Remembering 2009...

22nd December 2009

Absent friends

At the start of this year a dancing friend of mine died - he happened to be on the dance floor, dancing away when he had a heart attack. He wasn't a Tango dancer, but a Modern Jiver.

He was warned by his doctor to take it easy, but still carried on dancing, going out the way he wanted.

Not a great way to start the year, but I mention it because as we lose friends either through them drifting away or passing away it makes us all realise that things change, they don't stay the same, and, new and different things happened for me this year.

Jive Addiction

This was the year that I started moving away from (specifically) Ceroc weekenders and opting for Modern Jive and Tango weekenders.

The long-awaited Jive Addiction venue at its new location of Skegness, how would it be? Well, not much to say about the Tango there to be honest, I visited February and also the June event, but I know I won't be going back in a hurry.

I remember there were an awful lot of ladies waiting to dance in the Arthur room when the Tango was on, and with this mis-managing of gender present, partners tend to stick to each other, perpetuating the already uncomfortable situation. I found the journey from Sidcup to Skegness a very unpleasant journey once past Peterborough, and driving along those roads with the signs saying how many people had died in the year was a tad scary.

Rock Bottoms

Another Jive weekender attended was the Rock Bottoms event at Torquay.

It was more Jive than Tango, but for its first foray into the Tango world Hev and her crew really tried hard to make it a good event by being very hands on, doing different things, communicating with all at every moments notice, ensuring there was a buzzing atmosphere, even at mealtimes.

The Tango tuition was good, but again there were people who thought they were at Intermediate level when clearly they were beginners, and as such the teachers had to pitch the classes at a level the whole group could deal with, which meant making it simpler.

The 2010 event will offer more Tango than Jive this time, and I will be going, but I do hope that it doesn't become what I would call a Tango taster session and it can offer challenging Tango tuition.

Tango weekenders

I also attended two Tango weekenders, a new challenge as I was previously told that I could expect more snobbier tree-hugging vegetarian save-the-world types there. Well, that's slightly true I found...

Tango Mango

First up was Tango Mango (or is that Mango Tango?) in Totnes, Devon. You had the opportunity to stay on site sleeping in a classroom (huh?) or camp in the grounds and use the building for showering/ablutions etc, or, bed and breakfast it in Totnes.

We chose the B&B option, which meant we were not really part of the on-site in-crowd. The weekend consisted of milongas and tuition, but I had a bit of a run in with the organiser over their ticketing system and as such I will not be revisiting this particular weekender again. If you do read up on this event though, you will find that there is good reviews as it was liked and suited some - for me though, er no.

Tankademy

I also attended TangKademy Bramshaw, in the New Forest. This also offered milongas and tuition, but no-live in option, you either lived within distance or b&b'd it.

We B&B'd it. I felt that the tuition (4 x 1.5 hours - am and pm Saturday, am and pm Sunday) could have been done in 3 instead of 6 hours. I did like it though, and would go back.

Venues

Ceroc still played a part of my dancing world, I still regularly attended Orpington and sometimes Bromley and Hammersmith, but more and more I started my journey with the Tango world. Tango venues became more pencilled into my diary.

Places like :

  • Negrachas - where Let's Go To Negracha's got it's own DJ called Warren who played the most oddest, wonderful, awful music around.
  • Carablanca - personally I can't stand the music, but my partner loves it.
  • BerkoTango - David and Marc's thing but for me it's 140 miles/£18 in petrol so sorry but not going mate.
  • The Warren - stopped going there, not impressed with John being rude.
  • Oscar and Sophia's - they all stuck to each other and getting dances was difficult. Not going back.
  • The Room - difficult for me to get to Tottenham, alas.
  • La Mariposa - my regular weekly fix. My Tango tuition this year has mainly been at La Mariposa, either attending their class on Sunday afternoons, or having private lessons with a guy called Alan Wallace. I decided to concentrate on private tuition as I wanted to lose the Ceroc in me, when it came to dancing Tango.

Modern Tango

This year I even started my own venue in Sidcup, trying to generate interest through Facebook by calling it Tango For Modern Jivers, later becoming Modern Tango - it unfortunately only lasted about two months.

I misjudged the gap in the market I thought was there. Oh well. It was nice to get support from folks though, but it was just too far for everyone to make it to the Siberian wasteland called Sidcup, especially mid-week. You live and learn...

Performance

I had a Tango/MJ dance to learn for a June wedding. I will never ever criticise anyone who does a showcase ever again. It was such an ordeal at first, but eventually after I stopping being a complete prick and shouting at the most patient woman in the world, I gradually got it together and performed a half decent five minute showcase. I thank you and love you Kymme for getting me through it.

Coming up...

So, what's in store for 2010?

  • Rock Bottoms Tango weekender
  • Jive Addiction again but this time in Manchester (because Vincent and Flavia will be there)
  • Tangkademy Bramshaw weekender,

And absolutely no dancing in June/July - I'm watching the World Cup football...

 - Ken Royden, 22nd December 2009

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