Tag Archives: DiSarli

Real Ale?

I had a last-minute invite to go out with some of my old colleagues, not wanting to miss a chance to catch up I did some rearranging and set off to meet them. John was already walking so I jumped on the bus and met him half way.

It turns out Adie has started a brewery and he wanted us to try his new beers. (What has this got to do with Tango? I hear you ask, patience my friends, all will become clear).

Now real ale is a funny thing, it has to be served at just the right time, so in both the pubs we tried, the old guest beers were still on and Adie’s beer was not yet being served. This did not stop us sampling all the beer that was on offer though.

Now many who know me, know I like my beer filtered to death clear and sugar sweet. My taste in beer is enough to drive Real Ale drinkers to mad bouts of lecturing on why I am so wrong in my taste.

It was during one of these bouts that it came to me; Real Ale is just like Tango. Do you like your dancing sanitized? Saccharine sweet and polished? The beer I drink is Strictly Come Dancing and I now see the Real Ale drinkers point. DiSarli and D’Arienzo are the true real  Ales of tango. I now, perhaps will have a more sympathetic ear for those who only know a televised version of Tango, at least I can understand where they are coming from.

I may be a real tango buff, but I still like my beer factory made.

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Profesionals?

It was always going to be hectic, too many things to do in too short a time. It all started when Viv was asked to help at the WI. At first it was “teach them some simple Line dances” then it became “you could do some tango as well” Trouble is, how do you do a demo of Salon tango to people who’s only experience of Argentine tango is Strictly Come Dancing.

So it soon became a talk, and then a demo, after that it was a simple case of leave the line dancing to Viv.

Our day started late (because of a night shift the night before) with a practice, our small dance room gives us only enough room to warm up. If we had a choreographed routine, it would either not fit here or it would be lost in any decent sized room. So we warmed up and Viv worried that I would miss out all our best moves. For me though it is better that I just relax, nobody knows all our moves and they probably would not care.

Viv was also worried about the music, she changed her mind daily. I had to put my foot down on Saturday and say “whatever we choose today, that is it” In the end we settled for Champagne Tango By Carlos DiSarli, Corazon de Oro and El Portenita by Angel Vargas. I wanted Café Dominguez, but Viv did not like the talking at the start. I held it in reserve anyway.

We also had to rearrange the music systems. The speakers from my power amp are large, to say the least, so in order to save space they have taken over in the dining room. They look less conspicuous when in use and my usual speakers can be hidden away.

Everything had to be restored to working order for the night’s practica after the speakers were removed, so there was much cable pulling and reconnecting to be done.

Finally, with everything set up at home and all the show gear in the car we set off for our venue. When we arrived they were already setting up the tables in a ring around the room. “We thought you wanted the middle of the room” they said. Trouble was, with the sound gear on the stage, set at a volume we could work at, the people at that end of the room would have the backs of their heads blasted off.

They were very accommodating and soon things were arranged to please us. Next problem was the floor, it was a school hall you see. There was a tile missing in the middle, that was bad enough but worse there were two Comme Il Faut heal size holes in the floor. I figured out that these were bolt holes for the wall bars when they were swung out.

We needed a practice to find ways of avoiding the obstacles. Finally set, we then waited for the crowds. A few of the ladies came over and asked some awkward questions “are you the man who teaches on Tuesday?” “Do you teach in the church hall?” It took me some time to realise, they thought I was a line dance teacher. The Suit, tie and Oxford shoes should have given it away. Line Dancers wear jeans and boots, and I had no hat or sixguns.

Viv gave a very good talk, with me interrupting where necessary, hopefully the ladies of Rossnesni WI now know the difference between salon and show tango. They were very attentive, and even had a few questions for us afterwards.

Our demo went off well, as always I forgot some of our signature moves, but we kept it moving and stayed with the music. So in my eyes anyway, it was a success. The ladies seemed to enjoy it and thanked Viv profusely when she finally left.

Me? I had to rush off, someone to pick up for the practica and I had one very helpful neighbour, who was attending the house, in case anyone arrived early. Anyway there was no point in me being late as well.

We had a great practica, numbers were up and just one extra female. Viv finally managed to arrive in time for a last couple of dances.

So we had another great practica, enjoyed thoroughly our demo and on top of that we were rewarded for our efforts.

I guess that now make us professional Dancers. Bookings are now being taken.

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Its not just tango

On nights when we cannot get to a tango venue we will seek out any dancing we can get. On such a night we ended up at a Salsa Wales event at Ewloe social club. I try my best to get to these events as often as I can, but often my shifts get in the way.

When we arrived there were not many there , but we had friends who would soon join us, so not too down hearted. Marie Louise plays an eclectic mix and the dancing ranges from salsa to sequence dancing.

There was no time when I had to sit down, because we did not know a dance.We danced Ballroom, Sequence, latino and even Tango.There was no interval so by the end of the night I was well and truly knackered.

We had some wonderful tangos and even milongas. Trouble is the only tango dancers were Viv and I. We left the floor each time to applause. Viv is not happy being the floor show but I am just happy to dance.

Bob (the guy who complains about dancing tango to non tango music) now has a new moan. Have you ever tried dancing sequence to Carlos DiSarli? OK not a moan, I loved it, but it did things to my head. You simply cannot go into a giro halfway through the Tango Serida.

We thouroughly enjoyed the evening and look forward to the next time. Well not the next one on 29th October as I am on nights again. But I will definitely attend on 26th November and 17th December.

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Mid Summer madness

As always , for our mid summer dance, we had received few replies, so we had no idea who, if any, would arrive.

Lynn and John were definites as, we thought, would be Ralph. However at about three Ralph phone to say he was too busy. Although disappointed it would give us more time, without his pre dance class. Then half an hour later  he called again to say he had re scheduled some work and would now be coming. In between these calls Glyn had also called, so we now had an extra man.

Thank God for Mary, more men than you could shake a stick at and only three women. Well they always complain that they are left sitting because there are too many women and not enough men. Nobody was saying tonight “basta la plancha” more like “necesita descansar”

Well my doctor has told me to eat less cheese and sugar, so Mary brought a cheese and mushroom pie and James brought chocolate biscuits. I try to resist, but I am weak, and that Stilton could not possibly go back in the fridge for a third time.

Every one seemed to enjoy D’Arienzo followed by DiSarli. There is good reason why they are my favourites along, it seems, with other people. Still though most people have to work so by half ten almost everyone had gone.

Mary, simply refused to go home and while I consumed more alcohol she dragged me out of my depressed state. She has a way of cheering me up that is a rare gift. So when everyone had gone we sat talking and then listening to some old music via you tube.  You cannot be miserable listening to The Stargazers or Danny Kaye.

Finally at silly o’clock I took Mary over to her house and went to bed. Viv likes to spend some time with her kindle and the light disturbs me. Not tonight though, I fell straight asleep.

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Di Sarli, The missing years

Our trip to Ideal yesterday made me realise that there is a gap in my Di Sarli collection, so as I am in Buenos Aires there could be no better time to fill it.

We took the subte down to Callao where we surfaced right outside Zivals. The collection of music in here is colossal, and I suspect that if you cannot get it here you will get it no where. We trawled through all the Di Sarli albums, but try as we might, could find nothing for the years 31-40 and 48-51. Still I had a hand full of CDs and a way of using some of the dollars I had bought with our money from tango.

There was still Musimundo across the road. This proved fruitless, there was far less choice here and the arrangement was somewhat chaotic. So we left deciding to try El Ateneo. This also was fruitless, the shelves here were even more chaotic. Di sarli was spread about all over the place amongst D’Arienzo, Canaro even Queen. This was pointless.

As we walked back along Callao there was another small music shop and Viv said we should at least try. Well in here there was at least some order, but the collection of old tango was minute. We did however find that Juan Carlos Caceres track we have been looking for, for so long Tango Negro.

At the back of the shop was the most wonderful restaurant you have ever seen. With a patio out the back with trees and umbrellas, wonderful modern artwork on the walls. So we had to stop for a coffee.

When we set off again it felt damp, the sky was overcast and gloomy. I had intended to take the D line and go into Palermo to buy some tea for our practica, but we were not dressed for rain. We took our normal B line back to Medrano and rushed home.

Come time to head out again to Fulgor and it has not yet rained. God it seems does favour the brave, ah well there is always tomorrow.

We wonder whether the DJ has changed here, something is different about the music. I am not sure exactly what but something is different. It just goes to show that there is more to this than simply putting on a few tunes. It is knowing the audience as well as the music. We never see the DJ here as he is hidden away in a box, so we will never really know.

A lot of the old crowd were not here tonight and there was a big party of strangers, still we had a good time and all the locals came and wished us well as always.

On the walk home the rain finally came, not heavy but it would have been enough to get us wet, good job I thought to bring the umbrella.

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Beginners?

When do we stop being beginners? Can we ever stop learning in tango? When do we become advanced enough to teach?

All these questions I am constantly asking, and I am afraid I have yet to come up with a definitive answer. I myself have been dancing tango for more than ten years, nearer fifteen. The fact that I cannot even put an answer on this, I think, shows what a protracted journey it has been for me.

Even after all this time I still feel like a principiante when in the crowded and well organised milongas in Buenos Aires. The porteños have tango in their blood and understand that there is more to this dance than steps, or even the dance itself. They learn the music first, how to move to it comes only with time.

Yet here in the UK, I see people who take six months of classes and then think “I can teach this”, I see ballroom teachers whose only experience of tango is from a book, teaching steps and choreography, and I see DJ’s who think that it is clever to put something on other than tango (after all it is four-four time).

I am moved to write this after comments about people learning steps, who are considered to be no longer beginners. To be more than a beginner you need to immerse yourself in the music, you need to feel the hearts and minds of the greats like D’Arienzo or DiSarli and you need to be acquainted with the milongas of Buenos Aires.

So to me those who learn routines and dance steps will always be beginners. People who learn to dance this way cannot know the joy of a pure improvised tango and until they do they will not understand.

I have seen people who have learned steps come to Buenos Aires and stand confused and unable to move in the milongas. They take a step from their routine and find that they cannot make the next; they find themselves barged and pushed to the centre where they can do less harm. Unless they are prepared to start afresh they will leave disillusioned and look elsewhere for their dancing experience.

While I am happy to teach what I know and pass on my experience, I still lack much of the knowledge needed, even after all this time and as others will tell you, I still have trouble identifying the music.

I see tango watered down all the time, as more and more people come onto the scene, all wanting to make a buck from the new sensation. The only person I know of who ever became rich through tango was Francisco Canaro, and much of that was from cheating his fellow musicians. Nobody is ever going to become rich teaching tango in the UK, the most we can hope is to cover our costs.

To teach tango here for any other reason than the love of it, is cheating yourself and your customers.

The other great “mistake” I see is teaching for its own sake; how often in this country do we get a milonga without a workshop first? We see three or four hour classes with half an hour of practice. To my mind this is all about face, when we go to Buenos Aires we will take maybe one or two classes, but dance three or four hours a night, every night. That is a ratio of about ten to one, hours dancing to hours in class.

You will never become a better dancer by listening to someone talk, the only way to improve you dancing is to dance and dance some more, then go back and just have your dancing fine tuned a little each time, then dance some more, (In the words of one of my dance teachers “Practica, Bob, practica, practica, practica”).

You could, of course, just keep going and learning steps, but then you will be learning something else, not Tango.

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What a success!

What a success! OK we only had just over half a dozen people, but they all came to dance and to enjoy themselves.

I worried at the start that we would have all men, but, as always, the women were late and soon we had an excess. One more woman than the men was, I think, a good balance.

I am learning as I go and the format changed from what I first envisaged. My first thoughts were to just have one artist all night, but that, I thought would get a bit samey. So I made some posters with the names of the orchestras on them and changed them as the night went on.

I kept it simple though, we started with DiSarli, then D’Arienzo and finished with a couple of Pugliese, for those who like that sort of thing.

Somewhere in the middle we did a demo of Kizomba, some though were not impressed, but as we pointed out “we have only had one lesson”.

The small amount of food that we had on was nibbled at and was quite sufficient, drinks were quaffed, but as most were driving I got little help with the Argentine Malbec and had to drink almost the whole bottle myself. Due to a mix up with Dairycrest we had a juice lake, which then stayed in the fridge as we forgot to put it out, so now we will be drinking juice until it comes out of our ears.

Funny how we all got up to dance at the same time and all stopped for a rest together, it was even more sociable than I envisaged. Instead of a changing corner we had the stairs, so than anyone sitting out could see all the action.

We are having a second practica next week, but it looks like most of this weeks attendees will not be there, hopefully a whole new crowd will come and experience the Gresford welcome. After that we are off on the OGG1 grand summer tour where we hope to be seeing more tango around the UK.

On a different subject; I paid for my magazine advert today and on entering the office I was greeted by Jill with a cheery “Hi Bob” not that unusual you may think, but Jill (Editor owner and general do everything) has seen me only once, and then I was stressed out and rushing around trying to sort out the problems with my SEAT. I am constantly amazed at how some people have this ability to remember other people from the merest of contacts a talent that I am sadly lacking. So if I pass you by without a wave nudge me and say who you are, I am not ignoring you, just stupid.

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Instincts and Emotions

Every week, when I am not working, we head off to a local market searching for bargains and mingle with the crowds. Every week, when I am there, I meet a work colleague we exchange greetings and say “see you in work”. On my last trip when we did not meet, I had an irrational feeling of disappointment.

Many years ago we had a dog, wandering soul that he was he would try to escape at any opportunity. The only thing that would make him return was rattling his lead. Why when he was free anyway, would he return just to walk with me? And why should I feel disappointment at not seeing someone who I would see every working day?

As humans we like to think we are something special, but we are just animals, may be more intelligent, but still driven by emotions and instincts that we have little control of.

One of these instincts is to be close, to touch another human. Tango satisfies this need along with another, the joy of moving to a rhythm and great music.

The English peoples have for some years suppressed these desires and that, I think, is the reason why, when Tango first came to the UK, it came as an open dance and with a sequence of steps that took no account of the music. You can only suppress basic instincts so long and the English are learning to move to the music now and Tango is coming of age here. Non tango people I know cannot understand how we can be so close without getting aroused; they talk about groping bottoms or grinding crotches, quite apart from the fact that such behaviour would make one a pariah it fails to understand the human need just to be close. Go to any football match and see what happens when a goal is scored, suddenly in the heat of excitement reserve is forgotten and men actually hug other men, I have even seen the odd kiss.

As a teenager I used to go to local dances and if a girl deigned to allow me a dance woe betide if I crossed the line drawn by her handbag. In the seventies no body touched, the age of free love was largely a myth created by the media and a few hippies. The world was awash with drug suppressed emotions. By that I do not mean just the recreational drugs like marijuana, although I saw enough of this around. Prescription anti depressants were rife; there was a bottle of Vallium in almost every home.

Thankfully these times are passed; we are getting back in touch with our emotions and getting closer to each other. I can now go to a dance, ask a woman I have never met to dance and hold her closer than I ever held even my mother.

This is the joy of tango, I feel it when I dance, the ladies I dance with feel it also, a joyful three minute hug to the strains of DiSarli, D’Arienzo or Tantori. Try as I might I cannot do this feeling justice, so I will say that Sally describes it best here. http://sallycatway.com/?p=2537  Just reading this has me dreaming again of Buenos aires and counting the days to my return.

However I feel before a Milonga, I leave lifted, happy and ready for what life has to throw at me.

So when I get emotional, or you think I get too radical in my tango views, it is only because of the joy it has brought to my life, and I do not want you, me or anybody to be sold short, by people who have other agendas or are just in tango to make money. Nor do I want the North of England to become the tango desert it was when I first started.

If someone tries to tell you that tango can be danced to any music, or that an open embrace is good or especially tries to teach you while they should be dancing, tell them they are wrong. Tango is a rhythm, tango is emotion, tango is love, tango is not rote or showy and deserves more respect that just to be danced to any old music. Give tango what it deserves and it will repay you over and over.

Show tango no respect however and you will soon get fed up and move on to your next fad and be the poorer for it.

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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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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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