Review: Tango de Salon at iJig
29th July 2010
Asta Moro and Alberto Ortiz ("Tango De Salon") have recently started teaching Tango at the iJig venue in Hatfield on Wednesdays. I've been attending these classes for the past month, so I thought I'd put up a review.
The class reviewed was on the 28th July - but I'll include some general comments also.
I first went to this venue in November 2009 - it's very interesting to note the differences (good ones) between then and now.
The venue address is Onslow St. Audrey's School. Old Rectory Drive. Hatfield. Herts. AL10 8AB - see here for full directions.
Basically, it's about a 10-minute drive, up the A1(M) from Junction 23 of the M25. The only slight strangeness is that the route back onto the A1(M) is slightly different from the route up there. But that's the joys of Hatfield transport layout for you...
The venue has ample parking; there's also parking in the road outside.
The hall is the second room at the Onslow venue. The room itself is fine - decent size, decent floor. There were 40+ people in the class, and we all managed to fit in.
The entry price was £8, which includes entry to the Modern Jive hall also. There's free drinking water available from coolers, and also sweeties on the front desk, which is a nice touch.
Pat mans the front desk, and he seems to have a spookily-encyclopedic memory of attendee names.
There are two classes running: beginners and improvers. Both are well-attended - typically 40 or more students.
There were about 40 of us in the classes - with a range of experience from almost-total beginner to experienced dancer.
The beginner class usually starts with walking - individually, then in couples - emphasising musicality and respect for the line of dance. These seem to be defining themes for the Tango De Salon classes; which is fair enough, you need to prioritize some things, and if I wanted to learn Yet Another Back Sacada Routine, I can always go to other venues...
Typically, the class will then learn a simple figure - on Wednesday, we did a cross with a back ocho movement. Unlike most other routines, the emphasis with this one again was not on the sequence but on using the sequence within the line of dance, and to the music.
The class lasts around 40 minutes, typically - there's then a 5-minute break, with a couple of tracks played, then we go on to the improver class.
This is usually an extension of the theme and movements covered in the beginner class; with some more emphasis on floorcraft, spacing, and musicality. It's noticeable that the teachers spend some time at the start to get us all evenly-spaced throughout the room, although of course the arrangements get completely messed-up by the end of the track.
It's surprising how challenging it is, even for an experienced dancer, to include a new figure, to maintain line of dance, and to incorporate musicality, all at the same time. Especially when everyone else is doing the same, and especially in a busy room. So it's a very good workout in terms of simulating a chaotic milonga floor, and teaching us how to navigate through the chaos.
For Wednesday's class, we did a cross, followed by a couple of forward ochos involving a "fan" decoration from the follower. Again, the actual routine is not that important with Tango De Salon classes; you won't learn many fancy steps in these classes.
After the class, there's a brief break, then a milonga / practica session from 10pm - 11:15pm. This has been quite sparsely-attended up until recently, but over the past few weeks it's started to pick up some momentum, and it's now turning into more of a "proper" milonga session, with a nice atmosphere.
The music is predominantly traditional, with a little bit of neo tango towards the end of the evening. One nice thing is that, clearly, the emphasis on floorcraft and respect for line of dance is paying off; judging from the behaviour of the dancers at the milonga, all of whom are moving around well and in the line of dance.
Tango De Salon is - clearly, considering the name - focussing on dancing Tango in a particular style; Asta and Alberto are very consistent in their approach to this, and in the things they prioritize and emphasize.
You won't learn many figures. You definitely won't learn fancy steps. Asta and Alberto are not really show dancers. And there's not much about pure technique (leading, dissociation, balance and so on).
But there's a lot about dancing tango in a salon. Which, given the sometimes-poor state of Tango floorcraft within some UK venues, is probably ssomething we all could work on more.
~ David Bailey, 29th July 2010