Tag Archives: Thursday

Teachers should dance too

In Thursday’s Shrewsbury class we were joined by an Argentine by the name of Guido. He is I believe on of the men that Carol, from Leeds, brings over to help in her classes, over there on the north east side of the country. She had kindly lent him out to us poorer border people for the night. His class consisted of mainly ocho milonguero, and giro miloguero. Although for Viv and I there was nothing particularly new here, he presented it in a refreshing way that gave us much to think about. While many of the beginners struggled with the basic step, the playful repeats he did gave us something to work on, and left me with a smile on my face. My only criticism was that after the class he was reluctant to dance with any of the students. I think it was his great loss, many of the ladies here have come along at a fantastic pace, a real tribute to Sharon’s teaching. Of course he also missed out on dancing with Viv, she refuses to ask the men, and why should she? After years of putting up with beginners, would it really have been too much trouble to give her one dance? I have been to some classes where the teacher makes a point of dancing with every woman, and even some of the men, after all isn’t that part of it, to show what a good lead feels like? This discussion carried over to The Coracle for our weekly tango discussion. Among other topics discussed was again, the men telling the women where to put their feet. Horror, I was accused of doing precisely this. I suppose in some ways I was, whilst leading a giro I was pointing out where the feet should go, not away from me but in a circular motion, so that I am not pulled off axis. To me it is a mute point, I am not trying to get her to do something I cannot lead, merely to do something better. Still that is how it looks, and I suppose those I criticise could be doing the same thing. Maybe I should just, shut up and dance. We move on now to Saturday and a workshop on social volcadas with Haydyn Brown and Sharon.

Three hours of workshop followed by a Milonga represented good value, and as it was in my free weekend, how could I refuse. It seemed at first we were to do anything but volcadas, but all this was in preparation, getting the legs free and trust in your partner are essentials to a good volcada, but I have to admit, even I did not see where we were going at first. We stared off with some low boleos, low and small, something you could do in a crowded Milonga. This we were to learn later is a way of testing any new partner; there is little point in leading a full boleo or especially a volcada if the woman will not follow. Next we moved on to leg wraps, this was all about positioning, as well as learning something new and exciting. Finally we moved on to the volcadas, what we had all come for (although I suspect that there were those who had no idea what a volcada was). I think that it gave some an advantage; I spent most of the time trying to do too much. We have done volcada workshops before and there was I trying to get lots of lean, and lots of sweep, when all that was required was subtlety. Still I got there in the end and we enjoyed the experience. Some reassurance was needed, a lot of gobsmacked faces around. We have been to many workshops often walking away remembering nothing. It is only by doing them over and over that something sticks. Things do stay there, you just do not realise. Next workshop will seem easier and the one after. There is nothing special about us; we have just done so many. In fact I think sometimes the reason I am able to explain things well, is because I found it so difficult to learn, in the first place.

After a break for food we moved on to the nights Milonga. It was a shame so many had to leave, but fortunately more arrived and we had a good number in the end. Hayden, danced with all the women, just as he should, and Sharon gave us men some rest also leading the women. My moan? There is always one: I danced, I think, with all the women, except Sharon. I always feel it a bit unfair that she has to dance with all the beginners and I usually miss her out. Today though she did dance with Haydyn, it must be nice not to have to look down to her partners for once.

Just for your entertainment, I have included a photo of me taken by Jantango outside The Bibioteca Nacional. This is what you have to do to use a Moble Phone in Argentina.

See using a Cell phone is easy

See using a Cell phone is easy

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Axis

The week started badly as I had to miss the Monday class again, but with more venues now opening up it meant I would be free for the Thursday in Shrewsbury.

Sharon was concentrating on axis this week, and interestingly, we had the men working together and the women working together. We tried various bad postures, just to see how it felt. I think most of us men already had some idea of what it felt like to have a woman lean backwards, or stick her bottom out. However perhaps some of the women who did dance like this would perhaps now have a better idea of what we are up against. This, I hasten to add is not blaming all bad dancing on the women, but just maybe, if we can get you ladies following right, then the men will start learning to lead better.

I had my usual fun, of course, and insisted that I am still the best woman there, I did not get too many challenges on this, sometime I worry.

Numbers were down considerably this week, I know of no reason why this should be, still, those who were there will have benefited considerably from the experience.

In the practica after the class, I did feel that the ladies with whom I danced had improved their posture, leaving me more freedom to lead them into some more interesting moves.

Afterwards, in The Coracle, there were only four, myself, Viv, Dave, and Alison. An indication of the low numbers in the class. Even so we still had a lively tango discussion, where I tried to explain why the tango scene here could never be as good as Buenos Aires. I think, to understand fully, you need to have been there, but part of the reason is the shear population density. For this reason London is the only place that can hope to come close in the UK. Another reason, is the problem getting people off their backsides, the British love their television, Strictly is the nearest any of them get to a dance hall. Unfortunately I know of no answer, I see the problems, but cannot see a solution, we even have a minister for sport, but all he seems able to do is give them more football on television, Kill the TV and give us more dance venues, that should be our clarion call. My only hope is that confusion over the digital change over, may drive a few off their sofas.

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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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The First Gresford Milonga

As I said in my previous post, this has been a particularly good tango week for me.

First there was Chester on Monday(see previous post) then I was able to attend Shrewsbury on Thursday. We arrived later than usual again, but we were there in good time for the mid class practica. Mischka was taking the class again and we did some interesting things with the Giro.

It seems now to be the highlight of the night when we all reconvene at The Coracle. We were determined not to stay too late as we had a lot to do the following day, but as these things go we did not leave until ten to twelve.

As we pulled out of the car park the local police just happened to be passing in the opposite direction. Suprise, suprise they turned around and followed me. Obviously I was stopped and breathalysed, when they asked if I had ever been breathalysed before, their eyes lit up when I said that I had been done three times. They now thought that they had a serial drink driver on their hands whereas it was obvious to me, that I meant that I had been breathalysed three times.Anyway I have a complaint for the landlord of The Coracle, the meter actually read ZERO. I know I only had mild shandy, but I would have thought that there would have been some alcohol in it.

Finally this week, we have had the first Gresford Milonga, I will not say too much about it. I will let the pictures speak for themselves. I would however like to give a big thank you to those that came and made it a huge success and overcame their superstitions. It was after all Friday 13th and when Sharon arrived there were thirteen people here.

We ended the evening with some Cumbia. With the music and the disco ball, I thought for just  a moment that I was in Club Fulgor, Ecstasy. Finally we did some Chacarera, somehow it never fitted the music, but there was so much flouncing by the women and stamping by the men, who cared? it was enjoyable mayhem.

Sign on the door courtesy of : Alfredo F Martinez, filete Porteno. Feria de San Telmo, Buenos Aires. E-Mail martinezalfredo@yahoo. com

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Two in a Week

Another Monday Class gave me another chance to shine only I didn’t (more on this later)

We are back again to there being more men than women in the beginners class, and so Roberta made another appearance. This is getting more rare these days as numbers are more or less evening out. Viv helps to make up the numbers of women, and of course if there is one too many men I can just sit out. So it was nice to do a bit of following again.

I have come in for some criticism from Viv, she says I am too heavy on the men. I think she forgets that as a follower I am just a beginner, also I believe, rightly or wrongly, that it is better to know where your follower is, that to be trying to find them. Still criticism noted, I will try to be lighter. (maybe loose some of that belly)

In the improver’s class, Sharon introduced something I have not done before. Sharon loves to do double time stuff, and so we did an ocho followed by a double time rock and then what she called a whoosh. All very nice, and as I was partnered up with the lovely Shirley I had no problem at all.

Sharon on seeing others in difficulty split us up. So what happened then? well Shirley went on to do it perfectly every time, and me, I could not even work out what I was supposed to be doing.

It would be all too easy to blame the women I danced with, but Tango is a conversation, and if they are not understanding my language, then I guess I need more vocabulary.

In the end I went over it again with Viv and it is back there again. We must see what happens Thursday night.

Yes I am getting two bites of the cherry this week, Tango Monday and Thursday. I will also get two (three, watch for post) goes next week, another month and I will be on my summer hours, which means a virtual end to Shrewsbury for six months except for one or two occasions.

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Miracle Worker

I do not know how he does it, maybe it is because he has been doing promotions since he was seven, (or so he says) but Dave Basset has again worked miracles. The new beginners class started this Thursday at the Lantern Shrewsbury. Normally one would expect a few newcomers at these classes, but even taking into account the “Strictly Come Dancing” effect, I could never have expected the huge number who arrived this week.

Exhausted Tango Dancers relax over a drink

Exhausted Tango Dancers relax over a drink

We arrived late, as it is over an hours drive, and the beginners class was in full swing. I would have liked to join in and give some help but as the numbers were more or less even, there seemed little point at this stage.

The classes are arranged with a practica between the beginners and the intermediates, so I had half an hour to walk around with some of the new starters. I got a good feeling from the few I managed to give some time to, good posture and a feeling that they are actually there with me. Next week I hope to be a bit earlier and spend some time with them in the class.

A few stayed over for the intermediates but soon realised that it takes time to learn even the basics.

Sharon has again been asked to give the class, and again we did the things we had done last Monday. Happily when asked to help demonstrate this time I was able to oblige. Does everyone get bad dancing days? or is it just me? anyway I left feeling a lot better than I did on Monday.

There was more practice time after the class, I could not manage to get around every one, but I apologise to those I missed. There was some confusion amongst some of the women, who felt that Viv was somehow being left out when I danced with them. I can only say that I love dancing with my wife, but amongst new dancers we feel that we must share our experience, after all, the more people dance tango, the more dances we will have, and then the more opportunities we will have to dance together.

We enjoyed the night imensely, and I must again thank Dave Bassett for organising it. We stayed on right until the end, and even joined Dave and a few others for a drink in the Corracle afterwards. See the photo in the post, unfortunately Dave and Sharon were a bit shy, Dave out of picture to the right and Sharon hiding behind Viv. Don’t worry, I’ll get the two of you next time.

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