Tag Archives: A55

It’s all about the Music

Things are getting good around here, I managed to attend three tango venues this week, and that did not include my regular at Chester on Monday as I was on nights. My wife, who still goes when I cannot, has actually been to tango four times.

Our first trip of the week (together) was to Bangor. This is a twice monthly venue, run by John and Anna. The journey time is about an hour and a half on a good day.  Normally the road (A55) is littered with road works so the time can be doubled or more, but this week we were lucky and had a clear run.

Normally it is not possible to attend because of work commitments, but this week Tuesday was right in the middle of my days off.

It was a real pleasure to meet up again. Anna has not been to Chester since before her baby was born, she has the same trouble we have travelling this distance. There is a class the first Tuesday of the month and a practica on the third. Numbers are down, and so to save on expense this week it is at La Casa de Anna.

Anna had to finish early to attend to the baby, but in the meantime she did somewhat monopolise me. There was some giro practicing and secada practice, I helped where I could, but I was not fully aware of what they had done in their class.

Unfortunately after Anna had gone, the party soon broke up, so we were back on the road home before ten, at least we arrived home at a decent hour.

After nearly seven months it was a joy to meet up again and when John took his revenge for my dancing with his wife and took Viv from me for a dance it was only fair. We finished with some milongas and John took some pictures of Viv and I, thanks to Anna for sending them so soon. 

Our second tango session of the week was our regular trip to Shrewsbury. Sharon was teaching giros again, with the emphasis on coming out at different points. My big problem was trying not to do secadas in the middle, sometimes it is hard to go back to basics, but it would not have done for me to confuse everyone.

The heat and humidity were telling on everyone so the practice session was a more muted affair than usual, and we were glad to get to The Coracle again for a drink.

As usual we had a lively tango discussion again, and the subject came around to women not getting dances. The situation here is somewhat different to Buenos Aires as most of the tango groups are formed with people who have all had classes together, but still some women do not get to dance. My feeling is that not having tandas means the men tend to circulate less, so that some women can monopolise the men and the men are embarrassed to leave them. If there is a natural break with a cortina then there is no embarrassment, you do the tanda and then sit down. Next tanda you choose a new partner, and if you do not enjoy this partner, you at least know how long you will have to dance together. We also had a discussion about the music; dancers who do other dances have difficulty understanding why I am so choosy about the music I will dance to. I learned many years ago, a type of show tango, and because it was about the moves and routine, we could do it to any music. The music was not important, we did our thing. After many years of salon tango, you learn to interpret the music, the music becomes more important than what you do on the floor, and in time, if the music does not lift you, then the dance itself becomes worthless. I tried but could not make them understand, only years of listening and dancing to the greats can make you understand.

 

Our third session of the week is a return to The Groves in Chester. Just starting on the last Friday of the month is a regular milonga with Anthony. We arrived early; with the hot weather parking by the river is at a premium, so I wanted to be sure to get a spot.

The room was not ready yet so we sat with a drink and waited. I was overjoyed to see Bill who was here with his wife (sorry forgot her name, my memory gets worse) Bill spends half the year in Palm Springs, and we used to meet regularly in Wilmslow, but have not seen each other for at least a year, probably much longer.

The dancing in general was good and I managed to dance with most of the ladies, but once or twice I had to sit down. The music was not inspiring me, this group was mixed and while some were happy to be doing their ganchos and lifts in the centre of the room, for me if the music was not right, I would rather sit it out. That is not to say I spent the whole evening sitting down, when there was traditional tango playing I was never short of a partner, but I still do not understand why when there is so much good tango out there people feel the need to be clever with the music.

We again had to leave early as I am up at five the next morning, I cannot complain as only five years ago I would be lucky to get one tango outing in a fortnight. The sudden increase in tango in this area is largely due to the efforts of Anthony, and for this I am grateful, but (isn’t there always a but) I wish he would share my passion for the tango greats. Tango for me is all about the music, we dance first with  our ears, the feet move only in response.

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Filed under Dance Venues and Schools, milonga

Don’t cry for me Argentina

Friday and we were off to see Evita, I have been asked to tell you all about it, so here it is warts and all.

It must be twelve years since I last went to Venue Cymru, in fact it was not even called that then. The reasons we have not been for so long soon became obvious, to reach anywhere around the N Wales Coast it is necessary to drive down A55.

I would have thought after all this time they would have finished the road works, but no.  It took us over an hour to travel less than three miles, at one point I was convinced we would miss the performance, never mind the meal, but thanks to Viv’s foresight in leaving early, we arrived at almost dead on six, with ten minutes to spare, but my blood pressure through the roof. Why it is necessary to constantly dig this road up I have no idea. They talk of improvements, but to my mind, the best improvement they could make, is to get rid of the three sets of road works, that occur in a twenty mile stretch of road.

Our table was booked for quarter past six, but thankfully it was ready when we arrived. The menu was different from the sample menu we had had, shame I really wanted the honey glazed pork. The food was actually very good and the service was excellent. My only small criticism is that I could not understand the menu, no, it wasn’t in Welsh, but everything was described in flowery terms that actually meant very little.

Viv ended up with a rice dish covered in cheese (she is not a cheese lover) and I ended up with a fruit salad for pudding. Viv said “it’s not like you to have the healthy option” Still it’s to their credit that we really still enjoyed the food.

We managed to finish and pay the bill by twenty past seven, leaving us ten minutes clear to get to our seats.

As my company was paying (although they don’t know yet) we had the best seats, and the view from here is awesome. We sat and waited for the performance to start.

The first half, was enjoyed by almost everyone, but me being an old misery, I had a few criticisms. Evita’s life story was (certainly the version I have read) filled with tango, it filtered into every part of her life. The music had been slightly jazzed up and now it was more like Samba. Also the guy accompanying the tango singer was playing a piano accordion, not a bandoneon. Small criticisms aside, it was very enjoyable, and as Viv said, it was not aimed at a tango audience, I particularly liked the Quilmes advert on the bar (very authentic and gave me a thirst). I also enjoyed the rendition of another suitcase another hall, I thought the girl deserved a bigger part, but then I suppose She would not have been singing that song, you can’t have everything.

The second half, moved into another gear.  Where Evita stood on the balcony singing Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, it must be one of the most powerful and moving pieces of musical theatre ever, it was just awesome.

At one point there is a solo from a child of no more than ten years old, cynic that I am, I hate to see people fawning over child stars just because they are children, but this child had real talent, she held the audience in her hands.

The stage setting is also worth a mention; There were three sets of  steps and balustrades, which when moved around formed various  interiors and also the balcony of the Casa Rosada, pillars which came down from above along with some clever lighting effects created all the different scenes. The mix of lighting and the height of the balcony created a sort of saint like aura around Evita when she sang Don’t Cry for me.

I found the scene where Evita is dying particularly moving, Ok again it had moved away from the true story but after all this is theatre. When the curtain finally fell, the cast were greeted with rapturous applause.

After all this the drive home was quiet, all the traffic had dispersed, although of course the bollards were still in place.

Watch out for the report on the first Gresford Milonga, coming soon.

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Filed under Argentina, Dance Venues and Schools