David goes to Edinburgh... Three: Saturday shenanigans

31st May 2010


For some reason, so far in my Tango Journey I've somehow managed to avoid having any classes with Jenny and Ricardo - despite their excellent reputation, and their frequent visits Darn Sarf.

So I have booked myself in for two workshops on the Saturday with them.

Workshop 1 - Dynamic crosses

(Advanced level)

We start off with a nice warmup - stretching and shaking everything out.

After a tango or two, we get straight to it.

The first pattern is to lead the lady into two consecutive back crosses, whilst the man also crosses with his feet (forwards). The man angles backwards the cross steps, to ensure the lady almost has no option but to cross - there's nowhere else for her feet to go.

It's a lovely little sequence, and I'm very happy playing with it, we're feeling nice and smug that we can alter it, lead it and follow it in several variations. Right up until where Jenny comes up and tactfully points out that, whilst what we're doing is nice, it's not what everyone else is doing. Cue crash down to earth as we have to redo and relearn it. But hey, that's two things for the price of one...

La Dulce comes up with the description of the steps as "self-sacadas", and I think that's spot-on; basically our legs are sacada-ing each other to make them move. Well, it made a lot of sense at the time...

Some technique: the hips should always be facing the partner in the cross. Also, there's a tendency to "lift" during the cross - but Jenny and Ricardo advise against that, they prefer to keep level whilst crossing.

We tried a variation of this where the man leads the lady to the same steps, but doesn't always cross himself. I found that variation very difficult - I'd estimate we had a 40% success rate with that one.

We then tried the same thing, but with no physical contact - the ladies had to follow from visual cues, from the torso. Challenging stuff...

We then had another couple of cross-based sequences to work on - including some sort of strange hybrid between an ocho cortado and an Americana, which worked rather nicely.

All in all, this was an excellent class - Jenny and Ricardo are lovely teachers and - unlike many other couples - are both teachers, they both give advice, and they work extremely well together. I can see where their reputation comes from - it's well-deserved.

Workshop 2: outside the box (curving steps)

(Intermediate level)

This class was all based around a sequence, but in a good way - using curvature to enhance and vary a step.

The sequence involves several ochos - some of which are curved - and an Americana into a giro.

It sounds pretty straightforward, but there was a lot packed into it - mainly on how to lead and follow curve variations as led by the upper body.

Some technique tips:

  • Ladies, when doing an ocho, try to avoid heading for the guy's armpit (!) - always have your intention into the man.
  • Giros - ladies, walk around the centre point of the man's axis, no matter where that is.

Again, an excellent class - although most of us were definitely wilting by the end of it. We are all clearly lightweights compared to Jenny, who was still going strong despite carrying a little extra around the midsection area...

Time for a long hot bath...

Milonga - Ball At The Hub

The Hub is large converted church, just next to Edinburgh Castle. It's a gorgeous venue, with lovely staircases, and a good sized dance hall. Which, unlike the Teviot Row venue, is air-conditioned. Thankfully, as I'm dolled up in my waistcoat, shirt and jacket - the latter of which I ceremoniously removed for the single neo/weird music tanda - the aircon is working well.

The Hub


Horacio and Cecilia do a fantastic performance set - four tracks, each of them amazing to watch. Horacio is incredibly musical - he really designs the movements to fit the music, in a way which I find easy to relate to; unlike most performances, which I can appreciate aesthetically, but which leave me cold in terms of relating to it as a dance.

Horacio and Cecilia


Horacio does a fine job of DJ-ing; all the classics, lots of lovely danceable tunes.

The band are also excellent - they play the occasional weird number, but that's par for the course - and I really enjoyed dancing to them.


The people all seem friendly; there's no cabaceo in action beyond the informal catching-of-the-eye you'd find in normal salsa or modern jive venue. The tables are arranged around the outside, so again you have an issue with people walking around the edge to reach tables whilst other people are trying to dance in that space - one consequence of this is that it's not easy to mingle beyond your original table, unless you happen to stop in front of someone you want to dance with - there's an art to the timing ;)

Personally, I'd like to see a layout where people could walk around behind the tables, even at the expense of some dance space. But with 300+ people in the venue, that may be unrealistic.

A couple of observations:

  • Floorcraft
    Floorcraft is not great. And I speak as a Londoner here. I'm spending an above-average amount of time doing "defensive dancing" - never quite sure if the person ahead of me will suddenly do something a bit silly. I'm fairly sure this is nothing to do with the standard of Edinburgh dancers, but may well be due to a lot of us strangers (including, no doubt, us Southern Softies) coming along and disrupting the atmosphere a little. Don't get me wrong, it's still a great venue and I enjoyed it - but the atmosphere wasn't quite as "flowing" as I'd hoped.
    There's nothing much the organisers can do about this really - if you have a group of heterogenous people with different backgrounds and styles all coming together, it's inevitable that there'll be a bit of a mess.
  • Numbers
    I'd expected it to be gender-balanced; but not so - lots of women over, it appeared. Which sounds great for the guys, but really isn't - we don't get a chance to sit down, we're pushed into dancing with people because they've not danced all night, and so on. I much prefer a level playing field, numbers-wise.
    It'd be nice if, for the Ball at least, tickets could be gender-balanced. But it looked like there were a lot of women over.

The end

I bailed out at around 2:30am, afte the band's final set - apparently there was a post-Ball part starting at 3:30am, but I'm neither young enough nor insane enough for that to be tempting.

Bed calls..

~ David Bailey, 31st May 2010

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