It’s been some time since we danced, so we set off across the border to Spain to join a little community near Huelva for their monthly Milonga. We struggled with returning to Spanish in our heads and unwittingly overstayed our welcome in a café, having forgotten the change of time zone. So we turned up a little late to a Milonga in a cultural centre. I was dying to dance but the music just wouldn’t let me! It was a very strange mix of the schmaltzy and bombastic, in sets of 3 Tangos, followed by 2 Vals and then 2 Milongas. At about 1am, the DJ left, someone else took over, the music changed to D’Agostino and the group fell into a proper Tango groove with a nice Ronda too. Ah, the magic of good music! We had a few Tandas left of more traditional, if still a bit mixed up music.
The people were very nice. It reminded me of how special it is to have a small community of dancers. Everyone knows everyone, and the dancing is only one aspect of the whole story. We hear that the first DJ was a newbie in the world of DJing and that the club has some people wanting things one way and others wanting things another way. As the scene is small, everyone has to be heard, one simply cannot afford to fall out in such a small group. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It almost made me nostalgic for the good old times of dancing in the Pavilion in Totnes, to the smell of chip fat and with people crossing the dance floor to get to their fitness classes. Or dancing in the United Free Church Hall… and of course there were the times in Staverton, with water running down the walls. We had music playing just like this, all scrambled up and even with some pop music thrown in, not just for cortinas! I also remember our first guest dancer from Belgium, a very unassuming man called Walter who made all the women go starry eyed and wobbly legged and the men all jealous of his influence. Some even considered growing a ponytail like him…
And now look what Totnes Tango has grown into! If we have made it this far, there is hope for every Tango community in this world, no matter how small the location!
Related only by free association, here are some beautiful photos of ‘dancing’ cork oaks, taken in the woods near Faro. Underneath the Oaks we found the most aromatic thyme ever.
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My computer has been brought back to life, thanks to Henrique Gouveia, a Mac specialist just outside a little village called Saõ Bras de Alpotel. So I’m free to continue the stories of our adventure
Here’s one story we heard about a thing that happened a long time ago, somewhat nearer to home, told to us by Peter the sailor:
When Peter was younger and, by his own admission, a lot fitter than now, he used to cycle around the UK a lot. Devon was one of his favourite haunts. One day, as he was cycling in the Dawlish area, he decided that for once, rather than going along the road, he would go along the coastal path. He had just gone for a couple of kilometres along the rough up-and-down footpath when he saw someone lying in an odd heap somewhere by the bottom of some cliff. He scrambled down the rocks and found a man who had fallen and broken his leg. Peter offered to call the ambulance which could send a helicopter, but the man said, no it’ll be ok, we don’t need to call a helicopter. Please just help me to get back to the road.
So Peter carried the man up the rocks and pushed him on his bike a further kilometre or two until they got to a road where they called an ambulance, which took the man to a hospital. Peter became friends with the man who was a writer and lived in a big house near the sea. Let’s call this man Hugh. Whenever he came to Devon, Peter was sure of a place to stay.
Some years after, Hugh gave him a story to read which, according to him, he had written before the accident! The story was about a man named Peter whose wife had died (the real Peter’s wife had also died!), who was an avid cyclist. One day, he cycled along the Devon coast where he found a man who had broken a leg. He helped him by carrying him up to the road.
Hugh said that when he fell down by the cliffs and broke his leg, far away from any road, he though his end had come. But then someone showed up, and when Hugh found out that his saviour was called Peter, just like in the story he had written some time ago, he knew that everything would be alright.
Ok., there are some if’s and but’s here – Hugh could have lied about having written the story before the accident. Peter could have spun a yarn too… after all he’s a sailor. But it’s a damn good story anyway!
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