This is part of the Dance Spot series highlighting different places to go dancing in SF Bay Area.
Dance Spot: Tuesday Night Tango Price: $10 for class ($8 students), $3 for dancing ($2 students), free after 10pm Time: Tuesdays, 7-9pm class, 9-11pm social dancing Location: Fellowship Hall of First Baptist Church, 305 N. California Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301
I first learned of Tuesday Night Tango after asking on Facebook for the best places to dance role reversed. After my venture into nontraditional dance roles, I was excited to learn that everyone learns to both lead and follow here.
The First Baptist Church of Palo Alto is quite large, so it took me a while to find the cute sign that led me to Tuesday Night Tango. I was quite timid walking in to the class half hour late, especially since I have very little experience with Argentine Tango. There wasn’t anyone by the door when I walked in, but quickly the instructor, Leslie, walked over from her class with a huge smile to welcome me. I was also happy to see a couple people I’ve met at Friday Night Waltz and Stanford West Coast Swing.
The 7-8pm beginner class had a small attendance of 10 or fewer people. Since I hear there’s usually more beginners, my guess is I was the only one brazen enough to come to the 5th lesson in the August series. To my relief, another instructor, Rich, took me under his wing and taught me when he’s not demonstrating the class material with Leslie.
At 8pm, the room split into two halves. Most students stayed with Leslie for an intermediate class on Giros. Three of us joined Rich for intermediate basics, where he answered our questions and gave very personalized tips and practices to help us improve specific techniques. My favorite practice was having one lead and two follows: One follow in front of the lead holding onto the lead’s upper arms, another follow behind the lead with her hands on the lead’s shoulder blades.
The three of us took turns in each of the positions and had so much fun that we did this again ourselves when the practica (social dancing) started at 9pm. Rich gave me three mantra’s to keep in mind for the practica:
- Follows are always perfect. Dance that way. Confidently.
- For leads: Whatever happens, you meant for it to happen. Go with it.
- If you don’t make 40 mistakes in one dance, you’re not having enough fun.
My friend also explained to me the difference between a practica and milonga in Argentine Tango: a practica is when people practice and thus are much more casual and friendly and suitable for beginners, whereas a milonga is when dancers show off their best dancing and prefer dancing their dominant roles with good dancers.
So at this practica, I had no trouble getting asked by regulars to dance. In fact, Leslie makes a goal of asking every single person to dance. In addition, many were happy to give me pointers and explain norms when I explained I had little experience with Argentine Tango. Others were happy to chat with me by the chairs as I took pictures.