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Get thee behind me…

By | Rant | No Comments

Please spare a compassionate thought for poor students in Tango lessons having to line up behind the teacher to follow them as they demonstrate a sequence. Stuck amongst a bunch of other students, with a view that’s more limited even than a UKIP supporter.  It’s no surprise that they don’t really have a clue what’s going on.

Just look at this photo of a Tango lesson in progress; no doubt the teacher loves himself, but what about the lovely people who have paid to be taught how to dance? Only one out of a group of over 14 students is actually doing what is being shown.  The rest are craning their necks and struggling to see, or just looking bemused and lost (like me when people start talking about ‘Game Of Thrones’).  They don’t really have a chance, do they.

And this photo is actually being used to advertise a Tango teacher #facepalm

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Talking the Walk

By | Rant | One Comment

Ahem, this might ruffle a few feathers, but it just has to be said.

We hear a lot about the importance of ‘The Tango Walk’ (‘TTW’).  Many lessons start with exercises explaining nuances of TTW according to the latest flavour.  This video is the latest example that I’ve seen; it is explained well and clearly, and professionally filmed.

TTW uses strong energy from the leaders core to create powerful travelling energy for the couple, with the follower extending their legs beyond their natural stride. The thing is (and it’s a BIG thing) that you’ll never walk like that at a Milonga.

Encouraging people to use powerful and extended forward strides is quite simply a recipe for disaster. Just look at how much space the couple are using.

Yes, there are elements that are important Tango dancing technique, but trying to perfect your TTW is a waste of time, as you’ll never get to use that technique unless one day you end up dancing on stage, or teaching Tango to people who don’t know better. If you use TTW at a popular Milonga you’re going to crash and collide with a lot of other dancers. Quite simply, it is dangerous and anti-social so it beats me why anyone would teach this to people who want to be able to dance at popular milongas with limited space.

But then I’ve never understood the appeal of cheese & onion crisps, either.

[Exits, stage right, with long, purposeful strides……]

Show dances at Milongas

By | Rant | No Comments

I go to milongas to socialise and dance. If I want to dance, then I can. If I want to rest and watch other people, then I can. It’s up to me.

But hold on, what’s this? The organiser has decided that everyone has got to stop dancing. It has gone quiet, the lights have come up, and someone has got hold of a microphone. Oh, good grief, it’s ‘show dance’ time. There follows 10 minutes of my life wasted whilst a couple prance around and try to show off.

Listen; if I want to watch couples dancing then I can sit and watch the other dancers all night long.

And if I want to watch choreographed dances that are only loosely connected to the salon-style Tango that I love then I can stay at home on the sofa and watch them on YouTube.

So I get kind of grumpy whenever there are show dances at a Milonga, and if you want to find me, look in the bar or the loos; I’ll be the one muttering to himself and checking his phone for messages from Kylie Minogue.

Nobody likes me – guess I’ll go eat worms

By | Rant | No Comments

Struggling to get dances?  It’s a familiar situation that everyone has experienced from time to time (yes, even the Tango Gods and Goddesses). But it seems to affect some dancers more than others.   And boy, do they like to grumble about it.  To anyone who’ll listen. Over and over.  Endlessly.

But hey, have you noticed that some people are dancing all night long, with lots of partners?  So it must be possible, right?  Instead of complaining, perhaps there are some people you should listen to. Some suggestions:

Your Tango teacher
People like to dance with good dancers, and they prefer not to dance with dancers who aren’t so good. Simples.

If you’re not getting asked to dance then could it just possibly be because you’re not nice to dance with?
How do you get better if nobody will dance with you?  Well, ahem, that’s what lessons are for; accept it and invest more in your learning.

How many lessons have you been to in the last month?  Have you had any private coaching?  Do you use practicas to actively work on improving your dancing? No? And you wonder why people don’t want to dance with you?  Durr….
If it’s still not working then try a different teacher.  There are plenty out there.

Your Optician
You do know about the Mirada & Cabeceo, don’t you? Perhaps some people are trying to ask you to dance and you just haven’t seen them?

Your Dentist
Personal hygiene issues will put dancers right off dancing with you again; sweaty clothes, body odours, clammy hands, or bad breath. Yes, it’s a fact for followers just as much as leaders.  There are some lovely followers out there that I’m reluctant to dance with because I don’t want my clothes to reek of their body odour for the rest of the evening, thanks very much.  Other dancers strangely don’t seem to have heard of toothpaste, floss, or mouthwash.   It’s a close embrace dance, folks; please have some consideration for your partners.

You
Still not getting dances?  How are you engaging with the room, and the other dancers? Are you friendly, chatty, pleasant, upbeat and receptive to approaches? Or looking like a serial killer planning their next attack? Please don’t just slump in a corner and scowl.  You can do that at home, for free.

What about the Organiser?
The event organiser has brought together the venue, the advertising, the DJ, the refreshments, the decorations, and taken a big risk on putting on the event.  A lot depends on them, but guaranteed dances is something they can’t organise; it’s something you’ve got to take ownership of for yourself. Please don’t whinge to the organiser if you haven’t danced much at their milonga; there’s nothing they can do about it, and it’s not their fault really, is it?

Note: Some organisers try to address the problem by balancing the numbers of leaders and followers.  Sure, it’ll help, but do you really want someone to dance with you just because there isn’t anyone else for them to ask? I didn’t think so. Unbalanced numbers are not the main cause of your problem, and balancing the numbers will just mask it temporarily.

Take a walk…

By | Rant | No Comments

Perhaps I need another cup of coffee to waken up my sluggish brain these days, or perhaps it has been dulled by watching too much ‘Top Gear’, but there’s something I’ve never really understood:

Why do some Tango lessons always start with solo exercises?

Yeah, I get that tango is essentially a shared walk. But it’s in an embrace, with the followers walking backwards a big part of the time. So why do these exercises involve walking alone, whilst our arms are held up ‘pretending’ to be in a tango embrace?

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Walking alone feels totally different to walking with a partner; the balance, energy, and movement are all changed. So it’s not very good preparation for walking with a partner. Why not try walking together, in a real embrace, in the direction we usually dance in?  Perhaps with the music?  Oh, hold on, that would be tango dancing.  Silly me.

But it does use up some lesson time, doesn’t it…