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Endings

If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

 OK not that sort of endings, but the sort where you finish a dance as if you meant to, not where did the music go? And not, is it ever going to end? Good dramatic endings of course depend on knowing exactly when and how the music will end. This can only be achieved if you know the music very well, or the music follows a traditional pattern. Of course if it is traditional and you know the tune as well, then there can be no excuse for not finishing well.

Part of the Shrewsbury class this week concentrated mainly on endings, and we stopped over and over, looking at ways in which we could end dramatically and with style. For me though, it is the way that the music ends which will dictate how I finish, so that listening to the music and knowing it, is the most important part. I did practice all the endings I could think of, including my Bogart impersonation, and of course I had a chance to try some new endings as well.

The class started badly for me, I sat at the back with Dave talking tango as usual. Unknown to me there was no beginners and no intermediates just one long class, so as we talked I had missed some of the point. Dave and I were asked to join in as there was a shortage of men, and I had to ask what we were doing. Keep up Bob. We all did our own dance, and being me, I did lots of secadas. Sharon now directed us to lead the woman to do the steps we had done. This was an exercise in leading, as the women had not been taught the steps we were doing; we really had to lead it. Boy! Did I give myself a hard task, not one of the women wanted to come straight at me, and they made every effort to avoid me. As I have pointed out here before tango is about illusion and the most difficult part was to get them to do almost nothing, so I got no displacement and too much activity, I guess it did not look good. Fortunately this was only an exercise and would not be repeated in the dance, it gave me some food for thought though.

Things were not going well for Bob the expert, tonight, still they could only get better. A session of no side steps was next. Dave said something and Sharon said “does anyone else not do side steps?” Fool that I am I came to Dave’s defense, and my reward was to be told to do little else but side steps. It was all good practice but again I had made a rod for my own back. There are only so many things that you can do with a side step and very soon I was drying up.

So it was with relief that I set off for The Coracle again. Back in the bar I can talk tango and sound like an expert, without having to do too much. Again we hit on the subject of dancers who just do moves, no feeling no real lead and no musicality. So now we have a new name for them, they do stuff, so now they are “stuff dancers”

On Monday I was back to my confused sexuality, numbers were more or less even and I could start the class as a leader. When another man arrived I could stand out and watch, we were revising the back ochos, so I was not missing much. I was soon allowed to re-enter the class when another woman arrived. Realizing perhaps that I was not getting much out of it and Ali, who had returned, wished to lead Sharon suggested that we change roles. Now I suspect that Ali works out and may well be strong for a woman, but I know that as a man I am not the lightest of followers and was very conscious of the fact that I can sometimes give just a little too much weight. She seemed to cope well, but I think was as glad as I was when I moved on. Not let me hasten to say that I did not enjoy dancing with her. As a follower she danced well with me, and as a leader she also did well, the problem is with me, I do not carry my own axis well as a follower and prefer to lean against someone bigger. (I did think to say big men, but that sounded just a little gay).

Too soon again it was time to leave; I need my beauty sleep if I am to get up at five, but will be rested and ready before Saturday’s milonga.

If you enjoyed this, leave a comment. If you did not enjoy it, leave a comment.  All opinions are valued and without them I will only get bitter and self opinionated

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Still Frustrated

After a what has been a good period for me, the frustration of being the frustrated milonguero is returning, Despite more venues opening up, the opportunities for me to tango have dried up this week, never the less I got to Chester on Monday though it will be another eight days before I can dance again.

The class started with the usual chaos. I realise that for some (like myself) getting there on time is a problem, but surely some, could arrive on time. So I was in the usual leader then follower then leader again situation before finally being asked finally to sit out. I paid a bit more attention this week; Sharon was doing a giro class, but with a twist. Over the past weeks she has been teaching over led ochos, from here turning into a giro is an easy progression. I like this; it is rather neat and gets away from the back side forward side that is usually taught. It also helps the women from thinking, once I have led a giro then they must finish it.

Interestingly after the class, I was again asked about my lead. “Why do some men stop leading halfway around” my answer is always the same “if you do not feel a lead, then, do nothing”. Some women worry that it makes them appear a bit useless or that they don’t know what they are doing, well to put it simply ladies, if you do not know what you are doing, then that is because the man is not giving you a lead, and they will never learn if you do it on your own.

In the second class I was again to sit out, perhaps I should not have convinced Viv to come with me, at least before she came I could follow. I was however called to demonstrate occasionally, and when the class was over I was fresh and ready to dance.

While I waited I had a chat to Fiorella, who I think runs the place. I am always interested why an Argentine should not dance the Tango. It seems that at the time she was in school it was not taught and with her studies she simply never had the time. She also pointed out her funny ligaments that mean she cannot support herself on one leg; she can however bend her fingers right back. I am sure that this must be some sort of advantage, though I am at a loss to see what.

Sharon again played with the rhythms, this for me is a pleasant change from what I usually see, that is, more and more figures. The class is justified by the amount of people who still have a big problem with the Vals and an even bigger problem with the Milonga.

It is a shame that after the class, so many feel that they have to disappear, there is an hour in which to practice and there is no better way to improve than to just dance. The various rhythms will only be mastered with time and practice, to echo the words of my friend and teacher Jaun “practica practica practica” I am afraid he does not know much English.

It was hot again in The Groves and I noticed a few wilting, I think it is a ploy to make us buy more drinks. In truth I find it hard to believe that they can survive on the little we spend there so any extras must help. They will have to survive without my help the next two weeks as I must work nights, such is the life of a frustrated milonguero.

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Pobre Bob

Work commitments mean I can only attend one tango event this week, so in order to make the most of it we arrive early at the Groves.

As usual people arrive at the class in dribs and drabs, so one minute I am leading the next I am following, but as the numbers settle there is an even number of men and women, so I am cast aside like an old tissue. ( As Luba would say “pobre Bob”)

I sit watching the class with my glass of water, occasionally asked into the centre to demonstrate a move. It works well for Sharon and one time when she needs a follower there is a call from the class for Roberta.

It really is not my week because in the improvers’ class the same situation occurs. Viv often has to sit out and never complains so I suppose there is no room for me to complain either. After all I get my regular dose of tango every week one way or another. I learned a new saying off Jantango “basta la plancha” it is usually said by women who sit out waiting for a man to ask them to dance, often frustrated that some men are sitting down and they cannot get a dance. This is not my case by any means but I get the idea.

There is a couple who were in the beginners who watch the class and I join them to give some tips. Like a growing number here, they have been watching videos, and believe themselves to be at a higher level, I try to explain that you simply cannot learn to tango from videos. I have been to dances (even in Buenos Aires) where there are people who have learned from videos, and it is obvious the minute they step on the floor that they have not been taught.

When Sharon again asks me to demonstrate, I was not paying attention so first she had to explain the move to me, doubling her teaching. And when the call came for Roberta the same thing happened, still it kept us on our toes.

Then I was back to our beginners again, the idea that you can somehow lead by turning your head, is often taken from these videos, and while not the best practice, I advised looking at the woman. This way at least he would not turn his head and leave his body behind.

Soon enough it was practica time again, and I was in my element once more. I tried to restrict myself to three dances with each woman, and I think I managed to get around most of them in the hour we had. As always seems to happen  though I missed doing the milongas with Viv, not  I may hasten to add that there was anything wrong with the women I did dance with, it is just that for me there is something special about doing the milonga with my wife.

So while Viv will be attending the workshops at the weekend I must work nights, so that is my lot on the tango scene for another week. Hopefully I will be back to it next Monday.

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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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Good bye from Roberta

Sharon’s new beginners are coming on well. I joined the class as some of the ladies struggled with The Cross. I do not know the answer, but I think it is very difficult to learn when the man cannot lead and the woman has not yet learn to follow.  Perhaps more, more advanced dancers should join the beginners and help, this would bring them on faster and increase the pool of good dancers. But anyway I do not want to seem critical, all the ladies I danced with were coping well as this was for some only their first lesson, and at best their third.

In the improvers, again there was a shortage of women, and so Roberta had (his/her) farewell dance with the men. I shall be away now for three weeks, and I think the next class I can attend in Chester will be 6th June. Oh how those men will miss me! But seriously tonight we were doing secadas, and I am afraid some men have yet to grasp walking in cross, never mind displacing the weight.

I felt Sharon’s wrath again as I tried to explain, while she was talking. Fortunately she is a teacher first, and while she dealt with it at the time, she bears me no grudges. I think now that it is coming together, but my ability to show anyone what to do is restricted when I follow, I close my eyes. Again this is something we often ask the women to do, but for me it is doubly important, as soon as I can see, I try to lead. I did occasionally just reverse rolls however just to show how it should feel.

Everyone is expecting great things to come back from Buenos Aires with us, but for me it will just be a humbling experience. As I have said often before, the level and quality of dancing in Argentina far outstrips our small community here.

I will not follow in Buenos Aires and I will dance mainly with Viv, but hopefully, now our apartment is ours, we will have time to take in some classes this time.

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Confused

Not with the dancing, but about gender:

Monday was a strange day and not best suited to good tango. When I am in work I work a twelve hour day. Monday was no exception in that I worked until six. The difference this week is that the company are making some decisions around the credit crunch, and so we had a meeting to discuss our responses. I did not leave the plant until six thirty, only to be met with a horrendous traffic jam.

The traffic lights at the exit to the industrial estate had decided that they were not going to allow anyone to leave. So after a record shower, shave,  change, and eat my tea, we finally arrived in Chester at seven thirty five. (honestly I never broke the speed limit once).

Time now to calm down and enjoy. As published in my monthly list, this was to be a single class doing milonga. When everybody had paired up again there was a shortage of women. Roberta had to come to the rescue again.

People drifted in all through the class, it appears that no one had paid much attention to the schedule that Sharon had posted. This meant that soon I was sidelined again, then I was a follower, then sidelined, then a leader. This continued throughout the lesson. Finally I finished the class with Shirley, a nice way to finish.

We continued on with a practica until it was time for me to go home to bed. As always I enjoy dancing with all the women, but also it is nice to feel how they feel when I am following, it gives my dancing a whole new outlook.

Befor I finish, I must mention Patricia, she has just had a major operation. When Peter (her husband) arrived for his regular bandoneon practice, almost everyone gave him their good wishes. Anyhow it seems she is through the operation and on the road to recovery. We all wish her well and look forward to her return to tango.

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Deserted

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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