Tango über alles

2007, October 8

This Friday practise is not a well-known one. It’s organized by our Thursday teachers and nobody outside their pupils
ever comes here. Maybe because it starts and ends early. Maybe because there are other places in town with better dancers.

I had come with the hope to maybe find my partner but she wasn’t there, so I just sat on the first chair I saw, waiting for the predictable assault of undesirable followers, the ones who know that if you’re not inviting them then you’re probably not wanting to dance with them but who still come to you because it’s either that or not dancing at all. Three of them came so I had my three bad tandas.
It’s not only the lack of balance or dissociation, it’s also the unability to process the data flow. Like connecting the comp to a printer without enough buffer. You want to lead something but they’re not receptive because they’re still trying to figure out what was the #n-1 thing you led.

The practise was a two-hour one, I had come late, all in all after dancing with the three ladies and having a few drinks at the bar the end was already near. I had a look at the people. There is a discovery class just before, so unsurprisingly one half of the attendance are beginners, the other half being people like me – and like the three ladies who had invited me – from the Thursday intermediate class.

And I saw two unknown girls. Assuming that they were from the beginner
class I decided to bring my evening of bad tandas to completion by inviting one of them. Her embrace was cautious but not tense. I began with a square box. Fine. A pause. Ok. Let’s try a cross then. Can do. Barrida, amague, nice. Linear back boleo? Sure. The heel did not venture too high, not trying to hit the moon but she acknowledged the lead. Ok, this one is not a beginner, the perspicacious me thought. Obviously she wasn’t summoning all her skills to follow. Keeping her energy for one milonga or two after this practise.

The tanda ended, the practise too and the mystery as well when I heard the girl chatting with her friend. Two german Frauleins.

This is one big difference with our town and Buenos-aires. when a foreigner comes here we can safely assume that his/her tango is better than ours.

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Gender balance stats

2007, October 3

Autumn is here, and my followers have chosen the classes that I will attend. But the respective teachers are still on holiday/tour so I took advantage of the free time to explore the classes given by the other teachers in town, or at least by the ones who were still unknown to me.

This included discovery classes. Clapping my hands on the beat, walking alone, being skipped by the ladies when the teacher asked to trade partners, it all felt exactly like when I actually started.
While I was there I took note of the gender balance, to check whether my theory (leaders vastly outnumber followers in classes) was any better than the mainstream theory (followers vastly outnumber leaders in classes). So in roughly 15 days I attended as many classes with as many teachers, except one day when I thought there would be a class because it was organized by an A.T teacher and some people were dancing but it turned out that it was just a warm-up before an orchestra made a live performance.

Here are the figures:

Monday: four lone followers
Tuesday: balanced
Wednesday: three lone leaders
Friday: balanced
Saturday: balanced (but well, it was a couple-only class)
Sunday: one lone leader
Monday: my mistake, I thought it was an A.T class but a live concert (two guitars, one bass) took place instead
Tuesday: seven lone followers
Wednesday: balanced
Thursday: two lone followers
Friday: four lone leaders
Saturday: one lone follower
Sunday: balanced (but it was a couple-only workshop)
Tuesday: balanced (but it was a couple-only class)

The grand total shows a lack of leaders, but it’s mainly because of the tuesday class with seven more girls, and a teacher who recruits in milongas. “You liked dancing with me? You will love my classes!”

Sitges snapshots

2007, August 3

“Are you regular dance partners?” Pablo Pugliese
My partner: “<sighs> yes… <sighs again>”
(Pablo Pugliese here promptly took my partner from my arms and danced the sequence with her for a few minutes, to comfort her.)

“Your lead is very good!” Alejandra Hobert
Lies. I felt how she was struggling to keep her balance while I was leading the boleos.

“Your musicality in vals is wonderful.” Elba
The polite way to say that my technique sucks.

“It’s an advanced class, you know!” Nito
My excuse is, if I had known that we would do 360° enrosques as a warm-up I would have chosen better shoes than my Sanshas.

“We’ll change of course”. My partner at he beginning of the class.
She had seen a lone leader and, even without knowing him, figured that he would in any case be better than me. She never changed back, of course.

A long tango day

2007, July 2

Stiff neck… and which felt longer because of a light case of stiff neck; I must have slept in a bad position. The pain was (and still is) located somewhere between the neck and the left shoulder. As a result I couldn’t move my head, and many moves inolving the left arm were painful too.

But well the summer tango festival was on and I had signed for three classes so I just went, stiff neck or not. The first class was ok, at some point the female teacher came to me and asked “You’re here as an assistant, aren’t you?”. I wasn’t but I felt flattered, until I remembered that the class was not an advanced one and it may have surprised her to see me here despite all my years of learning.

The second class was about ganchos, with all the work done by the follower while I was just supposed to stand still, which suited me perfectly.

The third class of the afternoon though, seemed longer to me than the 90 minutes it actually lasted. Milonga class, with quick changes of direction that reminded me every other second of my stiff neck. My partner, unlike me, was still full of stamina (I had attended the first two classes with another partner) and took me to our regular teacher’s practise. It was actually a kind of trap; I should have understood when I saw her leaving the practise before time but I did not; I should have understood when the teacher asked me to try and dance with his partner but I did’nt either. I should have understood when I heared other pupils talking about a demo at the dance studio this night, but I didn’t.

We performed around midnight, after the belly dance and swing demos. I tried to remain hidden behind the other couples as much as I could. Hmmm, I bet that the onlookers will sign up for belly dancing or swing rather than tango, next year.

Ruining a follower

2007, April 27

I don’t know what went wrong with Sophie“, the teacher said. “In two years, attending my class once or twice a week, she had become a fine, well-educated follower. And in hardly four months she has lost everything, she can’t do turns, she’s not on the beat, she ignores the lead…

For the last four months Sophie has been taking this class with me as a partner.