Tag Archives: beginners

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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Music and Movement

If you are a certain age and English (I do not know if this applies to Scotland and Wales) you may remember a time when there was only one radio in your school. This was located in the headmaster’s office and every day at eleven the teacher would come in with a large board with feet and a speaker in the centre. This would be plugged into the wall so that we could all listen to the BBC.

Sad the things you remember, Racheal Percival, Marjorie Eele and especially William Appleby, the presenters of “Music and Movement”. We would all sit or stand doing dance like movements all at the directions of these wonderful presenters. Sadly these days are long gone along with the light service on which they were broadcast.

Thursday night and the beginners were allowed for this occasion to stay with the intermediates. We were lined up on either side of the room and recreated “Music and Movement”. My side of the room were instructed to move to the rhythmical music while on the opposite side they moved only to the lyrical.

Roles were reversed and everyone suddenly started to feel the music. When we coupled up we were instructed to dance with someone of our own level so that it did not matter that we had so many beginners.

So we were asked to just dance to the music as we had been doing, it looked not too bad to me, but stuck in the body of the class it is difficult to tell. Next the ladies were asked to do what they felt to the music. Although hard leading from the front and difficult for the men to follow everyone coped well. The class moved much more slowly when the women led, there was more emphasis on the lyrical, less rushing around, dare I say, more feeling. So next we were asked to discuss with our partner what we had done and then cooperate and do the next dance.

We changed couples and repeated the exercise; still the men do not get it. When asked they say “when we do some thing lyrical the music has already changed”. This of course is why we need to know the music, and why we need the traditional tango that follows a pattern.  We men are simple creatures, keep the rules simple and we can follow them. Introduce complex tunes, mix up the rhythms and we are unable to cope.

So what have we learned?; when it is lyrical, slow it down; know the music, really know the music; and when we slow it down and feel the music the ladies love it.

I have the feeling that some like to make Tango something complex, foot positioning, the embrace, posture, all must be just so. Of course the embrace is important, posture likewise, but everywhere I go now I see people who are getting in an advanced state of stress over a dance. We dance for enjoyment, few classes I have been to have been this much fun and few if any have so reached what tango is all about.

Back at The Coracle we discussed this, how we had thirty people now moving to the music, dancing with each other and yet the room moved in a big wave, not creating gaps nor log jams, simply because we were listening to the music.

I am afraid I got a bit passionate when the subject of teachers came up; it seems after a very short time everyone thinks that they can teach tango. I hear it all the time in classes; beginners try to teach other beginners who have had one less class. Someone who went to a workshop now has all the techniques to teach what they have learned and after less than a year people rush off to set up their own classes.

To be good enough to teach takes a long time, or as in Sharon’s case a lot of work. To teach Argentine tango without knowledge of Argentina is a falsehood and, apart from one notable exception I know of no one who does it well without that knowledge.

I was sitting on the radiator while this went on, and I cooled down when I moved, but my feelings remain the same, I know those who can teach, those who have the knowledge and those who have the experience, and as such I know those teachers with whom I would not take a class even as an assistant. We left it at that, even those who sympathise with my views cannot fully understand without knowing Buenos Aires so there was little point in pursuing it any more, there will always be those who dance tango and those who know tango, I like to think that I may one day become one of the latter but those who have never visited the city of tango never will know tango.

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Wodka From Warington

 

No, I haven’t taken to the bottle, but as going to Warrington is something of a rarity for me, I just thought I would quote the old Smirnoff advert.

As usual The Bitch (my GPS) wanted us to go the wrong way, if we are going south it always sends us north, and tonight when we wanted to turn right on the A483 heading north, she said turn left. So as usual I ignored her and turned the radio up. As we got onto the M6 however she seemed to have learned where we were and was telling me to take the left hand lane, trouble is the very left lane would have taken me to Lymm. I pity anyone who has to rely totally on these things. When we left the motorway I now had to rely totally on her and she was,I am Sure, sending me the wrong way. We needed to be on the right hand side of the M6 and we were turning left. However I followed directions for once and soon we had crossed over the motorway and we were safely deposited outside the Croft Memorial Hall.

When we entered things did not look good. We were unfashionably early, as predicted traffic jams had all evaporated and we had made good time. The only people in the hall were Jo, the organised and Chris the DJ.

We knew Chris of old, we have seen him at many of the workshops we had been to around Manchester, but even further back he was one of the original gang who used to meet at Zumbar’s in the last century. (makes it sound so much more long ago)

We each had a dance card to fill in, completed cards could be entered later into a raffle. So Viv and I danced alone, but not for long, James and Phillipa soon arrived. While I danced with Phillipa Chris asked about the music, I like to give a balanced view and said one of the tracks I found a little slow (for a beginner slow music is so much harder to dance) of course then I had to back track, as the music was fine and I did not want him changing anything on my behalf.

Soon more people arrived and I was overjoyed when first Nuala and Damien arrived and then Jean and Albert, some of my favourite people from the Wilmslow crowd. Another old friend was Jan, who was another of  the Zumbar’s gang. In all there were about a dozen people now, not enough for a crowded milonga but as this was the first, I am sure in time word will spread and the popularity will grow. I was however disappointed that Dino was not here, I had been told that he was DJing and I was looking forward to meeting his new wife.

There were not enough people to fill the dance cards though, so on the second dance we used peoples middle names. Anyone now looking at those cards would wonder where all the people were.

Our DJ did have some interesting music, there was flyer on each table explaining his reasons, so OK a bit of fun music was alright, there were afterall only four of us from the tango police so as this was not our place, I won’t criticise the odd bit of new stuff, we did afterall have a very enjoyable night. The only reason I mention it is to say, the floor was always full when the traditional tango was played, not so when there was other stuff on. Nothing really imposed on us and occasionally it was good to have a rest. One track he played  I really enjoyed “Mujeres Feas” by Enrique Rodriguez and Armando Moreno you can listen to it here along with a translation. http://www.getacd.org/listen_XWRVpuybPnM/mujeres_feas_enrique_rodriguez_y_armando_moreno_ugly_women I will be looking out for this, perhaps it will be on my shopping list for our next visit to Buenos Aires.

As all good things must come to an end, we prepared to go and Jo did the raffle, Viv went and won the Cava. It is now added to my collection of sparkling wines, one night I am going to have a really good time. A noche me emborracho.

All in all, it was a shame that there were not more people there, but I have a feeling that word will spread. Jo has promised more, and I am sure people will realise that they missed a good night and will not want to miss it again.

WATCH THE EVENTS POSTS FOR MORE.

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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 https://tangogales.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/new-friends/#comments 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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Shrewsbury debating society

No, I am not moving away from tango again. Shrewsbury continues to be a great venue, but the after tango drink has become almost as important as the dancing.

We arrive late as usual, and miss most of the beginners class. Not really a problem for us, but we are still early enough for Sharon to call on Viv to demonstrate in the class. During the between class practica I make a point of dancing with a few of the new starters. A thing that I am finding more and more, is that the newcomers are filled with terror when I dance with them. I really do not know how to ease this, I try of course, by telling them if they “go wrong” then it is probably my fault, I just don’t think they believe me. I will come back to this later.

In the main class we did a bit more of Sharon’s whoosh, again many tried to make it more complex than it was. She was very patient with everyone and eventually they all got it. Cross system walking seems to give everyone a problem, I noticed that all the women (not picking on them, it’s just that I did not dance with the men) had difficulty dissociating on the closed side, they were fine on the open side, why is this I wonder?

We danced through untill the end, I tried as usual to get round as many as I could, not just my favourites, but I am afraid I still missed a few. Too soon it was time to depart for The Coracle, from now on to be known as The Shrewsbury Debating Society.

As usual the conversation revolves around dancing and interestingly we spoke of a party that a few here had attended; the pressure to hold the line of dance has become so strong from the tango that people were disco dancing in the line of dance.

Mike then came up with a classic line, he said ” I never could waltz, but I moved around the room in a waltz like way, and the women loved it”. You have to admire him for trying, but isn’t this what we do in tango? When you stop worrying about the steps and simply move around the room in a tango like way, you relax, you feel better and more confident, and the women love it, they do not know if you learned that move with Giraldo Whatshisname or Estoban Thingy, they simply enjoy your movement (provided of course it is to the music).

Talking of the music, do we give the customer what he wants? I had a customer ask for Gotan next week, I of course was horrified. The camp splits a bit here, I must admit, but, if you are to dance traditional tango you need to know where the music is going. Traditional tango music follows a set pattern, we know what is coming, and we have a beat we can follow. If we start playing modern music that does not follow the pattern, then it will confuse the beginners, annoy the traditionalists and drive away those people who dance for the music. Maybe we will lose on or two of the avant garde, but in the end I hope we will keep a solid group of people who love tango for what its own sake and not as a means to show off.

Back to the frightened women, we discussed this quite fully. I as a leader often feel when leading a more experienced dancer, that perhaps she is bored with my lack of moves, so I am not surprised that some of the beginners feel nervous. We all have our crises of confidence, the only thing we can do for each other is be a little forgiving, don’t try to put everyone’s faults to right, we all need time. Teaching on the dance floor is also a good way to shake someones confidence as well as upsetting the rest of the floor. Again my own experience here is what I draw on, when we were at the first Tangomagia in Amsterdam we had little experience even though we had been at it about three years, my shifts allowed me little time to go to classes. Nobody had any patience (except the teachers, who were great) very soon I came to the point where I would not change partners, when the teacher said change Viv and I stuck like glue. Did this benefit the women the who thought that they were so great? I think not, it certainly did not do me any good, because again my confidence was shattered. I now am at the point where I realise that there are those who think they are great, and those who are great, and I think that the two are mutually exclusive.  So if someone thinks that they are too good for you, it is probably the other way around. Women, I will say again if you cannot follow, then the man obviously cannot lead, simples.

The final debate of the night moved on to women’s lib (womens lib from tango???) probably my fault, and as usual when something controversial comes up I was lucky to escape with my life, but hey we all choose our own way to live dangerously, and I am still here to tell the tale. It was time to make a quick exit.

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Como El Beso?

OK maybe not entirely like El Beso, but here in the UK we have become accustomed to plenty of room to move. The concept of having to dance with the room is hard to grasp when you have acres of space. We simply do our own thing because there is always room to manoeuvre. El Beso for me is the ultimate in crowded milongas, you barely have room to breathe, so if you do not keep up with the room you will be pushed, barged and constantly overtaken. In El Beso you keep up with the room or you leave frustrated, since there is no middle ground. I remember well my first time there; I would have one dance, and then have to sit down while I tried to work out what was happening. I nearly gave up tango, I simply could not cope, I needed the space we have at home. It took me nearly four years before I had the courage to return there and I still found it difficult, we had seen fairly crowded floors in Amsterdam but not like this and certainly never in the UK.

 

Tonight for the first time I saw the new intake at Chester, it seems the work done by Ralf, Viv, and of course Sharon, had paid off. The room at Stanley Palace was filled to bursting. I think the lack of space worried one or two, but I am hoping that starting this way that they will learn from the beginning how to handle a crowded room.

Viv and I were exiled to the back room while the class was on, Viv collected the money and I helped any dancers who had a particular problem. It was only the second week of this beginner’s course so there was little we could do in the main room anyway, but it would have been nice to see how they performed.

Once the beginners were finished and the intermediates started we then had a number of the beginners with us who were willing to stop and practice. Again the main room was too crowded for us to join the class, but we were happy taking the new intake through what they had learned. One or two were having difficulties and were glad of a bit of one to one, others who had done a bit here and a bit there were confused. The messages from tango teachers can seem contradictory and, in a full class it is sometimes difficult to make the message clear. Of course I am no better; I just hope I have not further confused them. We talk of contra movement, yet keeping the body taught, then we talk of keeping tension in the arms yet leading from the chest, these things and more are difficult for the beginner to grasp. I tell them that they cannot be expected to be great tango dancers in their first weeks; after all it has taken me more than ten years to get as bad as I am.

When the class was over I had my chance at last in the main room. It was the first time ever for me in England that I danced with an American, a French lady, a German lady, as well as of course English and Welsh, all in the same night. We are quite cosmopolitan now, we have crowded rooms, and people from all over the world, and they said it would not last.

The dancers appeared to be coping well with the lack of room, some had of course been to our Gresford milonga so were used to it, others had only got their experience in the class, never the less it pleased me to see people moving with the room. There was, of course, the inevitable overtaking. This was after all a practica so there was some stopping when things went wrong, but in the main the movement was good.

All that is left to say is that I hope no one is put off by the lack of room, anyone learning in this environment is well set up to visit the great milongas in Buenos Aires. Many who visit from the UK are intimidated and never return or see little of the real milongas, I would hope that any from Chester would now relish the opportunity and move like a porteño.

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Blessed

Returning to the tango theme, we are able to attend more and more venues these days. So it was we got to Shrewsbury again this week. There was a new beginners’ class starting this week, and the new intake are looking promising. Quite often there is a weakness about the bodies that takes some time to improve, but for some reason there was none of that here. I was very impressed with the standard and have an expectation that many will stick the course.

For the improvers we had a balance of men and women that meant for once that Viv had to stand out. I suggested she went to the practice room to help out with the beginners, but Sharon wanted her for demonstrating. She seemed happy enough standing at the back and having been there often myself I can understand. All these classes are merging into one with me, and for the life of me I cannot remember what we did. Sharon keeps it very interesting of course, but these days it is the new people I remember more. I enjoy the experience of dancing with different people, helping where I can, and just being part of the scene. Trouble is, I suppose, this means I learn nothing new and just go on doing what I have always done. I am perhaps being unfair on myself, stuff sticks in there, I just only remember it while I am dancing, and I’ll come back to that later.

After the class we are rejoined by the beginners, and I am surprised how many have stayed. Usually they all go home, bored with their few steps, and tired from the strain of learning them, but this lot are different, many stayed for the opportunity to practice. I got told off a couple of times by Sharon, I like to test their limits, and I suppose I went too far. Of course I did, but I was surprised how far I could take them. I moved back to simply walking and side steps very pleased at how well this was going.

 Back at The Coracle I brought this up in conversation, and everyone agreed that this was an exceptional intake. I am really looking forward to next week’s class to see if I can push them even further.

We had another milonga in Pant this week as well, I am blessed at the moment with plenty of tango. So in order to take full advantage we arrived in good time, also we needed to find a parking space where I could be sure to get out before everyone else. The first dance is of course reserved for Viv, we spin around the floor for three dances then she gets bored with me, and sends me off to dance with the other women, while she seeks out willing men

As I dance around the room I notice Viv getting agitated. She does not like bright lights when she is dancing, and the lighting here consists of one large spot aimed down the room. She thinks she has a solution and grabs a chair to stand on in order to adjust the light; of course I am co-opted to assist her. Just when she thinks it is to her satisfaction Sharon comes on the scene, and of course it is her milonga and she wants the light her way, call me a coward if you want, but when two women are at odds, this is no place for a man. It was all resolved amicably, but all goes to show, that the argument about whether we dance in the spotlight or in subdued lighting will go on and on.

As I said earlier, things come back to me when I am dancing that we have done in classes past, and this happened again tonight. We did many things with Korey, most of which just merged into the mass that collects somewhere in the back of my brain, but as I danced away things just came back and I would give a little grin as I tried a new turn here or secada or even the odd volcada that was not previously in my repertoire. Some women wonder why I smile, some even think that I am laughing at them, I try to make them understand, we do this for the joy it brings, just enjoy.

Talking of enjoyment, my love for milonga is not diminished by dancing with beginners, I had some great fun, with women who had never milongered before, little baby steps and moving down the room just by transferring weight, proved popular and easy to follow, I sometimes did not know whether I was leading an experienced dancer or a complete beginner, but I left them laughing just the same. I was loving it but all things must end, up early next day we had to go, still we will be there on Monday.

 I am looking forward to meeting the new Chester intake. Watch out for the next post.

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Filed under Dance Venues and Schools, milonga

Roberta learns a lesson

We turned off the inner ring road in Chester, and looking to my right noticed only one car in Linenhall street. It is little known even to those who live here that there is unlimited parking for about five cars within the city walls. My father had worked in the next building, and that has given me an insight not usually given to those who do not actually live within a block of here.

The problem is how to get to it: halfway down the street I turn left into a street littered with parked cars limited to half an hour. About twenty yards further on I turn right again into an alleyway barely wide enough for my car. So tight I had considered folding in my mirrors first, but I managed to squeeze through without incidence. At the top there is a tight turn then free parking, oh the joy of local knowledge.

We leave the car and head across the road to Stanley Palace. We have returned here after a couple of years, happy to be back. The room is quite small and we have no bar, but there are no drunks to disturb us and we have no audience to put off the beginners.

Stanley Palace is a beautiful building over four hundred years old, a beacon in black and white standing incongruously amid the modern buildings that line the inner ring road. Inside, at the moment, is a disaster, the upstairs ceiling had collapsed and the repairs were underway. No simple nailing up plasterboard allowed here, lath and plaster had to be used, after all this is a grade two listed building with a unique history. If you want to know more about it go to http://www.stanleypalace.com/tudor%20building.htm  The room in which we are to dance is relatively unaffected by the work, although Sharon did have to put a lot of talc down as the floor had no slip.

As people start arriving it is clear that we are not going to have enough women again. More men arrive and we only have three women (not counting Sharon)

A tall guy called Peter arrived, I had seen him occasionally at the Groves but knew little about him, other than he danced well. Roberta was in full flight, some men still were not comfortable with the close embrace, but I simply cannot feel where they want me to be unless I am close.

In between dances I noticed that I stood with my hand on my hip, quickly I altered my stance to look a bit more macho. I love the feeling of being led, but that is as far as I go, I am definitely a woman’s man.

When it came to my turn to dance with Peter I shut my eyes and let him lead. I found myself doing things I have never done before. I am not sure what I was doing I just flew around the room. Later we did something that involved us both being off axis and it just did not work for us. It is something I have often thought of doing with total beginners to get them to feel dependant, but the two of us were not comfortable off axis, so that for whatever reason it did not work. Unfortunately he seemed reluctant to dance with me after this. I know I can be a lump but my following has only ever been with beginners and I welcome a chance to improve. I will never be a great follower, but to pass on my experiences best I have to know how it feels from both sides. I did persist and get some more dances with him; I will get better with time.

When the class was over I watched Peter dancing, he had the ability to get the beginners to do things I never could, it left me curious.

We had to leave early as I was off to work the following morning so we moved into the other room to change our shoes. Peter joined us and we talked for a while, I never got all his history but he knew all the milongas in Buenos Aires and had been going there and taking lessons there long before us. He knew dance teachers we had never heard of and all the area around our apartment.

The reason we did not see him regularly was that he was up on business, again I did not have time to question him further, I must rely on Viv to extract more information at a later date.

 I have just recieved the link to the photos that Sally took at Shrewsbury, from the post “Sally comes to Shrewsbury” Go here to see them http://www.flickr.com/photos/sallycatway/sets/72157622055524424/

Check out Carlos and his red baloon, just ignore the idiot doing an Eric Morcambe inpersonation. some nice pictures of Viv’s shoes as well.

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Filed under Dance Venues and Schools, milonga