Monday, 22 December 2008

Porteno y Bailarin again

Milonga class at Porteno y Bailarin: in the month I've been here I can remember just one class with more women than men and a few with equal numbers. These are very clear milonga classes, Gabriela Elias is a methodic teacher, and Eduardo Perez partners her and speaks some English, but if you miss out a dance or two because there's no partner you fall behind, and my milonga skills were never great. Anyway, the class was mainly couples who wanted to stay together, plus a few extra men so I gave up after getting an idea of most of the material.

Sat and watched the dancing but left early: tired after getting cold this morning, I guess. Sort of depressing, but I know that, from a leader's point of view, it's not a problem to get dances here. You just ask, particularly at small, friendly venues like this one, where 'the look' isn't always used. Nobody's likely to refuse you part of a tanda, and anyway, so what? When I first arrived I had a bit of luck and some energy to make use of it, then I started to question my own dancing, and started to watch how it's done here. It takes attention to lead someone you've never danced with before, especially when your partner is from Buenos Aires! You've got to get it right. All the partners I've danced with have been friendly, but they do comment: 'I don't quite get your lead ('marca')' being a common one. It's not good enough to give vague indications of what you are leading, and expect your partner to fill in for you: you are expected to be precise, which has meant some re-learning. I've watched other Europeans/Americans lead, and seen a kind of floppy, enthusiastic but rather careless leading, which doesn't look good alongside the fluent and precise local dancing. Attention to detail is important. It's important to keep going to the local milonguero classes to build up experience in the dance that is taught here, even if it means 20 ocho cortado classes, as that is where and how your partner will have learned. In effect you have to start again. Of course, if you want to learn a more complex stage tango that's a different matter, but it won't help you much to dance in local milongas.

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