Sunday, 31 January 2010

The boundaries are in place and remaining so

I read Mari’s recent entry with interest as this question has plagued me for a few months as there is a good leader I know who I often make small talk with, has complimented me several times on my dancing, dances with lots of my friends but still hasn’t asked me to dance. I always made excuses, saying that the music wasn’t right or that we were just passing at the wrong place in the milonga (him going one way, me going another) but last month, there was finally a perfect opportunity where the music was good, the floor had space and we were standing chatting alone.

I remember thinking if there is ever a chance to ask me to dance it will be now. Nothing. After a few minutes of chat, he said he was going off to dance and went over to a friend of his and started dancing (mid song, so it wasn't even a pre-arranged song). It stung but in some way, it has finally brought closure. He is obviously never going to ask me to dance, so now I’ve just accepted it and know not to waste any more time hoping that he will. We still make small chat but that’s apparently where the boundaries are.

I’m being Miss Pragmatic (although it’s taken a while).

On no account however, would I ever ask him WHY he doesn’t want to dance with me? He obviously has his reasons and I have my pride! I'm just making sure now, that I always have plenty of partners when he's around.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Tango @ 33

‘Lord D_____ is in jail’ was the cryptic message I received, explaining the unexpected and last minute cancellation of the Tango @ 33P milonga. Subsequently, various bloggers have suggested that this was mere coincidence and the real reason the milonga was cancelled was due to a notice from Westminster Council for noise (presumably more for some of Lord D’s other, rather salacious events rather than the milongas!)

I don’t like to think pessimistically but it would be an awful shame if this wonderful milonga had to close down permanently. It’s my favourite of all of the London ones, not only for its venue and atmosphere but its delightful organisers and quality guest teachers. I’ve not been able to go for the last few weeks but was lucky enough to go to the Christmas Milonga so if this is the end, then at least I have fond memories…

For those of you not familiar with Tango @ 33 Portland Place (also known as 33P) then this was a marvellous, weekly Sunday milonga held in an atmospheric house near Oxford Circus. Someone once described it to me as being invited to a milonga, held in your eccentric great aunt’s mansion! It certainly had a wonderful atmosphere.

I wanted to show a youtube video here which showed the Milonga @ 33P but I can't find it now. I remember it was mis-labelled so if anyone finds it, please can you let me know. It showed Oscar Acebras playing his guitar and singing while couples tangoed around him by candlelight. It was a lovely night!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Musical musings: Part II

This is just to say THANK YOU to all the musical leaders I have ever danced with! How have you ever done it?

I’m at home struggling to hear accents, new phrases, new sections and I feel paralysed. How can I even walk musically to this piece, let alone dance it, lead another person, avoid the traffic and dance with feeling??!! You (those musical leaders I’ve been lucky enough to encounter) astound me!

And for those dancers (leaders and followers) who are trying to learn to become more musical, keep persisting – even if you are an tone deaf and unmusical as me! It’s a struggle but I really think its going to pay off in the long run. :-)

Friday, 15 January 2010

Musical musings

Situation: I’m on a bus, listening to my ipod and going through a cycle of Di Sarli, Canaro, Calo, De Angelis.

I notice that this morning people seem to be moving more than usual, from seat to seat.

Then I realise it is mostly from the seat next to me.

Then I realise, I am enthusiastically tapping my foot to the beat while my hand is swaying from side to side trying to follow the melody.

Add a few head movements, a muttered curse when I get it wrong and suddenly I can see why no one wants to sit next to me!

At least it made for a peaceful second half of the journey!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


I think we all have particular buzzwords. Words that cause a light bulb to light up in our heads or suddenly make us stop mid-step when out on the street. In class, I always try to listen to what my teachers say (maybe too hard sometimes) and I always try to put it into practice but occasionally (ok, most times) ten minutes after they have told me, I’m back with the music, dancing how I ‘feel’ and those nagging errors are back in place again.

For example, I know that when I do voleos, I often do them with my legs a bit too wide, almost with a turn out. When we are drilling them, I’ll make a real effort to brush my moving leg over my standing leg’s knee (for a front voleo) and vice-versa (for the back voleo). I might even get into the swing of it and start to do it naturally but as soon as the music begins and I find myself dancing ‘with’ the music (as opposed to dancing the steps ‘to’ the music) then my technique skills fly out the window. It’s the constant balance between musicality and technique.

But I’ve now had a breakthrough and it’s all to do with buzzwords, which are specific to each of us. For me the word is ‘elegant’ – it’s what I most consistently aspire to be/how I want to dance/ how I want to act, so use this word and suddenly you have the trigger I need to make me dance better. So back to my class story, we were again drilling the voleos, with my teacher making comments to each of us. She came up to me, watched me a few seconds and then said, ‘Golondrina, you have a tendency to let your legs turn out too much, it leaves a gap between your thighs. It’s not very elegant’. She had found my buzzword and suddenly there was not just an awareness on my part but a horrible clarity too: I could see it in my mind and I desperately did not like that image! I was horrified but it also made a lot of sense.

After class, we continued with our usual practica and obviously my voleos were not perfect but now I could let myself dance with the music like usual but whenever a voleo came along and I did it wrong – something lit up in my subconscious and I knew it was wrong. I didn’t have to consciously look out for them, something inside of me (the Quality Standards Officer perhaps) went ‘yuk’ whenever I did them wrong and I started to slowly do them better.

Have you got a buzzword?

Friday, 8 January 2010

Pedro 'Tete' Rusconi 1936-2010

So sad to hear the news of the death of Tete, one of the great milongueros of our time. Alex. Tango.Fuego has a good entry about him with links and videos.

I would also once again advocate listening to – a podcast about Argentine tango which includes two pieces about Tete and his partner Silvia.

God bless