Monday, 23 March 2009

Amanda and Adrian Costa

Amanda and Adrian Costa were in London last weekend and I got to go and attend one of their classes before my regular milonga. The were both lovely and really helpful with their comments (not to mention their charming accents!) but what I found most pleasing was the fact that they are so untheatrical in their dancing. For me, it was just simple, neat dancing - and I mean this as a compliment! Unfortunately, no one yet has posted a video of their demonstration (although I’m sure they will eventually) so in the meantime, here is a previous video of them dancing a milonga.

Also, please let me know what this piece is. I definitely recognise it but have still got a very limited tango music collection! Thanks!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Who do you fall in love with?

‘Fall in love, fall in love. That’s my only advice. It can be with a girl, or with the music, or with the dance. It doesn’t matter. But, whatever you do, fall in love. And, if you do this, then the tango, with all the bulls*** that you’ll go through along the way, will have been worth it for you’.
From ‘Long after Midnight at the Niño Bien’ by Brian Winter

The above quote, made me think of a man in my tango school who I have known for a few months now. He has always danced quite well but has never stood out particularly for me until this last month when I have seen an unexpected change in him. His movements are smoother, his steps more confident and his lead more sure. So, what has brought about this transformation?
I have a feeling it may be related to a new dancer who has just joined our class. She is a beautiful, long limbed lady from Russia who has clearly been dancing a while. She almost seems to glide along the floor and leaders who I have spoken to say she is as perfect a follower as can be. She also seems quite shy which seems to add to her mystique — never staying around to chat much after the practices etc. Since she arrived however, it is like this man’s eyes have become attached to her by some kind of invisible string and he is always eager to dance with her as soon as she appears. She never particularly singles him out and dances with a variety of partners but the difference when he dances with her is remarkable. I’ve seen other follower’s eyes widen in surprise as dances by, he seems so different when he is with her. Now is this woman aware of his attraction? She doesn’t seem to nor does she seem to want to socialise; so, I wonder if for her, it is always about the ‘dance’ while for him, well I wonder if it has become about ‘her’? Could it be the ‘unrequited-ness’ of it that has added such depths to his dancing?

Wednesday, 18 March 2009


Ever since my last weekend class, my head has been swimming as I try and re-create moves and steps from memory. I also seem to have become surgically attached to my ipod as I circulate between Di sarli, Gotan, Campo, Pugliese etc. Unfortunately, this has led to the following embarrassing incidents this week:
1) Walking to work through the back streets, I came to a particularly dramatic phrase in a waltz, started twirling, turned the corner and came smack bang in front of two office workers having an early morning cigarette. I nonchalantly had to keep going, my cheeks scarlet and find a new route home.

2) While waiting for the water to boil in the small kitchen at work, I started weight transferring and then added a few tiny embellishments. These became progressively bigger until I was almost doing a forward gancho. Oh course, someone came in at that precise moment and now they will either wonder what crazy dance move I was doing or why I was scratching my left thigh with my right leg?

3) My company’s bathroom is a large room with smooth tiles that is brilliant for practicing my giros. I quite often try a sneaky few if the room is empty as the floor is much better than at my home. Yesterday, as I was just about to leave however, I suddenly saw the wash basin and realised in a flash of inspiration that it might be a good stabiliser for me to practice my backwards boleos. Just as I was getting the right height and swing, a woman from another company came in and in a moment of madness, I pretend to be checking the back of my shoe! — touching the heel and making a big play of checking its stability. As she walked into a cubicle, I saw the look of bewilderment on her face and now I feel so embarrassed I wouldn’t be able to face her; apart from the fact that in my sheer panic I didn’t exactly register which woman she was. So now, I just cringe whenever I see anyone blonde from that side of the building.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

How I became Desperate Miss Wallflower

Because of a work commitment, I had to miss my usual class and practica last week. In the end my meeting finished earlier than expected but I was on the wrong side of town to make my class. Being buoyed up with tango enthusiasm though, I located a milonga that was only 10 minutes away from where I was and headed down, eager to meet some new people.

Unfortunately, this place appeared to be having an off night as far as I am concerned as I turned up to find 4 men and 20 (!!!) women! I must admit I was abit taken aback but hoped that it would improve as the night went on. Well I can recall a further 2 more men turning up before I left but … they came with 4 more women and one of this set were a couple who were dancing exclusively with each other. Oh dear!

So basically, I spent my entire night sitting on the sidelines until finally, just as I was thinking that I couldn’t take it anymore, I was asked to dance! I eagerly stood up and walked forwards. Now I probably should have been concentrating a bit more but my eye had been particularly caught by an elegant tanguera with amazing footwork and I had somehow missed this tanguero’s ‘dramatic’ style and subsequent subtle rejections by other tangueras. As soon, as we were in the embrace, he began heaving me around like I was a sack of potatoes. We swung around the dance floor (definitely inelegantly) and then finally when he decided that we had had enough of this race, he started to throw in heel flicks and ganchos right, left and centre! This pattern continued throughout the tanda and I was finding it increasing hard to follow (a possible hint to this leader, maybe?) but instead of slowing him down this seemed to agitate him further until during my final giro sidestep, he actually shot forwards and ‘kicked’ my foot. At that precise moment, the music ended (maybe he thought that was a grand finale?) and with great relief I limped off the dance floor, straight to the cloakroom where I ordered a taxi and slunk off home. I have learnt my lesson, desperation makes you blind.

Monday, 9 March 2009

The peak

Oh my god, all I want to do is tango! Not sure if I can keep living with these extreme highs!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

A momentous event and hideous boleos on the dance floor

I’ve been having a tango break for the last 10 days due to illness (the nightmare obviously marked the onset of a miserable cold) and a visit from my non tango friend and her baby daughter. I went back to my usual class on Wed and was a bit apprehensive beforehand, convinced that I’d find that I had lost all memories of having ever done a class but fortunately, after a few exercises I was back into the swing of it. Fired up again (maybe it was good taking a break?) I went to more classes on Thursday and Friday, all of which were quite useful. I was therefore quite keen to go out to a milonga on Saturday but was a bit scared I would OD again. In the end, I persuaded myself and had a wonderful evening culminating in a tanda with ‘The Brilliant Leader’ who turned up for the last hour.

Now a bit of background to this momentous event; as of January when I started my new classes, I’ve only danced with ‘The Brilliant Leader’ once, at my first ever lesson. Although it wasn’t disasterous then, I wouldn’t exactly expect it to into the history books as an example of how to tango. I got lost, stepped on his toe and missed several ‘obvious’ marks. So, since then although I would have been pleased if he had asked me I was secretly relieved he hadn’t as I felt I would still find it too intimidating and scary. Anyway, we danced and by no means was it brilliant but at the end he said I had definitely improved since last time, and with dedication he thought I could make myself very good! Just a simple compliment and yet I felt so happy that he had noticed that I practically floated through the next few tandas!

My only complaint from Saturday (and this is more to do with me than my respective partners I guess) – but why, oh why does EVERYONE want to lead me into either a boleo or a volcada every other minute??!! As someone who has never learnt either, I always try to let my partner know in advance that I am not comfortable with either of these moves, nor do I want to start practicing them in the middle of the dance floor at a milonga! Please, please help me at the practica but not out there where I am liable to kick some poor dancer’s vulnerable ankles! I know that if I was a brilliant follower and had a brilliant leader, then we could dance and naturally ‘boleo’ ourselves happily to the moon and back but neither of those two factors is likely to happen soon! However, as it seems to be that these moves are pretty much every man’s ultimate party piece, I’ve decided to look out for a workshop in one of these to try and at least get the principles of what I am supposed to be doing.