Sometimes your tango doesn’t suck

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Today was the beginner’s group lesson at Tango Garden. It was supposed to be on the ocho, but turned out not to be as there were several people there for their very first lesson, so we instead just did the walk. But practicing the walk with a partner never hurts, and it was actually a great confidence boost to successfully lead two first timers.

Steph, Brigitta and I went back later for the milonga. The plan was they would dance in the main room, and I would occasionally drag them into the practice room.

Steph had other ideas, and I found myself dancing one tanda in the milonga …

Much of the time was simply spent doing rock-steps as a means of turning while waiting for space to walk a little – but as both Steph and Brigitta observed, learning to navigate on the floor is as vital a skill as anything else. And that too proved a confidence-builder: I am definitely counting twelve minutes on a very crowded floor without bumping into anyone as a tango achievement unlocked.

When Brigitta took me out onto the floor last time, it seemed a pretty crazy idea, especially as Steph did three months of regular lessons before going to her first milonga. But I actually think it’s a really good idea to get a taste of the pista early on. The first time did feel like complete madness, but it was already feeling less intimidating.

Brigitta offered to dance with me in the practice room, and asked what I wanted to do. I decided that what I most wanted was simply to walk, without trying to learn anything new. Just enjoy the experience.

That idea failed. The ‘not learning anything new’ part, I mean; I definitely enjoyed it. Brigitta gave me some great feedback on my embrace, and I could really feel the difference. We even tried an alternative approach to <quiet voice>an ocho</qv>. Which miraculously worked! I tried it with Steph afterwards, and it still worked. Bloody hell! Then Brigitta showed how you could effectively do a walking ocho (walking forward with the follower doing an ocho movement), and unbelievably I was able to do that too! (I’m British; I scarcely use three exclamation marks a year, and here I am using as many in one paragraph. That’s how happy I am about this.)

I was also using the approach Mariano taught me last time to turn while walking, and that too worked well. Sometimes your tango sucks, and hey, sometimes it doesn’t!

Damn, now I’m borrowing exclamation marks from my 2019 supply. I’d better end this piece before I get further into debt. But today was a good day.

Photo: Shutterstock

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