Tag Archives: Bangor

Second Bangor Tea Dance

It had snowed all night, but it was not heavy enough to stop us. We had arranged to take Katerina with us, and I had joked to Viv that if she tried to cry off, she should tell her it is far worse in Siberia.

We had allowed plenty of time and as we travelled along the A55 we realised that we would be quite early, so against my instincts I tried to drive slowly, but we were still three quarters of an hour early outside Penrallt Baptist Church. We still had a parking place to find, but this would not take long.

As we turned the first corner we passed Sharon walking up, she had not yet arrived herself.

When we got in my first job, as always, is to make Viv a coffee (hang on, wasn’t it me doing the driving?)  Anyway, Sharon was in a state of stress and not ready for us. She must have snapped at me because she apologized for it, rather sweetly later. I honestly never noticed, it must be because I have lived all my life in families full of women. The thing is I know I am of little use at times like this, so I made the coffee and got out the way, and ate the sandwich Viv had made me for lunch.

All the usual Bangor crowd soon arrived, along of course with Anna and John, always great to see these two, their energy is what I think keeps Tango Bangor going, along with them they brought Leo, who sat there happily googooing.

When the class started there was the usual excess of women so Viv was let out holding the baby. I don’t know who looked the most happy Viv or Leo.

This did not last though, as the class struggled to do double time to a Vals beat (there are a lot of absolute beginners here) Leo got fed up with a substitute mother and decided he wanted the real thing back. This sort of ruined my first dance with Anna, but I know my place in this pecking order.

As usual after the class everyone stuffed themselves with cake, and it was hard to drag anyone away from all the lovely food to dance. It also makes it very hard for me, still struggling with my weight, though I admit to partaking of the odd crumb or two. Ok a big slab of chocolate cake and coated end of the chocolate Swiss roll. Somehow I always seem to drop a pound or two whenever I fail, so I am not too upset at my lack of discretion.

Soon enough we were all dancing, one or two of the first timers were a bit nervous as I took them on the floor, but I was gentle with them. I find it incredible here that people who have never danced before will stay and enjoy the social afterwards, and the men will actually ask the women to dance. There is hope out there with our student generation.

Bangor is unusual in the dance scene, in that as it is a University Town the crowd tends to be much younger than in say, Chester or Shrewsbury. Although they are, or maybe because they are younger they are full of enthusiasm and lacking any inhibitions. The fact that Viv and I are so much older seems to worry them not at all.

A great time was had by all and I am saddened to see that I must work the next one on 6th March, it was a good run but as any shift worker will tell you, you grab these things when you can.

On our drive home I was able at last to unleash the horses, that is, until the snow again pulled the traffic into another disorderly queue, with my wipers battling against the rising spray.

We had to get home you see, because we were out again at Ewloe social club that evening, for the Finches the dancing never ends.

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A Hectic Weekend

From the beginning of the year it has looked like this was to be a very flat weekend. The number of social clubs stopping their weekend dances is growing, the reasons are many, but the ageing population of these events along with the unwillingness of the punters to support the bar, has made many unviable. Committees are looking for better ways to raise revenue, and unless we attract more people into social dancing, and get them to spend at the bar these dances will finish.

Suddenly, at least for this week though, things changed, the untimely death of Frank Smith and his memorial dance, along with finding out about The Salsa Inferno party, and getting a place at Sharon’s workshop and salon, it changed from a flat weekend to something quite frantic.

As I have already reported on Thursday at Shrewsbury, I will start with the Friday workshop with Hayden. The main theme was about changing weight and of course playing with the weight. We would get a lot out of this, as it gives me something more to play with while trying to interpret the music. Somehow though for me it became more about giros, let me explain; among my many faults, I fall back onto my heels when I rotate, and of course I was doing this again.

It looks to me always as if the woman is moving into my space; this cannot be the fault of the woman as every one does it with me.  Both Sharon and Hayden looked at my giro but some how the answer was not obvious.  Later when we were working on something else I had one of those eureka moments, it was me stepping into the ladies space, how I have never noticed this before I do not know, now hopefully another of my longstanding faults is finally vanquished.

There was time for a nearly three hours practice later, and I was able to try some rapid weight changes to a milonga beat, and practice my now perfected giros. We could do with more people coming for the after class Salon but I am sure in time word will get out there, and we will get more than just a couple of women adding to the twelve already there.

We arrived home shortly before midnight, and I had a chance to catch up on some sleep. The continuing run of late nights was starting to tell, so I allowed myself an indulgent lie in the next morning.

During the day I had a call from Steve asking if there was any dancing on anywhere. There was no social dancing that I knew of, except that I had heard that Salsa Inferno had a party at Theatre Clwyd. We made arrangements to pick Steve up and decided to go to an event of which we knew little and expected to know no one there.

The first person we saw when we arrived was James from Chester tango and Salsa. As we sat down, more and more people arrived that we knew. There were people from Tango Bangor, Chester, Liverpool, and people we had not seen for years. Salsa Dan was there with his wife, I managed a dance with her along with a few women who know me from tango. Most would not believe that I was no good at salsa; I soon put them right on that.

We had a fabulous night, hardly any dancing, but loads of catching up; even Gilbert was there, an old school friend of our daughter’s. I admit to having some sneaky fun videoing him trying to salsa. I have no intention of showing this here; it is for my daughter’s amusement only.

After the dance we finished up at Steve’s, and as usual did not leave until late. We needed to be up by ten to have time to travel to Prestbury, so again I had not enough sleep.

So Sunday morning up, showered and ready we set off for Prestbury and Frank’s memorial dance. We got a little lost as we turned too early for the satnav but as we U turned to go back, there in front of us was the Longfield Suite, I guess you could say that it found us.

The room itself was beautiful, it had a gleaming wooden floor, polished to perfection and of a size I have rarely seen. At the far end a huge stage already set with the instruments of Frambuesas, slow tango music had wafted us from the bottom of the stairs and now I was ready to dance.

Again, although not unexpectedly this time, there were numerous people from my past, we sat with Ann and Les, but I spent more time catching up with others around the room than dancing.

I had a lovely dance with Carol from Leeds the first I think we have had outside Buenos Aires. The tanda was Pugliese and while Carol loves his music and knows him well, I find it difficult to dance to so I promised Carol another dance later. To my shame I never made it, I hope she will forgive me, and I have told her we will dance again in BsAS.

The list of people we met is huge so I will not mention all of them, but I must mention Attilla, her last dance I think before her impending delivery, we wish her well, and though it was short I enjoyed my dance, a second milonga would have been too much with less than three weeks to go, so I had to let her sit down.

Frank would have been pleased I think, that we gave him such a good send off. I cannot finish without sending my thanks to the organisers, Frank’s family, Frambuesas, and anyone who helped, and not forgetting everyone who turned up. All these people know each other through him, and just seeing how many people now tango in the UK because of him is an inspiration.

As a footnote there were donations collected for the British Heart foundation, when I know how much they raised I will let you know.

After the milonga, of course, we still had our usual Sunday evening salsa class with Clan Cuban, just to finish off the weekend.

Then it was off to bed again so that I could be up for work in the morning at five.

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Bangor Tea Dance

It must be hard to run a tango scene in a university town. You advertise, work up a good crowd, teach them to be good leaders and followers, then they get their degrees and move on. Anna and John have my admiration for this. We may not always agree about the music, but I will always love coming here and dancing with Anna.

Despite having an 80th birthday party to go to, we could not miss the workshop and tea dance that they had arranged in Bangor.

Saturday started out filthy, rain and mist, almost no light. Even at a good pace it would take me an hour and a quarter to drive. We decided to take the SEAT my little Suzuki although economical would not be a good drive that low down in the rain. When we arrived at Bangor I was glad, the narrow streets offered almost no parking, and when we found a spot, I was not sure what condition I would find the car in.

So suitably stressed put we arrived in Penrallt church hall a beautiful stone building with ornate wooden ceilings. Greeted by Sharon as a long lost friend (Well it was over 36 hours) and then Anna and john. Of course I also greeted little Leo, can I adopt him as my grandson??  

Sharon did a milonga workshop. She kept it very simple, but I thought it good, that as most of these were very new beginners, they were getting an introduction early to milonga, so hopefully they would not learn to fear it. After a few stragglers arrived the numbers evened out and Viv stayed on the sidelines to help Sharon.

I was very impressed, most of the ladies here had never danced milonga before yet they followed me well.

All too soon the class was over and it was time to attack the cakes. I tried hard to be good, honestly. I am getting close to my target weight, but every time I think I may achieve it I am surrounded by vicious cakes, all determined to make me suffer.

Anna had promised to save me, but Leo was taking up her time, still I did not do too badly.

I got those dances with her eventually and most of the women at some point. I did leave one woman standing when Lola came on; I said that I would return to her when it was over. I don’t get this, why is everyone suddenly playing Lola? I believe that it was played on Strictly, but that will never make it a tango. It is four four time, but it does not even sound tangoish. I am threatening a screaming fit next time it is played.

OK  Sharon played (apart from Lola) all traditional tango, I suspect someone requested it, and lets face it we are outside our realm, keep a low profile.

All in all we had good time, some even said they may come to Chester, certainly all seemed to have a flair for tango, and young people who would spread out across the UK may well start tango scenes all over the country.

More power to you Tango Bangor.

 

Some carried on dancing but for some the cake was too much.

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Korey Ireland

Those close to me will know why I have not posted for a while, but I hope those who do not know the reasons will forgive me.

This has been an awesome week on the tango front, even more so for my wife, who was able to attend the milonga on Sunday and the Monday Class in Chester. This of course means Viv has had five tango events this week, lucky girl.

Korey Ireland has come to visit us, and this has prompted me to travel to venues that I normally do not attend, and to get three sessions in a week where I have to miss one of my regulars. Tuesday is when the twice monthly Bangor sessions are, too far to travel normally, this week by luck it falls in my rest days, so I am able to make the journey. We set off in bright sunshine, along my usual route towards where we join the A55 at Ewloe. The fair weather was not to last; as we approached the coast, the mountains that protect us from the worst of the weather were now forcing the clouds to yield their watery load, before they reach our inland haven. The mist had dropped, we were plunged into a premature night, and the roads were suddenly lashed with rain.

The traffic on the A55 was heavy as usual, but fortunately, this time, it kept moving, if a little slowly, and we arrived in good time at the house of John and Anna. Their house, stands in the midst of a terrace, with a view of Bangor University, and the sea beyond. The road outside was filled with parked cars, the only break being the entrance to Johns parking space. Now I don’t claim to be a genius or anything, but why did no one else work out that as we were paying good money to have Korey at his house, John was going nowhere. So I just blocked his driveway off.

Inside John was sat at the top of the stairs waiting for Anna, who was in the bedroom settling down Leo. A couple more of us waited at the bottom, because Korey was giving a private lesson in the lounge.

Once we were allowed into the lounge I noticed that they had got rid of the shelving units, which took so much off the room. They have an excellent wooden floor, but it is still a small area, so they had restricted the class to four couples, just enough for the size of the room, and allowed Korey to give us all good feedback.

How he achieves it is a mystery to me, but somehow he gave us all something to work on, even though the abilities were so mixed. He gave me an interesting move, involving sidesteps and turns. There was nothing here I had not done before, but I had never used it in this way before, certainly not to achieve full rotation. While his corrections to my posture will no doubt be weakened in time, as my body fights back to do what it wants and not what it has been taught, the move he gave us will continue to be part of my repertoire, and join my favourites.

As always a class with Korey was a great experience, but the best thing about the night was a chance to dance with Anna again. Maybe I am speaking out of turn but I think Viv also enjoyed a chance to dance with John again as well, and hopefully John and Anna enjoyed dancing with us as well.

I fell off the wagon though I’m afraid, I have been successfully loosing weight now for a couple of months, but that cream cake, it was just too much, and the fat fairy made me pay heavily. Life is so cruel.

Wednesday we have a long standing arrangement, where we dance with the locals at Ewloe. It is purely social, no tango, just sequence and ballroom. But Korey was in town, so we broke the rules and headed off instead to Gobowen.

We arrived early because we had a private lesson arranged, too early it seems. As we crossed the road from the station car park Sharon and Korey drove by, themselves not yet there. The scout hut was open already, the local karate group were just packing up, and to save locking up had waited for us. As we passed in the doorway they asked what we were there for “tango” I said “like karate but we don’t hit each other” they seemed happy with this explanation and left. I think I frightened them off. GRRRRR.

We had no idea what we wanted from this class, Korey had seen us dance at Bangor and we hoped he had some ideas. Fortunately he did, he had noticed some deficiencies in both of us and quickly gave us some exercises to sort out our problems. One of my biggest problems is occasionally leading with my leg, this has been pointed out before, but no one had so clearly identified the times I was doing it or what best to do to sort it out. Viv has a tendency to lift her heels and this also needed sorting. By the end of our hour I think our connection had greatly improved and the lead was definitely better.

Towards the end of the class people started to arrive for the workshop and soon the place was filled with expectant faces, all waiting to see what was to come. They were not disappointed; soon we were all spinning like dervishes

Not entirely sure what we learned from this except some detail around the dynamic. Everyone enjoyed it however and again there was some improvement in the connection of all.

Soon we were back into the practica, and as usual I made an effort to get around as many women as possible. I worry sometimes that some women feel that I am trying to get away, but I always feel obliged to dance with as many as possible, so if any feel that I gave them too short a time I am sorry but time is always so short. My last dance with Alison was also cut short; Korey played some Gotan, and while I enjoy it sometimes and some of their tunes are danceable, but usually it does not inspire me to dance. This time it was a chance for Korey to show off and play the bandoneon along with the track, so I took the opportunity to just listen to the music. Dave (Alison’s partner for those not paying attention) like me is fussy about what music he will dance to, so Alison understood, and we agreed to continue our dance tomorrow at Shrewsbury.

I think we achieved a terrific amount with Korey and I made a point of thanking him before we left, hopefully it will not be too long before he returns, this group has come a long way in a short time and benefits greatly from quality teachers like Hayden and Korey.

For our final tango of the week we returned again to Shrewsbury. We were a little late, it is always difficult to arrive early when we have an hours drive, but there is only one class tonight with plenty of practice time, so we missed nothing.

Sharon was doing some milonga stuff, so I was having a great time. She brings new things back with her every time she returns from Nijmegen and tonight was no exception.

Lots of double time tested my leading to the full; I think the things I had learned with Korey were helping. It also tested the ladies and I think some of the newer dancers really struggled especially when they were with less experienced leaders. Still nobody said tango was easy.

Great for me, we had plenty of milonga in the practica, and I got to finish that dance with Alison. By ten thirty I was well ready for that drink in The Coracle. As usual we talked tango, but tonight we were accompanied by The Beatles Help on the bar television. Quite amazing the rubbish the film makers used to make as a front to push someone commercial. Thankfully we have got a bit more sophisticated now ( ok don’t mention Spiceworld).

Viv has finally decided we will not be returning to BsAs this October, I know we have many friends who will be sad to miss us, but believe me, I am gutted. Still only four more years before I can spend much more time there. We will have to arrange lots of tango while I am off, and perhaps another Gresford milonga? Watch this space.

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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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Circles in the pool.

There is a bit of confusion this week, at the Shrewsbury practica we had two guests; Ian and Jeremy. The confusion comes from nobody knowing exactly where they are from.  Some say Leominster others Hereford and even Ludlow, but who really cares we welcomed them as usual and enjoyed their company.

They gave individual attention to almost everyone, even Viv got some coaching with her volcadas, personally I think her volcadas are very nice, but then I am biased.

Before we retired to The Coracle I asked if anyone would be interested in going to Tango Bangor, not that I would be able to go myself, but any advertising has to help.

This brings me to the title of this post. Tango Bangor is a small group that suffers from being isolated from others. Likewise Aberystwyth tango which I am still struggling to try and get into contact with.

These small groups are like circles in the pool, as they grow the boundries eventually meet and cross. When this happens more groups start to appear, and so exponentially, the tango community grows.

So it was with some distress I find that tango Bangor is in trouble. Anna the leading light, webmaster, top dancer, organiser, is loosing money. The fact that she has just had a baby, also interferes with her ability to keep things going.

I have posted the dates on my monthly schedule, even though I realise that most of my readers will not be able to go, but if I can add just one more dancer it will help.

I will try and keep you posted how things are going in this outpost of Wales, lets hope we do not loose another venue, because as Anna says if this goes she will have no Tango.

Help and ideas are welcomed, also if there are any other small isolated groups out there, get in touch, we need to keep connected.

Remember “We are not Alone” Mulder and Scully.

Checking my rota, if all goes well I could get there June 23rd. I hope it is still running.

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