There is nobody here

2008, July 29

There were five milongas during the Sitges festival, I attended them all and danced slightly less than I did last year (3 tandas last year, 2 tandas this time), lightheartedly declining when invited.

Sometimes I feel a bit sorry when declining but not at Sitges where the festival milongas are invaded by enough full-time tangueros to keep all the ladies busy. This is another species of leaders, very different from me. They come for the festival but don’t attend any workshop. Before and after the festival milonga (from 22:00 to 2:00 this year) they find some place along the beach (in front of hotel Subur this year) and they keep dancing.

While they’re vastly superior to me on a dancefloor (who isn’t?) they also have their own limitations of course but the most experienced of them deal with it perfectly. “He leads nothing really but he stays around me and gives me all the freedom to do my stuff. If I go for out-of-axis he will hold me.”, a follower classmate explained me once about such a self-made tanguero, very popular here, who has been following this path for 25 years, “and once you get used to his way it is very enjoyable.” Leading less gives him plenty of time for adornos, piropos and so on.

When they are less experimented the limitations are more apparent of course. My friend Paul, once a classmate of mine, became attracted too, some years ago, by the Dark side of the Force. I saw him one week before Sitges, there was a workshop followed by a milonga, I came for the workshop, he came for the milonga and as he was quicker to put on his tango attire than I was to leave mine, I had a few minutes to watch him dancing. It was not really convincing yet. Side step, side step again (the other way), forward, one step around the lady, stop, one step around the lady (the other way), forward, side, stop, side, forward, around, stop and so on. The one fancy/choreographic/stage-only elementI saw was a parada during the stops.
It was not either the kind of simple steps for which the old, fat gentlemen of BsAs are praised by estilo-milonguero teachers, no, it was more more like manoeuvring your caddy when the supermarket’s alley is jammed with wooden pallets.

And he was at the festival too, I met him the second night. After the handshake he had a look at the dancefloor.
“There is nobody here.”
For me it was ok. Enough space to take one step (but not two) in any direction. But he was definitely worried.
“I hope more people will come dancing.”
He kept sitting as long as there weren’t enough dancers to justify his (lack of) vocabulary.
One hour later he was happy, inviting one lady after the other on the packed floor (packed by Sitges standard, not as Nino Bien can be; say, enough room for one step in two possible directions).

Well it’s a kind of modus tollens of the “no fancy stuff when there is no room” principle: no simple stuff where is room.


Not so clear

2008, July 24

With male teachers it’s usually all very clear. They show and explain something, I understand perfectly well and I can’t do it. It can be Nito Garcia showing a 720° enrosque, or Gabriel Angio a 1080° pivot, or Chicho leading a back lifted piernazo just by shifting his weight from his heels to his toes.

Now with female teachers. From time to time when I ask something the answer only brings more confusion.
For instance:

Question: How do I lead this part of the sequence?
“Like a volcada but without the out-of-axis”. (Corina de la R.)

Question: What is the title of this song?
“Go ask Mario [Consiglieri]. He will like it. He will feel he’s important.” (Cecilia de M.)

Question: Why do Nito and Elba always go to Gricel?
“There used to be a milonga named Almagro, where all the best dancers and teachers were going, and where no one was trying to impress the audience with fancy moves.” (Cecilia de M.)

Question: In this sequence I take a backward step, are you sure I won’t bump into another couple?
“L’uomo controlla lo spazio intorno alla coppia, ma non ha occhi dietro la testa se non quelli di lei, quindi occhi aperti entrambi e si evitano incidenti.” (Alejandra H.)
[We were in Spain, and the class was in english. Why in italian then?]

Of course, they can be very clear, when they want:

My taxi-dancer, calling the teacher:
“The guy wants you to check his lead. Kill him kill him kill him!” [The last part was in spanish.]

Another pupil who attends the same weekly class:
“Yes there are good leaders here, but you on the other hand, you have a distinctive style.”

An ex partner of mine, about a festival that we both attended.
“I guessed which classes you would choose, and signed for different ones.”

long long legs

2008, July 8

“Of course everybody has physical limitations and you can’t go beyond them”, the teacher explained during today’s private.

“I once saw in a video a nice leg wrap, all around the leader’s waist, I tried again and again to emulate it with my partner for a show, and got upset because I could not make it, until someone told me that this woman’s legs are 70 inches long. Mines are only 39 inches long, end of the story.”

I’d like to see this video too, because up to now the woman with whom I’ve danced and who had the longest legs is probably Lorena Ermocida and within 70 inches you have the whole Lorena, not only her legs.

Sitges forecast

2008, July 7


No, not the weather. The forecast is about the general level. It’s the last week to register and the site of the festival displays the classes that are full: beginners course, four classes, none is full ! medium level, 14 classes and 3 are full, medium-advanced level 15 full classes out of 21, advanced level 18 classes, 8 of them are full.

From this we can estimate the average level of people attending the 2008 edition of the Sitges tango festival:

Beginners 0%

medium 11%

medium-advanced 58%

advanced 31%

Impressive, isn’t it? That’s a very promising festival, with almost 90% of somehow advanced pupils. The not-advanced ones will have a difficult time. Maybe I should launch a club or something. The Clumsies. The not-so-goods. The ten percents. The so-so leaders.