Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Asking a woman to dance

Having got back into the milonga social scene, I’ve had the opportunity to observe and experience again the different ways a man will ask you to dance.

There is the direct approach: the man approaches the woman and requests a dance, straight forward and transparent but slightly tricky if she refuses without a good reason.

Then you see the more formal approach, the cabezeo: rare in my experience of London milongas and generally only observed by visitors or those who learnt tango abroad. I’ve only successfully experienced the cabezeo once, although possibly I’ve missed it a couple of other times! (I think it soon becomes apparent to the foreigner that the women are not deliberately ignoring them but just are simply not in tune to this subtle approach!)

My latest bugbear however, are the men who approach a woman to dance with an arrogant ‘hand out’ gesture. No words will cross their lips, it will merely be a hand and a stance that says they don’t expect a refusal. Several times, I have seen women co-erced into dancing with someone this way and often it tends to be the more forceful dancer who you see dispensing this kind of invitation. I don’t like it. If a man wants to dance with me, I like to feel some kind of connection, even if it is just a simple hello and a smile. It shows courtesy and I am more likely to respond in the positive. The only way, I can see this anonymous approach working is if the tanguero turns out to be an amazing dancer, in which case the scenario has something akin to a dramatic stranger sweeping you off your feet! – the unexplainable connection between two strangers and the whole drama of the dance can build into a wonderful experience, which you will bore your friends with long afterwards. But for many though, this is unlikely to happen – so men, do the courteous thing and ask with words!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The mind is a powerful thing ...

I was out on Saturday at a milonga and my dances felt good. I glided and swooped with the best of them. I had to work Sunday and Monday so couldn’t go out but all day I was humming tango music and surreptiously reading tango blogs/books etc at work. By Tuesday, I was ecstatic as finally I would be able to go back out there and dance again. Unfortunately, en route my train was held up and so I missed the start of the class. I was disappointed but it was ok as I just ‘knew’ I was going to dance beautifully. I had all the images in my head, the perfect embrace, the intricate footwork – it was going to be amazing!

Unfortunately, I’ve just come back from my class and I sucked! I have a heavy heart now and a big dose of humility to swallow.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

The wrong vibes

I attended a class and as I arrived late, I had to sit at the side. Five minutes later, one of the other regulars came in and sat next to me. He has only been a regular for about 6 weeks but as he knew a lot of the others, I’ve not danced with him that much. Anyway, we joined in the class and made a lot of small talk. He seemed nice enough but I was too busy focusing on the steps which I was struggling with. We switched partners but on the next swap, I ended up with him again and two swaps later it was him again. At the end of the class, we have our normal quick practica and 'again' we danced. By now, I was a bit keen to dance with someone else but he then started telling me that he felt that we were really connecting while dancing. I gave a weak acknowledgement but was then horrified to hear him ask me out on a date. Oh dear! I started to splutter out an explanation about my boyfriend but it was incredibly awkward for both of us. I feel really bad now – I’m really not sure what ‘connection’ he felt we had but obviously I missed it. I hate it when you get into situations like this – it makes you wonder what vibes you are emanating!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Gabriela Elias and Eduardo Perez

There is a bit of a dearth in London at the moment with most of the teachers I’m familiar with going off on tango holidays and so lots of guest teachers coming over to fill in the gaps. I was a bit apprehensive as my last experiences with guest teachers at the Tango Festival had been a bit hit-and-miss with a lot of self-promotion and teaching videos for sale. I decided however, to try one of the classes with Gabriela Elias and Eduardo Perez, who I had heard were very good and visiting from Greece.

Fortunately, Gabriella and Eduardo were lovely and their dancing elegant and 'neat' (my top compliment!) They taught a class on milonga lisa and traspie and I was impressed that they happily went over the scheduled one hour, to continue demonstrating the steps when we were struggling. So often, I’ve been to classes where the teacher cuts off just in the middle of a lesson because their time is up, even if there is a practica session afterwards. In my mind, the teachers should want you to learn the steps/method – not just stop on a cliff hanger with the trite words ‘We’ll go over this again next week’ translated as: ‘come back to my classes and pay again’.

Anyway, here is an example of their ‘neat’ style:

And my new ambition; to dance 'elegant' milonga.

Thursday, 9 July 2009


I’m in the process of trying to regain my enthusiasm, so am working my way through my old favourites, both musical and video.

Here is one of my favourites, the lovely Jennifer Bratt and Ney Melo. I adore this dance as well as the following and I especially love the music.

And my favourite vals!

Can anyone let me know where I can purchase these tracks individually? iTunes really needs to up their tango listings!