A minor mystery solved, and a bit of Tango Terror

Tango Terror.jpg

The theme of this week’s Tango Space intermediate class was advertised as a cross-system sequence. This would usually be enough to send me running for the hills but for two things …

One, I’d caught the end of the Tuesday class and it looked rather nice. Two, it was Luis and Natalia, and I knew I could trust them to take it in easy stages.

Sure enough, they built it on the back-ocho contra-giro we’d been doing before.

I hadn’t quite grasped how this was supposed to end. My version always ended in a circular front ocho, which works perfectly well (when I give the follower enough room), but seemed to be a step more than Luis was doing.

That mystery was solved this evening. The way Luis was ending it was indeed earlier. He said that the momentum made a front ocho a very likely ending, either because the leader was continuing the pivot or because the follower was doing it unled as she too was caught up in the momentum. But the sequence as he was demonstrating it ended with the follower in front of the leader.

I found that required a very definite ‘stop’ signal, much along the lines of an ocho cortado. Those too can end up as circular ochos unless I lead a clear stop – the ‘cut.’ 

With both stopped in that position, you are in parallel system, the leader on their left foot, and can walk out of it – though any remaining momentum means that a back step is easiest. What Luis added today was a switch to cross system: a leader-only change of weight, then a cross-system version of my three-step rebound turn.

This was amusing as this is one of my favourite movements, so a variation on it was immediately interesting to me – but I couldn’t make it work at all!

Part of it was mixed success in stopping the pivot in time. But the bigger issue was that I didn’t feel like I had room to lead a step to the left in cross system. I felt like I needed to be further to the right when we collected. I led Luis, and he said there was no problem at all: I just needed to lead the step exactly as I would in parallel system. It was simply the unfamiliarity of cross system making it feel difficult.

We didn’t get enough time to put that theory to the test, but it made sense in principle. All the same, cross system confuses my tiny tango brain. Fede keeps wanting me to use it, and I keep fighting him off with swords, spears and anything else handy. One day … but not yet!

However, I did appreciate the understanding, and more practice at the contra-giro. I am getting better at it, but will stick to the front ocho resolution for now.

Tango Terra – or terror, at times

I’m going to have to stop recommending this to people now: it was way too crowded tonight! Couple that to the poor floorcraft and my first couple of tandas were a bit of a nightmare. It was 10% dance and 90% survival skills. There was some truly horrendous leading going on, with several leaders just completely oblivious to anything but their own dance.

By the third tanda, I’d decided the safest place on the floor was between the four pillars at the back. There were three other couples there, so it’s not like we had a lot of room, but I think all of us were there for the same reason, so we cooperated nicely.

Things did gradually calm down, and by 10pm-ish it was still busy but civilised. 

There’s one tight squeeze between the pillar closest to the entrance and the band. Tonight it was even tighter than usual, as the piano was further out. It was almost too narrow, and personally I would have gone the other side of it, but as nobody else did, the space to that side of it had been claimed by the dancers who stay in that central strip. One follower did say that one time she and her husband had each gone a different side of the pillar!

After those first difficult tandas, I again had a wonderful time. There were fewer of my favourite followers this time, but there were enough to keep me on my feet most of the time. I also had a very lovely tanda with a woman there for the first time. 

As always, the time flew by. I had the penultimate tanda with one favourite, and then the final one – sadly just one song – with another. Both were delicious dances, the perfect end to the evening!

I have a rare night in tomorrow, then Tango Garden’s 7th anniversary on Saturday – where Martin and Tim are playing – and back to Tango Terra on Sunday. I haven’t been to Tango Garden for an absolute age, so it’ll be interesting to see how I find it. One thing’s for sure: the live music will be good!

Image: Shutterstock

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