An exciting class, and an excellent Tango Terra


Tonight’s intermediate class was building on last week’s class, adding a couple of different ways to continue it.

I won’t bother describing the sequence in any detail, as that wasn’t the point of it for me. I’m never going to use it in a milonga, but I liked it for three reasons …

First, it involved a number of different types of movement, at least a couple of which were new to me prior to last week. The reverse Americana step from last week, for example. And there was another tonight where we essentially pivot the follower 270 degrees from a forward step into a back ocho. I got quite excited by that one!

Excited because it was a way of seamlessly flowing* from one thing I know how to do into another thing I know how to do, yet which felt like something completely new and different. These types of connections are exactly what I need.

*Well, it will be a seamless flow once I can actually do it well. Right now it’s more of a clunky switch.

Second, because the full sequence was eight steps. That’s something which would have felt utterly beyond my step memory not long ago, and yet I did manage it. Clumsily, sure, but I did actually successfully complete the whole sequence.

Third, because I managed to resolve the sequence by going back into a back ocho to repeat it. And then when my path was blocked, to find an alternative resolution – both without hesitation and literally without missing a beat. My improvisation skills are still infant ones, but they are gradually developing. That’s exciting too.

Tango Terra

After the lesson, it was time to head over to Tango Terra.

I’ve always felt torn at milongas. On the one hand, I want it to be about the music and the dance, not me practicing stuff. I’d rather do fewer things well than throw in some clunky stuff that takes us out of the music.

On the other hand, anything I promote from a practice move into a milonga one is going to be clunky the first few times. I have to be willing to move beyond my comfort zone somewhat if I’m going to be able to expand my possibilities.

I think I’ve finally found a good compromise: do the stretch moves with friends, and warn them! I don’t tell them what I’m going to try, only that I’m going to experiment, or try something new. That way, if it crashes and burns, we’ll laugh about it. With new followers, I stick to the tried-and-tested stuff.

I adore the live music at Tango Terra, but it can be … unpredictable. Just figuring out when a song is going to end can be challenging, as they do like to play with the endings, but that feels like fun – and we’re all in the same boat, so always laugh if we’re caught out. But the unpredictability also extends to the lack of tandas. You can get a very slow song immediately followed by a very fast one, for example, as happened tonight.

I’d cabeceod a woman I danced with for the first time the previous week, and we’d enjoyed a very lovely tanda – mostly slow and lyrical, but with some faster sections. She’s a much better dancer than me, so with the faster stuff I mostly lead a fast couple of ochos to kick her off, then just follow her.

The first song was wonderful. Slow and languorous and delicious. The second was fast! Very fast! Fast milonga fast. It was all fine just doing steps and rebounds, but the moment I tried to do anything else … nope! I tried two or three times, fearing it was too basic for her, and not providing the opportunity for her own dance, but I had to admit defeat and go back to simple steps. Afterwards I said I’d better stick to slow songs with her and she agreed it was a good plan.

The penultimate tanda was with one of my favourite followers. There was a section where she did an unled double-time bit that I loved. I didn’t have the skill or speed to do it with her, but I was able to just make the space for it. Between songs, I said I really like that kind of active following, so feel free to do it anytime. She seemed surprised, and said a lot of leaders don’t like it. Afterwards, she said I was ‘very attentive,’ which I felt was a lovely compliment.

The final tanda was with another of my faves, and aside from me intending to lead a calesita on her good foot but instead managing to accidentally lead a planeo on her injured one, we too had a fantastic dance.

I mostly danced with women I’ve danced with before, but had a couple of tandas with new followers, and both were great. There’s just something special about Tango Terra. Everyone is super-friendly and really fun. I honestly can’t recall ever having a bad dance there. It’s the highlight of my week.

Image: Shutterstock

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