Sunday, 29 August 2010

Watching dancing

Sitting watching the dancing at Carablanca on a recent Friday evening: it's started to look and feel really good. A good proportion of the couples were in close or close-ish embrace for most of the time, they moved round the line of dance well, and the dance in general is beginning to look quite smooth. In general I enjoy watching social dance a lot more than I enjoy watching 'demonstrations', especially when it's fluent, and it looks intimate and suits the feel of the music.

Carablanca has a long history in London tango. It started at the Welsh Centre in the early 1990s, and moved to Conway Square recently. I'd really like to write a history of it, with the tango stories of the people who work each week to make sure we have a good time, as I'm sure there are some interesting ones there. Maybe in the future. It's developed, with the thoughts and suggestions of many people over the past year or so, into something that's beginning to look like a traditional BsAs milonga, and the dancing is going that way too.

But just so we don't get too many illusions about ourselves, it's worth delving into the archive Jantango is building up, just as a tango 'reality check'. One thing that's amazed me over the past year is just how many wonderful older dancers there still are. It's wonderful that video can reveal to us people whose names are little known and who still look amazing. Here's such a couple, dancing oblivious to what seems an unsympathetic background. They show skill, playfulness, great elegance and real enjoyment... isn't that cool?

& of course this is the kind of milonga I'd really like to see, although this was filmed nine years ago and sadly it's no longer possible. Jantango identifies Ricardo Vidort and Muma, Carlos Gavito, Miguel Angel Balbi, Elba Biscay, and others I've not heard of. I thought I spotted Mimi there too. Wonderful to watch all these great tangueros on the floor together.


jantango said...

The video of Cholo and Coca dancing among the crowd in the bank lobby demonstrates just how much they love to dance tango. No frills, no pauses, no adornments; just pure feeling in an embrace.

The judges didn't see what we see in their dancing; consequently they didn't progress to the semifinals in the Mundial de Baile. They don't fit the mold for what is being cloned in young dancers today.

It is very sad to see a dance of feeling being transformed into one for exhibition.

Anonymous said...

I agree - some days you take a step back, if you'll forgive the pun, and the place actually looks like a nice flowing milonga with people in the close embrace moving to the music and imortantly, not dancing in a way which makes others wary.

Tango en el Cielo said...

Writing a history of Carablanca and the people who make it happen is a great idea- I hope you do it. The man who founded it - Andrew/Andres Potter - is a good friend of mine and I'm sure (from things he's said recently) he'd be pleased too.
Andrew started the club in 1991 during his stay in London for several months during the run of the show Tango Argentino at The Peacock. (He had accompanied his then girlfriend who was a dancer in the show). Andrew was an experienced social dancer and ran beginners classes. His students included Danny & Diana who, along with several others, decided to continue running the club after Andrew returned to his home in Buenos Aires.
I didn't join the scene until 1993. My first tango class was at the club- called Tango the Argentino Way then, and until the name was changed to Carablanca a couple of years ago. On Friday 29 January 1993 at the United Reformed Church in Wakefield St, to be precise (the move to the Welsh Centre happened in the mid-90s). The teacher that evening was another of the club's founding members- Dan Altman. I remember Dan and Danny Evans showing me the ropes that evening, and meeting lots of friendly people around the tea urn (the tea and biscuits table was the social hub!).
Biljana Lipic, Christine Deniston, Linda Watson, were already club regulars - the most advanced dancers in London with a year or so experience!
Others that arrived on the scene around the same time as me include Nikki Preddy, David Lurie, Mary Brown, Stephen Rigg, Mark Hitchins.
Carlos Gavito moved to London in the summer of 1993, and of course came to dance at the URC hall every Friday. His few months residence in London was probably the most exciting thing that ever happened to London tango although he was I think grossly undervalued at the time.
For the full picture of the very beginning of London's first milonga, the people who could tell you the most are Andrew Potter and the other founding members mentioned above, and of course Paul Lange who was already teaching tango in London at that time.

Tangocommuter said...

Jantango, good to see you've sorted out the problems you had with leaving comments. I'd thought of checking who did win the Mundial that year... and decided it might just be too depressing.

Tango en el Cielo, many thanks for writing it for me! Much there that I didn't know. Tango in London... and of course Rodolfo and Maria Cieri were in London too at one point.