Saturday, 21 August 2010


I’ve been semi-retired from the tango scene for a few months now but am slowly coming back into the fold. Here, however, were the reasons for my (mainly) self-inflicted absence:

1) Too many teachers and workshops – I was confusing myself.

2) An altercation with a tanguera whilst doing tango

3) Getting into a rut and going to the same milongas.

4) Having a private lesson and becoming disillusioned with group classes.

5) Needing to spend quality time in my no-tango life and not just popping in for a flying visit

6) Another new job

7) A holiday!

And now some more details:

1. Too many teachers and workshops

Now I love doing workshops with visiting teachers, especially teachers who I’ve watched avidly on youtube but I ended up doing too many, or perhaps I just did them in too short a time-span? Most were useful in some way and I was given lots of tips on both style and technique but it was too much to take in.

I was dancing and suddenly, I heard this voice in my head saying ‘X says, “Keep your weight forwards slightly but make sure you are not leaning on your partner”; ‘Y says, “Don’t use your right hand as a crux to get you around”; ‘Z says, “Step backwards with long legs, leading from beneath your rib cage”; ‘A says, “Your feet are turned out too far”; ‘B says, “Walk lightly but strongly, don’t clunk”; ‘C says'; etc etc.

I froze mid dance-floor (thank god it was a practica) and just said to my partner, ‘I’m sorry, I just can’t dance at present’. I sat down at the side, paralysed by all of the faults that I could detect in my dance. It was too much. I couldn’t absorb it all and it was messing with my head. I didn’t dance for 2 weeks while I calmed down.

2. An altercation with a fellow tanguera

I hate arguing with people. It’s in my DNA. If there is a collision, I’m always likely to apologise even if it’s not my fault. Ha, well, I was practicing and this tanguera and I clashed heels, literally. I will admit upfront, that I should have thought more about my surroundings but I was too caught up in trying to figure out a step (not a worthy excuse I hold my hand up).

Anyway, we clashed.

I apologised profusely (I felt horrific) and she ‘refused my apology’. She said, ‘That was a ridiculous thing to do and I’m not prepared to accept your apology’. I was distraught and apologised again (and again) but she just kept saying she was not prepared to accept it. Eventually, there was nothing else to do but leave her stewing (people had begun to gather round at this stage – embarrassment all around, the teacher was looking distinctly uncomfortable).

I was really upset, especially as this was the first time I had met/seen this woman. It’s not as if we have a history or I regularly bash into her. I went home and cried. I didn’t dance for 3 weeks.

3. The same milongas, the same people

Sure, you want to dance with your friends but the truth is the London tango scene while active is not gargantuous. You’ll always know someone if you go out but I got stuck into my comfort zone. I was going to the same milongas and dancing with the same people – on a loop. I’d forgotten what it was like when I first started, when I used to alternate between about 6 milongas. Now I was going to 2. I was having more nice, comfortable tandas and less unexpected and interesting tandas. There were less highs.

4. Having a private lesson

I actually had two, with different people. I learnt two important things...

a) First class (with a visiting couple): A private class on the basics, shows you that you haven’t been dancing the basics all this time. You’ve been ‘marking them out’. You understand the subtle nuances and realise that so far, it’s all been imitation.

b) Second class (with a teacher whose lessons I’ve been attending for over a year):You realise exactly how ‘little’ attention teachers merit you with in a group class. Unless, you are having serious trouble, you can easily slip under the radar. I was shocked when the teacher asked me to walk as they said they had never seen me walk before! What?! Do we not spend 10 minutess every week, walking up and down as a warm up? Have I never even merited enough attention in that whole year? All this time, I thought I was not having any comments because I had ‘got it’. Now I was given a list of 100 things that needed to be changed!

I don’t mean this to sound bitter and petulant. I was actually pleased to finally, be getting some constructive criticism but it made me wonder how value-wise the last year has been in terms of time and money. Once you reach a certain level, are you actually getting anything from group classes or should I be saving my cash for private classes?

5. My non tango life

This had been neglected for a while and people were beginning to forget my name. My boyfriend was also starting to suffer from my prolonged absences and so I made a concerted effort to spend more time with him, doing stuff he fancied doing – cinema, pub trips, nights in just relaxing (as opposed to bombarding him with tango videos and music – god I was obsessed!)

6. A new job

Yes, another one. I was the newbie yet again and had to put in some extra hours at the start, learning the ropes and making sure I had intelligent conversation for the project meetings (somehow my Top 10 Tango youtube video list was not going to elevate me to the heights of essential team player).

7. Holiday

Yes, I was away for a few weeks on a holiday which linked in with a huge family reunion. Tango was on the back burner.