Tuesday, 28 April 2015


I love this!

Sometimes I come across a tango video that really lifts me up, and this is one of them, uploaded very recently, although the milonga was in 2012. Many thanks for it, it's a real joy. 

(I still can't embed videos: the embed code gets printed in the post, with no video in sight. It's a pain!)

& I notice how much 'dip and lift' energises this dance! It's one of the clearest examples of what a good friend and teacher kept saying to me: Con el cuerpo! Con el cuerpo! [Dance] with the body! Meaning, not just with the feet. It's decisive and tender, physical and very gentle.

It's uploaded by Isabella Szymonowicz, who has a wonderful tango blog which I'd never noticed before. At a casual glance I read her posting on Juan Carlos Pontoriero (with whom she's dancing in the video), some clear and simple instructions on how to write a tango, and a really valuable link to a US site from which a pair of high quality suede stick-on soles, backed with an industrial-strength adhesive, can be purchased for about £16. & they ship internationally. Almost too good to be true. Other interesting possibilities for your shoes there. 

& other interesting posts on Isabella's blog. Oh yes, and an excellent interview with Alicia Pons.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Dos porteños tocando el piano

This link is here so I don't have to go looking for it again. Two extraordinary musicians from the same time and place, Buenos Aires.

Friday, 24 April 2015


I'm enjoying the soft, gentle, almost hesitant embrace of another London partner... and suddenly feel something is missing. I experience a wave of nostalgia for the portena embrace. I don't remember ever dancing with a portena whose embrace I could describe as soft and gentle, certainly never hesitant. Not a single one. I could describe the portena embrace as direct, strong, emphatic, even confrontational, but not soft or compliant. A portena embrace seemed more like a challenge: 'You want to dance with me, so make me dance!' Warm and direct, nothing uncomfortable, nothing apologetic. You might not notice this when you're watching, but I think it's something you're likely to feel if you dance there.

I get the impression there's a whole industry built up around 'decoraciones', even though they aren't much use in improvised social dancing. I never noticed this industry in Buenos Aires, where teaching seemed to emphasise the woman standing up to the man, so to speak, an emphasis on a firm, positive embrace. No compliant partners who seem all too eager to follow there, and I often felt I had to work to get a good dance, I had to put energy into a clear and positive lead. There's an element of resistance, and I can feel nostalgic for that toughness, the sense that an equal energy meets my energy. We meet on equal terms, and I'm challenged to prove myself. So even if the resulting dance doesn't go far (there's probably not a lot of space to move in) it feels full of energy. A very positive lead and follow is essential if you want to move together in a small space, and when you get it, the dance doesn't feel like a 'lead and follow' situation, just two people moving as one. That's the magic of it!

Of course, women can be shy about close embrace with partners they don't know – and so can men! In a Buenos Aires milonga the only opportunity a man and woman have of being together is on the actual dance floor, which encourages them to be more direct, more open, when they dance since the social situation is limited off the floor. Adapting to the different height of partners isn't always easy. But I think the real problem is a kind of teaching that just teaches patterns of footwork, ignoring a good walk and a good embrace, the art of putting emphasis and energy into each step, which are a priority in social tango classes in Buenos Aires.