Tag Archives: dance

Far Far away

In a (not so) far, far away village is a place where dancers meet. They partake of fine cheese and pate, and quaff fine wines from distant lands known more for their dancing than their drinks. They dance to music from a golden age and learn about the orchestras that produced these wonderful tunes. The great Google fills in the gaps in their knowledge in a way that was unheard of before the information super highway.

All this happens on the day of the moon-god each week, at a cost of only forty shillings. (All profits returned to the cheese and wine fund).

As each week passes more dancers learn of this great gathering and flock to the village-dwelling house now known as “La milonga” or “Numero Uno”. It can be easily recognised as it is bedecked in wondrous lights and the melodies of tango can be heard caressing the ears of all who pass.

A friendly greeting is offered to all who wish to attend. From the great to the total beginner all are welcomed.

This is no fairy tale, but a true event that anyone, who dances tango, can attend, every Monday until Christmas except the 14th November from eight o’clock.

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Saving Face

How does tango affect your daily life?

For me it has been an incredible boost to my posture and saved me from the stoop that has plagued my family, and it has also made me more popular than I had ever dreamed.

It has also saved my face just recently. Let me explain;

I was walking along the street towards our bank, and this route takes me around the back of the Catholic Cathedral. The other night I had been there in one of their out-buildings (a church hall I think you would call it) as they had a Dance there. Viv was away and I had a chance to grab a few grannies (literally, I think alone I halved the average age).

Behind the building was what looked like a road out and this would have been a good way for me to escape. So as I walked past I was looking to see if this road existed and if I could, in fact, use this route next time.

This, of course, meant that I was not paying attention to where I was walking. Wrexham, like most towns these days, is littered with street furniture, and the inevitable happened.

I walked straight into a road sign. Fortunately, tango has taught me to lead with my chest.

Instead of a smashed up face and concussion, I now have a bruise on my chest. It was a small price to pay for my inattentiveness and a lot less than I deserved.

So I have something else to thank tango for, as well as a reminder that, at my age, I really should be looking where I am going.

And what of the exit road? Well, it did not exist.

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More on close hold

New Year is a good time to relax and enjoy the company of friends. We had been at a party, where we danced in the New Year. After we had helped to pack away we drove over to Chester where we had been invited by Tom and Kwai of Clan Cuban

I think it was meant to be more dancing, but we had arrived late so we just sat drinking and talking dance. As you will by now gather from this blog, I can talk a good dance, even if I do not actually dance it that well.

Talk inevitably got onto close hold and what Tom calls the choo choo hold. I think Tom finds it useful as a means of conveying, not only the move but also the lead. Kizomba despite its similarities is quite different to Tango and the way the embrace must be allowed to open is more akin to Nuevo tango than the more traditional tango I love.

Still though, this practice embrace can have its uses in tango teaching, but only as a means to an end.

I can see no benefit in teaching a class the whole time in practice embrace and then telling them to dance close hold. If you want to dance close hold, then the only way to learn is to learn in the embrace.

Tom, who has been teaching some time now comes up with a lot of things that I find useful for tango, even though, as yet, he does not dance it. One thing we talked about was the problems with close hold, and the difficulties people have with it.

I am not quoting anyone here but the ideas have sprung from the conversation that we had, so I will offer credit for them, but any blame (if anyone should choose to disagree) should all be upon me.

British men have a problem holding women. Not a sexual problem, but to hold a woman very close in a non sexual way, I think is alien to them. So when they first come to close hold dancing they are uncomfortable, to get that close is seen as something sexual. This is transmitted to the women, who will see it as either being too fresh or just creepy.

We all need time to adapt. The men need time to get comfortable and to not get aroused. The women need time to relax and understand that this is just a warm comfortable place to be, and most of all we all need to understand that this is nothing to do with the mating game.

Only by spending the whole class in close embrace with several partners can we ever become more used to this. I honestly believe that it is harder for us men to adapt, why? I do not know, but women seem to me to be more comfortable in close bodily proximity than men. This is why; I think women are more able to dance together than men, and why it has taken so much persuading to get men to dance with me.

So I believe that once we men get comfortable with the close embrace the women will just melt into our arms, and what joy this can bring.

Women who find the close hold uncomfortable, I believe have their views coloured by dancing with men who themselves are not comfortable. Men who are not comfortable are so because they have never experienced a true embrace and uncomfortable women will not give it to them.

So it is up to those of us who have spent time with tango and other close dances to share our knowledge and joy with others.  When the world can all enjoy a hug and a smile, when a man can embrace a woman with a love that is not sexual and we can all take to the dance floor with a joy and a desire to share with our partner a love of the music, then I think we are well on our way to peace and nirvana.

Finally can I take this opportunity to wish all my readers a Happy and Prosperous New Year? Felicidades y Prospero Año Nuevo a Todos.

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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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More on the music

Earlier in the year I left a comment on

http://londontango.wordpress.com/2010/05/01/dance-to-the-music/
 It went like this “If you want to dance tango with me then it has to be tango music”

I was in Buenos Aires shortly after so I did not see the follow up.

This comment brought the following replies from Tangobitch, my apologies for the lateness of the reply but I was busy dancing tango.
tangobitch
Do we want to dance with you bob?
If you are truly musical and creative you can adapt your tango to suit all kinds of varied music-with the exception of perhaps deep trance music (see Cecilla Garcia and serkan Goksecu).
This is especially true in Rene and Hiba¡¦s last ten minutes of their Monday practica. It¡¦s experimental challenging and fun.
Lighten up
 
Arlene I only just came across your blog so not totally clued up with your opinions as yet, nor should I be ¡V you¡¦re not the Messiah. It was very presumptuous of Bob to assume we all wanted to dance with him I¡¦d like him to explain why he things we would want to.
Speaking as one of the few people in their 20¡¬s in London milongas I often feel that I am dancing in an old people¡¦s home. You only have to ask yourself why tango attracts such a dowdy middle aged crowd and those ¡§set in their ways¡¨ are mostly to blame for putting young ones off. The older crowd feel threatened by non tango choices not because they don¡¦t LIKE dancing to it but because they CAN¡¦T dance to it. (it shows their age
I personally have partners who are strictly milonguero while others are very progressive and let me tell you both give me equal joy. I would rather dance to a gorgeous unusual Yiddish track carefully picked by Hiba who¡¦s an awesome DJ than a Piazzola track which isn¡¦t even meant to be danced to in the first place!!

I need to give an answer if only to make me feel better.

Firstly I am not being presumptuous or arrogant, if you do not want to dance with me, fine. Some women do, some don’t. My remark is for those who do. I do not want to explain why you would want to dance with me, it is not something for words. If we are ever at the same milonga and you still do not want to dance with me, that is entirely up to you.

But let me take you back to when I first learned tango in the early 90’s; I learned a series of moves I was told that if you were any good, you could do them to any music. Having had no experience of tango prior to this I believed it all and just enjoyed what I was doing.

A few years later we went to the tango festival at Sitges where I was told “very good but that is not tango” so I had to re learn, this process of learn and re learn continued until I went to Buenos Aires in 2004, then it became clear to me; Tango is a musical genre, first and foremost, that is why people love Pugliese and Gardel, you do not need to dance to enjoy tango.

Because tango music can change cadence, go from melodic to rhythmic and even pause in the middle, the dance we do to it can be adapted to almost any music. I CAN dance tango to other music, the truth is I choose not to. Not because I believe I am too good for it or because of some desire to be a tango purist, but simply because to dance well I need to be inspired.

I have heard all sorts of music played in UK milongas, not so much in European milongas, but even in the very young totally Nuevo milongas in Buenos Aires they play only pure tango.

Why?  Because that is their culture. We dance tango, to imitate this culture, because we love to dance, or because of some sort of mating game. I may well have missed out your reasons, but the main reason we dance tango should be a love of tango.

HOW CAN YOU SAY YOU LOVE TANGO AND NOT LOVE THE MUSIC????

This argument will run and run, but, there is one group for whom there is no argument; Go to Buenos Aires, feel the tango in the air, visit the great milongas and hear how truly great DJ’s construct tandas every night and off the cuff, then and only then will you appreciate, and become one of the group for whom there is no argument “Tango dancing without tango music is just dancing, it is not tango”

Dance to what ever you want to, that is your prerogative, but do not call it tango if it is not.

Now as for the ageist comments, I am tempted, but I will keep it sweet. There is little tango in my part of the world so I must dance other dances. Social dances that I go to are almost  totally attended by people much older than I am, their energy and ability, I would pit against most twenty year olds, and where we go to salsa it is the youngsters who leave the floor first.

Dowdy?? Middle aged maybe, but I know few if any youngsters who can keep up my lifestyle, and never underestimate the value of experience. One day you too will have it too, and when the hurtful ageist comments are directed at you, you too can nod sagely and think “they will learn”

Remember, those of us with experience of life were young once and have not forgotten how we too had those feelings.

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Blame Culture

I blame the teachers, the women blame the men and the men blame the women.

Why do we do this, constantly tell each other what we think their faults are?

Tango is a conversation between a man and a woman, I ask you to step here (with my body) and occasionally you will not hear, then my job is to find you and try something different, not accuse you of not following.

If I speak and you do not hear, then surely I need to speak louder or just rephrase what I say.

When we first step onto the floor with a new partner, we must first learn how to conduct this conversation with each other, then we must find the level at which we are working and then we must listen to the music.

What we should never do is that step I learned last night with someone who has no idea about what is to happen and we have no real idea how to lead it and then blame our partner if it does not work.

Do you recognise this scene? “I wanted you over there” “but I don’t know what you want me to do” “Just put your foot there and I go this way” and on it goes.

This is not Tango, I am sure that the women hate this. The dance floor is for pleasure, not teaching, and who says you are teaching it correctly anyway?

I too am guilty of trying new moves on the dance floor, but, importantly, if the woman does not get it, I will try my hardest to not let her know, because if my lead were right she would have got it. Of course I do not always succeed and I get apologies from the women, what I really want is to be able to lead the ladies to do something they have never done before, for them to enjoy the dance with me and to simply be. I do not want apologies, learn this if nothing else “It is not your fault” when we talk with our bodies the tongue will only get in the way. The reason we have (usually) three dances together, is so that we can learn to communicate and, hopefully, by the last dance move in unison.

We learn tango here, by rote, we learn moves, never do we allow the men free movement and simply teach them how to lead. So we learn a new move, some get it quicker than others, so every other person in the room becomes teacher. Some confidently believe they know what they are doing; tell their partner the wrong move who then passes on to the next, to be told something different. Is it any wonder that some become so confused that they give up in frustration?

Many years ago I spent two weeks learning nothing but Ganchos, we were just beginners yet all the women in the room, who had been dancing longer than me (ie most of them) tried to bully me and told me I was useless. It nearly killed my tango off there and then. Yet when I danced with Viv it simply worked. I believe this was because we understood each other and how we moved. The women in that room did not understand (neither did I at the time) and had never been taught, that before we learn a move we must first learn how to communicate with each other.

Every tango is different, just as every tango dancer is different, so why do teachers strive to make us conform? Of course there are rules, but do we all need to have our arms in exactly the same place or do ochos in exactly the same way.

Constantly changing partners is something else that breaks this bond. I am not saying we should dance with the same partner all night, but I am willing to bet that almost every one of you has struggled with some move, with a particular partner and just at the point where you think you will get it you hear “change partners”. Sometimes we need a little longer to find each other and discover what a move holds, but reticence to change partners is seen as a weakness, when in fact occasionally it is exactly what every one needs.

I believe that this is just a ploy to make us spend more money, the more complex the moves the longer it will take to learn them, the more stylised the pose the more we can be manipulated to believe that we need more coaching. This goes on until we get the ridiculous situation where here, classes outnumber actual dances ten fold.

I could (if permitted) attend a class almost every night of the week and yet be lucky to get more than two dances a month. The danger is that we forget why we dance. Dancing is a social event a chance to meet other people to have contact and just enjoy. If you just want more night classes try flower arranging at least then there can be no one to blame but yourself.

We have developed a culture that gives free reign to the Tango fascists, I am sure you have all been subjected to the perfect dancer, who can do no wrong yet every thing you do is hopeless. It has happened to me, fortunately I have been dancing long enough now to be able to turn the tables, but I can well understand how newbies can be intimidated.

There is only one answer to these people “shut up and Dance or leave the floor”

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It’s all about attitude

Some of you may remember my tentative introduction to Jantango, I was fearful of meeting another American lady; you see my experiences were not up until then good ones.

I keep reading about ladies stuck on the peripheries, they look out onto the dance floor and because of the conventions of tango, simply do not get to dance.

A few years ago via my old blog I came into contact with another American Lady, I found that I agreed with all the things that she said and wanted to exchange ideas. Imagine then my surprise when I wrote and was just rewarded with a torrent of abuse. I met this lady later and tried again to be friendly only to be given the cold shoulder. Every time I see her I get the same snub, I live in hope that one day she will see the error of her ways and we can be friends.

I see her in milongas regularly, looking sour faced and nobody dancing with her. She writes about all the people she dances with but this is not the case, whenever I see her she is looking miserable and I might say others report the same thing. She has the wrong attitude to attract men to dance with her.

A number of times recently it has appeared on the Blog scene about why men choose certain women to dance with and not others. I have seen a few good answers here http://sallycatway.com/?p=2537 and here http://jantango.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/a-matter-of-attitude/. But for me the total answer is about attitude.

Another woman who appeared on the scene was old enough to be my mother, yet I loved dancing with her, she was light on her feet, I enjoyed dancing with her, but more important to me (yes I know I am shallow) she let me know she enjoyed dancing with me. Yet she believed that no one wanted to dance with her because she was too old.

On the scene near me is perhaps one of the most beautiful women I know, she is by all accounts a very good dancer and young to boot. She looks down her nose at anyone who she thinks is not up to her high level. I can honestly say, I have never asked her to dance.

One of the problems that the more mature lady has is a belief that we men are only looking for the young and beautiful. Maybe in some cases this is true, but far from always, so they sit there with a long face and wonder why someone maybe not as good or not as old is getting more dances.

I have simple advice for the ladies, and yes it is true that as a man my needs are shallow. Smile look as if you want to dance and tell the man he is wonderful, you will be surprised at the out come. I believe that as a leader my job is to make the woman happy make her look beautiful and keep her safe. If at the end of the dance she tells me I have done a good job, I am lifted, and believe me there is nothing comes back as fast as a compliment. So suddenly you feel good as well, it will show on your face and soon the men will be queuing up to dance with you.

There are men out there who take joy in picking holes in your tango, smile at them and just let it ride (no I can’t do it either but try) because when they are queuing up to dance with you, then you can choose to leave him out next time. And remember it is difficult to criticise a woman that every man in the room wants to dance with.

I take other blogs often as my inspiration, and there is a running thread here http://londontango.wordpress.com/2010/03/14/how-did-tango-bring-out-the-bitch-in-me/ all about why women are left on the sidelines and we men choose certain women. The biggest thing that comes out to me is a comment about so called intermediate women who “know the steps” I have come across one or two of these in my time, truth is you cannot know the steps, not with me anyway, because I don’t know what I am going to do next. That depends on a number of things; the music, the dance floor, other dancers, and whether what I led last was followed.  You see, if something I led was not followed, I do not stop and lecture the woman, it could be her fault it could just as easily be mine. The point is at that point I must adapt, alter what I am doing and make the woman believe that everything I led she had followed. Basically despite what I have just said, any failure to follow is down to me. This though cannot happen when I have a follower who knows the steps and that is why very often I will choose to dance with beginners, they accept what I am doing and believe that I really know it.

I know Who is faultless?  Not me I have thousands of faults, but you are not going to put them right, here and now on the dance floor, neither am I going to correct yours so we just enjoy the dance and in this way we will all improve.

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Pride

Pride comes in many forms and it can do funny things to us. The other day I was walking through town following an old, bent and withered man. In the centre of town is an open square and as they do several times a year, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, having just returned from Afghanistan,  were having a promotional drive, there was one or two military vehicles, a trailer with a recruiting officer in residence, and an improvised parade ground. Maybe a dozen soldiers were marching up and down, resplendent in their ceremonial uniforms with their instruments filling the afternoon air. As we turned into the square the old man first heard then saw the soldiers and maybe had a vision of his younger days. As we grew closer his back visibly straightened up, then his pace quickened, and gradually his stride lengthened. By the time he reached the middle of the square he was in full marching order, his arms swung high and he moved to the beat of the band. Suddenly regimental pride had taken forty years off his life, and the old man who had stumbled into the square marched out the other side like a young soldier.

We react in a similar way when we dance, we notice an audience and the chest goes out the stomach pulls in, the head comes up and our steps become more precise. This is all to the good, but pride can have its down side:

As we dance around the floor, and things go wrong, as they often do, we believe everyone is watching, suddenly there is no one else on the floor and we are the centre of attention. At this point we get annoyed with our partner and start the blame culture. “you did not follow” “that is because your lead is crap” I am sure we have all been there.

Why do we care so much? In the end it is only dancing, we are supposed to be there for pleasure, and if someone watching notices that things are not going well, could they do any better? The truth is, nobody knows what you intended, often our partner will not know either unless we tell them. How many times has your partner apologised and you did not know why? Think about it. So when you apologise for some indiscretion they similarly do not know why.

The role of the leader is to lead, obviously, but also to know where his follower is. If a lead does not quite work and the follower is somewhere unintended, just enjoy the new position, react and treat it as a new move. Tango is a dance that allows you time to think, allows you to find each others weight and even play a little, faced with something different, do not make it a moment of conflict, but instead a moment of joy, something new to play with.

Pride also plays a part in the moves mans repertoire, if he cannot keep changing his routine, someone may notice that he is running out of moves. This is the time he stops mid floor and explains to the poor bemused follower, as the fault is obviously all hers that people are noticing her lack of ability. I have news for these guys Nobody was watching until you stopped, nobody cared whether you had just done your third volcada, but what they do care about is that you are stopping the flow, and they will notice you are trying to do something you are incapable of leading.

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Back to basics

How do you rate a dancer? Is it someone with all the moves, someone who moves smoothly around the room, or someone who pleases their partner?

It must be obvious to anyone from my previous posts how I think, but I wonder, do others agree? I still see many who simply want to accumulate as many moves as possible and move constantly into higher classes without first mastering the level that they are at.

A similar thing happens in the salsa scene as well; we started back to salsa about six months ago, and due to the long break we have had, we started right from beginners. A few of those who started with us moved into improvers as soon as they could. We however stayed for a second term.

Now you may think that perhaps we are just slow learners, and I would not disagree, but there are quite a few others who fit this same category.

After our second term with the beginners, we moved on, only to find the same people who had been with us before now struggling. This was now their third term, so of course they must move on from intermediates to advanced. What is the hurry?

We fully intend to do another term of intermediates before we move on, we will know when we are ready and we have many more years dancing ahead, there is no point in spending those years struggling.

Can you not learn to dance well with the basic moves first? As we change partners I can tell who has rushed through and not yet achieved the basics. There is no shame in being in a beginner’s class; after all in tango as well as salsa you can look good doing the basics if you do them well, equally you can look awful trying to do advance stuff when you do not have the basics.

I can’t remember who said it but it is never the less true:

“Beginner’s want to dance like intermediates,

Intermediates want to dance like advanced dancers

Advanced dancers want to dance like the greats

But the greats always go back to basics.”

We are fortunate in the tango scene around here, in that most intermediates attend the beginner’s classes as well. This keeps them grounded and aware that we are never too good to go on learning. It serves another purpose as well, it gives the beginner’s an idea of how they should dance. This learning experience is lost however when we stand mid floor and direct them verbally to do moves for which they are just not ready.

All of us, in time will develop a repertoire that suits our style and ability to remember. The moves we learn and carry with us are a product of each of our personal styles; these things develop with time and patience.

The point is though, to try and learn moves just for their own sake, is pointless, and in the end will be fruitless. If your body is not ready and your abilities not honed, then you will just be going through the motions, you will always struggle and in the end will just forget what you have learned.

Take this from someone who has been there, someone who has in the past had a massive repertoire, learned all the moves, but in the end, lost it all and went back to basics.

Viv and I have been dancing together now for, I think, sixteen years. Not all of it tango, that is true, but for most of that time we have done tango in one form or another. My personal tango journey has seen me stop and re learn time and again until we saw how it should be done, in Buenos Aires. I am more than glad to pass my experiences on to others to save them time on their personal journeys, but for those (and I can understand the need) who need to travel their own route, I will wish them well and help if I can, for I am sure that in the end they will come back to tango as it should be, basic, flowing, line of dance, and with the music.

I am constantly reminded that the scene here is growing at a meteoric rate. This is due in no small part to the fact that we are all learning the same things from a proper syllabus. The teacher we have is trained in teaching, not someone who has just picked it up, and we are learning traditional tango, danced to traditional music, line of dance and for our partners.

Our group now has over one hundred dancers, I was taken to task for saying it is too small to split, despite the number I still think this is the case. As a group we need to stick together, while we are together dances will be successful, the group knowledge will increase, and more importantly we will attract more and more dancers into the fold.

After all is this not what we want? For the whole world to enjoy this beautiful dance?

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Tango Tyrant?

Some one said to me that my views come across as extreme, I hope that is not so. My presentation is always on the jokey side, I never take myself too seriously and I hope my readers do not either. That is why I always ask for comments and there is an open invitation to anyone with my email to drop me a line if they think I have said anything in any way upsetting. That does not however mean I will give up editorial control, what I say here is my own thoughts, comments, unless abusive or spam, will always be published whether or not I agree with them, but I will change my own words only if they upset or seem to suggest something other than I intended.

My views and my heart are very much with traditional tango but allsorts are tolerated here, the community is not big enough to split. You will not get me doing tango to non tango music, but if others choose, so be it. Expect me to be sitting down though.

On the subject of extreme views I have just read a very interesting article called Tango Tyrant. I desperately wanted to comment, but in the way of these things, when you really want to comment, comments are not allowed.

So hopefully I will not be in too much trouble if I quote bits of it here.

Our Tango Tyrant said many of the things I do, but as is so often the case, he also says things to which I would not agree like “A proper Milonga should have a curtain at the door” while this is often true, surely you cannot decide on a places authenticity by one piece of soft furnishing. I could go on about where we agree or not, but this is not my point. My point is that, tango is different things to different people, we can comment gently, we can advise, correct even (to a limit) but we should not be rude or forceful.

People reading my blogs may get the impression that I can be a bit of a Tango Tyrant, I hope I am not. My methods are more softly spoken; I will dance with a woman and slowly introduce some complexity. If she goes off on her own I will let her this time but then take a more firm hold, if she fails to follow I will try again or something else. The Milonga floor is no place to teach or to lecture.

Fortunately now in this part of the woods ladies are taught to follow and not taught complex routines. This does not mean all women follow well here, we do get wilful women, who enjoy tango in their own way. While I find it frustrating at times, they seem to enjoy it and if I stood there lecturing them, they would not want to dance with me, if they stayed with tango at all. No, by constantly giving good lead and waiting while they return after their excursions I think they will in time become good followers rather than resentful as they could if I were  more aggressive.

Catch me on a bad day and I can seem aggressive, this is an unfortunate side effect of having to work long hours. When I arrive at a tango class after being awake already seventeen hours and after four hours sleep I hope that my followers will understand and forgive me.

There must be rules, in everything you do and everywhere you go there are rules, so why should tango be different, but to call us the Tango police or even tango tyrants is unfair.

I like to think we keep discipline in an informal way, with a smile on our faces.

Correction should be done gently and with a smile, leads firm but definite, and instruction limited to the class.

I hope I do not come across like the man in this article, if I do you should definitely tell me.

This is the address of the article; I just hope I have not contravened some copyright laws by including an extract here in blue.

http://www.jivetango.co.uk/GettingStarted/LaDulce.html#Tyrant

Friday night found me back at Neg’s and very jolly it was too. I took my camera for a bit of shoe porn and had a fine time adding to my collection. I lingered uncharacteristically long upstairs (ain’t I getting brave?) happy to watch the dancers and enjoy the music, while chatting to Bb the Wise and Ms Domestic Wildlife. With my eye way off the cabecea ball I was startled to be asked to dance. The gorgeous young Turk smelled of cinnamon and spoke honeyed words in response to my apology. I could have eaten up every last baklava bit of him. But I’m on a strict connubial diet, so I went downstairs to join the LGTN group for some fat-(chance) burning. As I rose from stowing my camera behind the bench, a man I’d never seen before asked me to dance.

He had the most gracious embrace-approach I’d ever come across – wordless yet warm, his focus so soothing I found my breathing synchronizing with his. Was this the Holy Grail, CONNECTION? Before we’d even touched hands?

Things deteriorated rapidly after that.

(After one track)
TT: “Where did you learn these things you do?”
LD: (Noting the beetling of his brow)
“If you mean my mistakes, I assure you I make them up as I go along.”
TT: (Unamused)
“That’s the trouble with the teaching here; you haven’t been taught to follow. ”
LD: “Sorry. I’ve only been dancing three months.”
TT: “You can be taught to follow in three hours, but you need one-to-one tuition. You’ve been in group lessons, haven’t you?
LD: “Guilty as charged.”
TT: “There’s no point dancing with beginners. You won’t learn anything but bad habits.”

Other things he said:

  • Too many people are getting into teaching and dancing tango without understanding enough about it
  • Most milongas have no business calling themselves by that name
  • British dancers are afraid of close embrace
  • Followers who apologise are just getting retaliation in early
  • The British give blanket veneration to Argentinian dancers; many don’t deserve it.

Experienced dancers I have spoken to admit there is some truth in TT’s statements. But why did I endure his head-shaking admonitions through three tandas? Because I glimpsed the possibilities inherent in following a very confident and creative lead. But a milonga is no place to malinger, so his rate being the going one, I arranged a lesson.

As always you comments are always welcome here.

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