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One tired Milonguero

Twelve hour shifts and Tango never did go well together, so I arrived at Saturdays milonga not in the best condition to dance. As usual we arrived early to set up Viv’s shoe stall and help where I can in the setting up.

The dancers arrived slowly at first as I warmed myself on the wall heaters. When there were ladies to dance with, they either danced with their partners or disappeared to look at the shoes. My rest did not last long though, soon enough I was up dancing and from then on there were just too many women.

My heart was not in it however and when I danced with Sharon she complained that I was sleeping on her. (I must qualify this as I have been taken to task before; it was not really a complaint just my way of saying she noticed I was not totally there)

Then a milonga came on and I was alive again, the music always lifts me and can drag me out of the deepest stupor. I whisked Viv around the room and for around nine minutes I was lost in the music.

A tanda of DiSarli was what really finally brought me alive, Sharon has spent all the money she has made from the milongas on a new sound system and now it was really paying dividends, suddenly it sounded like we are in Buenos Aires not some village hall in Shropshire and I am grateful for a little taste of heaven.

It was nice to see everyone sticking to the line of dance at last, and I never saw anyone trying to teach on the dance floor, it could be because I was semi comatose but I suspect that everyone is finally understanding the difference between classes, practices and milongas. I did however see the odd case of kicking as someone tries to execute something they saw on you tube and has no idea how to do properly. I let it pass this time as every thing was going so well and you can only change so much at once.

I think I managed to get around most of the women there, but again for those I missed, I probably could not even see you through my haze, so please accept my apologies.

After two weeks of appalling weather I was surprised that more did not turn up, I think that there were perhaps two dozen there, the hall could accommodate easily three times that amount. Personally I was desperate to dance after the amount of dances that have been cancelled, so that even though I was tired I needed my fix. Dancing is my drug of choice and I was getting serious withdrawal symptoms. You need only look at my dance diary                       01 January 2010  and see the amount of red text to see how many nights we have missed.

By the end of the night I was really in no fit condition to drive home, but I had enjoyed myself and yet again I have to say that those who missed it really did miss a great night.

My thanks to those who helped Sharon pack up, as I said; I was in no condition to help.

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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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Dancing the music

The time from our Saturday milonga to the Chester class on Monday seems an age. Of course we have a social dance on Sunday in Connah’s Quay, but these dances have now become just a fill in to the main event.

There is the usual scramble before we depart, ensuring we have the right shoes (I need my heels in case I have to follow). Then we are off again. Outside the Groves we see Katrina on her mobile, I say “hurry up we must dance before the class”. As there is only quarter of an hour before the class starts, I want to have a chance to make things up as soon as possible, but she gesticulates and mumbles something while carrying on with her phone call. That was the last I saw of her that night, what happened and why she did not come in I do not know, I do hope I get another chance to dance on Thursday.

When the beginners’ class starts there is again a shortage of women, so my heels will again come in handy. Some of the men looked rather worried, this is a fairly new group and they would not believe that I was going to dance the woman’s part. As things turned however a couple of women arrived and I could then join as a man.

The problem as always with the early class is that people arrive after the class starts and soon more men arrived, so after a short period sat out I again rejoined as a follower. The guy who had looked so worried was after all soon dancing with me.

Things continued fluctuating throughout the beginner’s class but in the main after this I led.

Something that I always notice is the difficulty that ballroom dancers have with tango. The fact that they are acquainted with the mechanics of motion and are able to move with the music seems to help little. Ballroom dancers lead from the hip and this posture of leaning back is totally at odds with the forward posture adopted by tango dancers. While I acknowledge this is Sharon’s class, her concern is with the whole class and can not devote too much time to one person. Maybe next week I can spend some time with the ballroom ladies and get their posture sorted.

In the improvers class we again worked on the giro, my problem as always is steps, so I have to take care to do the move that Sharon has taught and not just make something up as I usually do, and run the risk of confusing every one.

We also spent some time moving to the music, this is something all the British have trouble with, unlike the Spanish and Argentines, who will move to any music without training and still look better than us. We can learn steps and we can do them to the beat, but this is not the same as interpreting the music through dance. Learning that you cannot do the same thing to Canaro as you would to DiSarli is not something many teachers here put emphasis on, I take my hat off to Sharon for trying, and daring to be different.

As usual at the end we had some practice time. I managed to dance with most of the women, but it was only Sharon with whom I managed to redeem my self for Saturday.

I hope to try again Thursday and catch up with those I have missed.

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Gratitude

Working days are never good for tango, I arrived home earlier than usual, and as I always do I checked my email. Most I just ignore, some are saved for later and some require immediate reply, but in the end I cannot give them my full time as I need to get ready for the night ahead.

We have another Gobowen Milonga tonight, during the day there were classes with Haden. I have not yet met him and obviously I could not do the classes as I had to work.

The Milonga followed the usual routine, I would do a couple of tandas with Viv, then I would try to dance with as many women as possible.

There are some here who have not yet reached a level where a dance is comfortable, and so as I lead around the room I spend some time just trying to get the posture right. This annoys Viv, because one of My pet hates is people teaching on the dance floor. I see a subtle difference between trying to get some one to do a new move and just getting the basics, still I take the point. My problem of course is that those who are struggling sort of rely on me, and I have come to feel in some way responsible for them. (Who do you think you are? more of this later).

Anyway as the night went on I think I just about managed most of the women, and Viv enjoyed a dance with Haden. She has now taken to asking the men to dance as they are either too proud or too shy to ask her, so at least I feel less guilty about leaving her and dancing with other women.

Towards the end of the night I get a refusal, it seems sore feet trumps Bob dance. Half joking I say you don’t get a second chance to refuse. I say half joking, it is not so much my fragile ego, but a shortage of time. Just before we leave (I really need some sleep before I get up again at five) I have an opportunity to dance again with the lady with the sore feet. As we begin the dance I say you should be grateful that I returned to you (who do you think you are? again). She replies that I should be grateful that she will dance with me.

So once again let me say, I am truly grateful to all the ladies who dance with me. The good dancers who enjoy the dance and make me feel like a good dancer, the not so good who I can have fun with showing them something new and laughing when things go wrong, even the complete beginners who give me satisfaction when I can make them dance. Every one of you makes me feel special and though I joke with you, I truly cannot forget it and I appreciate you all. So here it is THANKS!!!

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Five loaves ?

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What was I saying about miracles?  After this weeks session at the Lantern, we again reconvened at the Coracle for a drink. Now Dave may say that he is just lucky, but I reckon he has some sort of power, because there we were sating our thirsts thinking, “hm something to eat would be nice” when there appeared the landlord with a plate of sandwiches.

Is it me or are Daves eyes glowing? Summoning up the butty God.

Is it me or are Daves eyes glowing? Summoning up the butty God.

 Anyway back to the Tango: We arrived a bit earlier this week, and this gave me some more time just walking with the beginners. It is to Sharon’s credit that even though the large numbers last week were probably to do with the “Strictly Come Dancing” effect, all but six turned up again this week. Perhaps not everyone expects dancing to be like that, and can understand the concept of social dancing.

I am amazed at  the standard that is being achieved here. Nobody yet has complained about the lack of figures and they all seem happy that they can at least take the floor.  I can only put this down to the small group of dancers that is making a home here, and to no small part the efforts of Dave and Sharon.

In the intermediate class we again practiced crossing the ladies and moving around the room in cross system. Previous teachers in this area have tended toward the, shall I say, more elaborate dancing. Now the ladies are coming to the understanding that if I do not lead anything then they need do nothing.

Just looking beautiful is enough, and if they do not know what I want them to do, that is my fault not theirs.

Just a few pictures of the night, They will improve with time, I have only had this camera a very short while.

I am now entering a period where I will not be able to get to Shrewsbury every week So my reports will be sporadic. I know I can trust the team to do a great job, and I really look forward to seeing how everyone has improved when I return.

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