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

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

Monday, September 18, 2006

Damn tango moment 

I saw this in the A.T. section from a dance forum:

As I danced, I got tired, and basically took one of my regular partners, and just "Walked" to Vuelo al Sur. Lo and behold... It turned out to be one of the most beautiful dances I have ever done!!!
It was nothing fancy, no complicated footwork, no sacadas, no molinetes, no ganchos, no ochos... just walks. The connection was warm, firm and for the first time, I was able to reach my goal of "One body, four legs."

This reminded me of something I had heard about Canning: "the best dance takes place roughly one hour before the end, because people are tired."

So I tried to emulate. Knowing that one of my partners would be at a certain evening milonga I first exhausted myself in an afternoon milonga (using a half-dozen shirts in the process) before meeting her. As I've also read that a tango moment comes only in close embrace I tried to imagine and figure out how it would be like to dance close with her, and it looked like everything would be ok. She's smaller but just a little. As a salsa dancer she's light and thin, easy to move. She doesn't dance milonguero so I supposed she would not spill out on me if we'd get close, but would keep her axis.

When we met I told her I about my great idea, then waited for a quiet piece of music and invited her.
Well nothing special happened. We did our usual stuff (many attempts, some steps ok, many missed), I just found it all more difficult to lead because I was tired.

So, it did not work. No tango moment. Something must have been missing, maybe the follower has to be tired too.

posted by Pablo  # 8:05 AM (5) comments

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Question with a parameter. 

Here is an equation with a parameter:
x2 + nx + 1 = 0

n is a parameter. When it changes, the answer to the question "Is it possible to solve this?" changes too.
If n=0 or 1, there is no solution.
If n=2 there is one solution.
If n=3 n=4... there are two solutions.

And here is a tango question with a parameter:
Follower, just after the tanda: "And how long have you been learning tango?"
Me: "n years."
Follower: "Oh, I can't believe it!"

n is a parameter. When it changes, the meaning of the statement "Oh, I can't believe it!" changes too.
If n=0 or 1, it's a compliment.
If n=2 it can mean anything.
If n=3 n=4... it means you should be a better leader by now.

Yesterday I had to answer "three"...

posted by Pablo  # 4:07 AM (1) comments

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Half-time partner 

Midnight was coming soon, and my partner was worried because after my leaving she wanted to keep dancing but she was fearing a shortage of leaders. So just before wandering back in the night to the metro station I introduced her to a former tango classmate who had the opposite problem, having come without a partner, not knowing anybody and feeling unsure about making random invites.

We had talked a bit before. And after some chit-chat about teachers and classes he remained silent for a second and sighed:
"- Gaaaaaw, they're all dancing open here..."
"- Of course. Here there is all the space you want. When there is space, people dance open and make use of their legs."
"- But nooooo.... Some people like it close and small, whatever the available space!"

Yes, he dances milonguero. We have the same age, and started at the same time in the same beginners class, but the year after we chose different paths. He favours the smooth, dignified approach. He doesn't mind the contact with a woman, and neither repeating endlessly the same steps. We're not dancing on the same music either, that's why I left confidently, not fearing he could "steal" my partner. Even if she prefers to dance with him I will always remain a half-time partner at worst, as the pieces he will skip will be the ones I like to dance on. Pugliese? "Too many instruments", he says.

I thought that he and my partner would match well, as what she likes in tango is going to milongas every evening if she can, getting invited again and again and learning the dance... by dancing. I thought she would have a great time, as milonguero style is much easier than salon
(as stated by Mingo Pugliese, milonguero style was created by people who wanted to pick up babes but being unable to lead anything, found this If-I-squeeze-the-girl-she-has-to-follow hijack). So with the same amount of time a milonguero is necessarily more proficient in the art of squeezing than me in the art of leading.

Alas after a couple of days she sent me a mail...

"His style I'm not liking it at all, I felt I was clamped down by him and could not move. What I like in tango is variety, milonguero is boring."

posted by Pablo  # 6:38 AM (2) comments

Friday, September 01, 2006

End of summer... end of milongas 

Soon I'll be back to my beloved classes. I think I've found something for Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, still trying to fill the other evenings.

But yesterday, Summer was still on and I kept exploring milongas. Snapshots:

-) I forgot my book (2001 nights, not tango-related ) so all I had to read were the many flyers available at the entrance, announcing workshops and classes.

-) I took my dance shoes from my bag and put them. So what? Well it was my first time with these shoes, the snazzy ones from Buenos-Aires. They did a good job, I almost completed one tanda with them. I had left the snazzy suit at home. With the suit I can't raise my elbows, with the trousers I can hardly breathe and with the shoes I can hardly walk so the combination would have been over-ambitious.

-) Usually to invite I walk to the lady's table and extend my hand. Twice though, I could not approach close enough and had to use a distant inviting protocol. Instead of the cabeceo I used my left hand to do the "Me Tarzan, you Jane" thing and then my right hand to act like I was using an eggbeater. Well I bet any kind of gesticulation would work, in the context of a milonga.

-) One of the invited ladies remained stuck to her chair, glued by an old chewing-gum she had not noticed when she sat. By the time she cleaned everything, the tango piece I wanted to dance on was over.

-) After a series of dull valtzes the DJ played Sonar y nada mas, one of my favourites. Well, everyone's favourite. I was sweating a bit though, and not sure it would be pleasant for the lady to keep dancing.
"You don't have to if you don't want", I said while offering my hand.
"Oh yes I want to dance it, and I want to dance it with you!"
Minutes later I saw her chatting and laughing with a classmate of mine, and I understood she had been bribed to say that.

-) The trick I had noticed in Bs-As also works here: after dancing with me, a lady is quickly invited by a good leader. Like they feel they have to give her a compensation for the terribla tanda she had.

posted by Pablo  # 3:45 AM (3) comments

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