Tag Archives: Salon

Visitors

Many will have heard me rant on about moves people and how their tango disrupts social tango and often makes more than just their partners uncomfortable. We know that their style of learning is different and they do not learn the basics of the lead and follow.

Sometimes though what we know is challenged, our basic beliefs are proven wrong and we are driven to question what we have always known.

We had some visitors to the Shrewsbury class, they did what I often do, search out what tango is around the places we visit. They were holidaying not too far away and decided to visit The Lantern and see what tango was like in Shrewsbury. The man of the couple was an absolute beginner and so was exiled to the back room to have some intensive technique in walking and leading. For a change the numbers allowed me to stay with the main class and see what they were all learning. I had a chat with our visitor, and it seems she had come from classes that were nothing like ours, they learnt moves and little technique, but I thought that in the interval I would take her round the floor and see how she performed. I admit to being pleasantly surprised, she followed well and as I slowly upped the level, at no time was she phased.

As I have often said, women follow instinctively and I am sure that this is in part what was happening, but also I think that, despite everything, there must have been some element of lead and follow in her other classes. Our tango worlds may not always sit happily together, but, as has been proven, we can cross the divide happily, provided we remember where we are at any given time.

I do wonder though if it would be quite so easy to cross the divide for a man. My first steps in tango were all about moves, my routine based tango stayed with me through most of my formative years of salon tango. I never lost it until I went to Buenos Aires, then in two intensive weeks of dancing my tango changed forever, and my routine was lost.

No matter how hard I tried I could not recover my routine. I could not even remember how we started. I think that now, as I try to dance the music, I am unable to arrange my moves in a pre arranged order, routine simply will not fit to the music, the music dictates.

I would love to hear from men, can you go from Nuevo to salon easily? Have others lost their routine when faced with hours of salon tango? And more importantly can any men survive in both worlds?

After the class we had our usual meeting in The Coracle and had further options to explore the differences in our tango worlds. One thing that still surprises me is that women actually prefer a gentle simple dance; they do not get bored with doing the same thing, longing for more and more complex moves. When you dance the music, that decides what you should do and the way you mix up the moves and alter cadence can make even very few moves feel like an interesting dance.

We men all do it; we worry that, maybe, that was one too many ochos, or is she getting bored with not enough moves. Yes even me, we also see good dancers and think “I could not possibly ask her to dance” We all have our own crisis’ of confidence, we men have fragile egos, in this way tango is much like sex; women have complex desires but a man prefers the woman who just tells him he is great in bed or on the dance floor. 

So while I can bang on that there is no need to do more and more complex moves, and you must dance the music and the women will love you for it, the women must play their part and tell us that this is what they want, or we will just go off and learn more moves just to try and please you.

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In trouble again?

I wonder if I am in trouble again. As Sharon tells the women in the Monday class not to put weight onto the men while following with hands on the chests. I know the remark was aimed at someone, I just do not know if it was me or not.

Often when I give a bit of private tuition I ask the ladies to give me some resistance and will occasionally ask them to lean on me. I do make the point of course that it is for this time only and never to do this while in the main class, and certainly never when dancing.

 This is just a bit more of the conflicting advice that surrounds Tango. I like a bit of resistance, I have a need to know where the woman is. There are followers, good followers, who are very light, and while they respond well to my leads, I do not like to dance with them. I need to feel that there is a presence there; I like a small amount of weight.

Don’t get me wrong, a woman who hangs on my neck, or who I have to push around the room like some overloaded wheel barrow, is not a joy to dance with, but then I do not want to be chasing her either.

I have to take care; I do not run the classes. I never could. Running a big class takes a skill that I do not have, and besides I work shifts. I enjoy my one to ones with the beginners, but sometimes I can use techniques that simply would not work with a large class. I can say to a lady “lean on me” and when I fell that she has the feeling then I can return her to her axis, I can develop the feeling and know that she knows that this is not how we dance.

I sometimes get a lady who simply cannot get the cross; usually this is because the weigh goes back. I have used this trick of saying “lean on me” when the feeling is understood and they are back on their own axis it all becomes clear.

Trouble is of course that when someone else comes into the class and tries this, it does not work, often the leaders have not yet fully developed how to lead the cross and assume that it is the ladies fault.

Sharon is very tough on the class, and sometimes it is misunderstood, but we cannot have everyone teaching at the same time. A bit of humility is needed, as you dance around the room concentrate on your body, what you are doing wrong, not your partner. I am not saying ignore your partner, you must know where they are, you must respond to what they do or where they have their weight, but do not criticise or try to teach.

In the after class salon I dance with as many women as I can  and what I find most annoying is when they say “but I was told to put my foot here by…….” In the class it is Sharon who is teaching, women should respond to the mans body, not his voice.

We did more Vals in the intermediates, there was a shortage of women again, so the men had to put up with me getting very close and intimate. They never dared to tell me where to put my feet, often the lead was not quite right, so I was not necessarily in the right place, but the next time they got it right. As I have said before “I am not the best follower in the world” If they can do it with me then surely they can do it with women who are always women.

So my message is clear “women, go where you are led even if it feels wrong” and men “if the woman is not where you want her you be, it is most likely because you led her there”.

And finally, if someone directs you verbally on the dance floor, tell them to “shut up and dance”. (I did put it a bit more crudely when asked).

If you have any views on anything I have said, post a comment. I may or may not agree but open debate is always better than monologue. After all I can’t be right all the time, can I? Of course if you think I am you could tell me that as well, but I will only get more big headed.

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A Hectic Weekend

From the beginning of the year it has looked like this was to be a very flat weekend. The number of social clubs stopping their weekend dances is growing, the reasons are many, but the ageing population of these events along with the unwillingness of the punters to support the bar, has made many unviable. Committees are looking for better ways to raise revenue, and unless we attract more people into social dancing, and get them to spend at the bar these dances will finish.

Suddenly, at least for this week though, things changed, the untimely death of Frank Smith and his memorial dance, along with finding out about The Salsa Inferno party, and getting a place at Sharon’s workshop and salon, it changed from a flat weekend to something quite frantic.

As I have already reported on Thursday at Shrewsbury, I will start with the Friday workshop with Hayden. The main theme was about changing weight and of course playing with the weight. We would get a lot out of this, as it gives me something more to play with while trying to interpret the music. Somehow though for me it became more about giros, let me explain; among my many faults, I fall back onto my heels when I rotate, and of course I was doing this again.

It looks to me always as if the woman is moving into my space; this cannot be the fault of the woman as every one does it with me.  Both Sharon and Hayden looked at my giro but some how the answer was not obvious.  Later when we were working on something else I had one of those eureka moments, it was me stepping into the ladies space, how I have never noticed this before I do not know, now hopefully another of my longstanding faults is finally vanquished.

There was time for a nearly three hours practice later, and I was able to try some rapid weight changes to a milonga beat, and practice my now perfected giros. We could do with more people coming for the after class Salon but I am sure in time word will get out there, and we will get more than just a couple of women adding to the twelve already there.

We arrived home shortly before midnight, and I had a chance to catch up on some sleep. The continuing run of late nights was starting to tell, so I allowed myself an indulgent lie in the next morning.

During the day I had a call from Steve asking if there was any dancing on anywhere. There was no social dancing that I knew of, except that I had heard that Salsa Inferno had a party at Theatre Clwyd. We made arrangements to pick Steve up and decided to go to an event of which we knew little and expected to know no one there.

The first person we saw when we arrived was James from Chester tango and Salsa. As we sat down, more and more people arrived that we knew. There were people from Tango Bangor, Chester, Liverpool, and people we had not seen for years. Salsa Dan was there with his wife, I managed a dance with her along with a few women who know me from tango. Most would not believe that I was no good at salsa; I soon put them right on that.

We had a fabulous night, hardly any dancing, but loads of catching up; even Gilbert was there, an old school friend of our daughter’s. I admit to having some sneaky fun videoing him trying to salsa. I have no intention of showing this here; it is for my daughter’s amusement only.

After the dance we finished up at Steve’s, and as usual did not leave until late. We needed to be up by ten to have time to travel to Prestbury, so again I had not enough sleep.

So Sunday morning up, showered and ready we set off for Prestbury and Frank’s memorial dance. We got a little lost as we turned too early for the satnav but as we U turned to go back, there in front of us was the Longfield Suite, I guess you could say that it found us.

The room itself was beautiful, it had a gleaming wooden floor, polished to perfection and of a size I have rarely seen. At the far end a huge stage already set with the instruments of Frambuesas, slow tango music had wafted us from the bottom of the stairs and now I was ready to dance.

Again, although not unexpectedly this time, there were numerous people from my past, we sat with Ann and Les, but I spent more time catching up with others around the room than dancing.

I had a lovely dance with Carol from Leeds the first I think we have had outside Buenos Aires. The tanda was Pugliese and while Carol loves his music and knows him well, I find it difficult to dance to so I promised Carol another dance later. To my shame I never made it, I hope she will forgive me, and I have told her we will dance again in BsAS.

The list of people we met is huge so I will not mention all of them, but I must mention Attilla, her last dance I think before her impending delivery, we wish her well, and though it was short I enjoyed my dance, a second milonga would have been too much with less than three weeks to go, so I had to let her sit down.

Frank would have been pleased I think, that we gave him such a good send off. I cannot finish without sending my thanks to the organisers, Frank’s family, Frambuesas, and anyone who helped, and not forgetting everyone who turned up. All these people know each other through him, and just seeing how many people now tango in the UK because of him is an inspiration.

As a footnote there were donations collected for the British Heart foundation, when I know how much they raised I will let you know.

After the milonga, of course, we still had our usual Sunday evening salsa class with Clan Cuban, just to finish off the weekend.

Then it was off to bed again so that I could be up for work in the morning at five.

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Pant Milonga

I think word is getting out there.  It cannot be just the season, and the cold weather surely would have put some off, yet the numbers were up. Perhaps it was the offer of free bubbly to those who came with some sparkle, maybe it was Viv’s shoe collection, or maybe just maybe finally people are hearing what a good night we have when we all dance socially and in line of dance.

We arrived early to set up the shoe stall in the little side room. Viv added a little sparkle to the table in keeping with the season, but Sharon had arrived even more early, so there was little for me to do to help. (actually nothing, but I like to sound useful)

Soon we were into the dancing and it was just a whirl. I barely had time to breath between partners and Viv who complains that at other milongas she sits out too much said that she never sat down. She did have the odd break to attend to her shoes, but it left me needing to make an appointment to dance with her.

We still however get the odd one who tries to teach on the dance floor and I am afraid I was rather rude, poking someone in the ribs and saying not on the dance floor. Although many will recognise my frustration, I do realise that had that been me, I would have been incandescent with rage. The guy in question seemed to hold me no grudges, so I feel somewhat humbled.

I enjoy dancing with the beginners, they carry no baggage and will not try to do ganchos just because they think that is what I want.  I do not try to teach on the dance floor, but sometimes a total beginner will say to me “I am a beginner and do not know what to do” I always give the same instruction “always move alternate legs keep your body in front of mine, and let me worry about where your legs are” when things go wrong, as they inevitable will with a total beginner, I pass it off as my fault. Of course they don’t belive me but why ruin an enjoyable dance with retributions. This is supposed to be fun, classes are for learning, milongas are where we relax and enjoy.

Battery problems mean I did not get as many photos as I would have liked, but here is a selection, hopefully I can add more if people send them to me.

We finished with a birthday celebration for Dave, is he really almost exactly a year younger than me? Must have had a hard life. Obviously Alison does not look after him as much as Viv looks after me. Perhaps I should count my blessings more.

As always your comments are welcome, good or bad except for Dave who I have permission to insult with impunity. ( BTW  I only insult people I like, those who I do not like just get my killer stares).

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Basic eight and more

OK so last night I took the Chester class. I had planned to do something about the lead and the embrace, but Sharon had asked me to go over the basic eight in preparation for the coming year.

There was one guy who was fairly new, but in general everyone including the new guy was very soon doing the eight with no problems. We went on to make it a seven, leaving out the back step, but this was never going to fill two hours.

I decided to ask if anyone had anything they wanted help with, and everyone either said ochos or giros.  We spent some time going over the steps of the giro, until someone asked the killer question “if tango is improvised then why do we learn steps?” it was as if I had planted the question. Now I could break the moves down into their basics and show that any ocho or giro could be started or finished at any point. The lady must wait for each lead, because the man may not go the way they think he will go.

I then gave them something of a demo; I chose a fairly new partner and asked her forgiveness for what I was about to do. I played Poema by Canaro, I think one of the most beautiful pieces ever written.  I then proceeded to ignore the music and do every move I could think of, it was horrible, she hated it, and every one could see that she was struggling.

I apologised again and asked how it was for her. Now I asked for a second chance, Poema again, but this time I listened to the music, we did nothing but walk, but changing speed and direction as the music dictated. She was happy, we looked good, our audience enjoyed it and I did not even lead an ocho.

I set the class back to their tasks, telling them not to lead just giros and ochos but fill in with walking and feel the music. I picked my drink up as my mouth was dry and when I turned back everyone was dancing, not as in a class, not practicing , but just dancing.

At this point I gave up teaching and just left the music on. I no longer had a class, but a group of Tango dancers.

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Last Tango in Shrewsbury (for this year)

Back again at The Lantern, for the Christmas milonga. As next Thursday is Christmas day this was the last one of the year.

In keeping with the new traditional thing, I turned up in a suit (very milonguero) unfortunately it was not long before I was too hot and had to remove my jacket. For my Argentine readership I should point out that it had been below freezing point the last few days, and for me this was a welcome change.

Again everyone had made an effort and the night went very well. A couple who teach in Warwick had turned up to see what the scene was like here, Ricardo and Sue I think their names were. They had started their Tango in Edinburgh with Ricardo and Jenny so imediately we had some common ground. I think that they enjoyed the night, although the level is still mainly beginners. Hopefully they will turn up again some time. They were on some kind of national tour as Ricardo had told Viv about the other places that they were to visit, I am still curious as to why they selected Shrewsbury, as it is on the same night as Wilmslow.

We had badgered some friends to come as well, and although they arrived late they also seemed to enjoy the night. I think the fact that the women are all followers and the music is important helps make this night.

I again though met up with the same problems; many of the women with whome I danced had been learning figures and could not walk properly never mind follow a basic giro. Hopefully I straightened a few problems out, with me ending up just walking around the room with them.

After all the beginners it was nice to dance with Sue. We started of just walking as always, but we soon got the feel and it gave me a chance to try out a few things which I could never expect the beginners to follow. I tried to lead the cadena and it just did not work, again there is no point blaming the woman, obviously my lead is not yet right although on the plus side she did understand what I was trying to do.

This is the ever present problem, the only more advanced dancer that I regularly dance with is Viv, and by now she knows what I am going to do almost before I do, and so my lead does not improve.

Still it was nice to try some volcadas and other things with someone new, Viv also had a chance to dance with Ricardo and as she knows all my repertoire it is nice for her to be doing something new as well.

It is always a good crowd here I look forward to seeing some of them again New Years Day.

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Tango with Sven

As I have previously published, my posture when tango dancing is terrible.  I hope my use of the present tense is now a mistake. The class we took part in on Saturday with Sven and Atilla I think has finally cured me.

This miracle was brought about by the unusual teaching methods of Sven Froese. One of the unusual things he had us doing was walking around the room, just like a beginners class but the ladies would join the men, whilst the men would not break step,then leave again to join another man.

He also made a point of leading with the solar plexus. You cannot do this and tuck the woman under your arm, believe me. The world has now lost it’s number one underarm dancer, I really am cured.

We spent some time in the second class doing crosses in cross system and uncrossing. While Viv had done this before, I had not, at least not in a formal class. However I was not letting this distract me from my main aim which was not to improve my posture. So I must apologise to those ladies who wanted to do what was being taught, as once again I chose to ignore most of what was being said. If I got nothing else from the weekend it was worth it just for that improvement in posture.

After the class we had to freeze our ears off in Wilmslow for three hours, as the legion wanted the room at Three thirty and the evening dance was not due to start until seven thirty. I did enjoy my fish, chips and peas at the Bollin Fee, although the peas were cold. Still you can’t complain at two meals for £7.10  We arrived early which gave us plenty of time to get ready, not that I needed much time to shave , change my shirt, and put on my mask.

What can I say about the dance, the Christmas masked ball. As far as I could tell everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. The masks did not stay all night as I think most people got a little too hot. Live music was supplied by “Frambuesas con Nata” who as usual brought the house down. Viv managed to stay incognito, while her joke shop wig was mistaken for a new hair do.

Finally I must mention the demo given by Atilla and Sven, the standard of dancing was superb as always. They gave a demonstration of pure salon tango, all improvised.  It goes to show that good dancers do not need heavy choreographed routines, like “strictly” or the tourista rubbish that is starting to creep in in some of the salons.

I forgot my camera again I am afraid, but I am hoping some kind person who was there will donate a few pics for me. Any offers??

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