Tag Archives: Monday

Gresford Pyrotechnics

First of all I would like to thank all those who turned up for our last chance milonga. I realise it had been a beautiful couple of days and the barbeques were calling. You are all stars.

Because it was suddenly so warm and the prediction was that it would still be 12 degrees at ten o’clock, we thought tonight we could spread out into the garden.

Tea lights were lit, a sign directing people around the back was put up and the table placed outside. The table decoration that we had remade for us in the village was placed centre table. The candles in it, looked passed their best so we fitted new ones and lit them, everything looked blissful. Hopefully we had created a magical ambiance.

The dancing began and soon we were all in the dance room enjoying the music.

It was, I think during a vals that things suddenly happened. Some body said “FIRE”, at first nobody did too much. I guess we just did not realize. Then I saw flames pouring out of our table display.

I could still lift it off the table and I put it down on the gravel. Viv then poured the little houseplant watering can all over the foliage. This just made it more angry, so I grabbed the big watering can and poured about two gallons of water over the fire. A little thing it may have been, but it was a persistent little thing. So it had to stay outside for the night, just in case.

After all the excitement we just went back to the dancing. After all we are British, and we British just carry on.

The next day we examined the wreckage. It seems the candles had melted, the wax had fallen into the bottom of the bowl, and when it had reached a critical mass it had burst into flames. So in effect we had been trying to extinguish an oil fire with water, no wonder it had been so persistent.

The only redeeming factor is that, we had, this night, had everything outside. Had the table been in its normal position, the curtains probably would have gone up in flames also, and who knows what would have happened next.

 In all that excitement my carefully chosen cortinas were almost missed, “Spanish eyes” (“soon I’ll return”, and, “This is just adios and not goodbye”) “Around the world” and of course “Summer Holiday” not forgetting the inimitable “Hey we’re going toBarbados”. Cheesy, I know, but hopefully everyone will remember this night and will return when we get back in May. (I hope they remember not just the fire but instead remember the good dancing).

Until then it’s “Hasta la vista” and keep your eye out for my daily postings from Amsterdam and Buenos Aires.

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Merry Christmas 2011

We had a huge number of promises for our Christmas party, but I never count my chickens. Still it was necessary to ensure we had enough food at the ready and drink of course.

Women just kept arriving but no men. By the time the numbers had settled we had about three times the number of women than we had men, and one of those a complete novice. This left me with a duty, to just keep dancing.

Unfortunately I was not on hand to pass out the wine, so that did not get drunk until well into the night, and theChampagne we had on ice, is still there.

Still everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and at least the women could socialise without me mythering them too much. Our neighbour brought a cake, decorated with shoes, much to Viv’s delight, and various bottles of wine and other food items arrived as well.

My playlist was well received although there were one or two comments about my Christmas tandas. Fortunately no body noticed my one mistake (A Vals in a Lomuto tanda of tangos). I have now altered the Genre in my library so that it will not happen again.

For once though most people stayed to the end and were treated to La Cumparsita followed by  Jose Feliciano singing Feliz Navidad.

Nobody ate much so Viv and I have a surplus that will keep us going for a few days to come, and, of course, we still have the Champagne. I keep trying to pass it off at our practicas but somehow it never happens, our stock of about half a dozen is still running at three bottles after the first year.  Still there is always next year, I am sure we can find something to celebrate.

So to all my readers Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo, Hope you all have a happy and relaxed Christmas. My Christmas wish? More men next year please.

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The dance goes on

My work pattern has moved on, so for the next two weeks there is no practica on a Monday. This constant change in my working week is the main reason we do not do a regular class. I am also working right across the weekends so for now tango is almost non-existent.

Still we still have our private classes, and that brings some tango dancers to Gresford, and of course, Viv and I can still practice whenever we feel like it.

This does not mean we are devoid of all dancing; the local social dance scene flourishes during the mid-week. Ewloe and Saltney Social clubs offer a hearty welcome, even if sometimes we have to leave early for me to get my beauty sleep.

Steve sound runs the odd dance of his own as well, but these days I am not that disappointed when we have to have the odd night in.

All these social dances mean we will never lose our ballroom and sequence dancing, but they have been known to throw in the odd tango just for us.  Viv hates being the floor show, but for me it is just a chance to dance, even if the music is just a facsimile of Argentine Tango. There is a time for explaining and a time to put on a brave face and just get up and dance.

This does not mean I am going soft, just that these people will never be tango dancers, so while they will never understand how important the music is to us, at least they can see something of the social tango we do and how it differs from stage tango.

But of course this will never be enough for us, so we look forward immensely to the next practica on 19th September.


Just before I left for work tonight, I put on Kevin J Thompsons CD “Ballroom Dancing”. I cannot over emphasise how much he is missed on the circuit. If ever he thinks about again performing around here or even (transport me to heaven) reforming Sounds Easy, there will be and eager audience waiting. Anyone who enjoys dancing music should have a copy of his CD it is simply wonderful.

Kevin you were and still are peerless.


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Music? What music?

The trouble with spending all my money on tango is, It means that sometimes I have to make compromises. This is the case with cars, I run an old Triumph herald, which does not see the road this time of year because the salt would eat it in holes in seconds; I have a Suzuki Cappuccino, which at seventeen years old does not show her age, but is not the most practical of cars, so our nine-year old Seat Leon is our main mode of transport.

This can cause problems as it did this week, when the starter motor failed. A visit from the AA man, a tow to the local garage and two hundred pounds lighter we were too late to get to the workshop at Croft.

We arrived towards the end of the workshop and Andrew invited us to join, but as we were late and had not paid, I thought it best to decline. what little I saw of it followed the same sort of pattern we had seen from him before; this is how they move in Villa Irquiza, and navigation techniques for a crowded floor. I like Andrews style because he says the same sort of things I do (only better) and tries to bring a bit of Buenos Aires to our part of the world.

I wonder though if he gets frustrated, as the dancing started, with wonderful music, all golden age, D’Arienzo, DiSarli, Canaro etc, the dancers all seemed to revert to figures. There were a lot of people here that I did not know and perhaps they were just beginning their tango journeys. I wonder though, where they are learning what they do, I saw ganchos by the dozen, boleos and sentadas, non properly led and the music was totally ignored, I even saw one couple carry on past the end of the music in order to finish their move.

Andrew won’t thank me for saying this but I saw his face screw up in agony at the sight of a dozen ganchos mid floor in the midst of a beautiful D’Arienzo track.

I have been accused before of becoming Victor Meldrew, so I temper my observations with a smile, knowing as I do, that most of these people are not only new to tango but have yet to experience the joy of dancing in the capital of Tango. Hopefully they will learn in time and whoever is teaching them just moves will realise the error of their ways.

I’m afraid the trials of the day were taking their toll on me, and when I danced with Carole I was not at my best, and I did a couple of my moans mid dance. I just hope she knows that it is not a reflection on her or her dancing. I am my own sternest critic and would not dream of criticising any woman I danced with. I know though that my moans are often misconstrued, it is just me rethinking what I am doing that sometimes come out as a sign of disapproval, this is not a mistake (see last post) but a look at how I can redirect my energies to lead differently.

So I ask again for forgiveness from all the women out there who belive that I complain on the floor, it is just me being self-critical. (or critical of the guy in front doing ganchos and boleos)


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Another Tango year begins

Not the first tango of the year but it is time to come out of the torpor and write some more tango notes.

As I think I mentioned, Sharon has decided that we are the link Chester Tango  needs to Buenos Aires. Not that we are great experts, but most people in the UK tango scene have never been, and those that have, have been maybe only once or twice (I accept that there will be exceptions here, generalisations are never perfect). So Sharon sees it as a great asset to have a couple who actually own property in the city of tango. So this week we had some of our pictures arranged around the room for people to comment on and ask questions about.

The beginners class started as usual with too few women, so Bob was left out. Then as more women arrived it would have been unfair to send Viv out so I joined the class as well.

When we later decamped to the other room, I had three couples all keen to learn more. I am under strict instructions not to push them further than the class, but we  worked on posture and finding the woman. I remember many years ago when we first learned ballroom dancing our teacher said that part of his job was marriage counselling, so here was I trying to convince two new dancers that there should be no culture of blame here, we need to work together on the lead, tango is a conversation that carries on for years. Sometimes we get it sometimes not, but it is as important for the woman to let the man know where she is, as it is for the lead to be positive. We all play our part and if things do not go well, blame will not improve things. I recognise something of ourselves in this couple, the tension is common in new dancers, and I think shows a desire to go further, certainly the third degree I got about how long I had been dancing, where and when we started tango and how much time we spend in Buenos Aires, shows a definite desire to learn.

Of course now it was a good time to promote my pictures, La Glorietta excited the most comments as usual. The questions never stopped it is great to see that we are stimulating interest in Buenos Aires.

On the subject of Buenos Aires (and tango as well). I read this article from Janis Kenyon http://jantango.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/pedro-alberto-rusconi/ and decided it was so good that I copied it and brought it with me for people to read. It stimulated more interest than  could have imagined, so that now I have emailed a copy out to friends. I now thanks to Janis have a copy of the original letter, and am busy translating it as best my spanish will allow.

Looking forward to Saturdays Milonga at Pant see 01 January 2010 for details. I will of course post about it as soon as I can afterwards.


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Cardiff with a blast

The Finches hit Cardiff with a blast, but not as big a blast as the arctic air that seems to have become our summer.
 My first walk to the toilet block involved me getting totally soaked while while my second trip out involved a
lot of waterproof clothing. Unfortunately I do not have waterproof shoes, so that by now both pairs of trainers
I had brought are like damp dishcloths. Viv had the foresight to bring wellies, but I now had to find a new use
for those disposable carrier bags the local Spar likes to give out, Spar socks, whatever next.
We spent most of the first day seeking out the Tango venues we would later be going to, and luckily Barocco Bar where
we were to meet Monday night was not too far for us to walk.

The weather looked like holding out as we prepared ourselves for the night. It is never easy trying to look ones best,
Getting prepared in a tiny campervan, but as usual Viv looked wonderful, and I just looked like me.
Just when we were nearly ready it started raining again. All the waterproofs had to be hastily put on, but just as quickly
the rain stopped again, but we took them anyway. Fortunately, as it was a tango night, Viv left the wellies in the van.

We arrived at Barocca Bar early, with the inclement weather we just took advantage of a good break. There were a number
 of diners downstairs, but the place was not crowded. We bought some drinks and the girl directed us up the stairs.
The whole place has a dark atmospheric feel, with baroc decorations, hence the name.At the top of the wide wooden stair way
we found a sort of balcony affair with curved seating areas and round tables. There was an empty floor space, although not a
large area it would be enough for maybe a dozen couples. So we sat with our drinks and waited.

We were very early so that the wait did seem extra long to us,but by eight no one had arrived. At about quarter past a couple
arrived a small child. The child was adorable but I hoped when the dancing started he would not still be crawling on the
floor. After a couple of minutes the man,huge trainers and a hula skirt of keys, took the woman in an embrace and tried
unsuccessfully to lead a side step. Things were not looking good.

By about eight thirty a crowd was starting to appear and a guy with a computer and sound system was setting it up at the end of
the room.I doubted the ability of the system to fill the room, but I am glad to say I was proved wrong, though I am still
curious as to why they did not use the excellent system that was installed in the place.

For some time no one got up to dance. Viv is always reluctant to be first up, but we did not want to spend the night sitting
down so we led the dancing. There must have been two tandas before any one else got up. It was getting lonely out there.
 Soon enough others started to join us, first one couple then eventually two. When it reached three that was like an avalanche
point and the floor filled.

The standard was good and despite the crowded floor I found it easy to dance here. For me the quality of the dancers has always
been how they deal with a crowded floor rather than the moves that are performed.

Later on I danced with one or two of the other ladies, unfortunately, as usual, not many men chose to dance with Viv, so I had
to restrict myself. I enjoyed those dances a lot. ladies followed well with no antcipation, and if something did not go right
we just smiled and enjoyed the moment.

I hope that they enjoyed the moment as much as I did. Maybe we will dance together again on Friday.

As a footnote, I took some photographs, I do not have the equipment here to publish them, but hopefully I will do a post of just
the pictures when I return to the north.

My thanks to Wetherspoons for the WiFi

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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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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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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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