Tango: my life as a not so good leader -the sequel-

New kid on the block, part one

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Browsing the list (over 60 names) of our local teachers I noticed a new one and started to Google around to learn a bit more. I soon found the site. They were one teacher and two assistants. Their motto was, “Want to lose weight? Come onboard! [The class was taking place on a houseboat] We’ll use non-tango music to teach you tango nuevo. Free drinks.”

Free drinks, that was more than enough to convince me and two hours later I was walking along the river, scanning the houseboats. Once inside it looked capacious and empty because they were all at the bar. The lose weight part had attracted ten girls and the free drinks part twenty guys; not counting two milonga sharks who had come for the chicks and were now a bit worried by the shortage of them. They watched the class but did not take part.

Finally we had to leave the bar as the new teacher called us for the lesson. He was not an Argentine but at least he had a cool ponytail. He explained what the tango is:
What you can do with small steps, you can do with big steps.
What you can do to the left, you can do to the right.
The music is for your inspiration. Don’t worry about the rythm, there a plenty of instruments, there will always one that will play some note just when you’re taking a step.
Leaders forget your arms, all comes from the torso.
Leaders when taking a step, you can bring the woman with you, or send her into the opposite way.

Then he unveiled the three ways of taking a tango step (the Fluid, the Slow and the Lame), as well as the possible directions (side, forward)

And for the remaining of the hour we experimented these great rules of the tango. I barred all my previous knowledge and followed the teacher’s principles, all his principles, nothing but his principles. With true beginners I had no problems, we trotted forward like lame donkeys and slowly swam sideways like zen crabs. But with the girls who had already attended classes (with a different teacher), and with the two assistants it did not go too well. The things they knew (walking like a metronome, collecting their feet, keeping a vertical posture), prevented them from following my tahitian hip moves, or my quick stationary bouncings. Here the non-tango music did not help much the assistants. Explaining the tango compas on a Jerry Lee Lewis piece is a challenge. “Are you trying to lead a double-time? I can’t follow you! Slow down! Don’t wave your shoulders!” and so on, to which I kindly replied that I was doing what the teacher explicitly told us to do and that it was necessarily valid. And actually he came only once, to correct my abrazo. After he left and until the end of the class I kept holding my arms in the teacher-approved way, the left one bent and flabby (so flabby that the follower had to support the weight) and the right one extended and tense, with an iron grip on the follower’s left shoulder blade.

Forget about Gustavo and Fabian. This guy has worked out a completely new teaching system. He must be a genius. Hopefully he is. I’d like to see how his pupils will do after one year. Let’s hope they won’t get any other influence, won’t take any class with a more conservative teacher and will dance only between themselves.

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