20 ene 2008

I have come to the conclusion that jeans are not ideal for dancing, at least for me. Whenever I wear them I get sloppy. I don’t know exactly why that is, except maybe that denim is generally denser and more coarse than other materials. I find myself avoiding a tight collect position in order to minimize friction. Plus, I prefer loose jeans, which compounds the issue. Maybe tighter jeans would work better, I don’t know. And maybe my jeans are just a tad too long. At The Late Shift last night I was stepping on them here and there. Then again, that just might be bad technique, not being grounded enough and all that. Sometimes I would catch myself in the mirror lifting my feet off the ground in a way that appeared excessive, and it’s a pretty unconscious thing. Better work on that.

Speaking of The Late Shift, it’s only been going on for three weeks now and already it seems to be one of the most popular milongas in town. Certainly, it’s become one of my favorites. The floor is good, the sound system is good, there is ample space and the set up is comfortable. Dynamically speaking, there is a good flow to la ronda, the level of dancing is decent (at least late at night–post 12:30–which is when I tend to go) and David is an excellent dj. When I hear his selections both inter- and intra-tanda they just makes a lot of sense to me. I think this milonga will definitely become a Bay Area staple, but hopefully not at the expense of others. It’s set up to have minimum impact on places like aMuse by running later and offering discounted entry fees after aMuse closes, but I think it’s inevitably going to make a ripple at least. It will be interesting to see how next week’s All-Nighter at The Beat (personal fave) is affected.

I had intended to get there around 12:30 to take advantage of the discount but I woke up late from a nap and lay in bed for a while deciding whether I still wanted to go. By the time I got my ass up, showered, and made the drive it was close to 2, but there was still a good number of people and fresh energy in the room. I danced 4 tandas which for me is relatively copious, especially within an hour and a half. All a pleasure although as I mentioned I felt a little sloppy (damn jeans) and also not really properly warmed up. When I practice, I find that it usually takes me an hour of straight dancing before I feel pretty loose and can start to play around, and that is with one partner who is very familiar with my style.

Regarding the "play" aspect, I still have difficulty feeling like I can experiment with other dancers (especially in a milonga) because I am always cautious about trying to keep things comfortable, and it's almost like I don't know if I have permission to make things more challenging. And given my tendency to be a reluctant dancer I don't offer people the opportunity to get too familiar with my approach. I suppose it might help if I was more open to dancing beyond one tanda at a time with anyone, but I remain resistant to that if only because I am so tied to Argentine etiquette. I just hope that doesn't give off the impression that I'm blowing anybody off. At this point it is very rare for me to have a dance experience that is unbearable because I am already so cautious before I consent to dancing it pretty much guarantees a good experience; I only go out when I know it will work. In this regard I feel very close to something Carlos Gavito said, as quoted in Paul Pellicoro's book on Tango:

...I swear to God that I enjoy every single tango I dance. That is why, when I go to a milonga, I don't dance the whole night. I dance a few selected tangos. What is important is that I always dance well. [...] If I can't find the right partner, I won't dance. If I don't like the music, I won't dance. So, to describe to you my best tango moment is impossible, because for me every tango is a best moment.

Words I live by, in tango and beyond.

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