Review: Tango In Action

9th January 2009

Class Date: 7th January 2009

Location: Oasis Sports Centre, Covent Garden (Map)

Cost: £10


As part of my New Years resolutions, I'm determined to find a regular class to attend in 2009. So I went to the Tango In Action class, taught by Stefano and Alexandra, in central London.

Getting there

Oasis Sports Centre is just on the outskirts of Covent Garden - so right in the centre of London. It is possible to drive there, and even to park quite close, but it's probably not for the faint-hearted.

It's close to both Covent Garden and Holborn tube stations, though.

The venue

The sports centre is quite posh, with squash courts and a swimming pool. There were a group of very energetic people jumping around in the hall before our class, they doing what I believe is called an "exercise class" or something similar.

The hall is a standard gym hall - good floor, mirrors on two walls. It's a bit echo-y, which is a shame because it makes it difficult for the teachers to communicate as clearly as I'd like, and Stefano is a good communicator - so I want to hear what he says.

There's a little "gallery" for the hall also, which is a bit off-putting as I'm not used to the occasional spectator, but you soon get used to it.

The people

There were about 10 couples there. It seemed to be quite a close-knit group, I think there were only a few new starters. So I'd guess that S&A are good at retaining the loyalty of their pupils.

We had a couple of men over - shock horror - but S&A got people to switch round relatively frequently. This could have been more organised, maybe, but there were several couples who clearly weren't switching, so that made it a bit more disorganised.

It was billed as "Intermediates 2" level - I think that's reasonable, most of the people there were at what I'd call an intermediate level.

The class

We had a couple of tracks played, and got to dance as a warm-up; there was no technique practice, but then it's not a technique class.

Stefano then started off by asking "What is an advanced dancer" - gathering some answers from the people there. Interesting to hear that even some "intermediates" felt that an advanced dancer was someone who did complex choreography...

  1. Man steps to the left, woman steps to the right - man ends on the outside track (so like step 2 of the basic 8)
  2. Man steps forward on right, woman steps back on left (like step 3 of the basic 8)
  3. Man pivots 90 degrees clockwise and sidesteps onto left, woman mirrors (sidesteps onto right).
    Note 1: the man's step (as for step 1) should be larger than the woman's.
  4. Man pivots another 90 degrees (no more), and steps back onto right foot, whilst leading the woman to step forward onto her left foot, moving to the man's right - this may feel a bit weird, as it's a change of direction.
    Note 2: the man can pivot less than 90 degrees - or not at all.
    Note 3: the man should leave his left foot out (not collect).
  5. Man rotates his body clockwise, leading the follower into a giro (starting with her another forward step onto her left, then pivot and sidestep, and so on).
  6. As the giro goes on, the man draws his left foot around behind his right foot, into a cross position, then transfers weight back onto the left foot, and draws a lapiz pattern with the right foot, ending up with the right foot forwards (but not transferring weight forwards).
    Note 4: This is a variation of one of the leader exercises I did in Amir's Tango course last year, so I was quite familiar with the concept. But getting it to work properly - not so easy...
  7. The man should time this decoration work, so that the man's right foot is placed just behind the woman's right foot - touching it, even - as she finishes the "step forwards onto right foot" part of the giro.
  8. Man turns the lady into a clockwise forwards ocho, which she can decorate by raising her left leg (which she has to do, to step over the man's outstretched right foot).
  9. Finish with a three-step walk (pivoting anti-clockwise).

We spent the majority of this class working on this sequence - probably about 40 minutes. Stefano and Alex watched us each do it, giving advice and feedback as we did.

Finally, we spent a few minutes, some time splitting up into male / female groups, and we then worked on the technique for men for this sequence.

There was an "Advanced" class starting at 8:30 (OK, Latin time - more like 9pm), but I'd absorbed more than enough for one day.


The cost per class is £10, or £17 for two classes. It's a bit pricey, but this is probably about normal for Central London classes - Bianca of Rojo Y Negro charges the same.

To be honest, the location and venue probably make this a non-starter for me as a regular class - I want somewhere that's a bit easier to reach by car, and with better acoustics.

However, I can thoroughly recommend Stefano and Alex as teachers, and their chemistry works very well to promote a friendly atmosphere.

More information

- David Bailey, 9th January 2009