Tag Archives: bandoneon

Too Close?

How close is too close? One of the complaints I get when I am in Buenos Aires is that my embrace is not firm enough. During my time there it gets better you could say, at least that is what I thought. Imagine then my surprise when I come back and I get not less than three complaints that I am holding too tight. Viv wondered if perhaps I was trying to prove a point, but in truth I never thought about it here. I was not trying to hold any different or making any special effort.

We came across another guy who spends a lot of time in Buenos Aires, so we compared our holds on a “neutral” woman. She could feel no real difference, so I wonder: Do both of us hold too tight? Or was I being pedantic that night? Or is it as I always believed, that the preference here is for more distance and our long standing inhibitions hold us all back from a full tango embrace?

Janis gave us an amusing description of the various embraces; we can have one tit embrace, or two tit embrace. The two tit embrace is fully on so that the whole body is pressed together; the man gets two breasts pressed against him. This to me is how the tango embrace should be. If you cannot feel the woman’s right breast against you, well then you are too far apart, this then becomes a one tit embrace and something is lost. There is less contact, less connection, and much less of a hug.

I attended a Kizomba class this week. It is sold as an African dance similar to Tango, fairly simple with a very close hold; in this way I suppose it does have some similarities to Tango. The thing that struck me most was the embrace, just as in tango the man’s right arm is wrapped right around the woman’s back. This seemed to cause all sorts of problems; nobody wanted to get that close. Of course as tango veterans Viv and I were well used to being this close, but when we changed, men would not hold Viv close enough and the women all resisted my desire to get in close. Again it is the cultural thing. English people do not get this close, simple.

It takes time to change, it is happening slowly in the tango scene, although I doubt we will ever reach the level of closeness achieved in Argentina. As for the Kizomba, well it was the first lesson.

On the Kizomba; I was told it is from Angola and derived from the tango. I did wonder however, which really came first? The roots of tango are lost in time and it is widely believed that parts of the dance derived from African dancing. Africa has a long history of dance that again is largely unchronicled. Could this dance have arrived on the shores of the New World and been adapted to the music that was being played on the newly imported bandoneons? I am only speculating of course, but if anyone has any theories or facts I would be interested to hear them.

I am glad to see that Tango in this area is now starting to take off, but for me it is still not enough. I work shifts and that means that when there is a tango event more often than not I cannot attend so for me there can never be too much going on. We (I) need more tango here and I believe that a connection to Buenos Aires should be maintained. So after many years I have decided to start offering private lessons.

Absolutely the last thing I want to do is cause another rift or factionalize the scene here, so I am taking care to advertise away from others and operate at other times to any existing classes. My aim is to expand the scene, not cream off existing dancers, although I, will of course, offer help to any that want it. I will continue to advertise the existing classes and hopefully bring new people in. The money will be nice, but that is not, or ever will be my motivation, I want to expand the scene, and hopefully throw in some practicas as well.

I believe that if the scene expands then those who are trying to make money from tango will have a bigger pool on which to draw and will have a larger more reliable source of income. For those, like me, who just want more venues, of course a bigger scene will fit the bill. But apart from a bigger better scene I would like it to be more authentic; this is not to say there is a problem with the teachers we have, but only someone who regularly visits Buenos Aires can claim the label “authentic” and I know of only two other places in The UK where this is true, Tango De los Amigos in Sheffield, and of course Carol from Leeds, who regularly brings us new dancers from Argentina.(I would love to hear of any others there are).

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Filed under milonga, Tango

Gresford two, The birthday dance

My second tango of the week was all our own work, we held the Second Gresford Milonga on Friday.

The preparations have been going on for some time: I have finally wired in our mirror ball motor along with some colour changing spots, on-going repairs have been done to the floor (domestic flooring is simply not up to this level of abuse) doors have been removed and generally the place has been tidied. I have been working on my playlist and have included some of the new material I brought back from Buenos Aires, but  I failed to make a printed list, there must be some way to export a playlist to Microsoft word, but if there is, they have not made it simple. This list of preparations of course does not include the work that Viv has been doing, all a mystery to me I’m afraid, although she works very hard, I am after all just a man and could not possibly understand. She does her bit and I do mine, without ever understanding each other, so it has been for nearly thirty five years now, we may not understand, but something must be right.

The day of the great event and I first have to take OGG1 to the garage, and then we are off to the wholesalers. We go about once a month to restock, so we thought it would be nice to have some fresh stuff in for the party. They have some nice cakes and meats that will give the milongueros something to stave off the hunger.

Everyone was told that La Cumparsita would be at seven thirty, and on the dot Dave and Alison arrived. People then started arriving in ones and twos, some were in confusion, because it seems on my instructions I had said “look for the Campervan” of course OGG1 was in dock so there was no van on the drive. I had thought that as most people had been before they would have known where I was. We had another problem as well, I had moved the van and put my car in the garage to leave space for people to park, but I could get no one to park on the drive, they were all worried about being blocked in. This was ironic as later when they went to leave, the cars were parked so close they could not be extricated from the queue.

When Sharon arrived she looked beautiful, all in pink and fluffy with four inch heels, a special effort for her birthday.

The dancing was going well; they were all getting used to the tandas, although it was impossible to stop some dancing the cortina. Then at nine the music stopped, I was mid dance and rushed over to the music system to find what was wrong. All looked ok so I went to the computer, Viv had decided to close the program down, because she had prepared the food, I was not pleased, as this left me with the problem of finding where I had been in the play list.

After the food we had cake to celebrate Sharon’s birthday with the traditional singing of happy birthday to Sharon,

Then we had a special treat: Peter played a tanda on the bandoneon accompanied by Patricia on the guitar. How special, to have live music for my house party, my deep thanks go out to the pair of them. Our cortina was Nat King Cole singing Perfidia en español, Peter, not to be outdone, sang the next cortina for us, also Perfidia en español.

We also fitted in a Birthday dance for Sharon, I still have some educating to do though, as I waited for the cortina to finish, someone was already tapping me on the shoulder, before the dance had actually started. I had to politely ask him to wait, at least until the tango started (or words to that effect)

I never used my camera so have no photos, for this I must apologise, maybe next time I will not be so busy and will have time to record the event. I only took one photo and that was Sharon blowing out the candles.Sharon blows out the candles my apologies for the poor quality, I should have used flash.

For some reason everyone started drifting off early, and by half eleven the party was almost over, just no stamina, we were ready to party the night away, but by one o’clock we had no party goers to celebrate with us, and so we drifted off to bed. We can always clear up tomorrow. At least the weather held out for us, the rain which seems to be almost constant in summer, never appeared. The garden was a wonderful refuge from the dancing and somewhere to sit and enjoy some food and drink.

Now when can we have another?

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Filed under Dance Venues and Schools, milonga

Confused

Not with the dancing, but about gender:

Monday was a strange day and not best suited to good tango. When I am in work I work a twelve hour day. Monday was no exception in that I worked until six. The difference this week is that the company are making some decisions around the credit crunch, and so we had a meeting to discuss our responses. I did not leave the plant until six thirty, only to be met with a horrendous traffic jam.

The traffic lights at the exit to the industrial estate had decided that they were not going to allow anyone to leave. So after a record shower, shave,  change, and eat my tea, we finally arrived in Chester at seven thirty five. (honestly I never broke the speed limit once).

Time now to calm down and enjoy. As published in my monthly list, this was to be a single class doing milonga. When everybody had paired up again there was a shortage of women. Roberta had to come to the rescue again.

People drifted in all through the class, it appears that no one had paid much attention to the schedule that Sharon had posted. This meant that soon I was sidelined again, then I was a follower, then sidelined, then a leader. This continued throughout the lesson. Finally I finished the class with Shirley, a nice way to finish.

We continued on with a practica until it was time for me to go home to bed. As always I enjoy dancing with all the women, but also it is nice to feel how they feel when I am following, it gives my dancing a whole new outlook.

Befor I finish, I must mention Patricia, she has just had a major operation. When Peter (her husband) arrived for his regular bandoneon practice, almost everyone gave him their good wishes. Anyhow it seems she is through the operation and on the road to recovery. We all wish her well and look forward to her return to tango.

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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