Tag Archives: Kizomba


For the first time ever I have had a woman leave me after one dance; my crime? Apparently I held her too close; she said she did not have room to breathe.

This, I think was not just a cultural thing. Those who are taught “moves” think that they need room, in order to perform them. Often when I am dancing, I feel the woman pull away, because she needs room to do her pivot, or just to step through. Even those who are taught salon tango here in The UK are unable to maintain contact with every move.

While doing a Kizomba class with Clan Cuban it was explained that there is nothing sexual in the contact, because you are not rubbing against each other. Surely then, this constant disconnection and connection is more sexual than a constant hug. If you don’t want to get jiggy with me, then just stay close.

So, no, I no longer think it is just a cultural thing, women really believe that they need space in order to move. In the UK, almost without exception, people are taught moves using “The practice hold”. On the face of it this looks a good idea, it gives you the space to do what you are taught without worrying about where your feet are. Is this not though an oxymoron? To dance without worrying about your feet.

I believe we should start as we mean to go on, if you are to dance close hold, then that is how you should learn. I recently had the pleasure of some private time with a relatively good dancer, but she would loose contact every time I led a giro. I discussed this with her and she assumed that she needed the space. The next dance I took her in a bear hug and when I led a giro she still followed, did a perfect giro and never lost contact. As a side effect some of her other “faults” also disappeared.

As I have discussed before, nobody is perfect, and we all have faults. My biggest fault is that I always look down. This, I am convinced all started with “practice” hold. If you are body to body, looking down will do no good, all you can see is the woman’s cleavage.

While this may be quite a good view, most women will not look kindly on you staring at their boobies, and you may suddenly become very unpopular. Separated you can watch the feet, but, the point is, you should know where your feet are, both partners will have their feet underneath them. Joined body to body, you cannot see your feet, so why look down?

Another fault that regularly occurs is the sideways lean; you try to keep the bodies in front of each other, but the feet need to move to the side. So the body gets all twisted up in an attempt to be really “Tango”. In close hold this is almost impossible, if either of you lean, the other will be pulled off balance and you will know, what you are doing is wrong. You cannot look down, because your head will push your partners head back, and your legs will always be underneath you.

Back to my original lady, I have been told that my embrace is not firm enough (in Buenos Aires) and even Viv complains that I do not hold her tight enough so I find it hard to understand when I am accused of holding too tight. I wonder if perhaps my embrace is flexible and changes with the partner, if I am confident and can be sure that my partner will not escape, then I can use less tension. If however my partner is trying all the time to create space then maybe I will try to keep them close. I do not know if this is true, but it is something I may explore and may explain why occasionally, I get complaints for holding too tight and at other times for not holding tight enough.

Private classes give you time to explore dynamics, fine tune posture and work on the individual. I realise that it is a world away from the group class, this, apart from my shifts, is one of the reasons I have not run group classes. I simply do not believe that I would do group classes well. I leave that to others who I believe will do them better, I offer only this advice “Consign the practice hold to the bin, or at least use it very sparingly. If your class cannot yet do, what you are asking in close hold, then they are not ready, and in doing it miles apart, they never will be”


Filed under Tango

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.


Filed under milonga, Tango

Too Close?

How close is too close? One of the complaints I get when I am in Buenos Aires is that my embrace is not firm enough. During my time there it gets better you could say, at least that is what I thought. Imagine then my surprise when I come back and I get not less than three complaints that I am holding too tight. Viv wondered if perhaps I was trying to prove a point, but in truth I never thought about it here. I was not trying to hold any different or making any special effort.

We came across another guy who spends a lot of time in Buenos Aires, so we compared our holds on a “neutral” woman. She could feel no real difference, so I wonder: Do both of us hold too tight? Or was I being pedantic that night? Or is it as I always believed, that the preference here is for more distance and our long standing inhibitions hold us all back from a full tango embrace?

Janis gave us an amusing description of the various embraces; we can have one tit embrace, or two tit embrace. The two tit embrace is fully on so that the whole body is pressed together; the man gets two breasts pressed against him. This to me is how the tango embrace should be. If you cannot feel the woman’s right breast against you, well then you are too far apart, this then becomes a one tit embrace and something is lost. There is less contact, less connection, and much less of a hug.

I attended a Kizomba class this week. It is sold as an African dance similar to Tango, fairly simple with a very close hold; in this way I suppose it does have some similarities to Tango. The thing that struck me most was the embrace, just as in tango the man’s right arm is wrapped right around the woman’s back. This seemed to cause all sorts of problems; nobody wanted to get that close. Of course as tango veterans Viv and I were well used to being this close, but when we changed, men would not hold Viv close enough and the women all resisted my desire to get in close. Again it is the cultural thing. English people do not get this close, simple.

It takes time to change, it is happening slowly in the tango scene, although I doubt we will ever reach the level of closeness achieved in Argentina. As for the Kizomba, well it was the first lesson.

On the Kizomba; I was told it is from Angola and derived from the tango. I did wonder however, which really came first? The roots of tango are lost in time and it is widely believed that parts of the dance derived from African dancing. Africa has a long history of dance that again is largely unchronicled. Could this dance have arrived on the shores of the New World and been adapted to the music that was being played on the newly imported bandoneons? I am only speculating of course, but if anyone has any theories or facts I would be interested to hear them.

I am glad to see that Tango in this area is now starting to take off, but for me it is still not enough. I work shifts and that means that when there is a tango event more often than not I cannot attend so for me there can never be too much going on. We (I) need more tango here and I believe that a connection to Buenos Aires should be maintained. So after many years I have decided to start offering private lessons.

Absolutely the last thing I want to do is cause another rift or factionalize the scene here, so I am taking care to advertise away from others and operate at other times to any existing classes. My aim is to expand the scene, not cream off existing dancers, although I, will of course, offer help to any that want it. I will continue to advertise the existing classes and hopefully bring new people in. The money will be nice, but that is not, or ever will be my motivation, I want to expand the scene, and hopefully throw in some practicas as well.

I believe that if the scene expands then those who are trying to make money from tango will have a bigger pool on which to draw and will have a larger more reliable source of income. For those, like me, who just want more venues, of course a bigger scene will fit the bill. But apart from a bigger better scene I would like it to be more authentic; this is not to say there is a problem with the teachers we have, but only someone who regularly visits Buenos Aires can claim the label “authentic” and I know of only two other places in The UK where this is true, Tango De los Amigos in Sheffield, and of course Carol from Leeds, who regularly brings us new dancers from Argentina.(I would love to hear of any others there are).


Filed under milonga, Tango