Sunday 30 May 2010

Rencuentro Milonguero Les Cigales, Toulon

This is an annual weekender organised by Milongueando France; it's now been going for two years and it's planned for next year at least. This time, it was held at the Hotel Cercle du Marin, Toulon. There are seven milongas over four days: Friday evening, Friday night, Saturday evening (then a sit-down meal), Saturday night, Sunday evening, Sunday night, and Monday afternoon/evening. It might or might not be in the exact same place next year, but it will be somewhere on the Cote D'Azur. In case it is in the same place, which seems to be the current plan, I'm going to add some detail about the venue at the end, since it would be important if you were planning to come on your own. [Update 06/06/2011: read this update post, there were some problems with the 2011 event].

The Deal: "Rencuentro Milonguero" means the deal is proper close-embrace salon tango, in an unbroken and truly close embrace, i.e. plastered-around-his-neck-and-staying there 'close', to traditional music (what the Europeans call 'milonguero style'). That is the whole point and purpose of this gig, so if it's not what you do or what principally interests you, if you can't already do it with a fair level of comptence, or if you don't know and love the traditional music, it makes no sense at all to bother with this. You will be wasting your time, feeling out of place, looking like a fool, and stuck with unsuitable partners. Consider the Berlin Tango Festival instead, which is on at about the same time in that marvellous town and has many and varied tango-substances to offer which may suit you.

The Class: There aren't any. No workshops, no classes, nada. If you admire a particular dancer who's going, you watch them dance socially or dance with them, you don't take lessons.

Layout and Atmosphere: Once you find your way in through the car park, following the little 'Tango' signs, the hall is a good sized concert hall. It has a stage at the far end, a mezzanine at the near end, and glass doors opening onto the patio along the far half of the left hand side as you come in. You enter through the bar, where they had the table with everyone's bookings, and the t-shirts for sale. There's also a lobby at the back where there were displays of shoes and dresses, and a room where you could get a massage at certain times - I failed to take advantage, but I was busy dancing. Chairs and tables were arranged around all sides except where the glass doors were, with two rows of tables at either end and enough room to walk behind nearly all of them, plus more seating under the mezzanine at the back. The location of the DJ booth on the mezzanine is prominent and honourable, but practically not ideal, making it difficult for the DJ to gauge the mood of the floor. Although everyone had their own seat, people did move around quite a bit because of the slight layout problems created by the mezzanine and the lights along the front of it (which made it hard to see people sitting underneath). The floor was good - a good wooden floor, slightly sticky in places on the first afternoon but about right for me after a bit of talc went down. The hall looked nice, with long blue and yellow curtains, blue chairs and purplish tablecloths. The little patio with the pink roses was lovely.

The atmosphere was relaxed and happy, with plentiful seating, good DJs, very friendly organisation which I'll mention under 'hospitality', good lighting with minor flaws, and a lot of good dancers who were thoroughly pleased to be there. The gorgeous weather didn't do it any harm; walking back at 4am in my little fleece hoodie, it was just pleasantly cool, with visible stars.

Local customs: Most people generally used some version of the 'nod' to request a dance, so the whole question of who asks whom is more or less meaningless. There were exceptions; refusals were always polite and accepted with grace as far as I observed. Nobody bats an eyelid at same-sex dancing, men or women, you can dance with whoever is willing to dance with you in whatever role you both wish, and people did.

Hospitality: Very good. In particular, there is a lady who greets you when you come into the dance hall and finds you a place to sit, and she did an excellent job. Having established what languages I spoke or understood, she sat me with some Italians of similar age to myself, and we got on very well. There is enough space for the seating and there are enough seats for the people, so you can keep yours and nest a bit, which makes a huge difference to the social aspect. It was so nice to have an idea where people were, or at least where they were likely to return to, and not to have your things muddled up all the time. There isn't water on the tables, but a free drink is included in entry for each day, and nobody stops you bringing your own either. Wine and soft drinks from the bar, with prompt service, were all around 2€, espresso 1€, and sandwiches. The whole thing was very well organised. On arrival I got an envelope with my name on it containing wristbands for admission to each day, my free-drink vouchers and the timetable. The military-establishment loos were pretty rickety, though, the best I can say was that they were clean and worked and you could always find paper somewhere, if not always a perfectly dry piece of floor or anything to dry your hands. They aren't even segregated. On the other hand, the patio was a nice place to cool off or just retreat, and the doors to it were usually open.

Anyone or anything interesting: It was just such a joy to watch so many good dancers. You never had to turn your eyes away from the dance floor, so it didn't even matter if your feet hurt up to the knees and you had to sit down. And the T-shirts were genius - they're black, in men's and women's styles, you buy one with the logo and date on it, you put it on, and then there's a pot of paint and a roller and you get someone to paint their arm and embrace you, and you do the same for them. It looks so cute.

What I thought of the DJing: The DJs were Melina Sedò, Philippe Gonella (Gitango), Enrico il Mali Malinverni, Théo 'El Greco' Chatzipetros, and Marcel Lambert (Marcelo). It was all good. All the DJ's played proper tandas that made perfect sense and always used cortinas. Everybody cleared the floor. You could stop, find a new partner, organise your evening. Most stuck strictly to the traditional frequency of milongas and valses, others used somewhat fewer. Some also used salsa or rock interludes that were long enough for people to dance to. Melina's style is very smooth (and I think with fewer milongas), others more rhythmic, and I think it was Enrico or maybe Philippe who played some rather jazz-tinged modern versions, I'n not quite sure. There was some quite marked variation of taste, but it was all music that people could use with the style of dance and the floor and the partners. Basically the music for the weekend was 100%  traditional by a broadish definition, but perhaps 5-10% was not traditional by all definitions, or not played by the golden age orchestras. But all of it was strong and professionally put together.

Getting in: 60€ included all seven milongas and a pretty good three-course dinner on Saturday and a free drink each day. It's necessary to book but you can pay cash on arrival.

Getting there and getting home: If you do as I did and stay in the centre of town, near the station, you'll need to walk to the venue. The easiest way is to follow the street that goes across the bottom of Place de la Liberté, staying on the uphill side of it, and keep going, working your way around all the crossings and intersections: when you reach the huge Holiday Inn, you can see Cercle du Marin diagonally across the main road. Keep going past the street of shops and cross at the crossing directly in front of Cercle du Marin. There is another way, along a sort of sunken car-park-like road along the front, and it involves far fewer crossings, but I preferred this one. The sunken one is easier to find from the hotel end.

As for getting to Toulon, I took the Eurostar from London and changed at Lille. I took the 06:20 from St. Pancras and was settled into my hotel room by four in the afternoon, having lost an hour to the time difference and an hour to the change of trains. I am averse to flying unless strictly necessary, but flying is much cheaper, and you can go to Nice and catch a train from there. Either way you are deposited within 5 mins walk of my hotel and 15 mins walk of the venue. The journey is tiring either way - I was glad I'd done it on the Thursday and slept for twelve hours.

The website: en version originel.

How it went: Although I enjoyed all of it, the milongas I enjoyed most on their own were the afternoon ones on Friday and Monday, especially Monday. Saturday and Sunday evenings nights were pretty full-on with a very crowded floor, and although most of the dancers were very good, with very few who would have been less than outstanding in a London milonga, there were just enough fools - about three or four does it - to make navigation challenging even for very fine social dancers. Nothing like home, but somewhat tricky. I made gentle contact with quite a few things - chair legs, shoes, the overhanging leaves of a potted palm (several times), Detlef's arse (less bouncy than I might have expected, had I ever thought about it) - but nothing painful or serious.

Generally, however, the quality of dancing was extremely high. In the whole weekend of 7 milongas I had two bad dances (amusical and poorly controlled), one seriously flawed dance (bad posture with sideways force), and one perfectly inoffensive beginner dance. The rest of them were all fab. Particularly notable was a dance on Saturday night with a Frenchman of whose face I have virtually no memory but with whom I had such an intense connection that we didn't even change weight or break the embrace between songs. A thing suspended in time. Also many delightful Italians, some splendid Croatians Slovenians [I do beg your pardon, I still muddle up the names and locations of the countries that weren't in my jigsaw of Europe when I was little], most of the DJs, all lovely, various ace dancers including the Rockstar and the Nemesis of Potted Palms, and a tanda of the spinning-on-clouds thing that a certain person does when he's out of his tree on four days of dancing and you put on a vals. And I found someone to exchange embraces with for the T-shirt - and danced with him in my flat street sandals for Monday's Cumparsita. I didn't feel pressure to dance or not dance, I loved watching and I danced with joy.

It was interesting to experience the effect that such prolonged, repeated sessions of high-quality dancing had on my body, my mind, and my dance. As I relaxed into it, I developed a physical comfort in my body and movement - especially the back and hips - which came out in just walking around town. In the dance, I found that I was using my whole body musically in a stronger and more explicit, confident way than before, and I might be able to make that persist, with some work. It would be nice.

The daylight hours, when not sleeping, I spent in the brilliant sunshine of the Cote D'Azur, contemplating the Mediterranean. Another post for all that, but I can recommend the Roy D'Ys, on the seafront, for excellent crepes, teas, and icecreams. And you can get a reasonable breakfast till 12 in the square in front of the Opera House.

Note on accommodation

The hotel itself, where the dancing is and you can stay if you book early, is not really a hotel at all - it's called a hotel and looks like one from the outside but it's really a military outfit dedicated to military clients visiting the naval base. The dance hall is great, but the rooms are extremely basic. There are few double beds, there may or may not be window curtains or shower curtains, and if you want a bath-sized towel you have to bring your own, like a good galactic hitchiker. En-suite accommodation does not include the loo, which is along the corridor. The hotel is also ten minutes' walk out of town. However, it's extremely cheap and it does serve food, including sandwiches at odd times. Having had a good look at it on Google Earth and a bit of a nose at the website, I decided that being able to fall out of a comfortable room and into a nice breakfast in the sunshine was a higher priority than being able to fall out of the milonga directly into bed - ten minutes' quiet walk helps me sleep, anyway. I stayed at the two-star Hotel Celenya, just off Place de la Liberté, which happened to offer a discount through the corporate scheme where I work and was very reasonable and comfortable with very nice staff. The walk back into town is perfectly all right and there's always someone else going. If you're on a tight budget or less attached to comfort, and you're not interested in exploring other aspects of this fascinating town, the Cercle du Marin is a very good deal. Be aware that everything shuts on Sundays, and the only place to get breakfast is on the front.

Thursday 27 May 2010

Results with Italians, and so on

I, like Tangocommuter and the commenters, have had very good results with Italians (certainly equal to any of the Argentinians who dance with me) - and equally good results with other nationalities. Croatians. Germans. Spaniards. Frenchmen. Englishmen. Czechs. Whatever. I think the reason that a high proportion of the Italians dance well, is that people imitate what they know, and they have been exposed more, and more immediately, to a higher proportion of better dancing and DJing, for the absolutely straightforward practical and historical reasons which Tangocommuter mentions in the post. And to proportionately less timewasting crap. But I also think whoever takes responsibility for the quality of their own dancing, actually wants to do it, has some talent, has access to some good teaching or some really good examples, and takes determined practical steps to improve, will be able to deliver; and if they don't, I don't buy nationality as an excuse. It's more likely they just didn't want to.

Specifically, I don't buy the idea that close embrace is a problem for the English. They manage it fast enough when they win the cricket. If someone who wants to dance tango can't get through a problem that trivial, superficial, and silly in under twenty minutes, I don't know why the hell they are there or what they're doing. If they don't want to dance tango then they should go and dance something else; if you're personally scared of boobies, this is not the dance for you; peace be upon thee, go thou and dance swing, or something.

Even if it made any sense on its face, it would still be a pretty weak excuse for bad dancing in a place where only about 40% of  the crowd would self-describe as "English"; it's not uncommon for people who were born in England (which I was not) of two legally British parents (which I was not), and have lived here uninterruptedly all their lives (which I have) to describe themselves spontaneously as "Irish," "Indian," or "Chinese" (that last one being pretty damn vague on anybody's map).

There's a reason why nobody has actually argued that that some 'culture', least of all 'English,' a culture which in as far as it's non-imaginary has a lot to say about turning up on time, paying your way, and keeping your promises but absolutely naff-all to say about dancing, would prevent someone who wanted to have a good embrace, from having a good embrace. Nobody acutally says this, because it's obviously silly, as well as amply disproved by experience - but they do say a lot of things that give people, especially beginners, the very clear impression that they would say exactly that thing if they dared - and that does convince people. It convinces them that there's no point in bothering because no matter what they deliver, they will never be accepted.

People have histories, and environments, and influences, and personalities, and imaginations, and desires, but their expression is personal. Essentialisms are not my thing. So sue me.

If we require some kind of spiritual essence based on birthplace, residence, location, or history, then obviously I will never qualify as a good dancer under any circumstances. And for some people, that is presumably the case. However, it doesn't seem to be the opinion of anyone I actually know (least of all Tangocommuter or any of the commenters I've met).

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Big smile

I had a wonderful time at Les Cigales, I came back with a big smile on my face. Being on the Cote D'Azur in May had a lot to do with it, although the dancing was the main thing. I also took the cable-car up Mount Faron to look at the view and just sat there alone for an hour or two: it was marvellous and reminded me how happy I can be just by myself, as did my visit to the Musée Maritime.

I looked down on the naval base and thought of its founder, Henri IV, who besides his enthusiasm for women and disdain for soap, is affectionately remembered for his concern with infrastructure and the prosperity of the French peasant. And who is also reputed to have said four of the wisest words in European history, "Paris vaut une Messe", "Paris is worth a Mass".

I'll write it up in the usual format (necessarily a summary as it goes on for four days) but that could take a while.

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Out of Office Message

I'm going to be on holiday for a week and a bit.

I'd like to introduce Ms Pigeon ("I get everywhere, I eat anything"). She writes about Food. She's related to me and I love her very much :-*

On tango: Mari has a great piece about the danceability of music. I can relate to her explanation. Playing live for dancers is a very special skill and takes an awful lot of discipline and a certain humility in the musicians; I think you really have to want to do it because you like making people dance, and not as an adjunct to just performing music on its own. When it works it can really be a two-way thing between dancers and musicians (counting each set as one), or on good days even an exponential-number-of-ways thing between musicians and all the dancers on the floor. In fact all her recent posts are really interesting. If you think (rightly) that I've been a bit dozy this Spring, go and read her instead. And Tangocommuter has a lot of good videos lately.

Sunday 16 May 2010


A lot of experienced leaders have diagnostics they run to find out what the woman can deliver if they haven't danced with her before. They're all things that won't be noticed if they don't work too well, but give you a lot of information.

There must be lots I'm not aware of at all. But here are the ones I think I know about:

Different stride lengths.
Anything involving a forward step for the follower.
Especially a step right into the leader.
Tiny, slo-o-o-w step.
Pause between steps with feet apart. Hesitations.
Slo-o-o-w cross.
Small boleo in a safe place, just to see what happens.
Turn-and-block without the following step-over that most people expect the woman to do with no lead and despite the blocking. Reverse it and do something else ...

Ampster on dialling in.
Mari on un tal Gavito - diagnostics before doing a back sacada.

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Me and Buenos Aires

Here are ten things I have actually felt, at various times, about the idea of going to Buenos Aires. [Update: in roughly chronological order, incidentally. Don't miss a (so far) quite interesting comments thread below. Also, Cherie replies here.]

1. I've read so many descriptions, from people who go there or live there. The people who adore it make it sound like a society with no place for me and no place for my values. I don't feel a pull, and I'm not going to pretend I do.

2. A twelve-hour flight at £500 to somewhere that's no cleaner than here and not even particularly sunny, to dance with other tourists? (Like, the locals are going to look at me, other than to measure my arse and my purse. I don't think so.) Huh?

3. Tango just isn't that important in my life. If I'm going to risk the electronic strip-search at Heathrow and all the other mindless security theatre, and put up with the awfulness of a flight that long, plus use up two weeks' holiday, I'd rather be going over to Seattle to see people I deeply care about and who have a genuine place in their hearts for me.

4. For a dancing holiday, I can take a train to somewhere in Europe where they dance well, and travel in comfort.

5. I understand why my teacher goes, she has many friends there, old and new, and tango is a much bigger thing in her life.

6. I also understand why you'd want to go there to study tango. It's necessary if you want to be a pro, the real thing, and have some credibility. You need to go there for an extended period, or at least repeatedly. And if you're that deeply into it, of course it would be fun too. I don't want to be a pro. Why would I want that?

7. Tango is something I do to enhance my life here, as it actually is. It also enhances my life when I go to places on business or on holiday. If it's not too far or too much trouble, or I know I'll see people I like and the dancing will be good, I even go to places specifically to dance tango. It's not something I do because I'm fascinated by or in love with a culture that I have virtually nothing in common with and feel no true wish to participate in. Sure, I like the music. I like Puccini too, but I don't want to buy his car. I think the Argentinians have some really top-notch ideas about how to organise an evening of social dancing, and how to go about the dance itself. All of them are widely publicised. But since when exactly has nicking and adapting good ideas been a problem for the English? Do you think tea grows in Yorkshire? Or that the Chinese drink it with milk? What I'm saying here is that I don't feel the pull, and if I'm not feeling the pull, it's not my time to go.

8. The other thing that's always bothered me is the way people go there, then come back and promptly vanish. I don't think it's just because they come back and feel totally let down. After all, the higher quality of dance there can hardly have come as a surprise to them. You can see it on video. And if it were just that, considering how many people do go, wouldn't they try to do positive things about the dancing here, rather than just give up? And why not do that in the first place? It seems to me that going to Buenos Aires is something people do when they're already bored with dancing tango and they want a reason to stop.  I know myself well enough to know that finding reasons to stop doing something that's good for me spiritually and physically, is something I should avoid.

9. Speaking of which, I am also Bloody Awkward, and the sort of person who feels that something there is so much social expectation you should do is probably poorly justified, like taking on giant lifelong debts to buy overpriced depreciating assets. I'm not saying it's rational, but I kind of want to keep my tango in its place.

10. I have the impression that people go there far too early; very often they say so afterwards. It doesn't make much sense to me to go there for the purpose of taking lessons. There are excellent, experienced, professional teachers within easy reach right here. Nor does it make sense to me to go there in order to say I've been, despite the obvious temptation; I've had bad experiences buying labels and it would feel like selling one. The point of Buenos Aires tango, as I see it, is the social dancing. It does make sense to me to go there in order to just dance, taking the pre-milonga lessons for orientation. But I'd rather treat the whole thing with a bit more respect, not as a gig put on for my benefit as a tourist; and, if I go there at all, go there prepared in such a way that I can have a satisfying social experience on my own terms, and not feel like a burden on other people's politeness, or as though I'm being patronised. I don't feel that I had that a year ago. I do feel that I might be about there next winter, maybe.

At the moment, I'm not against it. I'll probably do it at some point, and maybe even alone. I might go there with the right companions, or to visit specific people. If there was an extra reason to go there, like a rugby match - say England v Argentina away, or Lions v Argentina away - that would be a lot of fun, and I could combine it. I could go to the match and go for a dance. With the right companions, that would be delightful.

Friday 7 May 2010

Mistakes and Excitement

A professional tango dancer said to me that he used to be in shows, once upon a time, but compared to improvisation (and social dancing, even to not very good live music) he just found it painfully boring. I paraphrase, but that was the gist. "Tango is about making mistakes," he said. Apparently he just didn't get the rush from an audience.

I found that very sympathetic. I don't really think it's true that all dancers want to have an audience. There are mixtures, of course. There are those who want an audience of one, and there are those who only do it 'for an audience' if you define audience participation as 100%, which is quite different again. Some people never look good if they know they're being filmed because they just loathe the whole concept of performing, and have to sort of trick themselves into it if they want a video for some other reason. But that doesn't mean they aren't happy to be watched (politely) on a real dance floor with real people, given the opportunity.

Maturity might have something to do with it as well, as it does with the awareness that mistakes are fruitful.

Sorry about the tedious post yesterday night, I was trying to keep myself awake, and I failed. I went to sleep shortly afterwards.

Election night ramblings

Surprising exit poll; nobody knows what it means. I'm glad I went early today as it looks as though some people are having to queue. I'm curious to know what will happen in my constituency; it has been a very safe Labour seat, but the sitting MP has retired, and there have been some boundary changes, and I've heard a lot from the LibDems, including a man at the station this morning handing out leaflets and asking me whether I'd voted. He looked very excited and happy.

My ballot for the local elections was a bit strange with multiple candidates for some parties; I haven't kept up to speed with the changes of system for local elections and wasn't sure what to make of it. Distributing my three crosses among the parties I broadly agree with or think ought to be heard, still left me with a choice of three potential local councillors for the same party, and no real basis on which to make it. The names were rather similar and I couldn't remember which of them had left me the mildly persuasive leaflet, so I think I chose more or less at random. Minor parties on offer included a Christian and a Trades Unionist.

Early results are totally meaningless, since they're always very safe constituencies - the characteristics of those mean they get counted fast. Am I really going to stay up? The trouble with election night coverage is that the first three or four hours are so dreadfully boring. What is this channel, anyway? It hasn't even got a swingometer. In fact all the channels seem very unimaginative so far, in presentation. Come on. Manga-style Hansen and Lineker for the World Cup, and this silly glass desk for a General Election? Why am I watching this stuff?

In a few minutes the FT website will be doing a 'markets live', which should be fun after the very wierd evening they've already had, what with all those implausible theories about why the Dow was doing backflips. More fun than the telly anyway.

The BBC man has Ian McKellen ... and now Joan Collins. That looks like the bar in Television Centre, full of Celebs - I'm watching with the sound off - and now someone who looks like Vladimir Putin's younger brother and who I am presumably expected to recognise. I don't.

It's a problem if people didn't get to vote because they were there on time but the polling stations did the wrong thing or hadn't planned for an unexpected turnout. That could take some serious sorting out. I think if you turn up before the close, you are supposed to be allowed to vote; not letting people vote is just wrong, a procedural error. If it happens in marginals I suppose they might even have to hold some of them again.

Antidote of the day: Neanderthal genes survive: I once attended a lecture by Professor Stringer in which he said that he thought that most probably, Neanderthals had left no genetic legacy of interbreeding, for one reason or another. But (although Professor Stringer did not say this) given the length of time over which the two species coexisted, no one who knows anything at all about homo sapiens could possibly believe for one moment that it wasn't tried. I'm glad to think we didn't exterminate all trace of them.

Monday 3 May 2010

Analysis of an outfit

From a friend of this blog:

"How would you describe your outfit [that you were wearing] and ideally what's the thinking behind it? I'm working on a theory ..."

And now, somewhat edited, my response.


Err ... not sure what you're looking for here. I suppose a practical analysis, and practicality is a very important aspect of this particular outfit, but that's misleading without the aesthetic analysis.

The trousers are a bit old-ladyish, you won't see them approved of by any magazine, but I like them because they're warm and washable and require no ironing but have a bit of shine and flow. The point of them is that they can comfortably be worn on public transport in winter as well as at the milonga; they don't attract attention and I won't be too cold if I have to wait for a bus. The glamorous-grannyness is ok in context.

The top, too, is glamorous but practical, partly lined, well designed and of good materials. Quick hand wash, quick dry, and cool on the upper body so I won't get sweaty. It's sexy without being explicitly revealing, and counteracts the grannyness.

Seen from the front, it shows off my figure and creates a visual focus on the face; the total visual effect is of the lower edge of a frame, so that the bosom and face together form a bright flower set on top of a smooth, columnar stalk.

Visually, in the artistic tradition of European portraits, it has a certain amount in common with the neoclassical Regency look [see Henry Raeburn - Mrs Scott Moncrieff, left, and Jean-Francois Ducq - Mary Lodge], and a certain amount with the 17th century fashion in which dark-coloured but luxurious fabrics of beautiful texture were topped with a crisp white collar or ruff framing the face and emphasising the bosom, shoulders, and eyes in much the same way, but covering the skin [see Franz Hals - a Dutch Lady, below].

As for the specifically tango aspects - this top was also chosen because all the eye-catching decoration is at the back, but not of a kind to cause problems with any normal embrace, while at the front there's nothing to catch on buttons or distract the eye. Most high-street chains put all the detail at the front, and the back looks disappointing, but there are exceptions, so I look out for them.

The trousers, being full-length, give me the visual unity and physical warmth that a long skirt would without the disadvantages. A long skirt just involves too much fabric in the wrong place under too little control - that, or it has to be split to the thigh and look like a theatrical costume. Both visually and practically it just gets in the way, or sends the wrong message, or both.

If I wanted to dance predominantly 'nuevo' style, I'd advertise that fact with more fashionable trousers that put a lot more emphasis on the hips. I'd probably choose different tops too, again bringing the eye to the hips rather than the shoulders, and I might try to create a more broken outline with less visual formality generally, in a different choice of colours and fabrics.

With this outfit, you can't see my feet or shoes very well. This is fairly unusual and you could interpret it as little bit of a counter-tango-fashion statement. I chose the outfit for practicality and look, but in as far as it's telling you anything about how to look at me, it's telling you to look at the embrace rather than just the legs and feet. Together with the glamorous-grannyness of the trousers in the first place - it certainly encourages the idea that I want to dance 'salon', albeit perhaps of a relatively modern and intellectual flavour, not necessarily limited to dancing with men, or in just one style, or with people over six feet tall.

The shoes go along with this - they're very pretty, and higher than I would wear to work, but I have chosen not to wear spikes. They're a single colour, with the heels thicker and lower than the name-brand tango shoes, and incidentally they're about half the price and they go with more of my outfits. Now it's mainly that I've tried tango spikes and I just don't really get on with them, but if these send a message that I'd prefer to underpromise and overdeliver rather than the contrary, that's fine with me.

Those are the messages it carries for me, anyway. Of course there is no reason to assume that that's what it succeeds in communicating to anyone else.


After reading my response, my friend revealed his theory, which I hope he will write about himself (a guest post would be nice, or I'll do a link). It was that he might choose better among unknown partners, and thereby improve his evening, by paying a bit more attention to what women were wearing. We choose what we wear on purpose, so maybe we say something about why were are there and what sort of dance we want to have. (So do at least some of the men, of course, as a commenter said on "different dresses".) He knows that he finds me easy to dance with, and so he thought he might look, with an artist's eye, for other women sending the same messages.