Tag Archives: intermediates

In trouble again?

I wonder if I am in trouble again. As Sharon tells the women in the Monday class not to put weight onto the men while following with hands on the chests. I know the remark was aimed at someone, I just do not know if it was me or not.

Often when I give a bit of private tuition I ask the ladies to give me some resistance and will occasionally ask them to lean on me. I do make the point of course that it is for this time only and never to do this while in the main class, and certainly never when dancing.

 This is just a bit more of the conflicting advice that surrounds Tango. I like a bit of resistance, I have a need to know where the woman is. There are followers, good followers, who are very light, and while they respond well to my leads, I do not like to dance with them. I need to feel that there is a presence there; I like a small amount of weight.

Don’t get me wrong, a woman who hangs on my neck, or who I have to push around the room like some overloaded wheel barrow, is not a joy to dance with, but then I do not want to be chasing her either.

I have to take care; I do not run the classes. I never could. Running a big class takes a skill that I do not have, and besides I work shifts. I enjoy my one to ones with the beginners, but sometimes I can use techniques that simply would not work with a large class. I can say to a lady “lean on me” and when I fell that she has the feeling then I can return her to her axis, I can develop the feeling and know that she knows that this is not how we dance.

I sometimes get a lady who simply cannot get the cross; usually this is because the weigh goes back. I have used this trick of saying “lean on me” when the feeling is understood and they are back on their own axis it all becomes clear.

Trouble is of course that when someone else comes into the class and tries this, it does not work, often the leaders have not yet fully developed how to lead the cross and assume that it is the ladies fault.

Sharon is very tough on the class, and sometimes it is misunderstood, but we cannot have everyone teaching at the same time. A bit of humility is needed, as you dance around the room concentrate on your body, what you are doing wrong, not your partner. I am not saying ignore your partner, you must know where they are, you must respond to what they do or where they have their weight, but do not criticise or try to teach.

In the after class salon I dance with as many women as I can  and what I find most annoying is when they say “but I was told to put my foot here by…….” In the class it is Sharon who is teaching, women should respond to the mans body, not his voice.

We did more Vals in the intermediates, there was a shortage of women again, so the men had to put up with me getting very close and intimate. They never dared to tell me where to put my feet, often the lead was not quite right, so I was not necessarily in the right place, but the next time they got it right. As I have said before “I am not the best follower in the world” If they can do it with me then surely they can do it with women who are always women.

So my message is clear “women, go where you are led even if it feels wrong” and men “if the woman is not where you want her you be, it is most likely because you led her there”.

And finally, if someone directs you verbally on the dance floor, tell them to “shut up and dance”. (I did put it a bit more crudely when asked).

If you have any views on anything I have said, post a comment. I may or may not agree but open debate is always better than monologue. After all I can’t be right all the time, can I? Of course if you think I am you could tell me that as well, but I will only get more big headed.

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Life moves on

My life in the tango world moves on, getting ever better. The Monday class at Chester is growing into a strong community, and Viv and I now have a definite job to do. Maybe this is not why we started but it gives us a sense of belonging and it is always nice to feel needed.

We now arrive quite early at Stanley Palace, despite it being a working day, the joy of being involved somehow overcomes any need for a sleep. Anyway it is not a late night so for these few days I can survive on five hours. While Sharon gives some private tuition I set up my music in the second room and Viv sets her stall for collecting the money.

When the beginner’s class starts again we have too few women, I have said this before, but I still find it strange that Chester is the only place where the men outnumber the women. First Viv is called to help out, then so am I, Roberta rides again, but not for long. Soon we have some more women arrive and we have even numbers, then another and it is goodbye to Roberta. 

I return to the other room as more dancers arrive, I can play some music for them, and make tea. (Charperson now is it). I also now collect the money as well. Actually the music has to stop as the class spills out into the other room. The class has got too big now for any move to be practiced, so the better leaders move out to create more space. At least this gives me a chance to see what is happening, until they move back that is.

In the intermediates I am again banished, but like last week I have a number of the beginners to coach. I enjoy this part of the evening, everyone wants to soak up as much as they can, and I get to be the big man. (This is Great for my ego).

Our French lady is back, I enjoy it when she says “so you do not move yourrr ips” I enjoy it so much I tell her to say it again, but she tries to sound more English. I have to tell her not to loose the accent, it sounds so sexy.

Again we have a number of new comers, and again the standard is amazing, if we keep this up we will need bigger premises. A lot are staying for the practica as well which is a really great sign.

A few start to congregate in the kitchen, tea and coffee are on offer. While they danced I made sure that there was hot water, but now I have my chance and I am not about to waste it. I dance like crazy with as many women as I can until Viv drags me off, telling me I must get up in the morning. Still it was nice while it lasted.

I cannot make Shrewsbury this week and there is no tango the weekend, hopefully though we are in for a couple of weeks of quite intense tango. If I cannot go to Buenos Aires then I fully intend to make the most of my time off.

On another point some of you may remember my post https://tangogales.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/new-friends/#comments where I first met Janis Kenyon in Maipu 444; it was to have been a birthday celebration of an old milonguero called Alito. Well I had news today from Janis that Alito was thrown out of his place that night and has lived on the streets since then. This is no life for an 80 year old and my heart goes out to him. Unfortunately that is all I can do, offer my sympathy. We are not out there and I have no place to offer. Hopefully Janis will keep me informed, even though I don’t know him personally, he is a kindred spirit, and we don’t wish to loose another old milonguero. Perhaps now that Tango has been declared part of the world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations, grants will be available for descasamiento milongueros. We live in hope.

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Filed under Argentina, Dance Venues and Schools, milonga

Tango Edge

My socks are red, so are my shoes. It appears that the colour on Spar carriers is not fast, certainly not so in almost constant torrential rain. To be fair we did have some let up, that allowed us to go exploring on the bikes. There is a lot to see around here, and the campsite is right in the centre of things.During one of our shoping trips I found some Regatta waterproof shoes, and these have proven to be a real boon, not only in keeping my feet dry, but also free of red dye.
The Chapter House Arts Centre was to be our next Tango venue, not a difficuly place to find, as it turned out,but quite difficult to reach from where we were. We had three journeys there on our bikes, even the local postman could not direct us to it, eventually we used the GPS and a lot of instinct. When we finally figured it out, it was less than a mile and almost a straight line. It may be a man thing not to ask directions but after my experience of local knowledge, I think I should trust my instincts more not less.
So on Friday after what had been a good day, we had managed four hours on the bikes without rain, we showered and got ourselves ready to go out. Of course, just as we were ready the rain started again. Viv was in a panic about her wig getting wet and she insisted on wearing her wellies to the Tango, but in the end decked out in our waterproofs we headed off to the Arts Centre in good spirits.
We arrived at the new temporary entrance, and there was a beautiful sign that proclaimed Tango Edge. Of course once inside we headed off in the wrong direction, to be sent back time and again until we found the room. There were signs to the tango but somehow we always missed them. Viv went off to the toilet to make herself beautiful, while I changed my shoes and waited for her.
Our arrival was as usual miss timed, we had intended to just arrive for the improvers class, but we were here at the start of the beginners.
I quite enjoyed a bit of walking backwards and some basics. One should never forget the basics and only by going over and over the basics will the dance become better.
The teacher in this class is called Xenia, the sort of name that makes you think of sword wielding female warriors, not tango dancers.Far from the warrior princess she was slim, blond and slightly built,with a happy smiling face, and she looked like she thoroughly enjoyed what she is doing.
She obviously had not remembered us from Monday as when she began the improvers class, she asked about our experience. Like all good teachers, she did not want absolute beginners in the intermediate class. Once I had reminded her who we were she then remembered us from Monday.I forgot to mention in my last post, it was her birthday last Monday and we had a birthday dance for her, so of course she rememberd me more than Viv.
Despite some in the class not quite getting what was being taught it was very enjoyable. The levels of the students are always diverse and I well understand the difficulty of organising a class of this nature, some get it some do not. The main thing is that everyone enjoys it, that after all is why we tango. We do not come to be misserable or stressed, so it was good to see so many happy faces.
After the class there was more time to practice. Viv was determined to foist me off onto the beginners again, but I had my eyes on one or two of the more experienced ladies.
I did my bit with the beginners of course, it is great to be able to pass on experience to them, it lifts my ego,and makes me feel good, but the more experienced ladies here were a joy to dance with. I led voleos secadas leg wraps anything I threw at them they followed. I was in heaven, and because the class had involved some double time stuff, and to give us time to practice it,we had more than the usual amounts of milongas. I danced a tanda with Xenia, but not much with Viv. She did however get more dances tonight, I think taking part in the class has broken the ice a bit with the men.
Soon it was time for us to go and we said our goodbyes, disappeared to the toilets to get ourselves ready to brave the elements again. Before Viv was ready I heard the sounds of Francisco Canaro coming from the dance room. I simply had to return, to leave whilst Poema is playing is not an option for me.
We did of course leave afterwards, the midnight hour was fast aproaching and the path to the campsite is dark. I now look forward to Monday and more of the same.

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Redemption

I slept little in the car, despite being totally exhausted. Long working hours are taking their toll, so I asked Viv to drive to Shrewsbury. There are just too many roundabouts, junctions and other assorted hold-ups, to comfortably sleep on this journey. Never the less, after having my eyes closed for almost an hour I did feel slightly better when we arrived at The Lantern.

We were greeted again by the girl on reception, then once again we entered the dance room. Music was playing and about half the people were dancing. Not having been here for some time and with the confusion that comes of tiredness I was unsure what was happening.

It was in fact the practice time between the beginners and intermediates. When I realised, I looked round for a likely victim. There was an attractive girl with red streaks sitting talking. I had never danced with her before so I asked her to dance. Almost immediately she started to apologise, because it seems she had only had three lessons. As usual I explained all she had to do was follow, be confident in her movement, and if anything goes wrong leave it to me to sort out, but never apologise. All she was really capable of was walking and ochos, but what she did do she followed very well, a credit to the classes she has had. I led a few back ochos and then a forward ocho, which she seemed to follow OK. Then she said “What was that” she had never done a forward ocho before, but she did it because she had learned to follow. I hope in days to come she does not start learning moves, because if she continues to follow this well she will make an excellent tanguera.

In the improvers we (Viv and I that is) were again split. A shortage of men meant Viv sitting out, but we were doing changes of weight, so not really an issue for the women.

I did cause some confusion through not listening again. As I have said before, there was nothing I could not do; I just have trouble doing it in order. I think Sharon would like me to stand in the corner sometimes, good job she has a sense of humour, though she still admonished me for not listening.

Funny how these classes go, we keep changing partners, but somehow I always end up dancing with the same two or three women. Even though this is supposed to be an intermediate class they are still not much more than beginners and still have not learned to move with the room, so there is a lot of overtaking.

After what for me at least was an enjoyable class, there was again time to practice. I suspect that not everyone enjoyed the class as one or two men chose to sit out, not fully understanding what we were doing or why. Again we come down to this very British desire to learn steps and not the essence of the dance. Hopefully in time they will come to appreciate what tango is all about.

The practice session gave me a chance to redeem myself and dance with one or two ladies I had missed on Saturday, so that by the end every one was happy.

Afterwards we retreated again to The Coracle, to talk soft and explore the deeper meanings of life the universe and tango. There is a new member of staff there and she did not seem to appreciate our late drinking sessions. At about quarter past eleven she walked past the end of our table and gave us a look that said, “if you do not leave soon I will throw you out” needless to say as she did not say anything we ignored her. However five minutes later she started clearing our table, she took Viv’s glass, which she promptly grabbed back, don’t ever touch her cider on pain of death. The crisp packets were next they too had to be grabbed back. I guess it was time to go,as I was tired and was now compelled to drive as Viv had had a drink.

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Another night at the Groves

Monday saw the usual class at the Groves, the numbers here are now balancing out well, and so my services as a follower are no longer needed. Sad really I was starting to quite enjoy the feeling, but as Viv is now coming as well, if there is a small shortage, she of course will be the first to step in. This was the case last night and I was left on the sidelines, but not for long:

A new guy had arrived, and was not ready to join the class, as in the weeks since this term had begun the level had improved significantly. So my job for the night was to try and bring him through the basics. Not an easy job as the space by the bar is limited. Anyway I had him doing basic walking and changing weight, just about managing, and not minding the fact that he had to lead me.

Soon however another lady joined the class, which left Viv free to help. Now I could see more clearly what was happening, and we could get the feet right.

One of the most difficult things for new leaders is the belief that the ladies feet will not be there when they step. We worked on getting him to walk straight in both parallel and cross again no problems. Soon the class was over and I have left him with some exercises to practice. His progress was excellent and hopefully after next week he will be ready to join the class.

Again in the intermediates, I was left out. I cannot complain it allows me to better observe what is happening, and in this case there was a new guy who I had not seen before. He grabbed Viv to be his partner and as the class progressed I watched fascinated as he led Viv through manoeuvres that were no part of the class, and afterwards he again grabbed Viv for the practica.

There is no room for me to be jealous, in fact it is nice that she has had a chance to dance with someone who is not a beginner. While it is OK for me, I can lead things that the beginners have not done before, for Viv most of the time she just ends up walking and doing side steps.

We never did find out who this guy was, but I hope he will return.

Things are looking up, now we have some more advanced dancers and new ones joining all the time.

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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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