Please subscribe here to get my news by email

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Dance floor etiquette :-)

As we are getting close to next weeks milonga  and all the upcoming festival milongas in Wellington, I thought it could be good to recap some dance floor etiquette for us all and also to educate the budding tangueros amongst us!

As you will be picking up in class there are not many "rules" in tango.  How you want to interpret the music, step, connect with your partner is up to you ultimately.  However to make the whole social tango experience more enjoyable for the whole community one needs to follow some guidelines on the dance floor.  Here's some tips :-)

(to keep the writing easy in some places I have used traditional he = lead and follower = she.  However we all know that lead and follow can be interchangeable (esp in progressive Nelson))


The literal translation of cabeceo is 'nod of the head'. In simple terms it is a non-verbal invitation to dance the tango from lead to follow. The lead looks at the follow and indicates with a movement of his head that he would like to dance. If she accepts the cabeceo, she will nod, he will move towards her, offer the embrace (with which she sets the distance) and they will tango; if she refuses the offer, she will politely look away, and he will not approach.

The cabeceo's immense charm is in its subtlety - it avoids an awkward situation and unpleasantness by the smallest of gestures, whose meaning - particularly if the woman declines - is kept private between the requester and requestee. Indeed what could be more natural at a milonga than to communicate by eye contact?  No longer is there the danger to cross a crowded room to invite a woman to dance, only to be turned down in front of everyone.

Of course what this means is that the follower has to be available to accept the dance!  I have heard so often followers stating that they get no dances but the reality is that they are not looking for a dance either!  Texting, burying your head in your bag, talking a lot and not being available is the biggest block to dancing.  Yes there are always times when there are not enough leads to dance with, that's life, but if we are interested and happy and keen (and especially in Nelson where we are so friendly) you will get dances :-)

I also recommend that if you wear glasses, keep them on for the cabeceo and then take them off once you have accepted that dance.  You will feel more comfortable dancing without them on than worrying about whether you are nudging him with them.

There are times when the follower doesn't want to dance!  I know it's hard to imagine that she is not desperate to dance with you!  But its true. Sometimes the music may not call to us, we may feel like a rest or a chat with someone from class ... please don't take offence if we don't accept your offer.  We are still flattered that you have asked us and we will dance with you when we want to!

In Buenos Aires the cabaceo is used relentlessly.  In many Western countries we are resistant to it - it appears that we see it as forward or worse still .... rude!


When entering the line of dance, make eye contact with the on-coming lane of leaders and ONLY enter when you have acknowledgement of the leader next in the line of dance or you have enough space to do so safely.  Having eye contact with each other is acknowledgement enough!

Move anticlockwise around the floor.
Try to remain the same distance behind the couple in front of you.
Keep the follower’s feet on the floor.
Don’t step backward against the line of dance ( unless you know it is safe to do so)
Try to keep your vocabulary limited to simple movements that can be modified within one or 2 steps. Avoid long sequences and really try to keep the follower’s feet on the floor.
In crowded conditions, form at least 2 LANES of dance.
The outside lane should extend right to the edges of the dance floor.

Keep the lanes moving in an orderly progression and don’t overtake or cut from one lane to another unless absolutely necessary.

Can we help the dance floor etiquette?  YES!!

Don't rush onto the floor when you have accepted a dance, make sure you give the leader the opportunity to find a safe entrance to the line of dance.
Don't self lead boleos
Use gentle but connected pressure with your left hand on his back if he is stepping dangerously into someone's path (that he cannot see)
Be an active follower and be aware of the dance around you, even though you may close your eyes during the dance, when you relinquish yourself from the embrace watch where you step in case you step into another couple.

When collisions happen: 
Smile, Make Eye Contact to acknowledge the collision, and then *APOLOGIZE* as soon as is humanly possible, even if you think you are in the right.  
A good time to do this is in the wee pause between songs or at the end of the tanda if the collision happened in the last song.  You don't have a to make a meal of it - just say "Sorry" with eye contact (as if you mean it) and then get back to the enjoyable moments with your dance partner.

Remember tango is a social dance, full of connection which includes the music your partner and the entire dance floor.

Personal Hygiene
I know it may seem strange to some to have to write this  - but tango is a very intimate dance form, you are in a close embrace for 12 minutes and we all want to be comfortable.  Men remember that women have a higher olfactory sense (in general)!

Smell good
But don't over do it with the perfume/after shave - you don’t want your partner to pass out from toxic fumes

Wash your body well
Close embracing someone you don't know needs to be as pleasant an experience as possible :-)

Clean your teeth
Freshen your breath for those close embrace moments

Do not drink and tango 
It smells unpleasant and does not help your balance!

We would rather if you didn’t, but if you do please refresh your mouth with mints

So there are a few tips to get you started.  Feel free to make comments on the blog ... happy to field any questions.

Happy dancing everyone!

Pre-festival Milonga in Nelson

Let's farewell all those who are going to the Festival 
and give them a good workout before they hit the Wellington dance floors! 
See you all next Friday :-)

Golden Bay Tango Weekend

Heads up for 11-13 September 2015

Book those dates off work!

Fancy a Tango in Berlin?

I was recently approached by Clara who has interviewed a local teacher and dancer in Berlin about his love of tango.  She wanted me to share his story with you.  He has some great tips on where to dance in Berlin - just in case you are heading to Europe this summer!

Friday, June 12, 2015

NZTF coming up in 2 weeks!

Here's some of the stars!

Maria Ines and Sebastian Jiminez

Maria Plazaola and Ricardo Viqueria

Monday Night Tango Sessions a winner!

Thank you to all those who came to the first NEW Monday Sessions restructure last Monday (in support of my injuries!).   The evening went really well  - our new beginners loved it, the more advanced people love it, I loved it!

So please come along next Monday night and see what all the fuss is about.  Arrive at 6pm (or as close to that time as you can) and stay stay for 2.5 hours of dancing and instruction for $15.  Help our new people find their feet whilst you practice your own technique, learn and review Cecilia's moves.

If you finish work early and need a place to wind down and re-energise a few of us meet at Cafe Affair for a coffee/quick bite from 5pm.

Hasta la Pista tangueros
A-M x 
Old St John's Hall
320 Hardy Street, Nelson (behind the church)
6pm - 8.30pm ish
$15 for the entire evening, snacks provided
Find a partner and do a private lesson. Privates accelerate your learning, iron out any bad habits fast and are a lot of fun in their intensity!
The fee for a private lesson is $70 an hour and the studio is in The Wood.  I am available weekends and some week afternoons/nights.  Come to the Monday night sessions and find yourself a partner. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

May Wrap up and a new change to TL for the next few months!

What an amayzing Tango month we have just had!  Matthew Civil and I taught a weekend of great workshops in Takaka, a few of us went down to Christchurch to dance at Frank's Vuelvo al Sur, then I flew up to Auckland to meet Cecilia one very wet and chilly morning and she has just finished teaching 2 intense weeks of workshops in Auckland and Collingwood - she absolutely bought the house down!  How lucky are we?
 ..... and just around the corner is the NZ Tango Festival .... so let's keep dancing tangueros.

Read on for news about the new Monday night structure and the next milonga (which just happens to be before you head off to the festival!).  The photos down the side of the email are a snap shot of May's tango madness :-)

Hasta la Pista tangueros
A-M x 
Old St John's Hall
320 Hardy Street, Nelson (behind the church)
6pm - 8.30pm ish
$15 for the entire evening

The all new and exciting Monday sessions will be starting tomorrow night till mid September.  As some of you are aware I am nursing some injuries which I have decided to make a priority.  No dancing for me!
So the Monday evenings will be structured differently and, excitedly, I think they will be a lot of fun if we all get behind the idea.  My biggest challenge will be to NOT DANCE!   We will begin the Monday sessions with a series of exercises for both lead and follow and will spend time focussing on the free leg and improvisation.  We will then have a guided practica going over Cecilia’s moves in GB and introducing some of her Auckland ones with students who came to Auckland and with the use of videos.

Beginners will be joining us at the start of the evening and will participate in the warm up exercises and I will be asking the more advanced students to dance 3 songs with each beginner to get them started on their tango journey  - I will help the more advanced to start teaching the walk, cross, ochos. I think this is fair for the beginners and in the spirit of tango for you more advanced.  So the new structure will start tomorrow.
Beginners please come along as this will be an amazing opportunity for you to get to dance with advanced students! 

The evening will start at 6pm - (maybe 5.30pm in coming weeks if I can get the hall early) and will go for around 2 1/2 hours.  I will provide tea, coffee and snacks throughout the evening.  The fee will remain at $15 for the entire evening.

Private lessons will still be available if you come in a couple.  
The fee for a private lesson is $70 an hour and the studio is in The Wood.  So please let me know if you are wanting private lessons and I'll do my best to organise you a partner if you do not have one.
Privates accelerate your learning, iron out any bad habits fast and are a lot of fun in their intensity!


Thank you to all the participants who came to Cecilia's workshops in Auckland and Golden Bay. To those that travelled from afar, did both weekends or who taxied people around and helped in lots of different ways.  It is all of us pulling together that makes it such a great experience!  Thanks to Michael Parmenter and Denise McCombe for supporting us in Auckland and Tracey and her team at Zatori for a wonderful retreat.  Cecilia had a great time as usual and left with a big smile on her face.  Did you notice that she made a comment about how great it is to see people actually smiling when they tango?  We will be welcoming her back next year I am sure!

For those of you who came to either weekend feel free to email me any photos or videos you have and I will make them available to others who were away with us for the weekend as well.