Tag Archives: Cardiff

Three Great Nights

I often wonder at the differences in people and why some are so overwhelmingly generous. I guess I will never know, but I am thankful for those who are, and I am always glad to mention them here. I do not know why the Tango Edge team have taken us to their hearts, but they have. So here is the story of our recent visit.

I made contact via email, because I had heard a nasty rumour that the Monday nights at Barocco bar had ceased. Graeme wrote back to say that they are on as normal. This was great for us as our good friends Roger and Mirta would be in Cardiff for the wedding of Roger’s son. After the passing of dozens of emails we arranged to meet there after eight on Monday.

The weather had been atrocious on our first two days in Cardiff so we arrived in full wet weather gear, and changed when we got to the bar.Xeniaand Graeme welcomed us as old friends. Xenia did not want us to sit alone and pressed us to join the group. I would have, but we were waiting for Roger. When Roger and Mirta arrived they brought along another friend as well, so when Xenia joined us I had the choice of four women to dance with, and that was just on our table. Also Mabel (Her of the excellent music in Wilmslow) arrived saying she had seen on facebook that I would be here, I was truly blessed and flattered. I had a rare chance to dance with Mirta in the UK and Viv had the rare opportunity to dance with Roger in his home town. The company was wonderful the music was great, we were amongst friends, and there was a room full of women wanting to dance, could it get any better?

Soon though the night was drawing to a close and Xenia mentioned she would like to go to Chippenham on the following night. My lack of internet access meant it would be doubtful that we would be able to locate it if we went, but Graeme (God bless him) said “no we will take you” so we exchanged phone numbers and made tentative arrangements for the following night.

We left Barocco Bar with Roger and Mirta saying our goodbyes in the middle of the High street, not wanting to part until the last minute. Roger has family business to attend so we may not see him again this trip. So they left for their hotel and we headed off down the footpath to be greeted by hundreds of frogs enjoying the damp conditions.

The following night, true to his word Graeme arranged to pick us up at the camp site. It was still raining, so the offer to come onto the site to pick us up was more than welcome. We thought that they were running late, then I got a call from Xenia; they could not get through the gate. For those who do not know (I suspect that is the vast majority, as even locals do not) there is a wall running down between Sophia Gardens and Pontcanna. This means that if you follow the postcode for the camp site you will hit a dead end. The only way in is to go to Glamorgan County Cricket Ground first. Graeme had got to the dead end, and only pedestrians can pass this way. Fortunately it had stopped raining for a while and we found Xenia wandering at the top of the camp site and Graeme parked outside in Doggo Street. (yes that really is the name).

The journey to Chippenham was enjoyable if only for the company. Motorways are not the most scintillating mode of travel, but the time passed pleasantly. At the other end we got slightly lost but there was no panic and we still arrived early.

As is the way with these things, they have good nights here and bad nights. Unfortunately tonight was not one of their good ones, numbers were right down. Still the quality of the dancers made up for the lack of numbers. The lemon drizzle was delicious (more for me as there were less people) and it was good to catch up with Hayden again. We had missed his celebration milonga as we had been in Bournemouth, but I took the opportunity to congratulate him on escaping the treadmill. (I was trying to hide my jealousy as I did it).

The return journey was a bit more eventful, as some kind soul had decided to close the M4 for the night, but the detour did mean we had more time together

We thanked Graeme and Xenia for two wonderful evenings; they really do make our trips to Cardiff worthwhile. This was not over yet though, there was a Salsa band playing in the town the next night, they informed us and asked if we would like to join them. Having had such a good time these two nights, how could we refuse?

So we joined them again the following night in the Free Cuba bar for a night of salsa. Somebody from our group asked “Why is it all tango dancers can salsa” easy answer was “we will prove that wrong” and we did. But we enjoyed ourselves never the less.

We soon warmed up though and we gave it all we had. A few pints of San Miguel helped lubricate my legs. Viv was just high on life. OK we will never be great salsa dancers but we enjoyed ourselves.

The rest of our time in Cardiff was a bit of an anticlimax, (I thought of saying a damp squid here but that would be too much of a pun) I am extremely grateful for the three nights we spent with Xenia and Graeme they were just fantastic.

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Cardiff The Second time

You can see the difference; we are crossing Gloucestershire in bright sunshine but as we approach the Severn Bridge there is a wall of grey, and the rain becomes persistent as we cross over into Wales. Cardiff was again going to be no different for us; it seems that there is an unwritten but unbreakable law (2 Finches + Cardiff = Rain).

Our time in Bournemouth had been interesting to say the least, the weather had been mainly good and we had some great days. We visited The Tank Museum, walked miles of coastline and even had a go at rock climbing. The expected Tango though was a failure here; it appears that mostly it is on an ad hoc basis and only when rooms are available. So that at the venues that we had found on the internet, when we arrived there was, in fact, no tango that night.

Our daughter was working again from Monday morning, so there was nothing more to hold us here. That is why we broke camp and set off back to Cardiff, hoping for some tango and maybe better weather than before.

We were welcomed again to Barocco Bar by the friendly crowd from Tango Edge and this time I made sure to have a dance with Xenia. Again we stayed right to the end the numbers this week being more even, Viv got here share of dancing as well as me.

The same people appear around all the time, like us most dancers will travel far and wide to find good tango. So although it was unexpected, I was not completely surprised to meet Hayden again here.

So there you are, something keeps bringing us back, definitely not the weather. We spent our days dodging out of the rain in Cardiff’s facsimile roman walls, dodging from house to house in the wonderful St Fagans and our nights with Tango Edge.

Nice to be back in my own bed though, and looking forward to Monday’s practica, although, as usual, I have no idea if anyone will come.

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Steak and Tango

Try as I might, I cannot re create Argentina here in the UK. We decided that as we were to once again visit the friendly crowd of Tango Edge Cardiff, I would start the evening with steak.

I did not expect the wonderful meat that is associated with the pampas, but the miserable specimen that I did get left me disappointed. I like my steak on the rare side, but I am careful when I do not know the chef to always ask for medium. I made the mistake of asking for rare in Spain once, and what I got was still eating grass. Here I had the opposite problem, you could do charcoal drawings with this one. It is all a matter of perception I suppose, although I do understand that somewhere there is a written standard for what constitutes rare, medium, and well done, but this, I think, is hidden in a cave under the Mendips. Actually it was not that bad, I am an incorrigible carnivore and will eat meat in almost any condition, although I was still quite envious of Viv’s chicken, which looked much more succulent. Even Viv said hers was over cooked though.

   We finished early and had time to just sit and relax, drink a beer, and catch up on some news, via the TV screens. Then we took a slow walk up once again to The Barocco Bar. The old crowd were all there, and surprised me by not only remembering us, but also our names and calling me the Blog Man. I am afraid yet again I struggled with their names, but nobody seemed to mind.

The tangled web of the tango world always surprises me, and the connections we have through mutual friends are quite astounding.

It seems there is a shortage of men, who will dance, in this part of the world, so I had to ration my dances out in order to give Viv enough dances. They welcomed us in and Viv seemed quite happy chatting while I danced away. I have to thank the many ladies here for giving me such wonderful and varied dances; again I was surprised at how different they all were. I suspect that not all here were students of Xenia and some had come from far off lands. Some had Buenos Aires connections and some were locals, but this wonderful variety made my night most enjoyable.

We stayed right to the end, risking the dark walk back down the river, but before we left, we collected some phone numbers and details of other venues that we may get to on our tour. Watch this space; with luck we may visit some of them before we return home. As we left I realized that I had not danced with Xenia this time, but she, it seems, had left earlier. Still there is always next year.

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Gate crashers

Some pictures of Barocco Bar

Why is it that we always feel like gatecrashers when we tango? Wherever we go we seem to be in someone else’s party. I have to say, in general we are well received. I did notice some resentment from the locals at Glorias Argentinas “why are these two extranjeros at the great mans table” but in the party itself we are always welcomed.

So last week we sort of gatecrashed the birthday of Xenia at Barocco, there was no cake or free drinks, but we were happy to celebrate with someone we had only just met.

I had thought no more of this until we arrived again at Barocco bar. We stood at the bar trying to order drinks. A couple were there who seemed to be ordering rather a lot. The girl asked “how many glasses?” I just assumed that they were ordering wine for their table.

Graeme appeared at the bar, people came and started congratulating him. Somebody came and said “it’s the Mister P where is Mrs P” slowly it was dawning on me that something special was happening.

Upstairs I noticed that there was a tray of Champagne flutes, and while we danced the girl from the bar brought up an ice bucket with Champagne. The music was stopped the champagne poured and a toast was proposed to the newly engaged Xenia and Graeme or was it Graeme and Xenia. So now we are looking forward to gatecrashing the tango wedding and have told them, we are now tango friends and must be invited.

Again I have found that when you meet someone through tango it is like you have been friends for years. So I would like through this medium to wish Xenia and Graeme all the best and a long and happy life together.

There were less people here tonight, so that it really did feel a bit intimate, still I shouted out the toast, as if I had known them all my life, and it was good champagne, so it would have been a shame not to make the most of it.

The floor was a trfile sticky but liberal amounts of talc soon cured that. So we danced away until about ten thirty. Xenia was just too popular tonight, so I missed dancing with her, but did get a dance with a young lady from Meols, There must be a limerick in there somewhere, she no longer lives around here but returns occasionally to visit family. I have offered my services in getting her to some tango next time she returns, lets keep the party going.

Anyway about ten thirty the music became more electronic, and while I have no prejudice against electronic, I enjoy listening but not really dancing to it, so we said our goodbyes and headed off into the rain again.

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Tango Edge

My socks are red, so are my shoes. It appears that the colour on Spar carriers is not fast, certainly not so in almost constant torrential rain. To be fair we did have some let up, that allowed us to go exploring on the bikes. There is a lot to see around here, and the campsite is right in the centre of things.During one of our shoping trips I found some Regatta waterproof shoes, and these have proven to be a real boon, not only in keeping my feet dry, but also free of red dye.
The Chapter House Arts Centre was to be our next Tango venue, not a difficuly place to find, as it turned out,but quite difficult to reach from where we were. We had three journeys there on our bikes, even the local postman could not direct us to it, eventually we used the GPS and a lot of instinct. When we finally figured it out, it was less than a mile and almost a straight line. It may be a man thing not to ask directions but after my experience of local knowledge, I think I should trust my instincts more not less.
So on Friday after what had been a good day, we had managed four hours on the bikes without rain, we showered and got ourselves ready to go out. Of course, just as we were ready the rain started again. Viv was in a panic about her wig getting wet and she insisted on wearing her wellies to the Tango, but in the end decked out in our waterproofs we headed off to the Arts Centre in good spirits.
We arrived at the new temporary entrance, and there was a beautiful sign that proclaimed Tango Edge. Of course once inside we headed off in the wrong direction, to be sent back time and again until we found the room. There were signs to the tango but somehow we always missed them. Viv went off to the toilet to make herself beautiful, while I changed my shoes and waited for her.
Our arrival was as usual miss timed, we had intended to just arrive for the improvers class, but we were here at the start of the beginners.
I quite enjoyed a bit of walking backwards and some basics. One should never forget the basics and only by going over and over the basics will the dance become better.
The teacher in this class is called Xenia, the sort of name that makes you think of sword wielding female warriors, not tango dancers.Far from the warrior princess she was slim, blond and slightly built,with a happy smiling face, and she looked like she thoroughly enjoyed what she is doing.
She obviously had not remembered us from Monday as when she began the improvers class, she asked about our experience. Like all good teachers, she did not want absolute beginners in the intermediate class. Once I had reminded her who we were she then remembered us from Monday.I forgot to mention in my last post, it was her birthday last Monday and we had a birthday dance for her, so of course she rememberd me more than Viv.
Despite some in the class not quite getting what was being taught it was very enjoyable. The levels of the students are always diverse and I well understand the difficulty of organising a class of this nature, some get it some do not. The main thing is that everyone enjoys it, that after all is why we tango. We do not come to be misserable or stressed, so it was good to see so many happy faces.
After the class there was more time to practice. Viv was determined to foist me off onto the beginners again, but I had my eyes on one or two of the more experienced ladies.
I did my bit with the beginners of course, it is great to be able to pass on experience to them, it lifts my ego,and makes me feel good, but the more experienced ladies here were a joy to dance with. I led voleos secadas leg wraps anything I threw at them they followed. I was in heaven, and because the class had involved some double time stuff, and to give us time to practice it,we had more than the usual amounts of milongas. I danced a tanda with Xenia, but not much with Viv. She did however get more dances tonight, I think taking part in the class has broken the ice a bit with the men.
Soon it was time for us to go and we said our goodbyes, disappeared to the toilets to get ourselves ready to brave the elements again. Before Viv was ready I heard the sounds of Francisco Canaro coming from the dance room. I simply had to return, to leave whilst Poema is playing is not an option for me.
We did of course leave afterwards, the midnight hour was fast aproaching and the path to the campsite is dark. I now look forward to Monday and more of the same.

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Cardiff with a blast

The Finches hit Cardiff with a blast, but not as big a blast as the arctic air that seems to have become our summer.
 My first walk to the toilet block involved me getting totally soaked while while my second trip out involved a
lot of waterproof clothing. Unfortunately I do not have waterproof shoes, so that by now both pairs of trainers
I had brought are like damp dishcloths. Viv had the foresight to bring wellies, but I now had to find a new use
for those disposable carrier bags the local Spar likes to give out, Spar socks, whatever next.
We spent most of the first day seeking out the Tango venues we would later be going to, and luckily Barocco Bar where
we were to meet Monday night was not too far for us to walk.

The weather looked like holding out as we prepared ourselves for the night. It is never easy trying to look ones best,
Getting prepared in a tiny campervan, but as usual Viv looked wonderful, and I just looked like me.
Just when we were nearly ready it started raining again. All the waterproofs had to be hastily put on, but just as quickly
the rain stopped again, but we took them anyway. Fortunately, as it was a tango night, Viv left the wellies in the van.

We arrived at Barocca Bar early, with the inclement weather we just took advantage of a good break. There were a number
 of diners downstairs, but the place was not crowded. We bought some drinks and the girl directed us up the stairs.
The whole place has a dark atmospheric feel, with baroc decorations, hence the name.At the top of the wide wooden stair way
we found a sort of balcony affair with curved seating areas and round tables. There was an empty floor space, although not a
large area it would be enough for maybe a dozen couples. So we sat with our drinks and waited.

We were very early so that the wait did seem extra long to us,but by eight no one had arrived. At about quarter past a couple
arrived a small child. The child was adorable but I hoped when the dancing started he would not still be crawling on the
floor. After a couple of minutes the man,huge trainers and a hula skirt of keys, took the woman in an embrace and tried
unsuccessfully to lead a side step. Things were not looking good.

By about eight thirty a crowd was starting to appear and a guy with a computer and sound system was setting it up at the end of
the room.I doubted the ability of the system to fill the room, but I am glad to say I was proved wrong, though I am still
curious as to why they did not use the excellent system that was installed in the place.

For some time no one got up to dance. Viv is always reluctant to be first up, but we did not want to spend the night sitting
down so we led the dancing. There must have been two tandas before any one else got up. It was getting lonely out there.
 Soon enough others started to join us, first one couple then eventually two. When it reached three that was like an avalanche
point and the floor filled.

The standard was good and despite the crowded floor I found it easy to dance here. For me the quality of the dancers has always
been how they deal with a crowded floor rather than the moves that are performed.

Later on I danced with one or two of the other ladies, unfortunately, as usual, not many men chose to dance with Viv, so I had
to restrict myself. I enjoyed those dances a lot. ladies followed well with no antcipation, and if something did not go right
we just smiled and enjoyed the moment.

I hope that they enjoyed the moment as much as I did. Maybe we will dance together again on Friday.

As a footnote, I took some photographs, I do not have the equipment here to publish them, but hopefully I will do a post of just
the pictures when I return to the north.

My thanks to Wetherspoons for the WiFi

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Roberta Rides Again

We are off to Cardiff at the end of the week; we expect to do some tango while we are there, as well of lots of other stuff. I am not sure if I will be able to post while I am there but watch out for the story, life is never dull with the Finches, throw in a thirty year old campervan (OGG1) and the fun should never end.

 

Meanwhile the local scene goes on. We attended The Groves on Monday for another class with Sharon. We had two visitors from Cheshire, Millie and John. I never got the full details, but they have been going to classes with Chris. We attended classes with Chris at Zumbars Oxford Road Manchester with Frank Smith all those years ago. We saw Chris at a milonga in Wilmslow a couple of years back, but otherwise have not seen him for ten years. Anyway I hope that they pass on our greetings.

 

Chester is the only place I have known this to happen, and happen again it did: we had more men than women. Roberta had to return yet again, but even so there was a changing corner for the men. That means there were at least three more men than women, almost unprecedented in a small class. The guys are getting used to me now, which is just as well tonight’s class involved a lot of close embrace.

I think they feel safe with me, as one look at Viv and they are certain where my sexuality lies. Still it is fun to act a bit gay now and again, keep them on their toes. It also reminds me how safe it feels when you have a strong embrace; I can close my eyes without fear. On the other hand when the embrace is loose or sloppy, I feel it necessary to keep looking where I am. If this is the case for me then I am sure it must be the same for you ladies.

 

I have never followed for the ocho cortardo so this was interesting for me as well. There was a lot for me to learn, because despite all the years we have been dancing, following is still a fairly new experience for me. My biggest problem is still hanging on, trouble is when I return to axis I start to take over. Closing my eyes helps, as of course does having the embrace the other way round. Patience is the only thing I need; I have to remember that the amount of classes where I have followed are still very few. I still joke that I am the best woman here, that may not yet be true (OK probably never) but at least I can sometimes help the man with his lead.

We did a lot on musicality; this is now coming up more and more in Sharon’s classes, and shows how the emphasis is changing. Once all we ever got was steps, nothing about the music, now we are getting real tango, not pseudo stage tango, this is good. Only trouble is if the men did not get it Roberta tended to go off on her own, ignoring the man and enjoying the rhythm, not good. I must give her a good talking to..

After the class people were disappearing Viv had to go and grab some to tell them they must practice all that they had done, else all would be lost. Trouble was she was retrieving the men, I was left sitting out. I had to go begging; “please I want to be a man again”.

I spent some time with Viv, just going over what we did the weekend, and I managed to dance with a few other ladies, but all was lost by ten. So we went home for an early night.

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