Just the one milonga tonight, honest …

just one

Getting out of bed at 7am was again difficult. Well, impossible, I guess, as I didn’t. I had a rather abbreviated breakfast before work.

The afternoon got off to a good start when Steph was late returning to the hotel room for her private with Laura Heredia. Hearing that last night’s milonga was disappointing, Laura declared that we needed to fix this with a lovely dance. Which we indeed did, finishing it just as Steph arrived …

I’ve never been able to nap – once I’m asleep, I’m asleep, and being woken by an alarm after a short time just makes me feel like death. Not even death warmed up. But a bout of insomnia a long time ago did teach me that rest is the next best thing to sleep, so I decided to have a very lazy afternoon, just reading in bed, before heading out to an 8pm milonga.

My main goal for the day was resisting the temptation to join Steph at her planned return visit to La Maldita so that I would be in bed before midnight. My only milonga, then, would be a return visit to Sueño Porteño.

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Milonga 18: Sueño Porteño (second visit)

After my second visit to La Maria, I was somewhat hesitant about risking the same again with a second return visit to a milonga I loved. But I decided to take a chance. And hey, this time I’d actually be able to correctly pronounce it

We’ll gloss over me being so sleep-deprived I went out without any money, something I realised halfway there. I had to get the taxi to return to the hotel. To show the taxi driver I wasn’t doing a runner, I left my shoe bag with him. I was hoping he wouldn’t do a runner with that …

But this return visit was much more successful. Things got off to a good start when I got a welcome hug from the hostess, followed by another from a woman I presume I danced with before – followed by one from my new best friend.

Laura’s tip to concentrate on the feel of my follower’s spine in pivots to know when she’d completed one worked really well. This made a big difference in both ochos and giros.

I’m still finding a limit to how many things I can focus on at once, but at least covering them in some kind of rotation means there’s some chance of them all eventually filtering in.

The above photo shows it relatively empty when I arrived, but it filled up fast, presumably because word got around that I was there … Despite often crowded conditions, I had 90 minutes’ worth of lovely dances before it was time to head over to the late night milonga to which I wasn’t supposed to be going.

I was intercepted on my way out by a woman who asked me, in English, if I was Ben. I admitted this, and she said she enjoyed reading my blog. I had no clue how she recognised me, but she hilariously solved the mystery in a subsequent Facebook message BC.

Hi! I’m Hjördis from Umeå in northen Sweden. I recognized you yesterday at Sueño Porteño from FB. My husband recognised you from your trousers! Look, what nice pants, he said. It must be him!

I just wanted to say thank you for your blog! Keep on writing!

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Milonga 19: Maldita at Buenos Ayres Club (second visit)

I really didn’t think I’d make it, but dance is energising, so …

Maldita is at once heaven and hell. Heaven because it’s a dreamy place to dance; hell because there is so little opportunity to do so. A solid 90% of the people there are non-dancing tourists bussed in to listen to the band and watch the tango. We’re going to be in a lot of Facebook videos; I’m thinking of adding tango performance dancer to my CV.

The music is absolutely fantastic, both the live band and the DJ. Laura said that not that many people dance to the band as they find the music unpredictable, but I didn’t find that a problem at all, perhaps because it’s more manageable when dancing slowly.

But that’s the best of both worlds: music to die for, and an uncrowded (if small) floor.

It is, however, hell to have the perfect conditions to dance and almost nobody to dance with. I went roaming around the room and did not spot a single woman looking around. They were all watching the band and the dance floor.

The result was that I danced exactly three tandas: one with Steph, one with a follower I’d danced with elsewhere (but couldn’t remember where), one with Laura, the teacher.

On the plus side, what the dancing lacked in quantity it absolutely made up for in quality. Steph and I haven’t always danced together well. Indeed, at one point I was wondering whether this was going to turn out to be a horrible irony of originally taking up tango to dance with Steph and ending up dancing with anyone but her. But something has totally clicked with us now, and we have wonderful dances together. Possibly the combination of me having reached a stage where I feel relaxed, and Steph therefore feeling able to propose things/take charge. Whatever the explanation, I’m very, very glad it’s finally happened!

Next was a beautiful dancer from Florida. Steph had talked about not recognising dancers until dancing with them, and this was exactly that. I didn’t recognise her face, but as soon we we began dancing it was ‘Ahhh, yes! I remember this!’ If collaborative dance with Steph is anything from a true 50/50 dance to me hanging on for dear life, with this woman the proportions were different. About 80% of the time, she purely followed – and really well. Then 20% of the time she would indicate she wanted to do something. This was either by slightly resisting what I was about to lead to see whether I relaxed the embrace to let her do her thing (which I always did), or by continuing a movement after the lead for it had ended. It was a lovely, lovely dance.

Finally, when the band finished and there didn’t seem to be any followers left, I changed my shoes ready to leave. At which point Laura complained that I hadn’t danced with her. I said I would change back, but was wearing dance sneakers anyway (because my street shoes are full of BsAs street dust), so she said I’d be fine in those. And we too had a really beautiful dance.

Sometimes it can be intimidating dancing with teachers, feeling like they are analysing your every move, but it didn’t feel like that with Laura. The floor was a lot more crowded now the live band had finished, but I didn’t feel pressured. I was dancing in half-time, and with such a skilled follower everything was easy. Well, almost everything: Laura didn’t let me get away with failing to properly transfer her weight for the new sandwichito move she showed me! I later did it properly.

So, I’d like to have had quality and quantity, but if I had to choose between the two …

I got to bed at 1.30am. 7am is once again going to be painful.

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