As there is no Tango in Eastbourne, I now have the time to finally learn Belly Dancing (see post in my other blog).  So far I have been to two classes, which have been more like a workout at the gym.  I will be organising a private lesson to get a better grip on technique.  I admit that after two classes I am totally hooked!

I wore tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt to my first lesson as the teacher said to wear something comfortable.  Everyone else wore leggings, harem pants, or a skirt with a cropped or wrap top and a jingly hip scarf.  So I ordered my hip scarf and teamed it up with a nicer pair of track suit bottoms and a brighter t-shirt for my second class.  Everyone else was dressed as before or more so.  One lady had an interesting tribal looking skirt with feathers in it.  I felt so overwhelmingly underdressed – like being the only person with clothes on at a nudist’s beach.

So, today I went to my local dancewear shop to purchase some comfortable clothes for belly dancing and to really get me into the mood.  I now have a pair of wide legged dance pants with a roll-down waist and a crop top with a frilly sleeve (both in black) and a red tank top.  My belly is set to be exposed along with the rest of them!  My hip scarf is purple, so I will have to buy another one in red to go with the red top.  🙂  There was a lovely purple chiffon skirt with sequins that would look lovely over a pair of leggings and would go with my scarf, but that will have to be another day!  Thank goodness I don’t have to buy shoes!  The upside to all of this spending is that I can use the pants for Tango as well as Salsa and Ceroc!

While trying on clothes, the saleslady and I had a conversation about the different garments we wear for each dance and the amount of money we spend on them.  A lot of my dance clothes came from various charity shops and I can happily say that I didn’t have to spend too much money to look good.

For Tango, I like to dress up.  Most of my Tango clothes are work clothes or going out clothes that can be doubled up as dance clothes.  These dual purpose skirts/dresses are elegant and yet allow my legs to move freely.  If I need a new dress or skirt, I always ask myself if I can Tango in them.  If I can’t then I don’t buy it.  I don’t have a lot of closet space, so my clothes need to be versatile.  When I wear my Tango clothes I feel very glam and elegant.

For Salsa and Ceroc, I like to dress down a bit.  By that, I mean I might wear jeans or a skirt with a funky, yet lightweight top.  Salsa is more energetic than Tango and I tend to glow.  It is easier to bring along a few spare tops when one is feeling the heat.  Because of the moisture issue, most of the tops I wear are very inexpensive so I don’t feel so bad if they get ruined and I have to dispose of them.  When I wear my Salsa/Ceroc clothes, I feel a bit wild and carefree.

When we don our dancing clothes we become transformed.  It is as if a switch is turned on in our brains and puts us in dance mode.  Like Clark Kent morphing into Superman we become the Superheroes of the dance world.  Even though we know that it really isn’t the clothes that make us good dancers (like go-faster stripes on a car doesn’t really make it go faster, really), if we look good we feel good, and that can give us that extra bit of confidence to relax and enjoy ourselves.

I know that buying new belly dancing gear will not make me a better dancer, but at least I will fit in with the rest of the group and that will really help me get into the spirit of things.  The fact that they are more comfortable than what I had worn previously will make a huge difference and might help me bring out my inner goddess!

So, what do you like to wear when dancing and how does it make you feel?

Ask Arlene…About my views on dancing to non-Tango music

What are your views on dancing tango to other than tango music (such as  swing, blues or zydeco)?
I enjoy dancing to most tango music (I have always felt a fraud with Piazzola and Pugliese!);  I find tango lends itself to improvisation and love dancing to more simple, regular rhythms.  I don’t understand most of the Spanish lyrics and love to interpret  Cole Porter and Van Morrison in tango.  Their songs  have a much stronger resonance for me.  I like taking a pause, which other dances don’t allow.
I need to persuade tango followers to come to Jitterbugs!


Dear Bob,

You must not have been reading my blog for very long, because if you had, and you knew me, you would know what a traditionalist I am and that I prefer a close embrace when it comes to dancing Tango.  Saying that, I have been known to dance large to ‘Tango inspired’ music, such as Gotan Project and the like.   I can’t for the life of me dance it in a close embrace.  However, I find those songs too long to enjoy dancing to and prefer to listen to that type of music.  I do not usually dance to Piazzolla or Pugliese for the same reasons and also because I cannot find a leader that can do the music justice (but mainly because the songs are too complicated and too long).  I have been known to dance large to Kevin Johansen, who has about three Tango inspired songs that I know of.  Other than that, I am not a big fan of dancing Argentine Tango to non-tango music and cannot remember ever having danced a Tango to any other contemporary music.

I also like to dance Salsa and Ceroc and really appreciate a Salsa break during a night of Tango dancing.  Sometimes at The Crypt they will do a  Salsa and Jive break.  Unfortunately, not many leaders that come to dance Tango do these other forms of dance and sometimes I am left on the sidelines for these breaks.  😦 When I went to Sevilla in 2008, they had a break of other Latin dances, which went down very well with the non-Tango dancers.

I can’t imagine dancing a Tango to a Salsa or a Jive to a Tango.  I think it all boils down to what came first, and that is usually the music and the dance evolved from that.  That is why we have different dance styles.  For me, I fell in love with Argentine Tango music and then the dance.  I have already had an issue at a Salsa venue where the DJ was playing mostly ‘Latin inspired’ music when there is a huge amount of authentic Salsa music available.  It turns out that the DJ has a Jive background.

I don’t think it really matters if you can understand Spanish in order to appreciate the music.  My Spanish is limited, but I have a feeling for the music, not the lyrics.  Listen to the music and let that guide your dance.  If you want to know the lyrics to certain songs, there are some websites on the internet that can give you translations. Planet Tango has translations of numerous Tango songs.  I have discovered that the music that moves me the most has very poignant lyrics.

I try to have a few different dance styles under my belt so I have something to do on my travels.  Also, there is no Tango in Eastbourne, so I am happy to Salsa and Ceroc just to keep my body moving.  It helps that I actually like Salsa music and Ceroc can be danced to pretty much anything, except Tango inspired music (I tried and it didn’t work for me).

There is an argument going on at the moment on one of the Tango group forums about playing non-Tango music at Milongas.  Personally, I really don’t like it when that happens.  It isn’t even ‘Tango-inspired’ music.  When I go to a Milonga, I want to dance to Tango music, preferably the older stuff.  When I go to dance salsa, I want to dance to salsa music.  When I go to Ceroc, I can expect to dance to anything, except I won’t dance to rap music.

I take it that Jitterbugs is a Jive evening.  I don’t know how you can persuade Tango dancers to go and dance to something else.  There is a group in Hove that has three rooms for dancing, one being dedicated to Tango music.  I haven’t gone to that yet so I can’t give an opinion.

So, that is what I think about dancing Tango to non-Tango music.  If anyone else has an opinion that isn’t rude or insulting, I welcome your comments.

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