Tag Archives: Hayden

A Hectic Weekend

From the beginning of the year it has looked like this was to be a very flat weekend. The number of social clubs stopping their weekend dances is growing, the reasons are many, but the ageing population of these events along with the unwillingness of the punters to support the bar, has made many unviable. Committees are looking for better ways to raise revenue, and unless we attract more people into social dancing, and get them to spend at the bar these dances will finish.

Suddenly, at least for this week though, things changed, the untimely death of Frank Smith and his memorial dance, along with finding out about The Salsa Inferno party, and getting a place at Sharon’s workshop and salon, it changed from a flat weekend to something quite frantic.

As I have already reported on Thursday at Shrewsbury, I will start with the Friday workshop with Hayden. The main theme was about changing weight and of course playing with the weight. We would get a lot out of this, as it gives me something more to play with while trying to interpret the music. Somehow though for me it became more about giros, let me explain; among my many faults, I fall back onto my heels when I rotate, and of course I was doing this again.

It looks to me always as if the woman is moving into my space; this cannot be the fault of the woman as every one does it with me.  Both Sharon and Hayden looked at my giro but some how the answer was not obvious.  Later when we were working on something else I had one of those eureka moments, it was me stepping into the ladies space, how I have never noticed this before I do not know, now hopefully another of my longstanding faults is finally vanquished.

There was time for a nearly three hours practice later, and I was able to try some rapid weight changes to a milonga beat, and practice my now perfected giros. We could do with more people coming for the after class Salon but I am sure in time word will get out there, and we will get more than just a couple of women adding to the twelve already there.

We arrived home shortly before midnight, and I had a chance to catch up on some sleep. The continuing run of late nights was starting to tell, so I allowed myself an indulgent lie in the next morning.

During the day I had a call from Steve asking if there was any dancing on anywhere. There was no social dancing that I knew of, except that I had heard that Salsa Inferno had a party at Theatre Clwyd. We made arrangements to pick Steve up and decided to go to an event of which we knew little and expected to know no one there.

The first person we saw when we arrived was James from Chester tango and Salsa. As we sat down, more and more people arrived that we knew. There were people from Tango Bangor, Chester, Liverpool, and people we had not seen for years. Salsa Dan was there with his wife, I managed a dance with her along with a few women who know me from tango. Most would not believe that I was no good at salsa; I soon put them right on that.

We had a fabulous night, hardly any dancing, but loads of catching up; even Gilbert was there, an old school friend of our daughter’s. I admit to having some sneaky fun videoing him trying to salsa. I have no intention of showing this here; it is for my daughter’s amusement only.

After the dance we finished up at Steve’s, and as usual did not leave until late. We needed to be up by ten to have time to travel to Prestbury, so again I had not enough sleep.

So Sunday morning up, showered and ready we set off for Prestbury and Frank’s memorial dance. We got a little lost as we turned too early for the satnav but as we U turned to go back, there in front of us was the Longfield Suite, I guess you could say that it found us.

The room itself was beautiful, it had a gleaming wooden floor, polished to perfection and of a size I have rarely seen. At the far end a huge stage already set with the instruments of Frambuesas, slow tango music had wafted us from the bottom of the stairs and now I was ready to dance.

Again, although not unexpectedly this time, there were numerous people from my past, we sat with Ann and Les, but I spent more time catching up with others around the room than dancing.

I had a lovely dance with Carol from Leeds the first I think we have had outside Buenos Aires. The tanda was Pugliese and while Carol loves his music and knows him well, I find it difficult to dance to so I promised Carol another dance later. To my shame I never made it, I hope she will forgive me, and I have told her we will dance again in BsAS.

The list of people we met is huge so I will not mention all of them, but I must mention Attilla, her last dance I think before her impending delivery, we wish her well, and though it was short I enjoyed my dance, a second milonga would have been too much with less than three weeks to go, so I had to let her sit down.

Frank would have been pleased I think, that we gave him such a good send off. I cannot finish without sending my thanks to the organisers, Frank’s family, Frambuesas, and anyone who helped, and not forgetting everyone who turned up. All these people know each other through him, and just seeing how many people now tango in the UK because of him is an inspiration.

As a footnote there were donations collected for the British Heart foundation, when I know how much they raised I will let you know.

After the milonga, of course, we still had our usual Sunday evening salsa class with Clan Cuban, just to finish off the weekend.

Then it was off to bed again so that I could be up for work in the morning at five.

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Returning to the tango theme, we are able to attend more and more venues these days. So it was we got to Shrewsbury again this week. There was a new beginners’ class starting this week, and the new intake are looking promising. Quite often there is a weakness about the bodies that takes some time to improve, but for some reason there was none of that here. I was very impressed with the standard and have an expectation that many will stick the course.

For the improvers we had a balance of men and women that meant for once that Viv had to stand out. I suggested she went to the practice room to help out with the beginners, but Sharon wanted her for demonstrating. She seemed happy enough standing at the back and having been there often myself I can understand. All these classes are merging into one with me, and for the life of me I cannot remember what we did. Sharon keeps it very interesting of course, but these days it is the new people I remember more. I enjoy the experience of dancing with different people, helping where I can, and just being part of the scene. Trouble is, I suppose, this means I learn nothing new and just go on doing what I have always done. I am perhaps being unfair on myself, stuff sticks in there, I just only remember it while I am dancing, and I’ll come back to that later.

After the class we are rejoined by the beginners, and I am surprised how many have stayed. Usually they all go home, bored with their few steps, and tired from the strain of learning them, but this lot are different, many stayed for the opportunity to practice. I got told off a couple of times by Sharon, I like to test their limits, and I suppose I went too far. Of course I did, but I was surprised how far I could take them. I moved back to simply walking and side steps very pleased at how well this was going.

 Back at The Coracle I brought this up in conversation, and everyone agreed that this was an exceptional intake. I am really looking forward to next week’s class to see if I can push them even further.

We had another milonga in Pant this week as well, I am blessed at the moment with plenty of tango. So in order to take full advantage we arrived in good time, also we needed to find a parking space where I could be sure to get out before everyone else. The first dance is of course reserved for Viv, we spin around the floor for three dances then she gets bored with me, and sends me off to dance with the other women, while she seeks out willing men

As I dance around the room I notice Viv getting agitated. She does not like bright lights when she is dancing, and the lighting here consists of one large spot aimed down the room. She thinks she has a solution and grabs a chair to stand on in order to adjust the light; of course I am co-opted to assist her. Just when she thinks it is to her satisfaction Sharon comes on the scene, and of course it is her milonga and she wants the light her way, call me a coward if you want, but when two women are at odds, this is no place for a man. It was all resolved amicably, but all goes to show, that the argument about whether we dance in the spotlight or in subdued lighting will go on and on.

As I said earlier, things come back to me when I am dancing that we have done in classes past, and this happened again tonight. We did many things with Korey, most of which just merged into the mass that collects somewhere in the back of my brain, but as I danced away things just came back and I would give a little grin as I tried a new turn here or secada or even the odd volcada that was not previously in my repertoire. Some women wonder why I smile, some even think that I am laughing at them, I try to make them understand, we do this for the joy it brings, just enjoy.

Talking of enjoyment, my love for milonga is not diminished by dancing with beginners, I had some great fun, with women who had never milongered before, little baby steps and moving down the room just by transferring weight, proved popular and easy to follow, I sometimes did not know whether I was leading an experienced dancer or a complete beginner, but I left them laughing just the same. I was loving it but all things must end, up early next day we had to go, still we will be there on Monday.

 I am looking forward to meeting the new Chester intake. Watch out for the next post.

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Korey Ireland

Those close to me will know why I have not posted for a while, but I hope those who do not know the reasons will forgive me.

This has been an awesome week on the tango front, even more so for my wife, who was able to attend the milonga on Sunday and the Monday Class in Chester. This of course means Viv has had five tango events this week, lucky girl.

Korey Ireland has come to visit us, and this has prompted me to travel to venues that I normally do not attend, and to get three sessions in a week where I have to miss one of my regulars. Tuesday is when the twice monthly Bangor sessions are, too far to travel normally, this week by luck it falls in my rest days, so I am able to make the journey. We set off in bright sunshine, along my usual route towards where we join the A55 at Ewloe. The fair weather was not to last; as we approached the coast, the mountains that protect us from the worst of the weather were now forcing the clouds to yield their watery load, before they reach our inland haven. The mist had dropped, we were plunged into a premature night, and the roads were suddenly lashed with rain.

The traffic on the A55 was heavy as usual, but fortunately, this time, it kept moving, if a little slowly, and we arrived in good time at the house of John and Anna. Their house, stands in the midst of a terrace, with a view of Bangor University, and the sea beyond. The road outside was filled with parked cars, the only break being the entrance to Johns parking space. Now I don’t claim to be a genius or anything, but why did no one else work out that as we were paying good money to have Korey at his house, John was going nowhere. So I just blocked his driveway off.

Inside John was sat at the top of the stairs waiting for Anna, who was in the bedroom settling down Leo. A couple more of us waited at the bottom, because Korey was giving a private lesson in the lounge.

Once we were allowed into the lounge I noticed that they had got rid of the shelving units, which took so much off the room. They have an excellent wooden floor, but it is still a small area, so they had restricted the class to four couples, just enough for the size of the room, and allowed Korey to give us all good feedback.

How he achieves it is a mystery to me, but somehow he gave us all something to work on, even though the abilities were so mixed. He gave me an interesting move, involving sidesteps and turns. There was nothing here I had not done before, but I had never used it in this way before, certainly not to achieve full rotation. While his corrections to my posture will no doubt be weakened in time, as my body fights back to do what it wants and not what it has been taught, the move he gave us will continue to be part of my repertoire, and join my favourites.

As always a class with Korey was a great experience, but the best thing about the night was a chance to dance with Anna again. Maybe I am speaking out of turn but I think Viv also enjoyed a chance to dance with John again as well, and hopefully John and Anna enjoyed dancing with us as well.

I fell off the wagon though I’m afraid, I have been successfully loosing weight now for a couple of months, but that cream cake, it was just too much, and the fat fairy made me pay heavily. Life is so cruel.

Wednesday we have a long standing arrangement, where we dance with the locals at Ewloe. It is purely social, no tango, just sequence and ballroom. But Korey was in town, so we broke the rules and headed off instead to Gobowen.

We arrived early because we had a private lesson arranged, too early it seems. As we crossed the road from the station car park Sharon and Korey drove by, themselves not yet there. The scout hut was open already, the local karate group were just packing up, and to save locking up had waited for us. As we passed in the doorway they asked what we were there for “tango” I said “like karate but we don’t hit each other” they seemed happy with this explanation and left. I think I frightened them off. GRRRRR.

We had no idea what we wanted from this class, Korey had seen us dance at Bangor and we hoped he had some ideas. Fortunately he did, he had noticed some deficiencies in both of us and quickly gave us some exercises to sort out our problems. One of my biggest problems is occasionally leading with my leg, this has been pointed out before, but no one had so clearly identified the times I was doing it or what best to do to sort it out. Viv has a tendency to lift her heels and this also needed sorting. By the end of our hour I think our connection had greatly improved and the lead was definitely better.

Towards the end of the class people started to arrive for the workshop and soon the place was filled with expectant faces, all waiting to see what was to come. They were not disappointed; soon we were all spinning like dervishes

Not entirely sure what we learned from this except some detail around the dynamic. Everyone enjoyed it however and again there was some improvement in the connection of all.

Soon we were back into the practica, and as usual I made an effort to get around as many women as possible. I worry sometimes that some women feel that I am trying to get away, but I always feel obliged to dance with as many as possible, so if any feel that I gave them too short a time I am sorry but time is always so short. My last dance with Alison was also cut short; Korey played some Gotan, and while I enjoy it sometimes and some of their tunes are danceable, but usually it does not inspire me to dance. This time it was a chance for Korey to show off and play the bandoneon along with the track, so I took the opportunity to just listen to the music. Dave (Alison’s partner for those not paying attention) like me is fussy about what music he will dance to, so Alison understood, and we agreed to continue our dance tomorrow at Shrewsbury.

I think we achieved a terrific amount with Korey and I made a point of thanking him before we left, hopefully it will not be too long before he returns, this group has come a long way in a short time and benefits greatly from quality teachers like Hayden and Korey.

For our final tango of the week we returned again to Shrewsbury. We were a little late, it is always difficult to arrive early when we have an hours drive, but there is only one class tonight with plenty of practice time, so we missed nothing.

Sharon was doing some milonga stuff, so I was having a great time. She brings new things back with her every time she returns from Nijmegen and tonight was no exception.

Lots of double time tested my leading to the full; I think the things I had learned with Korey were helping. It also tested the ladies and I think some of the newer dancers really struggled especially when they were with less experienced leaders. Still nobody said tango was easy.

Great for me, we had plenty of milonga in the practica, and I got to finish that dance with Alison. By ten thirty I was well ready for that drink in The Coracle. As usual we talked tango, but tonight we were accompanied by The Beatles Help on the bar television. Quite amazing the rubbish the film makers used to make as a front to push someone commercial. Thankfully we have got a bit more sophisticated now ( ok don’t mention Spiceworld).

Viv has finally decided we will not be returning to BsAs this October, I know we have many friends who will be sad to miss us, but believe me, I am gutted. Still only four more years before I can spend much more time there. We will have to arrange lots of tango while I am off, and perhaps another Gresford milonga? Watch this space.

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