I will never understand tango

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I said that I was prepared for a disappointment after last week’s amazing milonga, and I think if things had been terrible this week, I’d have shrugged and figured that tomorrow’s another day.

Instead, it was just puzzling …

The evening kicked off with the improver’s class. We spent most of the time working on forward ocho technique, initially in an open embrace and then in close embrace.

Most of the time that was working well. I felt like my technique was at least marginally better, with a little more frame and a little less cheating in the feet.

And while last night’s improver figure had left me bamboozled, I did actually manage a very rough-and-ready version of tonight’s one. It was a forward ocho into a sacada while opening to the right and pivoting around my follower to meet her. I did feel that another half an hour’s worth of practice might have taken it to the point where I might have risked it in a milonga, at least with one of my classmates.

Ah yes, the milonga.

The first tanda was promised to a beginner follower from yesterday’s class, who’d never danced in a milonga before. That was an interesting experience, as – having very recently reached the point where I felt I had enough vocabulary to be able to cope when the ronda wasn’t moving – I was suddenly with a follower who didn’t share it.

Just to add to the fun, we were stuck behind a couple from the intermediate class who clearly wanted to practice the moves they’d just learned. They were not only not moving at all, despite a vast space ahead of them, but they were stopping to discuss their progress – while stood in the same spot – and then giving it another go, still without moving forward. There was a crowded inner lane too, so overtaking them wasn’t an option.

So, I did a mix of rebounds while slowly turning, and ochos, but my follower clearly didn’t care or was oblivious to the situation. It was musical, she could follow what I was doing, and was really happy to have had her first tanda in a milonga. And, the navigation frustration aside, I enjoyed it too.

I then danced a vals tanda with, as it happened, one of my followers from last week, M1. So, I love vals; we’d both just come from the same class, so should be able to do some lovely ochos; and I had a great follower. All the ingredients for a great tanda.

No.

I just wasn’t feeling on form. It wasn’t terrible or anything, but I wasn’t feeling the music flow through me. Deciding what to do was an effort, navigation felt like hard work, and some of my leading wasn’t working.

I wasn’t sure that all of the latter was obvious to M1, as she was following what she thought I was leading, and I immediately figured it out each time and went with that, but there were other times when we ended up on the wrong feet, and that must have been obvious.

So at the end of the tanda – which wasn’t disastrous, just an order of magnitude below last week’s ones – I decided it was time to call it a night.

But M2 was also there, and was having none of this. I explained that I wasn’t feeling on form, when M1 declared that we’d just had our best ever dance! I was completely dumbfounded, as we’d had two wonderful tandas last week, and this one had just been ok.

I mean, a follower might say something encouraging in those circumstances, but you wouldn’t say that unless you meant it. I was mystified.

So onto the pista with M2, just as a tanda was coming to a close, and the next was a milonga. Ok. I may not be feeling on form, but milongas are always fun, and the steps are so simple that being on form or not shouldn’t make much difference. Even better, so many people steer clear of milongas that the floor was really empty, so there was lots of space in which to play.

It was fun! Again, it didn’t have the magic of last week, but it was an enjoyable way to end the evening.

So, I was tonight either uninspired and only partially successful in my lead, or a lead who delivered a better dance than last week’s amazing one. I will never understand tango.

Image: Shutterstock

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