May 11

Chicho y Juana’s share their thoughts

Very interesting to see Chicho y Juana mentioning how some people are nowadays obsessively dancing and taking up lessons with the goal of teaching in a near future.

As it turns out, we should enjoy our ride through our tango lives 🙂

Jul 10

On Kindness to beginners

Dear Debbi, your post regarding tango etiquette on how you gracefully explained to a young leader the 101 of a milonga etiquette is great. I do, however, digress with you on the reason why people leave Tango for some other dance. There’s just not enough kind persons willing to explain this stuff in the tango scenes of some cities. Yes, the teachers should do this. But so should anyone.

It’s the off putting attitude of people that generally turns people down on activities. Everyone wants to be welcomed to a social group and enlightened with a positive spin.

If you’re a starting leader, don’t fret about your mistakes and mishaps. The kindest followers tend to also be the truly kind persons. The ones concerned about setting everyone right – specially the young and naive – tend to have a big ego and dance more with their own ego during the dance than with you.

Mar 10

On being more conscious of tips

A while ago, after a one on one with a teacher, I realized that I was developing an unbalanced way of leading. This caused physical fatigue after a while. While I have my own theories about why I developed this I won’t bore you with them. The teacher lead me like I was leading him thus making it very obvious to me on how it felt. Not as great as I’d like to. 🙂

More recently I made the interesting find that some followers are very good – and vocal – to notice unbalances and others are not. While attending a practica before a milonga I asked a respected follower for her opinion on things to work on and develop. She did not say much besides the obvious. I don’t believe she was being shy. On the other end, another really good follower has been telling me for a while to relax a part of my body. She’s always said it to me in a very kind way. She’s a very kind and serene person.

While dancing with the latter follower I’ve always focused on doing that but I was never clever or dedicated enough to understand the root of the problem. I believe I have now furthered my understanding of the issue, figure out one of the root causes and also how to better cope and deal with it.

I’ve learned throughout this process that I need to explore much more the tips I receive. With a different approach that is. Now, every leader gets lots of tips. They tend to be freely shared by younger and less experienced followers. They also tend to be less useful since you’ve gone past that hill already. On the other hand, what is really important is to get ahold of the tips given by experienced but seldom vocal followers that you believe have a deeper understanding of the dance. I’ve learned not to see them as the root or issue but as more probably than not an effect of something each person needs to dig deeper and figure out within their dancing why that may be.

I’ve got lots of stuff to work on for a while now…

Mar 10

‘El Turco’

Simba writes about his experience learning from ‘El Turco’. What I found more fascinating in his description is how little things reveal you the dancer’s style, approach and philosophy.

When you see how he demonstrates with his feet, caressing the floor like no one else I’ve seen, you realize what an amazing dancer is in front of you.

Read it here.

Feb 10

Beginner interactions

Practicing with beginners is great at many levels. It pushes my technique to boundaries that I normally don’t emphasize so much. For example, it’s challenging not to use my arms to overcome their insensitivity to the lead, thus leading me to be even more clear and powerful.

They feel raw, rough edges accompanied by an enjoyable naïvety.

Some beginners believe I’m a good dancer just because I was trying some acrobatics with someone before. I don’t like that. More often than not, those acrobatic moves didn’t feel good to any of the involved parties. Stumbling in their difficulties, they don’t (yet) realize that I am working on the same exact concepts they are.

Recently, while practicing with someone new to the dance, I tried to dance in close embrace. I had never danced in close embrace with her before. In fact, the only dances I had with her before were the two previous ones, in the same tanda. I immediately realized that she was used to using the arms instead of focusing on my chest to understand the lead. She did not realize what really having and nurturing a connection meant.

I proposed to practice without arms for a couple of songs. Soon we both realized how she was not matching my step size and rotation, causing her to come short of my new position almost every time. I encouraged her not to be shy in her movements and move with more courage and determination. Two songs later she had changed her attitude and was now becoming an active follower, powering her own steps. Before we parted, I tried to convey how the chest can have very subtle leads and how becoming more sensitive to it would open up possibilities in her dance. We both smiled and felt nourished with our short interaction.

Yes, she did not learn how to follow in close embrace in just 20 minutes. How could anyone anyway? I’m not a professional teacher and my experience in helping others has been rather limited too. I was just a guy that acceded to someone’s wishes to share some of my experience and ideas about the dance. What motivated me to write this romanticized version of the events was the end of the conversation: “You have totally changed the way I see and understand the dance. Thank you!”.

Beats any compliment from an hotshot. Thank you!

Jan 10

¡Araca la Cana!

Sometimes people start asking me about Tango, what it is, why I dance it, etc, etc. They normally ask me to show them videos, of what it is like to dance Tango. It happened today and this video of Tomas Howlin dancing with Shorey Myers was what came up immediately into my mind. I then proceeded to explain that this video is not trivial to understand and I just want to show a part of tango that I profoundly enjoy, further explaining him that the most beautiful aspect of this video is how it tells a story and focuses on connection while being playful.

Music by Enrique Delfino and lyrics by Mario Rada. Only the second part of the poem is sung in this version by Fresedo.

¡Araca la cana!
Ya estoy engriyao…
Un par de ojos negros me han engayolao.
Ojazos profundos, oscuros y bravos,
tajantes y fieros hieren al mirar,
con brillos de acero que van a matar.
De miedo al mirarlos el cuor me ha fayao.
¡Araca la cana! ya estoy engriyao.

Yo que anduve entreverao
en mil y una ocasión
y en todas he guapeao
yo que al bardo me he jugao
entero el corazón
sin asco ni cuidao.
Como un gil vengo a ensartarme
en esta daga que va a matarme
si es pa’ creer que es cosa’e Dios
que al guapo más capaz
le faye el corazón.

The lyrics are heavy on the lunfardo and a scholar (Nicolas Poppe) has roughly translated the first part to:

Watch out for cops!
I’m imprisoned
A pair of black eyes have arrested me
Big, profound eyes, dark and fierce
sharp and ferocious they hurt at a look
with sparkles of steel that will kill
from fear of looking at them my heart has failed me
watch out for prison! I’m imprisoned!

Jan 10

Delayed breakthrough

Today I understood a bit better a move I have been working on and off at practicas for some months now. Not that it’s insanely difficult in the sense that only a handful persons in the world can do it. The thing is that it’s so intricate and with so many options that I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to understand more deeply some of the nuances of the whole thing.

Today was different because somehow I could make better use of one idea that Melina and Detlef taught at a workshop some months ago. When thinking more about the concept and applying it, a lot of things and options suddenly opened up.

Morale of this story: Even if you don’t feel or foresee the benefits immediately after a class, don’t despair. It may come and dawn on you later on in your tango life.

Nov 08

Amazing dancers

Watching amazing dancers on the dance floor can have several effects. One of them is to make you realize how much you still have to learn, practice and internalize. On the other hand, it is very easy to be blown away and feel bad about sharing a dance floor doing your own thing, cumbersome in comparison. You feel limited by your abilities and less able to give another great dancer a great time.

As a leader, no matter whatever other might say, I always feel guilty about a less good dance. A missed connection, literally. One thing I’ve been dealing with is also to realize that a lot of great dancers on the dance floor are professionals. I want to dance better and better but it is also important to keep things a bit in perspective.

While this frustration may be very hard on you on the spot, at the milonga, it is also a source of energy to work hard and let go of less good feelings afterwards. We need to enjoy the journey.

Nov 08

peer pressure

No matter how much you know that you shouldn’t be affected, sharing a dance floor with people doing beautiful open moves can be tough. Yes, we want to think that is all about musicality, small and beautiful. But it still gets to you. And you want to be able to do it.

Maybe to not do it so much afterwards?

Jun 08



(image from here)

At the beginning it felt good. A friendly follower kept praising that I was a nice dancer, different than others. Then she asked me who I took classes with and now I am the professor’s students. She keeps on telling me how I dance nicely like the others that also take classes from the same teacher. I guess she’s saying that we don’t push women around, we listen to the music and strive for a good connection.

I don’t mind people praising me and my friends for dancing like how a professor advocates for. That’s all good. In fact, everyone choses their professors according to what they find is beautiful from an aesthetic point of view and how and what each professor focus on. But still, I feel like a copycat. I feel like a product.