Tag Archives: Wilmslow

Great Break

After what was a great break in the Lakes, we took a couple of days rest. This gave us a chance to pop down to Upton Magna for their saturday milonga. It was however a bit on the run as we had only just driven back and had barely unpacked. Still we got some tango in.
We did give a bit of a demo at the goodbye party, so we had actually tangoed two nights on the run. Ok we rehearsed the day before so we had tangoed three nights on the run. But to be fair we only really danced with each other.
I can heartily recommend HF Holidays at Monk Coniston, the food was superb, the room with a view was almost out of this world, and the guides were knowledgable and friendly. It was a joy to be in a house of Beatrix Potter and to explore the walled garden just like Peter Rabbit. All things must come to an end though and we were now back home again.
We rested a couple of days and were ready for the off again; this time we planned to walk The Sandstone Trail backwards. Well what can I say, it all went well except for a few blisters and my annoyance that we could not find budget accommodation anywhere. It is little wonder people no longer holiday at home, for the price of my three nights away I could have had a fortnight in Benidorm.
Still we achieved what we wanted; covered a quarter of the distance of the camino and climbed more mountains than we would ever see there, so I was happy.
Now we had done all this, it was time for some tango. As luck would have it my break coincided with the Rudolfo y Miho weekend in Wilmslow. Saturday night we attended the Milonga and had a great time. I have to thank DJ John Tan for some wonderful music. He also introduced me to some D’Arienzo milongas that I did not know, these are now in my list. It is good to find another DJ who really understands what being a tango DJ is all about.
We had a good night in the Premier Inn as well. There was a live singer in there when we returned. A few drinks with friends, a raucous group at the bar and Bob does Modern Jive(untrained), all created a great night. No idea what time we got to bed, but we were all up again in time for a hearty breakfast.
Sunday and we went to the social colgadas workshop. Rudolfo will never teach anything you cannot do in a Milonga, but in this case I think he taught something we can never do! but we will keep trying.
So there was just our Monday practica and then it is back to work again for Bob. Still this is the last break I will have officially, but I suspect with my rundown to retirement there may be times when I have so many free days we may get away again.

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Seasons

The hot summer weather did not last, we have had period of awful weather that curtailed some of my activities. On such a day, we had intended to go out on the bikes and get some miles in our cycling legs. I am, I’m afraid, a fair weather cyclist. I can wrap up against most types of weather when I walk, but on a bike it just gets through everything. I sat there wondering what to do and decided that I would finally decorate the spare bedroom. Once started it did not take that long and I felt satisfied that it was done at last.
The day was not totally lost though, we decided to go for a meal at The Crown. The Crown is about a mile and a half away with some strenuous hills between. So we wrapped up and braved the atrocious weather. It felt good to get out and we felt we had deserved the meal when we got there. By the time we had finished, so had the rain and we left the waterproof trousers off for the walk home. The air was clear and it was just starting to darken. Then we heard a strange noise that we have not heard for some while. We looked up and our eyes were delighted by ducks flying over in formation, a sure sign that autumn is really here.
Appropriate really, my personal autumn matches the seasons. We have also found activities that match the season and for a while all is good.
We have managed to get some tango in as well, for the last three months I have been able to get to Wilmslow for Atilla’s stepping out milonga, and surprisingly I think we can make Stokies next weekend. Then unfortunately we are back to missing all the events again, still the two weeks without Gresford Tango have passed and a quick check shows that we will only have to miss one after my holidays. We will then be clear until May, when we must curtail the tango in favour of pilgrimage.
Because we are going on a pilgrimage I have been asked if I am deeply religious, it is, I suppose a strange thing for an atheist to do, to go on a pilgrimage. It is said every pilgrim has his own reasons and it would be hard to define mine. Just let’s say we all need to be tested at some time in our lives and I love Spain. Anyway, I will be writing a lot about the Camino de Santiago in the coming months and with luck I will be carrying on the blog from Spain next May.
Stick with me though, tango will never be that far away. We are tango vampires and not just because we only come out at night, but also because once bitten, the affliction is eternal.

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Jenny and Ricardo

Well to be honest, I was not looking forward to the class. It has been a long time since we have attended a group class of any kind and I am not the best of students. Still I went with an open mind and a vague recollection of enjoying their classes all those years ago.

So it just goes to show even a frustrated old milonguero like me can learn something new, and enjoy the experience at the same time.

The Friday night class was all about milonga. We learned a spin move and a wide choice of endings. Jenny was lovely, as always, and struggled to teach us while Ricardo spread his own kind of anarchy. At least that is how it appeared to me, but in fact they worked together as a team and managed to make the difficult simple and the mundane entertaining.

Saturday night was the big milonga; Now as many of you will know, I take the music seriously. Argentine tango, to me, is not Argentine tango without Argentine Tango music. It seems an obvious thing, but a knowledge of the music is often lacking this far north. Well tonight we had a treat at a stratospheric level.

Mabel from Cardiff was doing the music, she displayed an understanding of the music that I have not seen before outside of Buenos Aires, it was an absolute joy to dance every tanda. It is not the normal custom here, but after La Cumparsita I started clapping and as if to prove that I was not alone in enjoying the evening soon everyone was clapping with me. I thanked Mabel before I left and I want to thank her again here. Thank You Mabel!

Jenny and Ricardo did a wonderful demo for us which everyone enjoyed so much they were called back for an encore. Unprepared Mabel was asked to choose anything, were I not already married I would have proposed on the spot, she chose Angel D’Agostino, Cafe Dominguez.

Frambuesas con nata played some wonderful music in their interlude, Hotel Victoria, Poema, and then Percale I was in heaven. They really do get better every time I hear them, expect the Argentine tour sometime soon.

Sunday was about colgadas, now old traditionalist Bob doesn’t approve of colgadas. Anything that breaks the connection should not be in a milongueros repertoire. But again I went with an open mind and at least we could learn some teaching techniques. Well the first thing we learned was to forget all that hanging outside the frame we have seen before, this was to be colgadas in the close hold. (You speeky my language). By the end I think we had the basics, a long way from perfect but I can work on it.

Often at these weekends, we have been given that many moves that it all blurs into a kind of fog, but Jenny and Ricardo gave us just enough to work on and that my small brain can hold.

So, in summary: Great classes. awesome music and we caught up with many old friends that we have not seen for some while. Despite missing the “most important class where I named my toes” and if you know what on earth Ricardo was on about, please tell.

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Return to Wilmslow

I know I can appear forthright at times, and often end up apologising for my words; this has happened a lot lately, twice in one night in fact.

The first time was for something I said here. While I stand by what I said at the time, I readily accept that I took the coward’s way out by saying it here and not face to face at the time. I had to do some grovelling to overcome the situation, but thankfully tango people in general are quite big about these things and hopefully I am forgiven.

The second time was something I said on the night, it did not come out as I had intended and I never noticed “the look”. Again I had to go back and apologise, grovel some more and beg forgiveness.

Those who know me realise I am not qualified to be in the diplomatic corps and hopefully realise that mostly I mean well if occasionally it comes out all wrong.

We had a happy return to Wilmslow this week. I have missed Atilla and her style of teaching and the friendly crowd here. It is hard to describe how welcome I was made to feel as woman after woman lined up to dance with me. Despite the time that has passed the prodigal was more than welcomed by both the teacher and the alumni.

The old guy still has it though; I can still get squeals of delight off the newcomers when I lead them to do something new. It is just a shame that it took me over half a century to find out how to please women and then only on the dance floor. If someone like me can do this, imagine what someone with talent could do, perhaps I should run a seminar “If an old, bow-legged, talentless man can please women, then so could you”

Viv had brought some shoes that had already been purchased and she just wanted to pass them on, but this did not stop queues forming to look at them. Viv hardly had chance to dance, it is quite unbelievable the effect shoes have on women. In fact as we were leaving somebody said something about shoes and suddenly there was another crowd all eager to view.

There was a good selection of cake and chocolate and it took all my will power (and Viv’s nagging) to stop me completely destroying my diet. They do a “cake dance here” a bit like a birthday dance but for the bringer’s of cake, not fully understanding what was happening, because firstly there were two cake bringer’s and because somebody said “snowball” I caused chaos and for a while there were four couples on the floor. Fortunately they sorted themselves out when the lunatic had left the floor.

So Viv was happy and so was I, I even managed to keep the cost of fuel to an acceptable level by driving more slowly. Hopefully this will be the first of many returns, if I can stop myself upsetting too many people, that is.

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Easter Weekend

You may wonder what a weekend spent with a crowd of Ballroom and sequence dancers has to do with tango, and on the face of it you would be right.

Go to any Club de Barrio in Buenos Aires and it will be populated with people who can remember the war, people who having had a full and long working life are not ready to just sit down and put their feet up. My generation and often those much younger is full of people who are just too tired for life, want nothing more than to sit and be entertained by the TV.

So when I had the chance to spend a weekend with people who possess more life force and energy than your average ninja turtle, of course I jumped at it. The whole weekend at The Queens Hotel Llandudno was organised by Steve Sound and we were glad to help out. It gave Viv a further opportunity to sell some more shoes and me a chance to hone my DJ skills.

Of course there are those who say this is not proper dancing, but when I first started it was all I could get without travelling halfway across the globe.  I am not making excuses here, I still enjoy it, just as in the tango scene there are women who will wait all night just for one dance. They are grateful and always when I dance with them they make me feel king of the hill. My dance journey has taken me on many routes and I do not regret a single one of them and refuse to accept that anyone who bothers to get out and take life by the horns instead of sitting at home having entertainment done to them is doing something that is not quite the real thing.

So as we arrived in The Queens Hotel and tried to settle in Viv spoke to one of our ladies about her shoes. Unknown to us there was to be that afternoon a Tea dance downstairs and the lady who runs it was sitting listening in, she came over and invited us to display in her dance. Not wishing to miss a selling opportunity Viv willingly agreed.

During the ongoing dance she only sold one pair of shoes but made some valuable contacts for again. The thing that struck me most of all though was that here we were in a pure sequence dance, where they learn anything from one new dance to three every week. OK this would never do for me, I have to work for a living, but I heard time and again the words “they don’t do proper dancing” Where will it end? Ballroom dancers say “sequence dancers do not dance properly” sequence dancers say “social dancers do not dance properly” tango dancers say, well you get the idea. Are we not all out just to enjoy ourselves and I say “make it too exclusive and you will kill it”

Despite the scowl, I am enjoying this

So I have just had a weekend of improper dancing, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Right now I am quite knackered, we were up until well after midnight every night putting the gear away, then up at eight for breakfast. No time to rest preparing the afternoon dance and it’s too fuzzy to remember what else, but hey it was fun, and if you can see how close this is to what goes on in the city of tango, accept it and go with the flow then you can come along and enjoy the ride with me.

Hopefully we will be in Wilmslow this Thursday as Andreas and Genoveva will be teaching there, I have not seen them since Salon Canning when their class was disturbed by my phone and problems buying my apartment. I am sure they will be as keen to hear how things went as we will be to hear about their twins.

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Just because you can

Often we see people trying to do show tango at a milonga, I have often been known to have a good rant about it. Now some may say that I am anti and that I only have time for salon. In some ways this may be true, but I am happy to watch good show tango, if it is well led and in the appropriate place.

On Saturday night the Finches ventured out once more to Wilmslow to meet old friends as well as the Shrewsbury rent a mob. (yes I know, but I am sticking with the name). The milonga was in full swing when we arrived and the crew were holding the line of dance manfully. Once the greetings were over it was time to dance. I had already lost Viv but in my attempts to find her I just kept getting involved with more and more “how you doings?” and “are you still dancings?” I did get that dance and was soon whisking as many women as I could off to the floor.

The nuevos and high kickers had not yet arrived or were not brave enough to invade the line of dance.

We had a guest singer from Buenos Aires, to my shame I cannot remember his name, and by the time we left I had completely forgotten to pick up one of his CD’s. His singing was great and the guitar playing was truly awesome. Atilla told us he had been playing for fifty years (must have been born with a guitar in his hands). On thing I need to make clear here is, I said “his music was challenging” this was in no way saying that anything was wrong with it, tango cancion by it’s very nature is intended to be sung and to listened to, as such it is difficult to dance to. At one time I would not have even tried, but now if I enjoy the music I find it is worth the effort. In the middle of one of his sessions he did a Chacarera, I stood in the middle of the floor looking for someone anyone; thankfully I was joined by one lady who I did not know (thanks) and another couple. We did one set but got lost towards the end, everyone was relying on me (big mistake), still we enjoyed it and the audience seemed to appreciate it. So it could not have been too bad, I will have to practice more with Janis next time I am in Buenos Aires.

Ricardo and Jenny are here for a full weekend of workshops, of course this coincides with my work pattern so that the only time I could be here is for the Saturday night milonga. I don’t think either of them remembered us, funny when you think that they came over and greeted us in Salon Canning two years ago. They must meet thousands of people so I will not hold it against them (me, worst person in the world for remembering people). They had just married and now two years later they still looked happy together.

When they danced in the salon they moved beautifully but understated, even when Ricardo danced with some of our high kickers they were kept in check.

In the middle of the evening they did a demo, now was a chance to let it all fly out, high kicks, ganchos, volcadas all came into the frame. Now of course they danced Show Tango, this was the right place for it, and they proved that just because they can do it does not mean they should, like the good dancers that they are, they saved it for were it is best appreciated.

In the salon they could just as easily do big stuff, after all they were the guests of honour, nobody would say a thing, but they did not, they know the etiquette, they know how to behave. It is just a shame that some others do not. Later in the night the Nuevo lot gradually got more confident, the line of dance broke down and I got my share of kicks. Some people can go to the best teachers, see, but never learn.

Unknown to me Viv had had enough and was ready to go, but I just kept on dancing. So when I noticed her with her coat and shoes on, I had to make a hasty departure, so I left without buying a CD and without saying goodbye to Atilla. It was a shame after such a good night that I never thanked her, hopefully so many others did that she did not miss me.

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Old Freinds

Pressure of work is delaying my posts, so let me apologise for the lateness of my posting before I start. There are a number of posts due but they must wait until I have time.

The drive to Pant is mainly large straight roads, the first part dual carriageway until we join the A5. This section past Gobowen and Oswestry is where the A453 and A5 are the same road, and as such is usually heavily trafficked. I was not in a hurry, we had left in good time and I was free to enjoy the trip even though we had travelled this way earlier in the day when we had danced in the street. After Oswestry the A5 splits away and the A483 becomes a more picturesque country road. Pant is only about three miles further on, an old English village with fine old houses hanging precariously from the hillside, next to more modern abodes that have been built with little regard to cost. A modern single story community centre sits to the left of the road next to an old fashioned red telephone box and opposite the well stocked village shop. In the foyer is a memorial to the war dead that makes the place look more like a cemetery, but the place is otherwise bright and welcoming. From the windows you can look out to the hill opposite where someone has carved owls and other statues out of old trees. Sharon was busy preparing the room when we arrived, we were early and able to help sort the food, fill the tea urn and set the tables. Others were arriving while we were busy and all waded in to help.

Sharon still had to man the desk as people were arriving and wanted to pay, so I was surprised to hear some familiar voices from the front. I peered out through the hatch and there at the desk was Atilla our old teacher (old as in from the past not aged) and Margret one of my favourite partners from Wilmslow. They soon came to help in the kitchen, always a favourite spot, and we had a chance to catch up on old times. Margret is now helping with the class, and she tells us has finally persuaded her husband to take up tango. I was glad of this news for two reasons; firstly we always need more leaders, but purely selfishly I did not want to loose Margret, as we loose so many women because there husbands got fed up of them being out every night on there own.

When the music started I danced the first tanda with Viv, as is only right and proper, but this was going to be a busy night for me. So many women, so little time, just as well it would not give me time to go back into the kitchen. (still trying to loose weight)

The next tanda I determined to dance with Atilla. I have an irrational fear of dancing with her, I suppose because she was teacher for so long and I feel all the time that I must be doing something wrong. I need not worry she knows the place for teaching is not the milonga and would never pull me up while on the dance floor, but still my insecurity makes me worry.

Atilla accepted my invitation graciously and stood up as I came to her table. She is of Chinese origin. Although she has the look she is very tall and stands well over me even without her heels. Early thirties about six foot slim and elegant, she is striking and cannot enter anywhere unobserved, even when she is not known, but here she is known as the best tango teacher in the northwest and I know if I lead anything and she does not follow it is my fault.

We dance a wonderful tanda (well for me, I cannot speak for her) but soon it is over, and I congratulate myself on overcoming my foolish fears. Next I chose Margret, she also is very tall, I have never understood why the best men are short and fat while the best women are tall and slim, maybe it is just my perception. Flowing shoulder length brown hair, slim with an ever present warm smile, we dance off across the floor. Very soon though she is complaining, It seems that she can hardly stand the floor is too slippery. She is happier after scraping her shoes and we finish the tanda with a flourish.

As the night wore on I hardly sat down, I of course returned to my wife often, why again not many men chose to dance with her I do not know, but I had too many women with whom I had to dance. I suspect I smelled like an old tramp by the end, I was sweating so much but no one complained.

When we finally left the kitchen was full, so we were able to leave the domestics to others this time. I was exhausted but happy and thankful to have danced again with some old friends, and appreciative that they had travelled so far for us. Atilla asked if we would be at any of her weekends, but unfortunately all of them are on weekends when I am working, such is the life of a frustrated Milonguero. We may yet meet again in the winter though, heres hoping.

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Atilla

I am feeling extremely lucky of late, after what seemed to be years of dearth, suddenly there are Tango venues cropping up all over.

Despite my admiration of Atilla’s teaching methods I have been unable to attend any of her classes of late, the distance and time involved of getting to Wilmslow meant that for most of the time it was just not worth my while. I have a grouse to go with this as well, why are the workshops always when I am working? but more of this later.

After that preamble, Atilla took over The Groves Wednesday class this week. So for one week only we abandoned our usual Wednesday dance and attended The Groves.

It was really nice to meet Atilla again after so long, after all the greetings we were soon into the class. We were all asked to do a warm up dance, and I was amazed at the range of skill levels. How Atilla was going to run this class was going to be a revelation.

It was necessary to keep it simple as we had first timers in the class and even some of those who had been coming a while were still unable to grasp the basics. The class consisted of conitas and half giros, but with enough variation to keep the rest of us interested.

What happened to the hour? as usual Atilla’s class passed in a flash, and we were into the practica part of the night.

The ability to pitch a class across so many levels and keep us all interested can only be put down to her vast experience. I look forward to her next visit in a fortnight.

A new experience for me as well, I finally danced with Atilla. I do not know why but I have been too nervous to dance with her. One of those totally irrational fears that bug our lives, anyway she did not eat me, and for me anyway it was a pleasant experience.

There is an up coming weekend of workshops starting Friday 27thFebruary. This will be with Rodolfo and Miho, and again I am working the whole weekend, Thursday and Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. I could start to believe it was on purpose, except I know it is just the way it goes. Three years ago I did not miss one weekend. Those of you who followed my old blog on AOL will remember that I have not seen Miho since we met in Salon Canning in September and Rodolfo even longer.

Miho was returning for the last Wilmslow Tango weekend while I was in Buenos Aires. It is a shame that I keep missing them as I find Rudolfo not only a great teacher but also he keeps us all amused while we learn (maybe that is his secret).

They will be at The Roundhouse Theatre on Monday 2ndMarch for the usual Manchester Monday Class. I hope to catch up with them there. I must apologise beforehand  to Sharon for missing her class that night, but as I  am working all weekend this will be my first opportunity to catch up.

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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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