Friday, 20 March 2009

shall we practica or milonga?

Tomorrow is the first day of Spring, and the sun shines, the daffodils sway and birds twitter in anticipation. My Irish setter is thankfully getting better and today we'll take a gentle stroll together to loosen his joints up just a little. If he could tango, I've always thought he'd make a wonderful leader, elegant yet masculine, but never yanking me about on the end of his lead!
There are events on this weekend, Bristol, a milonga with La rosa on Saturday, and also locally at Ross, with their practica at The Courtfield Arms , Lower Lydbrook, Nr Ross on Wye, which brings me to the subject of choice. sometimes how does one make the decision? After all, both possibilities have their attractions, one is really quite near and the other about an hour away down the motorway. Practicas are lovely for simply enjoying dancing with some of your familiar dance partners. It doesn't matter if you make a "mistake," for either the man or the woman, as you are supposed to be there to practise anyway, so you can learn from those experiences for the better hopefully. The practica is also an excellent first social dancing forum for the beginner, as you don't need to worry quite so much about the "Codigos"(codes of behaviour) although its also a good place to start observing the general rules, such as making sure you always dance in the correct direction around the room, in the "line of dance" and avoiding crashing into other dancers around the floor. So in essence, the practica is a brilliant safe place to work on lots of things before you actually try the milonga. There is nothing to stop you also practising on your own, maybe just walking around the dance floor in time to the music, or using the wall as a useful prop for working on particular steps, ochos, pivots etc.. simply make use of the space available, and take every opportunity to dance with as many people as you can. It is still a relaxing social event and you can dress up if you feel so inclined as well, trying out different shoes for comfort as well if you like. Its also quite fun to have a go at practicing your "cabezeo" as well, its easier with people you know! Although quite often, its surprising how direct you have to be with someone, as they may smile back when you catch their eye, unsure about whether you're just smiling or actually trying to attract them to the dance floor! In a practica situation, I feel I can be quite brazen and if I hear a piece of music playing that I can't resist dancing to, I have been known to simply say to someone "this is a beautiful tango, its a shame to waste it!" ...and fortunately usually they agree !
This is all wonderful experience in building up the self-confidence before going to the more formal milongas. I remember when we went to our first milonga, having never been to a practica before. I might have looked the part, but when we saw the crowded dance floor swirling around with those shockingly experienced looking couples, my heart sank. Certainly my partner gulped as we tried to somehow slip in discreetly into the slow lane, while fearfully executing our first awkward little sequence of steps."the basic 8", which is even more tricky for the novice to do at a milonga, as it starts with a back step of course! A few friendly practicas would have been invaluable at this stage, but we didn't know that then. Now, having learnt the hard and painful way, and having read about the history of tango, how the Argentineans learnt it, which was mainly of course through dancing with more experienced dancers at practicas, (not milongas) I recommend to new dancers to go to practicas often, as they really can provide some of the most enjoyable dancing you'll ever have!
So maybe this week, I've decided, a practica at Ross could be the ideal therapy!

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