Tag Archives: secada

Hoy Touristas

The weather has caught me out somewhat today; it is always warm in our apartment but it was not so warm on the street. I had to do some strategic sunny side walking to keep my body temperature up when walking about today. It is still not cold, you understand but my summer clothing is less than appropriate now. Long sleeves I think tomorrow.

Up until now we have done little of a touristy nature. This is just our home in Buenos Aires and there seems little point in even getting my camera out, in what after all is my back yard. So today we thought we would head down to San Telmo, see some of the colour and mix with los touristas.

We left the subte at San Juan and just sort of meandered until we came across Carlos Calvo. Something stirred in my memory “wasn’t Carlos Calvo the street with the café that made its own bread?” Viv confirmed my thoughts so we walked down until it was crossed by Peru and there on the corner was El Federal. It is quite a big place, but always full of customers. We managed to find a seat by the window and we were given the menu. This particular menu, I think was written by Tolstoy, slightly longer than War and Peace but a mouthwateringly good read. I think we spent longer on the menu than the food. We elected for a sandwich each on their pan caseros. We saw so many other dishes served up that looked equally delicious but I could not come to San Telmo without tasting their bread.

After this we went a wandering again. We wandered around the indoor market and found something else for our practica. Then we found our way back to Plaza Dorrego. We hardly got in the first street before we were accosted by a guy trying for all he was worth to get us to buy his paintings. (For all he was worth, was not much judging by his art work). As always down here, the artistry ranges from grand master ability to something only a mother would pin to the fridge.

Anyway I took the precaution of not bringing much money out with me, that way nobody can con me out of it. (remember I said that) I love the life and colour of this place, despite the fact that most of it is here solely for the tourists and you get accosted on every corner “algo para comer senor?” “good leather, cheap, we take dollars”, not a lot different to Florida really just more colour.

Later we found the passage artisanal where we bought some Tango 8 shoes last year. Defensa 1575 or there abouts.Tango 8 seems to have gone from here, but there was still a lot of places to look into. Window shopping free entertainment for pobrecitos.

There is an upstairs to this passage and a café there so we thought we would stop and have a beer now the sun was shining. They also had a tango show and Viv insisted I gave them $10 for a very short show.

We had a litre of quilmes between us and when it was time to go I asked for the bill. This is how it went; “La cuenta por favor” “Si treinta y sinco” (35) “TREINTA Y SINCO” “Si” “es una broma no?” (It’s a joke) but she was not laughing. I rarely ask the price in Buenos Aires, because in the main they are always fair. True some places are a bit more expensive but you can usually tell, there are clues like table cloths and posh waiters. But sitting outside on a rough balcony with tango dancers doubling as waiting on staff that does not count.

The trouble with ripping people off is you never can tell who they are, how often they would have returned or how many friends they will tell to avoid the place. That is perhaps why this place was almost empty and El Federal was full.

Enough of the moaning we are off to Fulgor again, for another great night. Everyone welcomed us again as old friends and nobody mentioned we were missing last Thursday. Viv is still suffering with her neck, so she sent me off to dance with all the old dears. They all seem to do unled crosses here, and I have to be very careful not to trip them up when I try to secada. Still it all makes for more experience.

For some reason they now play bingo on a regular basis, but at least Roberto calls the numbers “muy rapido” so we can get on with the dancing. Unlike the old sorteo I seem to have no luck with bingo, I guess  the game knows I don’t really like it.

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Filed under Argentina, milonga, Tango

It’s all about the Music

Things are getting good around here, I managed to attend three tango venues this week, and that did not include my regular at Chester on Monday as I was on nights. My wife, who still goes when I cannot, has actually been to tango four times.

Our first trip of the week (together) was to Bangor. This is a twice monthly venue, run by John and Anna. The journey time is about an hour and a half on a good day.  Normally the road (A55) is littered with road works so the time can be doubled or more, but this week we were lucky and had a clear run.

Normally it is not possible to attend because of work commitments, but this week Tuesday was right in the middle of my days off.

It was a real pleasure to meet up again. Anna has not been to Chester since before her baby was born, she has the same trouble we have travelling this distance. There is a class the first Tuesday of the month and a practica on the third. Numbers are down, and so to save on expense this week it is at La Casa de Anna.

Anna had to finish early to attend to the baby, but in the meantime she did somewhat monopolise me. There was some giro practicing and secada practice, I helped where I could, but I was not fully aware of what they had done in their class.

Unfortunately after Anna had gone, the party soon broke up, so we were back on the road home before ten, at least we arrived home at a decent hour.

After nearly seven months it was a joy to meet up again and when John took his revenge for my dancing with his wife and took Viv from me for a dance it was only fair. We finished with some milongas and John took some pictures of Viv and I, thanks to Anna for sending them so soon. 

Our second tango session of the week was our regular trip to Shrewsbury. Sharon was teaching giros again, with the emphasis on coming out at different points. My big problem was trying not to do secadas in the middle, sometimes it is hard to go back to basics, but it would not have done for me to confuse everyone.

The heat and humidity were telling on everyone so the practice session was a more muted affair than usual, and we were glad to get to The Coracle again for a drink.

As usual we had a lively tango discussion again, and the subject came around to women not getting dances. The situation here is somewhat different to Buenos Aires as most of the tango groups are formed with people who have all had classes together, but still some women do not get to dance. My feeling is that not having tandas means the men tend to circulate less, so that some women can monopolise the men and the men are embarrassed to leave them. If there is a natural break with a cortina then there is no embarrassment, you do the tanda and then sit down. Next tanda you choose a new partner, and if you do not enjoy this partner, you at least know how long you will have to dance together. We also had a discussion about the music; dancers who do other dances have difficulty understanding why I am so choosy about the music I will dance to. I learned many years ago, a type of show tango, and because it was about the moves and routine, we could do it to any music. The music was not important, we did our thing. After many years of salon tango, you learn to interpret the music, the music becomes more important than what you do on the floor, and in time, if the music does not lift you, then the dance itself becomes worthless. I tried but could not make them understand, only years of listening and dancing to the greats can make you understand.


Our third session of the week is a return to The Groves in Chester. Just starting on the last Friday of the month is a regular milonga with Anthony. We arrived early; with the hot weather parking by the river is at a premium, so I wanted to be sure to get a spot.

The room was not ready yet so we sat with a drink and waited. I was overjoyed to see Bill who was here with his wife (sorry forgot her name, my memory gets worse) Bill spends half the year in Palm Springs, and we used to meet regularly in Wilmslow, but have not seen each other for at least a year, probably much longer.

The dancing in general was good and I managed to dance with most of the ladies, but once or twice I had to sit down. The music was not inspiring me, this group was mixed and while some were happy to be doing their ganchos and lifts in the centre of the room, for me if the music was not right, I would rather sit it out. That is not to say I spent the whole evening sitting down, when there was traditional tango playing I was never short of a partner, but I still do not understand why when there is so much good tango out there people feel the need to be clever with the music.

We again had to leave early as I am up at five the next morning, I cannot complain as only five years ago I would be lucky to get one tango outing in a fortnight. The sudden increase in tango in this area is largely due to the efforts of Anthony, and for this I am grateful, but (isn’t there always a but) I wish he would share my passion for the tango greats. Tango for me is all about the music, we dance first with  our ears, the feet move only in response.


Filed under Dance Venues and Schools, milonga

Running and Walking

I was not able to attend the Monday class this week. Viv made me go to work on my bike so that she could have the car. She is a bit laconic about the class, so I cannot report much, other than it seems for once  the numbers must have been more or less balanced, as she spent some time sitting out.

We returned to Shrewsbury again, and as usual I did my best to spread myself about (Tango Slut). Again I spent a lot of time explaining to the ladies how to do a good giro. So much depends on them doing it well, and every time I got a good sidestep I would reward them with a nice secada.

The need to keep the feet down was the theme of Sharon’s Class, great fun was had trying to keep bits of red paper under foot. Later I had the opportunity to point out how keeping the feet down gave the opportunity for many beautiful moves.

Later in the Coracle we had a lively debate on moves. While some felt that they were being deliberately held back, I do not think my argument was convincing enough. Tango, unlike other dances does not rely on set piece moves, the basics all need to be in place, then and only then can some improvisation take place.

The move under discussion needed a giro step executed well before it can be performed, and my view is that the level we are at at the moment is not yet high enough.

I recalled our first real tango in Spain many years ago. A lovely couple (who later invited us to their home, just because we tango) complained that they had walked to Madrid and back in the class. They were having the basics driven into them, even though they taught classes in London.

In the end I think that there is no real answer to those who think they can learn moves. Only time will show them the error of their ways. We all start off wanting to move like Copes and it takes years before we realise that it is not the moves, but the way we move that makes the difference.

Tango, the only place where you learn to run, before you realise you cannot walk.

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