Tag Archives: cross

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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Can we have some women please

We arrived early for our second visit to Stanley palace. Sharon and Eric were already there but otherwise we were the first to arrive.

I had some time to explore this fine old building. The room we are in now had traditional beams up the walls with white plaster between. A huge wooden beam stretched across the fireplace, reputed to have come from one of the ships that used to dock at the old Watergate. The ceiling is also beamed but stretching from the fire towards the stairs is something more modern looking, I suspect that some steel has been built in to preserve the structure and this has been boxed in.

The wide staircase in the far corner turns ninety degrees after six steps and follows the wall up to the top. Above here is a gallery leading to another room above our dance room, wood panels divide this from the gallery and a Steinway grand lays waiting for someone to bring it to life. I am tempted to tickle the ivories, but I lack the knowledge or talent to do it any sort of justice.

Behind the gallery is a double wooden door with a sign telling key holders to use only in an emergency, but despite my curiosity I am unable to find out more.

The whole building has a feeling of another age, and I wonder if we should be using it as a dance venue or just admiring something that has stood for so long. This is believed to be the most haunted house in Chester, it certainly is the right setting, I could well imagine Ann Bolin walking down the gallery with her head tucked under her arm. Thinking like this I return to our dance room just as the music begins.

More people soon appeared, Paul, Graham, Ralf. Things were not looking good on the women front, soon there were six men and Viv. Even if Roberta made another appearance the numbers would not tally.  A couple arrived, but that did little to redress the balance, we desperately needed some women.

At one point I even tried dragging some off the street but to no avail. Sharon was desperately thinking how to alter tonight’s class to suit just leaders. Luckily just before the class started some women finally arrived and we had a quorum. Roberta would be needed but the numbers would at last tally.

I had worked hard in the garden and was tired and not relishing following tonight, but this is the arrangement we have, so I carried on.

Women seem to be always late in Chester and after half an hour another arrived, meaning I could finally sit down. I perched myself in the kitchen hatch where I could watch all the proceedings, looking like a garden gnome it amused the dancers.

Sharon was trying to teach the cross in cross system, with double time on the cross and also when the man changes weight. This caused some confusion for the less experienced, I do enjoy the way that Sharon can make light of the errors so much so that I sat there smiling sniggering and laughing all through the class.

Nobody took offence, I never intend any, but sometimes my mirth is misunderstood, it is a credit to the whole group that we just enjoy the good, the bad, and the ugly in equal measure. When I am dancing, I am often known to break into laughter, some ladies think that they must have done something wrong, but for me the joy comes when things go right, as well as when things go wrong. I gave up apportioning blame years ago, if something fails try again, if it fails a second time do something else, enjoy the moment, we dance for pleasure, we dance with each other, and if someone is watching, then they must enjoy it for what it is or ignore us, the dance is not for them but us.

So now I am the audience, and so I beg you, do not think my laughter criticism, I merely enjoy the moment with you, this is not schadenfreude, nobody is in pain, hopefully everyone enjoys the dance as much as me.

My time as audience is not to last, Elena arrives late and so I take her in to the room and hope I can quickly bring her up to the rest of the class. I enjoy this too, giving a bit of help to a beautiful young lady is one of my greatest pleasures.

Once again I had arrived tired and fed up, not looking forward to the night, and once again I ended up enjoying myself immensely. The music, the other dancers, and especially Sharon lift me to a place I would never get to on my own. I think that tango should be prescribed for anyone with depression. The curse of the modern age could be eliminated if everyone left their televisions and just came out dancing.

The practica carried on until eleven thirty. When I am not working the next day I make a point of staying until the end. A few others also stayed the distance, but unfortunately the women were soon all gone. Viv was not unhappy with this situation as she got to dance every dance, whereas I will sit out allowing others to practice. Nobody was interested in Roberta now the class was over. I guess dancing with a man is OK in class but never socially.

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Good bye from Roberta

Sharon’s new beginners are coming on well. I joined the class as some of the ladies struggled with The Cross. I do not know the answer, but I think it is very difficult to learn when the man cannot lead and the woman has not yet learn to follow.  Perhaps more, more advanced dancers should join the beginners and help, this would bring them on faster and increase the pool of good dancers. But anyway I do not want to seem critical, all the ladies I danced with were coping well as this was for some only their first lesson, and at best their third.

In the improvers, again there was a shortage of women, and so Roberta had (his/her) farewell dance with the men. I shall be away now for three weeks, and I think the next class I can attend in Chester will be 6th June. Oh how those men will miss me! But seriously tonight we were doing secadas, and I am afraid some men have yet to grasp walking in cross, never mind displacing the weight.

I felt Sharon’s wrath again as I tried to explain, while she was talking. Fortunately she is a teacher first, and while she dealt with it at the time, she bears me no grudges. I think now that it is coming together, but my ability to show anyone what to do is restricted when I follow, I close my eyes. Again this is something we often ask the women to do, but for me it is doubly important, as soon as I can see, I try to lead. I did occasionally just reverse rolls however just to show how it should feel.

Everyone is expecting great things to come back from Buenos Aires with us, but for me it will just be a humbling experience. As I have said often before, the level and quality of dancing in Argentina far outstrips our small community here.

I will not follow in Buenos Aires and I will dance mainly with Viv, but hopefully, now our apartment is ours, we will have time to take in some classes this time.

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Another good Class

I am finding the strain of long shifts harder all the time. I have worked shifts for more than thirty years, and far from getting use to it, I just feel like hell at the end of a block.

So it was yesterday, my zest for life all gone, snapping at Viv, and just not wanting to do anything. I cannot even work out my shifts anymore, I said I would miss this Monday, but I was wrong. All the same when it came to head off to Chester, I did not feel up to it, but I went anyway.

Numbers were well balanced for the beginners, and for once Viv had to stand out. We progressed further on the ocho cortardo, or as it was called when I first learned it , ocho milonguero. Within seconds of staring the class all my cares were forgotten, a room full of beautiful women all wanting to dance with me I was in heaven.

Sharon wanted to get people into the milonga state of mind, and so she reduced the room size and enforced lane discipline. She gave a good speech at the beginning about not trying to lead some thing new in the milonga and never teaching on the dance floor. I don’t know if I embarrassed her, but I broke into applause, this is my pet hate.

While the room was reduced, it gave me a chance to take one lady aside who was having difficulty. I thought we were doing quite well but occasionally she would cross behind, Leandra pointed out that she was leaning back (thanks Leandra) then it all became clear, because she was so small and she wanted to see if I approved she was looking up. (I am not exactly Mr Big myself but she was tiny). Once that was out of the way things went very well.

In the improvers class we did more on the cortardo, now it was more like the way I was first taught by Roberto Canelo all those years ago. I was having fun ringing the changes, but soon the class was over. By the way if anyone wants Roberto’s contact details in Buenos Aires, I will happily provide them.

We danced on until ten thirty, by which time I had enjoyed myself no end and forgotten completely about work.

I beg forgivness, I almost forgot: Many congratulations to Anna on the birth of Leo. My best wishes go out to John and Anna, see you in five years after you get your next good nights sleep.

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A good week

Despite having to work nights mid week, this week is going to be a wonderful tango week for me. I am able to get to Chester and Shrewsbury as well as organise a dance at last at our home.

Because I have to work, I arrived later than usual at Chester this week, meaning that I missed almost all of the beginners class. However when we arrived we were able to step in, as there were two men without partners. One lucky guy got Viv while the other had to make do with Roberta. Still beggers cannot be choosers and now everyone got a dance, and at least they got to change quite soon. I suspect now that some of the men actually prefer dancing with Roberta, although they would never admit it.

When the beginners class was over, Sharon told me she had a new starter who needed some private tuition, always eager to show off I agreed to take her to one side. The improvers were doing the sandwich which would have given me no trouble and the numbers were now even again.

In the space of an hour I tried to get in as much of the basics as I could. Our new beginner struggled with the cross, just about managed the ochos, but seemed to have the stance off almost imediately. To be fair much more time needs to be spent on just walking, getting her weight on one foot and onto her toes would have helped the ochos no end, and the lack of a toe lead was making the cross difficult.

I think she did very well considering this was afirst time and there was so much to cover. Actually if I had realised she was not coming back until the new beginners course starts again I would not have tried to cram so much in, I just hope she does her homework of ochos, and comes back for the next course.

Very soon to come: a report on Shrewsbury and the first Gresford Milonga

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Another night at the Groves

Monday saw the usual class at the Groves, the numbers here are now balancing out well, and so my services as a follower are no longer needed. Sad really I was starting to quite enjoy the feeling, but as Viv is now coming as well, if there is a small shortage, she of course will be the first to step in. This was the case last night and I was left on the sidelines, but not for long:

A new guy had arrived, and was not ready to join the class, as in the weeks since this term had begun the level had improved significantly. So my job for the night was to try and bring him through the basics. Not an easy job as the space by the bar is limited. Anyway I had him doing basic walking and changing weight, just about managing, and not minding the fact that he had to lead me.

Soon however another lady joined the class, which left Viv free to help. Now I could see more clearly what was happening, and we could get the feet right.

One of the most difficult things for new leaders is the belief that the ladies feet will not be there when they step. We worked on getting him to walk straight in both parallel and cross again no problems. Soon the class was over and I have left him with some exercises to practice. His progress was excellent and hopefully after next week he will be ready to join the class.

Again in the intermediates, I was left out. I cannot complain it allows me to better observe what is happening, and in this case there was a new guy who I had not seen before. He grabbed Viv to be his partner and as the class progressed I watched fascinated as he led Viv through manoeuvres that were no part of the class, and afterwards he again grabbed Viv for the practica.

There is no room for me to be jealous, in fact it is nice that she has had a chance to dance with someone who is not a beginner. While it is OK for me, I can lead things that the beginners have not done before, for Viv most of the time she just ends up walking and doing side steps.

We never did find out who this guy was, but I hope he will return.

Things are looking up, now we have some more advanced dancers and new ones joining all the time.

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