Tag Archives: class

Busy sort of day

Well my day started with a message form Philippe to say he was coming to pick up his parcel. First though I had things to do, first stop was the fereteria, I had to make a proper job of the air conditioner electrics.
I walked in and asked “Tiene cable tres partes” he said “Si, 1mm or 1.5” I asked for 1mm but they only had that in black so I settled for 1.5mm. Then I asked for a plug, the one I got was brilliant, you could make the cable entry from any angle. Never seen anything quite so simple and clever. Well that went well 3m of 1.5 cable and a plug, sorted in ten minutes.
The aircon was finished and running again before Philippe arrived.
After some socialising we had to get ready, off to school for the first time in years. Then we had to recharge our SUBE cards. We left the subte and walked along Uruguay. We were shocked to see an IKEA store, but there was no furniture only fabrics.
I am afraid I got slightly lost, thinking I knew where it was, I crossed Santa Fe but in fact the school is a block before, and had to back track. Still we had plenty of time and were not rushed.
Whilst paying for the course I was told we would see a film today, I informed them that Viv was a total beginner and would not understand it. My protests were brushed aside, so I assumed they knew what they were doing.
We never saw the film, I was put in a small group of three and we started straight away on verbs.
After an hour and a half we had a break. I met Viv and she was not happy, she could understand nothing of what they said as all the others in her class were more advanced.
They have promised to start from scratch for her on Wednesday, I hope they do otherwise this is just a waste of time and money.
After the class we were off to Obalisco. I had checked and we needed to catch the 150 collective at Parana y Santa fe.
I told the driver Humberto primero and he never commented, but from the start I thought we were heading the wrong way. Sure enough we ended up at Retiro where we were told to leave the bus. Now there was nothing for it but to take the subte to Independencia and walk up from there.
We were hot and bothered when we arrived but we had changes of clothing so we were soon in milonga mode.
Viv did rather better this time, I only saw her miss three tandas. We stayed until after eight, but then I saw Gloria Garcia. (Her story is a long one, so for anyone who does not know I will tell again sometime) We had not danced together for eight years or more. She had danced one tanda already when I asked her, but she would not dance with me without changing her shoes. I thought that rather sweet.
Dancing with her brought back so many memories, it made my night.
We stopped off for hamburgers at a restaurant on Entre Rios. Weirdest meal I have had here, two hamburgers, topped with cheese, but no bun, and a plate of chips to share.
Can’t complain at less than £12 for the two with drinks.
Then it was back home in our faithful 151 collective.
PS I have just checked “Mapa Buenos Aires again” Santa fe is a two way street, I should have caught the 150 on the other side of the road, schoolboy error.

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Por Una Cerveza

We tried again to buy an occasional table today. After wandering around the shop again we just ended up taking measurements. I guess it has to be just right or not at all. Perhaps we will try again tomorrow because this is turning into an epic.

The internet is a handy thing; I looked up La Continental and found all the restaurants that they have in Buenos Aires. This made it easy to pick somewhere to meet Janis close to Lo de Celia and the E line for us. We wanted to have a quiet meal together. Well it would have been quiet but for the kids party upstairs, the traffic outside and the garbage disposal teams who for some reason were hounding us today.
When Viv an I arrived the waiter got confused because we only wanted coffee while we waited for our amiga.
Then he got more confused when Janis came and we ordered the drinks, yes, the whole beer bottle was for me. So he then had to go back for Viv’s drink, while Janis sang Por Una Cerveza. Please would all Carlos Gardel fans accept my apologies, it was a spur of the moment thing. Our waiter did it all in good cheer though. He was even quite amused by the fact that I could not find my money and then asked if Janis had running shoes on.
It has got quite cold now and we are, as usual, unprepared. You see our apartment is so warm as it is north facing. So when we go out we never expect the cold. Our walk down Entre Rios with Janis involved much huddling up and when we left her by Lo de Celia we all but ran to the subte. At least underground it is warm.
I have never used this subte before, so I asked the nice policeman which way is el centro? I knew we wanted to go the opposite direction, but he didn’t. So he chased after us and I had to tell him we wanted Boedo.

Our class was again stressful. I think joining a group class was always going to be difficult as they are going over things that they have done before but we have not. I think it warmed me up though because I never felt the cold on the walk back.
Having eaten out once we did not feel like stopping in Murilla again so we just carried on. My idea was to buy a beer in the supermarket and drink it in. Neither of the local supermarkets was open, it must be some sort of Chinese conspiracy. The kiosco across the road did not sell beer either. So we tried for dark chocolate, to make a submarino. Nope! either that or no entende. Either way hot chocolate was out as well.

I must also apologise to our neighbours, Viv decided to put the washer on when we returned. We did not realise how noisy it would be. Sorry!

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New Sube

Viv wanted her trousers turned up, so first trip was to a local dressmaker. This always gets confusing, being an engineer I always measure in millimeters, dressmakers use centimeters. So when I said 25 she looked shocked, hopefully we understood each other in the end or Viv will end up with shorts.
We headed into town and Tribunales for Sube central. I gave the guy my card and said “esta tarjeta no funciona” he gave it me back saying the same thing. Apparently they have changed the system again and now I will need a new card.
So we had to go to the post office by the Obalisk. This was not what I was expecting either, it was a locotorio with just one counter for the post office and Sube cards.
I bought my card without problem, but she said I must register it on-line. So thinking it would not yet work we bought tickets again for the subte.
We were back on the A line again. A few months ago they scrapped all the old trains and replaced them with new ones. From a tourist point of view a bad idea, many people rode this line just for the antique coaches that still had gas lighting in them and wooden seats. I for one was sad to see them go. I must say though that having travelled on the new ones they are very smooth and clean. It made for an enjoyable journey.
We got of at Castro Barros as we wanted to visit Easy (B&Q Argentine style). I was not sure which direction to head at first, which was fortunate as we came across a shop selling dried fruits and nuts. We have some good stocks in now and we know where to go for more.
Easy was not so successful we need some sort of curtain track for the bedroom and as I have said before “they do things different here” so we looked but did not buy. Something will eventually come to me, but for now I am stumped.
As for registering my Sube on-line, that is proving difficult. You need to give your document number, unfortunately there is no passport in the drop down menu and I do not have a DNI. I will leave it unregistered for now, I think.
Well we caught the bus to Boedo, no problems with my card, so that was a good thing. Trouble was the bus was so crowded and slow we would have been better off walking, still I proved my card so in that I am happy.
We met up with Andres and Geneveva and took their class, we had intended to go on to Boedo Tango afterwards, but the class really took it out of us. I guess we are just not used to taking group classes anymore, we must do more or risk losing the ability to learn altogether.
So after two hours of class we decided what we really needed was a drink. Nothing took our fancy until we reached Salguero and a place called Murilla. Viv seemed to think we had been here before but I doubt it.
We ordered a bottle of Quilmes Negra, if there ever was heaven on earth it is in these bottles. I think it is the one thing that could turn us into alcoholics.
They had rather nice empanadas here as well. Well we had saved on an entrada tonight.
Not quite midnight when we got back, looks like another early night.

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Jenny and Ricardo

Well to be honest, I was not looking forward to the class. It has been a long time since we have attended a group class of any kind and I am not the best of students. Still I went with an open mind and a vague recollection of enjoying their classes all those years ago.

So it just goes to show even a frustrated old milonguero like me can learn something new, and enjoy the experience at the same time.

The Friday night class was all about milonga. We learned a spin move and a wide choice of endings. Jenny was lovely, as always, and struggled to teach us while Ricardo spread his own kind of anarchy. At least that is how it appeared to me, but in fact they worked together as a team and managed to make the difficult simple and the mundane entertaining.

Saturday night was the big milonga; Now as many of you will know, I take the music seriously. Argentine tango, to me, is not Argentine tango without Argentine Tango music. It seems an obvious thing, but a knowledge of the music is often lacking this far north. Well tonight we had a treat at a stratospheric level.

Mabel from Cardiff was doing the music, she displayed an understanding of the music that I have not seen before outside of Buenos Aires, it was an absolute joy to dance every tanda. It is not the normal custom here, but after La Cumparsita I started clapping and as if to prove that I was not alone in enjoying the evening soon everyone was clapping with me. I thanked Mabel before I left and I want to thank her again here. Thank You Mabel!

Jenny and Ricardo did a wonderful demo for us which everyone enjoyed so much they were called back for an encore. Unprepared Mabel was asked to choose anything, were I not already married I would have proposed on the spot, she chose Angel D’Agostino, Cafe Dominguez.

Frambuesas con nata played some wonderful music in their interlude, Hotel Victoria, Poema, and then Percale I was in heaven. They really do get better every time I hear them, expect the Argentine tour sometime soon.

Sunday was about colgadas, now old traditionalist Bob doesn’t approve of colgadas. Anything that breaks the connection should not be in a milongueros repertoire. But again I went with an open mind and at least we could learn some teaching techniques. Well the first thing we learned was to forget all that hanging outside the frame we have seen before, this was to be colgadas in the close hold. (You speeky my language). By the end I think we had the basics, a long way from perfect but I can work on it.

Often at these weekends, we have been given that many moves that it all blurs into a kind of fog, but Jenny and Ricardo gave us just enough to work on and that my small brain can hold.

So, in summary: Great classes. awesome music and we caught up with many old friends that we have not seen for some while. Despite missing the “most important class where I named my toes” and if you know what on earth Ricardo was on about, please tell.

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Careful what you wish for

I’m tired.  We have just come from a marathon dancing trip to Llandudno, followed by our usual night out at Ewloe. Perhaps I should not be so tired, as apart from Viv , I was the youngest  there. I wonder sometimes where they all get their stamina.

It was on the bus travelling out there that I started to wonder “when did I lose my enthusiasm for the seaside?”  When I was a child, it was somewhere we went maybe once a year. It was a great journey that took hours on the train. In these modern times, we can reach the coast in less than an hour and a day trip is no longer a big deal. So perhaps my childhood wish to always be at the seaside has almost come true.

Now, of course, it is so accessible that it is no longer desirable. Is it just that we always want what we cannot have? Or, has age just shown me that it is always cold and windy, you get burned, and sandcastles will always wash away? Perhaps I am one of those people who are just never happy with their lot.

Right now my wish is not to have this endless stream of shifts; not to have to work almost every weekend and thereby miss almost every event that I want to attend. That wish will come true before very long, as I approach retirement age, but old age will come with that also.

My other big wish is to make a living out of Tango. This, of course will never happen.  Firstly, if I had to rely on tango for my living, the joy would go out of it, it would just become the daily drudge. Secondly, my attitude to tango is not one of a business nature.

Let me explain: I charge too little, I do this because I want people to come and dance tango. I remember my early years spent travelling around the country, learning at workshops and tango weekends. All this cost me a great deal of money. I spent many hours worrying that I could not afford this level of expenditure, and that this way of life was beyond me. This may be why tango has become, to some extent, the exclusive realm of professionals. (See    https://tangogales.wordpress.com/2010/02/27/whores-and-dockers/

Now I try to bring tango to those who perhaps have the same trouble keeping this lifestyle up that I did.

Here is another illustration of why I do not have that business edge; it all started with my midweek time off, I was not available for weekend milongas and unable to have our Monday practicas so I had a big slot for private lessons. So, unusually I had two visitors in an afternoon. My first pupil, after her lesson, stayed for a coffee, then a chat, some cake and more talking. I think it was a further hour and a half before she left. We loved the company, but there was no time before our next pupil arrived. Again he stayed on talking for, well I can’t remember how long, you lose track of time when you are happy.

This of course took out my whole day. I enjoyed every minute of it. I felt fulfilled at passing on my knowledge and by the appreciation I received, but as a means of earning a living? Well I would earn more stacking shelves at the local supermarket.

Could I ever be happy doing that? Well what do you think?

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The not so fabulous Bob Finch

“A respected tango dancer and teacher”; and “the fabulous Bob Finch”, were just two of the plaudits that hailed my arrival at Stokies Tango Dojo. Already a little nervous at taking a full class of students of whom I knew nothing, this did little to calm me. Could I Live up to the hype? Would my lesson plan hold out? And more important, would I fluff it?

They were a wonderful bunch and in the end we all enjoyed ourselves, but things never went quite as I expected.

It was supposed to be a group of fairly mixed students but mostly with some experience, what I got was seven very experienced dancers, three men and two women who had never danced at all and about eight or ten who had been dancing about six months.

I started with the basic close hold, with little effort we achieved what was required and soon we were ready to move just a little turning the body and feeling the lead. It soon became clear that this simply would not work; with help and suggestions from the more advanced dancers we split the class. All the beginners moved to the far end of the room to be coached by the better dancers in how to walk.

This left me with a group of about five couples to work with. I think and hope we all had an enjoyable time, and that they now have a bit more understanding of how to dance close hold.

We worked on the basic ocho and giro trying to break it back down to just pivots and steps, slowing everything down and keeping it simple. For some it was not quite enough, but I really needed to keep it simple because after such a short time, most were not ready to stretch it too far. More to the point though, I wanted to emphasise that in a crowded milonga there is little room for fancy steps and there is a constant need to change the way we are moving when someone gets in the way. The women also enjoyed this feeling that they had time to execute their moves and were not rushed, as I made the men wait until the pivot was complete before they made the next move. The women were also instructed to wait; it was no good the men taking their time if the women went ahead and finished the ocho on their own. To reinforce the point I asked the men to sometimes not finish the ocho but do something else halfway through, pointing out that we never actually lead an ocho, only pivots and sidesteps.

There were some misunderstandings about what we were trying to achieve, and I had some problems controlling the class. Just as well they were adults who wanted to learn, I would probably have completely lost control if this had been a group of teenagers, still I wasn’t a bad teacher for an electrician.

I left them with a few tricks of my own; a giro with a twist, and an ocho doblé as a taster just in case I am ever invited back.

In the end though, I think I learned as much about teaching as they learned about tango and hopefully everyone left happy. More importantly, there were some beautiful moves being done and everyone left with a smile on their face.

I half expected though to be told never to return, so I was more than happy to receive one or two thanks later. So I would like to say here “Thanks for having me, it was a pleasure”.

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Another Class with Jorge

Well my brain is well and truly fried, what that man can do with his feet defies description, and he wanted me to copy him. I tried honestly I tried, but it will take a lot of work and practice to get anywhere near what he achieves.

We started with some basics, just walking, but to a milonga beat and in a way I have not done before not double time and not single time, but with adornments that look really cool. When he moved into double time though I could not keep up, but he slowed it right down for me.

I cannot use my age as an excuse he is more senior than me by twenty years, and Susana, well I am not sure. To look at the pair of them you would not put either at more than fifty, Jorge? well I know his age, but Susana it would be rude to even guess although here it seems to be of less importance. Technically here you can ask a woman her age, but we British are still constrained by our reserve.

Anyway by the time we finished I had a catalogue of new milonga moves and a sore belly from laughing so much, I just hope I can remember all he taught us.

Susana told us that non of the milongas would be open because of the census tomorrow, but as we had to pass Salon La Argentina on our way to the subte we thought it best to check El Aranque for ourselves. Viv was hungry and said that we should stop first as everywhere may be closed soon. I then had an idea “why not phone ahead and check” so we got the number from the guide and I rang them. “hola Salon la Argentina” “hola es abierto hoy?” “si por supuesto” “hasta quando?” then I got hit with a load of gibberish and they hung up. Ah well at least we knew they were open.

So we spent a pleasant afternoon practicing our milongas, but first we had one of their excellent pizzas. Everyone raves about Argentine pizzas but we prefer the american style, here though the pizza is more to our taste and we were thoroughly ready for it. It disappeared in no time at all, I am just glad we asked for chica, that was a twelve-inch, god knows what size a grande would have been.

Janis joined us later and kept us company, and filming us occasionally, despite me telling her that we needed to practice what we had learned and it would not look good. She managed to get a dance with a  milonguero even though she had not brought her shoes and insisted on dancing with me before we left (doesn’t that break one of the codigos? a woman asking a man).

We left each other at Corrientes, she to catch a bus and me to use the subte and my new monedera card. When we got back we practiced some more, I still have not got it, I think now it is just tiredness maybe it will work in the morning.

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