Fewer classes, more dancing (though not in 37C temps …)

fewer classes more dance

As someone put it today, it’s 37C in London and Boris has just been appointed PM: we have officially entered hell.

No more so than in the back room at the Shield Cafe, which is an oven at the best of times …

The class

The improver class was mostly spent on the cross and then the cross in cross system, which suited me just fine. Although I’m reliably able to lead a cross, there was still something about it which felt odd. I still felt like I don’t know the right amount to lead, so more practice at it with a variety of followers was ideal.

I successfully led it with all my followers, in both parallel and cross systems, so I was very happy. I also got an extra tip with it: increase the dissociation before the final step to create a kind of rebound effect to make it even clearer for beginner followers.

I led Michele, the (stand-in) teacher once, and was told it was a subtle but clear lead; since I don’t think any of my followers missed it, I’m taking that as evidence of one of two things. Either all the followers in tonight’s class are good at responding to a subtle lead, or I’m getting the hang of adapting my lead to the follower.

There was good news and bad where the sequence was concerned. The good news was that it was much simpler than yesterday. The bad news was we only got to it in the last few minutes of the class, so only got to try it a couple of times. However, I’m not trying to learn steps any more; what I’m aiming to do is understand principles.

The sequence was to lead the cross and then lead a follower-only change of weight, lead her into a back-step, and from there into a back ocho to the leader’s right. Usually, when there’s a choice between a leader-only or follower-only change of weight, I opt for leader-only, as it seems simpler, so the follower-only weight change was itself useful practice.

I need to play with it more to be sure of the underlying principle for me, but I think it’s around follower pivots without a leader step. I use these to pivot front ochos into back ones, and vice-versa, but I think there are more possibilities here that can really help me. It’s this kind of thing – ideas I can use without learning sequences – that is most helpful to me.

The milonga

Did I mention it was 37C?

My aim was a tanda or two only! Asia and I agreed to wait for a vals tanda. Something odd was going on with the music, as there were three tango tandas rather than two, and then only two songs in the vals tanda.

The first one was lovely. Vals are, to me, the most relaxed form of tango. The music is smooth and predictable, and simply dancing to the beat and the 1-2-3 rhythm is definitely enough for a really enjoyable dance. Asia is a lovely follower, and there was – amazingly – room to walk, so the first song was great.

The second one, the music was rather different, and not so much to my taste. It didn’t have that same carousel feeling. But when the connection is good, then the dance remains so. I don’t normally lead ochos in a vals, but as this wasn’t a very vals-like song, I treated the slower parts more like a tango, and it seemed to work.

I was hoping to have a tanda with M, as it was her last night in London for a while, but she was non-stop dancing and it was too hot to hang around, so I headed out into the very slightly cooler air to experience the joys of delayed tube trains due to heat-induced signal failures. I knew how the signals felt.

Fewer classes, more dancing

I’d been mulling over a couple of different options for my next steps. One was to move on from Tango Space and sample other schools – though the idea of this gave me some pangs.

I really like the Tango Space teachers; I have some lovely dance partners; and I’ve made a lot of friends through the school. It feels like my tribe. All of which makes it hard to think about moving on. But I can continue to attend the Tuesday milongas. And a number of my fellow students already mix-and-match schools, so there would likely be a few familiar faces elsewhere.

Another option I considered was to drop group classes altogether for a month or so and just dance (maintaining my fortnightly privates). That one got the seal of approval from Steph and friends.

That idea feels just a little radical to make a definite decision of it, so here’s what I’ve decided for now …

I have dropped the Monday classes as of now. On Tuesdays, I will definitely go to the milonga, and will play it by ear on the improver classes. I’m retaining a basic membership (one class a week) so I have the option. Either way, I’ll continue with my fortnightly privates.

It’s a shame Queer Tango London is on a summer break, as I really like their Monday night practica, which Steph wants to attend too, and that would have provided a good ‘just dance’ opportunity. (Don’t be deterred by the name, by the way – it’s not intended as an exclusive space for gay dancers; all are welcome.) I’ll look around to see what else is out there.

Of course, pre-practica/milonga classes are a good way to meet followers for the dance that follows, so I may end up doing some classes anyway, but the focus will be very much on the dancing.

So that’s the plan: less work, more fun – but with at least two privates a month to ensure my technique continues to improve.

Image: Shutterstock

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