Saturday, November 04, 2006


Today I wrapped up my first week of tango lessons, which included a private 1 hour lesson everyday and a group lesson on Mondays and Wednesdays. My teachers, Humberto and Carolina of Estudio Callas, are really good teachers, and I've had many dance instructors, so I know what I'm talking about. During my private lessons, I usually get one or the other: Humberto teaches me following skills and new moves, while Carolina cleans up my technique. I didn't tell them that I'm a swing dancer until yesterday, when I told Carolina. She said that explains why I'm a very fast learner and a good follower with good frame. But she said it also explains why my pivots are too fast and why I swing my hips. Tango is a very controlled and deliberate dance. For the woman, it requires complete submission to the man and perfect technique and balance. Swing dancing is a whole lot more forgiving, though I must admit that my balance has always been a problem. In any event, after two weeks of tango training, I'll definitely have a strong foundation to build upon and I think my swing dancing will also improve.

One of the things that made a huge difference in my tango was actually buying tango shoes. On Tuesday, I went to Artesenal in the Abasto barrio and bought these awesome shoes:
Carolina advised me to go with a shorter heel, but Humberto prefers a higher heel. I decided to get a shorter heel to start with and I had them chromed for more control. (For the non-swing geeks, that means that I had them put suede on the bottom) There was red and black pair that I almost bought with a higher heel, but I didn't want to hang out there and deliberate too much since they had 4 or 5 Persian cats hanging around the shop. (I'm allergic) I didn't even take my backpack off to try the shoes on because I didn't want it to collect cat hair. In any event, I'll probably go back to buy the other shoes as well (it's only about U$30-45 a pair for handcrafted leather shoes).

One of the coolest things about buying tango shoes is that you can either take them away in a box or a red(!) carrying sack:
For non-dancers: the nice thing about the sack is that you can carry your dance shoes around town without having to wear them and ruin the sole. That is, of course, unless you're going to the Derby in LA, where they have a policy against bagged shoes.

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