Category Archives: Dance Venues and Schools

Tango events around the area of North Wales and Manchester

Jenny and Ricardo

Well to be honest, I was not looking forward to the class. It has been a long time since we have attended a group class of any kind and I am not the best of students. Still I went with an open mind and a vague recollection of enjoying their classes all those years ago.

So it just goes to show even a frustrated old milonguero like me can learn something new, and enjoy the experience at the same time.

The Friday night class was all about milonga. We learned a spin move and a wide choice of endings. Jenny was lovely, as always, and struggled to teach us while Ricardo spread his own kind of anarchy. At least that is how it appeared to me, but in fact they worked together as a team and managed to make the difficult simple and the mundane entertaining.

Saturday night was the big milonga; Now as many of you will know, I take the music seriously. Argentine tango, to me, is not Argentine tango without Argentine Tango music. It seems an obvious thing, but a knowledge of the music is often lacking this far north. Well tonight we had a treat at a stratospheric level.

Mabel from Cardiff was doing the music, she displayed an understanding of the music that I have not seen before outside of Buenos Aires, it was an absolute joy to dance every tanda. It is not the normal custom here, but after La Cumparsita I started clapping and as if to prove that I was not alone in enjoying the evening soon everyone was clapping with me. I thanked Mabel before I left and I want to thank her again here. Thank You Mabel!

Jenny and Ricardo did a wonderful demo for us which everyone enjoyed so much they were called back for an encore. Unprepared Mabel was asked to choose anything, were I not already married I would have proposed on the spot, she chose Angel D’Agostino, Cafe Dominguez.

Frambuesas con nata played some wonderful music in their interlude, Hotel Victoria, Poema, and then Percale I was in heaven. They really do get better every time I hear them, expect the Argentine tour sometime soon.

Sunday was about colgadas, now old traditionalist Bob doesn’t approve of colgadas. Anything that breaks the connection should not be in a milongueros repertoire. But again I went with an open mind and at least we could learn some teaching techniques. Well the first thing we learned was to forget all that hanging outside the frame we have seen before, this was to be colgadas in the close hold. (You speeky my language). By the end I think we had the basics, a long way from perfect but I can work on it.

Often at these weekends, we have been given that many moves that it all blurs into a kind of fog, but Jenny and Ricardo gave us just enough to work on and that my small brain can hold.

So, in summary: Great classes. awesome music and we caught up with many old friends that we have not seen for some while. Despite missing the “most important class where I named my toes” and if you know what on earth Ricardo was on about, please tell.


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Its not just tango

On nights when we cannot get to a tango venue we will seek out any dancing we can get. On such a night we ended up at a Salsa Wales event at Ewloe social club. I try my best to get to these events as often as I can, but often my shifts get in the way.

When we arrived there were not many there , but we had friends who would soon join us, so not too down hearted. Marie Louise plays an eclectic mix and the dancing ranges from salsa to sequence dancing.

There was no time when I had to sit down, because we did not know a dance.We danced Ballroom, Sequence, latino and even Tango.There was no interval so by the end of the night I was well and truly knackered.

We had some wonderful tangos and even milongas. Trouble is the only tango dancers were Viv and I. We left the floor each time to applause. Viv is not happy being the floor show but I am just happy to dance.

Bob (the guy who complains about dancing tango to non tango music) now has a new moan. Have you ever tried dancing sequence to Carlos DiSarli? OK not a moan, I loved it, but it did things to my head. You simply cannot go into a giro halfway through the Tango Serida.

We thouroughly enjoyed the evening and look forward to the next time. Well not the next one on 29th October as I am on nights again. But I will definitely attend on 26th November and 17th December.

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More on close hold

New Year is a good time to relax and enjoy the company of friends. We had been at a party, where we danced in the New Year. After we had helped to pack away we drove over to Chester where we had been invited by Tom and Kwai of Clan Cuban

I think it was meant to be more dancing, but we had arrived late so we just sat drinking and talking dance. As you will by now gather from this blog, I can talk a good dance, even if I do not actually dance it that well.

Talk inevitably got onto close hold and what Tom calls the choo choo hold. I think Tom finds it useful as a means of conveying, not only the move but also the lead. Kizomba despite its similarities is quite different to Tango and the way the embrace must be allowed to open is more akin to Nuevo tango than the more traditional tango I love.

Still though, this practice embrace can have its uses in tango teaching, but only as a means to an end.

I can see no benefit in teaching a class the whole time in practice embrace and then telling them to dance close hold. If you want to dance close hold, then the only way to learn is to learn in the embrace.

Tom, who has been teaching some time now comes up with a lot of things that I find useful for tango, even though, as yet, he does not dance it. One thing we talked about was the problems with close hold, and the difficulties people have with it.

I am not quoting anyone here but the ideas have sprung from the conversation that we had, so I will offer credit for them, but any blame (if anyone should choose to disagree) should all be upon me.

British men have a problem holding women. Not a sexual problem, but to hold a woman very close in a non sexual way, I think is alien to them. So when they first come to close hold dancing they are uncomfortable, to get that close is seen as something sexual. This is transmitted to the women, who will see it as either being too fresh or just creepy.

We all need time to adapt. The men need time to get comfortable and to not get aroused. The women need time to relax and understand that this is just a warm comfortable place to be, and most of all we all need to understand that this is nothing to do with the mating game.

Only by spending the whole class in close embrace with several partners can we ever become more used to this. I honestly believe that it is harder for us men to adapt, why? I do not know, but women seem to me to be more comfortable in close bodily proximity than men. This is why; I think women are more able to dance together than men, and why it has taken so much persuading to get men to dance with me.

So I believe that once we men get comfortable with the close embrace the women will just melt into our arms, and what joy this can bring.

Women who find the close hold uncomfortable, I believe have their views coloured by dancing with men who themselves are not comfortable. Men who are not comfortable are so because they have never experienced a true embrace and uncomfortable women will not give it to them.

So it is up to those of us who have spent time with tango and other close dances to share our knowledge and joy with others.  When the world can all enjoy a hug and a smile, when a man can embrace a woman with a love that is not sexual and we can all take to the dance floor with a joy and a desire to share with our partner a love of the music, then I think we are well on our way to peace and nirvana.

Finally can I take this opportunity to wish all my readers a Happy and Prosperous New Year? Felicidades y Prospero Año Nuevo a Todos.


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Let it Snow

Oh the weather outside is frightful, 
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

An apology to Sammy Cahn, but it just about sums it up, “since we have no place to go” just about says it all. We may be in the grip of the worst weather for eighteen years, but in this modern age does everything have to stop?

All our local dances are cancelled, yet I still find my way to work each day, and as we are protected by the Cheshire bowl conditions here are not exactly arctic. I drove down to Connah’s Quay yesterday and the pavements as well as the roads were quite clear.

Nowhere have I lost traction in my car, I have not had to dig myself out and we are not yet in need of food parcels. Apologies to those in areas that have had it bad, but we cannot use what happens in other parts of the country as an excuse to vegetate.

Funnily enough the most successful dances have not been cancelled; Sunday at the Navy club goes ahead as do The Clan Cuban events. This leads me to ask the question, Why are they successful? Could it be in part because they do not cancel at the least little thing? Could it be because we the punters know that they will be there no matter what?

 There are unique reasons for the success of these events that is true, but the simple fact that someone like me, a shift worker, on irregular hours, can rely on them to be there means that they have a steady, if irregular supply of punters.

I have seen venues around here lose customers at a biblical rate, simply because nobody knows for sure that they will be open on a particular night.

New faces are discouraged because they disrupt the flow. Youth is discouraged because, well because they are young.

Of the maybe dozen dance venues in our area when I started, only two now hold regular dances. Saturday night dances now no longer happen, and when they do it is by exception.

The numbers of regular dancers are falling; this is because they are getting old or dying. Those who remain must accept, no, invite new dancers or they will not have dances to attend.

I am actively encouraging Tango now in our area, as I see it as the dance of the future, the ballroom and sequence scene is dying and will continue to do so unless we all put some effort into keeping it going. That means, not using the least excuse to cancel a dance or just to stay at home, but it also means we need to encourage younger dancers and enjoy what they bring to the party instead of just moaning at them.

The present situation cannot continue for much longer, if nothing is done then we will have no place to go, even when it does not snow.

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Return to Wilmslow

I know I can appear forthright at times, and often end up apologising for my words; this has happened a lot lately, twice in one night in fact.

The first time was for something I said here. While I stand by what I said at the time, I readily accept that I took the coward’s way out by saying it here and not face to face at the time. I had to do some grovelling to overcome the situation, but thankfully tango people in general are quite big about these things and hopefully I am forgiven.

The second time was something I said on the night, it did not come out as I had intended and I never noticed “the look”. Again I had to go back and apologise, grovel some more and beg forgiveness.

Those who know me realise I am not qualified to be in the diplomatic corps and hopefully realise that mostly I mean well if occasionally it comes out all wrong.

We had a happy return to Wilmslow this week. I have missed Atilla and her style of teaching and the friendly crowd here. It is hard to describe how welcome I was made to feel as woman after woman lined up to dance with me. Despite the time that has passed the prodigal was more than welcomed by both the teacher and the alumni.

The old guy still has it though; I can still get squeals of delight off the newcomers when I lead them to do something new. It is just a shame that it took me over half a century to find out how to please women and then only on the dance floor. If someone like me can do this, imagine what someone with talent could do, perhaps I should run a seminar “If an old, bow-legged, talentless man can please women, then so could you”

Viv had brought some shoes that had already been purchased and she just wanted to pass them on, but this did not stop queues forming to look at them. Viv hardly had chance to dance, it is quite unbelievable the effect shoes have on women. In fact as we were leaving somebody said something about shoes and suddenly there was another crowd all eager to view.

There was a good selection of cake and chocolate and it took all my will power (and Viv’s nagging) to stop me completely destroying my diet. They do a “cake dance here” a bit like a birthday dance but for the bringer’s of cake, not fully understanding what was happening, because firstly there were two cake bringer’s and because somebody said “snowball” I caused chaos and for a while there were four couples on the floor. Fortunately they sorted themselves out when the lunatic had left the floor.

So Viv was happy and so was I, I even managed to keep the cost of fuel to an acceptable level by driving more slowly. Hopefully this will be the first of many returns, if I can stop myself upsetting too many people, that is.

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It isn’t just the weather

Moving away from tango for a bit, I thought a few words about general dancing were needed here due to the low attendances we have been getting.

Those of you who watch my dance diary will have noticed there is an absence of events that have been filled in. I cannot be held responsible if the people running these events do not let anyone know what is happening.

Anyway right up until the end of the year we pestered the committee at Ewloe to give us future dates, so that when we fought our way through the snow-covered roads this Wednesday the only reason we knew that there was a dance on was because we had seen Roy Peters and Geoff Shone at Saltney Social Club before Christmas. (They were also performing at Ewloe Wednesday night).

So it came as little surprise that when we arrived only one other couple were there. Our friends Doreen and Ralf also turned up but that was it. The committee blamed the weather for the poor attendance, maybe that had some effect, but if no-one knew it was on, is it any surprise that nobody came?

We had a great night with our personal band “all request Wednesday”, and of course we had to get up for every dance, it was afterall our requests. As we left Roy told us he would be on in Llay British Legion Saturday. I was horrified because Llay is no longer a regular event, nobody knew it would be on and they will simply not advertise.

I would be on nights Thursday and Friday so I could not get to any other events to spread the news. Come Saturday, and we told Steve it would be on so he would come with his wife. The only others we could contact were Joan and Eric, so we elected to give them a lift.

So how many were there? yes thats right, six. Had we not braved the snow on Wednesday there would have been none. Dances just cannot continue like this.

We made a fuss and managed to reach a guy called Tom who is in charge of entertainments at Llay. It seems he is constrained on how he runs the venue, the committee will not let him organise regular dances, but the room can be booked.

A long conversation ensued and we may well have a solution. I am not yet in a position to give further information yet, but I am hopeful we can arrange regular dances in the future. Watch this space for an exclusive………

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Memory Lapse

The Chester class moves ever on, the quality of the students gets better and better, but my memory doesn’t. The numbers were again about even, only requiring one extra lady. This meant of course that Viv was needed so I stayed to take the money. As the more advanced students arrived I simply could not remember any names. All the more embarrassing because there were ladies who I dance with and enjoy dancing with, who I really should remember. I have never had a good memory for names and faces, but as I get older it seems to get worse. All I can do is ask forgiveness, and maybe do my talking on the dance floor. While we waited Eric asked again for some extra coaching, always happy to oblige, though I wonder what anyone looking from outside would have thought of these two men moving in close embrace.

Had a few more beginners stay this week for a bit of intensive Bobing. It is nice to see that they are stopping on. I know from my own experience that once a class is over, students tend to be forgotten about and so wander off, because they do not want to hang around and wait for a chance to practice. I hope that I can fill the gap for them and entice more to stay until the practica. Our beginners are now able to join the practica and enjoy some dancing, as the room is quite small they are able to get a feeling of what a real milonga would be like and give me a small reminder of how to move in a crowded place again.


It seems that the same people appear wherever we go; it must simply be that there are people who go out and do something and those who do not.  We have started taking Salsa classes again, and every time we go we meet someone from our past. This week again we met someone with whom we danced many years ago. He has continued in other places and our paths have not crossed for ten years, yet here we again meet, all of us still dancing. What is really amazing is, that he lives so close, has danced continuously, yet our paths have not crossed for so long. People still tell me that there is nowhere to go; I guess that they just do not look past their television screens. There must be enough to do out there when two people who live so close can go out every night doing the same things and yet not meet for ten years.

I hear yet again over six million people saw Strictly Come Dancing this week, the shame is, we can’t get even one percent of them out into dance floors. Perhaps if it were not shown as such an exclusive pastime, with exotic costumes and personal training that would run into thousands, one or two would realise, anyone can dance.

Anyone can. When I started, our dance teacher said to Viv “he will never be able to dance” now some may still agree with her, I may never be Fred Astaire, but with time and commitment I think I have made quite a journey. I enjoy dancing, women enjoy dancing with me, you won’t see me on strictly, but I have what I want; fun.

I will keep plugging this message, over and over, you do not need to be the greatest dancer in the world, to enjoy it, but you will feel on top of the world when you do it.


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Still on Holiday

As I prepare to head off for Shrewsbury again, I realise it is a week since my last post. Viv has kept me busy for nearly a fortnight now, and stopped me spending too much time in front of the computer. Although busy at home and in the garden, there has been plenty of time for dancing.

On Friday we had the technique class with Hayden at Pant. It seemed to go down well, but everyone was exhausted afterward and few stayed long for the practica. Saturday and Sunday are still reserved for our social ballroom and sequence dances, but Monday we were back at Stanley Palace for our regular date with the ghosts. I think they are getting a bit heavy footed as the floor was being rained on by small bits of plaster. Perhaps Anne Boleyn dropped her head when walking the gallery or maybe some duelists of old were still fighting it out, who knows, but they were quiet while we were dancing anyway.

Our beginners are getting the hang of the cross, even managing to know the difference when I just walk on the outside. They were left to it in the other room with Viv as we were a man short for the improvers. More secadas were on the menu for tonight and I was enjoying myself. Sharon was not going to let that continue and insisted in a practice hold, to stop the men leading with their arms.

My problem is that when I do not have the embrace my left shoulder drops back, the very thing we are trying to avoid, so with the practice hold I am not a happy bunny. I did not realise why this is happening until Wednesdays I will say more on this in a while.

We continued the mad dance week on Tuesday, by heading off to Manchester and the afternoon tea dance at the Trafford Centre, free parking, free tea and coffee, free raffle, and a free dance with a four piece live band, what more could you ask?  Well free petrol, OK, you can’t have everything. We rushed back to Chester afterwards, a Quick meal, then off to Salsa Classes.

Wednesday, we decided to go back to Gobowen for Sharon’s tango. Now that Deryck and Geoff have retired there is nothing to keep us, so we will go as and when the mood takes us now. Sharon continued with the secada scheme, and again I was cursed with the practice hold. Now though I think I have found the answer, I simply hold my arm up as if I am in the embrace. It looks a little odd but it works for me.

At  The lantern, on Thursday we continued again with the much of the same. This is not so much drilling, as there is a different crowd at each venue. There are not many who will travel to all three, even I cannot normally manage. But it works well as if you miss one venue, you can go to another and keep up with what is happening. Anyway Shrewsbury is about the after tango drink now. We simply cannot think of travelling that far and not going to The Coracle.

Tonights discussion soon moved on to matters tango, and we had a lively debate on contra posture and dissociation. One of us is missing something, I won’t say who said what, I will simply pose the question; Is dissociation contra posture? or is contra posture moving the body and legs together, but in opposite directions, and dissociation moving the body and legs separately? Viv ended up screaming with laughter as Dave and myself walked up and down The Coracle demonstrating dissociation and contra posture. At least we kept the locals amused.

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Holiday Time ?

I was supposed to be in Argentina now, still Viv is doing her best to ensure I still enjoy myself; I have so far burnt off the garage door frame and repainted, pressure blasted the front of the house and repainted that, painted the bathroom door, and cut down a tree. I still have time for tango though.

The Monday class went ahead as usual and for a change I was needed in the intermediates. Sharon was teaching a secada, which gave me some fun things to do. Not content of course with doing as she said, I managed to do multiple sacadas and even do it the other way around. I could of course only do this with those ladies who had a fair bit of experience, but it helped in a debate I had later in the week.

One of our ladies was a bit unsure about attending the workshop on Friday, she felt that what she needed was more moves and not more technique. My view, and I made it plain, is that if you are following, it can be a positive disadvantage to know moves. If the technique is good on both parts, the follower will do what is required, even if, or should I say especially if, she does no what is coming next. I have danced with many women who think that they can dance, and once I start they go off on their own doing what they have been taught. This is not tango. That is why I so love dancing with the women of Chester and Shrewsbury, they assume that I know what I am doing (fools) so they follow me, even when in the class I do something different to what has been taught.It looks good and feels good, even when it does not go quite according to plan.

So convinced that her technique is what allowed her to do things that she has never done before, that is another who will be attending the technique class on Friday.

We debated whether to attend Gobowen on Wednesday, but decided to support Steve on his first Wednesday at Ewloe. The days are numbered I think, without Deryck and Geoff I think that something is lost, I am not ready to abandon the club totally but I may miss one or two and keep my eye on the Gobowen scene a bit more.

Of course as I am off work I can also attend Shrewsbury as well. We missed most of the beginner’s class as usual, but sat at the back I was able to see one or two having difficulty. Sharon has now started teaching the basic eight. The debate rages as to whether this is a good teaching method, but I well understand that many of the guest teachers use this as a basis for further teaching, so a knowledge of the eight is quite important, they do not want to waste half of a workshop going over basics, also it is a good introduction to the cross. So I was able to spend some of the practica time with one or two helping them over their problems, I worry sometime though; Am I trying too hard? Do they start to think, why doesn’t he go away and leave me to try on my own? I think I would. I do not want to become one of those people who interfere all the time and push where it is not wanted.

I had a chance to redeem myself later, I was not needed int the intermediates, so I was off to the back room to help with some beginners. Later I was to find that Sharon was doing something which was new to me, she brings a lot of good stuff back from Nijmegen I always seem to miss the best of it, ah well such is life. Dave was in the back room giving one to one to a leader, which left me with a couple consisting of a lady who has struggled for some time and a man who was on his first class. I walked them round and around the room. Struggled with their posture and generally drilled them, experience has shown me that this much intensity early on pays heavy dividends later and of course they are getting the advantage of all the things that I have learned by doing so many things wrong for so long. Hopefully they will not develop any of my bad habits.

The trip to The Coracle was a bit quieter this time, numbers were right down. We still had a lively debate thanks to Mike and some interesting points arose. Mike used the term a reliable dancer, to describe himself. This brought to mind the many blogs I have read from women I Argentina, they often describe how some men come onto the floor and try to practice big fancy moves, not for themselves or their partner, but to impress the audience. I have never yet met a tanguera who likes dancing like this, “a reliable dancer” is a good description, he will dance for the woman, not try to do something he cannot lead, and to hell with anyone watching. The point then was raised about when we are not dancing, of course we all sit and watch, criticise a little? well maybe, but we all agree the best dancers and the least criticised are those who keep it simple, dance for their partner and lead well.


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Life moves on

My life in the tango world moves on, getting ever better. The Monday class at Chester is growing into a strong community, and Viv and I now have a definite job to do. Maybe this is not why we started but it gives us a sense of belonging and it is always nice to feel needed.

We now arrive quite early at Stanley Palace, despite it being a working day, the joy of being involved somehow overcomes any need for a sleep. Anyway it is not a late night so for these few days I can survive on five hours. While Sharon gives some private tuition I set up my music in the second room and Viv sets her stall for collecting the money.

When the beginner’s class starts again we have too few women, I have said this before, but I still find it strange that Chester is the only place where the men outnumber the women. First Viv is called to help out, then so am I, Roberta rides again, but not for long. Soon we have some more women arrive and we have even numbers, then another and it is goodbye to Roberta. 

I return to the other room as more dancers arrive, I can play some music for them, and make tea. (Charperson now is it). I also now collect the money as well. Actually the music has to stop as the class spills out into the other room. The class has got too big now for any move to be practiced, so the better leaders move out to create more space. At least this gives me a chance to see what is happening, until they move back that is.

In the intermediates I am again banished, but like last week I have a number of the beginners to coach. I enjoy this part of the evening, everyone wants to soak up as much as they can, and I get to be the big man. (This is Great for my ego).

Our French lady is back, I enjoy it when she says “so you do not move yourrr ips” I enjoy it so much I tell her to say it again, but she tries to sound more English. I have to tell her not to loose the accent, it sounds so sexy.

Again we have a number of new comers, and again the standard is amazing, if we keep this up we will need bigger premises. A lot are staying for the practica as well which is a really great sign.

A few start to congregate in the kitchen, tea and coffee are on offer. While they danced I made sure that there was hot water, but now I have my chance and I am not about to waste it. I dance like crazy with as many women as I can until Viv drags me off, telling me I must get up in the morning. Still it was nice while it lasted.

I cannot make Shrewsbury this week and there is no tango the weekend, hopefully though we are in for a couple of weeks of quite intense tango. If I cannot go to Buenos Aires then I fully intend to make the most of my time off.

On another point some of you may remember my post where I first met Janis Kenyon in Maipu 444; it was to have been a birthday celebration of an old milonguero called Alito. Well I had news today from Janis that Alito was thrown out of his place that night and has lived on the streets since then. This is no life for an 80 year old and my heart goes out to him. Unfortunately that is all I can do, offer my sympathy. We are not out there and I have no place to offer. Hopefully Janis will keep me informed, even though I don’t know him personally, he is a kindred spirit, and we don’t wish to loose another old milonguero. Perhaps now that Tango has been declared part of the world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations, grants will be available for descasamiento milongueros. We live in hope.


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