Being More Ocho


Another Saturday, another beginner’s group lesson at Tango Garden. Except today, a family emergency meant the teacher was unavailable. What was available was a class for ‘beginners+,’ a small but significant suffix I’d most definitely not yet earned.

But I was there, and Maral and Mariano seemed confident no-one would die. The goal, for those legitimately in possession of a plus sign, was a sequence of steps I couldn’t even hope to accurately describe, let alone imitate. Feet flashed and bodies whirled. It looked like an Olympic dressage event while I’d gone there for a seaside donkey ride …

But the two Ms of course broke the sequence down, on this occasion into three stages. I made various brave attempts at stage one. A side-step. An offset one, where the leader takes a medium step but leads a short one. A cross-walk. A change of feet. Another step. Then a pivot with a parada.

The pivots felt about as graceful as Mr Bean attempting a Swan Lake recital. As for the parada, I think my foot connected with that of a follower on perhaps two or three occasions out of about 30 attempts. Less para-da and more para-nyet.

But I realised that in focusing on the fiddly bits to come, I had entered a cross-walk without even thinking about it. My brain was so busy trying to remember how to do the next bit that my body was all ‘yeah, yeah, a cross-walk – don’t worry about that bit, I got it covered.’ Whereas just two weeks ago, when we were officially learning the entry to the cross-walk, my brain felt the need to get heavily involved.

And a switch of weight being the only difference between a parallel walk and a cross-walk also suddenly made sense. As did pausing to switch weight before setting off again on the same foot.

So despite managing less than a third of the material in the lesson, I’d learned a lot. Plus, for the bits I could actually do, my leading worked with every follower. After my recent tango crash, that too was a win.

I am, in fact, officially awarding myself a Be More Ocho sticker. I participated in a lesson well beyond my abilities, determined to take from it what I could get – and that turned out to be rather a lot.

Photo: Shutterstock

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