ann for taking some of us, one of which I have used on our business cards. Ann went on to see more of the world while Keet flew back to NZ.

Ann spent some time in the UK and came to visit us, unfortunately I had to work all the time but, hey that’s what pays for me to go to BsAs.
My search for property had gone completely wrong, and with only three days left in Argentina I had all but given up hope. It was Ann who set me off again on what was to become an ultimately successful quest. She pointed  out an advert in The Buenos Aires Herald for Pericles James (see link) without whos help and guidance I do not think that I would ever have succeeded.
Incidentally, how many spotted Roger and Mirta, also in the photo?

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Buenos Aires Photos

Too much work and not enough dancing this week. So I was feeling that I should do something here, if only to lift my spirits. With this in mind I have arranged some of my favourite BsAs photos for you to enjoy. I am hoping that there is something for everyone, even those of you who are there in Buenos Aires.


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Must Read

I just read this article, and thought everyone should read it.

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Buenos Aires

We had three visits last year, and when we returned home in September May seemed a lifetime away.

Now finally after badgering people daily, and a mountain of paperwork I, at last have my May break organised.  So yesterday it was with some joy that I got online with Air France and ordered my air tickets.

I can now safely say we will be in Buenos Aires from Saturday 9th May until Saturday 30th. This will mark the end of  my longest period away since our first visit in 2004.

Whether we will be in Salon Canning on the 9th remains to be seen, but I can see no reason why not.

Philippe has looked after our apartment,  and so we should be able to manage a few hours sleep in the afternoon. But I will definitely be in Club Fulgor, Villa Crespo Sunday night the 10th.


Salon Canning last year

Salon Canning last year


By the way, How do you like my new banner? It is La Glorietta in The Belgrano district of Buenos Aires, an outdoor milonga.  If anyone prefers my old banner of my houswarming in Almagro, let me know.  I may just alternate them every few months with the sign above Corrientes 348 as well.

For anyone who does not know the significance:

The first line of the Tango, A Media Luz is:

Corrientes Tres cuatro ocho, segundo piso asenssor.

Corrientes Tres Cuatro Ocho


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Firstly let me thank the hardy souls who turned up last night at the Groves. Because of the lack of numbers, they were unwilling to keep the place open, but never the less, they allowed us to dance until half eight. A particular apology goes out to Patricia, who turned up for the second class, only to find us packing up. I put the music back on and did two dances with her. After her battling through the snow, it was the least I could do.

Sharon had left word she wanted us to practice the cross, but after an initial start, the numbers and levels attending made a class impractical. Of course there was also the problem that I had no lesson plan. Fortunately I did have my laptop and sound system with me.

This caused it’s own problems: my laptop refused to respond to mouse strokes, even the arrows did not work at first, although they did respond later, enough for me to get the music going anyway.

Typically, it was fine when I returned home, technology, where would we be without it?

I believe Sharon was stuck somewhere on the A483 or A5, I hope she got home safely.

I must also add a word about Pete Rogers. I joke about his singing, but he always gives a good night.  It seems the act for Sunday night was worried about the snow, thankfully Pete stepped into the breach and kept us fully entertained all night. I think I can speak for everyone there, in offering our thanks.

I am a bit pressed for time so I apologise for the short post, hopefully there will be time later to add more.

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