Los Angelitos is normally my dream milonga. Lots of slow music, and plenty of followers who enjoy it as much as I do. This past Sunday, however, was a relative disappointment.
But the Tango gods made it up to me by giving me my usual Los Angelitos experience at the Tuesday Tango Space milonga instead. This is usually a really good experience, but generally doesn’t hit the heights of LA; tonight it did …
An experienced both-roles dancing friend was going, which fact persuaded Steph to come along too.
Things didn’t start perfectly, it must be said. I’ve mentioned that I find a pre-milonga glass of Prosecco a useful way to find my inner Argentine without the perils of wine-breath. Normally, I can have a glass before I leave, but an en-route haircut meant leaving earlier than usual, so I thought I had a Cunning Plan.
Namely, take some Prosecco with me in a thermos cup previously proven to be 100% leakproof, and to drink it on the tube in flagrant violation of the conditions of carriage.
However, I was to discover that 100% leakproof with non-fizzy drinks does not necessarily mean 100% leakproof with very fizzy ones. Fortunately my spare shirt escaped, but my shoe bag didn’t. This left me with slightly damp dance shoes smelling somewhat of Prosecco.
I guess there are worse things.
Steph’s shoes also escaped. I was bringing them for her with what I hoped would be greater success than the previous occasion, where she instructed me to grab the shoes at the front of her cupboard, and I did. However, it appeared there had been an unspoken additional instruction to ensure that these two shoes were in fact a pair. Personally I reckoned one blue, one green looked rather snazzy, but Steph didn’t share this view (and also had some piffling objection to the heels being different heights). I checked this time, and ascertained that both were black, which is as far as my tango shoe identification skills go.
As usual, I won’t do the tanda-by-tanda thing, but I was able to dance as much as I wanted to – indeed, I didn’t get the chance to dance with everyone I would have liked to. Every single tanda, without exception, was lovely. There were lots of followers who clearly loved slow dance.
The early music was a little on the fast side for my particular tastes, but I’m now comfortable interpreting almost any music at half speed. There’s very little tango music where that doesn’t feel good.
Ironically, the one tanda where I wanted fast music was a milonga one. Having gained a lot of confidence at milonga, and dancing with a friend with whom I’d had a fantastic drunk milonga tanda, we stepped onto the dance floor ready to give it our all … and got what I think must be the slowest milonga tanda ever recorded! But it was still great.
Many of my tandas were with more experienced followers. I think I managed to follow Diego’s advice to lead more pauses, and I realised this, like many things in tango, is a matter of confidence. I was worried before that followers might be waiting for me to get on with it, but even when they played with just tiny little movements in the suspension, it felt beautiful.
The tanda with Steph does have to get a specific mention. Everyone in my classes who knows about her thinks I’m the luckiest student around as I have this highly experienced follower on tap for all the practice I want. Ha! Steph dances with me about once a month, albeit at the advice of a friend who said this was the secret to domestic harmony where tango couples of very different levels are concerned. That way, she gets to see notable progress between each dance.
Steph is a very active follower. At some stages along the way, I’ve done the ‘parada and pause’ thing, and Steph has then Done Stuff – but her view was this was kind of cheating! In that she was doing most of the work. Tonight, though, I think I was able to do much more than that: listen for her proposals and go with them. It felt like a very equal dance.
I had a similar experience with other very experienced followers. Including my last tanda, taking a chance with a follower I didn’t know. By that time, there were very few people still dancing, and I’d thought I was ready to go home, but then some lovely music began playing. I looked around and there was one follower free, so I cabeceod her and we had a really beautiful tanda – including an almost empty floor with loads of room to walk! I will definitely add her to my ‘must cabeceo’ list.
A great evening. I danced every single tanda I wanted to, and enjoyed chatting the rest of the time. Barman, whatever the tango gods are drinking this week, it’s on me.