Monday, 28 September 2009

The moment my brain left me

I’ve been feeling pretty confident within myself and my dancing and was looking forwards to my Saturday night milonga. It’s quite a large event and so although I know lots of people by sight, the night tends to be clusters of people scattered around the dance floor. I had been dancing well and was just taking a small break when suddenly my friend comically raised her eyebrows and gestured for me to turn around. Behind us was one of the Brilliant Dancers. He has always been pleasant enough to me and I’d danced with him once before when I had been quite new but he had never asked me since.

I nervously swallowed the cake I was eating (why now of all times was I eating?!) and smiled at him as he asked me to dance. I got up and followed him to the dance floor all the time conscious of my friends beaming at me. I was thrilled but then as we started dancing I got nervous and then these nerves grew and then suddenly it was no longer Golondrina on the dance floor but a ball of nerves and hundreds of questions and doubts – why had he asked me to dance? Was I finally good enough? What did that mean? God, I hope I can follow him after all this. What if he throws in a tricky move? — and that was it. I had lost it. After what felt like the longest tanda ever, he returned me to seat and I collapsed, drained.

My friends have assured me it was not as bad as I'm making out but I can honestly write here how gutting the experience has been. Why did all of my tango knowledge leave me at that precise moment? I guess the real test will be to see if he ever asks to dance again. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

New! Stardust Ball Milonga - this Saturday

Being a keen subscriber to pretty much every tango e-newsletter under the sun, I was interested to hear there are going to be 2 new monthly milongas in Oval. Held at the Stardust ballroom, very close to Oval tube station it might be a godsend for South Londoners who won’t even need to cross the river!

The first evening milonga starts this Saturday (26th Sept) and includes a class (beforehand) and demonstration from Tangosouthlondon.

The following Sunday (4th October) there will be a Tango Tea Dance (2-5pm) presumably with cake!

I’m not sure what to expect as they usually use this venue for ballroom dancing (although this is definitely an Argentine tango milonga) so it will be interesting to see who attends.

Here is their website:
Stardust Ball

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Milonga Review: Sway bar

This review is done very much in the style of Ms Hedgehog’s whose reviews I found so helpful when I was just venturing out into the scary world of London milongas. As she hadn’t done one for Sway, I thought I would put my work commute to good use, only to find she has pipped me to the post! :-)
Ms Hedgehog's review)


Location: Sway bar, 61 -65 Great Queen Street, Holborn
Dates and times: Wednesdays, 8 till 12
Cost: Free!
Average drinks price: Soft drinks £2.50, spirit and mixer approx. £4
Varied bar menu.

This is a new (August ’09) milonga organised by Eleanora of Tangology. It is held on the ground floor (although you go up some stairs to enter) in a large bar attached to the Connaught Hotel with ornate cornices on the ceiling. There are booths on two of the edges and a bar and kitchen area on the other sides. If you are lucky enough to have a booth or know friends in a booth, then you can easily leave your coat and bags in (relative) safety, otherwise you might feel they are a little exposed leaving them around the edges, especially when the dance floor gets busy. I couldn’t see a working cloakroom on my visit although there is one attached to the basement non-tango bar (separate entrance or accessed via the toilets) which you might be able to use.

Classes: None. There are however several close-by (
Tango in action, Tango Movement, Tango Soul etc.) so its easy enough to get some practice in first before coming along.

How easy is it to get dances?: Sitting with friends in a booth can mean it is hard to get dances if you are hemmed in at the back, although if you have good eyesight and are a dab hand with the cabeceo, you might have more luck as it is relatively light inside. The backs of the booths near the main entrance are used as leaning posts so you can easily watch the dancers but this means you can only be easily approached from behind so you may miss out on invites or be directly offered those which you wish you could have averted! By the bar, there are several tall tables and stools for elegant perching.

The Powder Room: Downstairs, underneath the dance floor. Ample space for putting on shoes and easy enough to change in a cubicle if necessary. Large sinks with well lit mirrors mean you can easily doll yourself up if you’ve come straight from work or had to cycle in. You can also hear the music from upstairs so can dash up if you hear your favourite tune.

Who goes there?: Quite a few of the Sunday Tangology crowd (not surprising as this is their new Sunday venue), Southerners who don’t fancy the journey up north to the Dome and tangueros who have just finished their central classes (there are several, take your pick!) and fancy trying out their newly acquired moves. Generally a young-middling crowd. Quite a few people just drop in for an hour.

Timings: The floor doesn’t really pick up until 9 although there are always a few couples taking advantage of the free space to try out new moves etc and several groups bagging booths and tucking into the food deals.

Quirks: It is free (go Eleanora!!) but this also means the bar is open to the general public. Spot a few voyeurs sitting in the corners.

Rivals: The Dome

Finding your way outside: Just 3 mins from Holborn tube station (Central line). There are also lots of buses on Kingsway (1 min) which go (south) towards Waterloo, Trafalgar Square or (north) Euston.
From Holborn tube station: Take the exit directly in front of the escalators and turn left. Walk to the traffic lights and cross over the road. Great Queen Street is the next street on your right and Sway is on your left after you have passed the large hotel with the circular driveway.

Finding your way inside: When you first come up the stairs, you enter one set of glass double doors into a foyer (sometimes with a doorman/bouncer). Go through the second glass double doors to enter the dance floor or turn immediately left and go downstairs for the toilets.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Why I dance ...

A wonderful quote I read on a tango blog (sorry, I can't remember which one):

"You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive. It is not for unsteady souls."
Merce Cunningham

I heart AA (the Adrian and Amanda Costa fanclub!)

I am SO excited! Amanda and Adrian Costa are coming back to London to teach in October. I was fortunate enough to catch their 2 classes last year and thought they were amazing. I’ve heard that they will be doing various classes at different venues over a 3 week period and I’m already planning to clear my diary so I can attend as many as possible. Here are 2 videos to gush over (!)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Class standards

This subject has been addressed a few months ago on Arlene’s pages but I wanted to blog about this subject again because of a recent class I attended and a particularly stubborn leader.

I had previously met Mr Stubborn last month at a milonga and after chatting realised I’d also seen him once at my usual class. I asked him about it and he complained to me that he thought my class had been too hard and had not been what an ‘intermediate’ class (which is what he considered his level to be) should be. I explained that a lot of the dancers who attended my class were very experienced and that perhaps he might like to try the ‘improvers’ class instead. ‘But I’m intermediate’, he said ‘I’ve been dancing on and off for about 6 months’. I was tempted to roll my eyes but refrained.

Anyway, he turned up again at the class this week and predictably he found it quite hard. In the middle of the class, the teacher stopped and explained that as there was a large range of abilities, she would like to teach us a step with several progressions and asked that we each stopped at our own level. Needless to say, this was not the case for certain people. At the end of the class, the teacher explained that although she didn’t want to send anyone backwards, it was very hard to learn something well if people weren’t honest with themselves about their ability. In the end you are just short-changing yourself as you will only ever be able to reach a certain level and then you will just stagnate.

This lesson has inspired me to start again simply and so you will now see me re-visiting the beginners class next week! Unfortunately, I don’t think Mr Stubborn will be joining me.