Monthly Archives: April 2011

Excluded

Exclusion seems to be a common theme here when we talk about tango. I am excluded from Chester and by association also from Shrewsbury. I am by no means alone in this apparently; there is a long list of those who are no longer welcome. Only the risk of embarrassment prevents me naming them, but you can gather who they are by the tone of their blogs or by the way they are keen not to talk of certain teachers.

In some ways this exclusion is no bad thing, many of the excludees have set up their own tango scenes in various places around the midshires and N.Wales, myself included.

We have become, in our own way a mutually supportive group, welcoming each other to our respective venues and creating many new and exciting places to tango.

The point is though that many of these would in time have set themselves up anyway and just as we share our pupils/customers so we would have shared with the group we are now excluded from.

Interestingly I have recently come across a new group, those who although are not excluded they are not included either. While Viv and I can go to any venue and it does not matter how cliquey it is, we still have each other to dance with. Singles, on the other hand, are reliant on being accepted or they will never dance.

These singles are on the verge of quitting tango altogether as they find it difficult to get dance partners and are sometimes even ridiculed. Come on, we have all been beginners at some point, and even the best will never improve, if they are not given the chance to practice.

I remember myself at the first Amsterdam festival getting bullied and ridiculed by “better” dancers. Now after so many years of experience I have learned that this attitude achieves nothing.

If you can do nothing but walk, then walk to the music, only the odd ocho, well just fit them in when you can. My only criteria is that you enjoy the music and are kind to my beginners.

We all have to start somewhere, the best dancers are the ones who can help, and the beginners will have the most room to improve.

So if you feel left out or bullied or even just lacking in confidence, then come along to one of our Gresford practicas and feel included. We may never be Confiteria Ideal or produce a Tango Fire, but what we promise is friendship inclusion and a good time.

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Nice Work

There we were minding our own business stocking up the caravan, when it struck me; some people have such nice jobs.

Outside the Tesco’s store in Madley we were accosted by Nigel Dolman of BBC Radio Shropshire. Now, I don’t suppose all his work is like this, but what a pleasant way to spend your working hours, just chatting to strangers in the warm afternoon sunshine.

We talked about the price of things, inflation, caravanning, and I, of course, had to mention Tango. And although the Tango never got onto the final interview, you never know it may reappear some time.

So The Finches are now famous in Shropshire. Well about four minutes worth anyway, in a totally forgettable interlude on the Clare Ashford and Eric Smith show.

You can hear the interview here at about 2:22 http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00fs1cl/Eric_Smith_and_Clare_Ashford_08_04_2011/

Nigel Dolman was excellent, fraid the Finches were a bit dull. Fancy not realising Gas had gone up.

We will, of course be signing autographs at the Monday practicas at no extra cost.

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Just Walking

Tango is a simple dance, it is after all just walking. Yet we all find it so difficult just to do the basics, at least to do them well.

I hear time and again “I will never get this” and while it is true that some naturally pick it up quicker than others, there is no reason why anyone cannot dance tango.

One of the things people forget is how long we (Viv and I) have been dancing tango. The main reason we find we can teach and why we have a lot of patience with beginners, is because we too found the journey so difficult.

 Almost without exception every woman wants to know where she should be putting her feet, and is not simply following with her body. They all strive to be on the right foot and have their legs in the right place. For me it does not matter, all that matters is you know where you are, because when you do then so do I, and I can deal with it. In an effort to please, most women then get it all wrong and dither not knowing where to go or break away to be where they think they should be. To just relax and follow, it seems, is the most difficult thing to do.

In classes I have done my share of following. I find it a liberating experience, just to go where I am led and enjoy the music. The truth is though that many men (we are talking beginners here) are not positive with their leads and this leaves the follower wondering where to go. This is the main reason I like to mix up the class, it is very hard to experience the feeling of a good lead-follow, if neither partner is doing it right.

Leaders likewise, have this problem just getting it. Men try too hard to project where they want to go and end up in some contorted shape, when subtlety is, in fact, the order of the day. Or they try to lead with their legs in some sort of Monty Python silly walk.

I have to try all sorts of techniques to solve these problems, yet when it does finally click; students are left wondering why they ever found it all so difficult.

So to anyone out there struggling with tango, unable to lead or follow and simply just not getting it, I say stick with it. One day it will just happen and you too will be left wondering why you ever found it so hard.

People come and go, some it seems just cannot hack it, some are made of sterner stuff and some just enjoy the experience, but fortunately for the majority our practicas are such fun that even those finding it exceptionally hard keep coming just for the social event of the week.

Our group still flexes around the ten or so dancers, fine for a place the size of ours. The thing is though; nobody seems to come every week. You would think that this would cause us to be overcrowded one week and deserted the next yet this does not happen. Why? I just cannot fathom. Yet again this week we had a new dancer and one of our old stalwarts did not turn up. I guess it is a sign of the strength of the group that we stay so constant.

Let’s hope it continues after a month long break in May.

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Saving Face

How does tango affect your daily life?

For me it has been an incredible boost to my posture and saved me from the stoop that has plagued my family, and it has also made me more popular than I had ever dreamed.

It has also saved my face just recently. Let me explain;

I was walking along the street towards our bank, and this route takes me around the back of the Catholic Cathedral. The other night I had been there in one of their out-buildings (a church hall I think you would call it) as they had a Dance there. Viv was away and I had a chance to grab a few grannies (literally, I think alone I halved the average age).

Behind the building was what looked like a road out and this would have been a good way for me to escape. So as I walked past I was looking to see if this road existed and if I could, in fact, use this route next time.

This, of course, meant that I was not paying attention to where I was walking. Wrexham, like most towns these days, is littered with street furniture, and the inevitable happened.

I walked straight into a road sign. Fortunately, tango has taught me to lead with my chest.

Instead of a smashed up face and concussion, I now have a bruise on my chest. It was a small price to pay for my inattentiveness and a lot less than I deserved.

So I have something else to thank tango for, as well as a reminder that, at my age, I really should be looking where I am going.

And what of the exit road? Well, it did not exist.

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