Tag Archives: Dance Venues and Schools

The dance goes on

My work pattern has moved on, so for the next two weeks there is no practica on a Monday. This constant change in my working week is the main reason we do not do a regular class. I am also working right across the weekends so for now tango is almost non-existent.

Still we still have our private classes, and that brings some tango dancers to Gresford, and of course, Viv and I can still practice whenever we feel like it.

This does not mean we are devoid of all dancing; the local social dance scene flourishes during the mid-week. Ewloe and Saltney Social clubs offer a hearty welcome, even if sometimes we have to leave early for me to get my beauty sleep.

Steve sound runs the odd dance of his own as well, but these days I am not that disappointed when we have to have the odd night in.

All these social dances mean we will never lose our ballroom and sequence dancing, but they have been known to throw in the odd tango just for us.  Viv hates being the floor show, but for me it is just a chance to dance, even if the music is just a facsimile of Argentine Tango. There is a time for explaining and a time to put on a brave face and just get up and dance.

This does not mean I am going soft, just that these people will never be tango dancers, so while they will never understand how important the music is to us, at least they can see something of the social tango we do and how it differs from stage tango.

But of course this will never be enough for us, so we look forward immensely to the next practica on 19th September.

 

Just before I left for work tonight, I put on Kevin J Thompsons CD “Ballroom Dancing”. I cannot over emphasise how much he is missed on the circuit. If ever he thinks about again performing around here or even (transport me to heaven) reforming Sounds Easy, there will be and eager audience waiting. Anyone who enjoys dancing music should have a copy of his CD it is simply wonderful.

Kevin you were and still are peerless.

 

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Let it Snow

Oh the weather outside is frightful, 
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

An apology to Sammy Cahn, but it just about sums it up, “since we have no place to go” just about says it all. We may be in the grip of the worst weather for eighteen years, but in this modern age does everything have to stop?

All our local dances are cancelled, yet I still find my way to work each day, and as we are protected by the Cheshire bowl conditions here are not exactly arctic. I drove down to Connah’s Quay yesterday and the pavements as well as the roads were quite clear.

Nowhere have I lost traction in my car, I have not had to dig myself out and we are not yet in need of food parcels. Apologies to those in areas that have had it bad, but we cannot use what happens in other parts of the country as an excuse to vegetate.

Funnily enough the most successful dances have not been cancelled; Sunday at the Navy club goes ahead as do The Clan Cuban events. This leads me to ask the question, Why are they successful? Could it be in part because they do not cancel at the least little thing? Could it be because we the punters know that they will be there no matter what?

 There are unique reasons for the success of these events that is true, but the simple fact that someone like me, a shift worker, on irregular hours, can rely on them to be there means that they have a steady, if irregular supply of punters.

I have seen venues around here lose customers at a biblical rate, simply because nobody knows for sure that they will be open on a particular night.

New faces are discouraged because they disrupt the flow. Youth is discouraged because, well because they are young.

Of the maybe dozen dance venues in our area when I started, only two now hold regular dances. Saturday night dances now no longer happen, and when they do it is by exception.

The numbers of regular dancers are falling; this is because they are getting old or dying. Those who remain must accept, no, invite new dancers or they will not have dances to attend.

I am actively encouraging Tango now in our area, as I see it as the dance of the future, the ballroom and sequence scene is dying and will continue to do so unless we all put some effort into keeping it going. That means, not using the least excuse to cancel a dance or just to stay at home, but it also means we need to encourage younger dancers and enjoy what they bring to the party instead of just moaning at them.

The present situation cannot continue for much longer, if nothing is done then we will have no place to go, even when it does not snow.

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Reports of My Death

 Reports of my death are grossly exaggerated.

Just read this and it sort of prompted me to write.  Reports of our demise

My wife returned to line dancing after a break of many months, and was offered sympathy at her loss “loss what loss?” it seems that reports have emanated from the local pub that I had passed away, where these rumours came from I have no Idea. I dismissed them as mistaken identity.

Until, this week I received a letter from my Building Society addressed to The Executor of my estate. Things were now getting serious. Of course my first call was to the insurers “If I am dead, can I have my life insurance money?”

It appears I am not “that” dead.  The head office had got mixed up about five years ago when my mother died, but how this tied in to local rumours I have no idea.

Two unrelated (it seems) events came together in one week in a way that scared the hell out of me, still having re-risen for easter I am now a bit of a celebrity and will be dancing the tango of the undead tonight in Shrewsbury with anyone who’s nerve will hold.

Healing sessions and worship are to be arranged soon.

BTW. I have just seen the date, this is all true, it is not an April fools joke.

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Frank Smith 1932-2009

I am saddened to report the death of another milonguero, Frank died while on holiday in Spain on December 30th. He was our only link with Tango when we returned from Spain in 1997. His class was held upstairs in Zumbars every Wednesday and it is a testament that all those in his early classes went on to form their own classes, and spread tango further around the North West.

He spread his knowledge and time freely, often picking up dancers along his journeys. As well as the time he spent teaching us he often ran us to Leeds, for the classes and milongas there. With our new commitments to Buenos Aires and the Chester Tango scene, we had lost touch recently, but have never forgotten how Frank helped us on our way.

It is a great loss to us all that he has departed, but at least he died as I am sure he would have wanted to go, Dancing.

R.I.P  Frank, I hope that all the angels will be dancing before we join you.

Frank’s daughter Gail has set up a website in his memory:  www.fsmithgs.co.uk

Also more on Frank here:    http://yohlg.free.fr/tangoyorkshire/?id=frank

There is to be a Tea dance in memory of Frank Smith on Sun 24 Jan 13:00 – 17:00

at  The Longfield Suite, off Bury New Road, Prestwich, Manchester M25 1AY

The event is open to all and is free, however contributions (suggestion of £10) toward the cost and donations to the British Heart Foundation are encouraged.

Franks daughter Gail, son-in-law Phil and grandaughters Amy and Eleanor will be attending, so lets all try to be there.

Live music by Frambuesas,
DJ Yohann,
Tea at 2.30pm

To help with catering, You must RSVP by Thursday Jan 21st  to   frankteadance@yahoo.com

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Memory Lapse

The Chester class moves ever on, the quality of the students gets better and better, but my memory doesn’t. The numbers were again about even, only requiring one extra lady. This meant of course that Viv was needed so I stayed to take the money. As the more advanced students arrived I simply could not remember any names. All the more embarrassing because there were ladies who I dance with and enjoy dancing with, who I really should remember. I have never had a good memory for names and faces, but as I get older it seems to get worse. All I can do is ask forgiveness, and maybe do my talking on the dance floor. While we waited Eric asked again for some extra coaching, always happy to oblige, though I wonder what anyone looking from outside would have thought of these two men moving in close embrace.

Had a few more beginners stay this week for a bit of intensive Bobing. It is nice to see that they are stopping on. I know from my own experience that once a class is over, students tend to be forgotten about and so wander off, because they do not want to hang around and wait for a chance to practice. I hope that I can fill the gap for them and entice more to stay until the practica. Our beginners are now able to join the practica and enjoy some dancing, as the room is quite small they are able to get a feeling of what a real milonga would be like and give me a small reminder of how to move in a crowded place again.

 

It seems that the same people appear wherever we go; it must simply be that there are people who go out and do something and those who do not.  We have started taking Salsa classes again, and every time we go we meet someone from our past. This week again we met someone with whom we danced many years ago. He has continued in other places and our paths have not crossed for ten years, yet here we again meet, all of us still dancing. What is really amazing is, that he lives so close, has danced continuously, yet our paths have not crossed for so long. People still tell me that there is nowhere to go; I guess that they just do not look past their television screens. There must be enough to do out there when two people who live so close can go out every night doing the same things and yet not meet for ten years.

I hear yet again over six million people saw Strictly Come Dancing this week, the shame is, we can’t get even one percent of them out into dance floors. Perhaps if it were not shown as such an exclusive pastime, with exotic costumes and personal training that would run into thousands, one or two would realise, anyone can dance.

Anyone can. When I started, our dance teacher said to Viv “he will never be able to dance” now some may still agree with her, I may never be Fred Astaire, but with time and commitment I think I have made quite a journey. I enjoy dancing, women enjoy dancing with me, you won’t see me on strictly, but I have what I want; fun.

I will keep plugging this message, over and over, you do not need to be the greatest dancer in the world, to enjoy it, but you will feel on top of the world when you do it.

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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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