The Tango Week in Review

Most of our assumptions have outlived their uselessness. Marshall McLuhan

Tuesday at Texas French Bread Milonga
with Glover Gill

Glover Gill at Texas French Bread Bakery's Tuesday Milonga

As always, I had so many wonderful dances with generous, gifted and warm-hearted tangueros at TFB. What is it about that place that brings such a beautiful feeling? I was in a state of joy from just about beginning to end.

A tall tanguero arrived from out of town. We had danced before, but I was a little bit greener then. (Okay, I'm still green...) I couldn't quite remember - did we dance close? Was I still keeping my distance then? Seems like ages ago . . .

He asked with a nod, and I accepted.
At the edge of the crowded dance floor, he offered his close embrace. I wonder if he noticed I was relieved. The music started and in a moment I found it - the sweet spot on his chest. I could hear the music through him. Even the crazy Santana piece later. (Things get a little wild toward the end of TFB's milongas.)
I think I closed my eyes and just grinned against his shoulder.
No translating, no analyzing, no working it out, no trying to dance - just there, dancing.

This, I thought to myself, is why I dance close embrace . . .

To know that I can go to milongas all over the world, dance with strangers and old friends alike, and within moments, be held like this. It doesn't happen every time. It doesn't even happen at every milonga. But the fact that it can happen at all, is a gorgeous-freaking-miracle.

You know what they say about assumptions . . .

And speaking of close embrace . . . There are a few tangueros who are very skilled, graceful, and musical dancers who I still tend to shy away from because I never see them dancing close. If I only see a leader dancing big, flashy moves, I'll tend to avoid eye contact. Some of that is a preference of style and some of it, if I'm completely honest, is my own lack of skill. There was one such tanguero at TFB on Tuesday.

This time, as luck would have it, I didn't get the chance to more closely examine my shoe strap before accidentally-sort-of-on-purpose meeting his cabeceo. Without thinking, I asked him, "you have seen me dance right?" Maybe he had me confused with someone else? Which was really my (poorly worded way) of trying to say, "I don't know how to do 90% of the things I've seen you lead!" The latter sounded sort of panicky, so I went with the first one. He chuckled and said "of course I've seen you dance, what kind of question is that?" All I could do was shrug.

We got to the edge of the dance floor and I suddenly found myself in close embrace for an entire lovely tanda. Holy-Mackerel-Heavens-to-Betsy. If I had a blackboard, I would write on it 100 times,

"I will not make assumptions about other dancers."

I know in a milonga setting, we have little else to go on but what a dancer looks like on the pista. But I also know that I've been surprised before. I should have known better.

Lesson learned.

Texas French Bread's milonga is always good, but by the time I finally sat back down at my table, my facial expression could easily have been confused for this, except not fake.


Friday night had no tango events. It was a very sad, long night. Boo. :-(

Saturday at Esquina Tango, with Austin Piazzolla Quintet, featuring the fabulous Daniela Ruiz.

Just some thoughts about dancing to Piazzolla, performed live.

1. It's incredibly beautiful music, but my brain hurts after a night of that. I can't imagine how crazy hard it must be to lead this!
2. Cohesive flow on the dance floor in a room full of dancers trying to coordinate themselves to difficult music played in somewhat unfamiliar arrangements - pretty much impossible. Surprisingly, it still went fairly smoothly. Bumpy - but not disastrous. There were only two incidents that were real issues, which leads me to the following:
2a.) [RANT] If you are a leader and you kick the follower behind you (or anyone, really), you bloody well stop and apologize. The only time I got kicked all evening, and it was by a leader who didn't even seem to notice. [/RANT]
2b.) When the music is particularly challenging, and the floor is particularly crowded, please have your 4-person conversation away from the line of dance. kthxbai.
3. If the music is difficult, please don't speed up - slow down. What is it about really challenging music inspiring this need to dance faster and faster?
4. After a couple of hours of dancing to Piazzolla, even Pugliese feels easy in comparison. Of course that was about 1am, and I might not have been at my best to judge the difficulty of anything at that point.
5. Dancing to Piazzolla also apparently makes my brain so melty, that I dance until 2:30am at a milonga that was supposed to end at 1am, without noticing.

Sunday's Practica at Tapestry Dance Studio. . .

First, aerial lifts to Poema? Really? Really?? ::double facepalm::

Anyway . .

While other followers have been taking classes in colgadas, volcadas, soltadas and all the other fun -adas, I've been under rock, coming out occasionally to take privates that only focus on the most basic things - walking, embrace, music. I've narrowed the scope hoping that constantly working that foundation will make everything else easier later. But I've missed out on a lot of vocabulary in the process.

I know the theory is that if the follower is "truly following", she should be able to follow anything that a leader leads, if he leads it correctly. But the follower has to know what possibilities exist. And that requires building a bit more than a basic vocabulary of steps and movements.

For example, open (and flexible) embrace volcadas. (You can see a few examples here.) I honestly had no idea such things existed. I still don't understand the "why" of them, but I have a better idea of the "how". The technique and posture are different than close embrace volcadas, and for now, are a little less comfortable for me. I couldn't follow them initially, because it felt like a move gone wrong. I expected more full-on chest connection if I'm going to be pulled off my axis, and apparently that's not required. They're pretty moves, and I can see why they're appealing. They're easy to turn into/lead into all sorts of other pretty things. But they they just don't have the swooshy/weee/*giggle* ( <-- highly technical term) feel that close embrace volcadas have.

Practicalities/Things to work on

I'm still not keeping my abdominal muscles as strong as I need to, or rather the effort is still inconsistent. It's also much harder the higher the heel I wear. Back to Pilates training.

I got to practice walking forward a bit more, this time circular - walking (in close embrace) around my leader. Halting and hesitant at first, when it finally came together though, I loved it.

Think of the magic of that foot, comparatively small, upon which your whole weight rests. It's a miracle, and the dance is a celebration of that miracle. -- Martha Graham

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