Tag Archives: Roberta

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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Can we have some women please

We arrived early for our second visit to Stanley palace. Sharon and Eric were already there but otherwise we were the first to arrive.

I had some time to explore this fine old building. The room we are in now had traditional beams up the walls with white plaster between. A huge wooden beam stretched across the fireplace, reputed to have come from one of the ships that used to dock at the old Watergate. The ceiling is also beamed but stretching from the fire towards the stairs is something more modern looking, I suspect that some steel has been built in to preserve the structure and this has been boxed in.

The wide staircase in the far corner turns ninety degrees after six steps and follows the wall up to the top. Above here is a gallery leading to another room above our dance room, wood panels divide this from the gallery and a Steinway grand lays waiting for someone to bring it to life. I am tempted to tickle the ivories, but I lack the knowledge or talent to do it any sort of justice.

Behind the gallery is a double wooden door with a sign telling key holders to use only in an emergency, but despite my curiosity I am unable to find out more.

The whole building has a feeling of another age, and I wonder if we should be using it as a dance venue or just admiring something that has stood for so long. This is believed to be the most haunted house in Chester, it certainly is the right setting, I could well imagine Ann Bolin walking down the gallery with her head tucked under her arm. Thinking like this I return to our dance room just as the music begins.

More people soon appeared, Paul, Graham, Ralf. Things were not looking good on the women front, soon there were six men and Viv. Even if Roberta made another appearance the numbers would not tally.  A couple arrived, but that did little to redress the balance, we desperately needed some women.

At one point I even tried dragging some off the street but to no avail. Sharon was desperately thinking how to alter tonight’s class to suit just leaders. Luckily just before the class started some women finally arrived and we had a quorum. Roberta would be needed but the numbers would at last tally.

I had worked hard in the garden and was tired and not relishing following tonight, but this is the arrangement we have, so I carried on.

Women seem to be always late in Chester and after half an hour another arrived, meaning I could finally sit down. I perched myself in the kitchen hatch where I could watch all the proceedings, looking like a garden gnome it amused the dancers.

Sharon was trying to teach the cross in cross system, with double time on the cross and also when the man changes weight. This caused some confusion for the less experienced, I do enjoy the way that Sharon can make light of the errors so much so that I sat there smiling sniggering and laughing all through the class.

Nobody took offence, I never intend any, but sometimes my mirth is misunderstood, it is a credit to the whole group that we just enjoy the good, the bad, and the ugly in equal measure. When I am dancing, I am often known to break into laughter, some ladies think that they must have done something wrong, but for me the joy comes when things go right, as well as when things go wrong. I gave up apportioning blame years ago, if something fails try again, if it fails a second time do something else, enjoy the moment, we dance for pleasure, we dance with each other, and if someone is watching, then they must enjoy it for what it is or ignore us, the dance is not for them but us.

So now I am the audience, and so I beg you, do not think my laughter criticism, I merely enjoy the moment with you, this is not schadenfreude, nobody is in pain, hopefully everyone enjoys the dance as much as me.

My time as audience is not to last, Elena arrives late and so I take her in to the room and hope I can quickly bring her up to the rest of the class. I enjoy this too, giving a bit of help to a beautiful young lady is one of my greatest pleasures.

Once again I had arrived tired and fed up, not looking forward to the night, and once again I ended up enjoying myself immensely. The music, the other dancers, and especially Sharon lift me to a place I would never get to on my own. I think that tango should be prescribed for anyone with depression. The curse of the modern age could be eliminated if everyone left their televisions and just came out dancing.

The practica carried on until eleven thirty. When I am not working the next day I make a point of staying until the end. A few others also stayed the distance, but unfortunately the women were soon all gone. Viv was not unhappy with this situation as she got to dance every dance, whereas I will sit out allowing others to practice. Nobody was interested in Roberta now the class was over. I guess dancing with a man is OK in class but never socially.

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Roberta Rides Again

We are off to Cardiff at the end of the week; we expect to do some tango while we are there, as well of lots of other stuff. I am not sure if I will be able to post while I am there but watch out for the story, life is never dull with the Finches, throw in a thirty year old campervan (OGG1) and the fun should never end.

 

Meanwhile the local scene goes on. We attended The Groves on Monday for another class with Sharon. We had two visitors from Cheshire, Millie and John. I never got the full details, but they have been going to classes with Chris. We attended classes with Chris at Zumbars Oxford Road Manchester with Frank Smith all those years ago. We saw Chris at a milonga in Wilmslow a couple of years back, but otherwise have not seen him for ten years. Anyway I hope that they pass on our greetings.

 

Chester is the only place I have known this to happen, and happen again it did: we had more men than women. Roberta had to return yet again, but even so there was a changing corner for the men. That means there were at least three more men than women, almost unprecedented in a small class. The guys are getting used to me now, which is just as well tonight’s class involved a lot of close embrace.

I think they feel safe with me, as one look at Viv and they are certain where my sexuality lies. Still it is fun to act a bit gay now and again, keep them on their toes. It also reminds me how safe it feels when you have a strong embrace; I can close my eyes without fear. On the other hand when the embrace is loose or sloppy, I feel it necessary to keep looking where I am. If this is the case for me then I am sure it must be the same for you ladies.

 

I have never followed for the ocho cortardo so this was interesting for me as well. There was a lot for me to learn, because despite all the years we have been dancing, following is still a fairly new experience for me. My biggest problem is still hanging on, trouble is when I return to axis I start to take over. Closing my eyes helps, as of course does having the embrace the other way round. Patience is the only thing I need; I have to remember that the amount of classes where I have followed are still very few. I still joke that I am the best woman here, that may not yet be true (OK probably never) but at least I can sometimes help the man with his lead.

We did a lot on musicality; this is now coming up more and more in Sharon’s classes, and shows how the emphasis is changing. Once all we ever got was steps, nothing about the music, now we are getting real tango, not pseudo stage tango, this is good. Only trouble is if the men did not get it Roberta tended to go off on her own, ignoring the man and enjoying the rhythm, not good. I must give her a good talking to..

After the class people were disappearing Viv had to go and grab some to tell them they must practice all that they had done, else all would be lost. Trouble was she was retrieving the men, I was left sitting out. I had to go begging; “please I want to be a man again”.

I spent some time with Viv, just going over what we did the weekend, and I managed to dance with a few other ladies, but all was lost by ten. So we went home for an early night.

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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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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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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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