Shrewsbury debating society

No, I am not moving away from tango again. Shrewsbury continues to be a great venue, but the after tango drink has become almost as important as the dancing.

We arrive late as usual, and miss most of the beginners class. Not really a problem for us, but we are still early enough for Sharon to call on Viv to demonstrate in the class. During the between class practica I make a point of dancing with a few of the new starters. A thing that I am finding more and more, is that the newcomers are filled with terror when I dance with them. I really do not know how to ease this, I try of course, by telling them if they “go wrong” then it is probably my fault, I just don’t think they believe me. I will come back to this later.

In the main class we did a bit more of Sharon’s whoosh, again many tried to make it more complex than it was. She was very patient with everyone and eventually they all got it. Cross system walking seems to give everyone a problem, I noticed that all the women (not picking on them, it’s just that I did not dance with the men) had difficulty dissociating on the closed side, they were fine on the open side, why is this I wonder?

We danced through untill the end, I tried as usual to get round as many as I could, not just my favourites, but I am afraid I still missed a few. Too soon it was time to depart for The Coracle, from now on to be known as The Shrewsbury Debating Society.

As usual the conversation revolves around dancing and interestingly we spoke of a party that a few here had attended; the pressure to hold the line of dance has become so strong from the tango that people were disco dancing in the line of dance.

Mike then came up with a classic line, he said ” I never could waltz, but I moved around the room in a waltz like way, and the women loved it”. You have to admire him for trying, but isn’t this what we do in tango? When you stop worrying about the steps and simply move around the room in a tango like way, you relax, you feel better and more confident, and the women love it, they do not know if you learned that move with Giraldo Whatshisname or Estoban Thingy, they simply enjoy your movement (provided of course it is to the music).

Talking of the music, do we give the customer what he wants? I had a customer ask for Gotan next week, I of course was horrified. The camp splits a bit here, I must admit, but, if you are to dance traditional tango you need to know where the music is going. Traditional tango music follows a set pattern, we know what is coming, and we have a beat we can follow. If we start playing modern music that does not follow the pattern, then it will confuse the beginners, annoy the traditionalists and drive away those people who dance for the music. Maybe we will lose on or two of the avant garde, but in the end I hope we will keep a solid group of people who love tango for what its own sake and not as a means to show off.

Back to the frightened women, we discussed this quite fully. I as a leader often feel when leading a more experienced dancer, that perhaps she is bored with my lack of moves, so I am not surprised that some of the beginners feel nervous. We all have our crises of confidence, the only thing we can do for each other is be a little forgiving, don’t try to put everyone’s faults to right, we all need time. Teaching on the dance floor is also a good way to shake someones confidence as well as upsetting the rest of the floor. Again my own experience here is what I draw on, when we were at the first Tangomagia in Amsterdam we had little experience even though we had been at it about three years, my shifts allowed me little time to go to classes. Nobody had any patience (except the teachers, who were great) very soon I came to the point where I would not change partners, when the teacher said change Viv and I stuck like glue. Did this benefit the women the who thought that they were so great? I think not, it certainly did not do me any good, because again my confidence was shattered. I now am at the point where I realise that there are those who think they are great, and those who are great, and I think that the two are mutually exclusive.  So if someone thinks that they are too good for you, it is probably the other way around. Women, I will say again if you cannot follow, then the man obviously cannot lead, simples.

The final debate of the night moved on to women’s lib (womens lib from tango???) probably my fault, and as usual when something controversial comes up I was lucky to escape with my life, but hey we all choose our own way to live dangerously, and I am still here to tell the tale. It was time to make a quick exit.

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6 Comments

Filed under Dance Venues and Schools, milonga

6 responses to “Shrewsbury debating society

  1. tangobob

    Yes Anna Sharon did play non traditional at her class and still plays a little at her milongas, it is not for me to say how her approach has changed, though I know for teaching she definitely prefers the more tarditional. Dave in Shrewsbury I know frowns on anything new, he does not even like my preference for modern milongas (you can still dance with me to Otros Aires).
    I am glad we can keep up the debate and not fall out, you know how I love dancing with you. Lets hope that next dance is not too distant.

  2. Anna

    Sharon used to play quite a bit of non-traditional tango, when the class was at the Groves. I didn’t realise she’d changed her approach. I am happy to agree to disagree and look forward to our next traditional tango dance together.

  3. tangobob

    This debate goes on and on, sorry Anna we will just have to agree to disagree. There are places where you can dance to neo tango, places where you can dance nuevo, but in Chester and Shrewsbury those who choose to do this have gone their own way. Our group chooses to dance only salon style to traditional tango music, and the fact that it is growing daily, proves I think, that we are going the right way. I have seen milongas in Buenos Aires that allowed nuevo dancers to do their thing in a salon, they did this because the numbers were falling and thought that was what the tourists wanted. Those same milongas last time I visited had maybe two or three couples in them. If this can happen in the city of tango, what chance in Chester?

  4. Anna

    I agree that neotango is not good for teaching beginners to, but I think it is fun to have some in a milonga. If a small selection of neotango tracks are played regularly then new dancers can get to know them in the same way they become familiar with traditional tango. If a couple want to dance to a neotango track they have probably listened to it lots of times, knowing the tune well they will know what is coming next and can dance to it in a salon style.

  5. tangobob

    Maybe true Anna, but gotan has no structure, it is not even defined as Tango but tango regae fusion. You simply cannot teach beginners with it and Sharon wants them to get used to the same music. I agree it is great to listen to but not to dance unless you are coreographed. You cannot dance milonguero style to it, I have to disagree with you there, the structure of classic tango allows you to know what is coming next, even if you do not know the tune, so you can dance to the music and not despite it.

  6. Anna

    I think you were a bit harsh on the person who requested Gotan Project. Listening to Gotan first drew me into tango. While I would find a whole evening of neotango (or alternative tango) too much I do find the occasional tanda refreshing. You can still dance lovely tango milonguero to non-traditional tango.

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