Tango Teachers, a Dime a Dozen

Having just read Irene and Man Yung’s recent post, my observation of the dance floor at Negracha last weekend, the recent bout of visiting teachers and my own musings in my head these last few years that haven’t yet entered the realm of my blog, I feel compelled to voice an opinion.  Hold onto your seats!

Now I know that I have moved out of London, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t keep up with what is going on at the Milongas.  I get updates about classes and visiting teachers.  It seems that there is a visiting teacher or two or three every week.  They are meant to be masters or well respected teachers from wherever it is they come from.  What I want to know is, who are these people really and what makes them so special?  Who decides that they are masters and who says that they are wonderful?  Most of them are barely out of nappies!  Most of them teach tricks and fancy moves and dance in open hold.  It may be the kind of Tango that is being taught in certain London venues, but it is certainly not MY Tango.  Granted, we get a few visiting teachers that are actually very good, but they are far and few in between.  I have heard from my friends in BA that there are many so called teachers there that prey on tourists just to make money.  Now they are coming over here.  Just because these people come over here from BA to ‘teach’ AT doesn’t mean they are any good because they are Argentine.  We already have very good AT teachers here that are Argentine and some that are not Argentine.  Why do we need these upstart fly-by-nights that are trying to make a quick buck out of us to pay for their holidays?  And why should we pay more to see crap demonstrations when all we want to do is dance at the Milongas?

Going back to the dance floor at Negracha, I nearly didn’t go this last weekend because the antics tend to overtake everything and most leaders end up doing defensive dancing which takes away the enjoyment of the moment.  Fortunately, it wasn’t too crowded and there were some people that I knew I would have a good time with.  However, there was one young man there who is now putting himself out as a teacher having spent some time in Buenos Aires.  I first danced with him some few years ago when he was 19 (he is the same age as my eldest) and I was very impressed that A) he was dancing Argentine Tango at what I considered such a young age for an English boy and B) he was pretty good and I thought he had a lot of potential.  Well, he is a bit older now and has apparently spent a fair amount of time in BA learning to dance and I was expecting wonderful things.  I should remind myself to keep my expectations low as what I saw him doing on the dance floor had me nearly choke on my mineral water!   Firstly, he was practicing moves on the dance floor!  This was a Milonga, not a practica!  When he was actually dancing, I saw that he was dancing large!  Sigh!  He had so much potential.  It wouldn’t have mattered to me too much, but he wasn’t even good at it and he wasn’t even minding the flow of dance and other dancers!  In fact, I thought he was pretty darn awful.  Can someone tell me why just because a person spends time and money ‘learning’ to dance Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires they think they are actually good enough to teach?  I have to say it is either very arrogant or delusional.  There are times when people tell me who they are learning with and I have to bite my tongue, something I am not used to doing.  My tongue is pretty sore and I am not sure I will have much left of it at this rate.

As for the rest of the stuff in my head, well, some of it really doesn’t bear repeating!  I am bemused, bewildered and gobsmacked by what I am coming across these days.  I have been in London for nearly a week and have only been out dancing two nights as frankly I can’t be asked to get myself up and out there.  I have finally reached the ‘been there and done that’ stage of Tango.  I love my music and my dance, but I can’t be asked to deal with what I have been witnessing at the  Milongas.  What the heck happened?  I accept how things are and yet am bemused at how it got to this point.  I am not being bitchy or really complaining.  I am merely observing, which is different.  I am ok with only having two nights of dancing.  It is enough because I enjoyed it and it filled my Tango void until the next trip up to London. I had some lovely dances with old friends and some new faces.  I thought I would want more, but when it actually came down to it, I didn’t.  I am happy to just listen to the music and I don’t need to go to a Milonga for that as I have plenty of music on my laptop.

What happened to my Tango, or is it just me?  Have I gotten too cynical?  Am I alone in my thinking?  Will someone please tell it to me straight or am I the only one that sees it as the Tango equivalent of The Emperor’s New Clothes?

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41 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chris, UK
    Jun 10, 2010 @ 22:25:22

    > What happened to my Tango, or is it just me?

    I’d guess it is due to the big drop in the standard and enjoyability of many of the London milongas that has occured over the last few yeasr – since the start of the flood of tango dance schools in the city. Last week I went to Zero Hour and the dancing was barely recognisable compared to my last visit 18 months ago. About 80% of the people on the floor was just doing class steps. The others who were actually dancing had a really hard time amongst classgoers doing Rene and Hiba volcadas to Juan D’Arienzo milongas. Really sad.

    Thankfully Carablanca is still good, and sometimes (when it isn’t disrupted by visiting teachers) the Crypt too.

  2. Arlene
    Jun 10, 2010 @ 22:28:25

    I went to The Crypt on Saturday and really enjoyed myself. There was no demo, just dancing. I was able to dance my Tango. 🙂

  3. Alberto
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 02:46:54

    “I have heard from my friends in BA that there are many so called teachers there that prey on tourists just to make money. Now they are coming over here.”

    In order to have credibility when writing about tango the first cardinal sin that must be avoided is the hearsay one hears from so called friends.

    There isn’t a single tango teacher dead or alive that ever preyed on tourists just to make money.

    There isn’t a single tourist dead or alive that was ever coerced, forced or in any way made to take a lesson against their will.

    It is mostly people who have nothing to show for themselves the ones who by virtue of their pontification and holier than you attitude drive regular Joes and Janes to those who happily show them any trick and thankfully take their money.

    Tango has always been an adult activity. As long as the high school confidential mentality continues to prevail in the world of tango outside Buenos Aires, it is a waste of time to add insult to injury by pretending that we are dealing with grown ups. Grown ups who are not afraid to call men men and women women when it comes to the Argentine tango.

    Cheers,
    Ap.

  4. Arlene
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 07:00:36

    @ Alberto
    Well, call me a sinner. You are right, not having experienced what goes on in BA, I can only report about what people tell me who live or have been there or what I read about. I could be wrong, so let me phrase it another way: There may be people who see a market in teaching Tango to tourists that may not be qualified to do so. How’s that? The same happens over here.

    People do have choices about who they learn from. However, when someone is learning something new for the first time, they may not be savvy enough to choose the right individual to teach them or they may take bad advice from someone with ulterior motives. We are all adults and no one makes us do anything, but we don’t always make the best choices until we are shown our options and by then it may be too late for some people. I started with someone who I would never recommend and although that person doesn’t teach the way I like to dance, his enthusiasm for what he does inspired me to learn more and broaden my horizons. I was naive, but I quickly learned and I asked a lot of questions. There weren’t many places to dance in those days and there weren’t as many teachers as there are now. Now we have a milonga or two every day of the week and so many teachers that people don’t know which way to look.

    The quality of the dancing in the top venues used to be very high for London and now the quality has seemed to have deteriorated as Chris has noticed and so have I. I haven’t been dancing as long as Chris and the fact that I have noticed the quality dropping in the last few years is quite alarming.

    We are overloaded with teachers coming here from many places teaching fancy moves and dancing large or people setting themselves up as teachers after only a few years of dancing.

    I am actually very concerned about what is happening to Tango here in the UK and wonder if I will still be dancing the way I want to in a few years time.

  5. Habanera
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 09:00:14

    I have been dancing in London for just under a couple of years but I have already given up on the tango scene. After spending much time and money my technique has actually worsened, I have had little joy and made no friends, hence the decision of quitting. In fact, my ‘tango void’, as Arlene calls it, expands rather than the opposite when I go to milongas in the capital. Let alone socialising… My impression is that the priority is very much on showing off and making money, depending on whether you are a buyer or a seller and regardless of nationalities.

  6. Captain Jep
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 09:39:46

    Well if you will insist on dancing in London!! …

    IME there are just too many beginners or clueless intermediates at the milongas there. Even if you dance with an experienced partner you have to spend so much time worrying about navigation that you cant truly relax.

    The Crypt is a bit of an exception. Generally it isnt too busy and it gets a reasonable level of dancers. So you can have a pleasant evening. Contrast that with Negrachas. Very busy and the standard of dancing is too uneven. Some advanced dancers many “hotshots” and a lot of clueless intermediates.

    I’ve examined the issue of “where to dance” a lot in the past couple of years. I believe the best dancing isnt at the permanent venues, it’s at the weekenders. Or weekend events. Like at Bramshaw.Or Eton.

    Fortunately most tango dancers in London dont dance outside the M25. So I can add this comment to your post without worrying that anyone will actually act on it!

  7. jamesy
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 09:41:41

    I think the answer is don’t dance in London there are many fab Milongas outside of the London Scene, most of which have good floorcraft and very nice setups.
    Spread your wings and fly pretty butterfly
    JB

  8. Chris, UK
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 09:48:43

    > There isn’t a single tango teacher dead or alive
    > that ever preyed on tourists just to make money.

    How do you know, Alberto?

  9. Chris, UK
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 09:59:42

    > There may be people who see a market in
    > teaching Tango to tourists that may not be
    > qualified to do so. How’s that?

    Simple. There IS a market in teaching tango for people not qualified to do so. Because the majority of class seekers hereabouts have no idea whether a given teacher is capable of teaching anyone to dance tango. Whereas in BA people used to learn from their dancing friends and family, tango students here typically have none, so they have no-one even to ask for advice before getting ensnared by the class business.

  10. Arlene
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 10:39:33

    @ Habanera – I’m sorry that after 2yrs you felt you had to give up. I was hoping by setting up this blog it would be easier for people make their way in Tango in London. There are very nice dancers and people so maybe you haven’t been going to the right places.

    @ Cap’n Jep and Jamesy – I have danced outside of London a few times and have enjoyed myself, but I am lazy about travelling outside of my area just to dance and now that I live further afield will be even more lazy, so when I come up to London to visit my children, I try to get a milonga in or two. I danced with a very lovely dancer from Devon on Saturday!

    @Chris – I realise that there is a market for non qualified people to teach tango to people that have no clue about what the real Argentine Tango is about, hence my post. By voicing my concerns I was hoping that others would become aware of the situation and try to make more informed decisions. I’ve been there already and have learned the hard way, but there was less to worry about than there is now.

  11. Irene and Man Yung
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 13:03:43

    Dear Arlene,

    Your post – true, true, oh so true. Everything you say – deja vu here in Toronto.

    The tongue-biting thing – we have to do so much of it here with some of the ridiculous things we’ve heard that we’ve bitten our tongues off.

    At least it’s all great material to blog about!

    Irene and Man Yung

  12. Bob Stafford
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 13:27:49

    My tango > While I much appreciate reading this thread, I’d like to speak up from a different perspective. I am a normal, mixed-up kid, a 60+ masochist, narcissus with performance anxiety, on anti-depressants and in therapy. For me, to dance tango is to compete with confident alpha males while struggling to please ever-demanding females. However hard I try, my floor-craft can be atrocious.
    Fortunately tango isn’t about perfection. The songs are mostly about loss, yearning, nostalgia, resignation and making do. Tango provides a paradox of maturity and childishness. The very idea of a perfect milonga is an oxymoron; if it did exist, I know I wouldn’t belong there!

  13. Arlene
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 18:52:35

    Ha Irene,
    We may blog because we have no more tongues to speak with!
    Thanks for stopping by!
    A

  14. Arlene
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 18:57:28

    Hi Bob,
    I am not talking about a perfect milonga or dance as such. I am talking about a certain standard of dancing and teaching. We get a lot of show dancers teaching show moves, which are not really appropriate to use on a dance floor, especially a crowded one. It seems that many people want to do what they see on Strictly Come Dancing or in Tango shows. I dance with men who are not perfect but who may dance with feeling and some musicality without all the tricky stuff. What I saw the other night would make your eyes pop out!

  15. Johanna
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 20:24:18

    Ah, Arlene. A popular lament. Unfortunately, as with anything consumer-related, choices are market driven. Folks new to tango are exposed to it via YouTube and flashy dance shows. And that’s what they want to learn. Younger people look for younger performers who are doing acrobatics. And they want to learn that.

    But I have found that a good percent of people who come to tango under those conditions, eventually find their way to the heart, and become rather fanatical about “authenticity”.

  16. Ms Hedgehog
    Jun 12, 2010 @ 12:13:56

    Hi Bob,

    It sounds as if you’re saying that you have a psychological problem which prevents you having good floorcraft. But that makes it sound as though you’re saying that something makes it OK to take out your psychological problem by physically battering other people. I don’t think you can possibly have meant this. Would you like to recast that argument? It would make more sense, for example, to say that the poor standard of dancing generally makes it very difficult for you to improve, given your other problems.

  17. anon
    Jun 12, 2010 @ 13:24:19

    It is not just you, many of us have noticed the proliferation of “teachers” in London who can’t dance themselves. I can’t believe the barefaced cheek of them asking for money. Perhaps we could pay them to go away?
    You should look at the website of theguy I’m guessing you are alluding to, the galleries are hilarious.

  18. Arlene
    Jun 12, 2010 @ 15:45:52

    @Johanna – I hope they do eventually find their way to the heart and PDQ!

    @H – You make a good point and I was going to say that you can’t use personal issues as an excuse for poor dancing, because really what does that have to do with Tango?

    @Anon – you are very naughty! I also looked at the videos! 😉

  19. Eton Milonga Fan
    Jun 13, 2010 @ 09:34:56

    As a leader with 4 years dancing, I still dance with a limited number of moves. I concentrate on connection with my partner, the musicality – the intensity of Di Sarli or the more up beat Canaro – ‘rhythm is everything ‘ an old time BA dancer once said. There’s lots of amazing footage of these old school dancers, especially Villa Urquiza style, understated, sensitive, controlled.

  20. Tit & Tackle
    Jun 15, 2010 @ 22:53:49

    Dear Arlene

    I am outraged by the standard of dancing we are sold as the best in tango. Some of the teachers are shit and need naming and shaming. Well, I for one saw the emperor naked in all his flacid wrinkly glory at a performance on Saturday night. It was truly breathtaking for many of the reasons you point out. At one point the female performer appeared to shake her shoe to stop it from falling off or maybe she had some grit in it or maybe she had a senior moment – It just did not look right. In any event I am sure that the unobservant would have seen this as a decoration and not a dodgy moment from people of the highest reputation in tango. At best they deserved a pat on the back for making the long plane journey at their age, but I have heard that they have the audacity to charge £130 per hour for a private class with them!!!!!! Have we got MUGS tattooed on our heads? Are our streets paved with gold?

    But whats most nauseating is the way ALL of our tango hosts suddenly become part of their sycophantic entourage. There they are bowing and scraping at the court of the Tango Kings and Queens, bigging them up, giving out bouquets of flowers and kissing their arses regardless of how dodgy their performance has been. As far as I am concerned they can pucker up and kiss mine.

    Perhaps we should have some tango stocks for CRIMES AGAINST TANGO committed by some of these CHARLATONS. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND WE’RE ONTO YOU!! Any suggestions on who should be first in and where we should put them!!!!

    Tit & Tackle

  21. Tango Totty
    Jun 15, 2010 @ 22:59:45

    I agree Arlene. We are being fleeced and we’re applauding them for doing it.

    Totty

  22. Tangobitch
    Jun 16, 2010 @ 03:05:00

    Arlene Arlene Arlene! where have you been all my life!!? I’m a young dancer and already find myself aging prematurely out of sheer frustration from the tango scene. Not just the shitty standard but also from the sheer volume of personality inferiority/superiority disorders you come across in one evening (Bob there is such a thing as over sharing). Oh and don’t get me started on the atrocious dress sense!
    I am well acquainted with the so called teacher you speak of and my nickname for him is S&M… seriously the guy has issues and he is not arrogant or delusional, he’s both, (and a crap dancer).
    Thank you for showing me the light. I am totally inspired to start my own blog (though a more explicitly bitchy version than yours.) Dancers Beware!!

  23. Arlene
    Jun 16, 2010 @ 07:49:20

    @Tangobitch – I try not to be nasty, and I don’t think I was, I get a bit frustrated and it just has to come out! I look forward to reading your blog.
    @T&T – Thanks for sharing. You use the words I only use verbally.
    @Totty – I know I can count on you for seeing the light.

  24. David Bailey
    Jun 16, 2010 @ 09:13:38

    Hmmm, lots of interesting comments here.

    I think it’s fair to say that I agree regarding the standard of London dancing. I’d also agree that places like Eton and Bramshaw have far more “harmony” – I did an article about that a while back.

    I’m not quite as pessimistic as others, however, for several reasons:

    1. People are not monsters
    Those people you see, with rubbish floorcraft, taking up vast amounts of space, practicing on the dance floor, and committing other crimes? In all probability, they simply don’t know any better; they’re not being deliberately obstructive, they’re not trying to destroy the harmony on purpose. So, in most cases, they can be educated, they can be informed, they can improve.

    2. It’s growing pains
    I can’t be the only one to have noticed the proliferation of venues opening up recently. A lot more people are learning now than a few years ago, and that means that, in the short term, the overall standard of dancing will be “lower” – until they learn as a group. So, hopefully, things will get better.

    3. “One man can make a difference”
    Well, a couple of men, anyway. At downstairs in Negracha’s (aptly described as: “Negracha’s. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious”), we have proven that even two leaders, working in convoy, can pretty much tame the entire floor. It can work. It just needs a bit of effort.

    So whilst it’s good to bitch, I think it’s better to take action.

  25. Tangobitch
    Jun 16, 2010 @ 12:40:15

    I know you’re not trying to be nasty Arlene, that’s the problem. These people deserve far worse… don’t worry tangobitch is on the case.

  26. Chris, UK
    Jun 16, 2010 @ 15:36:53

    > A lot more people are learning now than a few
    > years ago, and that means that, in the short term,
    > the overall standard of dancing will be “lower” –
    > until they learn as a group.

    I for one am getting rather sick of hearing this excuse from teachers.

    A lot more people are being TAUGHT but few of them are learning. Most new starters give up before they can escape classes in which natural sense of floorcraft is sabotaged by step and sequence teaching. In the meanwhile what they try to do on the floor of the milonga greatly reduces their opportunities to learn from the example of experienced dancers – by discouraging experienced dancers from going to the milongas that the hapless class-crippled frequent.

  27. Tango Totty
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 23:09:49

    Dear Arlene

    I ‘ve had enough of all this mystique surrounding tango and the teachers. Lets all speak OUT. After some serious consideration, I feel it is mine AND YOUR duty to the tango community of London to seek out and identify the tango teachers PROPER from the chavs. Please Arlene can you draw out a table with all the teachers names in it and the catagories below.
    – DANCER
    – CHANCER
    – OUTRIGHT WANCER (don’t spell check this)

    I am asking everyone to think very hard and send in your classifications for the teachers that you know of. This should last for the period of the world cup.

    Disclaimer – we accept no responsibility for the opinions expressed by individuals on the CHANCERS and the WANCERS. We just accept it as true.

    Totty

  28. The Voice of reason
    Jun 21, 2010 @ 21:40:10

    Dearest Totty and also my friends Tit & Tackle

    I am absolutely puzzled that there should be any aspertion cast on the skill and integrity of the london tango dance teaching community. I agree with your point that there is too much of a circus with visiting dancers but it is only to honour their presence lighting up our humble venues. “Are you not entertained?”
    It is a well known fact that the best teachers in the world come here to London to teach us so that we may pass on their silky skills not just to milk our riches. That is why we show them appreciation. Like our fine footballers, tango in London is amongst the finest in the world. Just look at the growth in the number of home grown experts we now have. I won’t name names modesty forbids me from doing so. I write here only as a dancer. some have said worse.

    VOR

  29. David Bailey
    Jun 29, 2010 @ 10:05:13

    “Like our fine footballers, tango in London is amongst the finest in the world.”
    – In the light of Sunday’s events, this comment is even more appropriate…

  30. Anon
    Jun 30, 2010 @ 18:09:23

    Dancers – ie worth learning from if you want to dance socially

    Andreas Wichter ~ TangoKombinat
    Bianca Vrcan ~ Rojo y Negro
    Claire Loewe ~ Tango South London
    Jill Barrett ~ Tango en el Cielo

  31. The Voice of reason
    Jul 01, 2010 @ 19:45:57

    Is this just an advert?

    Explain why each of these teachers is a good teacher? Is any one better at say milonga or perhaps one is better for beginners or even God forbid arse kicking Tango Nuevo?
    Explain please it would be appreciated.
    Was that Claire on Grand Designs a few weeks back?

    VOR

  32. Anon
    Jul 02, 2010 @ 01:27:49

    @VOR

    It’s a response to TangoTotty’s request. I’m not aware of any specific link between them, so it’s not much of an advert.

    I should however have said dancing _traditional_ tango socially. If you want to learn to kick arse, try Negracha.

    As to why they’re good teachers? TBH that’s always going to be subjective. I’m sure some people love them and others can’t stand them. Different people learn different ways and want different things.

    My point simply is that each of them teaches how to dance traditional tango socially. I can name (though I’m not going to here) specific students of theirs who have good musicality, floorcraft and generally dance in a calm style. They are in my opinion an asset to a dance floor rather than a hazard.

    YMMV

    I have no idea if Claire was on Grand Designs (or even what Grand Designs is). Sorry.

  33. David Bailey
    Jul 02, 2010 @ 08:12:53

    @Anon: to me, the problem with your recommendation is that it’s anonymous. We have no idea who’s recommending these people, and no context within which to place your recommendation.

    However, I agree with your list. I’d also recommend:
    – Stefano and Alex of Tango in Action
    – Alberto and Asta of Tango de Salon
    – Rene and Hiba of the Dome
    – Paul and Michiko of El Once

    Secondly, there are a lot of teachers I’d not recommend – but I don’t think it’s appropriate to post that list.

    And finally, there’s a large group of teachers I don’t know – they may be good, they may be awful.

    But this is, of course, just my subjective opinion.

  34. Anon
    Jul 02, 2010 @ 11:09:17

    @ David Bailey

    I considered that. To be blunt I wouldn’t expect anyone to blindly follow an anonymous recommendation. To be more blunt I wouldn’t expect them to blindly follow your recommendations (or anyone else who posts here) unless they know you in the Real World.

    I would however suggest that our recommendations are a worthwhile starting point for someone to then carry out their own research – ie go to these teachers’ classes and milongas. How do they teach? How do they dance? How do their students dance? Ask around at other milonga about them. And so forth.

    There are as you say a great many teachers to choose from. A starting place is I feel a useful thing.

    But no, I’m not the Pope speaking the Truth. It’s up to people to do the legwork themselves.

  35. TinaDiva
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 12:59:46

    Arlene, it is’nt just you, and I have used the ‘Emperors’ term more times than I care to remember! I am soooooo glad I read you, it helps so much to know that there are others out there as frustrated and unhappy with the way the London Tango scene is going. Thanks for putting into words my own thoughts.

  36. TinaDiva
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 13:12:15

    Sorry I think I mean – ‘putting into words so many of my thoughts’.

  37. Arlene
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 13:19:09

    Hi Tina,
    Glad to be of help here! Sometimes my mind gets so boggled that the words just have to come out of my head!
    Rather than be unhappy and frustrated, I tend to look at the way things are as a form of entertainment, even if they are cringemaking!

  38. Reluctant Londoner
    Sep 06, 2010 @ 10:22:41

    Having lived in Buenos Aires for several years and both taught and performed there, I have to confess that I was really disappointed by the standard of tango in London. I don’t mean the general standard so much as the absence of any advanced/professional level dancers out on the floor. My problem is not finding a teacher, but simply finding men that I would actually enjoy dancing with. I am really mourning my old life in Argentina. Yes, people can improve and learn, but I think it will take many years and better teachers of basic technique than are probably available. Also, the lack of inspiring dancers on the dance floor doesn’t make it easy for people to aspire to a high standard of dance. My (albeit limited) experience of provincial milongas is that the standards are even lower there, at least among the best dancers. Yes, floorcraft is important and so is a pleasant atmosphere, but, frankly, I don’t want to socialise, I want to enjoy myself dancing, with good dancers. Is there any hope for me here in the UK?

  39. dexkitten
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 18:37:16

    I have stumbled upon your email and I must say – The same is happening in Salsa. I have been dancing all forms of dance for longer than I care to remember. The standards slipped in ballroom about 30 years ago and then I moved to dancing salsa. I went backwards and forwards from ballroom to salsa on a regular basis and have given up on both. I have learned to dance with myself and spend my time and money dancing abroad where the gentlemen are not quite so gready, better time keepers and understand that a dance is the telepathic interpretation of two minds fused through movement.

    I am desperate to find a class where everyone makes an effort to make a dance enjoyable for their partner and treats each milonga or dance session as a proper night out, dressing accordingly. This is simply because I know I mentally feel I look the part if properly dressed and the impression of of a sloppily dressed person gives the impression their dancing will also be careless.

    Maybe it is just me bein vexed at spending another evening at home instead of gliding around to beautiful music and living my alter ego!

  40. Arlene
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 07:26:34

    @dexkitten,

    Don’t give up on going out and keep trying different venues. I used to have great evenings at Negracha, but that has changed. I have better evenings dancing on Saturday night. The Dome has been hit or miss for me, but I keep going back as I really like the place and the music. I have a better time there than at Negracha. I don’t live in London anymore, but I visit. There is a party at The Dome this week that I am going to.

    Because I have gone out nearly every night of the week for a few years, I have made some good friends and I know who many of the people are. If I don’t dance, I have people to talk to and I enjoy the music. If people don’t see you regularly, it is more difficult to make friends.

    You will get what you want, but you have to go out there and keep trying until you do. It isn’t impossible. Good Luck!

  41. Methir
    Nov 11, 2010 @ 16:34:02

    Hi

    I’m been dancing for 5 years now as a leader and 5 months in London. Here’s what I’ve found out:-

    – my teachers when I was starting out made it clear that the dance was about connection. I figured out for myself that the connection with the other is dependent on the connection I have with me.
    – I’m glad I didn’t try to learn in the beginning in London. I think a learner leader needs iron nuts to survive here.
    – it’s good that there are lots of opportunities to dance. Part of the fun is to figure out who I want to learn with. So, I go everywhere once, and then decide. What the teacher is teaching needs to match where I am with my dance. But I’ve learned something from every class I’ve been to.
    – I dance for my partner’s pleasure. This only works if I have some sense of the person I’m dancing with. The classic English reserve, and reluctance to embrace (!) emotion works strongly against having a satisfying dance with many followers.
    – Students don’t seem very good at judging their own level of ability. It would be nice if the teacher would make it clear if a dancer wasn’t ready to be in a particular class. This would annoy some who would leave – that’s OK. In the end the teacher’s reputation would preceed them and they would benefit. I considered myself a beginner for 3 years. I now consider myself a competent intermediate. I’m OK with that.
    – classes before the milonga are maybe a bad choice. Classes before a reasonable practica are a really good choice. Hence The Dome on a Monday night is a great place to learn.
    – teachers who make you do the ‘boring’ bits first will probably deliver a more worthwhile lesson as they will be more committed to improving dancing overall. The Tango Club on Hop Lane does this. Romina and Leandro are very hot on this. In my opinion Romina and Leandro run the best classes I’ve ever been to – and I’ve been to lots.
    – to the subject of milongas in London. Very mixed indeed. I think the Crypt on Saturday night is pretty good. Carablanca is OK too. Only OK though. I’m going to try Milonga Bohemienne tonight which I’ve heard is friendly. I suppose friendliness is very important to me. A place full of self-important people are not going to dance on the floor taking me and my follower into account. There are a lot of clunky dancers out there and sometimes it’s hard to watch. Sometimes dancing defensively is the only option and that does take away a lot of the fun.
    — Outside London, the scene in Southampton is good, Brighton seems good, Cambridge is OK. The Eton tea dance held by Charles is elegant. Tango Mango and Tango Feast in Devon have much to commend them. Dancers from Bristol look good on the floor – I expect they are well served in Bristol.
    — The best dancing I’ve every experienced is at the Taboe Tango camp in the Netherlands twice a year. A week including food, lodging, tuition and milongas every night with people from all around Europe for 350 euros. That’s good. Check it out. It’s not for everyone, because it’s a kind of fusion between tango and an encounter group. Inspiring.

    So, I can’t say if the standard in London has fallen because I’ve not been around long enough. But I know it isn’t what I want, need, look for. But I’ll keep looking and keep dancing. I suppose the nature of the beast is that a new milonga will emerge that will meet the needs we express here.

    Oh, and mostly I find demo dancing in the middle of a milonga boring – mostly.

    Thanks

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