Thursday, 7 May 2009

Anoia, Goddess of Things that get stuck in Drawers

Readers of Terry Pratchett will know Anoia, goddess of Things that get stuck in Drawers.

Whenever someone furiously rattles a stuck drawer, and cries "Dammit, why do we need an egg-slicer anyway?!?! Who invented that?!?! Who even bought this useless thing?!?!", it is as praise unto Anoia.

She becomes the patron of Moist von Lipwig, whose fame elevates her from a part-time jobbing goddess to an important place in the Ankh-Morpork pantheon. Her High Priestess goes from serving obscure deities at a kitchen-table altar to being a person of some importance, with a golden ladle and a crown of not-especially-useful kitchen implements.

Anoia is also invoked whenever someone leads a back sacada.

Just so you know.


Anonymous said...

Does this mean I shouldn't do back sacadas?

londontango said...

Is Anoia another euphamism for annoying?
@ Anonymous
Why do you need to anyway? Less is more.

msHedgehog said...

@Anon: that's up to you. I wouldn't, but who the hell am I? Do them if you think it's right.

I think it's interesting that they are possible, but from my point of view they're just tiresome. They don't feel good, and if I follow them well and they look good, that will only encourage other people to lead them on me too. So for me it's pure downside.

ghost said...

Lol - selective following - interesting concept

I think the problem is that they're hard to lead well. It's really easy to mess up both dancers' posture / axis etc. By the time you've gotten good enough to lead them cleanly, frankly you'd probably chose something different in the moment in social dancing.

The exception is that some women really like "cool" moves. And for them their joy covers your mistakes.

Oh and some leaders simply don't care what the follower thinks...

Johanna said...

Ms. H, you slay me.

Viva Anoia!

Captain Jep said...

I've just finished Making Money. Where was Anoia?! Obviously away on vacation...

@londontango - I was thinking par-Anoia !

londontango said...

@ Ghost
If the move isn't lead well, then we don't have to do it. Selective following can occur for any dumb move the leader wants us to do, like a gancho or voleo when the floor is crowded. It is supposed to be an invitation, not an order.
Also, Ms H said they don't feel good. If it doesn't feel good, why do it?
@ Capt Jep
I can see how you got that one. :-)

ghost said...


Well a leader could do it because
a) They've never followed and so assume as it was taught to them in an intermediate class it's a good move
b) Some women do get Big Smiles on their faces when you do it
c) The leader is worried that the follower is bored
d) You actually can do some playful stuff with back sacadas cut into blocks, ganchos etc
e) They learnt it in the preceeding lesson and don't understand the difference between practica and milonga
f) They don't care what the follower thinks
g) They actually are really good at them.

I suppose the obvious quesion is has MsH followed a back sacada socially by someone who knew what they were doing? I mean they really are just variations of a giro. The catch 22 is I suspect they simply would choose to lead something else instead.

msHedgehog said...

Yes, I have. Fairly often. Yes, a few people lead them well. The results are still pointless, just not painful.

Basically the quality's not crucial because the two situations in reality are:

1. lead not excellent. Hedgehog has to make decision: "he's obviously preparing a back sacada. The intention is clear, the lead is unrelated to it. Do I (a) wait patiently and generously in position to be whacked while he contorts himself and me, or do I follow what he's *actually* led, and preserve my balance and posture, by stepping smartly out of the way?" Nowadays I usually just do the latter because I dance better that way and I think that my first responsibility is to the quality of my own dancing.

2. Lead excellent. Here I don't have to make any decisions or provide assistance to the procedure of showing off. I have a certain respect for all the trouble he went to to master it. It still doesn't add anything, though, and it only encourages leader type 1 to try it on me too. So really I'd far prefer it if he left it out. It's for the stage and the professionals.

I do get a certain satisfaction out of being able to follow show moves, and I do like to increase and keep up my skill level by practicing them from time to time, but because the real situation is like it is, the downside can be quite severe.

ghost said...

Sorry should have put more emphasis on "knew what they were doing" as in they're the one's leaving a trail of contented followers with angel wings around the milonga. ie they're really good.

I have recently seen someone teaching a back sacada and what completely threw me was that there wasn't a break in the connection in the way they did it. What I particularly dislike about back sacadas is the "turning your back on the follower" which seems contrary to tango to me. They led a back sacada without doing this effectively by leading it as a acw giro from the follower's viewpoint. At which point the back sacada simply became a step to change the axis rather than a convoluted martial arts leg sweep.

I've never knowingly seen it done that way before though.

"Only do something if it gains and advantage or removes a disadvantage" ~ Zaknefien. The way I've seen back sacadas danced they do neither :(

On the other hand selective following does follow Zak's rule ;o)

Game Cat said...

All - okay I'm not clued up ....what's a "back sacada"? I didn't really care at first but the conversation is getting intriguing.

Is it simply when the leader takes a backward step into a sacada?

And is the sacada into the lady's collecting leg as she steps backwards or forwards? If so, are the ladies' comments so far more aimed at one or the other or both?

If it is what I think it is, I personally don't think they're very worthwhile in a milonga. Difficulty level is high, hit rate is low, getting it wrong is painful for lady, needs more floor space, not easy to put into the music and not very obvious musical "calls" anyway (but all just my opinion and to my limited knowledge).

Possibly, could be useful in a practica as an exercise, or just to mix things up a bit.

Now If I see many back sacadas happening this weekend (starting at negracha tonight), I'll know where it's coming from. ;-)

ghost said...

Sounds right. One of
theseYou can do it at any of the "steps" in a giro (circular or linear) provided you know which way everything's going and the timing is right.

Or you can get the lady to do them to you like
thisOr you can just walk musically and deprive Anoia of worshippers...

Captain Jep said...

I agree - high tariff. When done well great :

but look how difficult this is for the man!
- back pivot to sacada
- lead is flowing not interrupted
- comes through and maintains constant distance to partner
- slows down to allow her to time her adorno

Im inclined to agree with Ms H.The easier variants (eg molinete back sacadas) just look rubbish. And Im sure they dont feel particularly any different to a front led sacada.

I still occasionally do them when Im doing nuevo though - just to keep my hand in...

msHedgehog said...

@ghost - the guys with angel wings (at least what I mean) don't do them at all, or anything remotely resembling them. They are dancing a completely different dance. These are two different games, as different as cricket and baseball. You could be fantastic at both, but that wouldn't make them the same thing.

You can jive and you can tango, but if you try to do both at once the result will be a new creation, different from either.

@gamecat - yes. And it's at least as physically difficult as that sounds. I'm not saying you can't learn some interesting things trying it.

@CaptainJep - yes, high investment, low reward. I like to vary my dance and practice this stuff from time to time for the same reason. It's its own thing.

Johanna said...

You know Ms. H, and not to change the topic, but "drawers" is also another word for "knickers"....

Which puts a whole new spin on Anoia.

ghost said...

"the guys with angel wings (at least what I mean) don't do them at all, or anything remotely resembling them."

Thanks that was my suspicion. As you say an excellent technical lead is not in itself enough for them to be enjoyable for the follower. And if the angelic dancers are choosing to do something else instead that says a lot.

As a follower I dislike the dratted things.

Hmm any other commonalities between the angelic dancers?

londontango said...

@ Ghost
The angelic dancers work on the musicality and less is more approach. :-)

msHedgehog said...

@Johanna - I left that one to my readers; but while the literal disarrangement of drawers by a bad sacada is entirely worthy of Anoia's altar, and far from uncommon in my experience, it's practically impossible to do it with a backwards one.

@ghost: I'll think about that one. LT is right, obviously. But as to cause rather than symptom, maybe it's all about what your motivations are. Of course that doesn't mean they're necessarily in common.

@Captain Jep - forgot to say that they do feel a lot different to a normal sacada because of the extra twisting and the effect on the connection. Normal ones are nice (within reason).

ghost said...

@ LT and MsH :o)

From my leader's viewpoint the commonailiteis in angelic followers seems to be

Being present

And then something that's hard to put into words. It's what I think MsH means when she says "Tango is the dance where I don't have to pretend".

So I don't actually care if they can follow a back sacada at all ;o)

Game Cat said...

Thanks guys for clarifying that.

I agree that the "break in connection" is an issue. Being able to transition from close to open/semi-open embrace fluidly while maintaining a strong connection seems important to makes this work.

Perhaps equally important, to make the back sac meaningful, is to use the momentum generated by her collecting leg on the returning "downswing" to move smoothly into the next step (e.g. a back ocho, continuation of the giro). It doesn't have to be deep, but it must contact her leg. It needs to be effortless.

Here's a nice example by Andrea and Javier of my favourite interpretations of Nochero Soy by Pugliese - at around 1.07, 1.26, 3.00.

Health warning: Please implement in milonga only when one can do this PERFECTLY in practice...else, praises unto Anoia!

ghost said...

Most welcome :o) Did you spot any last night?

In my experience what really messes up the lead is that the leader suddenly transfers 99% of his focus onto his sacadaing foot. And so everything else goes wrong fast. The trick seems to be not to "lead" a back sacada at all. Lead a Giro and simply take a step back to change the position of the shared axis. The leader simply concentrates on inviting the follower round with your chest rather than on sweeping her leg.

I thinkLol, watch the video at 1.26 but only look at Javier. It really is just turn and sidestep. He could have been leading any number of things. Whereas when you look at most guys in position for a back sacada it's pretty clear what they're going for.

Game Cat said...


Yes, I did spot at least one on Fri and Sat each. Both times in front of me, and both times by serial traffic blockers (different leaders each time). I am tempted, unfairly, to associate the back sac with traffic blockers. Perhaps I only noticed them because the traffic was being blocked.

Re treating the back sac as just a side/back step, I agree that it could make a psychological difference for the leader and result in something smoother.

I must admit trying the back sac several times before this blog, and I've decided that a back step, with or without the sac, is still an interesting thing to do if you want to keep the giro alive, e.g. when you realise the musical phrase needs another 2-3 beats to end. The shift in axis and extra torsion gives a different feel (I would guess also for the ladies).

msHedgehog said...

Gamecat: I am tempted, unfairly, to associate the back sac with traffic blockers

It does take quite a while to set up, in most cases. I nearly always feel I'm waiting around while he gets into position to pounce (as is also the case with ganchos). And sometimes there is more than one attempt; and it's generally part of a static turn rather than being in any way progressive. I don't think it works well for social dancing in any respect. It's one of those things that it may be worthwhile to learn, but only in order to abandon it, having grasped the principle involved.