Tag Archives: ochos


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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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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A good week

Despite having to work nights mid week, this week is going to be a wonderful tango week for me. I am able to get to Chester and Shrewsbury as well as organise a dance at last at our home.

Because I have to work, I arrived later than usual at Chester this week, meaning that I missed almost all of the beginners class. However when we arrived we were able to step in, as there were two men without partners. One lucky guy got Viv while the other had to make do with Roberta. Still beggers cannot be choosers and now everyone got a dance, and at least they got to change quite soon. I suspect now that some of the men actually prefer dancing with Roberta, although they would never admit it.

When the beginners class was over, Sharon told me she had a new starter who needed some private tuition, always eager to show off I agreed to take her to one side. The improvers were doing the sandwich which would have given me no trouble and the numbers were now even again.

In the space of an hour I tried to get in as much of the basics as I could. Our new beginner struggled with the cross, just about managed the ochos, but seemed to have the stance off almost imediately. To be fair much more time needs to be spent on just walking, getting her weight on one foot and onto her toes would have helped the ochos no end, and the lack of a toe lead was making the cross difficult.

I think she did very well considering this was afirst time and there was so much to cover. Actually if I had realised she was not coming back until the new beginners course starts again I would not have tried to cram so much in, I just hope she does her homework of ochos, and comes back for the next course.

Very soon to come: a report on Shrewsbury and the first Gresford Milonga

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Shrewsbury with a whoosh

As stated in my last post, I have two tango venues this week. It is not often I get this opportunity, so I must make the most of it.

The beginners class started with everyone doing ochos. Men find this particularly difficult. (I blame the shoes) It gave the men a chance to see how much time is needed to complete, and hopefully illustrated how the pivot needs to be finished before you make the lady step.

We went on to do walking ochos, again with the emphasis on allowing the time and space necessary. As the class went on I could see great improvements all round, everyone looked more relaxed and at ease with the steps.

When we moved on to the improver’s class, the numbers were balanced, so neither Bob or Roberta were needed. I disappeared into the practica room to give some of the struggling beginners the benefit of my experience.

I spent some time with one lady who had not been coming long, she still struggled with the ochos, but as I broke it down and told her to get her balance after the pivot before she tries to step. She was soon ochoing like a good un.

After half an hour or so she had had enough and left me to rejoin the improver’s class. Alison had also rejoined so this meant I now had a follower. Sharon was teaching the whoosh again, and again as I had missed the beginning, I was struggling.

All was well in the end as I had a bit of a private lesson. I was doing the classic beginners thing of just making it too complicated. Just goes to show, good as you think you have become, we all relapse now and again.

Back in the Coracle my private struggles were commented upon, I need to be kept reminded that despite most of the dancers around these parts being beginners, I am not so great. Buenos Aires will bring me down again with a thump.

Next week is the first ever Gresford Milonga. I am sorry I cannot invite everyone, while Gerald Grosvenor may live down the road, I only have a small bungalow.  However if you read this and feel particularly put out that you were not invited. Tough!

Seriously we may be able to fit in one or two more, so we are looking only for those who really want to attend. If we are sucsessful we may try fitting more in next time, hopefully in the summer when we can throw the doors open.

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