It’s true what they say about Russian tangueras …

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Thursday evenings normally begin with the Tango Space intermediate lesson, but I decided to skip that tonight.

Although the Tuesday and Thursday intermediate classes are theoretically geared to the same level, in practice there’s a significant difference in attendance and approach. The Tuesday version, taught by Pablo and Eva, assumes comfort with all of the improver level content – as is reasonable, given it’s intended as the next step. It tends to attract those who are further along the intermediate scale …

The Thursday class, taught by Luis and Natalia, assumes only comfort with the fundamentals. They require little in the way of experience of particular figures, always building them up from the basics. Usually we dance the simplest possible version for one song, then they add just one step, and we do that for a whole song. And so on. That class attracts some of the Tuesday class gang, but more of those like me, with a strictly limited step memory!

As Luis wasn’t available to teach the class tonight, I decided to head straight to Terra.

I normally arrive at around 9.20pm, after my class, so it was interesting to be there at the beginning, when it’s quiet. Sadly the back of the room is closed for a beginner’s class, so quiet doesn’t equate to lots of room to walk, but it does mean calm before the floorcraft storm!

I didn’t waste any of the extra time, and grabbed my first tanda almost straight away.

Not all of the music appealed this time, and a couple of my favourite partners were both missing and missed. That aside, though, it had all the usual ingredients of great music, fantastic atmosphere and lovely followers.

A friend pimped me out to a complete beginner, after her second lesson. I remember when followers were kind enough to dance with me at a similarly early stage, so I do like to be able to pay the favour forward. We walked, and she’s going to do fine.

The pimp in question has had foot problems for some time that have stopped her dancing. The last couple of times she decided walking was ok, but not pivots. I’ve danced milonga with her, which obviously works perfectly well without pivots. Later she cabeceod me for a lyrical song. I took a deep breath and went for it.

Earlier that day I’d been canvassing follower friends on the movements they most enjoyed, explaining why.

I’m currently working on expanding my real-life milonga vocabulary. Taking some of the things I’ve done in group classes, and then using my privates to learn how to lead them properly. I have three criteria for prioritising them:

  1. How easily I think I can bring them up to milonga standard
  2. How easily I can use them to express the music
  3. How much followers like them

She’d mentioned ‘expressive side-steps,’ so I tried to use those for the sweeping moments!

She’d had a breakthrough in physio that day, so decided to risk pivots later, and all was good – yay!

Speaking of vocabulary, I’m told my ‘sanguchito chains’ work well. ‘Very sleek’ was the phrase used. My calesitas, too, seem to flow well – if not perfectly! I got a smile from one follower when I felt her balance go, and then turned that into a planeo in that direction to catch it. Given calesitas are a new thing for me, it was likely me that put her off-balance in the first place, but, like anything in tango, the mistakes don’t matter, it’s just about catching and resolving them.

I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough with my ocho-cortados, I think. I’d worked with Laura in BsAs on slower ones.

With slow ones, she said the goal is to create a particular feeling in the follower’s body, moving fluidly from one direction to the other. “An S-shape,” I ventured. “Yes, that exactly.”

I’d previously felt that with two followers my ocho-cortados weren’t working, as they were instead doing a circular ocho. But then I realised with one of them tonight, no, she was ending in the cross. It was that S-shape motion I was feeling. So either I was successfully leading it, or she was picking up what I wanted, anyway. If that does turn out to be the case with the other one, I shall be a very happy man!

Steph had told me that, on the international scene, the dreamiest followers are Russian, and the dreamiest leaders Turkish. By chance, I had the opportunity to put the former claim to the test!

I’d spotted two followers I didn’t recognise who looked very alert to the music but didn’t seem to be getting dances early in the evening. One of the things I love about Terra is the friendliness, and I do my best to contribute to that, so decided to make a point of cabeceoing each of them.

I had a truly blissful tanda with the first of them, learning that she was Russian, and visiting Terra for the first time. The randomness of the live music took us from two slow tangos to a fast milonga, and I knew made-up steps would be fine with her – that was fun!

I tried to cabeceo her friend, but she just nudged the first dancer and pointed to me. So I had a second, equally lovely, tanda with her, and then successfully cabeceod her friend when she was alone later. That too was a delicious dance. So yes, on my very small sampling, the evidence supports Steph’s theory!

Again, then, Tango Terra heaven. I always have this background niggle that no milonga can be so consistently good forever, and that my seemingly endless tango high has to be followed at some point by a tango crash, but so far …

Perhaps some degree of maturity in the tango world explains it. I’ll occasionally have a dance which just doesn’t work, and now don’t worry about it – I know that happens to everyone. Similarly, when I visited The Light, I wasn’t depressed at being way out of my league there, I just accepted that this is a very different skill level to my own. So maybe it’s not that what happens is different, I just interpret it differently these days?

I’m back at Terra on Sunday. We’re in Stratford-upon-Avon for the weekend, seeing a friend in two successive plays, and staying with her; fortunately, she’s a tanguera so merely raised an eyebrow on the news that I would be catching an earlier train back on Sunday to get my fix …

Image: Shutterstock 

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