Endless ochos of the useful kind, and the social in social dancing

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I’ve mentioned before the ‘endless ocho’ issue I’ve encountered, where I either fail to lead an exit, or followers go onto auto-pilot, or some combination of the two.

I think Diego gave me a solution that should work regardless of the cause, but tonight I got to enjoy endless ochos of the useful variety …

Having ducked out of the Monday evening beginner and intermediate classes to attend Follower’s Liberation, I went to the Thursday evening beginner’s class to get some more ocho practice.

We of course did the usual walking start, and in one change of partner I got a woman who was there for her very first lesson. I made it my mission to give her the clearest possible lead so she would have a good experience. I focused on using the ‘about to start,’ ‘now we’re starting,’ ‘about to stop’ and ‘now we’re stopping’ signals that have been emphasised by … actually, every teacher, now that I think of it. Because we were just walking and pausing, walking and pausing, I was able to bring most of my attention to the signalling, and it really seemed to work well.

The focus of the lesson was the back ocho, and we did many repetitions in each round, which was exactly what I want with all of this stuff. Practice, practice, practice.

Because there was nothing new for me to learn in the way of steps, I could focus all of my attention on technique, and it felt good with all my followers.

As everything was going well, and we were getting hemmed in at one point (it was a very busy class), I decided to try to kill two birds with one stone: attempt some walking ochos, and manoeuvre us to some clear floor space. That also worked well – the first time I’ve really used walking ochos!

The whole thing is really funny. It took me a ridiculous amount of time to get the hang of ochos, and they now seem very straightforward (though I can of course spend forever improving my technique). But even after ochos finally clicked, walking ochos felt like some more advanced next step – but now feel like the most minor of variations.

The ‘social’ in social dancing

After the lesson, it was time for the monthly Tango Space drinks, now at a new pub with a larger reserved space.

I had a great evening chatting with both regulars from my classes and other students I was meeting for the first time. I also had a lovely conversation with Hamdi and Amy, who were teaching tonight’s class.

One of the things I’m very conscious of in writing this blog are the boundaries between the public and the private. I can’t write the blog without sharing the details of my lessons, but I aim to keep things anonymous in terms of my fellow students and other dance partners. Similarly, pub conversation is for the pub.

But I did have a very enjoyable evening, and it really underlined what I wrote before about the strength of group lessons in the group/private mix. I’ve found my tribe.

Image: Shutterstock

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