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

And you thought that YOU were the worst dancer in the world ?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


After-class practica. The rythmic tango piece is calling for up-beat steps. But as my partner is the heavy-and-slow type, I'm finding it difficult to lead her without being too rude and without losing the beat either. While I'm keeping it simple it's more or less ok, but at some point I've exhausted all my simple sequences. It's getting clear that for the non-simple steps I'm intending I'll have to sacrifice something, either the music or the partner.
I choose to stay with the music, the woman misses the step, we have to stop.
Teacher comes: "- Pablo, you have to be aware of her reaction time. If you want her to be on the beat, you can't lead on the beat, you have to anticipate to give her enough time. It's your own fault if she can't follow you!"

It's always my fault.

posted by Pablo  # 5:26 AM (0) comments

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Yesterday's sequence was the enrosque de derecha, a kind of clockwise pivot on the left foot with the other foot circling, while the follower turns around us. I failed horribly, and blamed it on my partner, who always leans forward during the turns, thus pushing me and perturbing my axis. But after the teacher's yell, "Change partner!", my new follower, this time, was leaning backward during the turn, pulling me, and I still failed horribly. Probably it's all my own fault, because I can do reasonably well the enrosque de izquierda (same movement, but counter-clockwise), whoever the partner.
Still, I would like to try this sequence, just once, with a partner who keeps her axis during the turns. Not leaning forward or backward, just staying vertical.

posted by Pablo  # 1:47 AM (0) comments

Monday, January 17, 2005

Bad excuses 

Here I was yesterday at the milonga, listening to the DJ's tandas and waiting for the announced orchestra.
Sitting on my little chair in the middle of all these skilled social dancers, I was once again realizing that I was still very far from their level. Fortunately for me, nobody seemed to know me, so I could enjoy the music without fearing any invitation. The floor was very packed and all I can do in these sardine-can conditions is walks, giros, ochos, barridas, mixed with apologies to my partner or to other couples for bumping.

Finally the musicians (a quinteto) climbed on the stage and began to play.
At the beginning of the second song, a nice young blonde came to me:
"- Hi, Pablo, I remember dancing with you at teacher X's class. Shall we dance?"

Like in these movies where the hero dies and in a few seconds he remembers his whole life, an episode of my youth popped up. During a holiday in a mountain resort with my parents, a dance evening was organized. I was 18 or 19 and by then could not dance anything, but I had come anyway by lack of a better plan. First they played oldies, my parents danced something that maybe was social paso-doble, then some younger music came (new wave, as they called it) and I watched with anger and frustration all these boys who knew swing sequences and disco gesticulations. Then came the slow numbers, and one nice young blonde, remaining alone on the
floor, began to scan around. I had not anticipated this. It's not a shame to be unable to dance complicated things like swing or disco, but a slow number, everybody knows how to dance that, right? Wrong. I didn' know to. The exit door was on the opposite side, so standing up to go out was not an option as I should have had to walk through the dance floor. I tried to make myself as small as possible on my chair. Not small enough yet, the girl soon noticed me and extended her hand:
"- Shall we dance, Pablo?"
My parents were sitting behind me. I turned to them with a desperate look, hoping they would rescue me, but they misinterpreted my move, thought that I was asking for their permission and said something like "Of course Pablo, go, go!".

And I had to go for bad excuses.
"- Er...my shoes are inappropiate for dancing!"
"- Come on, it's not a contest. Come, it's such a nice song!"
"- Well, I don't like the Stones [it was Angie] very much, indeed it's precisely this particular group that I dislike the most, really it's impossible for me."
"Sure? Well, ok..."

Yesterday, my bad excuse was:
"- Oh, but the orchestra is playing! We're supposed to be just listening..."
"- Hey look, they're all dancing!
"- Well, they're all wrong. Really, it's impossible for me."
Here the guy sitting to my left stood up and without any word invited the blond damzel, avoiding her the embarrassment of a refusal.

However I do progress in some A.T fields: out of the four songs the orchestra played in this tanda, I identified three: Felicia, Gallo Ciego and Uno.

posted by Pablo  # 3:28 AM (0) comments

Thursday, January 06, 2005


I had noticed an A.T blog by a guy named Neil Liveakos (Atlanta, Georgia, United States), and had decided
to ignore, reject and despise it because Neil is politically involved on the Republican side. Yet I might change my mind, as he is currently posting about his BsAs trip (Who hasn't, by the way? Even I will probably do it when I'll be back from the CITA festival, in March). And in one of his reports

I found this:
Sylvia [a portena] asked how long I had been dancing. I said six years. She said that she didn't believe me. She said it felt more like six months.

To post something like this, this guy must not be only an arrogant, never-read-a-book, US-flag-in-the-pickup, beer-drinking, fat, the-whole-world-belongs-to-us minded, junk-food eater, utterly stupid US nerd. It seems he also has some ounces of honesty, courage and self-irony.

And as a foot-note, I'm not surprised by the other form of honesty displayed by the portena. They express themselves in a quite direct mode. I still remember how the only one I danced with in BsAs concluded after the tanda:
"It was difficult for me to stay with you, because I was always in the rythm, while you almost never were."

posted by Pablo  # 1:43 AM (0) comments


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