Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October 21-26

Friday, October 21, 2011
Homer & Cristina Ladas Workshops in Northampton, MA: The Tango Body
The Feet (All Levels)

Class notes and linked videos can be found at

The drive from Connecticut to Northampton took slightly less than 3 hours, but I managed to get there an hour before the lesson, which took place at Thornes Marketplace mall. This mall is an excellent one, with lots of artsy, artisanal, crunchy and funky purveyors of lots of fun things, needed or not. And it was fortuitous that left-click ( was there, so I could pop to quickly check my email on one of their Macs, since I am still one of the last Luddites on the planet with a dumbphone.

The lesson was very well attended. The workshops were structured such that participants needed to register with a partner, although for this one all-levels class, we rotated.

Jackie, the organizer, did a superb job. I’ve been to plenty of tango events near and far, and none of them come close to how organized and thoughtful these were. It was also very clear that this was a highly trained group in that after our drills, every leader returned to their exact same spot on the dance floor, follower in tow, so that the rotation went very smoothly, with no skipping or cutting (of course this was such a tight-knit, highly skilled community, I didn’t sense any exclusionary behavior).

When the class got a bit noisy, many students in unison did the DNI clap to get us all in line again. I’ve only taken a few classes at DNI in BsAs, but don’t remember the clap. The organizer told me that that is what it was and where she got it, and how it was very effective at the DNI lessons also. So what does the DNI clap sound like? Well, it sounds like “Shave and a Haircut, Two Bits” with one person starting with clapping the “Shave and a Haircut” part, and everyone else responding with clapping the “Two Bits”.

The food provided during the lesson and practica was green and red grapes, apples, bananas, trail mix with M&M’s, and right in front of the door as you entered the ballroom were mints (individually wrapped Life Savers) and chocolates (mini Reese’s PB cups, Hershey’s kisses, York Peppermint Patties). Even the water, in a large spouted cooler, was nicely flavored with fresh lemon slices.

I also got the impression that this was an extremely intellectual, studious group, as many of the students had seen the tangostudent notes, and during the Q&A period concluding the lesson, they answered enthusiastically and correctly. And many folks came up after class and thanked me for my efforts, that night and in the past. So that was nice.

The practica afterwards was fun. The dance level here is surprisingly high, very high as a group overall. The community seems very tight-knit. I had a blast, as I had several tandas with some truly amazing dancers, current and future.

I also got to meet my host couple who I would be staying with: a very nice, loving couple (married 30+ years to each other!), who kindly opened their home to me as I was a total flake and way behind the 8 ball in terms of getting rooming accommodations in advance. Who’d have thought that getting an inexpensive hotel/motel room in Northampton would require a fair bit of advance planning. Totally my bad, but Jackie the organizer came to the rescue and connected me with this wonderful couple.

Saturday, October 22, 2011
Workshop 1 – Int/Adv – The Legs
Workshop 2 – Int/Adv – The Hips
Premilonga Class on Floor Craft, Navigation and Etiquette

Class notes and linked videos can be found at

It was a very full workshop, and I was extremely lucky in that the organizer partnered me up with a very skilled dancer from Ithaca, NY. So I had an excellent time working the class material with him.

Again, the organizer provided ample healthy snacks and water available the entire day, so no one bonked or starved.

The costume milonga at night was fun. Most people did an excellent job of getting dressed up/made up for the event. I missed the boat on that one, which was kind of a bummer since I like dressing up for Halloween. I didn’t dance a huge number of tandas, but the ones that I did were great.

Sunday, October 23, 2011
Workshop 3 – Int/Adv – The Upper Body
Workshop 4 – Int/Adv – The Embrace

Class notes and linked videos can be found at

I had a different workshop partner for this day, but again, he was excellent, one of Northampton’s finest, in my opinion. And again, these workshops were also packed. Like yesterday, people came from all over, some from several states away or the other side of the country. I was pretty amazed by that.

Overall, I had an excellent time at these workshops. Jackie the organizer did a superb job all around, making the experience fun and extremely welcoming. It is a wonderful community they have in Northampton, and the dance level as a community among the highest I’ve ever experienced. Though I only came to Northampton by chance since Homer and Cristina were teaching there, I will certainly be back again to take in some more workshops taught by others or just to dance at the milongas. Northampton was just the shot in my tango arm that I needed to get reinspired and enthusiastic.

The practica afterwards was fun, with pizza for all. I stayed a little while, but left early enough to go to the Yale Practica. Not sure why there would be a traffic jam on a Sunday night at 8:00 p.m., but 95 being what it is…well, there it was.

Yale Practica in New Haven, CT (Free Event)
When I finally got to the Practica place, I was glad there was easy parking. The facility itself tricky to find, as it’s down a long walkway between two buildings. The “doorbell” is a real bell attached to a cord hung from an open window. I rang it gently, and was soon let in. The building is a charming old-world building with patina and presence. I got to the Practica pretty soon after it began, so there were just a handful of people, and more Followers than Leaders. I put on my stiletto tango shoes, much to the protest of my aching feet (I thought I actually heard them scream). Soon a steady trickle of people came in, so that it became reasonably full. Still, there were more Followers than Leaders, and perhaps two or three Leaders that I would have liked to dance with. So after only getting one tanda with a beginner in the hour or so I was there, I left, as I still had another hour’s drive home and my body and brain were starting to feel the effects of the full weekend.

On the road with H&C:
Halloween weekend, Providence, RI, with totally fun costume-themed milongas to get us all in touch with our inner drag queens (or kings).

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