All About Me

Most life changing events happen after a birth or a bereavement.In my case my life as a dancer started after the death of my Father.         

I first started dancing in 1994. My Father had died the previous year and despite my mother still being alive we had been left a small amount of money. I was into sailing at the time and wanted a new dinghy, however as my Father always loved his holidays and out of respect for him we decided instead to have a Christmas break.         

We booked a Hotel in Cyprus, little did we know at the time that winter holidays are almost exclusively the realm of the, let me say, more senior holiday maker. The hotel we stayed in was wonderful with a full entertainments program, but most of the entertainment consisted of dancing, something we had never done.          

I was transfixed, every night, there were people, some of whom were older than my now deceased Father, who were dancing like Fred Astaire, and the thing that was keeping them young looked like the dancing.         

By the time we returned home I think I was already hooked. I searched the local papers for a dance school. It was difficult to find a class to attend regularly as I work shifts, but I managed to find a Class that if we missed one we could have a Private lesson the same week. Despite all my efforts our teachers thought that I would never dance, but we persevered anyway.         

By the following Christmas we could now almost hold our own on the dance floor, and we decided to return to Cyprus to surprise them all. Although they did some of the ballroom we had learned, we were surprised to see that at least half of the dancing was sequence. Which we had not learned, and so we were again disappointed, but at least we were on the floor occasionally, and we had made a start.         

The following year we looked for sequence classes whilst still continuing with our ballroom. Our ballroom teacher was not pleased, he did not think very highly of sequence dancing, but we were learning for us not him. So we carried on learning the two until two years later when sadly Ken (our sequence teacher) died prematurely at just sixty.         

We did not return again to Cyprus, the cost of travelling at Christmas was just too high, and I think now after so many years the old crowd will be mostly gone, but I would like to think that they would have been impressed at how far we have come.         

Bob & Viv at one of the many dance events we attend.

Bob & Viv at one of the many dance events we attend.

   

About this time we discovered a Tango teacher in Chester. As we were now more capable and used to the mechanics of movement, we quickly progressed and soon we were wowing them with deep dips ganchos, Baridas, just about every move going, we had an awesome routine. The problem was, I could dance only with Viv and she only with me, there was no real lead. We thought this was tango, we were soon to learn that is was not.         

In 1997 we booked a holiday with Danceholidays.com. We longed to share our love of Tango with other like-minded dancers. We were to attend the Sitges Tango Festival and dance with some of the greats. We had great expectations of what we could achieve there and believed we would be dancing as we had been doing, just better.         

We watched bemused as couple after couple danced counterclockwise around the floor just like ballroom. This was our assessment to decide which classes we should attend and what we had seen up until now was nothing like our “on the spot” Tango.         

Not unduly worried I would just have to adapt my routine so that we were moving around the floor. We danced for the instructor, and I thought we had done pretty well, but after we had done our piece the instructor said “very good, but it’s not Tango you will have to go with the beginners”. I was gutted, but he said that what we had done is choreographed, Tango is pure improvisation.         

In the beginners class we learned that Tango is not routine, I also had to learn to lead and Viv to follow. Next I learned the basic eight (isn’t that a routine?) We got the hang of it and at the nightly Milongas we managed to dance despite the crowds. The teachers impressed us by doing a show at one of the Milongas and looked fabulous even though they danced with people with whom they had not danced before.         

We met a nice couple there, Paul and Annette Holman, who put us up in their home the following week. Tango is the only community I have ever known where people put trust in complete strangers just because they dance Tango.         

While we stayed with them they took us to all the London dance venues, and we had classes all over. I still did not get this Giro thing everyone was doing it, and it was assumed we knew what they were talking about.         

When we returned home, we now needed some proper Tango, and found a guy called Frank Smith 1932-2009 in Manchester. After this we attended classes with Atilla Ting in Knutsford and Wilmslow, and workshops with more dancers than I can fit in here, but the ones that impressed us most came from this exotic place called Buenos Aires.         

We have now danced in Sitges, Manchester, Northwich, Knutsford, Wilmslow, at the first Amsterdam festival in 1998, Barcelona, Madrid, London, Bylaugh Hall, but more recently we have travelled to Buenos Aires.         

Freinds Meet for Viv

Friends Meet for Viv's Birthday in Argentina

   

 We first visited Buenos Aires in 2004, we were on a personal guided tour. The whole thing was a rush, there was so much to see and do. The guide we had took us to a different Milonga every night, classes almost every day, city tours, and out to an estancia. We came home exhausted, but with a determination to return and revisit what we had liked best at a more leisurely pace.         

We returned again, and really enjoyed the city, at a more leasurely pace, but decided that this was enough, and after a tearful departure looked for somewhere else, cheaper, to holiday. We tangoed in Barcelona, Madrid and Seville, but nothing compared.Twelve months later we again returned.         

I loved Buenos Aires so much that I have returned there over and over, and we have now bought a place in Almagro.(Hopefully this will be the subject of a book if I can get it published). I have a huge list of friends there, whether they feel sorry for us or they really are that gregarious I will leave to others to decide. We now return at every opportunity and keep in touch with numerous people via email and skype whenever I am home. As can be seen from the photo above, they love a party too, I think that there were nearly thirty people at Viv’s birthday.         

In Buenos Aires you can dance all day every day, on a good day there will be a choice of  dozens of venues. On a bad day only three or four.(very rarely this few as I learn more, I find more venues, hidden sometimes only a couple of blocks a way) The choice is usually more about the people who attend, more than it is about the venue. For instance The Sunderland Club is just a basketball hall, brightly lit with little atmosphere, but it is very popular as the quality of the dancers is exceptional. This may be because it is out-of-town and not frequented by the touristas. But in truth it is very difficult to know why one venue attracts good dancers and another does not. (again as I learn more, I discover it is more about the DJ and his musical choices, the best know the music inside out and can build a tanda without reference to playlists or reference books)         

Many times I am asked what is about dancing that I love. It is always difficult to say why you like a particular thing, but for me the greatest thing is what it has done for my popularity. I cannot overstate what it does for my ego when a woman asks my to dance or complains when I have missed her out. I will never win Come Dancing and I still feel like a beginner when I arrive in Buenos Aires, but here in the northwest suddenly everyone wants to dance with me and I love it. As can be seen from my posts there are enough things that stop my head getting too big, but whenever one lady asks for another Bob dance my heart is lifted and all the cares of the world are forgotten.         

We still visit as often as I can afford, still amassing more friends as you can work out who from the posts, but what I am really waiting for is the day I retire. There will be a debate about how long we stay in Buenos Aires and how long at home, but you can be sure I will spend a lot more time in the city of Tango than I do today. My free time usually allows me to return around May, the time that this blog has been up and running does not allow for many trips to be chronicled but you can share my experiences in Buenos Aires if you go to Entries Tagged as ‘Argentina’. Please comment, what you all think is important to me and maybe with your suggestions my writing will improve.

32 responses to “All About Me

  1. Mark chez

    Interesting reading old pal.

  2. Hey there Bob! Just browsing around the blogosphere, finding some fun and interesting blogs to follow to make some new friends in 2016. If you like, hop on over to my world at http://www.thatssojacob.wordpress.com, and if you see anything you like, comment or follow! Have a great day and happy new year! BTW I LOVE TO TANGO!

  3. Hi Bob
    Today I was going through the referrer’s list on my Tickled Tango blog. I found that you and your blog have been by far the most significant referrer. Thanks for this, it makes me happy and my work worthwhile.
    Amadeus W.

  4. very interesting… it inspired me to write my tango story as well…. in the meantime… hop over to my blog Tickled Tango Tunes where you can download Tango Tunes easily and for free,
    http://tickledtango.wordpress.com/
    say hello and enjoy…. see you there

  5. Great story Bob, i have a Buenos Aires move planned also. keep up the good work.
    Vale

  6. wow… what a story
    wonder if you would add the link of my tango music blog on yours?
    it’s dusted music and free, realllllly free, with nothing hidden (wouldn’t know how to do it) music to download. at the moment, only a few milongas and valses, because they are my favourite

  7. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who
    has been conducting a little research on
    this. And he actually bought me lunch due to the fact that I
    stumbled upon it for him… lol. So let me reword this.
    … Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about this subject here on your site.

  8. Elin Hanna Laxdal

    Nice blog – thanks for sharing. Bring your tango shoes if you and Viv decide on a tour to Bergen, Norway or Reykjavik, Iceland. Nice people, venues and floors, although nothing compared to BsAs.
    Love
    Elin

  9. Ana maria campistrus wrote:
    y paralelamente organizo un Concurso de tango de salon para Amateurs de europa. La idea es que los amantes del tango vengan, bailen, que haya un jurado que los juzgue bien

    Another tango dance competition in which social dancing is judged through shows?? No surprise if it just ends up as a show dance competition, lke the BsAs Mundial. Interesting that one never seems to find competitions in which social dancing is judged through social dancing. Except in the milonga, that is 🙂

  10. such an interesting blog… Paul’s comments, very intersting too… Thank you.

  11. tangobob

    Creo que esta comentario es por jantango http://jantango.wordpress.com/
    La historia mi viaje a tango en esta momento escribiendo en un libro, pero no se quando sera acabar.

  12. Ana maria campistrus

    Hola,
    pienso que puedo escribir en espaniol.
    Acabo de leer tus comentarios acerca del mundial de Buenos Aires y si bien no me sorprende, me da tristeza que algo que podría ser tan lindo se convierta en una farsa , en un teatro de títeres donde los valores que aparentemente se buscan queden en el camino. Es entonces como dice el tango “El mundo fue y será una porquería, ya lo se´, en el 510 y en el 2000 tambien…..
    Yo, como aficionada al tango de salon he iniciado en el 2011 una revista de tango que se edita en aleman porque vivo en Alemania (ANA’s Tango magazin) y paralelamente organizo un Concurso de tango de salon para Amateurs de europa. La idea es que los amantes del tango vengan, bailen, que haya un jurado que los juzgue bien, que haya premios que los impulse a trabajar mas y mejor para que algun día puedan bailar aun mejor.
    La primera vez vinieron solo 11 parejas. El proximo sera el 13 de octubre y espero tener mas interesados.
    Me gustaria tomar contacto para escribir un articulo en mi revista sobre lo que tu dices acerca del mundial de Buenos Aires. Puedes documentar lo que escribes o son asociaciones y observaciones?
    Te gustaria contarnos tu historia de como llegaste al tango y de lo que el tango te significa?.
    Si es asi, escribe un mail ,
    Mi nombre es Ana Maria Campistrus
    Desde ya, gracias por tu respuesta
    Saludos tangueros
    ANA

    Janis Kenyon
    May 28, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    It’s common knowledge in Buenos Aires that the World Cup of tango (formerly Campeonato Mundial de Tango) is arranged every year. Those couples who have “paid their dues” by studying, teaching, and performing with the members of the Asociacion de Maestros, Bailarines y Coreografos de Tango Argentino are acknowledged. It’s impossible for a foreign couple to arrive in BsAs without being seen by the judges and win the competition. The winners are “selected” by the judges to launch the careers of promising performers who want to present themselves as salon dancers. They don’t have the skills to improvise tango on a social dance floor, so they continue to teach choreography around the world. Tango is a business for them. The world tango competition winners have been arranged since the first year. The city competition is the same. The prize money has increased substantially, but the number of participants has dropped.

    I hope that foreigners have realized they don’t have a chance at winning unless they host the festival director at a local festival like Japan did in 2009 when a Japanese couple won the world salon competition. Judges must agree on who will be chosen to win the title. Tallying the points has no relevance. It’s all about who you know, not how you dance.

    It is unfortunate that couples come to Buenos Aires to represent their countries with the hopes of bringing home a title. The judges know who will win before the competition begins. It’s not an unbiased competition at all. It’s the same in most international dance competitions. It’s about how well the judges know you.

  13. tangobob

    Ken
    You are on our list. Strange that I don’t know you, our paths have crossed so often. Frank Smith was our fist teacher here in the UK and Andreas and Genoveva we know from way back, we even had a class with them in Salon Canning. Keep in touch, who knows we may look you up one day.
    Bob

  14. Forgot to say if you want a look here is our blogsite http://www.casamedialuna.wordpress.com.

  15. Hola
    Great to read your blog Bob which I just found, its very interesting to read your story. We used to live and teach in Leeds and we are good friends of Andre and Carole Bramley. We also know Atilla. My very first teacher was Frank Smith but our main teachers over the years have been and still are Andres Cejas and Genoveva Fernandez. We now run tango holidays in Spain at our B&B in the mountains above Malaga. Maybe you can put our blog site on your blogroll and we will put yours on ours. We do holidays with tango classes or without for those wanting just a nice relaxing holiday with added bonus of a dance studio on site and like minded tango friends who can show you the local milongas.

  16. Hi Tangobob –

    My wife and I set sail from London mid December, aboard the cargo ship Grande Francia – a sailing time of 32 days taking in Europe, Africa, Brazil and Uruguay before arriving in Buenos Aires.

    We came with very few plans other than learning Spanish – we did five weeks and I can now order a beer with the correct grammar, my wife is slightly better!

    We leave Buenos Aires tomorrow, a slight tangent somewhere before heading north to Peru – and we’ve just spent the last week having several tango lessons – we’re hooked! We found a great teacher in Cristian, (tangopiola) here in Palermo Hollywood and we’re already dancing – it’s not quite ‘elegant’ though it’s got us properly hooked and wish we were staying in BsAs longer so we could continue, though your site/blog gives us with much hope and we look forward to learning and improving our tango as we go forward.

  17. tangobob

    I, think I have, done this now. There is an RSS link on my pages, but to be honest, I do not know what RSS is or how it works. Let me know if it still does not work, or if you could email me with some info. (address on contacts page).

  18. curiousvisitor

    I love your blog, and I would be eager to follow. But as many blog-reader I only follow news/blog-updates through RSS. (I like to choose the time for reading myself and I don’t want to clutter my inbox with tango-related messages – I can way too easily get distracted anyway -, and revisiting websites is also not very effective.) Could you please allow atom/RSS feeds? Many-many thanks!

  19. tangobob

    Thanks I enjoyed that, strict tempo it aint.

  20. Albanaich

    Incidentally the ‘Swing’ dance shares a similar relationship to Ballroom as Argentine Tango.

    You do indeed learn moves, but you put them together and adapt them to suit the music.

    Following ‘set routines’ is for people who don’t understand Swing. . . . .

    A lovely piece of Swing improvisation here.

    It’s a very different style, but requires an almost identical mindset to Argentine Tango

  21. eric

    Hiya bob
    I have now finished “MY VERSION” translation of tetes letter. I have tried to get inside his head and not done a literal translation. He was very passionate about his art and I found it very moving

    see you tonight ? Monday

  22. tangobob

    Thanks, a very useful resource. I have added you to my blogroll.

  23. Hello fellow tango dancer!

    I think you would be interested in KnowTango.com — the world’s first wiki-tango map where anyone can add or edit events.

    If you see an event that has wrong information or is missing, make sure to fix it. The site is totally free with no ads, so hopefully it’s something our worldwide (and your local) community can use and enjoy :-).

    Take a look and let me know what you think!
    -Henry

  24. tangobob

    Welcome Mary.
    While you were in BsAs, I am suprised no one dragged you up for a dance. We were, on our first day, in La Boca by two street performers.

  25. Mary

    I agree with you about the charm of Buenos Aires. Even though I have spent just 5 nights there, I only have to hear the words Buenos Aires to get a good feeling. Tango music has always quickened my soul: when I see that dance I long to join in!
    I look forward to seeing you an Viv giving a demo sometime.

  26. Lily

    Thank you! long time I don’t know nothing from you & Vivien…..I share : my Buenos Aires querido! as well…….we can go????

  27. tangobob

    Hi Jan
    Thanks again for your comments. Perhaps nearer the date we could make some firm commitments.
    My locals tend to be Viejo Correo and Canning as they are close to Almagro, although El Beso and Porteno y Bailarin are easy on the subte.
    I have not been to Lo de Celia since my first visit so that would be nice. I read recently about Los Consegrados ( was it you or Sally?) and thought it would be nice to go again to Leonesa.
    Enough now I am stuck in tonight, wishing I was back.
    Besos, Bob

  28. jantango

    Bob,

    I am looking forward to meeting you and Viv this May during your visit. My regular places to dance are Lo de Celia and Centro Region Leonesa, both in barrio Constitucion and walking distance from my apartment in Balvanera.

    Janis

  29. tangobob

    Take care Anna, very few people can go to Buenos Aires once only. If you do want to go when we are there let me know before hand and I can recomend some hotels near to us. Or better still coming with family, an apartment.

  30. I was fascinated to read about how you started out dancing. I started with a ballroom class in 2001 then six years of salsa. One day John and I would love to get to BsA, I guess we will have our children with us – a good chance for them to soak up Spanish. We’ll have to make sure you are there when we go. I would love to meet a few of your friends there.

  31. tangobob

    I have to agree about the charm. I am not sure whether it is the city or the people in it that keeps bringing me back.
    Unfortunately I cannot return until May, because of work commitments, but I am desperateky trying to make it a full month again.
    Keep intouch, we may yet meet at a Milonga.

  32. jantango

    Bob,
    I enjoyed reading your story. You are one of a growing number of foreigners who visit Buenos Aires regularly. I moved to BsAs ten years ago when there were a handful of others and the tourist season was November to March. There is something about this city and its people that charms everyone, not only the tango.
    Janis

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