Friday, 7 December 2012

Xmas social, special Xmas tango lessons, new widget for milonga lift sharing, performance and other news

I hope you're well. It's another packed newsletter this time, so you may like to read it over a tea :)

Xmas social and special Xmas lessons

First to mention is the Tango Lingua Xmas social, this Friday, tomorrow, 7th Dec. For those who are coming regularly to lessons the date was fixed a while ago. I just wanted to post this out for anyone who perhaps hasn't been for a while and would like to join us.

Table is booked for 12, from 6pm but more are welcome! We'll be heading out for a buffet meal at 'The Real China' in Eastleigh, then moving on for some social dancing at Chilworth Hall (Milonga Melodia) for around 8:30pm.

You are warmly invited to join us! Come when you can, but if you get there too late either I or Claudia might have eaten all the tasty food by then (just warning you).

The Real China,
Units L5/6, Swan Centre,
Eastleigh SO50 5FX
02380 617518   £12.95 per person I believe.
(3 minutes walk from Eastleigh train station)

Milonga Melodia,
Chilworth Hall,
Chilworth Road, SO16 7JZ

If anyone wants to come with me I'll be catching the train from Southampton Central at 17:35pm. Chaira and Andrea (and possibly also Dawn and John - not too sure as I'd drunk some port at the time it was discussed) have kindly offered to give people lifts to and back from the milonga (Hannah can also give lifts to the milonga). If there is a group left over, a taxi between 4 will be fairly cheep.

If you're stuck, give me a call.

On to the special Xmas tango lesson menu:
The last 3 sessions of the year will have a special, fun theme - a cool tango movement or concept to enjoy dancing and possibly raise an eye at the milongas with. While quite probably unfamiliar to you, each movement will be carefully taught so you'll really understand and experience how to have fun with it.

Last Monday we did reverse step-overs into a suspended turn resolving in a leg wrap. Nice :) Next Monday you can look forward to something else equally, if not more, cool. These are open classes, everyone welcome! (For the usual price of £8)

The last lesson this year will be on 17 Dec. Back on the 7th Jan.

The Wed sessions at the Slug & Lettuce will resume in the new year.


A big thank you to everyone who came to the Dec 1st Technique Booster workshop! This one we really started to go deeply into the process of moving easily together in close-embrace, for that delicious 'broadband' connection vs. dial-up (you had to be there).

It was a pleasure for me to see everyone finding their way through this beautiful part of tango. I'm also glad the bottle of Tawny Port and Xmas cake went down well (thought it might)! (But don't expect the same at the next one ;) ) There will be another workshop most likely in late January, date TBC.

For anyone in the London area, I'm running a workshop with Liz Bayleythis Saturday afternoon, 4-7pm in Highbury & Islington. For full details and booking see: http://www.tangolingua. com/workshops/london/8th-dec- 2012-tango-magic

Your own tango lift share map!

I've put together a little map tool for you. It's for anyone who would like to either find or offer a lift to milongas. On the one hand it's a small detail in a night out dancing, but on the other it's one of those things that can mean you don't go. Maybe you can't justify the cost of driving on your own, or perhaps you don't want to inconvenience anyone by asking for a lift?

The truth is there are lots of benefits to lift sharing, tango related ones too, so I thought I'd try and help that become a little easier and more organized for our local tango community.

The map tool can be view here:  and the link to be a collaborator (i.e. add your details and make use of it), once you're signed in to your Google account is: ms?ie=UTF&msa=0&msid= 203369741653538269829. 0004cddae1db464233973

If you have any problems with that link let me know!

It's super simple to use. Put your marker on it and see who's near you or lies along the tango routes you'd like to travel.

You do need a Google account to make edits (it's free, quick and easy to set up if you don't already have one). All the details are explained on the page, and if you per chance get stuck please let me know.

I really want to make this easy to use and your feedback would help!

Your tango development (do you feel you're stagnating? or being left behind?)

Let's say you've been coming to tango classes for a few months or more. How can you assess your progress and which classes are right for you?

Of course what progress means to you will depend on your goals, but I'd like to offer a suggestion and also say something about how the 2 group classes are organized.

The suggestion, for those who are in any way concerned about progress, is to take an active role in your tango development. This means considering what your goals are, and what you'd like to learn more of or about. What do you want from your tango?

If you pass that info onto me, then not only can I help to tailor my input to you more effectively, but you'll also have a clearer way of assessing your progress - according to your goals.

As for the 2 weekly group classes, currently Mondays focus on 'core technique' (with the exception of the Xmas special sessions) for walking and connecting in the embrace, working with a vocabulary of forward, side, back, ochos, crosses and basic decorations.

While beginners come to this class, it can also be considered an advanced class in that I will give you as much detailed input to refine your core technique (thus enabling everything else in tango) as I think will help you.

Wednesdays currently focus on more of the modern dance aspects and influences of tango, including shared axis, free leg movements, ganchos and other adventurous and in some ways more challenging movements. This is also an open class, but the level of challenge starts at a higher point.

The Monday and Wednesday classes are designed to be complementary for those who attend both.

Finally, for anyone who might be concerned about picking things up slowly, I'd like to say that it's not a race and there is no judging panel. I try hard to tailor the class content to suit a wide range of experience and skill. I also believe there are distinct learning benefits for everyone with such a mixed class, that would be hard to get with a class where everyone had the same experience. The key thing is that you enjoy your learning.

A new way of teaching and learning tango

This is one I've been thinking about for quite a while now. In a nutshell it's about offering the opportunity for students to develop their tango learning, by also assisting in teaching elements of tango to other students.

From my martial arts background this was the model for each club (e.g orange belts taught the white belts, greens taught the oranges, blues the purples, and so on, while the sensei supervised, organized the content of the class, made corrections to each group and did demos). It actually worked extremely well. When you teach something you re-learn what you're teaching, thus deepening your knowledge. Yet I don't know of it being used in the UK tango community.

It's not about having to be a master to teach, it's about sharing what knowledge you do have, and helping yourself by helping others. This model is what I'd like to try a little of in my Tango School. It certainly wouldn't be obligatory, and there wouldn't be belts as such (can you imagine!). Rather it's an opportunity for those who are interested. I'd love your feedback on the idea!

Other news

Next Thursday 13th Dec, I've been invited by the Wellcome Collection in London to perform for their Move Your Soul event (part of their Rhythm is a Dancer collection), with Liz Bayley. Details here: http://www. on/events/move-your-soul.aspx
Move your Soul
If you're interested in coming there will be audience participation...

Also of note, on the 24/25th November the 3rd Tango Teachers Symposium took place in London and was a great success by all accounts! Thanks to Anthony Howell for kindly hosting this event. The next one will be back in Southampton early in the new year!

Finally for those currently focusing on their fitness, you may like to try my new Tango Tone-Up classes :)

Enjoy your dancing, take care, and I hope to see you soon,

ps. I have limited slots available for private lessons again now until 21st Dec, and then again from the new year.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Strange but true story, how to get toned the fun and sexy way, xmas social, new dance studio and the last workshop

Here's a little true story involving a large number of police. I couldn't make this stuff up. Last Monday when I arrived at Mavericks to meet students I found the place surrounded by police, including a van and at least 3 cars; which came as something of a surprise.

They claimed it was some kind of break in, which seemed odd given the number of them. I don't know the details of what happened at Mavericks, but fortunately as far as the tango went, StudioSo down the road was available. Phew!

It's a beautiful new bespoke dance studio, and I'm very pleased to say I was able to secure StudioSo for the Monday session from now on!

As for the police, well I tried to talk the officer in charge into taking tango lessons, and while he was kind enough to take the address to pass on to any of my students arriving later, when I suggested he take some lessons I'm sure I saw fear flash across his face... But it's given me the idea that one day yet I may start the Hampshire Constabulary Tango Club. Doesn't it have a ring to it?

Thanks to everyone who walked down the cold street with me on the night to the new venue!

Here's a picture of the StudioSo dance studio, where the Monday lesson will be held from now:

The Wednesday classes continue upstairs at the Slug and Lettuce. for full addresses and a map.

Read through to the end for an announcement of a brand new type of fitness orientated tango class I'm starting on 20th November - 'Tango Tone-Up'...

Xmas events!

First up, many of you have expressed interest in having an Xmas meal and dance, so here's the plan for the Tango Lingua Xmas social:

Xmas Buffet at the Tiger Lilly Restaurant in Bedford place (buffet menu:, meet there around 6pm
Head on to Milonga Liso at Pilands ( for around 8 or 8:30pm

Date: either Thursday 6th Dec or Thursday 20th Dec.

It's going to be great fun, so please come and join us!

Action required! If you'd like to come, it's important that you let me know which dates you can make, 6th and/or 20th Dec, asap. Then I can book the restaurant and give them an idea of numbers.

Workshop Saturday 1st December
The next Technique Booster workshop will be held on Saturday 1st December, 1-5:30pm at Povey's Dance Centre.

As usual there will be a lot of careful attention and fun focused on technique and how to use it in the your social tango dancing. The theme for this workshop will be 'simple, elegant tango in close embrace'. 

For those with experience, expect to add smoothness and finesse to your style. For those who've just finished a beginner course, this is your chance to cement the basics and experience how they can be refined for even more beautiful dancing.

For more info and pre-booking see:

(Note that it's a Saturday this time, rather than the usual Sunday.)

For an idea of what to expect from the experience, check out the testimonials page:

Tango Tone-Up
What would happen if you combined the sexiness and style of tango with effective and fun exercise for toning and body conditioning? 

Well, you'd get something like what I'm launching on Tuesday evening, 20th November: Tango Tone-Up - Get toned the fun and sexy way!

It's a brand new class, combining my long-time passions for tango and fitness. I'm really excited about it and hope that you'll come along for the FREE taster session (and of course come back for more if you enjoy it).

The first session is absolutely free and suitable for complete novices. So why not bring some friends with you?

For full info, booking and a very special offer, see:

This Saturday 3rd Nov, some of us are heading to TLC's Moulin rouge milonga. Please come and join us for a fun evening out of dancing!
It's £10 entry, which includes a buffet. 8pm-midnight. If you want to meet there or a bit beforehand let me know :)
For full details see:

Finally, the weekly classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings will continue until Wednesday 19th Dec. For the timetable see:

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Continuing your tango learning on Mondays and Wednesdays

The grand tour of venues in Southampton to hold a tango lesson continues. With any luck the journey is at a happy rest for a while with the current venues: Mavericks on Mondays and the Slug and Lettuce on Wednesdays.

In both cases the floor is pretty decent, and the space much more private than with the previous venue, so fingers crossed! See us for full addresses and a map.

Continuing your Leaning

Firstly, well done to the recent Argentine Tango Fundamentals course graduates! The next course starts this Monday, 15th Oct. Remember, if you bring a friend, you get a free lesson! Full details and booking here:

Now, the main topic of this post is how to continue your tango learning while attending the weekly classes on Mondays and Wednesdays.

If you've been coming regularly on a Monday for a while now, then you'll know that the feedback and variations you get are different from the what the new beginners get. The aim being that you continue to be challenged.

From now on different content will be given in a more organized fashion. The group will be split into parts at different points in the lesson, with one group being introduced to the basics, while the other group(s) are given more challenging and stimulating variations and practice of the fundamentals.

Each lesson will have specific material for students of different experience levels. The idea is that even experienced dancers will feel that their tango has developed over the course of the 6 weeks.

So if you'd like to continue your tango learning, you are invited to continue to attend the Tango Fundamentals course held on the Monday sessions.

The same concept will apply to the Wednesday classes, which focus on more advanced tango concepts.

Lastly on this topic, making a habit of asking questions is a great way to increase your learning.


Thanks to all those who came to the Technique Booster workshop in Sept and made it such a fun occasion! The next one is being planned for the end of Oct or the beginning of Nov. If you'd like to spend the afternoon developing and refining your tango, getting in depth with the technique and spending enough time practicing for it to begin to sink into your body, then this is your chance!

If you'd like to attend the next Technique Booster afternoon workshop, please reply to this email with:
a) your preference for day (Sat, or Sun afternoon)
b) the tango topic(s) you'd most like to work on.


Enjoy your dancing, take care, and I hope to see you soon,


Monday, 3 September 2012

Last minute venue change for 3rd Sept

Last night I was contacted by the Maple Leaf club and informed the venue was now mysteriously closed and all bookings cancelled... which puts them off the Xmas card list. But all was not lost!

I've spent the last 24 hours hunting for an alternative for tonight. Luckily I found one about an hour ago. I really hope if you're planning to come to the class tonight (and/or later for the social dancing) that you check your email or find this post before leaving later!

The venue for tonight (Argentine Tango Fundamentals course, and mixed level class), 3rd Sept, is:

Shirely Parish Hall,
St James Road (just on the corner of Colebrook Ave, a stones throw from the St James church)
Southampton, SO15 5LW

See here for a map:

The times are unchanged, 8-9:15pm for lesson, followed by social dancing. And yes, I will still bring cake as promised!

Please do not go to the Maple Leaf Club tonight, the lesson is moved to Shirley Parish Hall. 

Also due to a lack of venue, this Wednesday class is currently cancelled, but if I can find a venue in time, I'll post a notice on the Tango Lingua FB page and the website, so if you'd like to come that class be sure to check those links.

However, for next week, 10th Sept, I've arranged for the Monday and Wednesday classes to continue at: La Margherita Restaurant Bar
1 Town Quay
Southampton SO14 2AQ

If it works out well this could be our regular venue. Fingers crossed.

Well, that's it. Sorry again for any inconvenience. If you have any trouble finding the place tonight, just give me a call.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

New venue, giro workshop, new timetable, and the possibility of cake...


I hope you're well and have been enjoying some of the belated summer. Here's the low-down on Tango Lingua happenings in the next few weeks.

New Core Skills 1 course

The next course starts on 3rd September. If you want to revise or clarify the basics of tango, including walking and pivoting, or if you're a complete beginner, this is the course for you. More details and booking here:

Coming to the end of the Core Skills 1 course, and want to save serious money on future lessons? Then consider taking out a subscription:

Mini Milongas - After each lesson, until 11pm there will be social dancing, with some nice lighting, and biscuits. Everyone is welcome, especially recent beginners! The music will be a mix of classic tango, neuvo and alternative. Price: £4, or free if you come for the class.

Technique Booster Workshop 26th August

Thanks everyone who came to the previous workshop in July and made it such fun! The next Technique Booster workshop will be held on Sunday afternoon August 26th, just over a week from now. This one will focus on the giro, with variations in timing, order of steps, speed, continuous turns, progression along the line of dance, and more.

For recent beginners and those not familar with the giro, it is a series of steps where the follower steps around the leader, or where leader and follower step around each other. For you this will be an introduction to this beautiful, classic tango movement.

For more experienced dancers this will be an opportunity to polish your technique and explore some interesting, fresh and dynamic variations. As always, we get deep down into the technique side of things, and how to make it look and feel beautiful in the dance.
Just £24 for the whole afternoon workshop! For full details and to book now (you must pre-book to attend) see:

New Venue!

I'm very excited to announce that Tango Lingua will be relocating, from 3rd Sept. From September all group lessons (and maybe the workshops too) will be held at:

The Maple Leaf club,
16-22 The Polygon, Southampton SO15 2BN

This newly refurbished venue is right in the centre of Southampton, it has a beautiful wooden dance floor and a rather stylish interior and bar. It even has disco lights :) Oh, and it should be a little easier to park too, for those who drive.

Lessons will remain at the same time: Mondays and Wednesdays, 8-9:15pm, with the mini-milonga until 11pm.

I hope that you'll come and help me celebrate the move on 3rd September! There might even be some cake...

New class timetable and socials

It was great to see so many people come to see Lisa off at her leaving do on 25th July. It was a fine night and she is missed. I think she's having fun though, and has found a wonderful apartment, with dance floor (living room) and a swimming pool, while she continues to search for a tango club.
Since now there is a milonga at the end of each class, this is the twice weekly social. So do come along to catch up, chew the fat - even if you've not been for ages - and maybe do some dancing too!

Class changes: Over the last month or so I've been experimenting with the lesson format, and the Monday lessons are now 'mixed level', meaning all experience levels join in the class, along with the beginners. This has the advantage of allowing the beginners to learn with more experienced dancers. The more experienced dancers get to polish the basics while at the same time being given more challenging variations and refinements. So far it's working pretty well. That's the Monday lesson 8-9:15pm.

On Wednesdays, I've been covering more advanced movements and concepts, and teaching in a style slightly more orientated towards those who are serious about learning tango to a high level, i.e. more practice drills, more repetition, and stricter and more precise attention to technique. So if that sounds like the kind of class you might enjoy, come down on the Wed. It's still mixed level and open to everyone, but expect to be pushed harder than on a Monday.

One way of looking at it is that the Mondays start at a basic level, with more advanced material given to those who are ready, while the Wednesday classes start at an advanced level, with more basic material given to those who need it. Any questions, just ask!

Training opportunity: Finally, I'd like to put on some special classes for those interested in becoming trainee teachers of beginner students. These will be primarily focused on sharing some methods and concepts I've found helpful in my teaching of the basics, along with some technique training. It will be hard work, but rewarding and fun for those who want to go in this direction. It's aimed at those dancing tango for at least 6 months and dancing regularly in the milongas. If you're interested or know someone who might be, let me know.

Take care, and I hope to see you soon,

Friday, 20 July 2012

'Olympic tango', new courses and workshops, mini-milongas and more..

As for the summer, well at least the trees aren't thirsty... :)

I've just returned from 10 days dancing in Holland, with some lovely memories and fresh inspiration. Glad to be back now, and looking forward to seeing you soon.

Here's a quick summary of what's happening in the next couple of weeks:

First up, there's a new 'Core Skills 1' course starting next Monday 23rd July. If you want to revise or clarify the basics of tango, including walking and pivoting, or if your'e a complete beginner, this is the course for you. More details and booking here:

Mini Milongas - I'm trying a new format to the evenings now at Povey's on Mondays and Wednesdays. There will be a lesson from 8-9:15pm. Then, until 11pm there will be social dancing, with some nice lighting, and biscuits. Everyone is welcome, especially recent beginners! The music will be a mix of classic tango, neuvo and alternative. Price: £4. (If you come for the class then the social dancing is free.)
Technique Booster Workshops
The next Technique Booster workshop will be held on Sunday afternoon July 29th. It will focus on interesting combinations of leader and follower secadas, and free leg movements for gancho leg wrap combinations. For less experienced dancers, simpler variations will be given.
As usual, the workshop will be suitable for recent beginners and more experienced dancers alike.
This time it's just £24 for the whole afternoon workshop! For full details and to book now (you must pre-book to attend) see:

Events and Performances
Next Wednesday 25th July I'll be performing again in London, with Bianca Vrcan who runs the Rojo Y Negro tango school. The 'Olympic Tango' event is free and open to guests. You are welcome to come and watch us dance, to a live piano performance. Details here:
Here's a short promo video of the Platform 33 event in London I performed at in June. Check out the little tango clips from about 3/4s of the way through :)

'Question time'
(Once again, in case you missed it on the last newsletter) Here's the idea: If you're keen to learn, each week I invite you to come to me with one tango question after your class. It could a step you're struggling with, a new step you'd like to learn, a general sticking point, something to do with timing or musically. Basically anything tango related you'd like my input on. I will then spend 5 minutes with you individually on your question. Besides hopefully encouraging more people to come to class, I really hope this opportunity will encourage you to focus on how you'd like your tango to develop, and assist you in getting there. Now the rest is up to you!

This Saturday 21st July, is Lisa's leaving party! It's from 7pm at Povey's Dance Centre. You are warmly invited. If you'd like to come please let me know!
Would you like to organize a tango social? Great! Drop me an email with your idea.

Take care, and I hope to see you soon,

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Save money, great upcoming tango events, 'question time', summer break, guest teacher, and more...

Summer is here! (Although its doing a fairly good job of disguising itself so far.)

There's quite a lot of info in this post. So get yourself a tea and read on for some exciting events, new learning opportunities, plus some chances to save some money..

Workshops and your revision notes
The workshop on 10th June was great fun, if you made it along, thanks for being a part of it! Hopefully you're feeling the difference in your dancing at the milongas already. As promised here are some revision notes I made for you, along with a few related ideas which you may find helpful:
Revision notes for 10th June Technique Booster workshop - developing a delicious embrace

New workshop
The next workshop in Southampton will be on free leg movements and embellishments, including a variety of leg wraps, ganchos and boleos, along with rulos for followers. It will help you find more relaxation, freedom and fluidity in your tango dancing.
As usual, the workshop will be suitable for recent beginners and more experienced dancers alike. For those who feel ready there will be the opportunity to explore some leg wrap and gancho chains.
The date is not yet fixed, so if you'd like to do it, please let me know which of these two dates you can make: 22nd July or 29th July, Sunday afternoon 1-5:30pm, followed by a 1 hour practica.
I'm trialling a new price for the workshop in order to make it more accessible for more dancers. The new price is just £24 for the whole afternoon workshop!
Events and Performances
If anyone is around Deal on the Friday 29th June, I'll be performing at the Deal Festival in Kent with Sophie Miller. For the opening evening we'll be tangoing to around 8-9 songs over the evening, including to live music! For more details on the event please see:
Before that, on 28th June, I'll be performing in London at the City Arts and Music Project with Bianca Vrcan for the Platform 33 event. For more details and tickets see:
Summer break
I'm going away to Holland for some further tango training myself in July, so Wed 11th July there will be no class (although Liz might open the hall up for practice), and Monday 9th and 16th July Liz will be running the beginner class.
'Question time'
Here's the idea: If you're keen to learn, each week I invite you to come to me with one tango question after your class. It could a step you're struggling with, a new step you'd like to learn, a general sticking point, something to do with timing or musically. Basically anything tango related you'd like my input on. I will then spend 5 minutes with you individually on your question. Besides hopefully encouraging more people to come to class, I really hope this opportunity will encourage you to focus on how you'd like your tango to develop, and assist you in getting there. Now the rest is up to you!
Invite a friend
For a while now I've been running the deal where if you bring 3 other people to a course you get a free private lesson. I'm now adding to that a second deal:
Bring a friend and get a free group lesson. If you bring someone new along to a lesson or to the beginner course, who you think might enjoy tango, then you get a free group lesson. Bring two people, get two free lessons, and so on. Simple. So if you want to reduce the cost of your tango, and help share the joy of this magical dance, get your friends along!
Save even more money, pay in advance
Would you like to cut over 12% off the cost of tango lessons? Then now you can pay in advance. Make a subscription for lessons online, billed every 8 weeks, and pay only £7 per lesson, rather than the normal £8. You effectively get a free lesson every 8 weeks!
If you want to come to more than one lesson a week you can save 25% off the normal class price! Full time college or university students (or the unemployed) can get almost 50% off normal lesson prices! Book now on this page:
Guest teacher
On Wednesday 4th June, Sarah Stribley from Thames Valley Tango school, will be teaching with me. She'll be sharing some of her knowledge on ladies technique, for making your footwork more elegant and musical. For the leaders, in this session I'll be showing you some fancy footwork of your own.
As mentioned in the previous email, Lisa's leaving party is on the 21st July, from 7pm at Povey's. You are warmly invited. If you'd like to come please let me know!
Would you like to organize a tango social? Great! Drop me an email with your idea.
Take care, and I hope to see you soon,

Friday, 1 June 2012

A Jubilee tango performance, some sad news, my first tango film appearance, a new workshop on 10th June, party time, and more!

I hope you're enjoying the sun (and haven't gotten too burnt!) and your dancing.

Here are some of the exciting things that have been happening recently at Tango Lingua, and what you can look forward to in the coming weeks!

Diamond Jubilee Tango Performance This Saturday 2nd June, I've been invited to do a tango performance at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee fundraiser event for The Alliance of Fibromyalgia ME/CFS. I'll be performing with Liz and we're really looking forward to it. We'll also be giving a fun 20 minute taster lesson. Please come and join us!

It's in Twyford (near Winchester), and starts at 8pm. There will be live music and other entertainment. Tickets are £12, including a complementary glass of bubbly. For booking contact Loveday on 01962776583. For full details see this poster: Jubilee_fundraiser.jpg

On the subject of performances, a big thanks to Gary and Sue for inviting us to perform on the very special occasion of their 30th wedding anniversary, earlier this month! A further thank you to Visionary Events for inviting us to perform at the Carnival fundraiser event at 90 Degree, in Southampton on 30th April.

The Return of the Technique Booster - 10th JuneThis Technique Booster workshop on Sunday 10th June is about improving your ability to dance socially with the music and with your partner, in the milongas. We'll focus on the embrace - and making it feel delicious - and simple patterns and turns you can improvise with to express the music more.

An afternoon workshop gives you the chance to get technique into your body in a way that's not possible in a regular evening class. It's going to be a lot of fun and it's going to be recent beginner friendly! That means you don't need a lot of tango experience to benefit from this workshop.

Does that mean if you've been dancing for a few years you won't get much from it? No. As with the previous workshop, the basic idea is presented, along with optional and more challenging variations for you to try, if you feel comfortable doing so. The aim is that everyone who comes can enjoy it and be appropriately challenged.

Time: 1pm - 5:30pm (with tea and snack breaks), followed by a free 1 hour practica.
Price: £32 per person (£26 concessions)
Venue: Povey's Dance Centre.

No need to come with a partner.

Book the workshop for Sunday 10th June now:

My First Tango Film Just a few weeks ago I was asked by Hourglass Productions to dance in a short film. The concept was to do a dance interpretation of a new romance - so perfectly suited to tango. I said yes. As it turned out, I ended up doing the acting parts too (hopefully not too badly). Laura Beduz kindly partnered me for the film. Here it is for your viewing pleasure. Let me know what you think!

Calling for new blood (and old) - Argentine Tango Fundamentals Course A new 'Core Skills 1' course (formally known as the beginner course) begins on Monday 11th June. So if you're completely new to tango (or to dance in general), or you already have some experience but want to refresh the fundamentals to help overcome some sticking points, you are invited to take part in this 6 week course.

For full details of what you'll learn, and to book now, see:

You can read some testimonials of happy tango students, past and present here:

Know some people who would like to try tango? Get a free private lesson for every 3 referrals.

Sad news, but let's make the most of it (and other social occasions)The sad news is that Lisa is leaving us for South Africa, at the end of July. Having started barely 6 months ago, her passion for tango is inspiring and I know a lot of people will miss her. But on the bright side, she's having a leaving party, to which you are warmly invited! This will be on Saturday 21st July, from 7pm. Contact me for full details. There will be food and drink, and you are invited to bring some to contribute. Of course, there will be lots of dancing, so bring your tango shoes!

But before that, there will be a BBQ (hmmm, BBQ :) ) on bank holiday Tuesday 5th June, from 3:30pm. Bring yourselves, plus food and drink!

Finally on the social front, I'm thinking of going to see Prometheus (the Aliens prequel) at the cinema, maybe this Sunday. If you'd like to join me, let me know :)

In closing I'd just like to give a huge thank you to the tango teachers from London, Bournemouth and Totnes who visited last Saturday for the very first Tango Teachers Symposium, and made it such a success. Here's to the next one! And here's a picture of us on the day:

Friday, 11 May 2012

New workshop, new prices, a TV opportunity and more...

New Workshop
Due to the success of the previous one, coming up soon on 10th June is the next in the series of Technique Booster workshops. This one will focus on the embrace, patterns and turns.
If you'd really like to iron out a few of your sticking points in dancing in the close (or open) embrace and a variety of turns and common step combinations for the milonga – or if you're fairly new to a lot of those elements – this workshop is designed for you. (I.e. it is recent beginner friendly!)
As usual the approach will be relaxed and friendly, while focused on technique.
If you'd like to do this workshop on Sunday 10th June, 1-5:30pm (with breaks and a 1 hour practica from 5:30pm) please book now!
The booking page and more info is here:
New prices
I'd really like to encourage as many people as possible to dance tango, and I know that sometimes money is an issue. So I'm offering lower prices for students, unwaged or low waged* dancers.
This lower price is £5 per lesson (or £6 for both lessons in an evening). If this pricing applies to you, just come along and pay the new rate.
*'low waged' is for you to decide. But as a rough guide, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the individual full-time income (pre-tax) for a 'minimum acceptable standard of living' in the UK is currently £15k pa. So if you're around or below that than by most counts you're probably on a 'low income'.

The beginner course is dead, long live the beginner course!
From this point on, the course formerly known as 'the beginner course' will be called 'core skills 1'.
As before, it will cover the fundamental parts of tango like walking, moving together in an embrace, basic ochos and crosses, and dancing to the beat and in the line of dance. It will still be a course suitable for complete, two left-footed beginners. But I also really want to encourage anyone who wishes to improve those fundamental points of their tango to come and do it, even if you've already done it before.
Those who have repeated the core skills 1 course will tell you that you learn something new every time and that the more your simple walking in an embrace improves, the more the rest of tango opens up to you.

If you're already reasonably proficient in your tango, don't worry about spending the whole lesson working with complete beginners; more experienced dancers will be given more detail and more challenge.

So for anyone wanting to do the course again, please feel free to drop in on the Monday 8pm sessions.

Want to tell your story on TV? I recently got a call from someone working on a new Channel 4 documentary series. It's about women, presented by actor Sharon Horgan. One of the films will look at the experiences of women who reach middle age and discover a new hobby or passion which transforms their life - tango being one such hobby! So:

• Did you discover tango in your 40’s/50’s?
• Were you lacking in confidence or fed up with your routine?
• Was tango the catalyst for change in your life?

If you want to be involved and share your story please contact me.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Fuertes Raíces tango kata - mkII

I've just recorded a new and much improved version of my Fuertes Raíces ('strong roots') tango kata, developed just over 2 months ago.

I hope you enjoy it. In any case, I'd love to know your thoughts on it, including constructive critique.

Why have I made this kata? The motivation is to have a training tool, for myself and my students, which will assist the development of strong technique for a wide range of tango movements and improve balance, posture, timing, coordination and physical conditioning. Katas are commonly used in martial-arts (which I have a background in) for the same purposes. I do not know of any other tango katas currently existing, but so far I've been practicing and teaching this new version to my students for the last 6 weeks to good effect.

Here are the videos, front and side view (but can you spot the differences? :) )

There will be further parts, and additional katas for pair work.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

What you can expect on the 22nd April Technique Booster


I hope you had a great weekend.

Just a short one this time :) I'm giving a tango workshop on 22nd April, next Sunday. What can you expect from it?

The basic idea is to pack a lot of learning into an afternoon, for maximum value and maximum fun, whether you're a beginner or a more experienced tango dancer.

We'll look specifically at 3 key areas of tango: pivoting, the free leg and the embrace. Starting with an (re)introduction to the basic principles, we'll move on to exploring some interesting, creative and musical applications of the basic techniques. These will include a range of leader and follower secadas and ganchos, boleos and more.

Who's it for?

The workshop will be structured for dancers with a broad range of experience. Different options for steps will be taught for different experience levels, ensuring everyone is appropriately challenged.

For the beginner tango dancer this will be a chance to start playing with ideas you'll develop more over the coming months and years, while refining the core technique you've learnt on the beginner course.

For the more experienced, improver or intermediate dancer you'll have the chance to get to grips with some fun new possibilities (and invent you're own), while improving the basic technique that makes them possible.

The details

The workshop starts at 1pm and runs on until 5:30pm, with food and tea breaks. From 5:30-6:30pm there will then be a free practica, so you can start to use what you've learnt in your dancing straight away. The workshop will take place at the usual venue, the Povey's Dance Centre, 159 Shirley Road, Southampton.

The cost is £32 per person. (For those who have done a tango workshop with a similar format and amount of teaching to this before, you'll be used to paying closer to £45. My hope is that the lower price of this workshop will enable more people to attend. If you'd like to attend but this is still too much for you to afford, please get in touch, and I may be able to give you a discount.)

No partner required, but you're welcome to bring one.

If you'd like to come, please book now. The link to do that:

Any questions, just ask!


ps. If you know someone who might enjoy doing this workshop, please forward the above to them!

Monday, 9 April 2012

The rationale of a free sharing teachers symposium

I've been thinking about the 'teachers symposium' that I'm organizing for sometime in late April, May or June. The basic idea is spelled out here: but I've been wondering about which teachers might be attracted to it and the practicalities of attending, in the context of how being a professional tango teacher actually works.

Unsurprisingly, in fitting with most businesses in our society, it seems that tango teachers tend to organize their business on the principles of competition and guarding of knowledge (with exceptions of course). This isn't meant as a criticism, it is simply my impression. In contemplation it's easy to be idealistic, but when taking action to pay the bills it's wise to be pragmatic.

If you're trying to earn a living teaching tango, it's natural enough to want to protect your income source, your students, and also the knowledge you've spent lots of time and money building, which allows you to be competitive in offering students a good learning experience. If you go about openly sharing your deepest insights, teaching methods and signature techniques, maybe that will put you at a disadvantage, especially if what others share in a free exchange has less commercially transformable value for you?

The above is essentially what I've been pondering - how to make sense of participating in an event like this if you're a professional teacher?

I think whether it makes sense boils down to whether there is trust between attendees. If there is trust that people will be honest, with their sharing but also with giving credit and not plagiarizing others work then there is less at risk, and more up side.

The question of what idea is original anyway is interesting (see the video But if someone has put a lot of effort into developing some knowledge, for someone else to then take that knowledge and profit from it, by claiming it as their own, or not giving any credit for the inspiration, is clearly unfair.

However, if people do give credit for the source of their inspiration then that source benefits. This works in the same way word of mouth recommendations work. Obviously you can invite other teachers who inspire you to do guest sessions at your school, but you can also recommend to your students that they take a class with a particular teacher when they have the chance, and acknowledge that you've learnt something valuable from them yourself.

So let's say you come and what you share goes down very well with the other teachers and gets used a lot. Assuming honest participants, you will benefit from that materially through recommendations and improved reputation, and non-materially through your contribution to the improvement of other teachers and consequently their students. Also you have the chance to refine and evolve your ideas in a respectful, constructively critical and collaborative environment - an environment you may not normally have access to. Not to mention that you might pick up some inspiring ideas from the other teachers. Then there's the prospect that if there's a net improvement in teaching (and dancing) then class sizes increase, more classes are put on and the whole community grows and benefits.

On the subject of evolving ideas, it is perhaps more normal for teachers to have their own maestros who they visit when they can for inspiration and development. What this event is offering is hopefully a complementary and possibly more accessible way to evolve, refine and inspire your tango.

Perhaps you can see the potential benefit as a professional teacher in taking part, but you have the practical challenging of fitting it in with your regular teaching commitments? No problem, the form I set up on allows you to select days you can make. (Also if you're traveling far, I may be able to arrange accommodation for you. I will also offer to personally cover your share of the hall hire cost.) If you still can't make any of those dates but are interested in taking part, please do register your interest anyway. There will be other opportunities.

From the above discussion I don't want to suggest this is in any way an 'exclusive' event, only open to commercially successful professionals. Not at all! If you're just starting out with perhaps a little group once a week, or even if you're currently teaching for free, I'd be very happy for you to come and take part in this event. The only condition I would ask is that you're passionate about teaching and dancing tango, believe you have something valuable to share, but also wish to improve and refine your skills, and are open minded to different ideas (maybe harmonious ones, maybe not).

Aside from honesty, another important point of faith in making this event appealing to teachers I think is respect. I understand the idea of presenting their understanding to other (possibly much more experienced) teachers may be daunting to some, and no-one wants to be seen as a fool, or as labouring under gross misunderstandings. However, if everyone there is respectful of everyone else, and does their bit to create a supportive environment (while allowing for potential constructive criticism) for sharing and learning then I think this worry can be allayed.

Can we all be honest and respectful? I think that's very achievable, and that if everyone comes with that intention then we'll do just fine.

If you're a teacher reading this and you're curious about the event but have some concerns I've not addressed, please get in touch!

On a personal note, I've asked myself how I would define 'success' for this event. Clearly I'd be delighted if a dozen teachers were involved. I think that would create a fantastic and very productive atmosphere. However, even with 4 or 5 people there I still see it as very worthwhile. I feel strongly that however small the crowd if the people there are enthusiastic and keen to share and contribute it will be productive for everyone - which I would count as a definite success.

If you think you might like to take part, please visit and register your interest, thank you!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Are you ready to dance in the milongas? (A trick of the mind)

So you're learning how to dance tango, enjoying it for the most part, but not yet ventured out to the milongas (the social tango dances). Or maybe you tried it, but got scared and haven't been back? Fear not, some friendly guidance is at hand!

What makes a dancer 'ready' for the milonga?

While the particular milonga or community in question can be a factor, it chiefly comes down to your own outlook.

Obviously if you're going to a place where people gather to dance tango, it helps to know a little tango - along with the basics of milonga etiquette (which is mostly common sense, like trying not to hit or obstruct other dancers) - but beyond that, your outlook is the decider.

If you're a relatively inexperienced dancer and your outlook is such that you think because you are inexperienced, other dancers will find it unpleasant to dance with you, then you are not ready for the milonga. Your fear and shame will make you stiff, self-critical and miserable, which in itself will make you hard work to dance with and will lower you chances of getting dances. Consequently you'll come away with your belief reinforced.

However, if you're just as relatively inexperienced a dancer and your outlook is such that you think while your inexperience might mean other dancers are not able to do all the movements they enjoy doing, that it is nonetheless perfectly possible for you and them to enjoy a dance, then you are ready for the milonga (providing you have the very basics of walking with the music in an embrace, while avoiding collisions with other dancers).

The deciding factor here is only your outlook.

One determining dimension of this outlook is how you hold on to feelings of guilt, fear and shame; relating to how you dance and the influence that may have on others, or the judgements they may make about you.

Another (related) dimension is how open minded and inquisitive you are about what you're learning. Can you treat your learning process as a stimulating and playful process of discovery, without obstructing and derailing yourself with judgement (rather than simple observation, which is certainly useful) and giving in to fear?

This isn't to say that if you sometimes feel bad about your dancing and judge yourself harshly you have no place in the milongas (otherwise they'd be empty), or that you need to already be 'happy' to go out and dance tango. The point is simply that in order to get and give the most enjoyment in a milonga, having a positive, relaxed and open minded outlook relating to your dance and your partner is the overriding factor.

Even with the most modest amount of tango experience, with the above kind of outlook you can have a delightful time at a milonga.

Actually, drawing on personal experience here, outlook and attitude is so fundamental to the quality of your milonga experience that even for fairly seasoned tango dancers, if the way you're relating to your own dance (or that of your partner's) is getting crowded with criticism or doubt on a particular occasion, you'll have a hard time having a good night.

The freedom and the trap of technique

What you learn in class (at least from some teachers) is technique focused. Martha Graham (a central figure in the development of modern dance) said: "Freedom to a dancer means discipline.That is what technique is for – liberation." In other words, technique is the dancers freedom. But she also said: "Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion."

It can be easy to become self-critical and think "I'm just not good enough" or "I'll never get it right", when you're very focused on technique - in combination with a certain kind of outlook. But this does not help you, firstly in absorbing the technique and gaining the freedom it offers, and secondly in expressing your passion and joy in movement with the music and your partner.

A vicious cycle can develop where you just go to classes and think "I need more confidence first before I go the milongas - and better technique will give me that" but your present outlook is reinforcing itself in your technique focused classes - especially if your being introduced to a technique that has some subtlety to it and takes time and much practice to really absorb.

Remember, a technique applied without a sense of fun, passion or playfulness can hardly make up a dance, and dancing tango is what presumably you're aiming to do. So try to enjoy even your mistakes; by smiling and focusing on the stimulating process of learning and discovering new possibilities.

You probably guessed by now that part of breaking this cycle of thinking you're never quite good enough to dance in the milongas, is to get out and just do it. Going to milongas, really, is part of learning to dance tango.

Yes, perhaps you'll be one of the least experienced dancers there, for a while, and at times that may feel daunting. (There may even be the very occasional, odd person there who turns their nose up or says something discouraging. Although most communities are pretty friendly if you come with a positive attitude). But providing you can maintain a constructive, learning-friendly outlook, you will soon find your feet. In fact, as much as anything, I've found that the less experienced dancers who have that outlook are admired by other dancers for their bravery for showing up and diving in, and they are encouraged and supported.

This previous post discusses the bravery of those men and women who dance tango (and related issues, such as 'not being good enough', or dealing with rejection).

As an aside, you may notice when you are at a milonga that some of the people look very serious when they're dancing, austere of forbidding even. You may find the sight of this makes it hard for you to just relax and enjoy the dance. However when you realize why they're doing that, it may not concern you any more. For perhaps most of them, the serious look is merely a sign of concentration or focus (which the tango experience can benefit from to a degree), nothing more. For the rest, I think, they just see the others looking that way, assume that's how you're supposed to look when dancing, and so copy them. But you don't have to.

Milonga survival kit

Here's some quick tips for those just on the brink of going to milongas, and perhaps lacking a little confidence.
  • Check your outlook. Review the above content, and remember as a beginner what makes the difference between a pleasant dance and a slightly fraught one, is how relaxed, positive and open minded you are. To a large extent it really does come down to a trick of the mind. When at a milonga, get off to a good start by smiling, being friendly and starting conversations.

    Also, consider the flip-side of being a beginner or near beginner; many more experienced dancers enjoy dancing with beginners (who have reasonable balance) because they are: fresh, enthusiastic, easy to please/no high expectations, open minded etc. If you can manifest those qualities you will more easily be a pleasure to dance with, even with little experience.
  • Keep it simple (obviously) and play with the known. Once you know how to walk to the music in an embrace and perhaps do some crosses and ochos you have a veritable ocean teeming with all manner of possibilities. In fact, when you start to unravel what you can really do with just walking, crosses and ochos it can be overwhelming. So simplify it further.

    For instance, for leaders just focus on walking for most of a song, but really hitting the beat, being grounded and confident in each step and then perhaps seeing if you can alter the character of your steps depending on whether the music is soft or hard in its character, or varying the step length. As an experiment, compare how many warm smiles and hugs you get from your partners doing just that, with how many you get attempting more complex moves you don't quite understand yet.

    For followers, keeping things simple and playing with the known can be understood as focusing on your core technique of mirroring the leaders intention while maintaining a strong, comfortable and grounded posture. In a sense just about every step you take as a follower can be understood as a forward, back or side step, with perhaps a pivot in-between steps. The key to seeing and feeling that simplicity is to wait and slow down a little. Be patient with yourself. The opportunity to play with these knowns comes from your groundedness. For starters you can then vary the level of presence in your embrace to alter the speed of a step, or even initiate a stop.

    As an experiment compare how many warm smiles and hugs you get from your partners by keeping a good and well balanced posture while waiting for the lead and providing a positive and confident presence in the embrace, with how many you get by going off on your own trip, racing ahead (or letting yourself be rushed) or not taking care of your own balance.

    For more tips on basic walking technique for leaders and followers see: 6 walking tips for argentine tango
  • Listen to tango music. The music is the bridge on which your own individual dances can meet and be expressed in harmony. It is a guide to your movements and the quality of your movements. Get some CDs, download some mp3, let it seep into you. You will then get to know the patterns within the music and your body will be more readily able to express them, with various combinations of simple steps in different timings.
  • Practice what you've learnt. But how can you keep things simple while at the same time practicing the new steps you learn in a lesson? It's called a practica (practice tango session). You do go to a practica don't you? If not, I suggest you do. If there isn't one close to you, then consider starting one up. For Southampton, see:
For more general ideas of how to get dances in milongas see: thoughts on getting dances.

Finally here are some canned responses or reactions you may find helpful in your early milonga days.

When invited to dance:
"Hi, thanks for asking me to dance. I've not been dancing tango long, I hope that's OK with you."

When you totally lose the music in a dance:
"Oops" *smile* then go back to the balanceo. If you're following, and you want to regain the connection you can try: "Do you mind if we go back to the balanceo for a moment, please?"

When as a follower your leader is leading in a way which confuses you:
First give yourself a bit more time to see if you could comfortably make a forward, backward or side step in the direction they're leading, or whether it's more of a pivot. If none of the above seem to fit - "I'm just beginning to learn tango and I'm feeling a bit confused. Would you be willing to have a simpler kind of tango with me?"

When as a leader you notice an uncomfortable tension or strain develop anywhere in your embrace:
Go to the balanceo (which is often used a lot in a tango dance anyway) for a  couple of beats or so, readjust and set off again. If it persists, make a note to bring it up at your next practica and with your teacher.

Well, that's it. Dive in, and good luck!

ps. Fellow tango blogger Terpsichoral Tangoaddict, posted a comment about the above blog. I thought it covered a few points very well that the above didn't mention, so I'll add it here (for anyone who doesn't spot it in the comments below):

"I would just add that, if you are unused to navigating the floor at a milonga, you might want to stay away from very crowded milongas at peak hours (go early or arrive very late). If the milonga is crowded and everyone is dancing giros on the spot (very common at some places) you will not be able to focus on walking, but will have to make most of your moves turning figures. (Some kind of simple giro or turning figure is therefore essential). I would start with a practica, or an afternoon milonga or a milonga which is less trendy and well-attended. (But my advice is really geared to BA -- in your local scene, the milongas may be less crowded). Good luck, beginner dancers!

[It's fairly rare for a milonga to be so crowded in the UK that there isn't space to walk for much of a dance. But expect the occasional stop. Knowing some simple combinations of ochos, half steps, rocking steps, and even basic giros will definitely come in handy in such situations. And if it does get a little crowded for your taste, you can spend a little time enjoying watching the more experienced dancers. - Joe]

PS And, for more formal milongas, learn how to use cabeceo beforehand, as you won't be able to ask/accept dances verbally. If you don't know how, ask your table neighbours -- most people LOVE to explain it and it's pretty simple once you get the hang of it.

[In the UK, I don't think there are that many milongas where folks seriously frown on asking people to dance verbally (although certainly some more experienced dancers often don't like to be asked this way). However, learning the cabeceo will definitely help you in milongas where people like or prefer to use it, and also in general will help you spot more often when someone is inviting you to dance. - Joe]

PPS Don't be offended if people decline to dance with you. Accept polite rejections with grace and think "well, they will dance with me later, when I am a better dancer. So I'll look forward to that then." Likewise, even though you are a beginner, you don't have to dance with just anyone. If you don't feel comfortable dancing with someone -- well, if they ask you verbally, make no apologies, just say a polite "no, thanks." And, finally, beginner leaders, in particular, a good strategy is to ask a woman to dance when the tanda is already halfway through. That way, she only commits to one or two songs with you and may be much more willing to take a chance on your dancing."