Another tango first: the only couple on the floor for the first half of a song

Only couple on the floor.jpg

There’s a tradition in tango that you don’t dance the first song of a live performance, as a courtesy to the band: giving them your full attention. At Los Angelitos tonight, however, Martin Alvarado specifically asked people to dance from the first song – but it seemed nobody was going to accept the invitation.

I looked at the empty floor, looked across to one of my favourite followers, looked around at the very large number of people sat around the dance floor – then decided the opportunity was too good to be defeated by feelings of self-consciousness …

I looked back at her and nodded. She hesitated for only a moment then returned my nod.

And for a glorious half a song, we had the entire dance floor to ourselves. To my surprise, I was conscious only of the music and my partner – the ‘audience’ faded into the background.

Another couple joined us halfway through the song, another shortly afterwards and then everyone else.

Two songs later, at 7.15pm, my follower said she had 15 minutes to be somewhere significantly more than 15 minutes away. I thanked her for the dance. Martin started playing the next song. “Oh, just one more.” Afterwards, another goodbye and … “Let me just text them.” And we had just one more just one more song.

The milonga hadn’t gotten off to such a great start. The floorcraft there is usually ‘pretty good.’ Not perfect, for sure, but generally decent, with just the odd one or two couples weaving in and out of the outer ronda. Today, however, it was initially so bad I even suggested Bruno might want to make an announcement, reminding people to stick to their lane, especially on such a crowded floor.

Thankfully things did gradually calm down, but there were a few tandas requiring a lot of vigilance and evasive action. As a sign of how bad it was, I’ve found most followers aren’t really aware of it, but today several commented on it themselves.

After yesterday’s private, I wanted to include the calesita in my dance today, to see how well it works in a milonga. The good news was that it worked well! Including the planeo exit, which actually seemed like the most natural way to end it.

It definitely sits in the ‘Have to think about it’ category, especially because communicating the ‘please stay where you are’ entry requires attention. Also, one follower said it’s easier faster than slower, so given my penchant for slow dance, it’s something I’d actually want to use for those moments in a song when switching to a faster pace feels appropriate.

But given I went from only vaguely remembering how it works to milonga standard in one lesson, I’m very happy!

Another follower did a close-range cabeceo for a vals. I still feel this is my most challenging form of the dance: tango, I have more than enough vocabulary now; milonga is fine with just steps and rebounds; but vals feels to me like it sits between the two. I find it hard to lead ochos at vals speed, my giros aren’t precise enough and most other tango vocabulary doesn’t seem to me to fit the flowing feel.

I responded with a hesitant ‘Vals …’ and she said ‘But you’re so lovely at them!’ I realised she’s actually not the only follower to have said this, and that for some followers, steps and my rebound turn to a vals rhythm are all they need. There is a joyful feeling in a well-connected, simple vals with a follower who is clearly loving it.

As always at Los Angelitos, the time flew by. I danced most tandas, including the first Troilo one. I’ve now learned I can trust Bruno on the first Troilo tanda of the milonga: it is consistently the accessible ones. It’s any subsequent Troilo tandas I need to avoid! I did so tonight, and was glad of it …

And so ends an excellent week of tango!

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