Tag Archives: Upton Magna

Back to Shrewsbury

Buenos Aires is disappearing into the dim and distant past. All the new people I met are just memories, so a chance to tango again is my only salvation. Upton Magna is a small village just south of Shrewsbury, very difficult to reach, but now becoming a regular on the circuit.

Before I start the report I must apologise to those waiting to see Viv’s new hair. As usual with anything new, it takes her some time to get used to it, and tonight there was no way she would wear her new wig. So in the photos is the same old Viv, for now the short bob style stays.

Weekends when I can travel this far are rare, so it is lucky that the weekend milonga coincides with my only weekend off. Tonight Ricardo and Sue are here as guest teachers, unfortunately I could not get there in time for the workshop they did, but managed to catch the back end. From the little I saw they did a good milonga class, shame I missed it as everyone seemed to enjoy it and I think I would have enjoyed it too, I do love a good milonga.

When the dancing started there was a good mix of men and women, but for the first hour or so we ran short of women. The reason was that Viv had her Comme Il Fauts on show. Only one pair was actually for sale, and they were already sold to Evelyn. The idea was that as she takes the same size as Viv, she would have a choice of the four pairs Viv had brought. The trouble was that when they came out, it suddenly became a feeding frenzy, all the women wanted to try them on, whether they fitted or not.

Dave was keeping strict control of the music, nothing but the golden years here, all good stuff, good sound system we even had disco lights. My only criticism was that by now we should be having proper tandas.

The lack of tandas did give me one problem; never knowing when I had danced enough with any woman. I tried to restrict myself to three dances, but most of the time I was not counting and probably did four or five.

Always aware that Viv has come with a partner, it is totally unfair that she should have to keep sitting out. This meant returning to her often especially when just one modern tune was played; I simply had to dance Otras Aires, Milonga sentimental with my wife. Nobody, just nobody does milonga like this, and while I will always go for the stuff from the golden years, sometimes it can be improved upon. Take the best composers and traditional music, but play it with a modern twist, and I believe sometimes something great can come out of it. That was Dave’s only concession to modern music, I have to say I agree with his choice.

Where did the night go? As I danced round the room I looked at the women and noted at least three with whom I had not danced. Ready to ask Sue and the last dance was announced. Few things are set in stone, but La Cumparsita should always be danced with the woman with whom you arrived (yes I know, but we do some things differently in the UK).

So as I danced with Viv I noted that Sharon, Sue and Katrina had not danced with me, and made a note to give them priority next time.

I will see at least two of them on Monday and hope they will have forgiven my oversight by then.

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Dave Bassett

I had to think long and hard about the title for this post. I did consider “At Last”, or “Traditional”, but in the end I thought, let the credit go to the man who brought this about.

Some of you may know Dave from his work at the Butter Market in Shrewsbury, he has for many years organised Salsa events and has only very recently come to Tango.

He has arrived on the scene with passion and a determination to bring traditional tango to this part of the world, and we now have a regular Milonga playing traditional music.

We first heard about the Lantern at the Upton Magna workshops where we again met Dave. The distance and my shifts make it difficult to attend regularly, but yesterday (Thursday) we made it. It has to be said that the Lantern is not the easiest of places to find and when we finally got there, there was some confusion as to how we get in.

The room was light and modern with the usual plastic chairs around the perimeter. The floor was excellent, a modern beech planked floor highly polished and wonderful to dance on with just the right amount of slip.

A suprise to me, was the fact that most of the dancers were beginners, but nobody was learning figures. Everyone was happy to be able to move around the room and feel the music.

I will definitely be returning, possibly on the eighteenth, but dates are never certain, it all depends how my life goes.

So at last we have a Milonga, traditional tango music, in a nice venue. I hope that this is the start of something bigger, maybe there will someday be a Milonga nearer Wrexham or Chester. I understand the need for classes but for once there is somewhere we can just dance.

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Everything goes wrong

This Monday we did a repeat of what was done at the Upton Magna workshop, but this time I got the chance to do it as a leader. I still had some dificulties as I find constantly changing weight problamatic. While it was a useful excercise, I have never seen anyone doing the valz quite like this, and I think it unlikely I will use it in the dance. Using the basic eight as a turn however can be quite useful, the various parts of the turn can be used independantly, and it is not necessary to always use the back step along the line of dance.

An explanation is in order here, for people who were not at the class. The valz turn involved a one two three similar to the vienese waltz but always leading on the same leg. The basic eight turn, involved starting with the back step along the line of dance, turning into the cross then turning again so that the man is again back to the line of dance. This as I said can be broken down to use in different ways: finishing or starting with a half giro or conita or even just a way to recover if you find yourself facing the wrong way.

Apart from the vals turn I had other problems as well. You would think that the time that I have been dancing that it would all come easily, but this is never the case, there is always something to learn, and a class is always an artificial situation.

In my case after viewing the video of myself, I am making a real effort to keep my head up and my weight on my toes. This has brought about new (old) problems, I danced milonga with Sharon and she was just not getting it, and I find that this was because I am now tucking her under my arm, another bad habit, but one I thought I had cured. Dancing often with beginners it is easy to think the mistakes are always the fault of the follower, it helps to be pulled up now and again.

At another dance Viv and I had the chance to practice a bit of Tango before all the ballroom started. When I did a giro with a lapice, it all went wrong. Cue Viv getting irate and saying it is because I do too much following. Truth was I was trying to stop her tucking under my arm while staying on my toes and keeping my head up. I never was much good at multi tasking. One thing I am good at is knowing when to shut up though….

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Sex change?

Sharon’s workshop, with Ruth Zimmerman went realy well. There was a real mixed bag of dancers and that is always dificult for teachers. Ruth concentrated more on musicality and did nothing of the exotic figures we see more and more of. The venue at Upton Magna is realy nice, shame it is not more accesible, but then I suppose it would get more use and not be avaiable for us.

Strangely there were again more men than women, this gave me a chance to take the class as a follower. I always enjoy this, there is a kind of freedom in just doing what is asked. Changing partners caused confusion, women kept coming to me, and I would say I am a woman (amazing what science can do today).

I am afraid however I did put some men off, as not listening to teacher only my partner is not something most men are used to. If they lead it I followed, even if it was not what  Ruth asked. On the rare ocasion that I take a class this is something I try to promote, ladies if your leader is to lead, then you must follow. If he does not do exactly as the teacher has shown your job is not to correct him but to follow.

Tango is a conversation, this does not mean an argument. When the man gives a lead he must give the lady time to follow and, if she wishes decorate. The best way to prove that your leader is “doing it wrong” is to follow what he has led and when he says why did you do that, simply reply because you led it.

The milonga that followed the class also went very well. I am afraid we were not best prepared and had to leave early  for food. I am also afraid we did not thank Sharon and Ruth as we got caught up in conversation as we were about to leave.

It seems that there is now a new venue in Shrewsbury dedicated to traditional tango. Shrewsbury is outside our normal circle, but I will make a point of travelling down there and test it out when I have more details.  I will keep you posted.

I have not yet had any comments, Is anybody out there? I would love to know what you think.

One last thing, I hope to see you all at the Groves on Monday night, who knows I may again get the chance to follow.

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