I Gave My First Tango Lesson

No, I have not suddenly become a ‘teacher’.  That would be a bit hypocritical of me, so let’s not go down that road.  After months of hints, I gave in and gave my man a Tango Lesson.  In the kitchen.

Things came to a head last week when we went to a Tea Dance in Eastbourne, where I now live.  The details stated that beginners were welcome.   My man had danced ballroom in his early teens before he joined the Air Force.  How difficult could it be?  It was like riding a bike, surely?  Well, let’s just say that it was very interesting and we weren’t the youngest people there.  I didn’t know you could do sequence ballroom dancing.  I have never done any ballroom dancing, but I can follow in Tango.  Could dancing ballroom be that difficult?  Well, only if you have a leader who forgot what he learned those many years ago.  While trying a waltz, which we were not quite getting the hang of, I resorted to Tango Tactics – the premise being that if you can walk, you can dance Tango.  However, in this case it was if you could walk, you could waltz.  So I stepped back into an open hold, and started to lead my partner into a walking waltz  – all in time to the music.  We ended up dancing without looking like complete idiots. 🙂

After that, we watched people doing all of the different dances: Rumba, Waltz, Foxtrot and Ballroom Tango.  That last one made me cringe a little bit.  I couldn’t bear to stay and watch them dance Argentine Tango, especially after the people at our table thought that the AT on Strictly Come Dancing was really amazing.  It was, but not in a good way.

After the mad rush for the tea and biscuits (I never knew old people could move so fast!), we called it an afternoon, but not before giving my details to the nice couple at our table who were going to give me some numbers to call for ballroom lessons.   Not ever having done ballroom dancing, and being impressed with the many elderly people who were doing it, I think it might be a good idea to try something new this year.

So, what does Ballroom dancing have to do with giving a Tango Lesson you may ask?  Well, nothing, except that my man wants to dance with me.  He will learn any dance just to be able to dance with me.  Oh, and he does dance, just not couples dancing (not since school).  He isn’t shy about dancing.  Put on any Motown or rock and roll track and he will be up dancing and singing with the best of them.  He has a great sense of musicality and timing.  So, after the tea dance, while we were walking on the Promenade, my man asked me for a Tango Lesson.  He felt badly about not being able to lead me around the dance floor.  And that is just what I did.

So, working on the premise that if you can walk, you can dance Tango, we walked/danced around my kitchen to DiSarli (A La Gran Muñeca).  At this point I could care less if you like my choice of artist (or song) to dance to, but it worked for us.  I also like DiSarli.  In fact, I like most Tango music, except for Hugo Diaz.  Not crazy about the harmonica, but I digress.   We listened to the song so my partner could get a feel for the music.  Then I explained posture and showed him how to walk in a Tango way.  I went in for a close embrace.  In this case I think it is better to start as you mean to carry on.  We walked around the room experiencing shift changes in balance before I put the music back on.  Then we walked, in time, to the music.  That’s it.  It was one of the nicest dances I have had in a long time.  I am no stranger to dancing with beginners.  I just can’t stand dancing with beginners that try to do tricky moves or that don’t listen to the music.

So that was the first Tango Lesson I ever gave, and it won’t be the last, for my partner.  I won’t be branching out and teaching others to dance.  That isn’t my thing.  Walking the Tango is just a start.  The rest is up to my man.  He will need to listen to hours of Tango music (which I have) in order to get a feel for it and know the songs.  It is fortunate he likes the music.  He will most likely watch videos on Youtube.  He knows how I feel about that, so I might have to educate him in this area.  It will be a while before we get to a Milonga, but in the meantime we have the kitchen floor to dance on.  Nothing like dancing in a small space, kinda like in a Milonga.  Start as you mean to carry on!

Happy Dancing Everyone!

I’m Not Dancing Much These Days

I have written a little bit about how I came to Tango on my About Me page, and over the years I have had a lot to say about it and my dancing experiences.  I started cutting down on my dancing long before I moved to Eastbourne.  People come and go in Tango for many reasons.  I never really left, just put it on hold.  If I was living in London right now, I would be dancing regularly, even if it was only just once a week.  After all the years of going out nearly every night, it can get dull seeing the same faces night after night and having the same experiences. I used to do other things for a few weeks and then come back to it.   I like variety.  I know many women that would do the same thing.   However, I am a terrible traveller for Tango.  I would never consider going abroad for a Tango festival.  I would, however, consider going to a milonga in a town I happened to be visiting or I would consider visiting a city knowing that there would be some Tango there – like Berlin, or Sevilla, or Paris, or Roma, or any other city I was interested in visiting.   I wouldn’t go to a place just for Tango.

There is Tango in Brighton and Hove.  I can’t be asked to drive there for Tango.  It isn’t the same type of driving as London driving.  I would rather stay in Eastbourne and dance Salsa or Ceroc.  I am not committed enough to set up any Tango here, though I would really be happy to help out if someone else wanted to do it.  As long as they aren’t hacks.

Tango used to fill a void, but as my life has changed other things have been replacing Tango.  However, I really do miss a close Tango embrace sometimes – especially when I listen to some of my favourite Tango music.  At least I still have the music, which is where it all started for me anyway.

If I am not writing about Tango, it’s because I am not out there dancing, not because I don’t have anything to say about it.  I still read blogs and keep up to date with what is happening in London.  There is a lot happening in London, some good and some, eh.  At least you all have choices.  I try to list all the milongas.  There are new ones popping up all the time that I can barely keep up with them.  Some have done the distance and have been around for years, and then some disappear after a couple of months.  Personally, I think we have too many.

Same thought for the teachers.  Easy come and easy go, and some don’t know what they are doing.  We have so many visiting Maestros.  Who are these people?!!!  Maybe my age is showing, but my understanding of a Master is one who has spent nearly a lifetime perfecting a craft.  I am not saying that these visiting teachers are not good dancers or teachers, but Maestros?, puhleeze!  Besides, how can one perfect Tango?  It is supposed to be a dance of improvisation.  It comes from us, from within.  Nobody can teach you that.  You can only be taught the basics, the rest is up to you.

Then we have the demonstrations from these so-called Maestros.  I have to admit that when I first started out, I was very impressed by the back to the head kicks, the ganchos, the jumps, etc.  But that is not real Tango.  That stuff gives people the wrong idea about what Tango is all about.  Just look at all the Tango shows and stuff you see on TV.  I am not saying that these people are not skilled or talented, merely that they are not portraying real social dancing.  I prefer to see people dance beautifully and give me something I could actually aspire to, not the showy acrobatics.  I also don’t want to have to pay extra to see it either.  If I want to see a show, I will go to one.  I want to dance at a milonga and not spend extra money watching people doing stuff I would never to on a dance floor when I could actually be dancing.  As I said earlier, I am not dancing much these days, so when I do go out, I want to make the most of it.

Until I do manage a close embrace in The Tango Way, enjoy yourselves people and have a dance for me.  If you have anything you want to say or need help with, just send me a comment and I will see what I can do.

Happy Dancing! 🙂

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