Tag Archives: Gobowen


Those who know me will attest that I am not a fan of facebook, but it does have its uses. When you can filter past all the dross about farm worlds and kingdoms, and how Suzie is changing a nappy and Sam is drinking a beer, there are some good ways to keep in touch.

So I ignored my normal reticence and set up a group for our Gresford Practicas, not that many who come actually joined. What I can never understand though, is why people who have no intention of coming still join the group. Yet sometimes it can re-ignite old friendships.

So it was that Anthony (who used to teach tango in Gobowen and Chester) got in touch with me via the group.

We had a long exchange of messages and eventually I was able to accept his invitation over to see him and his boat.

We set off on a glorious day and I was happy to be able to take my little sports car down a fast and bendy A525 with the roof off. The final road to Overwater Marina is still new and dusty and at quite low speeds I was able to provoke my little car into going sideways leaving a cloud of dust behind us. As you can imagine, by the time we arrived I had a grin from ear to ear.

We walked up to the reception area, with the intention of using the toilets and then having a coffee before seeking out Anthony. Things never go as planned though, as we walked through reception Alex was working at the desk. We greeted each other warmly and she said she would phone Anthony to say we were here.

After the now obligatory greeting we were given the grand tour of the Marina and also the lovely boat Equinox. My personal taste is for off shore vessels, but the standard of interior trim was exceptional, and I could imagine this being a very comfortable home.

Back at reception we sat for nearly two hours talking over coffee, catching up on old times and new. The subject came up, of course, of his leaving Chester and Gobowen tango. This is not a subject for discussion here, but in light of recent events, you can guess which side I would declare on, but I will, for now, keep my council. For now there is little hope of an Audlum tango scene emerging. Although I understand Anthony and Alex’s search for a venue did make all the local papers, it is too small a town to sustain a tango scene yet and Equinox does not have enough floor space for a practica.

The corporate stuff they do still goes down well, but as is the way of these things, too infrequently to sustain them permanently. Anthony is working in IT and Alex still doing keep fit stuff, on top of this the work at the Marina pays the rent and keeps the wolf from the door. They both look contented with their lot, living on a boat looks like a stress free existence, but as I told them “The first twenty years of Marriage are the worst” so after two and a half years they should be fighting like cat and dog, instead they looked very happy. There must be something in the water.

Before we left we managed to extract a promise to visit out little practica and to stay in touch, then it was time for another fun drive home, with the roof on the car this time.

After living in a tango desert, I will always be grateful to Anthony for bringing tango to this area, it is a shame it all ended in animosity, because I still believe that, like myself, all he ever wanted was a flourishing scene here.

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Pant Milonga

I think word is getting out there.  It cannot be just the season, and the cold weather surely would have put some off, yet the numbers were up. Perhaps it was the offer of free bubbly to those who came with some sparkle, maybe it was Viv’s shoe collection, or maybe just maybe finally people are hearing what a good night we have when we all dance socially and in line of dance.

We arrived early to set up the shoe stall in the little side room. Viv added a little sparkle to the table in keeping with the season, but Sharon had arrived even more early, so there was little for me to do to help. (actually nothing, but I like to sound useful)

Soon we were into the dancing and it was just a whirl. I barely had time to breath between partners and Viv who complains that at other milongas she sits out too much said that she never sat down. She did have the odd break to attend to her shoes, but it left me needing to make an appointment to dance with her.

We still however get the odd one who tries to teach on the dance floor and I am afraid I was rather rude, poking someone in the ribs and saying not on the dance floor. Although many will recognise my frustration, I do realise that had that been me, I would have been incandescent with rage. The guy in question seemed to hold me no grudges, so I feel somewhat humbled.

I enjoy dancing with the beginners, they carry no baggage and will not try to do ganchos just because they think that is what I want.  I do not try to teach on the dance floor, but sometimes a total beginner will say to me “I am a beginner and do not know what to do” I always give the same instruction “always move alternate legs keep your body in front of mine, and let me worry about where your legs are” when things go wrong, as they inevitable will with a total beginner, I pass it off as my fault. Of course they don’t belive me but why ruin an enjoyable dance with retributions. This is supposed to be fun, classes are for learning, milongas are where we relax and enjoy.

Battery problems mean I did not get as many photos as I would have liked, but here is a selection, hopefully I can add more if people send them to me.

We finished with a birthday celebration for Dave, is he really almost exactly a year younger than me? Must have had a hard life. Obviously Alison does not look after him as much as Viv looks after me. Perhaps I should count my blessings more.

As always your comments are welcome, good or bad except for Dave who I have permission to insult with impunity. ( BTW  I only insult people I like, those who I do not like just get my killer stares).

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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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Old Freinds

Pressure of work is delaying my posts, so let me apologise for the lateness of my posting before I start. There are a number of posts due but they must wait until I have time.

The drive to Pant is mainly large straight roads, the first part dual carriageway until we join the A5. This section past Gobowen and Oswestry is where the A453 and A5 are the same road, and as such is usually heavily trafficked. I was not in a hurry, we had left in good time and I was free to enjoy the trip even though we had travelled this way earlier in the day when we had danced in the street. After Oswestry the A5 splits away and the A483 becomes a more picturesque country road. Pant is only about three miles further on, an old English village with fine old houses hanging precariously from the hillside, next to more modern abodes that have been built with little regard to cost. A modern single story community centre sits to the left of the road next to an old fashioned red telephone box and opposite the well stocked village shop. In the foyer is a memorial to the war dead that makes the place look more like a cemetery, but the place is otherwise bright and welcoming. From the windows you can look out to the hill opposite where someone has carved owls and other statues out of old trees. Sharon was busy preparing the room when we arrived, we were early and able to help sort the food, fill the tea urn and set the tables. Others were arriving while we were busy and all waded in to help.

Sharon still had to man the desk as people were arriving and wanted to pay, so I was surprised to hear some familiar voices from the front. I peered out through the hatch and there at the desk was Atilla our old teacher (old as in from the past not aged) and Margret one of my favourite partners from Wilmslow. They soon came to help in the kitchen, always a favourite spot, and we had a chance to catch up on old times. Margret is now helping with the class, and she tells us has finally persuaded her husband to take up tango. I was glad of this news for two reasons; firstly we always need more leaders, but purely selfishly I did not want to loose Margret, as we loose so many women because there husbands got fed up of them being out every night on there own.

When the music started I danced the first tanda with Viv, as is only right and proper, but this was going to be a busy night for me. So many women, so little time, just as well it would not give me time to go back into the kitchen. (still trying to loose weight)

The next tanda I determined to dance with Atilla. I have an irrational fear of dancing with her, I suppose because she was teacher for so long and I feel all the time that I must be doing something wrong. I need not worry she knows the place for teaching is not the milonga and would never pull me up while on the dance floor, but still my insecurity makes me worry.

Atilla accepted my invitation graciously and stood up as I came to her table. She is of Chinese origin. Although she has the look she is very tall and stands well over me even without her heels. Early thirties about six foot slim and elegant, she is striking and cannot enter anywhere unobserved, even when she is not known, but here she is known as the best tango teacher in the northwest and I know if I lead anything and she does not follow it is my fault.

We dance a wonderful tanda (well for me, I cannot speak for her) but soon it is over, and I congratulate myself on overcoming my foolish fears. Next I chose Margret, she also is very tall, I have never understood why the best men are short and fat while the best women are tall and slim, maybe it is just my perception. Flowing shoulder length brown hair, slim with an ever present warm smile, we dance off across the floor. Very soon though she is complaining, It seems that she can hardly stand the floor is too slippery. She is happier after scraping her shoes and we finish the tanda with a flourish.

As the night wore on I hardly sat down, I of course returned to my wife often, why again not many men chose to dance with her I do not know, but I had too many women with whom I had to dance. I suspect I smelled like an old tramp by the end, I was sweating so much but no one complained.

When we finally left the kitchen was full, so we were able to leave the domestics to others this time. I was exhausted but happy and thankful to have danced again with some old friends, and appreciative that they had travelled so far for us. Atilla asked if we would be at any of her weekends, but unfortunately all of them are on weekends when I am working, such is the life of a frustrated Milonguero. We may yet meet again in the winter though, heres hoping.


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Dancing in the street

The pavements in Oswestry are very good,, hard, and concrete, but level and reasonably smooth. We had been asked to give a demo outside a shop, we were confused. We thought it was some sort of health shop or maybe sustainable products, but it turned out to be a tatoo and piercing studio. The show was not even for this shop, but a fancy dress hire and buy shop up the road. It was just hosted here because of the area of pavement in front.

We had expected to find many more tango dancers here but when we arrived there was only Sharon and a man who attends Gobowen. Things were not going well, the PA system would not work and the crowd were dispersing. Just when we thought it would all fall apart the sound came on and we had a fashion show, times gone by. There was everything from Fred Flintstone and Betty to Roman gladiators.

When the show was over it was time for the break dancers. It was now near the time when we should have been on, it looked like everything was running late, and no other tango dancers were about to arrive. A guy in a purple suit stood in the centre doing break dance stuff and trying to sound like an LA black guy. This was good, at least they would not be too disapointed when we came on. Don’t celebrate too soon! The guy runs classes for kids and soon he had a teem of children doing their stuff, and they were good, very good. A couple of older lads joined and they had a “baddle” they did handstands and head spins, that russian kicking thing. It was all too much for the guy from Gobowen, he did not want to perform now, but that would have left Sharon without a partner “just walk” we said “nobody will know the difference, but he was not for joining us.

There was another fashion show before our tango event, I think everyone was looking for an escape route, but I had put my suit on and Viv was dressed up for the show. Nobody was going to belive we were just casual wachers.

Sharon managed to get a lady from the shop to agree to join us. So at least there were four of us. When we started the guy from Gobowen agreed to do one dance with Sharon, Viv and I did our best to draw attention away from the now struggling Sharon, especially when she was joined by the lady from the shop. She had never had a tango lesson in her life,.

After a couple more dances, we swapped partners, trying to look good with someone who had never danced before was difficult, but she was game. Then we had some milonga, I danced with Sharon, but it was difficult, she had street shoes on and could not move well, but we gamely did our bit. For the next tune I wanted to dance with Viv, but she would have none of it, Sharon by now had had enough, so left totally partnerless, I had no alternative but to retire.

The salsa dancers were after us, and they too were having problems, only four of them turned up as well. Actually it looked quite good doing rueda with just four people.

Viv would not join me with them. Sharon had to go and get the hall ready for the night, so we all just dissapeared, to get ready for Saturday nights Milonga.

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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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Another Gobowen Milonga

Another good tango week for me, after Mondays class in Chester (see another good class) I am able to get to the Shrewsbury class and attend the Gobowen Milonga. But first Shrewsbury.

The beginners class followed the form of Mondays class, so I was able to be more than usefull to the beginners. When we arrived Sharon split us up and we joined a couple who were having trouble. Amazing how a bit of double time really shows up when someone has not quite grasped the basics. We spent some time with our partners, not changing with the others until they had finally got it.

Later in the class the followers were taught to stop the leaders if there was a problem, while the leaders then had to think on their feet and change direction. There was a moment of comedy when changing partners and Viv became my partner. Knowing that this should be no problem to me she was positively awkward and stopped me at every opportunity. Sharon then went through the Milonga etiquette again and reduced the room size. As I was actually allowed into the class this time, I enjoyed getting the ladies to do lots of giros and ochos in a confined space, freed from the constraints of a lesson.

The improvers class was again about the ocho cortardo, numbers balanced with Viv in the class, so I was free to go and join the beginners. One or two ladies were having trouble with the giro and I was happy to help out.

Some who were fairly new had problems with the posture, this is not a quick fix, hopefully I will be able to spend more time with them in the future. If your tendency is to stand in a certain way, it simply cannot be changed just by saying stand straight with your weight on the balls of the feet, it just has to be re enforced over and over.

Afterwards we again retired to the Coracle for a drink where I had a chance to complain to the management about the alcohol free beer.


Saturday we saw another Gobowen Milonga, it was unfortunately a short night for me (up at five and the clocks went forward) so again I must offer my apologies to those ladies I missed. The numbers were again up and it is starting to look almost crowded.

Sharon had again made the place look very inviting and there was a fantastic range of food on offer.

My thanks to Sharon for putting on a great Milonga and to  the ladies who I danced with, as always you all made me feel very special.

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OK so the title is over dramatised, but it was the best way I could think to describe that Viv has gone to Bournemouth for the week, to visit our daughter, and so I have had to find ways of amusing myself that are not that different from when she is here. So I am on the lash for a week (at least when I am not working).

In the Monday tango class I was again Roberta, as without Viv we had too many men again. This is fine by me, I can work on my following technique and at the same time help the men a little with their leading.  One thing I noticed this time, is that often when the man is intent on his next move they do not allow time for their follower to collect before they are trying to lead the next move. I got some odd looks when I did not follow, but they were more understanding when I told them I needed time .

I think that this is one of the problems with beginner classes that have no experienced dancers in them. Both partners are unable to get it quite right, and of course neither knows why.

Usually on a Wednesday, we head off for Ewloe Social Club to dance to Deryck and Geoff, this group is mainly couples, and I would not have much oportunity to dance. So for this week I decided to make a return visit to Gobowen.

It is a fairly small group of more or less even numbers. So when Sharon repeated what we had done Monday, I had the chance to do it all over as a leader. There was nothing new to me, but I have to admit, I still find it difficult to dance a set sequence on it’s own in a class. Some of the ladies were not happy that I wanted to dance into the move, and would not do it as a routine. They soon however got into my way, after all, their job is to follow.

Unknown to me, I think the maximun that any of them had had was ten lessons, and they had never come across anyone like me before. Once I was aware how inexperienced they were I was a bit easier on them. I was however impressed with all of them, I am not sure whether it is to their credit or Sharons, but praise is due to all.

After the class there was the usual practica, and we danced until just before ten, when the strain of the working day and being up from five AM finally got to me, and I left for bed. I did have one unusual request before I left; I was asked to dance as a follower because some one wanted to see. Never the shy and retiring type I was happy to oblige and let Dave lead me around the floor.

Next week I will have to miss the Monday Class, but hopefully, we both will be at the Lantern on Thursday and I can return the The Coracle to complain about the alcohol free beer. (see previous post)

By the way, I am still free tonight (Thursday) any suggestions?

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Gobowen Milonga

Saturday night saw the most sucsessful milonga yet. I think that there were nearly forty people there, all intent on enjoying themselves.

Sharon, as usual had done a wonderful job, making the scout hut look like a dance venue. I did not see anyone try to dib dib dib all night.

Gobowen may be a bit out of the way, but it seems it is close enough to Chester and Shrewbury, to attract dances from both cities. Sadly though we were the only ones from Wrexham.

I did not get a chance to dance with all the women there due to time constraints and the large numbers, I can only appologise and hope to make it up some time in the future.

I did spend more time dancing with Viv, as May is rapidly approaching, and we need the practice before we hit  Buenos Aires.

This is a further extension of Daves drive to keep tango traditional, and I was glad not to see a single gancho, and no fantasia.

Keep your eye on the monthly pages, for more milongas.

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This week we have an additional report, as we had a Milonga in Gobowen.

For those who do not know, Goboewen is just off the A5 (A483) coming from Wrexham before Oswestry. The Milonga was held in the Scout Hut, I do not know when it was built , but it looks in very good condition and the floor is superb,

I have been here before and it is typical of all Scout huts inside, however Sharon had done a great job in transforming the place. It is amazing what she had done with a few sheets of material, some tablecloths and fairy lights. Sorry I forgot my camera, so no pictures.

The crowd was a good mix, being where it was, people were pulled from Chester, Shrewsbury and all areas inbetween. Everyone seemed to enjoy the evening, and I think I managed to dance withe very lady there.

A good thing about this crowd is that there is no snobbery. The mix of more advanced and beginner level dancers all gel well together, with the better dancers happy to pass on their experience, without the usual stopping to teach, that I see at other venues.

I have but one grouse: Tango venues are few and far between and the number of punters is small. So why does someone organise an event in Chester on the same night? There are not enough of us to support two venues on the same night, and we do not have enough venues that we can afford to have two running at once. Please talk to one another we cannot afford to split such a small community.

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