Category Archives: Practica

A back cross private with Emma, and a practica to put it to the test

I don’t generally use my privates to work on figures, but I did want to add the back cross. There are times when a slow rebound feels right for the music, but I also feel I over-use them, so wanted to have something which had a similar feel to it, but allowed more variety.

I’d had a private on this a loooong time ago, but because I hadn’t felt confident enough to use it in milongas, I’d long since forgotten how it worked. So that was Emma’s task last night …

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An amazing leading dividend from just two lessons as a follower

While leading and following are two very different mindsets, the technique is the same – just that followers need more of it at any given level.

I knew from past experience that following is a very powerful tool for improving my lead, but I really couldn’t believe the extent to which this paid off after just two (new) following lessons …

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Three years in, learning to stand, walk and turn

Being a tango teacher must take a special kind of patience. Learning to dance takes so long that the only way it will ever happen is via shortcuts. Things that are good enough to work, to get people to the stage where they can dance.

Along the way, they have to turn a temporary blind eye to really fundamental technique issues that will need to be addressed further down the road. Things like learning to stand, walk and turn …

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The healing power of tango, and musical hilarity

I’m currently awaiting a hospital referral for recurring abdominal pain which has left me largely out of action for the past month or so. The unpredictability of when the pain will strike, coupled to tiredness from broken sleep, has made it difficult to commit to anything in advance.

However, when a friend suggested an on-the-day decision to attend the Tango Amistoso class and practica, I decided to give it a go. By the time I got there, I was already questioning the wisdom of this decision …

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A successful variation on the volcada


The resumption of milongas still feels a way off yet, but there are definite signs that the tango world is beginning to ready itself. Some group classes are resuming, albeit for solo technique or with fixed partners, and privates are resuming on the same basis.

But lessons are of limited value without practice, so Wai Fong and I did a practice session, trying out the things we’d been learning in our privates with David – managing to choose one of the hottest days of the year to do it …

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Returning to the scene of the crime, at Tango Garden

Tango Garden.jpg

It was on 28th October 2018 that I first ‘danced’ in a milonga at Tango Garden, after a grand total of five lessons, with the courage fostered by not knowing what I didn’t know.

Some fifteen months later, I figured the various broken limbs would have healed, and the building been repaired, so decided to pay a return visit for the 7th anniversary of the popular Saturday afternoon milonga …

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I love it when a plan comes together

a plan comes together.jpg

This weekend was going to be pretty tango-centric, with a practica and private on the Saturday, and a milonga on the Sunday.

Saturday got the weekend off to an excellent start …

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A fortnight’s tango fast broken with an excellent practica


It wasn’t my plan to have a fortnight-long tango fast, but two lazy evenings, one rain-sodden day and one milonga I’d expected to happen that didn’t all conspired against me.

I was glad, therefore, that my reintroduction to tango was a practica before the milongas resume tomorrow …

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Giros, contra-giros and following with Los Ocampos

Los Ocampos.jpg

The teachers – Omar Ocampo and Monica Romero, aka Los Ocampos – have an excellent reputation, and I’m of the view that I can never have too many giro lessons. Plus it was organised by Queer Tango London, so I was assured of a fun atmosphere.

The class covered a version of the giro which I’d never been taught before. At its simplest, it was:

  • Leader back diagonal step, leading follower side-step
  • Leader collects, leads follower forward step
  • Leader pivots on both feet, leads follower side-step
  • Leader completes pivot, enters walk, leading follower back-step

It felt slightly confusing at first as it seemed to be three steps rather than four, but then I realised that the follower does complete a full sequence of side-forward-side-back – it’s just that the back step then becomes the first step of the walk.

The first variation was to do the same thing clockwise rather than anti-clockwise. It felt slightly trickier, but I think that would just be a matter of practice.

Next was the original version with a sacada on the follower’s second side-step. I don’t have much experience of sacadas, but this one actually felt relatively easy.

I’ve always understood intellectually that a sacada is an illusion; that you are stepping into the space the follower is leaving, though my only practical experience of a foot sacada is, I think, a sequence in the forward ocho where I then step around her into a parada. But this one made perfect sense: because the follower is pivoting around into her back-step, the illusion of taking her space and’ forcing’ the turn is quite convincing.

There was then a version with two sacadas. I ducked out at this point! I do think the two-sacada version would make sense to me once I’d had enough practice at the single-sacada sequence, but attempting it now wasn’t going to be pretty.

I’d already had enough challenge for one evening: being a Queer Tango event, everyone swapped roles, so I was learning to follow as well as lead the sequence! That was … challenging. I did have to let everyone know that they’d need to use some combination of brute force and telekinesis to lead me.

It was, though, very useful as well as comedic. In particular, I found one of Omar’s following tips for the giro made a huge difference: just follow the leader’s shoulder. Once I started doing that, it made it much more obvious which direction I needed to go, and that was really 60% of the lead. It was really helpful to get such a practical demonstration of that.

The teachers are great fun, and the QTL crowd as friendly as can be, so it was a lovely evening.

More tango tomorrow, of course, at the Tango Space milonga, where Mara Ovieda will once again be DJing. Should be good!

A touch of BsAs in London, and dancing almost every tanda

La Rubia

I’d wondered how it would feel, returning to dancing in London. Whether my familiar milongas would now feel strange. Tonight’s didn’t: lots of friends were there, and I dived straight back in.

What did feel strange was that it had been four whole days since my last milonga! Technically, three days, I suppose, since we left Yira Yira in the early hours of Saturday morning and I was at the Tango Space milonga when it started at 8pm on Tuesday. As an added bonus, there was a touch of Buenos Aires to the dance …

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