Have I lost the spark?

Have I lost the spark? For the second time in three weeks I have sat out and just watched the class in Chester. Viv worries that we are not getting the most from Mondays, me, I am happy with the situation. I never know what the evening holds, I could be leading, or I could be following, I could be just watching, or very occasionally there is someone who has just joined and is not able to follow the class. At these times I am able to take them to one side and help them to a level where they can join the rest, it is always very rewarding passing on your knowledge.

So on this Monday I am just watching, I still enjoy it, even though I am not dancing. The classes at the moment are more about musicality, until the new term starts, and Sharon has some interesting choices of music. I use the word interesting with care, this is not the “I am so clever I can find other music to dance to” sort of interesting, that I find elsewhere, but she has found some new takes on the classics that are really good. I will make note of the artists next time and relay them here, but for now my memory fails me.

The class were taken through a new step; a secada into a back cross, and I was asked to demonstrate with Sharon. So at least I did a little, but in the main I was happy just watching.

Of course after the class was over I was away, dancing with all the ladies and hopefully giving them some practice with the things that they had learned and of course the benefit of my vast experience.(bubble needs bursting).

On an entirely different subject, I regularly check on other blogers to see what they are up to and check out what they are thinking. In one of my regular explorations I came across this article about the lighting levels in milongas.

http://londontango.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/ask-arlene-who-turned-out-the-lights/

This got me thinking, not so much about the light levels, but why some people dance. Do we dance to be seen to show the world our fancy footwork, or do we dance to seduce our partner, or is it just for exercise?

In the Clubs de Barrio that I love, it is normal to dim the lights when they have a session of Cumbia, but they have the lights up when they tango. Why is this? It is certainly more atmospheric when they only have the lights on the mirror ball, but do they need so much light when they tango? I think it all comes down to the cabeceo, In clubs like Lo de Celia and El Beso they do it all the time, but in the clubs de barrio it is mostly couples, and you rarely see anyone practicing the cabeceo. So I wonder; why do we need the lights?

Here in the UK nobody does the cabeceo, few if any will dance with strangers, and most stay in their cliques. This again leaves me wondering, why not have a more intimate atmosphere.

This brings me back to why we dance. If you dance for the exercise, then lighting is unimportant to you. You will burn as many calories whatever the light level. Maybe it is better if no one sees you sweat, but hey do you care. Milongas are the music for you or any fast tango, perhaps some Pugliese would suit.

Now if dancing is pure seduction, the mood is enhanced with a little dimmed light. Candles are the thing here, dark corners and a crowded floor, so no one can pick you from the crowd.

Then we move to my least favourite group, for these bright lights are a must, as is modern music like Gotan or Otros Aires. They dance only to be seen. Every other move is a gancho or a boleo, the ladies heels are never on the ground, but flying around dangerously. The most obvious sign however is that the couple are not looking at each other, but instead stare around the room to see who is looking at them. There is no real connection, no intimacy, and often no musicality.

My own view on lighting is I really do not care that much, because much like the majority of tango dancers, I dance for the music and my partner. My partner is, I hope, enjoying the embrace in a totally non sexual way, and lost in the feeling. We look past each other only to see if it is clear, but the whole of our being is together. A three minute romance? Maybe, but I am returned to my wife at the end unblemished, and those who watch can enjoy our dance, criticise, or learn from us, that is for them alone to decide.

My wife prefers the lighting dim; she does not like being watched, and hates to be first on the floor, so if asked I would go for the lower light levels, if only because I would get more dances with my favourite partner.

So how about you; is it light, or is it dark?

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Have I lost the spark?

  1. Fanny K

    I do not go to places with dim lights. I depend 100% on cabeceo. Nolights? = No cabeceo = No dance.

  2. tangobob

    Katerina, you need to enjoy the learning as well. If there is no joy, then why do it? Laugh when things go wrong, smile when they go well, and when you are sitting out share in the pleasures of others. We are not here long so we must make the most of it, and remember; God does not take off our alloted time the time we spend dancing.
    Shame I cannot start a good fight here, I may have to go over to the dark side to warm things up a bit.

  3. Katerina

    I think it’s not very important for me…light. May be for now tango is still more learning than joy… Even when it’s milonga’s evening I will prefer some light.
    sorry Bob no fight here 🙂

  4. tangobob

    Thats two for lights up then. I have to say though the worst behaved dancers I have come across were in the most brightly lit milonga, I do not want to name it of course. I have not noticed any relationship between light levels and behaviour, it is something I will have to watch out for. We need some pro darkness comments, to get the debate going now or are there no advantages?

  5. Chiri

    I have noticed that the brighter the light in the milonga the better-behaved people are with respect to other dancers. It seems dim lights = diffused sense of responsibility. That’s why I prefer well-lit milongas. Would it be why clubes de barrio keep their lights up as well?

  6. jantango

    Bob,

    In all my years of ballroom and swing dancing, I never had to dance in a room with the lights turned down for atmosphere. Part of the social dancing is experiencing others on the floor. We want to see who dances well so we can dance later with them.

    It puzzles me how tango is danced socially in the dark. It is an intimate dance whether or not the lights are bright or turned down low.

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