A Weekend of Tango…12,13,14 December 08

carablanca-xmas-party-2008

The Tango Christmas parties started on Friday at CarablancaMonica and Omar Ocampo (a.k.a. Los Ocampo) were teaching the Chacarera – something I have always wanted to learn – and I was really looking forward to trying the class.

I left extra early to get to the class on time and after driving for over an hour and a half (really bad traffic), I finally made it thinking I was going to be late.

In any event, I wasn’t too late and they were just getting ready to start the class.   I was amazed to see how many people turned up to do the class.  As usual there were more ladies than men, so we ended up with two rows of women to the men!  I have been to other classes taught by Los Ocampo and really like the way Monica and Omar teach.  They are very clear in their instruction and demonstration and always add an element of fun.  By the time the class was finished I think we all managed to get the hang of the Chacarera.  I really loved this class and am pleased to have learned something new to add to my repertoire.  I can’t wait to try it out at the next Milonga that has a Chacarera break.  You can see the results of the class here.

Afterwards I went to get my free drink and some food.  There was quite a good choice on the alcohol front along with pitchers of cold water for those abstaining, and there was a really yummy selection of sandwiches, bread and cheese, crackers, and satsumas laid out for us.  I had a couple of little sandwiches and a glass of wine and settled down to have a chat with some friends.

I took my own advice and brought along some gum and mints to counter the effect of the wine and food with toothbrush at the ready if required as it was going to be a long night.   Amusingly there were a few men I knew who made a point in telling me that they followed my advice or their wives read out the checklist to them.  I had to laugh – Thank you ladies.

Los Ocampo gave us a fantastic performance and I expected nothing less from them being the wonderful professionals that they are.  They also performed a Chacarera a la Los Ocampo style and Omar danced a lovely number with Liz from The Tango Club.  Liz sweetly cancelled her Milonga in support of Monica and Omar, so there was a really good turnout of people which made the floor quite busy.

I did a fair amount of socialising and dancing and before I knew it the Milonga was nearly over.   I thought that Danny and the rest of the team did a fantastic job in trying to make everyone feel welcome.  If there was a down side for me, it is only that I wish that some of the dancers would have been more considerate and followed the line of dance – it isn’t a race course as some people like to think.  In saying that, this is a recurring problem everywhere with some nights better than others.  As one of my partners said, ‘it wouldn’t happen in Buenos Aires’.  All in all, I had a great time and drove home in half an hour!

Saturday was diabolical on the weather front with continual rain.  I was hoping that the rain would ease up by the time I was ready to go out to Corrientes, but that never happened.  I arrived later than normal (traffic again!), but in time to see Los Ocampo perform.

There was a bit of confusion when I arrived – a Salsa club had also booked the same evening and Corrientes had been moved into another room.  I could hear the sounds of Salsa music and my body was telling me to go in and try it out (I learned Salsa before I learned Tango).  As I passed what was normally the Tango room, and was now full of Salsa dancers, for a fleeting moment I was of two minds as to where I should go.  All of the Salsa people were smiling, and moving their bodies to the hot Latin beat.  They seemed to be having such a great time!

I tore myself away from the Salsa dancing and wandered into the familiar strains of Tango music and where the atmosphere was a little bit more subdued.  The room was smaller than what we have been used to, but there was a wall of full length mirrors that made it seem bigger and there was plenty of floor space for dancing.  I found dancing in front of the mirrors a bit disconcerting at first as I am not used to looking at myself dance.  After being reassured by my dance partner that my bum did not look too big in the mirror, I relaxed a little bit.  On reflection, I think having the mirrors made me more conscious of my posture, which was a good reality check.

As the venue was smaller, the chairs and tables were closer together, which made for a more intimate and cosy atmosphere in my opinion.  I preferred this room to the one we usually dance in.  Although it was busy, it wasn’t overly crowded.  I am hoping that they continue to use this room in the future as the ambience was more welcoming compared to previous visits in the larger room.

Monica and Omar performed for us again and started with a Zamba, a traditional folk dance.  I found an example on youtube that you can view here.  I also believe the song they were dancing to was the same one in the video clip.  If not, I would appreciate someone letting me know what it was as I thought it was really beautiful.  I really loved watching Monica and Omar perform this dance as they put a lot of feeling into it.  I thought it was really sweet how they wanted to share a bit of Argentine Folkloric dancing with us and to show us that there is more to Argentina than Tango.  As usual, they finished off with a couple of outstanding Tangos and a Milonga and are now off to Paris to perform there for the next few weeks.

The rest of the evening was spent dancing, socialising and trying the nibbles that were thoughtfully provided throughout the evening.  I really enjoyed myself and met some lovely new people.  I even managed to try out the Chacarera I learned the other evening which was a bonus!  So a big Thank You to Mina, Giraldo and the team – I had a great time apart from a slight damper at the end when they turned up all of the lights, which was rather harsh.  Please, I know it’s a way of saying it is time to go home, but we ladies of a certain age need to keep the mystery going as long as possible!☺

After recovering on Sunday from the dancing on Saturday, I headed off to the Christmas party at El Porteño at The Bedford in Balham.  I always enjoy Leo and Bridget’s Christmas parties and this one didn’t disappoint.  They outdid themselves with the food this year with some leftover, which was surprising for the amount of people that turned up.  It was a full house to say the least.

????????Leo played his usual mix of Tangos and even sang a couple of times.  He has a good voice and really enjoys singing.  He and Bridget also gave a little performance later in the evening.  It was an understated, yet elegant performance and made a change to the highly charged dancing that I witnessed the previous evenings.  Although it is fun on occasion to watch people perform show Tango, I generally prefer the understated performances.  I find them more inspiring in showing what can actually be achieved on the dance floor.  In my opinion, it is more realistic.  Leo may be old school, but he does have some fancy foot moves – definitely not boring!

I spent the evening doing my usual thing of dancing and chatting and fluttering around the room.  I’m not one to sit in one place for too long.   The evening went by rather quickly, and although I didn’t win anything in the raffle, I had a fantastic time.

So here I am in recovery – tired but very happy!  I had a great weekend of dancing and am looking forward to the next party!

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