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

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

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The end 

Well it had to end one day...

One reason is a technical one: blogger.com tm forces me to "upgrade" if I want to keep posting.

But the main reason is simpler: after four years I don't qualify any more as a beginner. Today I'm just another leader, rather worse than the average. There won't be major discoveries for me now. No hidden maestro, style, composer or Bs-As barrio to unveil. Tango is a small world and while the dance is difficult to master, the meta-dance, all the stuff that gravitates around the dance, takes little time before you get familiar with it. Even being introduced to the living legends is not that difficult, soon you know them enough to walk their dog or watch soccer on TV with them.

Sure it's still possible to post little stories or anecdotes here, such as "How I danced for tourists at San Telmo" or "yet another partner quits classes", but what's the point? That would just be procrastination. Browsing the archives I saw that as time went by the posts lost in frequency, quality and length.

Oh yes, maybe I'll post a last something about "Why we move counter-clockwise: the ultimate secret". Yeah I've solved it. Maybe.

posted by Pablo  # 4:04 AM (4) comments

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Keeping the dance-floor free of tourists, part two 

This time we invaded Los Mareados, a brand-new milonga in Junin street. Small place, and we easily outnumbered the locals. Once the demos and the traseo ended, the host used three additional tricks to keep us at range. First, the never-ending speech, thanking just everyone he could think of ("And the pictures on the wall are by my great friend X..."). Then, a couple of feliz cumpleanos. Now, the problem was that neither the locals could dance. So the imaginative host asked the DJ to play a tanda of chacareras. Locals can dance this, but not tourists. By the way it allowed us to detect another group of tourists, much smaller though, in the opposite corner of the milonga.

It´s been raining for two days here. We had scheduled to attend an outside milonga tonight, but we may have to find a plan B. Damn weather, it seems that even the argentine gods want to keep us away from the dance floors...

posted by Pablo  # 11:40 AM (0) comments

Friday, February 16, 2007

Too much show kills the show 

Here I am again, duly spending my pesos in Bs-As, as part of a 32-people group. Talk about a huge group. I am the 32nd by the way, having been sollicited by an organizer worried about his odd, unbalanced group of 31 dancers.

Tanguedios was the milonga we invaded yesterday. The relief when we left, at about 2:00, was perceptible and while going down the stairs to the exit we could hear a joyful tanda of waltzes beginning.

But before that, we were treated, between 24:00 and 2:00, with no less than eight demos by three different couples. Nothing especially good, though they were locals ; and old. Dancing on the beat but ignoring the melody, the themes (or maybe the fantasia part of a piece actually has to be danced the same way as the adagio part, maybe all this fuss about themes is only for export).

Even if the shows had been good, eight was a bit excessive. Oh and there was a traseo of course. My bet is that when they see foreigners they want to keep them away from the floor as much as possible.

posted by Pablo  # 10:14 AM (0) comments

Monday, February 05, 2007

Who cares about level. 

Friday, still training for the forthcoming trip, I went to a small and crowded milonga where my tuesday partner usually goes, and we played Bs-As. The patterns weren't especially ambitious or sharp, but the "I take care of my follower" part went reasonably well.

In any case it was a better training session than two days before, in another place and with another partner, who is not used to dancing blinfold (plus, it was a large floor and we were hardly 6 couples there so it took a lot of imagination to pretend we were at, say, Canning).

But Friday, yes, I could dream I was at El Beso when half of the dancers are tourists like me. Judging from the many smiles she was sending all around, my follower was actually a regular here. As for me I hardly knew anybody, except a few teachers. One of them came to me while
I was at the bar, having a pineapple juice. ("No beer" is part of the training. Getting fit, somehow)
" Your girlfriend is quite pretty, maybe you'll let me have a few dances with her."
" Errr not sure she'll be good enough, her tango level is very far from yours..."
" Level? Who cares about level?"

posted by Pablo  # 3:17 AM (1) comments

Monday, January 29, 2007

Preparing for Bs-As 

Grrr my CITA group collapsed and there is no time to find another. Instead I signed for a non-CITA tour. I'm trying to fill every free slot with extra private classes of course, but
nevertheless I think it will be a low-expectations, easy-going trip. Only twelve classes are scheduled in as many days, and it won't be sharp classes either, more along the lines of "revisiting the basics". Well, I'll take it easy. Maybe naps in the afternoons, it would give me a chance to stay awake later in the milongas.

Which clothes?
The snazzy suit won't come. Cashmere is nice but February is hot in BsAs. Plus, it would need some ironing after the plane travel, and I don't exactly trust the portena laudries, I've seen how they turned a green shirt of mine into a brown rag.

Which shoes?
The snazzy shoes won't come either (among the snazzy family, only the watch will do the trip.), it's been hardly one year, I don't feel comfortable with them yet. I'll pack one classical pair (Villaroel) and the sneakers.

One of my partners is also packing her shoes. Different plane, different schedule, but February too. So yesterday we "played Bs-As": she comes in close embrace, closes her eyes and I have to take care of her while we're dancing. If for any reason she opens her eyes then I lose. I lost after eleven seconds, and the place was not particularly crowded.

One against the mosquitoes. One against the sun. Two nautic days are scheduled. El Tigre, and the buquebus to Colonia. This is what is great when travelling within a group, you're doing things you would never choose to do. For the first time in four trips I'll bring my sunglasses and my swimsuit. Me in a swimsuit. Horresco referens.

posted by Pablo  # 4:00 AM (0) comments

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Time for bed grandpa, and take your pills 

Near the second third of the AT class my partner gently told me "Maybe it's time for a pause, Pablo. Have a seat for a few minutes. D'you want a glass of water?".

The pause was only intended for me of course. While I was recovering my stamina, my fifteen years younger partner took advantage of the floor, the mirror, and the lack of a leader to rehearse her salsa shines.

Not sure I've understood what salsa shines are, (old age damages the brain too, not only the body) it may be a series of steps done by a dancer on her/his own, without taking care of what the partner does. To the non-salsero old little me it looked like tap-dance without the tapping. Or quick disco.

posted by Pablo  # 2:09 AM (1) comments

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


An easy little quiz; Here are words that I heard during one class or another. A famous teacher is talking to (or about) his partner.
the line-up: Carlos Gavito, Osvaldo Zotto, Sebastian Arce, Gustavo Naveira.
Who said what?

"They're pupils, they have the right to make mistakes. But you, I pay you to dance well."

[leaving a message on the cell phone] "Ok I don't know where you are or what you're doing, but I know it's 6 o'clock and
Pablo is here and I am here and you're not here. So if you happen to be doing some shopping, then maybe you may consider buying a watch!"

"Pay attention pupils, and you too, Maria."

[talking to pupils while demonstrating the steps] "She cannot do the pattern just like that, I have first to walk her for a while, to make her sleep, like a baby."

posted by Pablo  # 6:45 AM (2) comments


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