Oh yes! This is what I’m talking about: the Tango Revolution I’ve been hoping for has already started – in Hove!
Ever since returning to London from Spain two years ago, I’ve been trying to find something similar to the tango classes I was attending there: where the emphasis is on enjoyment, on encouragement, on learning through dancing, on getting up and having a go, rather than waiting till you’re ‘perfect’. I love dancing tango, I love learning how to dance it better, but I don’t want to be too serious about it. It is something I do in my spare time and want to have fun while dancing.
I’ve found that the more serious scene can often leave out those who do not devote every waking hour to dancing, and can be quite cold and forbidding – I’ve sometimes gone home after being told off by someone I’ve danced with, or just not felt like I belonged. It doesn’t really encourage me to keep going.
However, I had a very different experience in Brighton on Sunday. I arrived a few minutes late, just as everyone was getting stuck into their (free) beginners’ class. How smart is that? Carola, the teacher, stipulates that anyone who is a true beginner, gets a free class and free milonga, you only pay (…the princely sum of £3.50) once you have done a few classes and know whether or not you like it. Hopefully, this will entice many new people to learn this lovely dance… I’m not being altruistic here – the more people tango, the more opportunities I get to dance!
The class covered a few basic moves that we practiced by swapping partners every so often. We practiced to music, and Carola picked up a few bits and pieces to correct us on. Then the DJ arrived and the milonga proper started. Initially, it was mainly the beginners from the class dancing, but soon more people arrived, and the floor was filled with people of all abilities. I know many of the more ‘serious’ dancers prefer milongas that are more traditional, and more, well, ‘serious’, but I personally prefer a more laid-back vibe, where I don’t feel I’m being judged by my ability, and ranked, and constantly re-shuffled in the minds of all present.
Here, everyone seems comfortable to just ask someone to dance and to give it a try. There were some very good dancers there, and they seemed happy to dance with everyone. A few of the women (myself included) even went up and asked for a dance directly. Something you would not do in Buenos Aires, but I’m from Scandinavia, and it suits me.
A lot of this laid back and inclusive vibe is down to Carola’s way of running the event. She and her co-teachers encourage couples to swap partners, encourage new people to take up tango, and, very importantly, suggest that no-one criticises their partner’s dancing during lessons, but instead, refers questions to a teacher – this way, much of the ‘telling your partner off’ mentality gets avoided.
I danced for most of the evening, only occasionally sitting down for a chat and to watch the other dancers. I did not know anyone when I arrived, but by the end of the evening, I felt like I was a regular. Which is what I hope to become.
For more info: http://www.brightontango.com/ See you in Brighton!